Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Living Our Purpose

The Path to Achieving Miracles and 
Providing Lasting Hope  

By Aaron Wilson, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Sierra Tucson

I distinctly remember the first time I drove through the gates of Sierra Tucson and experienced an overwhelming feeling of belonging. If the towering peaks of the Santa Catalina Mountains and the lush desert encompassing me weren’t captivating enough, certainly the sign that greeted me — Expect A Miracle — on the ascending driveway, was. At that moment, I knew that I was somewhere exceptional, a place complementary to my deepest professional ambitions.

It was in medical school where I came face-to-face with my professional destiny. As a student at Tulane University in New Orleans in 2005, I found myself in the middle of one of this country’s worst natural disasters — Hurricane Katrina.  Along with my fellow classmates, I was surrounded by the devastating wake of one of the most infamous weather catastrophes in recent U.S. history.

With an opportunity to provide support to those traumatized by the disastrous event and its aftermath, I felt a deep satisfaction as our teams were deployed to assist. There were untold numbers of individuals suffering from mental health challenges, and I found myself ardently driven to assist in any capacity. Five years later, and the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico of the British Petroleum drilling rig, Deep Water Horizon, affirmed my calling. I, again, had the opportunity to serve this same community stricken by overwhelming loss and trauma.

And now, all these years later, I have the distinct privilege of continuing my service and commitment to community as the Chief Medical Officer at one of the premier residential treatment facilities in the country. At Sierra Tucson, I am not only applying my many years of experience attending to the behavioral and mental health care of people in high-impact emergency zones in the service of our residents, but I’m also in a unique position to see, meet, and hire other similarly driven and passionate professionals, all with their own stories of why they chose one of the toughest, yet most rewarding, branches of the medical profession.

I am happy to announce that, since joining Sierra Tucson in March, over the last seven months we have added seven experts to our elite medical team here at Sierra Tucson, each nationally and internationally recognized specialists in their respective practice areas:

  • James Seymour, MD, Director of Trauma Recovery Program 
  • Jerome Lerner, MD, Director of Executive and Licensed Professional Program 
  • Jasleen Chhatwal, MD, Director of Mood Program 
  • Brandon Yates, MD, Attending Psychiatrist, Mood Program 
  • Janaka Sarathchandra, MD, Attending Psychiatrist, Desert Flower 
  • Donnie Sansom, MD, Medical Services, Attending Physician, Addiction/Co-Occurring Program 
  • Janet Tinkey, DNP, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Desert Flower  

Why I am so certain of their place at Sierra Tucson is because of their unwavering dedication to our signature integrative mental health approach and their heart for recovery. In addition, they all subscribe to our ‘less is more’ approach to medication management and will continue to champion Sierra Tucson’s Prescribing with Purpose movement.

For all of us, whether we are new to Sierra Tucson, or long-time veterans, this is truly a unique time in our 35-year history. We are experiencing unprecedented expansion to meet the growing demand for the care we provide. In April, we broke ground on a new 30,895-square-foot Behavioral Health Inpatient Lodge. The $16.5 million expansion will include 44 licensed beds, integrative therapy rooms, a new pharmacy center, expanded facilities for individualized treatment, and a dedicated admission center. 

Yet, even in the midst of the excitement that expansion can bring, we haven’t lost sight of the fact that whenever individuals make the very difficult decision to seek residential treatment, they are often at their lowest point in their lives. That is why we believe that individualized care and proper diagnosis, from the start, represent the core of our responsibility. Our patients and their families don’t care about how many books or peer-reviewed articles our doctors have written, or how many lectures she or he travels to present around the world. Instead, individuals come to Sierra Tucson expecting a miracle. And, they expect our brilliant doctors, nurses, and therapists to care as much about delivering their miracle as earnestly as they wish to receive one.

But miracles don’t just happen
Miracles are the result of dedication and hard work, and from the gritty resolve of a treatment team that believes in collaborating with each other, as well as collaboration with our trusted referents and after-care providers. Miracles at Sierra Tucson also include families. Our providers work directly with our patients each day and with their family members during Family Week. Families have an opportunity to sit down next to their loved ones and meet with our providers to discuss diagnoses and medications, as well as to ask every question they wish. At a time in their lives when things can look so frightening and hope can seem so elusive, it’s the individualized care that is a Sierra Tucson hallmark that our residents and their families relish.

We don’t use the word ‘miracle’ lightly at Sierra Tucson. While many treatment facilities struggle with provider shortages, I am grateful to say that we have been able to recruit the best and finest group of experts in the industry to polish off our distinguished team. We believe that every individual who steps foot inside our facility is looking for the kind of help that gives them enduring hope. Our treatment team’s goal is to provide that hope, not only when they are here, but long after they’ve left. This is why we can confidently post another sign that individuals can’t help but see as they exit our campus– You Are a Miracle – and it is our collective goal to help them truly believe it. Visit www. sierratucson.com.

CBD- What do you know?

What Parents Should Know About Kids Using CBD

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most well-known component of marijuana, the one that “gets you high,” so to speak. But have you heard of CBD? Many parents haven’t, or if they have, they aren’t sure what to make of it or even understand if their son or daughter is using CBD. What’s certain is it’s becoming more and more widely available, and like vaping, is often marketed to young people. Below is an overview of CBD, the numerous forms it’s sold in, its efficacy in treating various problems and current knowledge about its relative safety.

What is CBD?

CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is the largest non-psychoactive component of marijuana, and interest in its effects is growing. High levels of CBD and low levels of THC are found in most medical marijuana products, but the CBD industry has started to expand and market their products as “life promoting” to healthy individuals.There are hundreds of online companies selling CBD, with the market estimated to grow to $2.1 billion by 2020. CBD tinctures, edibles, sprays, vaping liquid, capsules and items such as gels, hand lotions and shampoos are widely available, varying in price and CBD content.

Some of these products are illegal, while others can be purchased in supermarkets and health stores by anyone. The legality of CBD varies by state, often based upon whether it is hemp-derived or marijuana-derived. Hemp and marijuana both originate from the cannabis plant, but cannabis crops grown for their flowers have high THC levels, while when grown for their fibers and stalks are usually called hemp. Regardless of how CBD is derived, it’s best to check your state laws with respect to legality as it’s a rapidly changing landscape.

Why is CBD so Interesting to Young People?

The U.S. in general is becoming increasingly interested in CBD because of its ability to produce the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the high. It’s seen as a potential medicine without the side effects typically associated with marijuana — especially for cancer, serious chronic pain and epilepsy. For the first time, the FDA approved a new drug based upon CBD derived from marijuana called Epidiolex in June 2018. It provides patients with a concentrated dose of CBD to treat seizures in rare forms of epilepsy.

Teens and young adults are using CBD as a homeopathic remedy for pain relief, depression and anxiety symptoms, acne, insomnia and boosting productivity. However, there’s a crucial difference between CBD that’s studied in labs for medical conditions like epilepsy and CBD products that are sold to consumers for well-being.

The biggest problem is is a lack of well-controlled trials and little understanding of the long-term effects. For the most part, side effects from CBD alone are minor (dry mouth, dizziness, nausea), but they can be serious if the CBD products interact with other medications. CBD and other plant cannabinoids can interact with many pharmaceuticals by hindering the activity of cytochrome P450, a group of liver enzymes, so other drugs don’t metabolize as expected. Steroids, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, immune modulators, benzodiazepines, antibiotics, anesthetics, antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-epileptics and beta blockers could all potentially cause an adverse reaction when taken with CBD.

If you’re a concerned parent, the best thing to do is to talk with your child about CBD just like any other substance.

Suicide among Working Aged Men in the US: Understanding the Problem

Kurt Cobain, Hunter S Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, and Don Cornelius were all famous and influential men whose lives were cut short by suicide. These deaths were widely covered in the media and discussed publicly, with little understanding of how or why men with such success died with such great despair. Unfortunately, far too many men, particularly men of working age, are dying every year by suicide without public knowledge or outcry, which contributes to a lack of awareness of the significance of suicide in the US.

In 2009, 43 percent of the suicide deaths (15,904 of the 36,909 deaths) in the US were among men
ages 25 to 54, which by a large margin is the highest number of suicide deaths among any age/gender group.

For all ages, the suicide rate in 2009 was 12.02/100,000. For men ages 25 to 54, the rate was twice that at 24.83/100,000, illustrating the unique and significant burden men carry on the US suicide rate.
Men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women.
Suicide rates are highest among White non Hispanic Americans.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for men 25 to 34.

Men’s unwillingness to acknowledge mental health problems or suicidal thoughts, coupled with the common behavior of not accessing available services contribute to the high suicide rate among men (Moller-Leimkuhler, 2002). While men die by suicide in much higher numbers than women, suggesting that men may be in greater need of mental health services, research finds that men appear far less interested in and likely to access services. While there is no evidence that women experience higher rates of depression, men account for only one in 10 diagnosed cases of depression
Mental Health America, 2007, and research suggests male depression goes 50 to 65 percent undiagnosed. Further, men are resistant to asking for help, communicating inner feelings and forming groups around emotional issues (Davies and Waldon, 2004).

While it is true that consistently over different ages, nationalities, ethnic and racial backgrounds, men seek help less frequently than women, the trend is due in part on men’s socialization and in part on health delivery systems and not entirely on “men behaving badly.”

Gender role socialization theories (Addis & Mahalik, 2003) offer a perspective that helps explain these statistics. Cultural codes of achievement, aggression, competitiveness, and emotional isolation are consistent with the masculine stereotype; depressive symptoms are not. Cultural ideals of rugged individualism lead to social fragmentation and fewer coping alternatives.
According to Mansfield, Addis and Mahalik (2003), when men consider seeking help, they often go through a series of internal questioning:

Is my problem normal?

The degree to which men believe other men experience the same problem affects their decision to seek help. A prime example of this psychological process is erectile dysfunction. Before Senator Bob Doles’ public disclosure, many men thought they were the only ones suffering from this highly common and highly treatable problem. After the public campaign, many more men sought help.

Is my problem central to who I am?

Mental health symptoms reflect an important quality about the person (for example the hypomania in bipolar disorder that impacts creativity or productivity), then the person will be less likely to seek help.

Will others approve of my help-seeking?

If others, especially other men, are supportive, then the person will be more likely to go. Help seeking is particularly likely if the group is important to the person and unanimous in their support.

What will I lose if I ask for help?

For many the biggest obstacle to asking for help is fear of losing control: losing work privileges or status, being “locked up,” or losing one’s friends or family.

Will I be able to reciprocate?

Usually, the mental health services offered do not allow opportunities for reciprocity.
Because of ethical standards, the mental health practitioner is often not allowed to share personal information or receive favors, thus maintaining a position of power over the client.

For some men, receiving help is acceptable only if they can return the favor later on; in the relationship with a mental health provider, this is often not possible.

One exception is Alcoholics Anonymous. According to their mission, “Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” According to the AA fact file, men make up 65 percent of membership in AA, indicating this model of reciprocity is appealing to men. By contrast, among persons with any recent mental health disorder, a higher percentage of women (16%-26%) made mental health visits than men (9%-15%).

These data suggest that historical, traditional approaches to reaching men with mental health and suicide prevention messages have been mostly unsuccessful, and new, innovative approaches need to be explored and developed.

We know many men experience suicidal thoughts, believe they are the only ones, and become hopeless as a result. We also know many types of interventions and mental health services that effectively prevent suicide exist. The problem is no one has successfully bridged the two and men continue to die without linking to a life-‐ saving treatment or other intervention.

THE GOAL OF MAN THERAPY is to show working age men that talking about their problems, getting help and fixing themselves is masculine.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or “the Pros” (a vetted list of professional mental health service providers).

Source: http://mantherapy.org

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Understanding and Coping with Grief and Loss

Grief and loss are unavoidable. They are a natural part of the human condition. No one can escape experiencing several forms of loss throughout their lives. However, in the American culture, many people attempt to avoid the feelings associated with grief and loss by denying the impact it can have on our present and future lives. Some people may quickly gloss over grief and loss, stating: “I’ve accepted, forgiven, and moved on” to put a matter to rest.

Others may delve into addictive behaviors or other dysfunctional ways to numb out or block the feelings associated with grief. Unfortunately, storing grief and loss in our heads is a missed opportunity for growth on an emotional and spiritual level. It’s also an overlooked chance for hope according to Dr. Elizabeth- Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist who was a pioneer in near-death studies. When a person processes thoughts and feelings, including grief, in a supportive, therapeutic individual or group environment, hope is often a powerful outcome.

Dr. Kübler-Ross proposed that while each person will experience the stages of grief differently, the grieving process is a normal and healthy expression of emotions. Although emotions such as pain, anger, and fear may bring about much discomfort during the grieving process, these emotions also have worthwhile gifts.

According to Pia Mellody, Senior fellow at The Meadows, the gifts of feeling pain include healing, growth, and awareness. The gifts of anger encompass assertiveness, strength, and energy. The gifts of fear are preservation, wisdom, and protection. Dr. Kübler-Ross identifies the five stages of grief as denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

It is important to honor the feelings that arise during each of these stages. Dr. Kübler-Ross states that some people will skip stages, some may repeat stages, some may experience them non-sequentially, and some may not experience them all. In other words, there is no set formula for how each person will experience or move through the stages of grief. Additionally, it is clear that sometimes people benefit from getting a little outside help if they feel stuck in their grief.

When grief and loss are left unresolved, they may become like a stealth bomber showing up in covert ways such as sideways anger, guilt, depression, addiction, lethargy, and physical ailments. As a therapist I see various forms of grief show up while working with patients. I witness them grieving the loss of letting go of the old self, breaking the status quo in a family, or letting go of addictive behaviors after decades of familiarity. I see the loss and grief associated with an end to a long-term relationship through death, divorce, and retirement. Grief and loss come in so many forms, but what they all have in common is a change in circumstance and a change of course in one’s life. These massive changes can be hard to adjust to and even harder to internalize.

Whatever the loss, working through the grief takes time, energy and commitment. It is essential that people who are grieving honor themselves, especially when there is unfinished business. It is by working through the issues that hope is born and expressed while relationships and consciousness shift. Grief and loss can be beautiful and life-enhancing, as loss and love are the great unifiers in life.
The loss of innocence in childhood brings a love for independence and autonomy in teen and early adult years. The loss of love leads to challenges, new insights, and other relationships. Loss of career and jobs lead to different experiences and new opportunities. The loss of addictive behaviors leads to clarity of action and purpose. The loss of the old makes way for the beginning of anew, with hope evolving from resolved grief and the unknown future waiting to be discovered.

Are you are struggling with grief and loss and need help moving through the stages of grief? Do you feel stuck in your grief? Are you longing to find meaning and hope after experiencing loss? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider seeking help. Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers a grief workshop called Healing Heartache.  Our next scheduled grief workshop is November 12-19, 2018.  If this resonates with you, please call our intake department at 1-866-582-9850 for more information or to register. 

Learn more about The Meadows by visiting www.themeadows.com


Sick as My Secrets

Patricia L. Brooks 

Sick as My Secrets is a powerful, compassionate, moving memoir told by a strong and honest woman who overcame a desperate need for alcohol to handle stress in her young life. Patricia L. Brooks, immensely proud of her 35 years of sobriety, openly and lovingly reveals her compelling story of powerlessness, her journey to recovery, and a spiritual transformation from the lowest point in her life to the apex of her trust in God. Her saga is a testament to resilience and hope for all of us. This is a must-read for anyone recovering from addiction, with questions about the recovery process, or curious about how a situation like this can happen to an ambitious young woman with a bright future.

Patricia’s newest memoir chronicles her topsy-turvy infidelities, her incarceration for a second drunk driving ticket, her rehab for alcoholism, and her years of therapy. She also tells her story of a struggle with love addiction and domestic violence on her road to gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness and purpose.

Both of her husbands from the 1970’s tolerated some of her behavior in their marriages. Neither marriage lasted very long, the first one beginning as a teenager. Her later drinking years were spent in Arizona, often alone, working in a demanding real estate career and going to night school at Arizona State while spiraling down the rabbit hole. She saw sadness and chaos in her marriages as she moved through four states, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Arizona, before she left her second husband in Arizona to try to make it on her own. 

She’s a brave survivor of alcohol, coming to the war of alcoholism as a married teenager who had no place being at the University of Dubuque’s Seminary in Iowa in 1969. It was there she found martinis and became a warrior, fighting for her life in many difficult situations that would have taken others down, such as grief, loss and deceit. 

This 300 plus page memoir reveals an insecure young woman, dependent on her second husband for everything while desperately trying to be independent. She drinks heavily to cope with her loneliness and anxiety yet has no idea what is wrong with her as she perseveres.

As the first woman to break into the sales team of a major homebuilder in Arizona in the early 1980’s, she earns many sales awards, and makes a name for herself. But despite her achievements, her perspective was that of an outsider pushing her way in where she wasn’t welcomed. This weighed heavily on her and contributed to her drinking alone after work, despite the number of homes she may have sold that weekend.

Best Friend? Alcohol

Widely talented, but extremely insecure, in a male-dominated career that was a pillar of sexism in those early years, Patricia found peace with her friend alcohol. While often finding herself in a haze of pot-headed boyfriends and late-night parties where cocaine was served for dessert, she chose to just drink. It was legal, she did not want to lose her real estate license. She drank a lot, kept to herself and left parties early to work weekends and avoid confrontation.

Patricia somehow survived the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the 1970’s and early 1980’s only to find herself in dead end love affairs, accompanied by drunk driving tickets. The new DUI laws of Arizona had just gone into place in 1983, and although she began to find her sisterhood with other women in the real estate business, she could not put down the drink. Patricia was eventually threatened with her job despite being Salesperson of the Year, before her last DUI. She conquered her desire to drink only after surrendering to God and recovery, going to jail in Phoenix for DUI and attending out-patient treatment to save her job. 

This author of Sick as My Secrets skillfully shows how alcohol slowly but surely invaded her life. The sad but very predictable progression of alcoholism is on full and well-explored display in her memoir. There’s a lot of typical Twelve Step Recovery in her words, yet her story is told in an intriguing manner. This memoir serves as a strong refresher course for anyone who’s been sober for a while and worried they may become complacent. Addiction to love and domestic violence issues are also covered as she moves through her early sobriety.

This memoir is also for those willing to buy into the spiritual aspects of Twelve Step Recovery. But if that’s not your bag, try this book anyway, you might find that what worked so well for Patricia could also be for you, a loved one or a family member of an alcoholic. Remember, one in four people in this country are impacted by alcoholism daily.

Author’s Comments

My life experiences are fodder for my books, and memoir and biography are always my first choice in reading. I have always loved to read, write and speak up. Sick as My Secrets is a very personal story of my adult life and what it was like as a drinker who drove drunk, what happened to change my drinking to sobriety, and what thirty-five years sober means to me. True stories intrigue me and speak to me. It is my hope Sick as My Secrets does that for you.

One of my passions is advocating for addiction awareness so I am out there today and no longer anonymous. This decision happened five years ago when I began to write my book and publicly talk about my recovery to a variety of audiences. My book Three Husbands and a Thousand Boyfriends focuses on domestic violence and love addiction. And I participate in the Addiction Awareness Day and the Domestic Violence Awareness Day at the Arizona Capital each Spring, speaking to my legislators in LD23.

There are many myths related to who is a woman alcoholic. One defining question is “How did I change?” I clearly show that in the last half of the book with stories of sponsorship and service. By redoing the Twelve Steps more than once, and staying close to recovery, thirty-five years sober became my reality.

The next important question is “What was the catalyst to my change?” That answer is renewing my faith in God while in jail. I write in detail how that experience impacted me, and how powerful and humbling it was to be there. Jail made me grateful for my life; the alternative was to drive drunk and eventually kill myself or someone else.

The purpose of the book is to share my experience strength and hope with those who may never find a meeting or talk to another person in recovery. It is for those who enjoy reading memoir or living vicariously through another’s experiences. My goal was to write a riveting book so that the reader shares my words of hope and inspiration. Since I worked through the shame of alcoholism and told my truth with a passion for healing myself and others, it is now in God’s hands. 
“It is like reading a friend’s diary.” I was told recently, “you are so brave.” That is how I wanted it to be, open and inviting, but attention-getting too. If you read memoir regularly, this book is for you. If you are new to memoir, check it out. It’s a window into my reflections of what I learned and am learning on the road of recovery, how I live after so much change, and how I work to be the person I was meant to be all along. 

Just like most of our reading in recovery, my words are meant to be suggestive only. I was brave and bold in my writing on the difficult topics of love addiction, alcoholism, domestic violence, post-traumatic stress and spirituality. They are everyday life to me. Real issues to me, for people like me. I faced this writing with integrity and hard work, and a lot of faith.

Not knowing how a reader will react to my work, I put it out there to the best of my ability with the noblest of intentions. I wrote for myself first and did not censor my audience. After conversations with myself and God, I wrote more and revised again. By acknowledging those who helped and supported me along the way, such as my author husband, Earl L. Goldmann, my critique group and my editor, the miracle happened. 

This book is dedicated to my dear friend Charmeon who was killed by a drunk driver over 40 years ago. She is a constant reminder to me of how grateful I am today for my incredible life as a sober woman.

Patricia L. Brooks, MAOM, is an award-winning author of three memoirs, a publishing consultant at her company Brooks Goldmann Publishing, LLC and president and Founder of the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers. She can be reached at patricia@plbrooks.com 480-250-5556 or www.brooksgoldmannpublishing.com 

Continuum Recovery Center now In-Network with Blue Cross Blue Shield

There are over 2,300,000 people living with addiction. 

Know that you are not alone. Continuum Recovery Center provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to overcoming chemical dependency, alcoholism and co-occurring mental health disorders in a safe, confidential and supportive environment.

Continuum Recovery Center provides outstanding options and individualized treatment services, because one size does not fit all. Services include Primary Extended Treatment, Intensive Outpatient, through Relapse Prevention and Aftercare.

We believe in identifying the “WHY”

Identifying the underlying issue of “why” the addict or alcoholic began using or drinking is the first step to treatment. If you’re able to process, learn coping skills, and even resolve the underlying issue, you will no longer need the drug or alcohol to live life.

“Addiction is a deadly disease immune to age, race, sex, and socio economic status. It does not care who you are or where you’re from. In my career as a professional athlete, I’ve seen it destroy the lives of several of my peers and the life of my brother who was as gifted an athlete as myself but is now serving a life sentence due to the grips of this fatal disease. I am passionate and committed to preventing this for you and your family.” Frank Johnson, Founder & Chief Executive Officer. 

For information visit www.continuumrecoverycenter.com or call 602-903-2999.

Finding Miracles Across the Table

By Dina Evan, PhD

This is the month for giving thanks and for many it may seem harder to feel thankful. The people having to rebuild lives and homes now still under water in many states, or many in Washington are feeling so separated from their own values they can hardly speak. I too am sad, even when my mind knows I have had an incredibly blessed life, not with material things, or wealth, but rather, like you, with doing what I came here to do and being who I came here to be.

Living on purpose, values, and an inner sense of connection with something bigger than ourselves — embracing the pain that shatters our souls into splinters out of which we build our cathedrals. We do it, chose it, to push our souls forward.

As an example, I have been so fortunate to find doctors who are present, compassionate and kind. I had to go back  for my monthly visit with my pain doctor. He’s a precious young family man who is awake, present and kind. As usual, we spent ten minutes talking about my prescriptions and then time talking about the world and what we are doing to try to make changes. He and his wife are bravely teaching young people in their church about relationships and I shared the videos we are putting up on my site that he had been watching, and invited him to use the material in his work. In that place of awareness — we were one.

When these kinds of connections take place, the energy in the room softens. It stills and vibrates differently in a deep sense of connection that arrives as if we had known each other forever. There are few, but deeply precious, people in my life with whom I share that magic. They stop whatever they are doing and show up, because they want to connect in that sacred space that says I care, we care.
They stop rushing to, or from, anything. They tell the truth. They express the kind of love that sustains us and is so unbelievable it can’t be contained with a description.

I left that office and sat in my car and wept for nearly fifteen minutes with the realization that nothing less that these connections have or could ever fill my soul or feed my spirit. The rest is mundane and unsatisfying. It leaves me longing for more.

That’s when it occurred to me, it is these conscious connections for which we get to give thanks.

Maybe when you get older like me, you realize your time here is limited, you know that only that which is real, matters. However, the millennials and young adults are getting these concepts so quickly and deeply it astounds me, like this precious doctor, my producer, and thousands around the world.

Looking for ways to fill up my time bores me, anything except knowledge bores me. None of which is to say I am spiritual, but rather, I simply feel the realization that walking for forty years on the path with these courageous people, who bare souls to heal the pain they carry so they can replace the pain with their purpose and calling. It’s a miraculous act of such courage that nothing less that their same level of bravery can or should be lived through my actions and service. They deserve that from me, because if I dare to ask it of them, they dare even greater to give it.

And so ....
This Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the masters who sit across the table from you in your life. They came to share your journey, shoulder the responsibility and the joy and most of all to reflect back to you, your great courage and wisdom in choosing this path, at this very difficult time. Being real and conscious isn’t always easy, however, it’s it is vital to your evolution, as vital as your next breath. This my beloved readers, is what I mean when I say, “When you change inside, a world event takes place outside. Just breathe and know you are building cathedrals and fulfilling your purpose, and that’s what you came here to do. Give thanks for that and know I give thanks for you for giving me another place to fulfill my purpose.

Please go to DrDinaEvan.com and help me share the vital tools on the videos Your Path and Purpose. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I do not want to write this piece, but I must.

I believe people who come into our lives; whether for a short time or a long while – arrive for a reason. And, there are those special ones we connect with on a soul level, in a deeper way, just like ‘family’.

Friendships, if truly authentic go through ups and downs, from spats to forgiveness, belly laughs and tears. The years go on and what develops is a bond between human beings. We help each other, we listen, call each other out when things go awry, challenge one another and accept one another. We focus on the lessons they bring us rather than the flaws. Each of us is perfect in God’s eyes, and that is what counts.

A month ago, on September 27th, my dearest and closest friend for over 20 years took his life. The Why’s will never be answered. The questions I’ve asked myself since, from “what did I miss, to why didn’t he let me know, I could have helped,” — spin in my mind, and it hurts.

It hurts because it is final. It hurts because he is gone. I’m angry, sad, and confused. I miss him and pray he will find peace.

To my best friend Bill, you were loved by many and you touched my life in ways I will cherish and remember all of my days till I see you again.

Peace my friend, may you find peace.

Let's be honest with our feelings 
without shame or fear of being judged,
We must ask for help when 
we don't want to,
If we feel hopeless or powerless 
or alone in this world, 
please, please reach out. 

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Looking Back, Looking Ahead:

Reflecting on the Progress of Mental Health Treatment and Recovery, Along with New Hope Anchored in Science, Education and Integrated Care

By Terros health staff

Addiction — to tobacco, alcohol or prescription or illegal drugs — is a disease that contributes to 632,000 deaths in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Yet most physicians don’t have adequate training to treat addictions comprehensively, and too few medical schools offer addiction education. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the medical profession has failed — “in medical school, residency training, continuing education and in practice” — to address addiction.

There is a need: Statistics about substance abuse addictions, mental illness and suicide
  • An estimated 16 percent of Americans ages 12 and older — about 40 million people — have a substance abuse problem, an addiction to alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs or nicotine.
  • Only 11 percent of people in need receive treatment.
  • One-third of all inpatient hospital costs are linked to addiction and risky substance use.
  • Serious mental illness costs in the United States amount to more than $193 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Drug overdoses took an estimated 72,000 
  • lives in the United States in 2017.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the nation and the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 34.
(Sources: Center on Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 

In Arizona, however, a stellar example of a behaviorally-led integrated approach to wellness, mind and body, is building healthy communities through exceptional patient experiences, quality outcomes and controlled health care costs. 

Terros Health, founded nearly 50 years ago, last year helped more than 53,000 Arizonans on the path to better health and an improved quality of life. It started by treating physical and behavioral health conditions as one, rather than in silos. As part of its integrated model of care, Terros Health provides primary medical, mental health, substance abuse and wellness care under one roof.

“We look at the whole person,” said Dr. Saul Perea, Terros Health’s Integrated Care medical director. “And we are educating people one by one, helping people one at a time, bringing them in for treatment and ultimately changing lives.”
Terros Health is working hard to change the stigma of mental illness, reduce barriers to treatment and achieve more effective treatment protocols. It’s part of a movement that began in 1909 when former psychiatric patient, Clifford W. Beers, witnessed and experienced horrible abuse while being institutionalized. Today, Mental Health America (MHA) is a leading community-based nonprofit that has made an indelible mark on tens of thousands of people. 

MHA also led advocacy efforts that have resulted in landmark legislation, including the signing of the National Mental Health Act by President Harry Truman in 1946, the creation of the National Institute of Mental Health and allocation of government funds for research into the causes of and treatments for mental illness.

Fast-forward nearly two decades to 1963: Congress passed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Health Centers Construction Act, providing federal funding for the development of community-based mental health services. 

Then in 1977, President Jimmy Carter established the President’s Commission on Mental Health, among the first comprehensive surveys of mental health care. Formation of The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill followed in 1979 and the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted in 1990 to protect mentally and physically challenged Americans from discrimination in a variety of settings.

Progress continued in 1996, when the Mental Health Parity Act, the first federal legislation to bring more equity to health insurance coverage of mental health care, was adopted. The same year, President Bill Clinton moved to end discrimination in such coverage for 9 million federal workers by enacting mental health insurance parity for them. 

Mental health parity is important because it ensures equal treatment of mental health conditions and substance use disorders in insurance plans. Although Congress passed this legislation in 1996, the advent of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 delivered on this promise. 

As a result of the ACA, patients with physical and mental health conditions cannot be denied health care coverage. What’s more, behavioral health services are an “essential benefit” required by law.

Education brings awareness, science gives answers 
Public policies have come a long way in helping the one in four Americans challenged by mental illness and addiction, yet more must be done. Society’s false beliefs about mental illnesses — that only weak people, poor people, damaged people have them — once were widespread. 
Fortunately, advancements in neuroscience, the advent of the Information Age, and focused public awareness campaigns are reversing that trend, said Dr. Randy Brazie, Terros Health’s chief medical officer. As Brazie explains, addiction isn’t selective. “It affects people of all socioeconomic levels, races, genders, ages and occupations,” he said. “A mental illness is no different, in terms of being ‘real,’ than a physical illness, such as cancer or heart disease.”
This realization is bringing mental illness out of the shadows, showing patients they aren’t alone, acknowledging they can’t just “snap out of it,” and expanding empathy and understanding, he said. 

Addictions have long been thought to be related to any number of things: psychological factors, stress and personality traits such as high impulsivity, environmental influences, including exposure to physical, sexual or emotional abuse or trauma, and using alcohol, nicotine or other drugs at an early age.

But just as the field of genetics is pinpointing the causes of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease so, too, is science revealing more about addiction and its associated risk factors. These include genetic predispositions and certain brain characteristics that may make a patient more vulnerable to addictive substances. 

Neuroscience also is producing a rapid evolution in our understanding of how pathways in the brain may be triggered by substance abuse. 
“Addictions are very much driven by how the brain responds to things,” Brazie said. “And when a pathway in the brain gets triggered, it can be very difficult to extinguish.”

“Dramatic revelations about the role of biology and genetics in mental illness make the hope for better diagnoses and treatments exciting,” Perea said. The Center on Addiction reports that genetics account for 50 to 75 percent of the risk for addiction. 

“Genetics are so impressive in other areas of medicine, in terms of prediction and treatment,” he said. “For example, in a cancer patient, what type of treatment will he or she respond to best, based on his genetic makeup? The same thing is happening in mental health, where we are identifying the gene that causes schizophrenia. The promise is huge.”

A new model of care

So is the promise of integrated care. 

Terros Health’s model of care hinges on many years of research at the AIMS Center – Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions, at the University of Washington. 
The Center’s evidence-based model, known as Collaborative Care, was used in a large randomized treatment trial for depressed adults who visited primary care clinics across the United States and abroad. Collaborative Care was shown to double the effectiveness of depression treatment while lowering long-term health care costs, according to study findings reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

For example, at one year, about half of the patients receiving Collaborative Care reported at least a 50 percent reduction in depressive symptoms, compared with only 19 percent of those in primary care. They also experienced more than 100 additional depression-free days over a two-year period than those in primary care.

When a new patient with anxiety, depression or another mental health condition comes to Terros Health, he/she is seen by a primary care physician for a health screening, then meets with a behavioral therapist where medications, medical history and symptoms are chronicled. Throughout the process, Terros Health physicians, nurse practitioners and clinicians access the patient’s electronic health record and communicate about the course of treatment and progress. 

Such was the case with Shannon Ballejos. 

An unexpected job loss, a car accident, oxycodone for back pain, followed by heroin use, tore Ballejos’ family apart. Thanks to integrated care, she has been off drugs for nine months and is putting her family back together.

Ballejos was devastated when, after moving with her three younger children to a new city for her company, her new job fell through. She returned to Phoenix, was recovering from the disappointment and was planning to start over until the accident. 

“When I was no longer able to get the prescription for oxycodone, a friend introduced me to heroin. I was 39, and this was the first time I had used drugs. I changed so much. I was neglecting my children to the point that DCS (Arizona Department of Child Safety) had to step in and take them from me. They were 5, 7 and 11 at the time. It broke my heart, but contrary to every value I thought I had, I still wanted heroin.”

DCS referred Ballejos to Terros Health for treatment
“My case manager believed in me when I didn’t. I kept relapsing, but she stuck with me and recommended that I enter residential treatment for 30 days at Maverick House. 
“Going there was the best decision I ever made. I not only learned the painful lessons of my addiction, but I also discovered what made me happy, little things like crocheting, reading and hiking.”
Ballejos’ recovery has been supported with Suboxone prescribed by Perea, whom she sees monthly. Another Terros Health physician manages her asthma and other general medical issues. 
Ballejos doesn't take her new life of recovery lightly. After Maverick House, she completed two sessions of outpatient treatment, has a recovery sponsor she speaks with every morning and participates weekly in Narcotics Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous.

Family life is becoming normal for Ballejos, who also has three adult children and has been reunited with her three younger children. 

Treatment works

The importance of treatment cannot be overstated, Brazie said. ”The reason is simple: treatment works.”

Christopher Gabriel Jojola had been using Percocet and heroin for six years, and when he tried to stop, he experienced excruciating withdrawal symptoms. “I felt sick and everything hurt. I didn’t crave the drug. In fact, I hated the drug. I needed help with my withdrawal.”
Jojola, 34, researched health care organizations and chose a Terros Health clinic about a year ago. 

“I had not used for 16 hours, which was a requirement before I could get treatment. I walked into the clinic fairly sick. They put me in a quiet room and made me comfortable. The doctor gave me Suboxone (an FDA-approved medication for testing opiate dependence) and monitored me to adjust the dosage. I felt better and came back the next two days for additional medication adjustment, and then they gave me a two-week prescription to continue helping me with the withdrawal.” 

When asked to begin intensive outpatient treatment, Jojola questioned whether he could get to the clinic three days a week for the three-hour group sessions. “Cathy, a primary care support specialist, asked me if I had been able to make it to my drug dealer every single day. Of course, I had. I realized I could make it to the counseling sessions.”

Jojola credits his successful recovery to his physicians and medication, plus seven months of intensive outpatient treatment, and individual counseling sessions when he needed it. He wondered if anyone at the clinic truly cared about him. “It turns out the staff does care. It is not just a job for them.”

Jojola is now working full-time as a commercial plumber and has joint custody of his two children, ages 7 and 9. “My future is looking bright.”
Prince Zombo is feeling equally hopeful about what lies ahead. 
Zombo is a permanent resident of the United States who was born in Liberia, Africa. When a civil war in his homeland broke out, Zombo and his family moved to New York City.

Soccer is Zombo’s passion. He played it in Africa and New York, where he graduated from high school, then coached soccer there. Since moving to Arizona in 2011, he has continued to coach, and enjoys involving children in healthy sports.

In August 2014, life became difficult for Zombo, 41, and his two sons, Prince Jr. and Promys, whom he was raising alone. Because of a medical emergency, Zombo was taken to the hospital, leaving his children with a neighbor. 

When DCS became involved in the matter, Zombo appeared in family court. He tested positive for marijuana, his two boys were placed in foster care and he was ordered to receive treatment.

“I didn’t think my marijuana use was at the level that needed treatment, but I wanted my boys back. I was willing to do anything for us to be a family again.” 

Zombo participated in two years of counseling and treatment services at Terros Health, and worked as a behavioral health technician in a group home.

He quit marijuana use and was reunited with his sons in June 2016. The most important lesson he learned in counseling was living a sober life.
Today, he says his life is great, “I have a roof over my head, a job as a manager of a group home and a beautiful family.” He has set a personal goal to become a peer recovery coach.

Knocking down insurance barriers

For some, it’s hard to imagine the thought of having mental health issues, particularly when there is no history of mental illness in the family. It’s how one confronts these challenges that is key to their recovery, Brazie said. “Shannon, Prince and Christopher are shining examples of what can happen when you are set on a path of recovery.”

Despite the roadblocks, mental health care in America and Arizona are evolving in a positive way, Brazie added. This includes stepped-up assistance by health insurance companies, which historically have been slow to reimburse providers for mental health services. A new program in Arizona, effective Oct. 1, will change that, when 1.5 million AHCCCS members will move to Complete Care integrated health care plan. It will provide both physical and behavioral health services. 

“This is good news for all Arizonans,” Perea said. “People should never suffer in silence. As a mental health community, we are here to help them get the services and treatment they expect and deserve.”

There is help: Mental health resources
Terros Health, terroshealth.org, 602-685-6000
National Institute of Mental Health, nimh.nih.gov, 866-615-6464
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, samhsa.gov, 877-SAMSHA-7
National Alliance on Mental Illness, nami.org, 800-950-NAMI
Mental Health America of Arizona, mhaarizona.org, 480-982-5305
Veterans Crisis Line, veteranscrisisline.net, 800-273-8255

14th Annual NAMI Valley 5K Walk

Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and it’s something that doesn’t get a day off.

14th Annual NAMI Valley 5K Walk on Saturday, October 20

Walk to increase awareness in Arizona about mental illness and its devastating effects. Help us bring Arizona’s mental illness community together, and raise dollars for NAMI’s outstanding and vital support and education programs!

Visit http://www.namiarizona.org to join and/or donate to the NAMI Valley of the Sun Stigma Stompers Walk Team. Help us exceed our goal of $5,000.

The community is coming together at the Arizona State Capitol grounds, 1700 W. Washington St. in downtown Phoenix.Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. The walk starts at 9:15 a.m. Sign up for either the 1.2K or 5K walk.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI shapes national public policy for people with mental illness and their families and provides volunteer leaders with the tools, resources and skills necessary to save mental health in all states.

Suport and Events

Professional Events
OCT. 16—PCS Networking Luncheon,12:15 -1:30 pm. 3302 N. Miller
Road, Scottsdale. Jacquee Nickerson, 480-947-5739, E:pcs@pcsearle.com

Nov.4 —Arizona Psychodrama Institute Full Day of Basics — ($99 per session). API offers “Basics of Psychodrama” every two months and each one is uniquely different.

Nov. 30,— Sierra Tucson 11th Annual— “Gratitude for Giving” Celebration Sierra Tucson will recognize professionals in the Phoenix area for their years of giving to others. Join us in honoring your selected peers who have made a significant contribution to our community. 9:00 a.m.-Registration. 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Breakfast, Presentation of Awards, Arizona Biltmore, 2400 E. Missouri Ave.

Support Groups & Events

LGBTQ - IOP Program. Dedicated specialty program designed to meet the mental health and substance abuse, treatment needs of the LGBTQ+ population. Mon., Tues., Thurs. 6:00-9:00 pm. Transportation available. Call 602-952-3939/602-952-3907.Valley Hospital, 3550 E.Pinchot Ave. Phoenix. www.valleyhospital-phoenix.com

SIERRA TUCSON— Alumni Groups. Scottsdale, Tues., 6:00- 7:00 p.m.Valley
Presbyterian Church. 6947 E. Mc-Donald Drive, Paradise Valley. 480-991-4267. Counseling Center(Parlor Room). Rob L. 602-339-4244or stscottsdalealumni@gmail.com.

SIERRA TUCSON— Continuing Care
Groups—Phoenix. Thurs. – Resident Alumni. Psychological Counseling
Services, 3302 N. Miller, Scottsdale. 5:30 –7:00 p.m. Group facilitated by staff of PCS. No charge for Resident Alumni. Courtney 520-624-4000, Ext. 600205 or email: Courtney.Martinez@SierraTucson. com.

SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous) 12-step, self-help recovery program for men and women, 18 and older, who were sexually abused as children. The only requirement for membership is you were sexually abused as a child and want recovery.  Scottsdale, Saturday, 2:00pm - 3:00pm, Bethany Lutheran Church, 4300 N 82nd St. 480-370-3854. www.siawso.org

FAMILY RECOVERY GROUP—Facilitator, Brough Stewart, LPC. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Designed to help begin/continue family recovery. Meadows Outpatient Center, 19120 N. Pima Rd., Ste. 125, Scottsdale. Jim Corrington LCSW, 602-740-8403

HEALTHY INTIMACY GROUP— Tucson—Weekly women’s group.  Explore intimacy issues and help heal relationship and intimacy wounds. Desert Star Addiction Recovery Center. 520-638-6000.

Celebrate Recovery — Compass 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.

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. valleyhospital-phoenix.com

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

Families Anonymous—12 step program for family members of addicts. Scottsdale Sun. 4:00 p.m., 10427 N. Scottsdale Rd., N. Scottsdale Fellowship 480-225-1555 /602-647-5800

NICOTINE ANONYMOUS (NicA) Fellowship for those with a desire to stop using nicotine. Phoenix Sat., 5-6:00 p.m. 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. 1st / 3rd Wed., 7:30 p.m. Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 2nd floor. 12701 N. Scottsdale Rd. 602-971-1234 ext. 280.

COSA (12-step recovery program for thosewhose lives have been affected by another person’s compulsive sexual behavior) Thurs. 11:00 a.m. 2210 W. Southern Ave. Mesa. 602-793-4120.

LIVING GRACE SUPPORT GROUP– A Christ centered approach for individuals and families affected by mental illness. Oasis Community church, 15014 N. 56th St. Scottsdale. 602-494-9557. 2nd & 4th Tuesday 6-8 p.m.

Women for Sobriety —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— Message of hope and personal recovery to family and friends of someone who is addicted to cocaine or other 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.

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, Tucson. 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—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—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. 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, E: 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.

Eating Disorder Support Groups— PHX— Monday  7:00 p.m. 2927 E. Campbell Dr. Ste. 104, (Mt. View Christian Church). Jen (602) 316-7799 or edaphoenix@gmail.com. Wed. 7:00 p.m.  Liberation Center, 650 N. 6th Ave, Phoenix. (cross street McKinley).  Jennifer (602) 316-7799. Tempe—Thursday6:30 p.m. Big Book/Step Study.  Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders, 950 W. Elliot Rd, Ste. #201, Tempe. E: info@eatingdisordersanonymous.com. Tucson— Tues.  5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Steps to the Solution.Mountain View Retirement Village, 7900 N. La Canada Drive, Tucson.  leeverholly@gmail.com. Thurs. 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. EDA Big Book Step Study. Mountain View Retirement Village, 7900 N. La Canada Drive, Tucson.  (203) 592-7742 / leeverholly@gmail.com.  Wickenburg—Wed. 7:15 p.m. and Sunday 7:45 p.m. (N,D/SP,O,) Capri PHP program. (928) 684-9594 or (800) 845-2211.Yuma —Wed. @ 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. 3970 W. 24th St. Ste. 206 Yuma. Alyssa (928) 920-0008 or email 2014yumae.d.a@gmail.com.

GODDESSESS & KACHINAS Philosophical, spiritual, religious 12 step, 12 Tradtition/12 Promises support group. Details 480-203-6518.

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


Statistics Show Arizona Is Making Progress in the Opioid Crisis

The latest information suggests the efforts by the State of Arizona is making progress against the war on opioids use.

The Arizona Opioid Emergency Response June 2017 to June 2018 report lists several significant factors that describe what Arizona is doing to eliminate the opioid epidemic crisis in the state. Some key indicators in the report are:

The percent of patients receiving referrals to behavioral health or substance abuse treatment services after an overdose increased from 45% in June 2017 to 73% in May 2018.

The number of naloxone prescriptions dispensed by pharmacists has more than tripled in recent months. July–September 2017, fewer than 900 naloxone kits were dispensed each month. In May 2018, 3,498 kits were dispensed to the public.

The number of opioid prescriptions filled declined 40% between June 2017 and June 2018.

The number of opioid pills dispensed decreased 43% between June 2017 and June 2018.
The 4 & 4 report is a list of patients who have obtained controlled medications from 4 different doctors and 4 different pharmacies in a given month.

The Arizona Board of Pharmacy sends any prescriber with a patient on the 4 & 4 list an unsolicited letter to alert the prescriber of the patient's possible doctor and pharmacy shopping. There has been a 62% decline in the number of patients on this report – from 99 in July 2017 to 38 in June 2018.

Further evidence that Arizona is aggressive in dealing with the opioid epidemic can be found in the Arizona Attorney General’s office issuing almost half a million dollars to fight the opioid abuse problem in the state.

These are just a few of the key indicators that let you State officials have plans to continue to address this epidemic for as long as necessary.

For more information visit azhealth.gov/opioid



In Phoenix, Sally’s Place is a supportive housing program for pregnant women struggling with addiction. The program provides a supportive environment in which women are given the opportunity to parent their newborn. The goal is to re-introduce the woman and her child into the community with safe housing, support, and continued resources.
Sally’s Place is a community with six two-bedroom apartments surrounding a communal courtyard. 24-hour on-site staff provides peace of mind and support for women during their pregnancy and new motherhood. The communal nature of the complex promotes a women-helping-women atmosphere where more experienced mothers can advise and support their peers. The women participate in the Women’s Outpatient Program and have access to all of NCADD’s services including Educational and Vocational training.

Sally’s Place opened in 2015 and was named to honor the work of former NCADD CEO Sally O’Malley Whitten Lara. Since its opening Sally’s Place provided shelter and support to many women and their babies.

Sally’s Place is open to women who: Are pregnant or have recently given birth, have a mental illness, and are actively working on recovery. For more information visit https://ncadd-phx.or call (602) 264-6214.  

Who’s Behind the Mask?

By Dr. Dina Evan

This is time of year when we wear masks and scare people. However, the scariest truth is we spend the majority of our lives behind a mask, not being who we really are and not knowing how to get there. Frequently, we are different people with different truths for different people, and we do it with such ease, we almost believe the lies ourselves. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, claims in her TED Talk that we’re lied to from 10-200 times a day. We create a set of lies for this person or group and a different set of lies for another. It’s not that we are trying to be deliberately malicious, but boy, have we gotten creative with our lies.

One of the ways we lie, is we tell people what we think they want to hear. Like children, we even color our lies. For instance, lies of omission, or the ones we justify by not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings are considered white lies. Even these seemingly harmless, cute, little lies destroy our integrity and chip away at our self-esteem. They create guilt because we know, inside, we are hiding something about which we feel ashamed.

Frequently, we call in the troops and collude with others and we get them to shade the truth with us. When you create an alternate, agreed upon, reality between you and another person, this makes them complicit and especially if they are a young person — it teaches them that lying is okay. Another kind of lie is when we make ourselves look better by acting pridefully, as if we did something on our own, without acknowledging that we couldn’t have been successful without the help of others.

What about Exaggeration?

Today, we’re experiencing a tremendous amount of exaggeration. When you exaggerate or lie about yourself or abilities, you are left feeling like a fraud, which further diminishes your self-esteem. When people realize you’re lying, not only have you lost credibility, but you have also lost trust.

You have taken a step back from being your true self, and into being more of a fraud. It’s especially difficult to watch those you love — lie. It makes us sad because we so want something real, especially with those closest to us.

The youngest among us lie the least, simply because they have not yet learned how. So what are we teaching them?

How do we Stop?
Perhaps, part of the issue is that we perceive telling the truth as hurtful. Actually, it’s a gift that says, “I respect and love you too much to lie to you.” People honestly feel safe and valued by you when they know you will always tell them the truth, even when it smarts a bit. Otherwise, when they know you are someone who lies, they never feel safe about anything you are telling them, even though you might think you are getting away with it.

So here is a real truth for you. Telling the truth is a gift you give to yourself and to those you love. It’s part of your soul work and a direct reflection of your integrity or lack of it. When you are truthful, those around you, see a role model for integrity and honesty and they too begin to feel safe about being authentic and coming out from behind the mask. Truth-telling is a part of our work and it’s solely about each of us, not about any other person.

We also want to remember that telling the truth doesn’t have to be delivered with a sledge hammer. For instance, When someone says, Do you think I look fat in this outfit?” A loving and truthful answer might be, “I like you in the blue one better.” Or, if someone congratulates you on a team accomplishment, rather than taking all the credit, you might say, “Thanks I appreciate the compliment, but I had a lot of help.”

So, given the level of consciousness, or lack of it, in the world right now, maybe you and I can make a commitment to take off our masks and even if we start with the little things. We can care about ourselves and those we love enough to simply tell the truth.

If you need some tools, go to DrDinaEvan.com and watch the videos. And here is one of our truths, writing these columns is an opportunity that requires us to take off our masks each month and I for one, am deeply grateful for that gift.

Community Bridges, HonorHealth Name Arizona’s First Addiction Medicine Fellow

Fellowship Begins in October; Applications Being Accepted for Second Fellow

Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI), the premiere provider of integrated behavioral health programs in Arizona, and the HonorHealth Family Medicine Residency Program proudly announce the first fellow in the only addiction medicine fellowship in Arizona accredited by the Addiction Medicine Foundation: Dr. Cooper Johnston. The fellowship, which begins in October, touches on a crucial community need, as the opioid epidemic reaches an all-time high. 

“Addiction has touched my extended family, and I understand the hardships it can cause,” explains Dr. Johnston of his decision to apply for the fellowship. “I have a passion for helping people overcome this debilitating problem, and plan on practicing addiction medicine after the fellowship.”

Spearheading this first-of-its-kind Arizona program are CBI Chief Medical Officer and addiction specialist Michel Sucher, M.D. and HonorHealth Program Director for the Family Medicine Residency Program Cynthia Kegowicz, M.D.

"This fellowship program is in line with CBI's role as the premiere provider of integrated care and specifically substance use disorder treatment,” explains Dr. Sucher. “By affiliating with HonorHealth, this puts CBI squarely in the forefront of academics and research in this vitally important specialty of addiction medicine." Hear what CBI’s Chief Medical Officer has to say about the Addiction Fellowship — https://vimeo.com/286393368

The misuse of opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin, is one of the most serious public health problems in the United States, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The organization says it now claims more lives than motor vehicle crashes. 
Apply here to be considered for an Addiction Medicine Fellowship this fall: https://www.honorhealth.com/academic-affairs/addiction-medicine-fellowship

Clinical training sites for the fellowship include CBI’s addiction and recovery, integrated care and psychiatric emergency centers, as well as HonorHealth’s Scottsdale Osborn, John C. Lincoln and Scottsdale Thompson Peak centers. 

Fellows will do clinical rotations with outpatient addiction medicine using the cutting-edge Medication Assisted Treatment, as well as inpatient medical detoxification, with elective rotations in women’s and children’s addiction treatment, addiction-free pain management and CBI’s Project for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, known as PATH.

About Community Bridges, Inc. (CommunityBridgesAZ.org)

Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI) is the premiere provider of integrated behavioral health programs in Arizona, including prevention, education and treatments using cutting-edge, nationally recognized models. Programs include residential, inpatient, patient-centered medical homes, medication assisted treatment (MAT), crisis units, transition points and outpatient services to individuals who are experiencing crisis, opioid use disorder, homelessness and mental illness. CBI believes in maintaining the dignity of human life, and knows recovery is possible.

About Honor Health (honorhealth.com)

HonorHealth is a non-profit health system serving an area of 1.6 million people in the greater Phoenix area. The network encompasses five acute-care hospitals, an extensive medical group, outpatient surgery centers, a cancer care network, clinical research, medical education, a foundation and community services with approximately 11,500 employees, 3,700 affiliated physicians and 3,100 volunteers. HonorHealth was formed by a merger between Scottsdale Healthcare and John C. Lincoln Health Network. HonorHealth’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of those we serve. 

Drug Prevention Tips for Every Age

Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to connect with — and protect their kids. When tackling some of life’s tougher topics, especially about drugs and alcohol, just figuring out what to say can be a challenge. Here are some ideas:


Since the foundation for healthy habits — from nutrition to toothbrushing— is laid down during the preschool years, this is a great time to set the stage for a drug-free life.

Scenario: Giving your child a daily vitamin.

What to Say: Vitamins help you grow. You need to take them every day so you’ll grow up big and strong but yonly take what I give you. Too many vitamins can hurt you and make you sick.

Scenario: Your kids are curious about medicine bottles around the house.
What to Say: You should only take medicines that have your name on them or our doctor has chosen just for you. If you take medicine that belongs to somebody else, it could be dangerous.

Early Elementary (5-8 years old)

Five to eight year-olds are beginning to explore their individuality.

Scenario:  Your child has expressed curiosity about the pills they see you take every day — and the other bottles in the medicine cabinet
What to Say: Just because it’s in a family’s medicine cabinet doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to take.

Even if your friends say it’s okay, say, “No, my parents won’t let me take something that doesn’t have my name on the bottle.”

Talk about the drug-related messages they receive through advertisements, media and entertainment sources. Ask your kids how they feel about things they’ve heard — you’ll learn a great deal about what they’re thinking.

Keep your discussions about substances focused on the present — long-term consequences are too distant to have any meaning. Talk about the differences between the medicinal uses and illegal uses of drugs.

Set clear rules and explain the reasons for your rules. If you use tobacco or alcohol, be mindful of the message you are sending.

Work on problem solving: Help them find long-lasting solutions to homework trouble, a fight with a friend, or dealing with a bully.

Give your kids the power to escape from situations that make them feel bad. Make sure they know they shouldn’t stay in a place makes them feel uncomfortable or bad about themselves. Let them know they don’t need to stick with friends who don’t support them.

Preteen (9-12 year olds)

Preteens, on their quest to figure out their place in the world, tend to give their friends’ opinions a great deal of power, while at the same time starting to question their parents’ views and messages.

Scenario: Your child is starting middle school and you know that eventually, they might be offered drugs and alcohol.

What to Say: I know we talked about drinking and drugs when you were younger, but now is when they’re probably going to be an issue. I’m guessing you’ll at least hear about kids who are experimenting. I want you to remember the best thing you can do is just talk to me about the stuff you hear or see. Don’t think there’s anything I can’t handle or that you can’t talk about with me.”

Scenario: You find out kids are selling prescription drugs at your child’s school. Your child hasn’t mentioned it and you want to get the conversation about it started.

What to Say: You probably know parents talk to each other and find things out. I heard some kids are selling pills – prescriptions that either they are taking or someone in their family takes. Have you heard anything?”

Scenario: Your child’s favorite celebrity—the one they really look up to has been named in a drug scandal

What to Say: Being in the public eye puts pressure on people, and many turn to drugs because they think drugs will relieve stress. The thing is, when a person uses drugs and alcohol—especially a young person it changes how his brain works. Most people who use drugs and alcohol need help to get better.

Tips for Conversations with Your Preteen

Make sure your child knows your rules — and you’ll enforce the consequences if broken. Research shows kids are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs if their parents have established a pattern of setting clear consequences.

Kids who don’t know what to say when someone offers them drugs are more likely to give in to peer pressure.

Feelings of insecurity, doubt and pressure may creep in during puberty. Offset those feelings with a lot of positive comments about who he is as an individual — and not just when he brings home an A.

Preteens aren’t concerned with future problems that might result from experimentation with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, but they are concerned about their appearance — sometimes to the point of obsession. Tell them about the smelly hair and ashtray breath caused by cigarettes.

Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Check in by phone or a visit once in awhile to make sure they are on the same page with prohibiting drug or

Make sure your teen knows your rules and the consequences for breaking them — and, most importantly, that you really will enforce those consequences if the rules are broken. Research shows kids are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs if their parents have established a pattern of setting clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules. Kids who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use drugs.

Make it clear you disapprove of all alcohol, tobacco and drug use. As teens are extremely concerned with their physical appearance, remind your teen about the negative effects alcohol, tobacco and other drugs have on appearance.

Let your teen in on all the things you find wonderful about them. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in preventing drug use among teens.

Show interest in and discuss your child’s daily ups and downs. Learn how to talk to each other, and don’t take your child by surprise when you voice a strong point of view about drugs.

Don’t just leave your child’s anti-drug education up to their school. Ask what they have learned about drugs in school and build on that with topics, such as how and why chemical dependence occurs; the unpredictable nature of dependency and how it varies from person to person; the impact of drug use on maintaining a healthy lifestyle; or positive approaches to stress reduction.

Encourage your teen to volunteer somewhere that he can see the impact of drugs on your community. Teenagers tend to be idealistic and enjoy hearing about ways they can help make an impact.

(Source: DrugFree.org)

When “me” became “We”

This edition is dedicated to the memory of 
Christopher Kennedy Lawford. 
Thank you for your service and dedication to the Recovery Community.

The longer I’m clean and sober, the more I feel a sense of obligation to help others.

Like many addicts and alcoholics in the throes of this disease, my world revolved around me; and the deeper I dove in to it— the more vacant my spirit became. People who cared about me did their best to encourage me to seek help, and the more I heard I had a problem — the farther away I ran. The shame I felt was overwhelming and frightening. “They just don’t understand,” is what I kept telling myself. “I can stop whenever I want to!” A lie most addicts tell themselves.

When I tried to block out the truth, the closer it got. So I moved, changed jobs, friends, sought out lower and lower companions who let me get drunk and high with them and I never felt safe. Those were very dark years and there were many of them. Thinking about that time in my life still gives me chills. Fear and anger ran through my veins, and gratitude was a word I never used.
I came across this quote that sums it up:

“Recovery is not simple abstinence. It’s about healing the brain, remembering how to feel, learning how to make good decisions, becoming the kind of person who can engage in healthy relationships, cultivating the willingness to accept help from others, daring to be honest, and opening up to doing.” ~ Debra Jay

When “me” became “We” and I became willing to change -- is when this magnificent journey of recovery began. I am honored to be on this path with you.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Throw the Rope, Don’t Get In the Water

 I was honored to have this interview Christopher back in 2009. In his memory I would like to share it now. Thank you Christopher for being a Pillar in the Recovery Community. You will be missed and often remembered.  --Barbara 

Throw the Rope, Don’t Get In the Water

An Interview with Christopher Kennedy Lawford

Do you have a specific message to our younger generation who are faced with the challenges and curiosity of "trying" alcohol or drugs?

CKL:  Young people have to understand what they perceive in a moment of adolescent bliss or experimentation may have serious consequences for them down the road. If you said to them at thirty, when you were 13 do you wish you should have done that? They may say no to using drugs and alcohol. They need to realize there can be very serious consequences for those who experiment with drugs and alcohol. One in ten will end up with a serious addiction problem. If they have it in their family their odds of really having problems with this go up dramatically, we know this from the science. The other thing kids need to understand is that their brains are not fully developed. Even if they binge drink or use drugs on occasion, but don’t become an alcoholic or addict there will still be an impact on their brain chemistry and there will be some damage from that kind behavior.  It’s not that they aren’t smart kids or productive, creative people-- there are consequences to drug and alcohol behavior, the kind I engaged in.  The consequences can sometimes be immediate and they can be long.

With most of the kids I know, if you give them good information they will usually make good decisions. My kids have the genetics, I’ve given them good information and they’ve experimented to a degree. I don’t think any of them thus far have manifested any serious problems. That is because of the information they have gotten from their me firsthand and their mother---and the openness of our dialogue with them. Those are significant things. Kids are capable of understanding and I believe they should be told the truth. They often do make good decisions

Since the high profile tragedy of Michael Jackson and the media frenzy surrounding it- do you think this has changed the public perception of addiction and its consequences?

CKL:  Not at all! These things happen.  Millions of people die of this disease just like Michael Jackson did. It gets played in media, people pay attention and then it goes away. This issue has been around for a long time. Elvis and John Belushi died from this. The media doesn’t change anything.

This is a fundamental issue that is determined person to person--within families, within friendships and with society at a grassroots level. People are going to get in trouble with drugs and alcohol, they always have, and they will continue to get in trouble. Ten percent of the population has the genetic predisposition to become an alcoholic or a drug addict.

This is going to continue, the answer to this is not notoriety, it’s not exposure-- the answer is, people talking honestly with one another about what really is going on. And that is what is going to change the landscape and it’s already happening. We have come a long way since I began my journey in 1969. In the terms that we need to dialogue around these issues regardless of the high profile person who die of this disease.

Let's talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the living room. What advice can you give families who are facing this situation with their loved ones?

CKL:  The biggest thing about drug and alcohol is it’s a family disease. If one person has an addiction, then the whole family is sick and that is one of the most difficult things for people to get.  The last person to get somebody sober or to help somebody is a family member. What I often say to families and people I care about is, “throw the rope, don’t get in the water.” Go to treatment yourself; go to Alanon or programs that will take care of you.  Some of the great things happening today in treatment is we don’t just treat the alcoholic--we treat the whole family. Oftentimes an addict or alcoholic go off to treatment and come back to same family dynamic and systems that they were in place before and they start using again. So the message always has to be the addict is not the only problem. I has been my experience if you’re the one helping you’re the last one to get sober.

 What is necessary for the conversation to begin?

CKL: These are really difficult things for people to approach when someone is this sick. We pretend it’s not there, we go into denial and we do those things to protect ourselves. These are fundamental issues and reason this is so difficult. It is not because of the addict or alcoholic, it’s the underlying causes and conditions, perceptions and attitudes that go on in families where addictions run rampant. Everyone has stuff to work on and that’s why it is difficult to confront it. I think it’s always a good idea to get someone involved in your family dynamic that is non partisan, objective and a professional, to do some kind of intervention and to get the ball going. It’s awfully difficult for families to take this on themselves. Get someone smart, who knows this business to come in and walk you through you it.

Have you noticed any changes in the last five years in regards to the stigma and addiction?

CKL: Yes to some degree. My cousin Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad (D.MN.) helped pass the Parity bill. He told me the new Obama bill makes the parity bill look like nothing. He said we are going to get this passed--complete parity on all levels of mental health and addiction, and that’s what we need.  As a society, as soon as we start doing these kinds of things on that level we take this out of the moral equation, which is there’s something wrong with the alcoholic or the addict --into a place of disease-- which is what this is. This is a mental illness. People that suffer from addiction and alcoholism are not at fault, they are not wrong, they are not bad people. They are sick people who need treatment and just like a diabetic or someone with chronic hypertension who needs a treatment plan, so do alcoholics and addicts.  Patrick recently went back to treatment for his mental health. Stigma is all about blame and a misunderstanding of what this is, the fear of not being able to get a handle on it. As a society were getting there. I see steady progress, just as cancer had stigma 20 years ago and really none today, we will see this for addiction in my lifetime.

 What inspired you to write Symptoms of Withdrawal, Moments of Clarity and Healing Hepatitis C?

 CKL: It wasn’t what I really wanted to do at the time; I was involved in a novel, but the overwhelming need for a book of this kind was there. I had no idea how many people in this country were looking for a message of hope. I had no idea there were 26 million people with a substance abuse disorder and less than 10 percent were getting treatment, even though I had been an addict for fifteen years and sober for seventeen.  The reason I wrote these books is because I became aware of how prevalent this illness is and how little attention it was getting. The Hepatitis C book was clearly a book where Hep C affects a huge proportion of the people I care about. People who have had histories of drug and alcohol abuse. This is a disease that gets very little attention in the public policy world; there is very little money. The CDC gets very little money for hepatitis in this country and it’s an epidemic. Many of the people that suffer from it have no political capital. They are usually indigent, underserved folks who just die of liver failure. They don’t get liver transplants. These are the reasons I did these books. I hope they are helpful. There are a couple other recovery books I want to do, one involving the family and kids, and something on the humorous side of recovery. I’m always looking for new and exciting opportunities. I am moving on to other things but will always have a hand in recovery because there is such a need for it.