Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

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.   

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Empowering Young People in Recovery

Empowering Young People in Recovery 

“Being in recovery is more than abstaining from a behavior —it's about resiliency. We want to show people that the things they've gone through can actually be transformed as the building blocks to changing the world."  Justin Luke Riley


By Barbara Nicholson-Brown

It’s National Recovery Month, the annual observance held for the last 29 years to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. Recovery Month reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

Millions of Americans lives have been transformed through recovery. Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country take part. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders. (www.recoverymonth.org)

Arizona’s Celebration

Now in its 13th year, Celebrate the Art of Recovery Expo (CARE) is one of Arizona’s largest community events offering educational workshops, resources and solutions in addiction treatment and behavioral health, with the opportunity to meet many of the leading professionals in this industry. Attendees will learn about awareness, education, family recovery and prevention.
CARE is honored to welcome Justin Luke Riley as Keynote Speaker. He offers compelling, articulate thoughts on the topic of recovery to promote the fact that people CAN and DO recover each and every day. Justin has been in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder since 2007, and we are certain he will inspire you. He is Founder of Young People in Recovery (youngpeopleinrecovery.org).

We invite you, your family and friends to join the Celebration on Saturday, September 22 at the Phoenix Convention Center. (www.celebratetheartofrecovery.org) for complete details.

In a recent interview with Justin I asked:

  • Give us a history of your use of drugs and alcohol, and how old were you when it started?

By all accounts, I was a great kid, and had an awesome family. What people didn't know was I had a growing substance use disorder. I started misusing substances at eight years old — but it wasn’t until I was 14,  I began to create substantial obstacles in my life. Luckily, I was 19 when I finally entered into my 11 year long recovery journey.

  • You attended seven treatment centers before reaching long term sobriety, tell us about that.

Though I was fortunate enough to experience multiple treatment and recovery modalities, it was not until I had a spiritual awakening that my life began to change forever. A belief in a higher power and life dedicated to altruism were my two biggest epiphany’s.

  • What advice would you give parents who suspect their child is struggling with addiction?

Talk with them, without judgment. Talk to them to understand, not to dictate solutions. At least not at first. Listen to them, remind them of your love for them, and then begin exploring solutions together.
Having someone in long term recovery to work with you is always a wise way to begin finding solutions.

  • How do you respond when someone says that recovery needs to remain anonymous?

Though there are programs that work, in large part because of anonymity, I choose to let a lot of people know that I am in recovery so I can give them hope. Again, I believe in anonymity and never want to force someone or a program to abandon that important principle.

  • How can a family best support a loved one in recovery?

Ask them. Ask them what is helpful for them, because it differs from person to person. However, generally, if you listen to them, learn from them, love them, and also uphold your own boundaries, a family can get through this together.

Many young people see getting high or drunk as a rite of passage, and if they get sober they will be missing out on “fun” or not part of the crowd.  How can we change that perception?
This is one of the biggest reasons we need to lift up amazing recovery stories, so people know that people can and do recovery. And to make to sure people know that you can still have fun in recovery.

  • How did YPR start and what is its Mission? 

A group of young people that were in recovery wanted to show that young people can and do recovery as well as they are strategically poised to bring revolutionary recovery solutions to the world! Young People in Recovery (YPR) provides the training and networks all individuals, families, and communities need to recover and maximize their full potential. YPR accomplishes this through chapters, programs and advocacy efforts.

  • How do young people get involved and  energized to become part of YPR?

They find our of us from social media and word of mouth. Locally, people can join our chapters and participate in pro social events, learn about advocacy, get support from workshops on employment, housing, education, and even learn about other pathways of recovery by attending an all recovery meeting. Plus, they can apply to lead a chapter of their own. 

  • How to you continue to stay on the road to recovery?

Faith, family, generosity, service to others, and being steeped in recovery advocacy is what works for me.

Together AZ - Resource Phone List

  • TOGETHER AZ 602-684-1136
  • Acceptance Recovery Center 844-302-0440
  • ACT Counseling & Education 602-569-4328
  • AZ. Dept. of Health 602-364-2086
  • Office of Problem Gambling 800-NEXTSTEP
  • Aurora Behavioral Health 877-870-7012
  • AzRHA 602-421-8066
  • BBC 602-626-8112
  • Calvary Healing Center 866-76-SOBER
  • CBI, Inc. 480-831-7566
  • CBI, Inc. Access to Care 877-931-9142
  • Chandler Valley Hope 480-899-3335
  • Choices Network 602-222-9444
  • Continuum Recovery Center 877-893-896
  • Cottonwood Tucson 800-877-4520
  • Crisis Response Network 602-222-9444
  • The Crossroads 602-279-2585
  • Dr. Marlo Archer 480-705-5007
  • Dr. Janice Blair 602-460-5464
  • Dr. Dina Evan 602-997-1200
  • Dr. Dan Glick 480-614-5622
  • Julian Pickens, EdD, LISAC  480-491-1554
  • Footprints Detox 877-539-3715
  • Gifts Anon 480-483-6006
  • Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith & Family
  • 602-542-4043
  • Hunkapi Programs 480- 393-0870
  • Lafrontera -EMPACT 800-273-8255
  • The Meadows 800-632-3697
  • Meadows Ranch 866-390-5100
  • Mercy Care  602-222-9444 or 1-800-631-1314
  • NCADD 602-264-6214
  • PITCH 4 KIDZ 480-607-4472
  • Psychological Counseling Services (PCS)  480-947-5739
  • Rio Retreat Center 800-244-4949
  • River Source-12 Step Holistic 480-827-0322 or 866-891-4221
  • Scottsdale Detox    480-646-7660
  • Scottsdale Providence Recovery Center  480-532-4208 
  • Serenity Recovery Services 866-243-6001
  • Teen Challenge of AZ 800-346-7859
  • TERROS 602-685-6000
  • UnHooked         602-368-4471
  • Valley Hosptial 602-952-3939

Legal Services

  • Dwane Cates 480-905-3117

  • Real Estate Scott Troyanos 602-376-6086


  • ACA aca-arizona.org
  • Alcoholics Anonymous 520-624-4183
  • Al-Anon 520-323-2229
  • Anger Management 520-887-7079
  • Center For Life Skills Development 
  • 520-229-6220
  • Co-Anon Family Groups 520-513-5028 
  • Cocaine Anonymous 520-326-2211
  • Cottonwood Tucson 800-877-4520
  • Crisis Intervention 520-323-9373
  • Desert Star 520-638-6000
  • The Mark Youth & Family Care Campus520-326-6182
  • Narcotics Anonymous 520-881-8381
  • Nicotine Anonymous 520-299-7057
  • Overeaters Anonymous 520-733-0880
  • Sex/Love Addicts Anonymous 520-792-6450
  • Sex Addicts Anonymous 520-745-0775
  • Sierra Tucson 800-842-4487
  • Sonora Behavioral Health 520-829-1012
  • Starlight Recovery Housing 520-448-3272
  • Suicide Prevention 520-323-9372
  • Men’s Teen Challenge 520-792-1790
  • Turn Your Life Around 520-887-2643
  • Workaholics Anonymous 520-403-3559
Want to be a resource?
Send your request by email to

Arizona Calendar of Events and Support Meetings

Professional Events

Sept. 18—PCS Networking Luncheon,12:15 -1:30 pm. 3302 N. Miller
Road, Scottsdale. Register: Jacquee Nickerson, 480-947-5739, email:

Arizona Psychodrama Institute Full Day of Basics — Sept. 15 or Nov.4 ($99 per session). API offers “Basics of Psychodrama” every two months and each one is uniquely different. Attend as many as you like and learn something different every time.

Sept. 22— Celebrate the Art of Recovey - FREE to the public. Visit celebratetheartofrecovery.org. Keynote Speaker: Justin Luke Riley, Young People in Recovery Founder. Workshops, Resources and more. JOIN US! Phoenix Convention Center, Hall G, South Building. www.celebratetheartofrecovery.org. 602-684-1136, Barbara Brown

Open 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


Until we change our restless, discontented mind we shall never find true happiness.

By Coach Cary Bayer  www.carybayer.com

My friend Gary, an acupuncturist and Nature photographer, often has chronic back pain. He sometimes gets relief from chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage, but sometimes pain is so bad he can’t stand up straight. Once, while preparing his house for a visit from several childhood friends, pain was so intense he had to lay down.
When people hear that he was recently on a special photography vacation in Scotland’s hills where every day there was significant hiking with camera and tripod through rugged terrain to take exquisite photographs he didn’t experience back pain.


Or was doing something he loves so much stronger than back pain? Better yet, doing what he most loves put him so much in the flow of being on purpose that this spiritual fact was greater than physical back pain and acted as a kind of holistic “medicine,” more than acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage?

The relationships between Dharma and medicine is worth pursuing. By dharma, I’m referring to the performance of those activities that are most appropriate for a particular person.
Taking pictures with a camera in the Scottish highlands is not my dharma, but it is Gary’s. There’s much that we don’t know about the relationship between what a person does and how his health is.
We do know, however, that an estimated 75-80 percent of disease is caused or complicated by stress. Drug dependence can add to this statistic, as well. We’re well aware that health can be jeopardized when someone is out of the flow of things. There are jobs people hate but do — to pay the mortgage that are so harmful and toxic that they lead to heart disease and sometimes even death itself. But what about the other side of this equation?

Can doing what is most right for you keep you healthy longer and even help you heal existing diseases?  With National Recovery Month upon us we know that sobriety can keep one healthy longer, too.

A case in point close to home: I’ve been meditating since the age of 17 and teaching meditation since the age of 20. From the age of about four till the age of 16, I was getting weekly shots from my pediatrician for hay fever and rose fever symptoms.

These maladies affected me so severely that I literally could not walk past a lawn that was being mowed. My reaction to freshly cut grass was so intense that I would need several packages of tissues to rub my terribly itchy eyes and a bottle of Estivin to take the redness out of them. My nose also became terribly stuffed, so those tissues did double duty. To say that I was a mess was an understatement.

Things began to change when, at the age of 17, I started Transcendental Meditation, a wonderful technique for creating deep relaxation. Shortly thereafter, my symptoms improved somewhat. Within nine months of starting the practice I would say that symptoms had improved by a good 50 percent. Within two and a half years they had disappeared completely. I could have had two-hour picnic with my girlfriend while lawnmowers were working feverishly without any trace of hay fever or rose fever.

How do we explain such a dramatic healing? 

Could it be that the practice of meditation, while certainly strengthening my immune system, might have contributed to the healing of these allergies? That would be the logical explanation by anyone who understands mind/body medicine, by anyone who comprehends the relationship between stress and illness, between the relaxing of the nervous system and the reducing of nervousness in that system. Perhaps the itchy eyes and stuffed nose were a nervous reaction to the presence of ragweed and pollen in my environment.

But what about the possibility that, because meditation is my dharma, doing it helped me heal these diseases? Maybe it was the connection to my dharma is what caused the healing. We might conclude, therefore, that living your dharma can help you become healthier and free of certain illnesses. Perhaps it can even extend longevity. And since prosperity includes financial abundance and abundant well-being, we can see that doing your dharma enhances your prosperity on both fronts.

Where Healing Lives

By Alan Cohen

My friend Mark has been a physician for over 40 years. He told me a story that helped me understand what real healing is. While Mark was vacationing in Maui, his nephew, a younger man vacationing in Honolulu, had a heart attack. Upon learning this, Mark flew to Honolulu and sat with the nephew’s distraught wife in the ICU for 24 hours, until her husband had stabilized. Mark went not in his capacity as a doctor, but as a friend.

As he recounted this story, I recognized the distinction between a doctor and a healer. A doctor treats symptoms. A healer treats the soul. Mark’s commitment to the well-being of his nephew and his wife went far beyond fixing the man’s body. His intention was to soothe their souls.
Of course doctors, like Mark, can be healers too. When the two vocations show up in the same person, you have a divinely-appointed combination. If you are such a healer, you are blessed, and so are your patients.

Another friend of mine, Don, is a radio personality who has hosted his popular show for years. In addition to playing hit songs, he daily reads an inspirational message on the air. He is known and loved in his community.

Recently Don went through a severe bout with depression. One day he revealed to his listeners that he was depressed and having a tough time. A few days later Don received a letter from a psychiatrist who is the director of a psychiatric hospital. She told him, “Thank you for courageously sharing about your current emotional challenge. I know this can be a very difficult process to go through. I am certain you helped many of your listeners who are dealing with the same experience, giving them permission to authentically express their feelings, the first step to healing. I have enjoyed your show for many years, especially the inspirational quotes you share. I hope you will continue to progress and feel better.”

When Don sent me a copy of her letter, I was touched. This person, obviously busy in a position of high importance, did not have to take the time and caring to send Don such a supportive letter. But she did. I told Don, “This woman is a real healer.”
Regardless of your profession, the vision you hold of your clients makes all the difference in how successful you will be with them, and the amount of personal satisfaction you receive from your work.

If you see customers as bodies or dollars only, you will operate at a very shallow level of existence. You can get results and make money, but in your quiet moments your soul will ache and you will wonder what you are doing with your life. If, on the other hand, you recognize that your customers are so much more than their bodies or what they can pay you, you have the golden key to success.

Within the body lives a spiritual being who yearns to be acknowledged and supported. Pay attention to that person’s inner self, and you will sleep well at night, make a contribution to the world, and your material needs will be met.

Doctors are busy and have many pressures and demands. Most doctors really want to help their patients, and they do. They hear about people’s problems all day long, which can be daunting and cause a physician to become impersonal. Yet the creation and maintenance of relationships, however brief, is the building block of real satisfaction.

A Sufi story tells of a poet who went to a doctor and complained of all kinds of physical symptoms. “I don’t sleep well, I get headaches, I have this rash,” and on and on. The doctor asked the poet, “Have you recited your latest poem yet?” “No, I haven’t.” “Then would you please recite for me?” The poet did so. “How do you feel now?” the doctor asked. “Much better,” replied the poet.

All healing is not as simple as reciting one’s latest poem, but the dynamic of recognizing and honoring the needs of a client’s soul is a much greater element of healing than most doctors recognize. What’s happening in our body is intrinsically linked to what’s happening in our mind. Richard Bach said, “Your body is your thoughts in a form you can see.” To really be healed, we cannot simply address the symptoms. We must address the source of disease, which always has something to do with a blockage or imbalance of our life force, and denying our spiritual expression. Restoring that expression leads the restoration of physical health.

Doctors are instruments of God. The doctors I most remember most are those who have touched my soul. We all have the capacity to heal each other and ourselves at the deepest level, and we must. Let us meet where we really live.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including the forthcoming The Tao Made Easy: Timeless Wisdom to Navigate a Changing World. Join Alan in Hawaii this December 2-7 for his life-changing seminar Transformer Training to develop your skills and/or career as a teacher, healer, or leader. For more information about this program, Alan’s books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com.

Risk Factors & Why Teens Use

Common Risk Factors

When it comes to kids and alcohol, parents can’t gaze into a crystal ball to find out whether their kids will face problems with drinking or drugs in their teenage years. But there are biological and environmental factors to watch out for to help you figure out if your child may be at a greater risk.
Keep in mind risk factors do not determine a child’s destiny — instead, they provide a general gauge as to the likelihood of drug or alcohol use. It is safe to say by addressing risk factors early and paying careful attention to children at higher risk can reduce a child’s likelihood of a future problem. Understanding risk factors is important.

Family History

Family history of addiction can place a child at increased risk. While there is a stronger biological risk if a child’s parents have addiction problems, he or she is still at an elevated risk if an aunt, uncle, grandparent or cousin has an addiction or is in recovery. Inheriting the gene does not mean the child will automatically become dependent — no single risk factor determines a child’s destiny. If there is a history of a dependence or addiction in your family, let your child know since he or she is at a higher risk for developing a problem. These conversations should take place no later than the pre or early teen years.

Mental Health or Behavioral Issues

If your child has a psychiatric condition like depression, anxiety or ADHD, he or she is at more risk for a problem. Although not all teenagers with these disorders will develop a substance use problem, the chances are higher when they have difficulty regulating their thoughts and emotions. Parents with children with psychiatric conditions should be vigilant about the possibility of their teen using drugs or alcohol. Talk with your health care provider.


Children with a history of traumatic events (such as witnessing a car accident, experiencing a natural disaster, being a victim of physical or sexual abuse, etc.) have been shown to be more at risk for substance use problems Parents need to recognize the possible impact of trauma on their child and get professional help.

Why  Do Teens Use?

Other People
Teenagers see their parents or adults drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and, sometimes, trying other substances. Sometimes friends urge one another to have a drink or smoke pot, but it’s just as common for teens to start trying a substance because it’s available and they see all their friends enjoying it.

Pop Culture
Forty-five percent of teens agree with the statement “Movies and TV shows make drugs seem like an okay thing to do.” (PATS 2012) So be aware of the media that your son or daughter is consuming and talk to them about it.

Escape and Self-Medication
When teens are unhappy and can’t find a healthy outlet for their frustration they may turn to chemicals for solace. The rough teenage years can take an emotional toll on children, sometimes even causing depression, so when teens are given a chance to take something to make them feel better, many can’t resist.

Alcohol is the drug of choice for an angry teenager because it frees them to behave aggressively.

Instant Gratification
Teenagers turn to drug use because they see it as a short-term shortcut to happiness.

Lack of Confidence
Many shy teenagers who lack confidence report that they’ll do things under the influence of alcohol or drugs that they might not otherwise.

Perhaps the most avoidable cause of substance use is inaccurate information about drugs and alcohol. Nearly every teenager has friends who claim to be experts on various recreational substances, and they’re happy to assure her that the risks are minimal. Educate your teenagers about drug use, so they get the real facts about the dangers of drug use

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Banker, A Baker, A Candlestick Maker?

by Dr. Dina Evan

The “Occupations” line in heaven gets pretty long. Folks in line anxiously anticipating. Will I be a banker, a magazine editor, a hair stylist or a therapist? Perhaps I’ll get to be an artist or an actor. How do you feel about the assignment you got? Are you feeling fulfilled, as if you are doing what your heart and soul want to do? You are right, of course, it doesn’t work like that. However, the real problem is most of us still don’t get how it does work...so, here’s the secret.

Continuous school?

This planet is a school, a consciousness school. And no one gives you your assignment, because, your assignment is, you come here to discover yourself, your true self. The classrooms here are not in buildings. They are in every challenge and circumstance we create in our lives.
We discover who we are by how we deal with those challenges and/or blessings. We discover what we came here to do by knowing ourselves well enough to know what breaks our heart open with pain, and makes us want to changes things for the better, and/or what fills us with a deep sense of satisfaction — because we are being a role model, a change maker for what is right and good in the world.

And your teachers are sitting right across from you. The teachers here are all the people you call into your life. They are your master teachers, teaching you tolerance, kindness, compassion forgiveness and love. They reflect back to you your needs for being right, needing control, admiration, safety and your ability to understand, stay present and stand in your integrity and values.
A million times in every lifetime we get the opportunity to opt for what we think is safety, the status quo, or we get to choose to create what I call a ‘holy moment’, by pushing our soul forward and standing in our integrity, speaking the truth, stopping the misuse of power or simply being real and honest.

It’s all about being on purpose, by being authentically who you are and doing what you came here to do. If you are bored, miserable, feeling unmotivated or disappointed with yourself or your life, then it’s simply because you are not living your life with purpose.
You are missing the fact that YOUR courageous spirit brought you here to fulfill your purpose and stand in your integrity. Pretty amazing right? And, if you are awake and you realize what an incredible gift this experience is, then you are on the path to enlightenment.
Enlightenment is what all this leads you to, in fact, it’s the whole point.

So the real question is...

Who are you are and are you doing what you came here to do? That is a question each of us ought to be asking ourselves every morning before we even leave the house.

Now don’t start to feel overwhelmed. It may not be your purpose to start a movement or lead a parade or run for congress. However, it may be your purpose to tell that truth you’ve been hiding, perhaps even from yourself, and get it healed. Or, it may be you want to reconsider the judgment you just made about that person sitting in the corner and ask yourself where that came from and what fear in you created it.

Becoming enlightened and living on purpose does not require some grandiose act or gesture on your part. It simply means you have the courage to start to explore where in your life are you not living your values, or what you say you believe in and your truths. It means you take a deep breath and get back into alignment with who you really are at a soul level. Or, you do the work to figure out what is preventing you from being your true self.

Think for a minute what the world would be like if we were all living our values and our deepest beliefs. That’s why I say when you change and are living on purpose, a world event takes place because your part of the world is now vibrating in alignment with all that is good and spiritually aligned again.

For those of you who want to join me in this journey of getting on purpose and being who we really are, I have created a series of YouTube presentations with the tools you need to support your journey. Go to DrDinaEvan.com and you will find a link to take you to the presentations. They are free and come with some exercises and other tools to help as well.

If your answer to the question, Who are you are and are you doing what you came here to do, is I don’t know yet, and you’d like a different more empowering answer for yourself, then please come join us as we discover our real purpose and the joy in that discovery together.

Go to DrDinaEvan.com to watch Dina’s new FREE YouTube series on Living Your Purpose and Becoming Who You Came Here To Be! Sign up for weekly messages and download exercises, columns and a multitude of topics and quizzes. Call for information on Conscious Counseling (602) 571-8228.

If you believe it, you can see it!

By Barbara Nicholson-Brown

Saturday, September 22, 2018 - Phoenix Convention Center, South Building Hall G
3rd Street and Jefferson - Doors Open 9:30 am - FREE to the PUBLIC

In the late 90’s, I attended a lecture by Dr. Wayne Dyer. He explained how the words above can transform our thinking and what we bring into our lives. I liken that to how the Expo went from an idea to a reality.

This year, I have had the honor and privilege to pass the baton of the Art of Recovery Expo to Community Bridges, (CBI, Inc.), one of the largest statewide providers offering fully integrated medical and behavioral health care. The seed Bill and I planted in 2005 for a recovery month celebration will reach greater heights with CBI, Inc., and advance in providing help to those in need who struggle with addiction and behavioral health.

Letting go of something I love so dearly was not a snap decision — yet within my heart, I knew for the Expo to expand, reach and serve more of our community, it was time to leave the nest.

When Bill and I first talked about putting on the Expo, he started scribbling ideas on the back of a business card, and said, “You’ve  never done anything like this before?” Of course my answer was No! I could see it, I’m not sure if I believed it at the time. But we put one foot in front of the other and it came to fruition.

It has been wonderful to witness the transformation of the Expo to become Celebrate the Art of Recovery Expo – CARE.

CARE is what we do in this field; whether it be an agency, hospital, treatment facility, 12 step group, private practice, recovery home, sponsor, sponsee or other system of support. We are committed to the well-being and health of our fellow community members.

The Expo has brought numerous people into my life I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to know and work alongside. So stay with us —  because the best is yet to come. One of the most powerful messages we can ever offer is hope.

I want to express a special and sincere thank you to Dr. Frank Scarpati, President and CEO of CBI, Inc. and his team for believing in the vision of the Expo.

I hope to see you all on Saturday, September 22 at the Phoenix Convention Center!

Let’s Celebrate CARE together!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Demystifying Detox

By Becky Kartagener, Executive Director Footprints to Recovery 

Nearly 21 million Americans struggle with addiction. To get a sense for the magnitude of this, that’s more than the number of people, who have all types of cancers combined. The epidemic of addiction to drugs and alcohol has overwhelmed our nation placing no discrimination on age, race, gender, education or income. In an effort to combat it and in some cases capitalize on it, there’s been an abundance of treatment approaches and options that have flood the market. It’s not uncommon for individuals, their loved ones and even professionals to be conflicted or confused about what is needed and where to start.

"Detoxification is the process of eliminating all traces of drugs and/or alcohol from the body, detox alone is NOT treatment."

For many individuals, the first step and perhaps the most crucial prior to addressing any underlying issues of alcohol and drug addiction is medical detoxification. Medical detoxification, often times referred to as medical detox, is the process of eliminating drugs and alcohol from the body while managing symptoms of withdrawal.

Physiological Affects

To shed light on the necessity of this, we must take a look at the physiological effects of chronic substance abuse. The continued use of drugs and alcohol can easily, and often does, lead to the building of tolerance and dependence. Tolerance can be defined as a reduced response to a substance due to repeated use. Essentially, the individual must take a higher dose of the substance in order to achieve the same feelings they initially felt. In the case of heroin and other opioids, tolerance develops rather quickly leading to the increase in doses. Following tolerance is typically dependence, the physical condition in which an individual’s body has adapted to the persistent presence of drugs or alcohol.

Our bodies are extremely adaptable; they’re constantly trying to reach a state of homeostasis or more simply put, regular functioning. When our bodies are exposed to drugs and alcohol for a continuous period of time they throw off the bodies regular functioning; therefore, our internal system adapts.

This can include modifying levels of neurotransmitters, hormones and other processes in the body to make room for the presence of the drug or alcohol.

With the development of tolerance and dependence the individual now needs a regular exposure to the substance in order for their system to maintain its new level of “regular functioning”. Any drop in exposure to the substance now results in the individuals system becoming unbalanced and the consequence is symptoms of withdrawal.

When an individual begins to experience withdrawal they are likely to exhibit flu-like symptoms such as; agitation, anxiety, confusion, depression, aching muscles, watery eyes, runny nose and difficulty sleeping. However, unlike the common flu, withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, painful and in some cases life threatening. This is even more so true in cases of addiction to alcohol, benzodiazepines and opioids where the withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, hallucinations and fatal delirium tremens. Drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines do not tend to cause fatality due to the withdrawal process; however, they can still present severe difficulties.

Going Cold-Turkey 

It has been found that many individuals who attempt to detox themselves by immediately stopping all drug or alcohol use, otherwise known as going ‘cold turkey’, are at the most risk of severe and fatal withdrawal symptoms.

For some, the withdrawal effects may last a few days or weeks, while others may struggle with lingering symptoms for months. The time frame for withdrawal may last even longer than anticipated without the presence of medical support. Furthermore, the severe intensity of symptoms often times lead individuals to quickly pick their substance of choice back up again. This is extremely dangerous, as the body has likely lost some of its tolerance for the substance; however, individuals tend to reintroduce the substance back into their body at their regular dose, putting the individual at a high risk for overdose. As we’ve been so frequently exposed to as of lately, it should come to no surprise that overdose is the most common cause of death amongst those addicted to drugs.

Medical Detox
It is for the reasons above that medical detox is often one of the most crucial, beneficial and lifesaving steps in an individual’s recovery from addiction. As previously stated, medical detox is the process of eliminating drugs and alcohol from the body, while managing withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms are often managed with medications and coupled with 24-hour supervision by licensed nurses, therapists and physicians. The staff is trained in helping clients cope with the effects of early drug or alcohol detox; therefore, they’re able to ensure withdrawal symptoms are comfortably taken care of and traces of the substance of abuse are effectively removed from the client’s body. Nutritional monitoring, individual and group psychotherapy are often available for clients during medical detox as well. As withdrawal symptoms are managed, the client’s risk of relapsing to avoid the painful symptoms is dramatically reduced. Furthermore, under the care of licensed medical staff the sometimes-fatal symptoms of withdrawal are essentially diminished.

Medicine Used 

During a medical detox, a physician oversees the entire withdrawal process. Typically, this involves medication regimens that allow the user to comfortably and safely remove drugs and alcohol from their system. The medication used to treat withdrawal are linked to the particular type of substance that was used, the length of time of abuse and the volume of use. The goal is to minimize risks of complication and maximize comfort levels.

How Long?

A common question posed is, “how long does someone need medical detox?” The short answer is, it varies for everyone. As we previously discussed, medical detox is the process of eliminating drugs and alcohol from the body while eliminating withdrawal symptoms; therefore, it’s typically seen as a period of stabilization.
Unlike other treatment programs there’s no set duration for medical detox, rather the length of time required is dependent upon the individual’s medical and addiction history. Factors that may influence the length of stay needed include; duration, frequency and the length of use, weight and age, and the presence of co-occurring mental health and medical issues. The average length of stay has been shown to be anywhere between three to ten days.

Where do you go?

There’s a variety of settings and locations where individuals can detox; however, individuals should be aware there are more benefits to some settings over others. The settings can be broken down into two categories: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient detox includes; residential treatment facilities, hospitals, and standalone detox centers. Outpatient settings typically involve going into a facility daily to meet with a physician, receive medication and then returning to your home environment.

Compared to outpatient settings, studies have shown that inpatient settings tend to be the most effective treatment method.

Inpatient detox settings offer individuals with 24/7 support and treatment for other medical conditions. Furthermore, individuals are removed from their environments where they may face triggers and barriers that increase the risk of relapse.

What’s the process?

Medical detox is typically done in three steps: evaluation, stabilization, and transitioning.
The process begins with a thorough evaluation where key information is gathered in order to assist in the treatment planning process and to accurately assess the individual’s addiction. Treatment providers will gather information including: medical and substance use history, mental health history and family and social situations. In addition, a full physical is often completed.
The evaluation process is more than just gathering information; it also serves as a means to identify any underlying medical or psychological conditions that may be co-occurring along with an individual’s abuse. Upon completion of the evaluation, the client then moves into the stabilization period. The stabilization period encompasses the medical and psychosocial processes of helping an individual safely and effectively withdrawal from substances. Based on the evaluation, the individual’s treatment team creates a treatment plan and begins the administration of medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms.

Many medical detox centers also focus on proper diet and nutrition during this time as well. The treatment team is consistently monitoring the individual’s progress throughout this period and adjusting the treatment plan as needed. The process also includes education in regards to detoxification, treatment and recovery. Upon successful detox from substances the final stage of medical detox involves preparing the individual for transition into addiction treatment. Many programs will work with individuals to transition them to their own treatment programs or connect them with treatment programs in the community.


It is important to note that the completion of medical detox is largely for the physical dependence of addiction and is most effective when followed up with addiction treatment such as; residential, inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. Once the individual’s body is successfully detoxed it becomes less challenging for them to involve themselves in addiction treatment, where many of the underlying issues associated with their addiction are addressed. Treatment methods often include individual, group and family therapy.


In conclusion, the importance of safely and effectively detoxing oneself from drugs and alcohol is stressed again, as it cannot only save a life, but decrease the risk of continued use and relapse due to withdrawal. If you, a loved one or a client of yours is considering addiction treatment there’s help available.

Footprints to Recovery, a nationwide addiction treatment provider, conveniently located in the Greater Phoenix area of Mesa, Arizona offers cutting edge medical, holistic and therapeutic approaches to medical detox. Board certified medical staff, as well as licensed and credentialed clinicians provide advanced, customized and comfortable drug and alcohol medical detoxification for young adults and adults.

Programming includes; complete history and physical medical exam, 24/7 medical care from the nation’s top physicians and clinicians, customized treatment planning, co-occurring and dual diagnosis care and individual and group therapy.

In addition to the best medical detox protocols for minimizing withdrawal symptoms and health risks, the facility will offer non-medical approaches to care including; yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic services, pet & equine therapy, spirituality groups, 12-step programming, 12-step programming alternatives, and writing workshops. With an emphasis on aftercare, the organization works with a variety of vetted treatment partners to ensure a seamless transition to the continued treatment of the clients’ choice.

Footprints to Recovery offers 24/7 - 7 day a week free and confidential consultations, as well as 24/7 transportation services. To learn more or take that next step towards recovery for yourself or another visit FootprintsToRecovery.com or call 855.628.2899. 

There are Better Days Ahead. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Recovery Rising

Forging Connections in Recovery: 
A New Dialogue An Evening with Dr. Kevin McCauley

Hosted by ASU’s Collegiate Recovery Program 

Recovery Rising and The Meadows Behavioral Healthcare

Thursday, September 20 - 6-8:30pm
ASU’s Historic Old Main Auditorium

The Meadows and Recovery Rising bring Dr. Kevin McCauley to ASU for an evening filled with education and celebration. Dr. McCauley wrote and directed two films: “Memo to Self” about the concepts of recovery management, and “Pleasure Unwoven” about the neuroscience of addiction which won the 2010 Michael Q. Ford Award for Journalism from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.  He will present on the ever changing dialogue surrounding recovery and substance use disorder.

Doors open at 6:00 PM, which will give attendees the opportunity to enjoy refreshments, learn about recovery resources at ASU and in the community. Dr. McCauley’s presentation will run from 7:00-8:30 PM, with questions and answers after.

Free and open to the public!  For more information and to RSVP:  recoveryrising@asu.edu

September is National Recovery Month, held annually to educate that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. We know a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership contributes to effective treatments that sustain recovery.

Desert Star Addiction Recovery Center and Starlight Recovery Housing

Each human being is a unique combination of strengths, experiences, preferences — and, unfortunately, afflictions. Many people who seek treatment for an addiction to a substance or for disordered eating also suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health concerns. Treating just one problem without addressing the others is like trying to row a boat with one oar: you’re likely to end up drifting in circles.

Desert Star Addiction Recovery Center believes in individualized treatment. They offer a menu of services including intensive outpatient programs, stand alone groups, individual therapy, and access to registered dieticians, psychologists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners. As a person stabilizes, they are able to transition into hybrid programs to address their full spectrum of problems.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

These behavioral health and addiction stabilization programs typically last one to two weeks and consist of 4-6 hours per day of therapeutic programming, five days per week, in addition to sessions with a therapist, medication management, and other treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Grace Program: 8-week intensive outpatient program for men. A  focus on life transitions, sexual /relationship addiction, healthy boundaries, masculinity, and more. 

Mariposa Program: 8-week intensive outpatient program for women 18 or older who struggle with unhealthy relationships, codependency, low self-esteem, addictive behaviors in relationships, or difficulties with commitment, sexuality, or emotional intimacy.

Mesquite Program: 12-week intensive outpatient program for men and women with disordered eating, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. It combines process and educational groups with supportive communal meals, nutritional sessions with a registered dietician, and individual therapy.

Oasis Program: 8-week intensive outpatient program for men and women with addictions to drugs or alcohol. The program incorporates groups, individual therapy, and medication management, and features both daytime and evening hours to better accommodate the schedules of busy adults.

Outpatient and Standalone Groups
The Men in Transition Group is a once-per-week, 10-week program for men who want to move beyond basic recovery to a more fulfilling, less lonely life, and experience deeper connections with safer, more satisfying relationships.

Food for Thought is a once-per week group for people who want to explore their relationship to food and/or related body image issues.

Healthy Intimacy meets once per week and is designed for women to explore their intimacy issues.
Desert Star recently opened Ocotillo Mood Program, a mental health intensive outpatient program for adults with mood, anxiety, and/or post-traumatic stress.

Starlight Recovery Housing

This structured sober living home is owned by Richard Poppy of Desert Star. A gender-specific men’s home, this well-appointed and serene house within walking distance of Desert Star provides a safe, stable, and structured place to recover from addictions to drugs or alcohol while attending a treatment program.

Getting Started

Call our office to schedule a free, introductory meet and greet appointment to see the facility and see if our programs are a fit for you. We will also be able to discuss financial information at that time, including payment plans and estimated insurance coverage.

Desert Star is an in-network, preferred provider with Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, Healthnet/Ambetter/MHN, Humana, Tricare, Value Options, and United Healthcare/Optum/United Behavioral Health. www.desertstararc.com. 520-638-6000

The Whole Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth

By Dr. Dina Evan

“The more we create light and ethical, conscious energy on the planet, the faster it will change everything.”

A. J.Jacobs, wrote a story in 2007, in Esquire called, “I Think You’re Fat.” It was a story about radical honesty. But, mostly, it was a story about telling your truths with a sledge hammer, like the little girl depicted in the story who told the writer his teeth were yellow.

A study with 1000 participants reported the average number of lies told by each person every day is more than 100. It was published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology. The experiment involved hundreds of people revealed the scientists found that 60 percent of all subjects lied within 10 minutes.

Let’s face it! 

We live in a world of liars, mostly led by liars. And now this disease which I believe is contagious and also deadly to our souls and spirit, and it has stolen our sense of safety.
Lying is not a simple matter of fudging a little something here or there or even telling a white lie now and then. This issue of what I call excruciating truth telling is a foundation piece of our character.
If you are not a person who tells the truth, how does one know when you really love a person, or the dish you just prepared? How does one know when you really love that thesis or column your daughter just wrote? How does one know that you really didn’t spend that extra hundred that is missing in the account, and on and on? And, then, it gets really serious. How do we know what our elected officials are doing behind our backs or what other countries are doing behind our backs, and now we are into some pretty important issues that affect the whole world. This is not a little issue!

How do we change it? 

The first thing we do is stop being concerned about going along with the crowd or being popular or even loved. If you are popular or loved because you always tell people what they want to hear, you are not love at all. You are just co-dependent and feeding someone’s ego.

Secondly, we need to stand up for what we believe. People will get angry with you but if you deliver your message with compassion and hear their belief with compassion and an intent to truly understand, that whole dynamic will change. We do not have to believe the same to love, or at the very least, respect each other.

You need to remember that you made the decision to come to this planet to find out who you are and do what you came here to do.

You will never be able to do that if you are afraid to stand in your truth, because telling your truth is exactly what you came here to do. You get to stand out from the crowd. That’s what you came here to do. You get to tell a truth that is different from the crowds. That’s what you came here to do and if you don’t do it — it doesn’t get done. And the biggest loss is that you missed the opportunity to fulfill your purpose and reason for being here.

Let’s face it. . .

This planet is the college of consciousness. It’s to up to you to choose and your choice is life changing. If you choose integrity, you not only fulfill your purpose in coming here, but, you also create a world event within...meaning there is another person in the world, living on purpose and in wisdom and light. Why do we care about that?

Well there are two reasons. The first one is that your entire life is a process of waking up. You leave this planet with the same level or frequency of awareness you have achieved while you are here. And you begin your next life at that same level or frequency, so you can continue to move forward evolving your soul toward enlightenment or you do have that other option of just continuing to mess around.

And the second reason is what Einstein proved, Like energy draws like energy. That means the more we create light and ethical, conscious energy on the planet, the faster it will change everything. Right now we are living exactly what we believe. At this moment we believe in division, greed and separation. We can change that, but the Divine wisdom in the process is that WE must change ourselves first. And when you get scared, just know there is an army of people out here doing the same thing with you.

And, watch the DrDinaEvan.com video series on our site very soon to talk about all this great information.

If you are not on our weekly message list to be informed about all the special new things that are happening, go sign up now at DrDinaEvan.com.

Stick with the Winners

Along with the guilt, shame and fear I felt when I finally surrendered to the truth about my addictions — I felt lost and alone.

Little did I know how everything in my life would evolve for the best. Maybe it was a combination of my innocence and ignorance — I knew absolutely nothing about recovery.

As I began to feel more comfortable, and a ‘part of’ — men and women with way more years sober than I ever thought possible, would tell me to “stick with the winners.” I thought it meant, look for those who had a better car, clothes or job than I did. I wanted those things, but that wasn’t the point.They meant, the winners were those who put their recovery first.

Sobriety was no guarantee I would have have more money or a better job. The guarantee was, if I was willing to do ‘the work’, follow suggestions, listen, and trust the process, the gifts of recovery would reveal themselves.

I’ve been blessed with more than I ever imagined, and I am not talking ‘stuff’. I’m talking about integrity, honesty and commitment. I’m talking about the men and women who ‘walk the talk’ and share their hope and experiences with me.

A few weeks ago, one of my Winners, a very dear friend passed away. He was sober over 37 years — someone I respected, admired and learned from. 

When my husband Bill died, he helped me during the difficult months that followed. He listened, shared his wisdom and checked in on my well-being often.

I am very saddened by his passing and extremely grateful for his friendship. These are the priceless relationships, the gifts; the kind I would have never known in the throes of my addiction.

Stick with the winners!


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Covert Emotional Incest: The Hidden Sexual Abuse

By Adena Bank Lees, LCSW, LISAC, BCETS, CP

"Your dad doesn’t understand me the way you do.” “You’re such a good listener.” “I can’t talk to your mother like this.” “I always feel so much better when I talk to you."

  • Have you ever been hugged too tight or the hug was held too long?
  • Did you grow up feeling responsible to meet your parent(s) needs?
  • Have you ever felt you had to choose between your parent, your spouse or significant other?

If you said yes to any of the above, you may be a victim of Covert Emotional Incest.

What is Covert Emotional Incest (CEI)?

Covert Emotional Incest (CEI) is an elusive, emotional form of sexual abuse that occurs in the family system without there necessarily being direct genital contact. It is incestuous due to the undercurrent of sexual energy between a parent/caregiver and a child. It is characterized by the following: (1) triangulation (2) breach of the intergenerational boundary; (3) surrogate, substitute spouse or confidant role; (4) objectification. *

What do these concepts mean in plain English?

First, it is important to understand that the family operates as a system. This means each person in the family plays an interactive role and all impact one another. A metaphor often used to represent a family system is that of a child’s mobile hanging overhead. When the child reaches up and pulls on one of the parts, it causes the mobile to go out of balance. Stress in a family is like a child pulling on one of the pieces of the mobile; it too creates an imbalance. What we know about systems is that they strive for homeostasis, another word for balance. Marital problems, addiction, serious medical/mental health issues, and being a single parent, are just a few examples of these stressors. Without asking for outside help, the family relies on itself and adapts but its balance is precarious.

Healthy families have what is called an intergenerational boundary in place. This boundary is a flexible, invisible structure or energy field that defines the power differential between the parent/caregiver and child. This structure dictates the natural consequences of behaviors and deter-mines the appropriate interaction with the child on both spoken and unspoken levels. In essence, this means the parent is responsible to meet the child’s needs, not vice versa. The child has a voice in the family, yet does not have the final say regarding decisions that affect the family.

If the intergenerational boundary is rigid, the child has no say in the workings of the family.

If it is diffused or absent, it is often the case the child ends up meeting the parent’s needs as well as making adult decisions. In addition, the child can end up emotionally hijacking the household.

Part of constructing the intergenerational boundary is having parents or caregivers participate as a ‘unified executive committee’ to maintain the framework that ensures the child’s safety and wellbeing. One example is the child not being able to play one parent against the other. When there is only one parent, she/he ideally enlists assistance and support from external sources (peers and professionals) in order to sustain and enforce this boundary.


One adaptation to the imbalance in a family system is a dynamic called triangulation. This is a set up for CEI. Triangulation happens when major caregivers, not possessing the skills necessary to deal directly with each other, use their child as an intermediary and/or confidant. In CEI, this manifests as the child meeting the parent or caregiver’s individual emotional and/or romantic needs, namely, the surrogate spouse role. This role is a sexual role, communicating sexual energy whether there is physical sex happening or not.

It sexualizes the child, creating distorted beliefs and painful behavior in regards to sex and relationships. The system has therefore employed triangulation to ‘balance’ and function, incorporating destructive and abusive behavior patterns. The child often feels “special” and “privileged”, getting lots of attention and being trusted to keep secrets for the parent.


Objectification is another component of CEI. The child is used, not having their feelings or needs considered. Using a person as an instrument for one’s own sexual pleasure (sexual objectification), may occur as well. Again, this may happen in a hug that is too tight or held for too long, bathing with or washing a child with mal intent and/or past the age of appropriateness, comments about the child’s body, voyeuring, watching pornography with the child, and so on.

A Few Client examples

Johnny is an eight-year-old boy who’s father just passed away. His mother calls him “my little man” and starts relying on him to soothe and comfort her. She encourages him to sleep in bed with her because she is lonely. Many adults attending the funeral approach Johnny, giving their condolences telling him, “You are the man of the house now, take care of your mother and your sisters.” Johnny was proud, yet overwhelmed and confused. As a 38 year-old married man, his wife keeps accusing him of “having an affair” with his mother. He finds himself torn between two women.

Who is he really married to? At eight, was he a man? Did he have what it takes to take care of his mother and siblings? What does “take care of mother” mean anyway? Johnny’s childhood was stolen from him. He was a husband long before he was an adult.

Ann is a seasoned professional who describes, “watching myself from the ceiling” while making love with her partner. She longs to be in her body so she can experience the sensations and feelings of connection with her beloved. Ann grew up in a family where her father made peep holes in every room of their house so he could watch his wife and daughters — whenever he wanted to. “But I wasn’t sexually abused by my father. He molested my two sisters, but he never touched me.”

As I was defining and explaining CEI, Ann began to cry, exclaiming, “Oh my goodness! This makes sense! I am not crazy! Being a victim of Covert Emotional Incest is enough for me to have this sexual problem!”

Elana, a 41 year-old woman with 10 years of sobriety and abstinence in 12-Step programs, tells the story of how she was covertly emotionally incested by both of her parents. Since she was a teenager, she felt like she was having an affair with her father. “When Dad and I were out by ourselves, people would come up to us and ask if I was his wife. We laughed. We thought that was cute and funny.”

Upon the return home, Elana experienced the jealousy of her mother. Mother was angry with her, and short and curt with her father. Elana also relayed her mother’s keen focus on her body, consistently commenting on her weight by telling her she would only get a boyfriend if she were thin; that her body was her way to lure a man. Elana received the message that in order for her to have power, worth and be loved, she needed to be sexually attractive to a man. And, of course, in order to do that, she needed to be, what her mother defined as thin. It was not a surprise that Elana had developed anorexia and bulimia and used substances to medicate painful feelings.

Core Symptoms

Those who are victims of CEI often have great difficulty in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. They are often stuck in the caretaker, fixer, and mediator roles, which do not allow for meaningful intimacy (in-to-me-see) nor a productive sense of self.

Beliefs such as “Who I am and what I do is never enough”, and “I do not have the right to have needs,” combine with the codependent roles above, dictating interaction with others. Faulty boundaries, such as the struggle to say “no” and experiencing extreme guilt when saying “no”, create opportunity for violation and abuse. Sexual difficulties are common, often leading to compulsivity or shut down and denial of desire. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress symptoms develop, interfering in the ability to have self-esteem and practice good self care.

The abuse of alcohol and other drugs medicate painful feelings as well as foster a false sense of belonging and self-worth. If the only power you believe you have is in determining what goes in and out of your body, doesn’t it make sense that restricting, overeating and the binge-purge cycle take place? Being underweight or overweight are frequently attempts at protection from sexual attention/advances. Disorderd eating may also be means of expressing rage toward caregivers for feeling trapped in the CEI dynamic. Spiritual struggles abound, with emptiness and disconnection, as well as anger and conflict with or about God/Higher Power.

Key Elements of Healing

The most important element of healing is the awareness of Covert Emotional Incest and validation that it is real and hurtful. This includes being cognizant of negative consequences and the fact that it was not your fault. It is parallel to the first step of 12-Step programs; You have to have a name for what you are dealing with (e.g. alcoholism), know it is a legitimate concern (it is a disease), accept your powerlessness over it and the unmanageability it causes in your life (it is not your fault and you have had negative consequences because of it).

Asking for professional help is the next step. You cannot heal from CEI, or addiction for that matter, by yourself. You already know this. Help is out there and there is no shame in asking for it. Asking is actually a strength. Your best bet is the combination of professional and peer support. This is akin to the second and third steps of the program. “I can’t, HP can, I think I’ll let HP.”

The B Word — Boundaries 

Developing healthy boundaries is another key element of healing. What is a boundary? How do you set one? A boundary is a border or limit that is permeable and flexible. You, yourself, are responsible for setting and enforcing a boundary. This includes monitoring you own motives. The motive for a boundary MUST be self-care. Otherwise, it may be an attempt to threaten, control, get revenge, or manipulate the other person. It will thereby disrupt the relationship and cause more problems and pain. A healthy boundary says, “I choose me” versus allowing others to determine who you are and what you need. When beginning to set boundaries, you are at risk to be seen as the ‘bad guy’. Tolerating this role is a must. Get support. Guilt may arise when you set a boundary. Guilt is a withdrawal symptom from the surrogate-spouse, mediator, caretaker, and other codependent roles.

The formula for setting a boundary is as follows:

Tell the person how their behavior impacts you: “When you say/do this (specific thing in this specific way), I feel (emotions).” E.g., “When you complain to me about Dad, I feel angry and sad.”
“If you continue to do/say (specific behavior), I will (take an action), to take care of myself.” E.g., “If you continue to complain to me about Dad, I will hang up the phone and call you back within twenty-four hours.”

NOTE: A feeling is NOT, “I feel like ...” or “I feel that...” 
These are thoughts, not feelings. With a feeling, you say, “I feel angry, sad, hurt, etc.” 
For the best results, make your boundary SMART (Crapuchettes, 2005)
Specific: “I am going to take a time-out and hang up the phone.” 
Measurable: “I am going to hang up the phone for and get back to you within twenty-four hours. 
Attainable: The action is possible and you are willing to follow it through. 
Realistic: Can you do this exactly as you say? 
Timely: The response is as close to the even as possible.

Cultivating your spiritual life relieves you of a core emptiness caused by being objectified and identified with the surrogate spouse role. It allows you to fully experience yourself, as well as be in meaningful relationships with others.

I define forgiveness as “a process of letting go and understanding that is a gift to one’s self,” is the last key element to discuss here. It is necessary to dispel the myths about forgiveness. Forgiveness is NOT a one time event, condoning, forgetting, letting the perpetrator “off the hook”, absolving him/her of sin, nor superficially saying, “I forgive you”, without the emotional work indicated.

Forgiveness IS allowing yourself to feel feelings, acknowledge losses, make the decision to not languish in the past, and gain perspective that CEI has probably been multgenerational. In my view, forgiveness IS the grieving and healing process from CEI. It is a gift to yourself because you have a right to be free of the burdens of victimization.

For Parents in Recovery

Taking responsibility for your own behavior and needs is the best thing you can do for your children. Asking for and receiving the help you need from peers and professionals to stay sober, deal with “outside issues”, and be spiritually fit are essentials for effective parenting. Strive to meet your children’s needs by being aware of your own, checking your motives and listening to their very precious voices. Modeling is the most powerful form of learning. It is what you DO that matters, not so much what you say. Akin to early recovery, looking for those who “have what you want”, and “sticking with the winners”, your children need the same ideal so they can “have what they want” and be “a winner” in their own lives.

Knowing that Covert Emotional Incest is enough to have the struggles you have is of prime importance to your moving from the victim to survivor role and then into really living and enjoying your life. As you have probably heard before, you do not have to just survive any longer. You have the right to and can thrive! Thriving and living “happy, joyous and free” is there for the taking. May you be bold, go and reach for it!

Adena Bank Lees, LCSW, LISAC, BCETS, CP is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer and consultant, providing a fresh and important look at addiction treatment, traumatic stress and recovery. She is the author of the educational memoir, Covert Emotional Incest: The Hidden Sexual Abuse, A Story of Hope and Healing. For more information about CEI and Adena’s work, visit www.adenabanklees.com. Her book is available there and at www.amazon.com

* I have coined the term Covert Emotional Incest. This is an expanded view of Dr. Ken Adams’, term “Covert Incest”, Dr. Pat Love’s,“Emotional Incest,” and Pia Mellody’s “Emotional Sexual Abuse.” It takes into account that the child is treated as an object, their needs and feelings unacknowledged. It happens in many families, yet is relatively unnamed, rarely spoken about or recognized.