Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Interweaving Cycles of Addiction and Trauma

Adapted from newly released Unspoken Legacy
Claudia Black, Ph.D., Senior Fellow of The Meadows and Clinical Architect of the 
Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows

When most of us wake up in the morning, we can reasonably assume that our home, our family, our job or school, and our primary relationships will still be there when we go to bed that night. We can also expect that the way someone treats us that morning will be more or less how he or she treats us that evening. Our world is generally stable, and we expect it to stay that way. And, most of the time, it does.

This is not true in an addicted family, where nothing is ever stable or predictable. Everything is confusing and unknown; anything can happen at any time. No one knows who is responsible for what because the normal boundaries have been shattered. No one has any idea how to make anything better. And everyone is constantly anxious, frightened, worried, and confused. You never know when something small—a dirty plate in the sink, a bad haircut, a thermostat set a degree too high—might turn into a catastrophe. As a result, family members become apprehensive about the smallest decisions. Meanwhile, outrageous and hurtful things and major, deeply important life decisions may go ignored and unaddressed. There is no more perfect recipe than this for creating trauma.

A Steady Diet of Trauma

When a family is ill with the disease of addiction, its members are much more likely to experience trauma than non-addicted families. That trauma is also likely to be more serious and more painful, and it is likely to take longer to heal. In short, addiction worsens every dimension of trauma.
Addiction creates chronic losses for everyone in the family system: a loss of trust, connection, intimacy, stability, honesty, fun, clear communication, safety, and healthy boundaries. And that’s just in the earlier stages of addiction. As the disease progresses, family members also lose jobs, relationships, financial stability, health, and sanity. Children often lose their childhoods by being forced to take on adult family roles. Sometimes people lose their lives.
As one loss gets compounded upon another, the result is usually trauma. In addition to the many losses, chronic emotional abuse is especially prevalent in addictive family systems. It can take any or all of these forms:

  • Verbal abuse (ridicule, name calling, etc.)
  • Severe criticism and blaming
  • Lack of expressed love, care, and concern
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Shaming and humiliation
  • Broken promises
  • Lying
  • Unpredictability
  • Sudden rages or ravings
  • Overly harsh (or outright cruel) punishment
  • Being forced into physically dangerous situations (such as being in a vehicle with an impaired driver)
  • Breakup or abandonment of the family

The Trauma of Physical and Sexual Abuse

In homes where there is substance abuse, kids are 2.7 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually abused. In a related study, in which I was one of the researchers, we found that in alcoholic families fathers were 10 times more likely, mothers four times more likely, and siblings twice as likely to be physically abusive to a child or sibling.
There’s more. In a family where there is substance abuse, daughters are twice as likely to be sexually abused than in other families; sons are four times as likely to be sexually abused — both by family members and by people outside of the immediate family. My clinical experience suggests that usually there is more than one abuser.
We don’t have good statistics on physical and sexual abuse in homes where there is a process addiction, but my forty-plus years of working with addicted families suggests that the numbers are similar.

Here is what else we know about abuse in addictive family systems:
The ultimate act of physical abuse is murder; however, far more common abuse involves being hit, slapped, shoved, kicked, pinched, or slammed against a wall.

In addicted families, discipline or punishment can often turn into abuse. This typically takes the form of extreme and inappropriate punishment. For example, forcing a child to stand on one foot for ten minutes, and then beating him when he falls over. In other cases, addiction can turn a somewhat less harsh punishment into abuse, such as when a child is sent outside to stand on a cold porch for a few minutes to “think things over,” and then left there all night because her parents have passed out. Often a punishment isn’t particularly severe, but it is inflicted capriciously on a child who has done nothing wrong; the addict in the family is simply scapegoating the child.

Sexual abuse is both overt and covert. Overt sexual abuse involves sexual touch. Covert sexual abuse of a child involves no touch, but can take many other forms, such as shaming them about their body or sexuality; sexual name calling (such as calling her a whore or a slut); graphic sexualized joking; exposing the child to pornography; or using sexual innuendo. For example, Dad tells his thirteen-year-old daughter, “You are so hot looking. I wish I were your age, so I could have a shot at you.”

The more frequent the abuse, the more likely the victim is to minimize and rationalize it. As sixteen-year-old Kailie told me, “No, I wasn’t abused. My mom didn’t mean to break my jaw when she hit me.”

When a child has two addicted parents, the likelihood of physical or sexual abuse is substantially greater than when only one parent is an addict.

In addicted families, abuse is especially hurtful on days of celebration, such as holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations. Often the celebration itself gets undermined, revoked, or denigrated.

When physical and/or sexual abuse occurs in an addictive family system, people usually assume the addict is the abuser. But this is not necessarily the case. Surprisingly often, a parent or sibling who does not suffer with addiction is the abuser.

It should come as no surprise that families impacted by addiction tend to experience higher-than-average rates of murder, suicide, premature death, accidental death, house fires, car accidents, gun accidents, other forms of serious injury, and serious illness. For the survivors in the family, any of these can create trauma.
It’s hard to find an emotional middle ground. People vacillate from one extreme to the other, often over-responding, withdrawing, or running away. People have trouble staying in the present and in their bodies. They either live mostly in their heads — reliving the painful past or imagining a horrible future — or entirely in their emotions, consumed with fear, anger, or dread.

Overlooked and Discounted Trauma

In addicted family systems, people don’t just act in ways that tend to evoke trauma responses. They also tend to respond with less love, caring, and support whenever a traumatic event occurs. In a moment of crisis, family members may be unable to solve problems, perceive options, seek resources, or even pay attention. This can be particularly damaging for children.

As fifteen-year-old Darlene walked home from school, a gang of boys approached her. They grabbed her and tried to drag her into the woods, but she managed to break free and run home. Gasping and in tears, she told her mother what happened. Her mom just lifted her martini and said, “Well, honey, you learned something important about boys today, didn’t you? Now leave me alone for a while. I’m watching my favorite TV show.” In the space of a few minutes, Darlene was traumatized twice—first by the boys, then by her mother.

Seven-year-old Jonathan was walking to school with his friend Abbie on an icy winter day. Suddenly a slow-moving car skidded off the road and struck Abbie. She fell in a heap by the roadside. People gathered around Abbie and did what they could to save her life, but she died an hour later in the emergency room. Throughout the event, everyone ignored Jonathan. This was partly understandable, because there was a dying girl a few feet away. But Jonathan’s experience of watching his friend die was traumatic for him nevertheless.

Jonathan’s trauma never got addressed. Everyone — his classmates, his teachers, his principal, his parents, and even the driver of the car, who was also traumatized by the event — focused on Abbie and her family. When Jonathan tried to tell his parents how hurt and confused he felt, they told him, “Do you realize how lucky you are? That could have been you who died. Count your blessings that you got to school without a scratch.” Then they lit up a joint.

It took Jonathan two more decades before he finally got treated for depression. Only then did he have a chance, for the first time, to talk about “little Jon,” who had watched his friend die.

Kevin was born with cerebral palsy. He was a bright and inquisitive child who was normal from the waist up, but needed many surgeries on his legs. As a result, he was in and out of hospitals until he was in eighth grade. While his mother was often with him in the hospital, what he remembers most was her incessant crying — not about him, but about his father, who was an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler.

Today, Kevin recalls the hospital nurses and orderlies fondly. But he doesn’t remember his father ever coming to the hospital. Nor does he remember his mother touching him much or doing anything to comfort him. He recently told his therapist, “I don’t know whether Mom came to the hospital to be with me or to escape Dad. I felt safe in the hospital, not because of Mom, but because of the nurses and because Dad wasn’t there.”

Painful and difficult things occur in every child’s life. Parents can’t protect their children from every painful event, but they can respond in a manner that lessens the negative impact. Unfortunately, in addicted families, children are often denied caring and empathy at vulnerable times. As a result, traumatic events usually affect them with full force.

It’s common for people with unhealed emotional trauma to turn to addictive substances or compulsive activities in an effort to medicate or numb their pain. Listen to some addicts describe the forces that first pulled them into addiction:

Jack: There was one reason I ever ingested alcohol, and that was to get blithering numb. Eventually, after deciding alcohol was uncool since that’s what our parents did, I started taking drugs. I would take anything to not feel.

Dana: When I did coke, I had no fear.
Hunter: I drank to relax. I was so uptight, always needing to be hypervigilant. I drank to relieve the pain. I drank to hide and to mask the way I felt. I was so anxious all of the time. I knew I was screwing up, but I didn’t know what else to do.

Hannah: After being in so many foster homes, and after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of one of my foster parents, I wanted to die or, at the very least, disappear. The one source of power I was able to find was in my relationship to food. Restricting my calorie intake enabled me to wield power and control over food. At the same time, by losing weight, I was able to slowly disappear.

Lyle: My father raged and was abusive. By age eleven, I found what my father had — power in his raging. It protected me from my fears, my sense of unworthiness. Rage gave me the high, the power —and masturbation was my anesthetic. They worked in tandem for years.

Each manifestation of addiction offers its own unique way of hooking people. Food offers solace to a child who is hungry for love or attention or to anyone who feels isolated and alone. Starving can be a way to become less and less visible, in order to hide from deep inner pain or from a flesh-and-blood abuser. Cocaine can make someone who usually feels helpless, powerless, and talentless feel powerful and capable instead. Marijuana can help a chronically anxious person relax and feel comfortable.

The Trauma/Addiction Cycle

As mentioned previously, addiction often encourages trauma, and trauma can encourage addiction. This process can become what is often called a vicious circle or a negative feedback loop, with trauma contributing to addiction, which in turn fuels more trauma, which encourages still more addiction, and so on.
Here are some examples of how this process plays out in peoples’ lives:


Brent grows up with a father who is highly critical and nothing that Brent does is ever good enough for him. He routinely compares Brent to his two older brothers, who are both excellent athletes and who consistently get high grades. (TRAUMA)
In contrast, Brent struggles in school, and Brent’s father repeatedly accuses him of being stupid and lazy. (TRAUMA) (Later, in his twenties, Brent discovers he has a learning disability.) Brent’s mom — a professional singer who is on the road most of the time — is distant, busy, and preoccupied. (TRAUMA) She leaves most of the child rearing to her husband.
In high school, Brent becomes part of a group of close friends who spend much of their time partying together. Together, they find solace in drinking and smoking weed. (USING DRUGS TO SELF-MEDICATE) Brent especially likes that they don’t have to please their parents or, at least, don’t try to. By the time Brent is twenty-five, he is addicted to alcohol and pills. (ADDICTION)
One night, as he drives home from a party with his buddy Gary, his car hits a patch of ice and spins out. Brent does his best to regain control of the car, but he has had four beers and his reaction time is slow. The car tumbles into a deep culvert. Gary breaks both legs (TRAUMA); Brent suffers a serious brain injury. (TRAUMA) He is put on pain pills, which only further fuel his out-of-control drug use. (ADDICTION)


At age fourteen, Jenna is raped by three assailants. (TRAUMA) Her parents report the crime to the police, but Jenna is terrified, ashamed, and in shock, and refuses to talk about it with anyone.
Soon after that, her attendance at school becomes sporadic. At age fifteen, she begins periodically cutting her arms with razor blades. By age sixteen she is using pills and by age eighteen, meth. (ADDICTION) By the time Jenna is twenty, most of her friends are fellow addicts. On her twenty-first birthday, her boyfriend sells her for sex to their dealer in exchange for drugs. (TRAUMA)


Kim grows up with a severely alcoholic father and a hypercritical mother. (TRAUMA) From the time Kim is in kindergarten, her mother is preoccupied with Kim’s size and weight.
Soon after Kim turns nine, her dad goes into rehab and stops drinking. A month after that, her mom reveals that she has had a longtime boyfriend, and runs off with him. (THE TRAUMA OF ABANDONMENT)

For the next eight months, Kim’s parents fight over her in an angry and acrimonious divorce. (TRAUMA)

At age fourteen, Kim finds herself exercising excessively to keep herself thin. About once a month, she binges on tons of junk food, then sticks her finger down her throat and vomits it up (Bulimia Nervosa).

She also begins to party hard – drinking excessively and taking large amounts of opiates. One night, when she is drunk, she passes out and is raped by several of the guys at the party. (TRAUMA) One of them posts a brief video of the rape on social media. (TRAUMA)
Kim’s humiliation, shame, and inability to reach out to parents continue. So do her partying, her bulimia, and her drug use. And so do the sexual assaults. (TRAUMA)
By age twenty-four, Kim uses heroin and alcohol addictively. (ADDICTION) By age thirty-one, she has tried to kill herself three times.

Where and How Do I Begin?

Trauma and its many consequences do not need to be a life sentence. Healing is possible. The most common question people ask at the beginning of their journey is “Where and how do I begin?” The answer is to begin with where you are and what you are willing and able to do.
 If you feel you need to take immediate action, this might mean finding a therapist or a recovery group or going to a treatment center. It might mean talking to someone you trust, a spiritual leader, a friend, your neighbor who attends twelve-step meetings, or an addiction counselor. It might mean a process of self-reflection and journaling. Often it is a combination.

Jordan, who was sexually abused repeatedly by family members as a child, begins by reading about substance addiction in families. Before she begins any personal work, she wants to understand the family dynamics of drug abuse and addiction. She intuitively knows she will eventually need to look at and heal the wounds of her sexual abuse; but she’s not ready to do that.

Michael used cocaine addictively and is now a Narcotics Anonymous member with five years of abstinence and recovery. Although he’s done a good deal of work addressing his addiction, he is only now beginning to slowly and gently probe his unhealed trauma. He decides to put his toes in the water by going to a Co-Dependency Anonymous meeting and reading about codependency.

Cecily has been receiving both cognitive behavior therapy and anti-depressants for her depression and anxiety. She now seeks out a trauma therapist skilled in EMDR.
It’s important to understand that if you are in active addiction you won’t get very far in your healing until you are addressing the addiction too. Active addiction sabotages any chances to experience long term healing from trauma.

More than anything you need not do this alone. Addiction and trauma are both about disconnection. Healing is about reconnection to self and the ability to allow other people to be there to help shine the light and provide hope when it’s hard to do that for yourself.

(Note: Part 2 will be featured April 2018)

Unspoken Legacy is available on Amazon.com

Claudia Black Ph.D. is a renowned addiction author, speaker and trainer — internationally recognized for her pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders. In addition, her groundbreaking treatment program at the Claudia Black Young Adult Center is focused on treating complex addiction and mental health issues faced by youth, ages 18-26. These young adults struggle with unresolved emotional trauma, addictions, or have a dual diagnosis. Because Claudia is passionate about helping young adults overcome obstacles and strengthening families, she remains actively involved with the treatment team, the patients, and their families.
She is also a Senior Fellow at The Meadows Treatment Center, the nation’s premier program for treating trauma, alcohol, sex and drug addiction, as well as panic and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, codependency, depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders. Visit https://www.claudiablack.com and https://www.themeadows.com. For immediate needs call 866-424-5476.

Update: AZ Advocacy

By Angie Geren

January 11th proved to be our most successful Addiction and Recovery Advocacy Day. Over 67 people met with their representatives and 35 confirmed meetings with individual legislators, Advocates, Senators, Representatives were scheduled. Discussions included Public Health Focused Addiction policy, what this would look like for Arizona and how it can help combat the opioid crisis in which we are currently entrenched.

Arizona is in a prime year for addiction and recovery advocacy as Governor Ducey declared a Public Health Emergency in June 2017 and his office and Department of Health Services have been working on recommendations that culminated into the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act which was passed and signed into law, January 26, 2018. Arizona is the 41st state to have a Good Samaritan 911 law protecting people who call 911 for a drug overdose from being arrested, $10 million of that funding will be in the newly created Substance Use Disorder fund — used for those who are underinsured/uninsured, new prescribing guidelines, prevention education funds, and mandated medical professional education. Arizona seems poised to be on front lines of fighting this epidemic however there is so much more work to do. The provisions in the passed Act rely heavily on preventing on opioid addiction which is just a small piece of the puzzle.

What is Public Health Focused Addiction Policy?

  • Policy focusing on treating addiction instead of incarcerating;
  • Looks at the whole picture instead of individual symptoms;
  • Reduces stigma, thereby increasing the likelihood of people seeking treatment;
  • Protects the safety of people by seeing them as patients in need of assistance.
  • What can Arizona do if they truly wanted to have a robust policy that adequately treats addiction thru the health system instead of the criminal justice system? 
  • Pass HB2389 which would allow syringe access programs to operate;
  • Pass Sober Living Home Regulations and Pass a Ban on Patient Brokering;
  • Reject HB2241 which would create mandatory minimum prison sentences for heroin sales;
  • Continue to work with individuals and organizations focused on recovery to find innovative solutions and provide quality care;

We need your voice to join us. We are the ones who are most affected and have the story to help educate our legislators on what addiction really is and that recovery is possible. I encourage you to stay updated on the progress of these bills at www.addictionhaven.com/arizona-advocacy

LOVE IS. . .

By Dina Evan, Ph.D

I have never really believed you fall in love instantly. You could conceivable fall into lust, or trip mindlessly into passion — but love, real love, takes time — like cooking the perfect soufflĂ©.

Love creeps gently into your insides when you glance her way and see the sun gently reflecting off locks of red hair cascading haphazardly over her shoulder.

Love is behind his eyes that seem to see forever.

Love wells up in your throat when you listen to your voicemail and hear his sultry voice telling you to “come straight home!”

Love smiles through lathered up faces, tucked in towels and hangs gently midair in tunes that are hummed early in the morning.

Love grabs you like gentle thunder in the middle of an orgasm, in the middle of laughter, in the middle of dinner.

Love walks into the room definitively beside you, not searching, roving or seeking something fantasized, but not yet found.

Love is being present, profoundly here, solid and alive.

Love is the connection, commitment, ecstasy and relief of right union.

Love creates a direct path to Spirit parts, head parts, heart parts and girl parts and boy parts.

When I was very young, I thought I’d fall into love repeatedly. Really, I was only practicing to be in love once.

When you are older you become the love, and then give that to each other.

When you become the love, there is no separation between who you are and what you feel and no way to give less than your best. If you still feel you are looking for the best, you have not yet found love.

Love is a surprise because it’s never what you thought it was and it never comes when you wish it would.

Love can take a break when the words seem hard to find, but love never goes very far away and always comes back to resolve the issue.

Love believes there will always be a resolve and love chooses not to sleep until we find it.

Love reaches across the distance either we create, when we feel a need to protect ourselves and persistently, ever so gently pulls us toward each other.

Real Love demands integrity. It tests each of our ability to stay present, aware and truthful. When we are both being love, we are able to cradle the child in each of us, respect the adult in each of us and encourage the Spirit in each of us.

Love is only able to flourish in truth. True love is about being really present, authentic and willing to risk honesty, solidity, sanctuary and grace.

Love is in anything real. You can hear love in Chopin, Beethoven, Puccini, Groban, Streisand or Brightman.

Love is about taking care of yourself and committing to your own growth so that your partner is not grieved, or required to spend time cleaning up the mess from your lack of awareness.

Love is about embracing weaknesses together, talking together; tearing up together and trying to do it better together.

Love is about believing not just enduring. It’s about devotion, not just affinity. It’s about passion, not just fondness. It’s about soul deep connecting, not just sex.

It’s about Beingness, not just bodies.

It’s about wanting those you love to be the best they can be for themselves, not just for you.

Mature love is a sacred thing. Some think it only comes once in one’s lifetime. I believe it can come to anyone who wants it badly enough, with anyone they choose.

Real love can be in the middle of every relationship we have, with everyone we know.

Real love never just happens. It is created, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year.

Love is about your willingness to discover your own capacity for forgiveness, compassion and integrity.

It is created with respect for each other’s beliefs, support for each other’s goals and inspiration for each other’s dreams.

When you have love, there is nothing else you need.

When you are really in love, the grass is never greener and the questions disappear.

When you become love you have done what you came here to do.

Love is not an instantly falling into thing. Love is a feeling fully, failing and forgiving, filling up and flowing over, finding you and finding me — a slowly becoming a forever thing.

Pub Note

With the #metoo movement on our radar — it is perfect timing for our feature story.

I imagine some type of trauma is a part of every addict and alcoholics story. While it can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about openly, it is crucial for a healthy and strong recovery to do so.

When producing this issue, I read every word of our feature, Interweaving Cycles of Addiction and Trauma by Claudia Black. And — I read it again.

Both times, memories from my past surfaced. Some, I had done the work on — others had been locked away in the vault for years. What was interesting to me as memories came back, I no longer felt the rage, anger or shame. While I physically felt the ‘chills’ for a few seconds, there wasn’t any fear. Maybe that is forgiveness at work.

It is no surprise I sought out drugs and alcohol to soothe the pain. Growing up I had no way to process my feelings, let alone speak them out loud to my caregivers. I carried the emotional scars for a long time and used them as an excuse for bad behaviors. In recovery, I gained the willingness to share who I really am; with sponsors, therapists and people I trust.

These powerful relationships have given me the courage to share my story with others and continue to heal. We all deserve to heal.

Happy Valentines readers!

Together AZ Community Calendar

Professional Events

FEB. 20 —PCS Networking Luncheon, 12:15 -1:30 pm. 3302 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale. Register: Jacquee Nickerson, 480-947-5739, email: pcs@pcsearle.com

Feb. 23—11:00 to 12:45 p.m. Sierra Tucson Grand Rounds, Professionals are invited to attend at Sierra Tucson. 1.0 CE available. 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Lunch and Program. Campus tour available . Immobility, Shame, and Healing the Roots of Trauma, by Sharon Stanley, PhD. No cost. Register by Feb. 19. Seating limited, Cathy.Kauffman@SierraTucson.com. (800) 624-9001, Ext. 600417

March 5— 8:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. 12th Annual DPG Symposium, The POWER to Address Problem Gambling and its Implications. Black Canyon Conference Center, 9440 N. 25th Ave. Phoenix. To register visit http://azgamblingsymposium.com/

Open Support Groups & Events

FEB.10—LOVE ADDICTION — Out of the Darkness presentation by Patricia L. Brooks. Edgy Gallery Alternative. 40 N. Robson, Mesa. 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. RSVP to Mike Edwards 480-646-7000. Book signing to follow, Three Husbands and a Thousand Boyfriends.

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 or 602-952-3907 for information.Valley Hospital, 3550 East Pinchot Ave. Phoenix. www.valleyhospital-phoenix.com

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

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

Sierra Tucson - Resident & Family Member Alumni. First/ third Thurs. of month – Blue Door Psychotherapy, 5929 E. Pima St. Tucson. 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Bi-weekly group facilitated by clinical staff at Blue Door Psychotherapy. No charge for Resident and Family Member Alumni. Courtney at 520-624-4000, Ext. 600205 or e: Courtney.Martinez@SierraTucson.com.

Mondays– Scottsdale – FAMILY  RECOVERY GROUP—Facilitated by 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. Contact: Jim Corrington LCSW, 602-740-8403

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 or 602-647-5800

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

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

Jewish Alcoholics, Addicts, Families and Friends (JACS) 1st / 3rd Wed., 7:30 p.m. Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 2nd floor. 12701 N. Scottsdale Rd. 602-971-1234 ext. 280 or at JACSarizona@gmail.com

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

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

Co-Anon Family Support— 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.

Cottonwood Tucson  Alumni—First Wednesday of month 6:00-7:30 p.m. 4110 W. Sweetwater Drive. Tucson.800-877-4520 x2141. www.cottonwoodtucson.com

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

ACA. Tucson. Wed. 5:30-7:00 p.m Streams In the Desert Church 5360 E. Pima Street. West of Craycroft, 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, email Mike at mphaes@mac.com

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

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

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

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 Road, Suite #201, Tempe. Contact 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

A Mothers Worst Nightmare

By Dawn Cummings-Duchak

Four years ago, my life turned upside down. Thinking about what happened, I thought I would never survive the tragedy— but I have. Life is different in so many ways, I can smile, laugh and love.

At age 16, I had to place my son Zachary in rehab. Having been to court multiple times when he was younger, I was frustrated each time the judge would give him probation and nothing else. I didn’t want to lose my son to drugs. So I pleaded with the judge, begging for help, but nothing really happened. I was so happy when he decided to start fresh in Phoenix.

On Dec. 11 at 4:00 a.m. I received the call no parent ever wants. I was told my son Zachary was in the hospital and on life support in Flagstaff, at the time I was living in Houston. My parents happened to be visiting me, so my mom and I flew out to Phoenix. On the plane, I heard my son say “It’s all good Madre.” I should have known then.

When we landed and I called the hospital, I was told he didn’t make it. I remember dropping to my knees and screaming. I recall looking up and travelers was coming and going in the airport, smiling and laughing and thought, what’s wrong with these people, didn’t they know my world just stopped?”

My sweet Zachary had committed suicide. When I received the autopsy report, I had to Google the names of the drugs because I didn’t know what most of them were. Zachary had moved to Phoenix with what I hoped to be a new start.

My brother and Zachary had decided to buy a small cabin off the grid and decided to throw their cell phones away, keeping one in case of an emergency.

They lived so far out when my brother called 911 because Zachary had shot himself, an ambulance wasn’t able to get to him. So he was put in the back of a truck, driven down the mountain, put into an ambulance and airlifted to a Flagstaff hospital.

Somehow my mom in her own grief was able to drive us up north. When we arrived at the hospital, I was told I couldn’t see my son because he was taken for autopsy. That was devastating. I asked if they could take me to the room that he passed away in just so I could make sure he wasn’t really there.

I had the opportunity to hold Zachary’s hand one last time. I will never forget the peace on his face.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you are not alone. There are resources available to help survivors of suicide loss cope. Learn more at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/loss-survivors/. 800-273-8255


Tax news

Did you know?
The Tax Reform that passed in December 2017 will not affect most people’s 2017 tax return due in April. It will affect you for 2018.

If you are expecting a refund for any tax year, you must file a tax return within 3 years or the IRS will keep your refund.

The IRS can collect on back taxes for 10 years from when a tax return is filed. If you don’t file a return, the 10-year statute of limitations never starts.

For more information visit www.tax-intervention.com Renee Sieradski, Tax Specialist, 602-687-9768.

A Different Kind of Valentine

By Alan Cohen

February is the month of Valentines, when our thoughts turn to love. Usually we give gifts and affection to romantic partners. This month I would like to shift our focus to expressions of love to our family, in particular our parents.

While reading Soul Friends by Stephen Cole, I came upon a quote by Buddha that caused me to put the book aside and think for a long time: “. . .the debt of gratitude we owe to our parents is so great that we could carry them on our backs for our entire lives and yet still never fully repay it.”


When I was growing up, I did not appreciate my parents. I was busy living out my own desires, figuring out who I was, and exploring the world. I took mom and dad for granted. I had judgments about them and wished they were otherwise. At times I was disrespectful. I was a self-involved teenager. 

My father passed away when I was 18, before I reached a stage of life when I became more conscious about my relationships, so I never got to express my appreciation to him. As I have matured, I have reconsidered the many kindnesses my folks showed me. They didn’t have much money. My father drove a bus at odd hours and my mother worked in a hat store during the day and a factory at night.

They did everything they could to keep me safe, comfortable, and happy. For most of my childhood we lived in an awful section of the city, where crime and depravity were rampant. Realizing the dangers of this environment, they worked harder to earn more money to move to a nicer part of town where the rent was quite high. They performed many other extraordinary generous acts. Despite their human frailties and habits I judged, their parenting was born of pure love. Looking back now, my heart is bursting with gratitude I wish I had shared with them when they walked the earth. My regret in not expressing this when I could have, is offset by the comfort that wherever they are now in God’s great kingdom, they receive my appreciation.

Perhaps your parents were not so loving and you were subject to mistreatment or abuse. Perhaps one or both of your parents were alcoholic or had some other dysfunctional habit. Perhaps they fought bitterly, or one was absent, or they divorced. Perhaps you harbor resentment, hatred, or guilt about your relationship with them. Perhaps you still have a hard time being with one or both of them. 

Perhaps you blame them for imprinting you with negative programming that created pain in your own relationships, and you feel thwarted from the reward you desire.
If so, there are three ways you can reframe your family experience to open you to more appreciation. 

The first is to reach for elements of their parenting that you genuinely value. Even if they were bad parents in many ways, they were probably good parents in some. What kindnesses did they show you? How did they encourage you? Who were they when they were at their best? They loved you somehow. Feel around for the gifts they did deliver to you. They are there. When you notice those blessings, they will expand. 

Next, gain compassion for your parents by recognizing that their acts that caused you pain issued from their own pain. “Hurt people hurt people.” I have coached many clients who are seeking to make sense of their relationship with a dysfunctional parent. I ask them, “What was your parent’s own pain? Who trained him or her to be fearful and mean?” In every instance my client traces their parent’s dysfunction back to some abuse that parent received from their own parent or another authority figure. The client’s parent did not have the skills or tools to achieve healing, so they passed their pain on to their children. 

A Course in Miracles tells us that every act is either a skillful expression of love or a call for love. When we reframe our parents’ negative behaviors as calls for love, we ease our own pain and clear the way for us to help them.

Finally, consider how you grew as a result of the challenges your parents posed to you. Did you learn to be more independent, or set boundaries, or dig in to find worth within yourself that they were denying you? Some teachers say that sometimes we choose our parents because they help us develop soul strength we would not have gained if our situation was easier. Thus they were our friends who helped us grow and step into our own power as adults. 

Most Asian families have altars in their homes honoring their ancestors — a practice we could well gain from doing ourselves. If you don’t wish to build an altar to your parents in your living room, you can create a sacred space for them in your heart. This year don’t reserve Valentine’s gifts for your honey only. Honor those who love you more than you know. 

Alan Cohen is the author of the bestselling A Course in Miracles Made Easy. For more information about books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com.