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