Found any P-E-A-C-E Lately?

How peaceful are you feeling? After all, peace is the theme of the holiday season. And serenity is commonly championed in Twelve Step programs. Shouldn’t peace be showing up everywhere these days? If seasonal serenity is eluding you, I invite you to join me in taking a fresh look at the word peace. Let’s consider what its letters could stand for that might induce a more peaceful state. P = Possibility and Passion The first “P” word that comes to my mind is possibility. When I’m not feeling serene, it’s often because I think there is only one answer – … Continue reading

Parenting the Addict: 5 Key Strategies to Help Parents Thrive

by Barbara Krovitz-Neren Parents need support. An epidemic of drug addiction with our kids today is scarier then ever. Every day on national and local news, more and more stories keep pointing to the opiate epidemic, overdoses, and addiction of our young people. These kids have parents whose hearts are breaking and need ongoing support and strategies to take back their parenting from the addiction of their teens and young adults. I believe no parent ever intentionally wakes up each day and decides to harm their kids. Yet, with the affects of addiction on their parenting, most of these parents … Continue reading

The Path to Wellness is Not Always Straight

It was the summer after my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—a year of small successes and setbacks, ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression, and a budding addiction that I wouldn’t admit, much less address, for another two years. Substance use hadn’t consumed my life yet, but things were moving in that direction. I was able to hide outward signs of addiction behind academic success and the norms of a campus culture that thrived on alcohol. My GPA said “functioning student;” the bottles and cans that filled my trash screamed “alcoholic.” But I didn’t look much worse than the … Continue reading

How to Keep Your Sanity During the Holidays

I hate the holidays. I know that seems like a strong statement, but — even at nearly six years sober — I still find the holidays incredibly challenging. It’s a time loaded with expectations, increased tensions in relationships, competing priorities, stress, and good old family dynamics. As if that isn’t enough, we can start to feel sensory overload in every direction: sounds, crowds of people, flashing lights, food everywhere. Conscious of my limitations and sensitive nature, I just want to crawl into a ball and hibernate at this time of year. That said — like anything in recovery — we … Continue reading

I’m Going to Stop, I Mean It This Time

As a detox clinic nurse, Diane watched the revolving door of repeat drunks. Some she knew she’d see again, having failed at sobriety one more time. Others seemed so very promising. One patient, when ready to leave, so clearly talked the talk and walked the walk that she was sure this one would make it. The next day he committed suicide. Relapse is the ever-vigilant hound nipping at the heels of people with addiction, often leading to depression and despair. But some addicts get past it and slam the door on relapse forever. They quit using, find relief from their … Continue reading

Returning to the Basics after Traumatic Brain Injury

“Traumatic Brain Injury is an important public health problem in the United States. Because the problems that result from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), such as those of thinking and memory, are often not visible, and because awareness about TBI among the general public is limited, it is frequently referred to as the ‘silent epidemic.’” Marilynn Lash: The Essential Brain Injury Guide (4th Edition) The Brain Injury Alliance of America, 2007. When I was new to the practice of chemical dependency counseling, I worked at Fairview Recovery Services. One morning a rushed counselor breezed past me and handed me something from … Continue reading

Dating in Recovery: It’s Complicated

Dating in recovery is a complex subject. We come into recovery as broken people; detached from ourselves, and from our feelings. We’re told, ‘the good news that you get your feelings back.’ One of those feelings is our sexual instinct. We’ve all been there at a meeting when an attractive person walks in. Come on, we’ve all found someone attractive at some point or another! I recall an old sponsor who would take one look at the sparkle in my eyes, and would immediately tell me, ‘look at the floor, Olivia!’ Feeling berated, I often did what I was told. … Continue reading

Seeking Treatment: Where do we go when we are Finally Ready?

Fill in the blanks: Where do/does ________ I/my partner/child/friend/relative go for help with _______ my/his/ her __________ addiction/mental health needs/co-occurring disorder? The options are ____________confusing/mind boggling/ daunting. A first step toward getting recovery and mental health services often begins with a phone call. From there, an intervention may be appropriate. Or a meeting with a chemical health assessor or psychologist. The information gleaned from such a professional will help inform the next steps. Financial considerations, medical and psychological histories, and willingness to make a commitment to change play vital roles in determining next steps. These professionals also will discuss with … Continue reading

Happily Ever Now: Four Ways to Be in Love in the Present Moment

We all know that Happily Ever After doesn’t always pan out. Tinderella and Prince Match.com don’t always ride off into the sunset, and well, that doesn’t mean it was a complete failure after all. Many times people come into our lives for a moment of time to help us grow and expand; then their duty is done. Unfortunately we often get so caught up in obsessive future planning of the “what if’s” and the “might be’s”, that we miss the magic of the moment. Which essentially is all that really exists. What about this…Happily Ever Now. Being present with your … Continue reading

Co-Occurance of Gambling and Substance Abuse Ups the Anty for Successful Recovery

“John” was doing well in his recovery from alcohol addiction. He hadn’t had a drink in eight months, was regularly attending AA and individual counseling, and was well supported in his recovery by family and friends. Several of John’s college buddies were planning a trip to Las Vegas and asked him if he wanted to join them. John was feeling good about life and the progress he’d made with his alcohol addiction, so he thought a first-ever trip to Las Vegas would be fun and well deserved. Once in Las Vegas, John visited the famous strip. He was mesmerized by … Continue reading

Creating Closeness with Compassionate Communication: A Nonviolent Approach

Personal communication too often fails us. A conversation can go south in a second when a nasty feeling erupts in our gut. The other person did something that strikes us as wrong, and they’re going to pay. Blame and vengeance hijack the conversation. Or we duck out of the conversation ASAP and let this feeling fester for days – or even years – in effect, sticking ourselves with the price tag of simmering victimhood. Passive- aggressive actions may follow. All these scenarios involve inflicting harm on someone, an everyday type of violence. A nonviolent approach Another option is Nonviolent Communication … Continue reading

Voyageur Outward Bound: Helping Students Find True Grit

With the best of intentions, many 21st century parents have worked hard to shield their children from pain, discomfort and struggle. In part, with the advent of 24/7 news programs like CNN, parents are bombarded by the risks and perils facing their precious offspring and have reacted by creating organized sports and group activities, filling downtime to ensure safety and security. The flipside of such structure is that many kids today have little opportunity to develop problem-solving skills, grit or perseverance, skills that are essential to coping with life. Sadly, when these kids encounter challenges with relationships, academics, drugs, or … Continue reading

When the Game is Up

Christine’s Story When I was asked to share my story, I didn’t hesitate. I think it’s so important for people to see that everyday, regular people can have a gambling addiction. And by telling my story I hope I can help others and reduce the shame of compulsive gambling. Looking back on it, I guess it’s not surprising that I developed a gambling problem. I had a risk-taking personality and was exposed to various forms of gambling as early as age 9. My father was a bookie and sold football tickets. I’d spend my allowance and purchase tickets from him. … Continue reading

Jim’s Story

I grew up in your average Minnesota small town. We were neither rich nor poor, just like most everyone growing up in that area. My father was sporadically employed as an accountant. However, he was also a big gambler and a big drinker. His addictions affected our family in ways that have taken me a lifetime to fully understand. My father’s gambling problem resulted in our losing our house twice – once when I was four and again when I was 12. We were lucky in that the mortgage company felt sorry for us and allowed us to keep the … Continue reading