Beyond 12 Steps: There Are Many Paths to Addiction and Many Roads to Treatment and Recovery

beyond twelve steps

When we think of recovery programs for substance use disorders or addictive behaviors, many of us automatically think of the Twelve Steps. No surprise, since millions of people throughout the world embrace this philosophy that sprung up in the 1930s when the first Twelve Step group, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), was founded. Today there are Twelve Step mutual support groups for individuals and families that focus on other drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, or prescription pills. There are Twelve Step groups for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. There are Twelve Step groups for people addicted to gambling, … Continue reading

Resting on Our Laurels

resting on our laurels

She sat next to the bed. I hadn’t touched her in months. She didn’t seem to notice – she didn’t say a word. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt like I had been unfaithful. There had been so many excuses. “I’m too busy. I’m too tired. I’ve got more important things to do.” Excuses all… Finally, I reached over and gently brushed off the dust from her jacket. I opened to the bookmark and started my daily readings – again. Page 85 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reminds us that we mustn’t let up on those daily activities … Continue reading

Fast-Tracker Connects People Directly to Treatment

fast-tracker website

To mark Recovery Month in Minnesota, I want to tell you about substance use disorder treatment reform, a website, and a mother from southern Minnesota. Let’s start with a hypothetical mother from southern Minnesota. Two years ago after much discussion, she finally gets her son, a heroin user, to agree to treatment. The mother, who knows the system, called the county for an assessment — which is exactly what she is supposed to do, and her son made an appointment. Only problem: the appointment is 20 days away. While this is hypothetical, it is also common. It can take up … Continue reading

A Note on Gratitude

I’m in treatment. Again. This time it’s my elbow. Fell on road bike, shattered the olecranon, a body part that apparently I don’t need anymore, so it was taken out during surgery. Surgery led to the question of opioids, for pain management. Codeine makes me sick. So does being in excruciating pain. This caused a major dilemma for me, even 25 years into recovery from drugs and alcohol. The ethical conundrum was simply this: Take pain medications which made some percentage of my addict brain start to salivate and drool, or take what my addict brain considered to be a … Continue reading

Putting a Face on Recovery: Recovery Month and Recovery Community Organizations

walk for recovery

I am a person in long-term recovery. What that means to me is that I have not used alcohol or drugs in 24 years. I have found great joy, love, success, and health in my recovery, and have also experienced profound loss, pain, and failure. But my recovery has given me the hope and stability to navigate life’s challenges with confidence in my many strengths. In recovery, I’ve been able to create a better life for myself, my family and my community. I am one of 23 million Americans who are living proof that recovery is possible. I am speaking … Continue reading

It’s Not a Game – Eating and Substance Abuse Disorders

eating disorders

Eating disorders don’t discriminate. But people with a history of substance use disorder are at a higher risk for developing a potentially life threatening eating disorder. Clients may get sober only to use eating disorder symptoms — bingeing, restricting/dieting, and/or purging — instead of their drug of choice to cope with challenging emotions. This is often described by providers as whack-a-mole. True recovery begins when this game of whack-a-mole ends. It’s hard work, but everyone benefits when eating disorders and substance use disorders are treated together by cross-trained providers. Maddox’s Story My name is Maddox, I’m a 23-year-old non-binary person. … Continue reading

Helping You and Your Children to Have Good Moral Character – Part 1

raising moral children

Most of us parents know how we would like our kids to turn out. They would care about others, generally have a warm heart, be socially accepted by peers, contribute to the greater good of others, treat siblings and family with compassion, be able to forgive, have a backbone and generally be a pleasure to hang out with. Probably all of us want these qualities in our children and ourselves. Many kids — so called “good kids” — are really like this. They really are as good as they seem to be and they continue to be solid family members, … Continue reading

Fall Into Winter: What’s a Body to Do?

fall into winter whats a body to do

Many Minnesotans absolutely love the change of seasons. A break from the hot, humid summer months with our windows shut and the air conditioner continually running. We welcome the crisp fall air, cozy sweatshirts, open windows, and a fire on the patio. All too often, the fall season is a brief transition, with much of our time focused on back to school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and before you know it we’re smack dab in the dead of winter. We are all affected by the change in temperature and sun. Some effects are good and some are bad. How are you … Continue reading

What Have You Got to Lose?

Some gamblers lose everything, even their lives We all like to win. Some people, though, obsess about winning and sacrifice everything they care about to pursue the next big win. They typically go down hard and fast. Money losses are quick and massive. Friends and family react with horror and disdain when finding out they’re victims, too. Felony convictions and suicides are among the tragic results. The Big Win What changes a simple fun activity into a potential prison or death sentence? A big win early on is what often ignites the first magical thinking. Jack had always stuck with … Continue reading

The Push of Pain, The Pull of Hope – A Gambler’s Story

I grew up with alcoholics. There were aunts and uncles that gave me boozy hugs, a godmother that called and picked fights after a few cocktails, and a dad that died of cirrhosis. As a result, I have a favorite quote, “If you can’t be a good example, at least be a horrible warning.” My family tree is filled with horrible warnings. At a young age, I decided that I wanted no part of that life at all. While my high school and college friends experimented with alcohol, I was extra cautious, usually serving as the designated driver and babysitter. … Continue reading

Why Am I Depressed When Everything Is Going Great for Me?

depression when everything going well

“I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I can’t even talk about it anymore. I go for long periods where life is good and I’m fairly happy. I have a great job as an engineer, a reasonably good relationship with my wife and all of our three kids are in college. How could anybody be unhappy with that set up? But then for no reason at all I go into the dumps. I can’t get up when life is good. It’s always been that way in my life. I’ve never been continuously happy. It’s up and … Continue reading

Ending Your Life is Not the Answer to Your Situation

suicide

You are at the end of your rope and you can’t take it any much longer. You are in pain and you are suffering and you feel there is no hope. The first step you need to do is to seek professional help. Do not make the decision to end your life when you are in these kinds of fearful situations. Here are six reasons why suicide and fear are not options regarding your problems. Things change over time. Regardless of your situation, things do not stay the same. You may feel very bad today, but it won’t last forever. … Continue reading

The Power of Love

man waiving england flag with royal couple

“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.” — Martin Luther King Did you attend the wedding? The May wedding in England…that moment of love that brushed politics, rancor and greed aside and let us all — the whole world — gaze into the power of love. While Megan and Harry were a beautiful couple, it was the beautiful sense of peace and wonder that took the stage. Our countries, once enemies, once competitors, once … Continue reading

Accelerated Resolution Therapy Gives Life Back to Recovering Gambler

Kathy had been doing well in her recovery from gambling addiction, having abstained for a dozen years with only occasional fleeting thoughts about gambling. But when a workplace assault created new trauma and awakened old feelings from previous traumatic experiences, she suddenly had unprecedented cravings to gamble, even devising a plan to travel far away to engage in a gambling spree. For nearly a year after the workplace incident, which left her with psychological damage, and torn ligaments and broken bones in both wrists, Kathy was unable to find relief. “I went through a lot of talk therapy to work … Continue reading

6 Tips to Beat Stress

ways to deal with stress

Stress affects everyone, damaging our health and relationships. Here are a few easy-to-consider tips for reducing stress in your life. Plan ahead and be flexible about your expectations. Think about your plans for vacations and family gatherings. Everyone else has expectations and sometimes they won’t match yours. Plan for spontaneity. If you allow the plans that others have to be a part of what brings you joy, you might find you have more fun. That way, everyone shares ideas and activities. Be aware of what your body needs.This includes healthy food, plenty of water, rest and exercise. Don’t throw your … Continue reading

In Al-Anon…

woman-standing-in-field

There was a period in my life where I spent most of my time doing one of two things: I was either worrying to extremes, or praying about what I was worrying about. My prayers were desperate. I often prayed, “Please let him come home safely.” Sometimes I prayed for something to change. At other times, I would make bargains. I would plea for resolution, and make promises in exchange. My prayers all had one thing in common: I would pray with a specific outcome in mind. “Please make him stop drinking.” “Please help him to find a job.” “Please … Continue reading