• Hazelden Renewal Center

My First Sober Holiday

How three leading women in the recovery community handled their first holiday season sober. Holidays aren’t always picture perfect, with families sitting around the dinner table, laughing and joyful. This is especially true of families in recovery, as the effects of addiction weave throughout the family unit: Dysfunction, codependency, stress, and burnout are common themes among recovering families. This scenario can be especially challenging for anyone in recovery to navigate, but particularly so for those in early recovery who are less practiced. It is possible, however, to get through a Holiday, maintain your recovery, and keep your sanity. Who knows … Continue reading

Recovering the Joy of Giving

With the Holiday season drawing near, my thoughts are turning to Christmas gift-giving. Who should be on the list? What should I give? Do I have to give a gift to co-workers? Bosses? Mail delivery persons? In the midst of all this mind chatter I like to slow down, think and get clear about the spirit of gift-giving. Why give gifts and what is gift-giving about? I’m not even a practicing Christian anymore. What does Christmas mean to me? In our culture, it’s become a secular Holiday as much as a religious Holiday and has become conflated with gift-giving. Sorting … Continue reading

Three Stories of Hope

first person testimony

The following testimonials are from Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge in Minneapolis. Some edits have been made for length. Tiffany’s story I struggled with a 15-year addiction to meth, opiates and alcohol prior to coming into Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge (MnTC). My physical health was in shambles and my mental health was unstable. I overdosed and was hospitalized. I had been in over 15 treatment programs. I was disconnected and homeless. I lost my career as a drug and alcohol counselor. I destroyed my relationships with my family members to the point where no one had contact with me. … Continue reading

A Look at Peer Recovery

Esteemed recovery historian, scholar and advocate William White notes that the concept and principles of peer recovery support has deep roots extending back to the original mutual self-help group Alcoholics Anonymous and spanning forward from that time to be a fundamental aspect of the substance use recovery movement. In 2019 Peer Recovery Support Services (PRSS) have become a recognized and integrated part of addiction treatment in many areas of the country. However, despite the extensive education and advocacy efforts of Recovery Community Organizations (RCO) such as the Minnesota Recovery Connection, Peer Support Services have only become formally recognized in the … Continue reading

What You Should Know About Addiction

In 2008, an estimated 20.1 million Americans aged 12 or older used illicit drugs within a month prior to a survey done by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA). This estimate represents 8 percent of that population. During that same time an estimated 22.2 million persons (8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older) were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). Of these, 3.1 million were classified with dependence on or abuse of both alcohol and illicit … Continue reading

Gardening Lessons

garden with flowers

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Claude Monet I greet my overflowing garden each morning with amazement and humility.  My garden is a miniature paradise, the closest I get to being an artist.  In the garden I partner with the natural world, giving me a palette to experiment with wonder and delight, failure and recovery. I learn so much in my garden.  The other day I removed two trees – one an elm, the other a cottonwood.  Lest you think I have been muscle building at the gym, they were seedlings – each standing about six inches above the ground in my flower bed. … Continue reading

Think About It: The Power of Positive Thought

positive wall sign

I can’t help but wonder what in the world was I thinking when I reflect on some of the major decisions I made in my young adulthood. I can only presume that I wasn’t thinking at all. My concept of contemplation was to deal with any consequences of my decisions “Later.” Such cognitive carelessness led me to marry at 18, again at 21 and once again at 29. In essence I was choosing not to think in those moments. I paid the price for my thoughtlessness with much unnecessary hardship and heartache. I manage to get myself in all kinds … Continue reading

Tending and Mending a Wounded Heart

broken heart

Many years ago on February 13, a first year representative to the New York state assembly received an urgent telegram at his Albany, N.Y., office containing a single three-word sentence: Come home now! The day before, his wife had given birth to a baby girl. Now, as the train made the five-hour trip back to his home in New York City, the new father wondered if something had gone wrong. As he read and reread the telegram, he prayed that all would be well in his household. Walking into his home, the man’s brother greeted him with this sad lament: … Continue reading

Trust: It Don’t Come Easy

trusting

“A man who doesn’t trust himself can never really trust anyone else” Cardinal De Retz My desire and ability to trust someone seemed unattainable for many years. When I first got into recovery I didn’t trust a soul, including myself, with the possible exceptions being my two young children. The two people I had been able to place my complete trust in to never let me down, my parents, had died a few years after a divorce ridden with betrayal, and I felt very alone. Like most other adults who were over 30, I had been hurt by a few … Continue reading

Jump Sober

collage of books

The author spoke of his earlier self, describing how he so desperately wanted to bring good things into his life to attract the wealth, health and happiness he had always craved. He eagerly and often lined his shelves with tons of books about all things spiritual. This fascinated me, here was someone writing about wanting the same things I did and didn’t start with sterile how-to’s. I was also intrigued with our similar desire for answers — and, I too had shelves filled to the brim with such books. He went on to describe the “ah-ha’s” each book he read … Continue reading