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