Looking back over the year we tend to reflect on what we accomplished (or didn’t) – New Years gives us a new reason to start over, even though we can do that any time, it seems most appropriate for the first day of the New Year.
Look at some of the things that we can make a resolution to try to accomplish:
Self improvement; look to reach your full potential this year – what areas are you setting for your goals ? a new class, reaching an exercise goal, learning to meditate? There are so many things that are unique about each of us and our goals – start with just one thing.
Motivation in small things; when we write down a goal, we are more likely to find a way to motivate ourselves to achieve a goal, even if it is just something such as taking a walk to begin to be healthier. Pay for a class that you have always wanted to take (more likely to go if you pay for it )
Feelings of accomplishments; again, small things add up to big things. Getting more involved with your recovery goals will not only make you feel better, but adding one new meeting a week, you will feel like you are accomplishing something you promised yourself that you would do. (see self improvement and motivation above !!)
Look forward to treating yourself; when you have written the goals for the year and willing to look at the first 30 days as achieving something, no matter how small, treat yourself to something that you have wanted (and can afford !!) Or if you achieved your goal of not stopping at Starbucks everyday for a latte, and saved the money , it starts adding up in that jar !!
Goals give us Clarity; taking the time to think of what we want, writing them down and getting something accomplished gives us a clear vision of what we are capable of accomplishing.
As you look back over the past year, and are living a clean and sober life – think of where you were last year and be proud of where you are today !!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE SANCTUARY – MAY YOU FIND PEACE, HAPPINESS IN 2016
By Sarah Peters
New data linking severe mental illness and substance use could lead to more effective and streamlined treatment options for clinicians and patients, according to a leading expert in psychiatry and addiction issues.
The Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis and the University of Southern California jointly conducted a study of nearly 20,000 individuals, 9,142 of which were diagnosed with severe psychotic illnesses, collected over a five-year period. The findings were published online earlier this month in JAMA Psychiatry.
“What we are learning is that this overlap of mental illness with addictive disorders is not random,” said the National Institute on Drug Abuse Deputy Director Wilson Compton. The organization, part of the National Institute for Heath, provided the funding for the study.
Researchers looked at the nicotine, alcohol, marijuana and recreational drug use in mentally healthy test subjects and psychiatric patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder. The study found that 30 percent of those with a severe mental illness engaged in binge drinking (four servings of alcohol or more), compared to 8 percent in the mentally healthy population.
The results for smoking and marijuana were much higher. More than 75 percent of those with severe mental illness were heavy smokers and 50 percent were heavy marijuana users. In the mentally healthy population, only 33 percent were heavy smokers and 18 percent were heavy marijuana users. While it is not yet known why the simultaneous occurrence exists, Compton said the findings do much in the way of helping both patients and doctors.
“We can use the fact that [mental illness and addictive disorders] go together to better reorganize our treatment centers to both address the mental illness and the substance issues,” he explained.
Clinicians have long suspected the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance use and even documented comorbidity—the concurrence of two disorders in one individual—in past studies. However, Compton described these new findings as a “wake-up call.”
“This kind of work is particularly important for the psychiatric community and treating clinicians,” Compton said. “For far too long psychiatry has ignored the problems related to substances while they focused on the mental illness of their patients.”
Establishing what causes simultaneously occurring disorders or determining if one caused the other has eluded clinicians thus far for several reasons. One reason being that some drugs have side effects, such as hallucinogens, that can cause symptoms similar to that experienced in a psychotic illness, according to the NIDA website.
Further complicating the issue is that drugs are often prescribed to treat severe mental illnesses.
“Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse,” according to the NIDA website. “Individuals with overt, mild, or even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of self-medication. For example, the use of tobacco products by patients with schizophrenia is believed to lessen the symptoms of the disease and improve cognition.”
Although the cause behind the link remains a mystery, the importance of documenting the existence of this link with hard data should not be underestimated.
“Putting this on the radar as such a huge problem in this population of people with severe mental illness will help us both with the clinical treatment of the comorbidity and it will also help us researchers begin to understand the overlap,” lead author for the article and Washington University researcher Sarah Hartz said.
The results from the study conclusively show with hard data that mental illness and substance use need to be studied and treated together, not as individual ailments, she said.
The study was a first of its kind due in part because of its size—finding nearly 10,000 psychiatric patients with severe psychotic illness was no small task—and secondly because an overwhelming majority of the sample group agreed to allow researchers to re-contact them for future studies.
Past studies had been completed with individuals diagnosed with milder cases of mental illnesses, but this new study confirmed that rates of substance use in those with severe mental illnesses is much higher than previously assumed, according to the article.
Researchers are now planning a second, more intensely focused study of 2,500 of the original research participants diagnosed with schizophrenia to further examine the role of genetics in comorbid illnesses.
“My patients come to me all the time and ask, ‘what can I do about it if it’s already written in my genes?’” USC researcher on the study Michelle Paton said. “I tell them, this is not about destiny; this is about risk. The better we understand what risks you have, the more appropriate treatment we can offer when you come to us.” If funding for the next study is secured, researchers will begin as early as March, Paton said.
Fully understanding the relationship between mental illness and substance use is particularly important when considering past studies on the mortality and causes of death in those afflicted by severe mental illness.
On average, persons with severe mental illness die as much as 25 years younger than the general population, Hartz said. “I think it is part of the stigma of mental illness that people in the general population think [the mentally ill] have a crazy, hard life and they die because they did something dangerous and that’s not true. [The mentally ill] die of the same things we all die of but they die much earlier due to substance use.”
Preventable medical illnesses, such as lung and cardiovascular disease or cancer attributed to cigarette smoking or heavy alcohol use, are a leading cause of premature death in those with severe mental illnesses. While anti-smoking campaigns have significantly reduced illnesses related to smoking in the general population, these efforts seemed to have missed society’s more vulnerable population, Hartz said.
Part of this is due to a misguided belief that forcing a person to quit smoking or another addictive behavior while undergoing treatment for their mental illness could further damage the person’s mental health.
“When people come in for severe mental illness, we need to also treat the substance abuse,” Hartz sad. “We can’t treat them independent from each other.”
Hartz added that the responsibility to inform patients falls back on the clinicians. “Clinicians need to have a frank discussion about how important it is to quit substance use and how quitting a substance won’t destabilize [the patient] psychiatrically,” Hartz said. “Aggressively talk to your patients. The first step and the most important step is to plant the seed.”
This dialogue between patients and doctors may be of particular importance in gender and ethnic sub-groups that typically have lower rates of substance use. “The most striking finding of this study was the evidence that societal-level protective effects do not extend to individuals with severe mental illness,” according to the published article.
Findings in the study showed that participants of Hispanic and Asian decent, who typically have lower rates of substance use in the general population compared to that of Caucasians, did not benefit from any protective effect.
The same was found true for women compared to men, where women usually have lower rates of substance use. “The protective effects of belonging to these groups did not carry over to individuals with severe psychotic disorder: the odds of substance use increased to mitigate the protective effects,” according to the article. “…This highlights the need for targeting substance use specifically among individuals with severe psychotic illness because protective influences may not carry over from the general population.”
Researchers don’t yet know why severe mental illness seems to be a great nullifier. “Could it be that a severe mental illness alienates you from your group?,” Hartz wondered. “Could it be that either the use of substances helps cause the mental illness—which then takes away the protective factor—or that developing a mental illness takes you away from your peer group, making you vulnerable?”
Whatever the answer, researchers now have a concrete start provided by the new data and a launching pad for future studies.
“The numbers speak louder than assumptions,” Paton said. “This study was to show people how important it is to justify assumptions with data. The striking thing in this study, we didn’t expect the numbers to be so powerful.”
Nancy Steiner a member of Crossroads Centre Leadership Team recently was honoured at the FARR (Florida Association of Recovery Residence) annual summit in Orlando, Florida.
Ms. Steiner who is the founder and past president of FARR, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award read; “In appreciation of your life-long delivery of quality care and support to persons in recovery from addiction”.
As the Executive Officer for The Sanctuary in Delray Beach, Nancy has worked in the field of addictions for 35 years and has represented Crossroads for over a decade. She continues to be a leader in the addiction community by helping write the standard of care for recovery residences .
The Sanctuary was the first Charter member to be recognized by the National Alliance of Recovery Residences in the state of Florida.
Receiving this award was an honour not only for her, but for The Sanctuary and Crossroads at Antigua Foundation.
What a lot of you don’t know about me is that I have a master’s degree in music. Through my studies, I had to do a lot of research on various ways that music promotes learning, healing and even recovery. The statistics are astounding. Music can be as powerful as modern medicine.
Think about it – music has been around as long as the human race. It is powerful. It is personal. It is physical. You, yourself, have a favorite song. There’s the one that always makes you smile. The one that brings tears to your eyes. The one that helps you recall a special time or event in your life. Music is powerful!!!
Let’s talk for a second about how music affects us physically. As a college student, I was asked to do some sort of experiment along these lines. Admittedly it was not scientific, but it was enlightening. I had several other students measure their resting pulse rates. We then played some fast, upbeat music and measured again. Pulse rates went up. We played some slower-tempo music and pulse rates went down. As non-scientific as it was, it proved to us that music had an effect on our bodies. Studies have shown that music can even decrease blood pressure!
Music can be a valuable tool to help people who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. I asked some friends who have either personally experienced addiction or have had family members experience addiction if music aided in recovery. Every single one answered with a resounding yes. One close family member admitted her struggle with alcoholism back in the 70s. I never knew that she had a problem. She said, “The music that helped was the Eagles. There were several like ‘Lying Eyes’. They wouldn’t let us listen to spiritual music or even a pastor to come see us it because they felt it would be too confusing for us. Music helped save me.”
Another said that the song that helped his recovery was the theme from Rocky. And another adopted the anthem ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’.
Although music alone is unlikely to help someone recover from addiction, it can certainly be an effective tool. How?
1. When people are newly sober, they experience many different emotions. Creating music can actually give them an outlet to express some of these volatile feelings.
2. One reason why many people relapse is because they have a difficult time managing stress. Listening to or creating music can be a way to manage stress levels.
3. Boredom can be another relapse trigger. Listening to favorite music can help to prevent boredom.
4. People who are newly sober often experience loneliness. After all, they have broken away from their circle of friends. Even their drug of choice was a “friend”. Listening to music may help to combat this feeling of loneliness.
5. Many people, when going through recovery, experience mental ‘fuzziness’. Music can help to improve focus and concentration.
By Kristin Reinink
I remember sitting through my first AA meeting like it was yesterday. The first person to share was a seventy something year old man who announced that he was a “grateful recovering alcoholic.” He went on to explain that he had been clean for over twenty years and runs six miles a day. I thought to myself… these people make me sick.
As our disease progresses we find new and creative ways to maintain our active addiction. Our internal self-talk finds a way to rationalize why our using is “normal” and why we aren’t “addicts/alcoholics.” By doing this over a period of time we become internally conflicted with believing and therefore behaving in a way that does not align with our morals and values. This process is difficult because we start losing ourselves to our addiction. Our goals, dreams and ultimately our identity is slowly taken from us and replaced with a substance. Most alcoholics and addicts can identify with this process and often have a hard time articulating how this process happens or happened.
When someone stops using and gets sober finding inspiration and gratitude can be challenging. The act of getting sober is scary and for many a last resort. Our behavior and thought process has revolved around our using. The motivation behind what we do, say and feel supports our addiction and continued use.
In my experience waking up in a detox unit after a five year bender was not particularly inspiring. To be honest my disease continued to rationalize why I was not like all the others who had a “real drinking problem”. This thought process took time and patience. It involved accepting the help and guidance of others. Initially I found inspiration in treatment, from my peers, my counselors, mentors and books. I had to trust the process and I still do.
So what helped me find inspiration in recovery? Below is a list of suggestions and techniques etc. that helped me find and maintain sobriety.
• Create a gratitude list – Put a notepad next to your bed. If you are a morning person write a list of things you are grateful for in the morning; if you are a night person then write your list before you go to bed. If you are an over achiever, do it both in the AM and PM. If you have a hard time knowing where to begin try making a gratitude list using the alphabet to provide as a guide. (Example: A is for AA Meetings, B is for Books, C is for my sister Chelsea and so on).
• Take in your five senses – Go somewhere quiet, if it helps close your eyes. And think what do I currently see, feel, hear, taste and smell. It is easy to move through your day on autopilot. It is healthy to bring yourself back to the present moment and feel grounded.
• Remember – One Day at A Time. In early recovery this saying got me through tough times. Often I would even break this down further and tell myself “one hour at a time.“ Before I knew it my one hours were turning into days, my days into weeks, and weeks into month and so on. It made time doable and helped me accomplish small goals.
• Get out into nature – This is very personal to me and I could probably write a book about it. However, finding the beauty in nature has enhanced the quality of my life…period. I remember talking to a very good friend and mentor who is also in recovery. At the time I was feeling stuck, it was winter and my attitude needed adjustment. I remember my friend saying “Don’t you enjoy skiing? When you are riding up the chair lift take a moment to really take in the beauty of the outdoors.” I have always remembered this advice. It is simple but has dramatically impacted my outlook. This would be a good time to take in your five senses.
• Appreciate the small/simple things – It is easy to take life for granted. One of my favorite quotes “That breath you just took… it’s a gift” by Rob Bell really summarizes what I mean by appreciating the small and simple things. Another favorite memory I have that exemplifies this was a time when I was facilitating a group at a residential treatment facility. One young woman in particular shared that she was grateful to see the sun for the first time sober in 10 years. This forever will be a perfect example of what I mean by finding gratitude.
Today, I am a little more than four and a half years sober. I am now the person who attends meetings and introduces myself, “Hi I am Kristin and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.”
By William Pullen
Recently, the BBC news website ran a piece based on an article in Neurology magazine about how “running may preserve thinking skills”. I’ve included it below as I think it illustrates another benefit of exercise. Although the research concerns younger people I believe the benefits of movement whether it is walking, tai chi, or running, are available to everyone. I need to include my usual addendum that DRT is not about getting fit or about colluding in fantasies of perfection. Instead DRT aims to promote what Dr. Jacobs refers to below as “total fitness” which incorporates social, physical and mental aspects of health. And for those that just wants to talk/walk/sit and not run it’s very much there for you too. DRT is talk therapy first. By doing that in outside spaces with “mother nature,” we already begin to break up rigid thinking.
As mentioned before, we don’t aim for perfection so “total fitness” is a concept we hold lightly for those who subscribe to a more holistic understanding of health. Sometimes, for some people, it’s better to just sit down on a park bench. For others, the info is below:
• Aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age, according to a US study.
• Activities that maintain cardio fitness – such as running, swimming and cycling – led to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on.
• Scientists say the research, reported in Neurology, adds to evidence the brain benefits from good heart health.
• Cardio fitness is a measure of how well the body absorbs oxygen during exercise and transports it to the muscles.
• Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later. They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.
Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills. People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.
People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to perform better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences. “Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author Dr David Jacobs.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” Dr. Jacobs said a concept was emerging of total fitness, incorporating social, physical and mental aspects of health. “It’s really a total package of how your body is and the linkage of that entire package of performance – that’s related to cognitive function many years later and in mid-life,” he told BBC News.
Dr. Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “A growing body of evidence suggests exercise may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and much research has shown a link between healthy habits in mid-life and better health in old age.
We see so much about addiction in the media and on TV, but many people have a lot of questions about sobriety, what it means and how it will change their lives. Here some answers anyone ready for a change needs to know.
What Is The Point of Sobriety?
Survival. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. The point of sobriety is ‘life over death’. Addiction is a chronic progressive disease that, if untreated, will end in death.
What Is Sobriety?
Sobriety is described as the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc.
What Is The Difference Between Sobriety And Recovery?
We can achieve sobriety by self-willed abstinence. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. The easier and undisciplined way, which is abstinence only, affords a less stressful lack of commitment. It does not involve much self-awareness or inner change.
Recovery is a planned change of lifestyle designed not only to prolong life, but also make it more joyous and free. If the point of sobriety is recovery; then we can have a quality of life with more enjoyment, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance
Questions To Answer When Making A Recovery Plan
We need to know some basic facts before working with a client as a Recovery Coach, the same facts suggested by The Bridge, a publication of the Addiction Treatment Technology Centers. These facts should be used to ascertain a plan, which the client will write him/herself based on what they have revealed about themselves and other facts of their lifestyle the RC must learn from them:
Are There Alternatives to 12-Step Programs?
Yes. Some people are not comfortable in the beginning of their recovery journey with the 12-step approach, but may come to it later on in recovery. Those who dislike the AA approach are especially vulnerable to relapse, as there may to be no other place to go for ongoing support. But alternatives do exist and include the following:
There are many ways to change your life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need to be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need someone like a Recovery Coach, especially if they don’t go to AA meetings, to get them back on track.
Reposted From AABlog .com
Many experts agree the “12 Step” meeting is either the heart, the corner stone or, at minimum, a main “ingredient” necessary in breaking the cycle of addiction.
If you’ve ever been around someone new or perhaps at least somewhat resistant to treatment, there’s a good chance you’ve heard questions like these: “Why?”, “Why do we have meetings?”, “Do I have to go?” “Can’t I do treatment and get sober without them?”
Depending on which expert you’d ask, the answers may be different; traditional “Evidence Based” recovery experts certainly evangelize meetings as one of the most important processes in an individual’s successful recovery. Although there are no absolutes, the overwhelming evidence leads to this simple truth. They’re right; simply put,”12 Step Meetings work”.
But where did this concept come from? That is, having group support on the path to sobriety, and what is it that has made this critical?
The 12 Step Program is ideally suited to assist individuals in recovery by providing a set of guiding principles that focus on making a deeper spiritual connection and following a path of recovery.
All participating members adhere to these principals, in a non-judgmental manner and, as a result, every member understands they’re not “alone”.
In contrast, isolation tends to speak to the individual telling them what they’re going through is unique, that no one can relate or understand, there is no one to talk to and, … they’re all alone. This leads to thoughts of HOPELESSNESS, followed of course by their drinking or drug use again; a vicious cycle, ever repeating itself, each time growing heavier and taking more and more of the life of it’s victim.
The meeting itself is the remedy to this one facet of the cunning disease of addiction. Meeting members courageously who share their thoughts and experiences, shedding light from individual to individual that they are not alone, the thoughts they’ve had are not unique and by connecting with those further down the recovery path, one emotion is transferred; confidence. Confidence intertwined with hope.
Although originally developed and started in 1935 by two men in recovery from alcoholism themselves, the method and the principles have been adapted to a wide range of different specific types of recovery. There are now 12 Step programs which are specialized for those in recovery from many different addictions including:
With the entire specialized 12 Step programs today; the group and meetings are still at the center of each and every program. While there may be specific people employed by the group, it is those in recovery who use the 12 steps to keep the groups going and to provide continual support for those within communities struggling with addiction. The group self-guides through traditions, creates relationships, commitments and provides hope and the evidence of long term successful lives of sobriety.
???What’s the Point of a 12 Step Meeting??
?The group is there to serve the members, to provide support, and fellowship. There is also guidance through sponsors, or those more experienced in recovery and leading a life free from addiction.
In-person meetings are typically open to the public. They start with the reading of the Preamble, the Serenity Prayer, and introductory statements about the program, the 12 Steps, and the 12 Traditions as well as The Promise. Depending on the type of meeting, a specific Step may be introduced and discussed, or the group may develop the topic, and then people are encouraged to share their story.
Typically after the formal meeting, members can socialize and connect directly with each other. There is also a book provided to new members with information on the 12 Steps, as well as names of group members to turn to if you need support to prevent using between meetings.
While large cities may have near infinite possibilities for 12 Step meetings throughout the day and throughout the week, in smaller areas the choices can be much more limited. Additionally, for people with children, busy work or school schedules or for those without transportation, getting to a meeting can be a challenge.
For more information, simply go to… www.InTheRooms.com
Enter …InTheRooms.com. InTheRooms.com is proof that a virtual meeting can be effective.
This is an online support network offering continual fellowship with others in recovery using the exact same principles as the in-person 12 Step meetings. It certainly is not designed to replace the personal meetings, but to provide additional layers of support and 24-hour opportunities to quickly and easily with the click of a mouse, participate in pre-set video meetings or to chat with others in recovery.
The same guiding principles and 12 Traditions are used with within the online support community.
Connections can still be made virtually. Support is still provided by the group; and like in-person meetings, friendships are forged.
So, to answer the question about the effectiveness of virtual meetings, the near 400,000 global member community of InTheRooms.com would certainly suggest in our modern, global society of instantaneous connections, the virtual meeting more than has a place, its a perfect fit. A concept whose time has come.
For those who may not be able to make it to an in- person 12 Step program as often as they would like, they can choose from over 110 live online meetings weekly focusing in on a range of different recovery types and focuses.
We often hear how important it is to live in the moment, one day at a time. Yet we so often struggle with this easy concept. Too often we look back, look forward, wanting and wishing. No matter what your age or your length of sobriety, this poem should resonate and help you understand more fully the importance of this simple concept
By Robert J. Hastings
TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We’re traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination–for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the Station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Station.
“Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!” we promise ourselves. “When we’re eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes- Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!” From that day on we will all live happily ever after.
Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion–it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday’s a memory, tomorrow’s a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday’s a fading sunset, tomorrow’s a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.
So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather the regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.