Monday, December 15, 2014

It's That Time Again...

Some people call it the most wonderful time of the year. And yet, for most Americans, we usually find ourselves stressed out during the holiday season.

The hectic nature of the holidays tends to overload us with concerns about having enough time and also enough money. In fact, as of December 10th, up to 38% of Americans have already gone into debt to buy holiday gifts. More often than not, we feel pressured to make the holidays the best that we can for our families. Not to mention the emotions that this season can bring up - for some, it is purely a joyous season, and for others it can be much more challenging. The absence of a deceased family member can be felt more acutely during the holidays, and the presence of extended family members sometimes leads to conflict. Sometimes we experience a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows in a relatively short time frame and in rapid succession.

Given all of these factors, it is no surprise that holiday stress leaves us especially prone to fall into sedentary behavior and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Research has shown that men and women alike turn to comfort eating and drinking. For those in recovery from a substance abuse addiction, the emotions of the holidays can put you at risk for relapse.

So what can you do? The good news is that we can take practical steps to prevent the holiday blues from getting us down:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. It’s ok to feel down - we can’t all expect to be happy just because it’s the holidays.
  • Reach out and enhance your support system. The holidays are a great time to seek out spiritual, community, or other social events. Have a therapist? Consider a few more appointments during this hectic season. At the same time, know your limits and learn how to say no.
  • Keep up healthy habits. Avoid overindulgence, follow a healthy and balanced diet, exercise to destress and maintain energy, and get plenty of rest. It might be hard to muster the motivation to get off the couch, but you will thank yourself later.
  • Make time for yourself. Set aside some alone time each day to recharge by yourself. Make an appointment with yourself for R&R time and stick to it, no matter how busy you are.

All the best to you and yours this Holiday Season!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Power of Addiction

The Power of Addiction

The power of addiction is a force built on denial. This power is so dominant in active addiction that addicts can neither see nor hear the devastation and losses occurring around them as a result of their disease. Sometimes, maybe years down the road, some crisis occurs that causes them to “come up for air” and breaks the shell of their denial. They look around and find career, children, time, opportunity, trust of loved ones, physical health, and mental health are seemingly, all gone. While this is an extreme example, unfortunately it is also a fairly common one. Life becomes “using to live and living to use,” and none of it feels good anymore.
Remember, the heart of the definition of addiction is continued use in spite of negative consequences. One of the most frequent losses addicts describe is the loss of the trust of their loved ones. Too often the addict have the unrealistic expectation that because they enter treatment and are serious about recovery, their spouse or loved ones should trust them in short order. Trust is not lost in a day and will not be regained in a day.
Another negative consequence of addiction is loss of one’s identity. The further addicts fall into their addiction, the more all-consuming it becomes. It becomes the center of their world, and, unconsciously, other priorities are pushed to the periphery and eventually lost. The longer the addiction goes untreated, the more it becomes a person’s main identity. The addict unconsciously takes on the role of being the victim and/or being bitter about life and tends to blame others for his or her problems. When the denial begins to fade and recovery begins, the addict may find little of his or her old self remaining. This is a scary proposition. In addition, the addict must look at living life on life’s terms, and having to become emotionally accountable for him- or herself. This emotional accountability is perhaps one of the toughest hurdles in recovery.
Being emotionally accountable means first no longer blaming others for how you feel or for your lot in life, no longer “needing” problems to perpetuate your addiction, and attempting to identify your most painful feelings and then being willing to risk sharing them with others. For some, this means disclosing the long-held secrets. For others, it may be the act of surrender—“jumping off the cliff” and trusting that someone or something will be there to catch you. For others, it may be putting themselves first emotionally for the first time in their lives.
Every addict and everyone working in the field of addiction needs to have a healthy respect for the power of addiction, but also remember that this is a treatable disease.
This blog post is an excerpt from Finding a Purpose in the Pain - A Doctor's Approach to Addiction Recovery and Healing - by James L. Fenley, Jr., MD; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What About The Kids?

What About The Kids?

by Gabriella Pinto-Coelho

When addressing addiction and the process of recovery, most people only think about what the addict goes through. After what can be an emotionally draining detox process, they have the rest of their lives to manage recovery. What society often forgets in this picture of addiction, detox, and recovery is the role of the family. 

Perhaps most vulnerable to the peripheral effects of addiction are children. Kids of alcoholics often take on roles like “the hero” or the “scapegoat” in order to keep their family afloat. Some kids might choose to keep the substance abuse a secret in order to maintain their family’s image. 

School counselors in Frederick County, Maryland are no strangers to this concept. They have created Kids Like Us, a free program to meet the psychological needs of children growing up in homes with family members who have substance abuse problems. Guidance counselors refer students in the Frederick County public school system to the program, which appears to be just what the Frederick community needed. Julie Merchant, Director of KLU, says that they are “pretty much always filled to the capacity that we can handle.”

KLU allows students a place to talk about their struggles in a group, since students are more likely to open up to one another than to adults. As a condition of their participation, students agree to keep all discussions and names confidential. Targeting school-aged children is a smart choice, since fourth grade is when kids begin to understand the concept of addiction, and puberty is when their own risk for addiction rises. 

In addition to its function as a support group, KLU also educates children about substance abuse. They teach kids that addiction is a disease separate from the person that they love, and it is no one’s fault. They also empower kids to understand that substance abuse is preventable in their own lives, and they do not have to follow in the same path as their loved one.

To learn more about Kids Like Us, read the article here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Story of Perseverance and Determination That Will Inspire You to Take Action!

An Amazing Story of Determination that Will Inspire You to Take Action
by Steve Bloom of

Editor's Note:   Wanted to share an article about the kind of perseverance and determination we often witness from our patients and their families while in treatment at The Coleman Institute.

A few weeks ago, I watched a documentary about Hawaii – specifically about its history and culture.
It’s a good documentary overall, but the story about how Hawaii was discovered particularly caught my attention.  It is easily one of the greatest stories about perseverance and determination I’ve ever heard.
If you ever need an inspiring kick in the butt to reach your goals, this is it.
The Story of Perseverance and Determination
I’ve often heard that the only sure-fire way to fail is to give up.
It’s no secret that big goals take time.  You have to think months or even years down the road.  Because they take so much time, we’re often tempted to quit before reaching them.
This story will show why you shouldn’t easily give up.
Hawaii was discovered around AD 1000 – no one knows the exact date – by a group of seafaring Polynesians who inhabited and explored many of the islands in the South Pacific.
If you look at a map of the world, you’ll notice that Hawaii is one of the most isolated spots on the planet.  So it’s already incredible that it was discovered so early in human history.
But what they did to get there makes the story even more amazing.
Because of its isolation, they would never have known Hawaii was even there.
They suspected it was there though.  They noticed a bird called the Golden Plover which migrated north out into the open water every year.  Land must have been out there somewhere – they just couldn’t see it.
So they set sail from the Marquesas Island to follow them.  That island is as close as you can get to Hawaii, but it’s still about 2500 miles away.  Nowadays it takes roughly 30 days to sail to Hawaii from Marquesas using modern day equipment.
Back then, they were only using carved wooden boats and their own understanding of naval navigation.
The Polynesians followed the birds closely, but they always flew faster than they could paddle.  They could only keep up with them for short distances.
At some point, they would lose track and have to turn back.
Each year they would try again, picking up where they left off the previous year.  Years passed by and they kept getting farther into the Pacific.  But still they never saw land.
According to the documentary, it took the Polynesians 400 years to finally reach Hawaii using this method.
400 years!
Every time I hear the documentary say this number, I’m amazed.
Imagine the determination and perseverance you would need to do this.
After generations of hard work, belief, perseverance and determination – after years of uncertainty and doubt they finally reached their goal.
By this point, Hawaii might have become something like a mythical idea.  To actually reach it, must have brought many of the travelers to tears.
Inspire Yourself
That was almost 1000 years ago.  Yet their struggles relate a lot to our own goal-setting.
We’re all working towards an unknown destination just like the Polynesians.  The principles are exactly the same.
Your big goal is like Hawaii
After a lot of hard work and perseverance, the Polynesians reached the goal that took them years to accomplish.
There was no guarantee they’d reach it.  For all they knew, they were sailing out to nothing.
This is what goal setting is like.  You’re not completely certain it’s out there, but you work on the faith that you’ll reach it.  Sometimes you have to risk going out into nothing in order to get where you want to be.
Your clues to success are like the birds
The Polynesians saw the birds flying in the direction of Hawaii and deduced that land was there.  That was their clue that they’d eventually reach their destination.
We’re all setting big goals or dreams on a clue or a hunch that we’ll reach them.  It’s our determination and belief in those clues that keep us going.
Your obstacles are like the ocean
Reaching Hawaii meant paddling across 2500 miles through the Pacific.  Navigating over the open water and making sure their boat didn’t sink were huge obstacles.
All goals have obstacles to overcome.  We all have things standing in our way.  They can often seem insurmountable, but with enough perseverance we can usually get around them.
Don’t Stop Working Towards Your Goals
The big takeaway to this story is that you have to keep working towards your goals.  Determination and perseverance pay off.
That means working hard even if you don’t see an end in sight.
How often did the Polynesians stop at some random place in the middle of the Pacific and see nothing?
You’ll face that moment too while pursuing your goal.  You’ll stop to look around and see nothing.
That’s normal.
There will often be nothing to encourage us.
There will often be nothing telling us if our hunches are right.
The problem is that when we see nothing we might think there really is nothing.
We all get afraid that our goals won’t really be there.  We all feel like we’re working towards something that will never arrive.
You have to have faith that your “Hawaii” is out there.  You have to have faith that all your work will get you to your destination.
It often just takes time and small steps.  You have to persevere and see it all the way to the end.
Sailing too far away from the shore for so long can be scary, but it will get you places.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Positive Effective Programming

Positive Effective Programming.

An article by:Fantastic Fred Schiavo

The P.E.P. Technique is used to program the subconscious mind. The subconscious works very much like a computer. In computer technology, whatever you program into the computer is what comes out. There is an old saying in computer technology, "Garbage in, garbage out." If you program garbage (negative information) into the computer, expect to get garbage (negative results). The subconscious mind accepts whatever you give it as being true. It doesn't have the capacity to question.

As you work with positive affirmations, you will notice positive changes taking place in your life. You will be aware that others will be drawn to your joyous, happy and loving spirit.

There are many negative words and statements that can easily be changed to positive ones. Is the word TRY a negative one? Webster says that try means "to make an effort," but I say that making an effort is not "doing it!" Consider changing the words "I'll Try" to "I Will"; change "I Hope" to "I Can"; and "I Can't" to "I Can."
About 20 years ago, every time someone would ask, "How are you?" I would answer with "FANTASTIC!" Finally a friend said "Fred, you can't be fantastic every day." I said, "You're right, some days I'm FANTASTIC!" and I bellowed that one out, "and other days I'm fantastic," saying this in a softer tone. "In conclusion," I said, "I'm fantastic every day."

If you act as if you have a quality, you will get it. If you think, talk and act FANTASTIC, you will be FANTASTIC. In other words, fake it 'til you make it! In my office, for all to see, sits a can. I call it the "eye can." It has eyes all around it and these eyes keep staring at me all day reminding me that I CAN. Whatever I choose to achieve in life, I CAN!

The P.E.P. Technique mentioned earlier must be used with the C.A.L.M. Method, which is a form of relaxation also tied to an acronym. This approach is used to relax the "critical faculty" of the conscious mind so that we can effectively program the subconscious.

The meaning of the letters in the C.A.L.M. Method are as follows:

C - stands for COMMITMENT.

Starting at once, make an agreement with yourself. You are now committed in your resolve to change.

A - stands for ATTITUDE.

Positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. By thinking positive, acting positive and being positive, we attract positive.

L - stands for LOGIC.

Intellectually, we know what is right, but we refuse to look at the truth. We get into denial. Denial means to declare what is not true that which is really true.

M - stands for MOTIVATION.

What is your motivation to make a change in your life? Whenever I work with people privately to overcome bad habits, I ask that question. Their success is dependent on their answer. When the reasons for change are specific (e.g. "I want to quit smoking for health reasons.") people are usually more motivated, and the likelihood for success is more prominent.

You need to get past the feeling that it may be too late. The most important decision you can make is that there is still time to change your life. The decision is yours. Start today to program yourself in a positive, effective way.

This article is posted on The Real Jim Wilson blog .....Click here

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Triple Whammy: Anxiety, Benzos, and Opiates

Xanax and Valium, prescribed to treat anxiety, mood disorders and insomnia, can be deadly when mixed with other sedatives.

Triple Whammy: Anxiety, Benzos, and Opiates

by Gabriella Pinto-Coelho

It’s no secret that mental health issues increase your risk of substance abuse. In fact, estimates indicate that individuals diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from a substance abuse disorder! 

Statistics from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that almost 8.4 million American adults have both a mental and substance use disorder. Unfortunately, only 7.9% receive treatment for both conditions and the vast majority (53.7%) do not receive any treatment at all. The case is even grimmer for those with more severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (see NIDA Report for more).

This predisposition toward addiction puts individuals with mental health issues in a risky place when it comes to medications. A class of medications called benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as “benzos,” have been used since the 1950's and 60's to treat anxiety, mood disorders, and insomnia. 

While there are patients that safely manage mental illness with the help of these medications, there are also considerable risks. For one, benzo users often mix these drugs with opioids with potentially deadly consequences. Both benzos and opioids are sedatives that slow respiration - as a doctor interviewed by NPR has said, “they potentiate each other — they make each other stronger. And so one plus one doesn't equal two; it equals three or four." 

Data from the CDC show that the mixing of benzos and opioids contributes to 30% of all opioid related deaths. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death in February 2014 was attributed to a mixing of benzos and other drugs.

This leaves people suffering with mental illness and substance abuse in a precarious position. A dependence on benzos often begins as the search to manage life-limiting anxiety or other mood disorders, and somewhere along the way opioids come into the mix.

 It is easy to see how things can quickly spiral out of control! Despite these startling facts and figures, there is always hope. Benzos are not the only option for treating anxiety and mood disorders. And, just as there are treatment options to overcome mood disorders, there are treatment options to overcome addiction.

Read more from NPR about benzos and opioids here: Risks of Popular Anxiety Drugs.....

If you or someone you love is in need of a detox off of opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869 to learn more about our treatment offerings.
Help, Hope and Healing Starts Here

Friday, September 19, 2014

Drug Court Brings Recovery to Many

Peter R. Coleman, M.D.
On a recent weekend trip, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Lawyers Helping Lawyers Conference. It didn’t hurt that the conference was held in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, which were spectacularly gorgeous. One of the other speakers was Judge Hammond who was instrumental in setting up the Henrico County Drug Court. This year the program is celebrating its 10 year anniversary and in that time the Henrico Drug Court has helped hundreds of people find recovery and stay in recovery! 
She gave a very informative talk on how it works. It is a very comprehensive program. Essentially, people who have a drug or alcohol problem, and who have broken their parole or probation are given a choice of going to jail or joining drug court. In drug court, they have to attend court weekly, attend therapy, attend support groups, get a job, and behave in other ways that are consistent with long- term sobriety. They have to face the judge every week. Any failure, including drug use, non-attendance, or other violations are immediately dealt with. Frequently people stay a weekend in jail. They usually get the message. The program works well because the rules are clear and the punishments are immediate.
In our world, good behavior is frequently motivated by carrots and sticks. If we go to work, we get a paycheck. If we punch a co-worker, we lose our job. In treatment programs, we have known for a long time that carrots and sticks work very well to help motivate people to stay clean and sober – especially in the early days of recovery when the temptation to relapse is so high. Frequently, in the early days, the motivation comes from outside (a spouse, a job, a judge), but over time the motivation starts to come from within. With time and practice, people stay clean and sober because they actually like being clean and sober. They like the new them – and they feel good about themselves. Drug courts can clearly provide that extra motivation in the early stages of recovery.   
If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of alcohol, opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.  We are here for you!