Monday, July 30, 2012

Dealing with Disappointment

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

Ever feel disappointed?  Yeah, that's what I thought!  Me too.  I spoke to a patient today who was feeling very disappointed about his current life circumstances.  A father of 3 boys, John* felt like his life was over.  At 28, he was in the throes of heroin addiction.  He came to detox and today was completing his time with us.  

As we spoke, he got angry and shouted, "Why?  Tell me why?  What's the point?  Why do you get up out of bed every morning?"  Admittedly, I was not expecting the question.  Quickly, I thought to myself, "Be honest.  Don't give him a bluff answer."  I replied, " get up every day because I believe life is so much greater than me.  I believe that life has purpose and value especially in living to help others.  Is it easy?  No!  Is it fair?  Definitely not!  Is it bad?  Sometimes!  The way I look at is we all have to meet the grim reaper some day but I say why push the appointment forward."  

He looked at me with his eyes in disbelief.  He responded, "Yeah.  Yeah, I see what you mean."  I wish I could say he was lost in the sea of excitement and inspiration from my answer but he wasn't.  He continued, "All I want to do is sit on the couch and shoot heroin all day."  Clearly, recovery takes a lot of time.  He is just beginning his journey.

How do you deal with disappointment?  They say disappointment is the distance between your expectations and actual reality.  Some call it the 'reality gap'.  Is your 'reality gap' small, medium, or large?  I would say we all have at least a small 'reality gap' from time to time however many of use are living in the large 'reality gap' zone more often than not.  Recovery is about eliminating, at best or reducing at worst, that gap so we are aligning our expectations with actual reality.  

Why?  Because relapse occurs when we are disappointed.  It's not a fun emotion to feel.  We don't like to feel that gnawing, empty, apathetic feeling when someone or something steals the wind from our sails and leaves us stranded floating on the sea of indifference.  That's when we have to pick ourselves up and dust off the apathy and indifference and get in the boat called reality.  It's a very big ship with confusing corridors, windows, and doors.  However, it comes equipped with a 'You Are Here' sign.  Most of us ignore the sign and try to figure out the ship on our own.  Not a good idea.  Make use of the 'You Are Here' sign as much as you can.  Don't worry, you won't miss it.  You can't miss it because reality will keep putting it in front of you until you choose to see it, comprehend it, and accept it.  

I'm sorry you've experienced disappointment.  I've had my fair share as well.  Reality says that nothing is easy and that there are no guarantees.  I choose to embrace that this very moment as I write this blog.  Don't talk to me in 5 minutes might change!  Dealing with disappointment can often be a moment by moment decision.  

At The Coleman Institute, we love to help people get clean and stay clean.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiatesalcoholbenzosMethadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).  We are here to help you and yours get clean and stay clean! 

*Name changed to protect identity

Saturday, July 28, 2012

You Are Loved


Chris Newcomb, M.Div

It's a simply statement.  I found it highly annoying.  You see, it was a text I received on my phone from a well-known national treatment center.  I had signed up for free daily text messages from this center to see what it was like as we have been thinking about incorporating similar technology for our clients to encourage, educate, and enhance their recovery experience.  

One day while sitting at my desk working at whatever task was before me, my phone buzzed to grab my attention.  In a highly irritated manner, I grabbed the phone off the desk with a huff and looked at the screen.  There it was.  Three simple words:  "You are loved".  I felt like I had been sucker punched in the chin.  Why?  Because I was so caught up in my work that I didn't expect to get hit with such a nice thought albeit by complete strangers.  The truth was I needed that reminder at that very moment that no matter if the project I was working on succeeded or failed, I was loved.  Those were very powerful words.  It changed my perspective about what I was doing immediately.  

Did you know that you are loved?  Seriously!  Did you know that?  Somewhere in this big world of ours someone is thinking of you.  Even if it's just little old me as I write this blog, the truth is you are loved and you matter.  After all, what's the point of a blog if no one reads it?  

Today's message is very simple: You are loved.  From all of us at The Coleman Institute, we send you this simply greeting with no strings attached.  A famous book once said that love never fails.  Truer words have not been spoken.  It is love that drives us to do what we do.  We love people and want to see them succeed in life.  Unfortunately, when they come to us, their life has spiraled down the drain of addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.  It is a joy, an honor, and a privilege to 'love' them back to health.  While we use medicines to do this, we also use other tools like radical acceptance, encouragement, and even a tough word of counsel when necessary to shake people free from this albatross around their neck.  

As you go through your day today, remember that you are loved.  You have value.  You are an original.  There is no one like you.  Never has been.  Never will be.  Choose today to love yourself.  You deserve it! 

At The Coleman Institute, we believe that substance abuse is not a way to love yourself!  Because we love people, we are committed to help them get clean and stay clean from drugs and alcohol.   If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiatesalcoholbenzosMethadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).  We are here to help you and yours get clean and stay clean!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We Are Not a Glum Lot*


                I love the internet!  There is so much information right at your fingertips.  No flipping pages, no Dewey Decimal System, just straight up imagination and inquisitiveness that gets you where you need to be and gives you what you want to learn!  So, today in the spirit of inquisitiveness, I am going to review a few recovery-related websites. 
   The first site is  The Big Book in A.A. states, “But we aren’t a glum lot…we are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free.” (pg. 132-133)  This website is definitely created in that spirit! specializes in gifts, clothing, and other collectibles that are recovery-related but with a humorous twist.  My personal favorite is the “Bill W. Gang” t-shirt.  Everyone likes to belong to something because we are social creatures.  This is the t-shirt to playfully proclaim your allegiance to A.A. and its founder Bill W.!

Be sure to check out the myriad of great products from this hilarious website!

The second site I would like to review is  It’s no secret that drugs and alcohol are pervasive in the music community.  The list of musicians who died too young includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Bonham, Keith Moon, and many, many more.  I love the tag line of this website which reads, “Addiction plays for keeps…so do we”.  Part of recovery is learning to adopt healthy habits and hobbies.  This is a great site for veteran musicians or wanna-be rock stars who never took the time to learn how to play because drugs and alcohol were too time consuming.  Go ahead, unleash your inner rock star, you know you want to!!!

The last site I would like to review is  Drug and alcohol use now start as early as 12 years old (some even younger) in today’s youth.  It is so prevalent among college students that The Princeton Review releases an annual “Top Twenty Party Schools” list for the discerning higher education party-goers!  Thus,!  It is a safe place in cyberspace for tweens, teens, and twenty-something’s to network, chat, support, and learn about drug and alcohol addiction.  This age group lives through the internet so it is great that such a resource exists.  Help spread the word!

            I like to close our time together with this quote.  It comes from the Sober Teens Online website.  It is very simple but so powerful.  It is, “Living Life Lucid.”  The word lucid is defined as, “characterized by clear perception or understanding; rational or sane” (  The idea is that life is meant to be lived in full awareness, full perception, and full understanding.  DUH!  But for many addicts that idea is not so obvious due to the pain that life has thrown their way.  For many of them, being lucid equals being in pain and suffering.  However, if they are willing to take a step of faith into recovery, they will find the joy of being aware of, perceiving, and understanding all the good that life has for them if they will stay sober one day at a time with the help of others!  

At The Coleman Institute, we believe that substance abuse is no joke!  We take getting clean very seriously.  However, we believe that once a person gets clean and stays clean, then they can join the group of recovery folks who are, "not a glum lot"!  If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiatesalcoholbenzosMethadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).  We are here to help you and yours get clean and stay clean! 

*  - (A.A. Big Book p. 132)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Boundaries: Drawing a Line in the Sand

The year was 1987. A curious event took place at a local Richmond, VA high school. I remember it as if it was yesterday. The high school I attended was a Catholic Military School. Part of the “fun” of military school is the experience of being hazed as a freshman to include things like excessive push-ups, cleaning the school bus with your nose, and eating in absolute silence during lunch. However, on this day, lunch did not remain silent for long. Allow me to explain…

As some of you may remember through your high school experience, people tend to sit in groups based on social status. For example, there are several diverse groups such as jocks, popular kids, geeks, emo kids, science nerds, stoners, and artsy kids, to name a few. True to the norm, I sat in my social group which, much to my dislike, was the “geek” section. I remember another “geek” section across the room that included a high ranking member of the “jock/popular group”. I never understood why he would denigrate himself to sit with those of less social status than himself. I came to find out that he lived near those kids so he could get away with sitting next to them. But, to save face, he had to verbally berate them daily to keep them in their places. But, on this particular day, the Geeks rose up in defiance and would have none of it! 

Imagine a quiet lunch room and the only sound is forks against plates and the sounds of dishes being washed in the kitchen when all of a sudden you hear a loud CRASH that pierces the silence like a gunshot that echoes through the woods. I looked up from my otherwise dull lunch to see the popular kid’s head covered in spaghetti with a mixture of sauce, meatballs, and blood running down his face.  Across from him, the nerd he berated for days on end was standing up defiantly and held the remnants of his lunch plate now snapped in two that he used to encourage the young man to leave him alone.  The whole place broke out in applause!  And, I, for once, breathed a sigh of relief and flashed a victory sign in my mind seeing that we just might be able to take back our social dignity and get through this thing called high school!

I tell this story because it is relevant to our topic of discussion this month which is the book Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine.  Katherine makes the point that each of us deserves basic human dignity and respect.  We maintain that dignity with the use of boundaries. There are 5 main boundaries that we all get to keep regardless of who we are or where we came from. They are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual boundaries. Maintaining our boundaries is important because, as Katherine notes, it helps us realize our love and acceptance of ourselves. It teaches us that we have value and deserve the best for ourselves.

Properly setting boundaries can help addicts to stay sober. Boundaries keep them from going back to unsafe people, places, and things which can result in a relapse. They also help replace bad behaviors with good ones. For example, you can choose to set the boundary of a 10pm bedtime instead of pulling all-night drug binges! The hard work of setting appropriate physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and sexual boundaries can seem daunting and pointless at first. However, in time most addicts realize that a boundary kept is oftentimes a life saved!

At The Coleman Institute, we love to help people get clean and stay clean.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiatesalcoholbenzosMethadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).  We are here to help you and yours get clean and stay clean!  

Chris Newcomb, M.Div. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Facing the Obstacles of Maturity

- Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

 Using the "Maturity Prayer":
(Loosely based on "The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Niebuhr)

“God grant me the maturity, to accept what I am feeling, and the courage to correct
the actions that I took that made me feel this way”
- Dallas B.

Maturity is overrated. I once saw this on a t-shirt and laughed out loud.  I wish that were true in the real world!  Wouldn’t it be great if your bank that it was overrated for you to pay your monthly mortgage?  Or how about if your boss thought that it was overrated for you to actually do your job and instead invited you to sleep for the first half of the day so you would be better rested for the second half?  Reality is not so kind, unfortunately!

Maturity is essentially about personal growth. It is the process of leaving one station in life to move to a higher, better, more excellent one.  Sometimes we choose maturity and sometimes maturity chooses us.  And oftentimes, we don’t enjoy either experience.  Yet, we always have a choice when life presents us the opportunity to move further down the maturity trail.  This is where the “Maturity Prayer” can be useful.

Maturity can be defined as, “full development or perfected condition”.  In the case of the Maturity Prayer’s opening statement, “God grant me the maturity (full development, perfected condition) to accept what I am feeling", we are invited to accept our feelings as they are.  This is especially difficult when we perceive them to be negative.  It is a hard thing to do.  We ask God to give us the ability to recognize and accept our feelings particularly as it relates to our part in creating those feelings.  While it is true we may have strong feelings about a certain situation or person, place, or thing, the reality is the only thing we can change in life is ourselves.  

The prayer continues saying, “the courage to correct the actions that I took that made me feel this way.”  This is the second and also difficult part of maturity, namely, correcting negative actions for which we are responsible.  In the end, this prayer is all about asking for the power to better manage ourselves.  While maturity may not be highly rated, we can definitely say that immaturity is definitely overrated.  Which will you choose in the face of obstacles that threatened to stunt your maturation process?

 At The Coleman Institute, we love to help people get clean and stay clean.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiatesalcoholbenzosMethadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).  We are here to help you and yours get clean and stay clean! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lose Yourself?

I like thought-provoking lyrics but there is one rhyme from rap artist Eminem that takes the proverbial cake.  It comes from his acclaimed hit “Lose Yourself” from his blockbuster movie “8 Mile”.  ‘Em’ (as he is sometimes called) raps, “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti, he's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready.”  Now, one might ask, how can you talk about vomit in a rap/pop song, make it a hit, and win an Academy Award as well?  Talent!  Plain and simple, which Eminem has flowing out of him rushing like the waters of Niagara.  He spits rhymes that gives a bird’s eye view into his feelings about the world and his life growing up as a poor, white kid just outside of Detroit.  The story of Eminem has been well chronicled so I’ll leave that to those who have already done so.  I would, however, like to highlight an article about him I found on the website entitled, “Eminem’s 12 Step’s to Recovery” by Steven Horowitz.

In the past few years, Eminem had a well publicized addiction with pain killers which resulted in his lackluster album Relapse.  That album was more about his drug addiction, selfish behavior, and other problems that continued to mire his life than fans wanted or expected.  Now, in 2010, he has returned with a new album simply called Recovery.  Horowitz makes some interesting parallels between the material on Em’s new album and the 12 Steps of Recovery, specifically Narcotics Anonymous. 

Each song contains the essential message of the 12 Steps such as “Going through Changes” which has Em rapping about how far down he had gone due to his drug abuse ala Step 1.  In “Cinderella Man: Em gives props to God noting the high improbability of his continued existence without the help of God, which echoes Step 2.   “Not Afraid” mirrors Step 3 and the action step of surrender.  The album continues revealing hints of Steps 4-12 proving that Eminem is a man on a mission of personal change and maturity.  Is his recovery complete?  Musically?  Perhaps?  But, as for the man himself, he’s just getting started. 

I think it is important for the addiction community to pay attention to the ways pop culture both helps and hinders the recovery process through different types of media such as music, television, and movies.  For all the cultural junk out there, I was glad to find this uplifting article on  Thankfully, this article highlights the fact that an artist like Eminem, who has massive power, money, and influence, is using his musical platform to speak truth to a world that is hurting.  

While Eminem is not looking to become the most world-renowned Addictions Counselor, he is achieving something similar by giving voice to his pain and sharing it so that others may identify and possibly learn from his mistakes.  It is not easy to lay your soul open before a global audience.  Just like the idea of ‘up-chucking’ mom’s spaghetti, confession certainly is messy and often not much fun.  But that is part of the journey of recovery.   Eminem has been given a gift of new life and sobriety.  Let’s hope he continues to use that to help others because in the words of the oft quoted white rapper, “opportunity comes once in a lifetime!”

 At The Coleman Institute, we love to help people get clean and stay clean.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiatesalcoholbenzosMethadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).  We are here to help you and yours get clean and stay clean!