Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Chronic Pain Blues

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

If I were a blues artist, I would write a song called, "The Chronic Pain Blues".  It would be an epic tale of sorrow because of bodily pain and suffering.  I mean, after all, it IS a blues song so it HAS to be sad by default!  The words might go something like this...

"The Chronic Pain Blues"
"I got the Chronic Pain Blues,
Hurts no matter what I choose,
Oxys, Roxy's, Percodan,
Even heroin, of which, I am not a fan,

"I got the Chronic Pain Blues,
It hurts so bad I have to use,
And the drug uses me too,
Gotta find help cause I'm through,

"I got the Chronic Pain Blues,
I need some major help too,
Cause life can't go on this way,
There has to be a better day

Is anyone listening?  Can you hear my cry?
I don't want this pain but I feel like I may die,
Help me cause this is my plea,
Help me and set me free.

Then I'd write a song that answers that blues song with the solution.  The words might look like this...

Free Ride

"Sobriety and recovery don't cost a dime,
All it takes is a little of your time,
Lay your addiction on the cutting room floor,
And you'll get back a whole lot more,

Whether it's chronic pain or partying,
The truth is you're done with where you've been,
Saddle up and get a new ride,
Check out life on the other side,

It's a free ride, it's what you need,
Freedom from chains that bind your feet,
Take a step in the right direction,
And after some deep reflection,
Hold on cause help is on the way!

Invest in your future one step at a time,
Go after the freedom that's been there waiting for you to find,
If you're scared or worried, it's ok,
Sober, happy people will lead you to a brand new day,"

(c) Chris Newcomb 2013 (just to make it look official lol)

At The Coleman Institute, we love music.  We love the sound of people being set free from addiction whether they are physically dependent from chronic pain or because they got hooked through recreational use.  Either way, we're here to help you get clean and stay clean.  Both elements are very important to us.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of alcohol, benzos, opiates, Methadone or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.  In the meantime, we'll be rocking out to our favorite tunes hoping you'll call and join the choir singing the song of freedom from substance abuse as we kiss those blues goodbye!  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Overwhelmed? Take a Rest This Weekend and Recharge!

Chris Newcomb, M.Div. 

Ever feel overwhelmed?  Sometimes people think being overwhelmed is akin to laying on the desert floor of Death Valley crawling towards a puddle of water on a nearby deserted highway.  While that is a pretty bleak picture and would leave anyone overwhelmed, most of us get overwhelmed over much less difficult circumstances.  A busy day at the office can stress you out.  A sick family member can feel totally overwhelming at times.  The point is this, if you are human, you will feel overwhelmed at some point in your life. 

The question is: what to do when I feel overwhelmed?  I'm glad you asked.  Why not take some time this weekend to decompress from your life?  And, as you decompress, take a good look at what is working right in your life and what is not working right.  Then, take a look at this list below and see if one of the mantras can be applied to any of the issues you found that are not currently working right for you.  If for some reason it doesn't seem to fit right now, I guarantee there will come a time in the future when one of these statements will help you feel more grounded and less overwhelmed! 

At The Coleman Institute, we are here to help the overwhelmed.  If chronic pain is overwhelming to you, we can help!  If recreational drug or alcohol use is overwhelming to you, we can help!  If you or someone you love is in need of detox, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.
"❤ I am doing as much as I can, as best as I can.
❤ I chose this path, and I can always make it easier.
❤ I gave myself these tasks, and I can un-give them, too.
❤ I put pressure on myself, and I can release it, too.
❤ I don’t have a to-do list. I have a list of helpful suggestions.
❤ I don’t have an inbox. I have a collection of happy invitations.
❤ I don’t need to do everything all at once. (Or all at ever.)
❤ I have no one to impress, except myself & Mr. Rogers.
❤ I have one job right now — being gentle with myself.
❤ I’m not overwhelmed. I’m over-wowed.
❤ I’m not overwhelmed. I’m saturated with possibilities.
❤ I am overwhelmed. With gratitude.
❤ Nothing is mandatory. Except being a nice person.
❤ The earth weighs 6.6 sextillion tons. If I let this problem go, we’ll all be a little lighter.
❤ The sun is 93 million miles away. From there, my problems are very small.
❤ The universe is 13.7 billion years old. I am very young. I am still learning.
❤ The universe is expanding. My life is unfolding. It’s all happening.
❤ When it comes to de-tangling problems, I am an Olympian.
❤ There’s always a simpler option.
❤ There’s always a sweeter path.
❤ There’s always a softer way."
- Alexandra Franzen 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get It Done!

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

What are you doing right now?  Seriously.  What are you doing?  You're reading this blog, obviously, but outside of that, what are you doing?  Drinking coffee?  Eating a donut?  Waiting for the light to turn green at that stoplight?  

What are you doing someday?  Got any plans?  How about next week?  Tomorrow?  Next year?  Later?  The other day?  NOW?   Feel overwhelmed yet?  Good.  Mission accomplished!

We get stuck in the past and feel like slaves to the future.  Most of us miss right now.  See?  There it went.  It's gone.  It's then now.  And in a few moments, now will arrive and become then again.  You should try talking about this stuff from a physics perspective because it will blow your mind!  

Actually, the reality is that recovery is about living right now.  Not then.  Not tomorrow.  Not 10 minutes from now.  Right now.  Do you live in the past and miss the present?  Do you phone in the present because you're too occupied with the future?

Learning to live in the present moment has many advantages.  First, it downsizes life.  It makes it more manageable and less chaotic.  The same is true in recovery.  You don't have to stay sober the rest of your life.  Just stay sober right now.  And when then becomes now, stay sober again.  Repeat.  

Second, living in the present allows us to really savor the moment for all it's colors, hues, scents, tastes, smells, and sounds.  It's what creating memories is really all about: paying attention!  In recovery, we pay attention to how we feel, what we say, where we go, who we hang out with and who we don't hang out with and why we choose to live a different life than the one many of us chose to live before this moment.  

Last, living in the present moment, right now, is the only way to really 'live'!  Seriously, if you spend your time thinking about the past or ruminating about the future, you are literally not living because you are stuck inside your head.  You miss the living moment of right now for the memory of having lived before this moment or the fantasy of a moment you will live when it is not now.   Catch my drift?

Right now I encourage you to stay in right now and each right now after that and that and that.  As you stay in the present moment, embrace recovery one moment at a time.  Embrace sobriety one moment at a time.  Embrace friendship, movies, books, support, fun, joy, snow cones,peace, laughter, lemonade and heavy metal music (if you're mom approves) right now.  Now go get it done before it's too late!  You'll be glad you did! 

At The Coleman Institute, we care about you right at this moment.  If you re-read that sentence, it is still true.  Our caring never stops.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of alcohol, benzos, opiates, Methadone or Suboxone, whether from chronic pain or recreational use, please do not hesitate, this moment or one very soon, to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Balance of Chronic Pain Management and the Threat of Prescription Pill Dependency

Wordle: Chronic Pain and Prescription Pill Addiction

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

There are a growing number of people who are suffering with chronic pain issues and have sought out 'pain management' facilities to help them manage their pain.  In theory, this seems like a logical choice.  In reality, many patients walk away with their pain controlled in the short-term while an addiction to prescription pills is unleashed for the long-term.  These patients are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  They have legitimate pain but they can't get any relief.  They seek legitimate medical advice but oftentimes those legitimate doctors, while well-intentioned, are clueless about how highly addictive the medications they prescribe on a daily basis can be to their patients.  This creates a huge issue for all involved.  

For the patient, the pain is regulated or normalized at first.  Relief is finally in sight.  However, if the patient's brain is susceptible to addiction, danger is lurking ahead.  Eventually, those medications will begin to lose their effectiveness leaving the patient in pain once again.  Here is the crossroads between addiction and non-addiction: the choice to continue using a dose higher than prescribed or to go back to the prescribing doctor to reassess treatment options.  If a chronic pain patient's brain is susceptible to addiction, there is only one choice: go full steam ahead and increase the dosage past the one given on the original prescription.  Not only is this dangerous from a general health perspective, it is most certainly the way to seal the deal and become completely addicted to the pain medication prescribed. 

For the doctor, they are usually well-meaning when they seek to relieve a patient's chronic pain.  The problem is many of them do not have extensive training in the field of addiction.  They leave themselves open to litigation for malpractice suits.  Some of them simply don't care and operate what are known as 'pill mills' wherein you pay cash, explain your symptoms and a prescription is written for you no questions asked!  

Certainly this problem will not be solved overnight due to a multiplicity of complex factors.  However, there is another way!  Chronic pain patients would be smart to investigate the long-term effects of pain medications BEFORE they begin a regimen as prescribed by a doctor.  Ultimately, only the patient can decide the level of their pain and how much they can actually stand before they need medical assistance with it.  There are new treatment modalities that are showing promise in lessening chronic pain over the long-term.  Patients would do well to be open-minded about other possibilities such as, but not limited to, Yoga, Tai Chi, Massage, Psychotherapy, Exercise, Tapping, Meditation and many more.  

We often see chronic pain patients needing to be detoxed off of prescription pills who report afterward their detox that their pain is not what they remember it to be.  Many even report that their pain has actually improved once they got clean for good.  Pain pills are not the only game in town when it comes to managing chronic pain!

What is most important is finding balance.  Finding a balance between how bad the physical pain really is and how much and what type of medicine is needed to ease that pain to create a life worth living.  Underestimating the power of other pain treatment modalities can leave someone addicted and worse off than when they first started.

At The Coleman Institute, we care about people who struggle with chronic pain.  We may not be able to feel your physical pain but we want to help you get rid of the addiction that is making it worse.  We offer a safe place of non-judgment so you can get the help, hope and healing you need.  If you or someone you love needs to detox off opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Not Feeling It?

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

Ever had one of those days?  What if one of those days is a Monday?  Does it ruin your outlook for the rest of the week?  Month?  Year?  Even the rest of your life?  Yeah, I've been there too.

I write this article on a Monday which may have you wondering if I am, in fact, 'not feeling it' today.  Truth be told, I wouldn't tell you if I wasn't feeling there (tongue firmly planted in cheek)!  Furthermore, how many of us really 'feel it' all the time anyway?  And, for that matter, what is 'it' anyway?!?

I think the proverbial 'it' is something we have to do but don't really want to do.  Take doing laundry, for instance.  How many people do you know who are jumping to do their laundry?  Exactly.  Not something most people bust a move to experience!  

Still, people do it because they have to do it or face certain consequences such as trouble with work and/or relationships such as 'Pig Pen' from Charlie Brown who always walked around in a cloud of dust, dirt and body odor because he refused to participate in daily hygiene activities.  The other cast of Peanut's characters were derisive and loathed being around him because of his smelly, unkept self. 

Likewise, people feel the same way around those who are in active addiction.  Sometimes, they stink.  Oftentimes, they make poor choices.  They hurt others because they are just not 'feeling it'.  In this case, 'it' would be sobriety and recovery.  Where are you in regards to those two?

The reality is that sobriety and recovery are important regardless of whether people are 'not feeling it' on any given day.  This is life and death we're talking about here.  Don't let a 'case of the lazy' fool you!

Take this as a wake-up call if you're feeling ambivalent about participating in your recovery!  You are too important and have way too much to lose if you do not take your recovery seriously.  Only you will reap the benefits or destruction of your choices.  Choose wisely so you will be happy!  You'll be glad you did.

At The Coleman Institute, you always matter to us!  Whether you suffer from chronic pain that led to an addiction or you just stayed at the party too long, we're here to help.  If you or somone you love is in need of detox off of opiates, benzos, alcohol, Methadone, or Suboxone, please call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869


Friday, July 19, 2013

Tag! You're It!

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

Growing up, I used to love to play a game of tag with all my friends.  We ran and ran and ran until we skinned our knees, ran into trees, and froze like zombies in order to escape hearing those dreaded works, "Tag! You're it!"  I am happy to report that I was fairly successful in avoiding being tagged but my game was not without fault.  There were a few times when I had to serve my time as the 'tagger' hoping to capture a weary 'taggee'.  

Recovery can be a game.  If you think about it, the object of any game is ultimately to win.  Strategies may change throughout the game but eventually someone has to win.  Recovery, much like any game, is a journey.  It's a process.  You spend time making a game plan (i.e. how to win).  You observe the opponent's moves and adjust accordingly.  Sometimes, it's all defense.  Other times, you take it to them with a full-court press.  And if you're lucky, a slam dunk is in order!

I'd like to suggest that you can view recovery as a game as a way to motivate your ambition to stay clean.  Whether you are a '12-Stepper' or not, the concept of 'marking your time' in recovery makes sense.  In the picture above, one of our patients displayed his 'tags' that 'mark his time' in recovery.  You can see the white 'Just for Today' tag.  And then other tags follow as clean days accumulate in increments such as 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, and 270 days.  

If you think of recovery as a game, the object is to win.  How do you win the game?  You live the rest of your life completely sober.  This is a large, ominous task for many and they fear certain doom as it relates to their ability to stick to the program of recovery.  Instead of adopting a defeatist attitude, why not shift your perspective and set up benchmarks to track your progress?

It might be slow, at first, but if you only stay sober 5 minutes at a time, that is fine.  You can keep a calendar and mark off every day you stay sober.  Another way to encourage yourself is to keep a daily journal.  It is amazing after a few months when you go back and read them how your perspective will have changed and usually for the better!  

Finally, most games require a team to help you along.  This can be a 12-Step community like A.A. or N.A. where you attend meetings regularly and hang out with other sober people.  It could be a partner that is your gym buddy and helps you meet your fitness goals.  The sky is the limit so use your imagination and get creative!  If you're like most addicts and/or alcoholics, you are very smart and creative.  You have to be in order to be so good at addiction.  Now use it for something positive to change your life!

Whatever you do, do something!  Don't let life pass you by in a drug or alcohol-fueled haze.  Sobriety and recovery are worth it.  And by the way, TAG! YOU'RE IT!!!

At The Coleman Institute, we would never tag you out of a game UNLESS it's the game of addiction.  In that case, it's game on!  We love to help free people from the chains of addiction.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.  We're here for you!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Successful Long-Term Recovery: A Patient Testimony!!!

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

I once heard a comedian talk about how much he hated watching the late night evening news because it was always very negative.  He suggested that they even change the name of it to something like, "The Bad Evening News" or "Why Our World is Awful Today!".  To say the least, there is definitely some truth in that if you ever watch the evening news.

Time for a change!  Here is some good news.  Our patient Neile Hannick recently came by our office to update us on his life in sobriety and recovery.  We were so inspired by his story that he agreed to share it on video so you could hear about it too!

At The Coleman Institute, we want to help people 'Get Clean and Stay Clean' as we provide legendary 'Help, Hope, and Healing'.  We really do care!  If you or someone you know needs to be detoxed off of alcohol, opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869. 

Please enjoy Neile's story and feel free to pass it on to encourage anyone you know who is struggling with addiction! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust

Chris Newcomb

I love the band Queen.  They wrote the book on diverse music within a rock and roll band.  They have incredible ballads, pop gems, heavy rocking riffs, and great lyrics.  One of my favorite tracks is the song "Another One Bites the Dust".  It is known because of its' catchy bass line that makes everyone want to dance.  

The song maintains popular as it is broadcast in many stadiums at major sporting events.  Furthermore, it was used in episode #21 ("Funk") of the hit T.V. show Glee.  It's amazing how big of an impact this simple song has had across generations!

Speaking of Glee, tragedy struck the show this week as one of the main actors passed away from a  drug and alcohol overdose.  Cory Monteith was found dead in his apartment apparently from an overdose mixture of heroin and alcohol.  He was 31 years old.  

And so, another one bites the dust, so to speak.  I don't mean that in a derogatory way and I wish it was just the song playing but it's not.  It is the melancholy melody that reminds us all that addiction is still around and that it is not a respecter of persons.  Drugs and alcohol kill people.  Addiction does not play around!

It is an all too sad story.  A good-looking, humble and talented actor arrives on the scene and has a great career trajectory.  Eventually, partying and poor choices begin to creep into his life.  Crisis occurs and they go to rehab only to relapse several times. Sometimes the law gets involved.  More rehabs.  More court.  More jail time.  And, unfortunately, as in Cory's case, death occurs.  It's a sad state of affairs.

As we remember Cory's contribution to the entertainment and acting world, let us all re-commit ourselves to living our best life clean and sober one moment at a time.  Let us never forget the alcoholic or drug addict who is still suffering out there dying to find a way out.  Let us be reminded that life is precious and that 'glee' is not found in drugs or alcohol.  Rest in Peace Cory Monteith, gone to soon. 

At The Coleman Institute, we wince every time we read about someone dying from an overdose of drugs and/or alcohol.  That's why we are committed to helping people get clean and stay clean.  If you or someone you love needs to detox from alcohol, opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.  We're here for you!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chronic Pain and Prescription Drug Abuse

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

Chronic pain is nothing to smile about.  It is often a crippling, debilitating, and frustrating experience that puts hope out of reach and makes comfort a distant memory of the past.  It is very real.  Too many people suffer every moment of every day with this issue!

Enter: prescription drugs.  While these modern medical marvels often do wonders for people's chronic pain, the important question to ask is: at what cost?  That is, for people requiring prescription medications to manage their chronic pain, is it worth it to risk getting addicted to those same medications?  This is a very important yet difficult question to answer because some people really do need to be on these medicines for pain relief.

The point of the practice of medicine is to cure disease and restore health.  The Hippocratic Oath that doctors uphold instructs each practitioner to, "abstain from doing harm."  In most cases, doctors who prescribe chronic pain medication are doing just that: abstaining from doing harm.  They sincerely want their patients to cease being in pain and they prescribe what they believe to be the right medicines accordingly.  However, many doctors do not understand prescription pill addiction and they write excessive refills that only keep a patient addicted.  

If that is not bad enough, chronic pain patients also deal with the stigma of being considered a 'drug addict' even though they never took the drugs to get high but rather for pain management.  Many try to wean themselves off their medication only to fail and have to go back on it because the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms are just too much.  Add in a sense of failure with their new budding addiction and you have a self-esteem disaster waiting to happen all because they started taking the medication as prescribed by their doctor!

There is no easy answer to this problem it would seem.  However, that is not the whole truth.  People can get off of prescription pain medication and often find that their pain is not what they remembered it to be before they started using addictively.

At The Coleman Institute, we believe that addiction is a 'no-fault' disease.  It is a biological problem that turns into a behavioral problem.  Addiction centers around two reasons for use: 'recreation' or  'chronic pain'.  We believe anyone can be free from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.  If you or someone you love is in need 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.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Heyam Dukham Anagatum

"The pains, which are yet to come, can be and should be avoided"

Peter R. Coleman, M.D. 

At a recent yoga class I attended, the teacher spoke on this ancient piece of wisdom from the Vedas. Like many spiritual truths, it is immediately obvious but in practice even an obvious truth like this is hard to put into practice.  It got me thinking about recovery, because what we are mainly doing in recovery is avoiding future suffering.

Drugs and alcohol definitely cause future suffering – sometimes the future suffering comes pretty quickly – like a hangover the next morning.  Sometimes the suffering comes much later, like my 55 yr. old patient who needs a liver transplant.  Drugs usually cover up suffering in the here and now, which is one of the main reasons people use them.  We may feel anxious talking to girls, so we have a couple of drinks.  We may be lonely or bored, so we get high and believe we are actually doing something.  We may be unhappy in our job, so we have a drink after work and the job doesn’t seem so bad.

But the pain comes back quickly, and it usually comes back with compounded interest.  By using drugs and alcohol, we actually prevent ourselves from fully experiencing the situation that was causing us pain and we rob ourselves of the chance to heal the pain.  Drugs also have side effects that make our suffering worse and we can even develop physical addiction that makes our problems ten times worse.

Stopping drugs and being in recovery takes discipline – just like the yoga class.  It is not for faint of heart.  It is not for people only interested in the easier, softer way.  It requires honesty, patience, and trying new things that are immediately uncomfortable.  It requires putting off immediate gratification, in return for long-term happiness.

So, the paradox is that being in recovery is both more work and less work.  In the early stages, it requires effort and change, but once you get into the habit recovery is actually the easier and softer way.  Recovery is the way to avoid future suffering – which can be, and should be avoided.

We are here to help and you matter to us at The Coleman Institute!  If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.  We are just a phone call away!