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November 23, 2015 Marissa ObrienRecovery

Home for the holidays

Going home for the holidays can be stressful enough without the pressure of also being in recovery. You are re-introduced to people you have known for years, or your whole life, who likely have the ability to get under your skin even without the subject of addiction in the equation.

There are a lot of situations that may elicit a spiral of emotions, especially if you are from a family of drinkers, or if you expect to be confronted with those who maybe don’t understand your journey, or maybe even people who harbor resentments against you from your drinking or using days. Even just the environment of being home with your family and friends can trigger emotions of your past.

So this year, if you’re headed home for your first sober holiday, or have spent years in recovery, cultivate new traditions and a feeling of serenity by remembering some of these helpful tips.

Create New Traditions

The sensations of being home – the smells, the décor, the people – can activate a flood of emotions, both good and bad, for anyone. It’s normal to feel stressed. If you experience this, or expect to, try and start a new holiday tradition that will empower your life change. Invite other members of your recovery circle to a special pre-holiday gathering, or do the same with a group of friends who you can reminisce around without drinking or using. Beginning new traditions that make you feel comfortable and happy will help to create new memories to look forward to for future holidays.

Be of Love & Service

Nothing will take away your spiritual growth quicker than acting out on your expectations of other’s or their negativity. If you’ve lived away for some time, they may not know what to expect. Prove them all wrong and leave the holiday feeling empowered and with a great sense of gratitude by being of love and service. Offer to help when help is needed. Answer questions they may have or share in the joys of your sobriety. Time and open communication has the remarkable power of helping to change relationships and perceptions. If you’re working an honest program and living in the principles of the 12 steps, your loved ones will gradually let go of negative perceptions and see the authentic, and improved you.

Empathize With Your Family

Relatives can be more difficult than anything to deal with when you’re in recovery, as long-term familial relationships often have naturally born tensions, plus your family members are more likely to have known your behaviors, or have felt the consequences of your actions when you were using. Remember it will take your family longer to recognize and accept your growth. It’s important to empathize with how they’re feeling too, and give them the time and space necessary to see your growth.

Addressing Your Recovery

Many of us have experienced stinging memories of holidays gone by, when we were less than cheerful to be around, or perhaps missed the holidays altogether because of our lifestyle. So deciding to get sober may not be something you readily want to talk about, especially with family and close friends who have known you only during your addiction. Remember that you don’t have to be on the defensive, shut down, or explain your whole story either. Simply saying that you don’t drink any longer is enough to relieve yourself from the built up tension that may have accumulated. Often it is better to be upfront, and authentic about where you are at than to try and talk around the issue.

Don’t feel obligated to explain your journey. Compassionate friends and family members will accept your explanation, whatever it may be as long as it comes from a place of sincerity. Those who do not understand your journey are not entitled to an explanation – you are not required to deliver that. Remember, in this circumstance, now being sober and working a program of recovery, you have your own set of choices. If certain people, situations or conversations are making you feel anxious, then it’s an indicator to find a little quiet space. Go for a walk, maybe with a family member you can talk to. This will help to dissolve the stress of the situation.

Making Amends

This may also be a time you see those who were on your 4th step. If you never made a proper amends, there is no greater feeling than to take a moment and simply say, “If there is anything I have done in the past to hurt you, or to make you feel uncomfortable, I want to take this moment to apologize.” Believe it or not, this simple statement has the power to absolve you of the guilt or resentment both you and the other harbor for one another. They will see, if you are working a solid program of recovery, that your change in character and growth is real.

Dealing with Drinkers

It’s more than likely that there will be drinking at holiday gatherings. Even if the great obsession of drinking has lifted, these occasions may still rattle you. If you recognize that you’re feeling anxious around drinking, reel your emotions back in by leaving the conversation, taking a walk or hanging out with others who are not drinking.

 Remember Your Tools

It’s easy when we are around family members and those we have known most of our lives to be easily coerced into arguing or acting out. These are temperaments you have more than likely worked on suppressing in your sobriety. Don’t let old behaviors, and personalities drag you to a point of acting in a way that does not coexist with your program. Instead, utilize the tools you’ve embraced in recovery to help get you back to a comfortable place.

Plan to visit at least 1 meeting while you’re away. If you’re feeling anxious about visiting a meeting too close to home, perhaps consider one a few towns away. Finding local support is an incredible confidence booster for the occasion, and will help for future holidays. Also, always keep your sponsor in close proximity with a quick phone call once a day. Even leaving a message is empowering enough to start the day confidently. Plan your stay with a few occasions, like visiting friends for coffee or going on a shopping or to a movie. These non-threatening activities are the perfect kinds of gatherings and offer time to catch up.. Also, if you’re active, take the time to exercise: go on a run, visit the gym or take a yoga class. This is not just a time to increase your endorphins, it will help give you head space to meditate and also fill your schedule so you eliminate idle time while away.

Think of your homecoming for the holidays as an opportunity, not an obligation. Letting the fear take over your serenity will limit the growth potential of this moment. Envision leaving the holiday weekend with a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that you used your program to squash the stress of the occasion. This is one of the joys of recovery, when we can arrive to the occasion being our best selves, and affect the outcome. You cannot control the actions, thoughts or emotions of others, but you can direct their perceptions in order to build a new bridge connecting your loved ones to your new self.



November 13, 2015 Marissa ObrienAddiction

Did you know that prescription medications are responsible for more overdose deaths in the United States than all other drug overdoses combined? That statistic takes into account both prescribed and illicit drugs.  If that figure startles you, you are not alone. Most people have no idea of the dangers of prescription medication. The potential for abuse, addiction and even death from pharmacy derived drugs is at an all-time high due to a number of contributing factors, many of which have simply not been revealed to most. If you or someone you love is showing signs of prescription drug abuse, the evidence in this article may save a life.

The most dangerous prescription medications generally fall into 2 major categories: pain and anti-anxiety medications. There is an altered societal perception of prescription drugs versus their illicit counterparts. But take this into consideration: most prescription drugs essentially work the same as illicit drugs. For instance, opioids, like OxyContin, target the same receptors as heroin, producing very similar effects when taken in improper doses. Many medical experts agree that prescription pain medications are in fact the gateway drug for heroin. Also, ADHD medications, like Adderall and Ritalin, stimulate the brain in the same way cocaine does.

So how do so many fall victim to prescription medication addiction? Doctors have become more likely in recent decades to prescribe pain and anxiety medications to people seeking solace from their physical and emotional ailments. In 2013, 207 million prescriptions were written for opioid pain medication alone. There is a notion of safety associated with doctor-prescribed medication that, when coupled with the fact that the prescription is administered by a well-meaning physician, leads to a false sense of safety for the end user.

The reality is, pain medications are among the most highly addictive substances on the market, both of the legal an illicit variety. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an organization that tracks statistical data on drug and alcohol use in America, estimates that prescription drugs are the 3rd most commonly abused drugs in America, behind marijuana and alcohol. The most recent statistical data (2013) shows that over 22,000 overdose deaths happened as a result of misusing prescription drugs. The major contributing factor in most cases was due to mixing prescription medication with other drugs and/or alcohol; a highly lethal combination causing accidental overdose.

Many of us don’t realize that while we believe we are visiting a doctor for a “quick fix”, we may actually be triggering a dormant addiction. A large number of these victims may have unaddressed physical and emotional disorders too that can predicate addictive behaviors. These include abuse, self-esteem problems, anxiety and depression. Coupled with the “that won’t happen to me” mentality, and the fact that pain and anxiety medications are physically and emotionally addictive, it is easy to see how anyone has the potential fall victim to prescription drug abuse by following a physician’s advice. Furthermore, many people don’t even recognize they have a problem until it’s too late, as addictive behaviors typically manifest over time, modestly escalating, blurring the distinction between management and abuse.

There is also a stigma about addiction in our culture: that it affects only those who choose to use drugs and alcohol to suppress physical and emotional issues, as opposed to those who are prescribed them. Another presumption is that addiction largely affects those in certain socio-economical classes: the poor, uneducated or young. But upon closer scrutiny, the prescription addiction epidemic has appeared to target a much different group. The NIDA estimated that in 2013, the most overdose deaths from prescription medications was overwhelmingly those between the ages of 45-54, which was 3 times higher than that for those between the ages of 15-24.

How can you determine if you or a loved one may have a prescription addiction problem? If you are noticing any of these behaviors, they are already demonstrating harmful patterns:

  1. Taking more medication that what is prescribed.
  2. Taking medication for reasons other than what it is intended for.
  3. Using someone else’s prescription medication.

As with most all drug and alcohol addictions, prescription pain and anti-anxiety medication abuse should be treated professionally as it is both physically and mentally crippling. Take the first step toward recovery immediately by contacting an accredited treatment facility, monitored by the care of trained addiction professionals. No one has to become a statistic of prescription medication addiction if you take the step today by choosing the path toward recovery.



September 22, 2015 Marissa ObrienUncategorized

Getting Sober at any Age

…and finding happiness & success too
If you’re someone who has discovered that they are either too young to get sober, or perhaps too old, I can assure you age is not a factor, but merely an excuse. Don’t allow your disease to talk you out of this. I’ve heard countless people praise young members within the recovery community for having found sobriety in their youth. You can feel their deep desire to have had the courage to do the same. What I notice is their longing to have the years they wasted back, and to be able to reverse all of the damage they have done in that time.

Let’s not assume that “late” even merely refers to age. I’ve known many alcoholics and addicts who by all accounts seemed far past the point of saving. They had habits that should have long ago killed them, despite their youth. Yet, I’ve witnessed some of the most severe cases return to sanity. You can find plenty of these inspiring stories in our Big Book, which gives any suffering addict hope that it really never is too late to recover.

Granted, getting sober at a young age will strip you of some of the wilder times you may have waiting ahead. And often, that is a deterring factor. Or perhaps you’re worried life won’t be enjoyable any longer without the drugs and alcohol. But if you’ve reached a point, like the majority of us, where your use is inhibiting you from the joys in life, your ambitions, is ruining your relationships and preventing you from most if not all of your goals, then you will find that sobriety will not hinder your life, it is actually the only thing that may save it.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have climbed down the ladder to rock bottom at a young age however. An older member of our fellowship, a gentleman at the age of 75, shared one day that he had recently celebrated an anniversary. Assuming he had many years, the group members were surprised to hear him say he was celebrating 1 year sober. The man stated that the last year had been the happiest of his life. He had reconnected with his children, his grandchildren and had found a completely new level of happiness he had never imagined for himself. This story, and many others like it, are the tales of inspiration that keep many members spiritually connected to the promises of our program. It also reminds us that we are never too old to experience self-discovery, true happiness and to learn.
If you’re still not convinced of the irrelevance of age, here are a few other success stories reached at an unlikely time:
• At age 7, Mozart wrote his 1st symphony
• At just 17, Joan of Arc led an army in defense of France
• At 21, Fred DeLuca co-founded Subway Restaurants with just $1,000 in the bank
• At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh picked up a paint brush for the very first time
• Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was 40
• At age 45, George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship
• Ray Kroc founded MacDonald’s at age 57
• At 86 Ruth Rothfarb ran the Boston Marathon in just over 5 hours

No matter what your age is, embracing recovery is like hitting a “restart” button on your life. It is a spiritual rebirth. Our fellowship gives us a perfectly designed plan of action to remain teachable, to practice honesty and to clean away the wreckage of our past.
It also allows us to build a future of our dreams. If you’re young, our program enables you to journey through life with integrity and gives you the optimal environment to succeed and to look back with gratitude. If you’ve spent many years in your disease and have reached a mature age where the future doesn’t seem as bright, don’t be deceived. By this point, having had real-life experience, you’ve been given the opportunity to discover what your needs, desires and tastes are in addition to understanding what it feels like to fail.
I recently heard another member share that he had experienced great wealth and success, but was failing in the game of life. When he got sober, he humbled himself by taking a low-level job and working his way up again, much like he did for his personal life by working the 12-steps. By the time he got sober, he knew what his tastes and interests were. He knew what it felt like to fail, which made it easy to do things differently this time. He also experienced re-growth, having built his life back up from the foundation. Without having had a lifetime of experience, he would not have so successfully trail blazed his sobriety and shared his story to other alcoholics.

Remember, it’s never too late to change your life if you are still alive. Each of us has a desire to win the lottery in life. So often we hear stories of amazing success, joy and happiness. Often, especially as a suffering addict, those dreams seem completely unrealistic. But in reality, recovery – at any age – is practically guaranteed if you follow this simple plan of recovery outlined in the 12-steps. Diane Ackerman once said “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. While you may not achieve great fame or release a Nobel Peace Prize winning novel, you will give yourself the opportunity to live a life that you never thought imaginable – a sober one.


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September 22, 2015 Marissa ObrienGalleryImage0

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Women and Addiction

As the stigma of addiction begins to lessen, more studies and stories are being released explaining the reasons for addiction in our culture. In specific, women have unique realities – both physiologically and societally – that differ from men, which researchers have been identifying lead them to addiction.

Overall, studies still show that more men in the United States are dependent on drugs and alcohol than women, about 20% of men suffering versus between 7% and 12% of women.

However, the dangers of addiction have been shown to be significantly greater for women primarily because of their physiology. Women weigh less than men, which means that alcohol affects them quicker and with more severity. In addition, women typically store more fatty tissue, where alcohol is retained while it is filtered from the system. Finally, two enzymes which help to break down alcohol – alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase – are lower in women, leading to more absorption into the bloodstream. Hormonal differences in women are also highly influential on the potential negative side effects of substance abuse. Hormones have also been shown to affect relapse rates in women as it affects their emotions, urges and will-power during abstinence.

Experts have concluded that women develop dependency and physical deterioration much more rapidly than men do too, leading to earlier onset problems like brain atrophy and liver damage. In addition, a theory known as “telescoping” identifies that women appear to more rapidly accelerate from the first drink or drug to full-blown dependency than their male counterparts.

Women also are more susceptible to emotional or physical trauma, which if experienced, makes them highly susceptible to substance abuse and addiction as a means to self-medicate. Some of these experiences include violence, sexual abuse, trauma and low self-esteem, just to name a few. In a recent study, 74% percent of addicted women reported sexual abuse and 52% percent reported physical abuse in their personal histories. Addiction is similarly apparent in women suffering with a co-occurring disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or bipolar disorder.

But increasingly, substance abuse has unquestionably become a mainstream affliction – not just affecting women who are genetically disposed to addiction or those with a history of emotional trauma. Stay-at-home-moms, sorority girls and high-functioning professional women have become the latest wave of sufferers of substance abuse. The number of DUI arrests of women rose 30% between 1998 and 2007, helping support the claim that with a rise in equality, expectation and responsibility, modern-day -women are, like never before, increasingly more at risk of addiction.

Some Societal Reasons for Increased Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Women are being introduced early-on in high school and college to prescription stimulants and painkillers, as well as alcohol and illicit drugs such as marijuana to alter their mood, paving the way for a future of potential dependence.

Modern day medicines like Adderall and Ritalin, which are commonly prescribed as ADHD medication, are readily available and have become widely acceptable stimulants for students and professionals alike. Glamour magazine reported just this month (September 2015) that “Women using them are trying to sculpt their best selves—the smartest, the most productive, the thinnest, the most social.”

Needless to say, adolescent women are binge drinking earlier and with more frequency than ever. However, studies have shown a dramatic increase of professional women binge drinking on a regular basis. In fact, one study showed that professional women are 19% more likely to binge drink at home than non-professional women. Overall, it is believed twice as many professional women binge drink regularly than the general female population. Some of this is believed to be due in part to rising responsibility and stress in the workplace, in addition to opportunities to indulge with co-workers after hours.

And on the home front, it is not uncommon for mothers to fall into the grips of loneliness, monotony, boredom, depression and a loss of self. Many turn to alcohol or prescription drugs to quell their emotions, or stimulants to increase productivity. As these behaviors become more accepted, especially when shared between similar social groups, it can easily lead to a loss of control and dependency.

And the false safety of prescription drugs are also contributing to an alarming rise in overdoses and hospital visits. Chemically speaking, Adderall and Ritalin are practically identical to cocaine. When mixed with alcohol, this combination can easily result in death. “Every day, nearly 400 people visit the emergency room after mixing drugs and alcohol”, Glamour reports. Many women are not aware of the uncontrollable effects of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol, and unwittingly self-administer combinations that can cause blackouts and overdose.

Rehabilitation Programs for Women

Most professionals agree that both women and men stand the same likelihood of rehabilitation regardless of undergoing a gender-specific program. Comfortability should first be addressed, and if a gender-specific program feels safer for the individual, it would certainly benefit them to enroll in a program that caters to females only.

However, the most important factor when reviewing a facility is understanding the therapy programs available, which can include specializations such as trauma, eating disorders, psychiatric programs, PTSD and family services, to name a few. Facilities that offer specialized therapy for co-occurring disorders, together with addiction rehabilitation, offer the best opportunity for sustained recovery.



September 9, 2015 Marissa ObrienAftercare0

28 Days Later

Small Step Img

Why planning an after-care program is just as important as in-patient treatment.

Many of us perceive treatment as essentially a 30-day in-patient program where an individual receives 1-on-1 intensive therapy to relieve them of their addictions. For many of us, 30 days is a major commitment, requiring an individual to put aside their obligations to their family, career and lifestyle in order to reconnect with themselves and reclaim a new sense of purpose and intention.

But for the majority who achieve sustained recovery, it requires at least 90 days or more of concentrated commitment in a safe environment to cultivate legitimate recovery. Do you remember the last time you mastered something new? It more than likely took you much longer than a month to become an expert. Nevertheless, the initial concept of spending 3 to 6 months or more in a program of recovery is typically, if not always, met with divergence. Especially as our commitments become greater, we become more reluctant to give up our time even for something as important as getting sober.

However, it is the initial weeks and months after leaving an in-patient rehab program where patients are the most susceptible to relapse. Triggering situations such as returning home or to a career can, with remarkable quickness, spiral a newly sober individual back into their same addictive patterns. And since no one is capable of conceptualizing how susceptible they are at this point, it’s imperative that an aftercare program is explained during treatment and initiated immediately afterward.

Some of the cornerstone elements of aftercare include accountability, comfortability and sustainability. Depending on each person’s own needs and resources, this can be achieved by scheduling out-patient services with a treatment facility or therapist, enrolling in a transitional living home or committing to an aggressive submersion into the recovery community, typically attending 90 meetings in 90 days and finding a sponsor and support system.

During this transitional phase, it is highly recommended that an individual be placed in a sober-living home where they can continue to receive regularly scheduled therapy while maneuvering into real-life situations. While this may initially seem uncomfortable, newly sober individuals typically feel safer and more connected with other individuals in recovery, which helps them to work past this difficult phase. Accountability is monitored as all members are encouraged to attend 12-step fellowship groups, meet with a therapist, secure work and contribute to community chores all while remaining sober. These temporary housing situations, located practically anywhere throughout the country, are comfortable, affordable and free from the outside stressors that may cause relapse.

There are plenty of options in terms of an aftercare programming, all of which are typically tailored to an individual’s personal needs. Professionals discover that they can return to work while living in a safe environment tucked away from home. People with limited resources can afford a semi-permanent housing situation and secure a stable job while growing alongside others in the program. Mothers can choose a facility that allows them to bring young children. And otherwise committed individuals can attend out-patient programming for months following treatment that fits with their schedule.

The truth is, time flies. Many of us, or our loved ones, have spent years in addiction waiting for the right time to get help. I have heard countless individuals explain how everything seemed to slow down once they achieved sobriety, allowing them to finally savor in the life they always wished for. In addition, they gained mental and emotional freedom to think, feel, love, dream, imagine and inspire while beforehand, their mental space was filled with stress, anxiety, regret, resentment, depression and most of all, fear. Mary Augustine once said, “We become happier, much happier, when we realize that life is an opportunity rather than an obligation.” Let you or your loved one experience the opportunity of life through a long-term commitment to recovery.

 



GLOUCESTER — Chief Leonard Campanello and Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken are pleased to announce that The Hope Center For Rehabilitation in Florida is joining the Gloucester Police Department’s ANGEL Initiative.

As of Tuesday morning, 137 people have been placed into treatment programs by The Gloucester Initiative since June 1, when the program began. 

The Gloucester ANGEL program allows people who suffer from addiction to turn over their remaining drug supply and paraphernalia to the Gloucester Police Department without the threat of arrest. Those in need of help are put into treatment programs as opposed to jail cells. The policy went into effect last month in an effort to address a growing opioid epidemic and to reduce the number of overdoses in Massachusetts. Click here to view the official police policy document.

“It’s an honor to be joining The Gloucester Initiative to help make a positive difference in people’s lives,” said James Durkin, CEO of The Hope Center For Rehabilitation. “We are committed to guiding our guests along their path to recovery, and in turn, allowing them to make a complete 360-degree turn into a new, healthy lifestyle.”

Chief Campanello and businessman John Rosenthal have launched The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) — a new nonprofit organization created in response to Gloucester’s revolutionary drug addiction program and the immediate positive feedback from local, state and national organizations.

Both Chief Campanello and Mayor Romeo Theken are pleased to be expanding The Gloucester Initiative’s dedicated team of partner treatment centers by adding The Hope Center to the program.

About The Hope Center For Rehabilitation

Based on Boynton Beach, Fla., The Hope Center For Rehabilitation, provides a full range of services both leading up to, during and following treatment. This includes professional interventions, medically assisted detox, inpatient rehabilitation (30-90 days), intensive outpatient rehabilitation and outpatient services.

The Hope Center also offers group activities, including kayaking, zip lining, beach trips, movie nights, paddle boarding, gym membership, snorkeling and wakeboarding. Transitional housing units are provided for both men and women, known as Magnolia Place. Each gender-specific home offers state-of-the-art amenities for clients looking to continue living in a safe, 12-step supported environment with like-minded individuals for up to nine months after treatment. Staff offers part-time supervision to help guests transition as they embark on their post-treatment plan.



Getting Sober at any Age

…and finding happiness & success too

If you’re someone who has discovered that they are either too young to get sober, or perhaps too old, I can assure you age is not a factor, but merely an excuse. Don’t allow your disease to talk you out of this. I’ve heard countless people praise young members within the recovery community for having found sobriety in their youth. You can feel their deep desire to have had the courage to do the same. What I notice is their longing to have the years they wasted back, and to be able to reverse all of the damage they have done in that time.

Let’s not assume that “late” even merely refers to age. I’ve known many alcoholics and addicts who by all accounts seemed far past the point of saving. They had habits that should have long ago killed them, despite their youth. Yet, I’ve witnessed some of the most severe cases return to sanity. You can find plenty of these inspiring stories in our Big Book, which gives any suffering addict hope that it really never is too late to recover.

Granted, getting sober at a young age will strip you of some of the wilder times you may have waiting ahead. And often, that is a deterring factor. Or perhaps you’re worried life won’t be enjoyable any longer without the drugs and alcohol. But if you’ve reached a point, like the majority of us, where your use is inhibiting you from the joys in life, your ambitions, is ruining your relationships and preventing you from most if not all of your goals, then you will find that sobriety will not hinder your life, it is actually the only thing that may save it.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have climbed down the ladder to rock bottom at a young age however. An older member of our fellowship, a gentleman at the age of 75, shared one day that he had recently celebrated an anniversary. Assuming he had many years, the group members were surprised to hear him say he was celebrating 1 year sober. The man stated that the last year had been the happiest of his life. He had reconnected with his children, his grandchildren and had found a completely new level of happiness he had never imagined for himself. This story, and many others like it, are the tales of inspiration that keep many members spiritually connected to the promises of our program. It also reminds us that we are never too old to experience self-discovery, true happiness and to learn.

If you’re still not convinced of the irrelevance of age, here are a few other success stories reached at an unlikely time:

  • At age 7, Mozart wrote his 1st symphony
  • At just 17, Joan of Arc led an army in defense of France
  • At 21, Fred DeLuca co-founded Subway Restaurants with just $1,000 in the bank
  • At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh picked up a paint brush for the very first time
  • Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was 40
  • At age 45, George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship
  • Ray Kroc founded MacDonald’s at age 57
  • At 86 Ruth Rothfarb ran the Boston Marathon in just over 5 hours

 

No matter what your age is, embracing recovery is like hitting a “restart” button on your life. It is a spiritual rebirth. Our fellowship gives us a perfectly designed plan of action to remain teachable, to practice honesty and to clean away the wreckage of our past.

It also allows us to build a future of our dreams. If you’re young, our program enables you to journey through life with integrity and gives you the optimal environment to succeed and to look back with gratitude. If you’ve spent many years in your disease and have reached a mature age where the future doesn’t seem as bright, don’t be deceived. By this point, having had real-life experience, you’ve been given the opportunity to discover what your needs, desires and tastes are in addition to understanding what it feels like to fail.

I recently heard another member share that he had experienced great wealth and success, but was failing in the game of life. When he got sober, he humbled himself by taking a low-level job and working his way up again, much like he did for his personal life by working the 12-steps. By the time he got sober, he knew what his tastes and interests were. He knew what it felt like to fail, which made it easy to do things differently this time. He also experienced re-growth, having built his life back up from the foundation. Without having had a lifetime of experience, he would not have so successfully trail blazed his sobriety and shared his story to other alcoholics.

Remember, it’s never too late to change your life if you are still alive. Each of us has a desire to win the lottery in life. So often we hear stories of amazing success, joy and happiness. Often, especially as a suffering addict, those dreams seem completely unrealistic. But in reality, recovery – at any age – is practically guaranteed if you follow this simple plan of recovery outlined in the 12-steps. Diane Ackerman once said “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. While you may not achieve great fame or release a Nobel Peace Prize winning novel, you will give yourself the opportunity to live a life that you never thought imaginable – a sober one.

 

…and finding happiness & success too

If you’re someone who has discovered that they are either too young to get sober, or perhaps too old, I can assure you age is not a factor, but merely an excuse. Don’t allow your disease to talk you out of this. I’ve heard countless people praise young members within the recovery community for having found sobriety in their youth. You can feel their deep desire to have had the courage to do the same. What I notice is their longing to have the years they wasted back, and to be able to reverse all of the damage they have done in that time.

Let’s not assume that “late” even merely refers to age. I’ve known many alcoholics and addicts who by all accounts seemed far past the point of saving. They had habits that should have long ago killed them, despite their youth. Yet, I’ve witnessed some of the most severe cases return to sanity. You can find plenty of these inspiring stories in our Big Book, which gives any suffering addict hope that it really never is too late to recover.

Granted, getting sober at a young age will strip you of some of the wilder times you may have waiting ahead. And often, that is a deterring factor. Or perhaps you’re worried life won’t be enjoyable any longer without the drugs and alcohol. But if you’ve reached a point, like the majority of us, where your use is inhibiting you from the joys in life, your ambitions, is ruining your relationships and preventing you from most if not all of your goals, then you will find that sobriety will not hinder your life, it is actually the only thing that may save it.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have climbed down the ladder to rock bottom at a young age however. An older member of our fellowship, a gentleman at the age of 75, shared one day that he had recently celebrated an anniversary. Assuming he had many years, the group members were surprised to hear him say he was celebrating 1 year sober. The man stated that the last year had been the happiest of his life. He had reconnected with his children, his grandchildren and had found a completely new level of happiness he had never imagined for himself. This story, and many others like it, are the tales of inspiration that keep many members spiritually connected to the promises of our program. It also reminds us that we are never too old to experience self-discovery, true happiness and to learn.

If you’re still not convinced of the irrelevance of age, here are a few other success stories reached at an unlikely time:

  • At age 7, Mozart wrote his 1st symphony
  • At just 17, Joan of Arc led an army in defense of France
  • At 21, Fred DeLuca co-founded Subway Restaurants with just $1,000 in the bank
  • At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh picked up a paint brush for the very first time
  • Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was 40
  • At age 45, George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship
  • Ray Kroc founded MacDonald’s at age 57
  • At 86 Ruth Rothfarb ran the Boston Marathon in just over 5 hours

 

No matter what your age is, embracing recovery is like hitting a “restart” button on your life. It is a spiritual rebirth. Our fellowship gives us a perfectly designed plan of action to remain teachable, to practice honesty and to clean away the wreckage of our past.

It also allows us to build a future of our dreams. If you’re young, our program enables you to journey through life with integrity and gives you the optimal environment to succeed and to look back with gratitude. If you’ve spent many years in your disease and have reached a mature age where the future doesn’t seem as bright, don’t be deceived. By this point, having had real-life experience, you’ve been given the opportunity to discover what your needs, desires and tastes are in addition to understanding what it feels like to fail.

I recently heard another member share that he had experienced great wealth and success, but was failing in the game of life. When he got sober, he humbled himself by taking a low-level job and working his way up again, much like he did for his personal life by working the 12-steps. By the time he got sober, he knew what his tastes and interests were. He knew what it felt like to fail, which made it easy to do things differently this time. He also experienced re-growth, having built his life back up from the foundation. Without having had a lifetime of experience, he would not have so successfully trail blazed his sobriety and shared his story to other alcoholics.

Remember, it’s never too late to change your life if you are still alive. Each of us has a desire to win the lottery in life. So often we hear stories of amazing success, joy and happiness. Often, especially as a suffering addict, those dreams seem completely unrealistic. But in reality, recovery – at any age – is practically guaranteed if you follow this simple plan of recovery outlined in the 12-steps. Diane Ackerman once said “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. While you may not achieve great fame or release a Nobel Peace Prize winning novel, you will give yourself the opportunity to live a life that you never thought imaginable – a sober one.

 



Discover Your Character Traits, Goals & Purpose

Our 12-step fellowship provides a roadmap to uncover the reasons for our addiction. In our 4th step, we list with complete abandon an inventory of our resentments, fears and defects of character, connecting the dots between our pattern of behavior and our addiction. This self-cleanse allows us to bear witness to all of our deepest ailments and then enables us to let them go and work on our defects in the future. It takes courage to dig into our disease and let that become a part of our growth. Recovering addicts are given strength through their vulnerability when they admit their personal faults and actively work on them.

This process relieves us of the things that are holding us back from discovering our true passions. Now, with a renewed sense of self and clarity, there is no better time to discover your true potential. In reading through a number of books on life, awareness and happiness, I realized that many of them encouraged positive personal identification, which included things like skills, natural born talents, character traits and passions. I found myself surprised that I there was no worksheet on taking a positive inventory to identify personal qualities, outlining how one could offer their gifts to the world and pursue their passions in life.

This notion struck a nerve because I believe many of us identify, both prior to and after getting sober, with a fear of the future. In truth, how exactly can we have energy and optimism for the future if we have not identified a path to walk toward it?

You may ask yourself: What is my calling? What are my dreams? How can I ever achieve them? How do I deal with life now? We’ve won the lottery by finding recovery. In many ways we have been “reborn”. We’ve also been granted time and mental space to work on what we most desire. Think about how much better your sobriety will be if you put energy into your dreams and goals? Now that is a great way to create a positive foundation in recovery.

You owe it to yourself to discover your passion and purpose. You can start today with an exercise I’ll call a “Reverse 4th Step”. List the personal attributes you value which strengthen your character and what you can offer the world. Start by making lists of these qualities by following this simple guide:

  1. List the talents you are born with (your natural abilities, aptitudes)
  2. List skills that you have developed or mastered (sports, technologies, art, singing)
  3. List your education & experiences that have made you uniquely specialized (training, travel, etc.)
  4. List your character traits of the spirit (courageous, empathetic, optimistic, grace under pressure)
  5. List your top, most memorable accomplishments (winning a race, best-in-class)
  6. List your values (family, honesty, freedom)

Next, discover your passion and purpose. Most people don’t know what their passion and purpose is because they have never tried to figure it out. You can begin reaching your dreams by first writing them down. According to Dave Kohn, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, people who regularly write down their goals earn 9x as much over their lifetimes as the people who don’t. Make this list positive, specific and measurable. You would be amazed at how attainable your dreams are if you take the time to identify your ambitions.

By connecting your natural abilities and character traits with the things you are passionate about, you can pursue goals in your life that align with your real purpose. For example, if you are a naturally gifted skier and have a high level of patience, perhaps becoming a ski instructor would be a well suited job for you. Maybe you are extremely good under pressure and love high-energy. You might want to consider a profession in an emergency room or trauma center. If travel is a passion of yours and you’re an excellent writer, decide to embark on a travel blog and share your experiences with the world.

If you follow your passion money and success will naturally follow, not the other way around. The same goes for your journey in sobriety. While identifying our character defects helps us work on being better people in the future, focusing on our character traits can help us pursue the dreams of our innermost soul. Think of your life ahead as an empty canvas: visualize life’s coming attractions by identifying your unique traits and by setting goals because possibilities, adventure, accomplishment, contribution and happiness are waiting.



 Addicts Achieve Sobriety Through Rehab

Each year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse releases a report detailing a number of statistics on substance abuse treatment facilities throughout the country, in addition to sharing some global statistics on the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse happening within our population.

Addiction is commonly disguised or silenced for most individuals and families, as there is still a prevailing stigma around the topic, but the numbers don’t lie. It is estimated that annually, 23.1 million Americans are in need of some form of treatment, including addictions to alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription medication. In 2013, only 2.5 million people received the needed treatment, about 10% of all afflicted.

Of those in need of treatment, last year 88,000 died as a result of alcohol use in addition to the over 22,500 deaths that occurred form illicit drug use. The most startling figure was the rise in deaths due to heroin overdose, which jumped from approximately 3,000 deaths in 2001 to 8,000 deaths in 2013. Nationally, it is estimated that 1 in every 10 deaths that occur are alcohol related.

It has never been more important to educate our community on the prevalence of drug and alcohol addiction. Today, because of the need for long-term treatment centers as well as the Affordable Care Act, passed just last year, finding and enrolling in a treatment center that fits your needs or a loved one is more accessible than ever. If insured, most clients can have access to a full-service treatment facility at almost no charge. There are over 14,500 treatment centers in the United States, all of which offer different levels of care and accept all types of insurance plans. In addition, many treatment facilities offer scholarships to offset the cost of treatment.

And with treatment, recovery is possible. One of the most successful paths to recovery is committing to a 30 day treatment program. Those who enroll in an inpatient treatment program within 30 days of detoxing stand a better chance at achieving long term sobriety than those who don’t. For those who do relapse, it takes them 40% longer to do so than individuals who abstain without the help of a treatment center. It’s important to understand that for many people, relapse is a part of their path toward recovery. Studies suggest that those who have attended treatment gain the tools and faith needed to overcome their addictions, even when relapse occurs.

Studies also show that those who went through an inpatient program noted improvements in their quality of life, even if abstinence was short lived. In the short term, patients are looking to stay sober. In the long run, clients are able to live a life of integrity, honesty, balance and happiness.

If you are someone who needs the help of an inpatient treatment program, or know someone who does, contact one of our team members at The Hope Center for Rehabilitation at 1.866.233.1869


The Hope Center

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation offers a full range of services both leading up to, during and following treatment, including professional interventions, a luxury, medically assisted detox program, inpatient rehabilitation (30-90 days), intensive out-patient rehabilitation and out-patient services. Each of our clients become a part of our alumni program at the completion of their treatment to help foster a continued community of recovery.

Copyright by The Hope Center 2016. All rights reserved.