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Inside This Issue Columns
Are You Having Fun Yet? - 24
Neurobiology of Methamphetamine Dependence (Part 3 of 4) - 24
Cover Story - It Might Even Be Fun - 6 To Thine Own Self Be True - 8
Dr. Judi Hollis - Experience, Strength and Hope for People Struggling with Food Obsession
Profile - Guy Simms - 10
by Bob Kocher, Travel Sober
by Dr. Keerthy Sunder - SUNDERSTANDING Addiction
Realities of the Addicted Family - 28 by Susan Jackson
A Home Away From Home - 11
Scott Weiland -- Lost Hope - 29 Stopping to Smell the Carousel - 32
The Dark Side of Loneliness - 12
Dear Petra Questions and Answers - 34
Mindfulness - 14
Fun. In. Recovery. - 35
Real Men, Real Recovery: Promise # 8 - 15
Finding Joy in Recovery - 37
Fortifying Your Strength Against Relapse - 16
The Question of Lithium - 38
Three Words - 21
Coping With An Alcoholic Parent - 40
A New Start for Men Abused as Children - 22
Angels Surround Us - 42
Self Assessment Questions - 20 Book Reviews - 23 Puzzles - 25 Resources for Families - 29 Reader Contributions - 30 Recovery Trivia - 45 Humor - 43 Horoscopes - 46
by Karen VanDenBerg by Imana B. Faraway
Darlene Lancer on Codependency
by Suzanne Whang - It’s a Whangderful Life by Petra AKA Petrabilities - Hep-C Expert
by Lori Nelson, Author, Speaker, Educator and more
by Terra Schaad by Dan Griffin
by Batista Gremaud, Co-Founder, Dr. Fitness, USA by Dan Sanfellipo, Unlocked for Life by Carol Tietelbaum, MFT
Letter from the Editor - 5 Quotes - 7 Letter from the Publisher - 9 Random Thoughts - 9 Metaphorically Speaking - 17 Newcomers Page - 18
by Roni Askey-Doran
by Mendi Baron - Teen Corner
by Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis
Step 12 Magazine NEWS 50% of all Magazine Sale Proceeds Going Back to the Community.
of Step 12 Magazine has always been focussed on carrying a message of hope, resources, and thought-provoking editorial mixed with a little fun.
This issue (November/December 2015) kicks off our 3rd year in publication. It is our continued mission to spread this magazine as far as possible to reach people who are still struggling and looking for some guidance and hope. So you’ll see a barcode on all issues going forward as we strive to be available in retail stores where family members and friends of loved ones can find us -- and more importantly to find help! Starting with this issue, in celebration of our sincere gratitude for the honor of providing this service, we are donating 1/2 of all sales of the magazine and subscriptions back to the community. By purchasing a magazine or subscription, you are giving back, we are giving back, and that’s what Step 12 is all about.
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Letter from the Editor The new kid on the block,
Happy New Year everyone. It’s lovely to meet you for the first time at the beginning of this auspicious year. I think this time of year is always the best time to make new friends, stretch out horizons, and think even further outside the box. By happy chance, following a fortuitous encounter with Karen VanDenBerg at a party in Hollywood (of all places), I became the new editor of Step 12 Magazine. There is nothing quite like being in the right place at the right time to let Lady Destiny do her thing. It’s good to be here. I’m looking forward to getting to know you as the year rolls on, as we break our unrealistic resolutions together and crumble them into our coffee. Of course, you probably have a few questions about me. To keep it short, I’m a native of Tasmania and have spent most of my life traveling around the world, firstly as a young chef seeking adventures, and then as a journalist seeking truth. Over the years, I have worn many caps, and undertaken many roles including tour guide, translator and English teacher. These days, I write books about a range of topics from cooking to travel and also fiction. My speciality in life is having fun. It’s what I do best, and these days I can do it without getting into too much trouble. I hope you will enjoy our Fun in Recovery theme for the first issue of 2016, and can find numerous ways to have fun throughout the year. And, if you do anything really fun and exciting, don’t be shy to share!
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It Might Even Be Fun
itting on a tree-swing, dangling my bare feet underneath and gazing out to sea is one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever done. It’s fun. While it isn’t the kind of fun that gets your heart beating from an adrenaline rush, swinging gives me a sense of profound tranquility, and the mere presence of the sea cleanses my soul. Ocean air in my nostrils and clean sand clinging to my heels remind me of childhood. Rocking back and forth, using my feet to propel myself forward takes me back decades, returning my mind to the blissful years of my innocence, before it was lost to the ravages of life. I enjoy swings so much that I filled my house with them. Instead of chairs, my living room contains half a dozen hammocks. There is also a wooden swing off to one side. In the kitchen, the long driftwood bench at the breakfast bar dangles from the beams overhead, supported by thick nylon rope. I call it the bi-bench because it swings both ways. Hanging out in my kitchen with friends is fun as everyone finds their rhythm and swings to and fro while sharing their latest news. Fun in recovery can be tough to get your head around. Struggling to survive one day at a time, sometimes an hour, a minute, even a second at a time doesn’t lend itself to the concept of fun. What is “fun” anyway? How do we define “fun”? The secret, I think, is to learn what makes you smile. For some, it’s extreme sports. Leaping from airplanes or cliffs attached to a piece of silk and some string blows people’s hair back. Not everyone’s hair, but some. Likewise, others would say there is nothing more fun than putting on a pair of gardening gloves and digging a small spade into rich, fertile soil to plant trees. I have friends who surf, skate and rollerblade, while others have fun walking their dogs. One of my favorite things is to lie on the floor and play with my cats. Before we entered the realm of recovery, we each seemed to have a distinct idea of what is fun. Actually, when we dig inside and think honestly about what we were doing, it wasn’t really that much fun after all, was it? If it had been, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Our fun is inside us. It’s only limited by our own imaginations. As we swing to and fro, trying to figure out how to get from one day to the next in one piece, there is fun all around us. The only thing we need to do is open our eyes, our hearts and our minds. Remember that “fun” has quite a broad definition, and what’s fun for one person may be abhorrent to another. The idea of bungee-jumping strikes me as unsuccessful suicide. To get me to bungee-jump, I’d have to be knocked out, tied up and thrown off the bridge. Many times, I’ve watched friends squeal (with joy or terror, I can’t tell) as they dived head-first into a vast chasm between two cliffs with a thick rubber band tied to their feet, and then bounced around like puppets on a string until someone pulled them back up feet-first. Those same friends think my chocolate-making class is as dull as watching raindrops dribble down a window, but it definitely puts a smile on my face, and that’s what matters.
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by Roni Askey-Doran
It’s about finding whatever it is that blows your skirt up. It’s worth trying out a few different things to see what your new definition of fun will be in recovery. It’s a great idea to try out new things to see if you like them. Not long ago, I went ten-pin bowling and accidentally discovered I was really good at it (unless that was just beginner’s luck and wiping the floor with the opposing team was a total fluke). At a mini-golf course a week later, I was a walking disaster wielding an awkward stick but I haven’t laughed that much for a long time. I’d happily make a complete fool of myself all over again just for the side-splitting giggles, if not for the impressive scorecard. Getting out of my comfort zone wasn’t easy, but it was well worth it.
“Our fun is inside us.” As 2016 swings into life, now is the perfect time to start exploring alternative ways to have fun in recovery. A new year always means a new beginning and a chance to take advantage of new opportunites. When was the last time you tried something for the first time? In 2016 I challenge you to stretch your horizons and try at least one thing you’ve never done before. You never know, you might like it. It might even be fun. If it doesn’t work out, don’t give up because you can always try something else; there’s more than one way to swing from a tree. By experiencing new fun things, what you’re aiming to learn about yourself is: What else makes your heart beat faster? What brings a smile to your lips and gives you a warm feeling? What is it that makes you feel like you’ve had a great day when you’re climbing into bed at night? Whatever it is, it will be fun.
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Famous Quotes about Fun I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. -Woody Allen You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. -Plato The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground. -Gilbert K. Chesterton To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it! -Charlie Chaplin We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. -Charles R. Swindoll We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. -Buddha In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. -Khalil Gibran
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” E. E. Cummings
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” -Milton Berle
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Experience, Strength, and Hope For People Struggling with Food Obsession To Thine Own Self Be True memory—less than a memory because we didn’t act on the thought. The struggle to dis-engage the auto-pilot after we flip the switch with that bite of cheesecake is a lot harder than it sounds. The chemistry of the brain gets involved and the battle between healthy choices and selfdestructive behaviors requires a spiritual connection, a bank of emotional supporters and a fully stocked tool box. In January, Overeater’s Anonymous celebrates 56 years of helping people recover from compulsive/obsessive patterns of eating. Food obsession has been around for a lot longer than 56 years, and, thank goodness, we have a program in place to help us manage and overcome this self-destructive, often deadly, malady. The similarities between all recovery fellowships are significant. We strive for inner peace, self-love, acceptance, freedom from obsession, freedom from guilt/shame and an overall sense of worth. We achieve these things by working the steps (in 12-step programs) and by finding a power and strength to guide us in making better choices and better decisions. Decisions are the bread and butter (pardon the pun) of the personal growth we strive for. We have choices. We see what the choices are and we decide what we will do. We can decide to eat the cheesecake knowing that the first bite puts us on “auto pilot” (where “choice” becomes less of on option), or we can decide to decline the momentary urge knowing that in five minutes (maybe ten) the “desire” will be less than a
So many people say they think that OA is a cult. However, the back of the coins/tokens says, “to thine own self be true.” So how do we accept guidance and still be true to ourselves? Basically, it’s a lot of work! It’s important to have constant contact with a sponsor, go to meetings, read the literature, follow a food plan—all with diligence. This process helps us sort out what being true to ourselves really means. We begin to understand that we are not being true to ourselves when we “reward” ourselves with a bag of potato chips or a box of cookies. Being true to yourself can also mean ignoring the rolling eyes and dirty looks generously given by people in meetings who are tired of hearing your same complaints and stories. Sharing in meetings is part of the magic. It reduces the weight of a problem a little more each time you verbalize it and the resolution and clarity will come. You deserve the clarity. Life is worth celebrating. Let’s celebrate OA’s birthday together in Los Angeles this January. More importantly, let’s celebrate being true to ourselves by recognizing our strengths, our weaknesses and our choices. Written by Karen VanDenBerg based on a meeting with Judi on 12-11-15
© 2015 Dr. Judi Hollis is a Licensed Family Therapist, author of several books and educational materials, motivational speaker, radio and television expert. Judi would love to hear from you! You can ask Judi questions and access her materials, at www.judihollis.com or call 1-800-8-ENOUGH
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Letter from the Publisher 2015 was a year of “letting go” for me. I’ve had to let go of some independence (financial and otherwise), another failed relationship, the life of one of my dearest friends to cancer, pride, ego ... damn! Trust me, the list goes on. I always thought it was hard to let go. I have a history of holding on to people, places and things so tightly I squeeze the proverbial joy out of them. I still struggle with it, but I’m learning. I’m learning that when I let go of something, I make room for something else. If I let go of a dysfunctional something I usually make room for something positive in my life. On the flip-side, if I let go of something positive in my life, I usually fall back into some form of chaos. For example, I let go of my morning prayer and gratitude routine sometimes (I usually blame it on busyness). Inevitably, I start slipping into old behaviors and insecurities! That’s no fun! Then I have to let go of my need to control everything (being busy busy), and like magic I slip easily back into my morning prayer and gratitude routine. I’m not letting go of my “letter.” I want to stay connected with everyone. Letting go of the primary editing responsibilities is allowing me to work on expanding our reach to as many people as possible who need some hope, inspiration, information and resources. We have the same mission we had at the beginning of this journey (two years ago) on just a larger scale—how exciting is that?! Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Let’s have some fun while walk this journey together. Respectfully and Enthusiastically,
Random Thoughts I’m sometimes Frowned upon by my Frequent use of F*words. Yet... they are Fun Fantastic Flattering Flexible and Forgiving... ....For Sure! So Frown upon me if you must. I choose to Feel F*ing Fabulous about my Focabulary!
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by Karen VanDenBerg
During a college commencement speech he has the grace and confidence to hold the attention of an anxious audience. If you met him on the street, you would notice his warmth and humanity—you might not imagine the path he’s travelled to be able to stand humbly with you at that moment. Guy was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP)*. Many people in recovery have felt they were “different from their fellows” at a level difficult to articulate. In Guy’s case, the CP was a very visible difference. He spent hours practicing walking and holding his hands in certain positions in an effort to overcome and mask his outward differences. He doesn’t minimize the challenges of his condition—it was difficult, embarrassing, and often defeating. It didn’t take very long for Guy to be introduced to his “savior”—alcohol. With alcohol, the “dorky” body spasms became cool and enviable; the shaky hands became steady; the awkward teenager became self-assured; the outcast became accepted. The affects were nothing short of miraculous to the young Guy Simms. Among the many prices Guy paid for this normalizing tonic was his passion for art. Guy Simms was born with a God-given talent to express himself through art. He was recognized for his unique and awe-inspiring talent at a very young age, and had his first art show at the age of thirteen. However, his new “best friend” (mind-altering substances) allowed no room in Guy’s life for creativity and expression through art. He didn’t pick up a paint brush or attempt to draw again until he was in recovery. Ironically, free from mind-altering substances, holding a paintbrush in his hand immediately stops the CP tremors— something that does not happen while holding a screw driver! This unexplainable phenomenon is not questioned by Guy—it is appreciated and revered. It is an indication that his art has a higher purpose. Guy’s journey in recovery started in October of 1985—he attended 90 meetings in 90 days (including the holidays!), followed suggestions, got a sponsor, and got involved. Relapse has not been part of his story and he has not had a craving since the first weekend of his sobriety.
“Change is a lifelong activity and a blessing. Everything I’ve allowed myself to change has made me a better person” Guy Simms (August-2014).
Guy continues to be very active in recovery and has established a successful career with more than twenty-seven years in the industry, pioneering outpatient programs, directing child abuse programs, making a difference in the lives of others who struggle with addiction. “I have believed that I need to be in a state of acceptance at all times. The changes in just the recent years have been unbelievable. I am a better dad, husband, employee … person.” Guy goes on to explain that it’s one thing to know you need to be in a state of acceptance … and when it really happens at your core it resonates and reflects serenity in every area of your life. In recovery, Guy has been able to re-embrace his art. His art can be seen at deviantart.com and reflects a unique and unconventional expression of recovery. His piece, “From the Ashes,” includes the real-life ashes of burnt “good-bye to addiction” letters he collected from clients over a ten year span. If you’re lucky enough to attend a speaker meeting with Guy in the audience, you’ll probably ﬁnd him drawing a portrait of the speaker in the side of a Styrofoam cup. (Reprinted from Sept/Oct 2014)
*Cerebral palsy (CP) is a general term for a group of permanent, non-progressive movement disorders that cause physical disability, mainly in the areas of body movement— Wikipedia.com
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At Home Away From Home
The first time I walked into a meeting in a town I’d never visited before, I experienced a profound combination of emotions. Almost frozen with the feeling of abject terror, the illogical fear of walking unaccompanied into a room filled with people I’d never met, I breathlessly followed my feet over the threshold regardless of my pounding heart. That fear simultaneously rubbed up against the warm blankety comfort of knowing that no matter who these strangers were, we had already shared a life experience. All over the world, seated for the first time among people who didn’t know me from a bar of soap, an instant kinship sprang. There are always little differences in foreign rooms. At home, we become so used to our regular spot, that when we head off to the wild blue yonder and end up in rooms over the horizon, peculiarities tend to stand out. It was in Istanbul, Turkey that I walked down what seemed like the busiest street on earth to attend a meeting in a secluded garden behind a church, under the shade of a large leafy tree. It was a surprisingly tranquil oasis situated right in the center of the bustling transcontinental city that barely ever sleeps. A combination of languages flitted to and fro, mostly passing over my head like the dulcet notes of an unfamiliar sonata. In halting English, I was warmly greeted by a local man, who immediately introduced me to the group of people standing nearest. In less than thirty seconds, I had half a dozen new friends who hailed from all corners of the globe.
Moments before the meeting was about to start, the call to prayer from a nearby mosque echoed through the city, its tendrils reaching through narrow stone-paved streets and over ancient parapets as the soulful Imam gathered his devout flock around him as carefully as a shepherd in the foothills. As people in our small gathering shared their stories, recounting tales as familiar and heart-wrenching as those at home, the rich aroma of gently brewed Turkish tea began wafting through the garden, tickling our noses with its tempting perfume. Tulip-shaped glasses of tea were quickly poured and distributed. Then, a plate of syrupy baklava laden with pistachios was brought to the table, and I was encouraged to sample the local delicacy. It was love at first bite. It’s the little things, those tiny differences that make travel worthwhile, and yet the open friendliness and warm welcome in the rooms are always the same.
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CODEPENDENCY The Dark Side of Loneliness
Many people, especially codependents, are haunted by inner loneliness. Twenty percent (60 million) of Americans report that loneliness is the source of their suffering. In fact, our emotional reaction to rejection emanates from the area of our brain (the dorsal anterior cingulated) that also responds to physical pain. (Cacioppo and Patrick, 2008)
Loneliness vs. Aloneness
Loneliness is associated with living alone, which surveys indicate has steadily risen to 27 percent in 2013 and to 50 percent and higher in parts of Florida, West Virginia, and especially California. However, solitude and being alone only describe a physical condition. We don’t always feel lonely when we’re alone. Individual needs for connection vary. Some people choose to live solo and are happier doing so. They don’t suffer the same sense of abandonment caused by the unwanted loss of a partner through a break-up, divorce, or death. They may also have greater inherited insensitivity to social disconnection, according to recent research.
poor communication skills. Often they partner with someone addicted, abusive, or just emotionally unavailable (and they may be, as well.) Whether alone or in a relationship, codependents may be unable to identify the source of their unhappiness, feeling depressed, sad, or bored, yet not knowing that they’re lonely. Others know, but find it difficult to effectively ask for their needs. Their relationship dynamics and loneliness may seem familiar, like the emotional dysfunction in their childhood. We want and need emotional closeness from our partner and friends, but when an intimate, emotional bond is lacking, we experience disconnection and emptiness. (For more on emptiness and healing, see Chapter 4, “There’s a Hole in My Bucket” in Conquering Shame and Codependency.) Years ago, I believed that more shared activities would create that missing connection, not realizing it was something less tangible–real intimacy, which was absent in my relationship. (See “Your Intimacy Index”). Instead, like most codependents, I experienced “pseudo-intimacy,” which can take the form of a romantic “fantasy bond,” shared activities, intense sexuality, or a relationship where only one partner is vulnerable, while the other acts as advisor, confidant, provider, or emotional caretaker.
Loneliness in Relationships Although loneliness is greater among people living alone, it can be felt while in a relationship or group. This is because it’s the quality, not the quantity, of social interactions that determines whether we feel connected. As the number of work hours and household television sets has increased, family dinners have declined. Today, although the quantity of interactions has increased, due to the proliferation of cell phones, screen time is replacing face time. People spend more time on their digital devices than in face-to-face conversations, contributing to more loneliness. (Cacioppo, 2012) A UCLA study showed that social skills are declining as a result. There’s a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students due to new technology, and 12-year olds are socially behaving like 8-yearolds. Recently, Pew Research Center found that 82 percent of adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings hurt the conversation.
Codependency and Lack of Intimacy The absence of someone nurturing to listen, care, and affirm our existence makes us feel isolated or emotionally abandoned. Although intimate connections are the remedy, characteristically, codependent relationships lack of intimacy. Codependents have difficulty with intimacy due to shame and
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“We don’t always feel lonely when we’re alone.” The undercurrent of loneliness and fear of loneliness stem from chronic lack of connectedness and loneliness in childhood. While some children are neglected or abused, the majority grow up in families where parents don’t have the time or sufficient emotional resources to honor their children’s feelings and needs. Children feel ignored, unloved, shamed, or alone. Some feel like an outsider, that “No one gets me,” even though their family otherwise appears to be normal. To cope, they withdraw, accommodate, rebel, and/or take up addictions, and mask, and eventually deny, what they feel inside.
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Continued from Page 12
Loneliness and Shame Meanwhile, the growing sense of separation from themselves and lack of authentic connection with a parent(s) can breed inner loneliness and feelings of unworthiness. “The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love–is a source of shame. It is at the same time the source of guilt and anxiety.” (Fromm, E., The Art of Loving, p. 9) As adults, codependents can get caught in self-defeating cycle of loneliness, shame, and depression. Repeated break-ups and abandoning relationships can foster a worsening cycle of abandonment. (See “Breaking the Cycle of Abandonment.”) The greater is our loneliness, the less we seek to engage with others, while our anxiety around authentic connection grows. Studies show than prolonged loneliness breeds low self-esteem, introversion, pessimism, disagreeableness, anger, shyness, anxiety, lessened social skills, and neuroticism. We imagine negative evaluations from others, called shame anxiety. This leads to anxious, negative, and selfprotective behaviors, to which other people respond negatively, fulfilling our imagined outcome. The shame associated with loneliness is directed not only against ourselves. Loneliness carries a stigma–so we don’t admit we’re lonely–but is also experienced from others with gender differences. Lonely men are perceived more negatively than women, and more negatively by women, even though more women than men report feeling lonely. (Lau, 1992)
Health Risks The strong association between loneliness and depression is well documented; but, loneliness also triggers serious health risks, impacting our endocrine, immune, and cardiovascular systems, and accelerating death. According to a recent study, the lonely have increased risk for cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and viral infections. Perceived loneliness triggers a flight-or-fight stress response. Stress hormones and inflammation rise, and exercise and restorative sleep decrease. Norepinephrine surges, shutting down immune functions and ramping up production of white blood cells that cause inflammation. Meanwhile, it makes us less sensitive to cortisol that protects us from inflammation. In commenting
on the research, neuroscientist Turhan Canli points out that loneliness one year affects our genetic inflammatory response the following year, confirming the self-reinforcing, negative, emotional spiral discussed above: “Loneliness predicted biological changes, and biological changes predicted changes in loneliness.” (Chen, 2015)
Coping with Loneliness We may not feel like talking to someone, even though it would help. Now we have the data to explain why biological, even genetic changes make loneliness hard to overcome. For many of us, when we’re lonely, we tend to isolate even more. We may turn to addictive behavior instead of seeking social connection. There is a high correlation between obesity and loneliness. We really have to fight our natural instinct to withdraw. Try admitting to a friend or neighbor that you’re lonely. To motivate socializing with other people, commit to a class, meetup, CoDA or other 12Step meeting. Exercise with a buddy. Volunteer or support a friend in need can to take your mind off of yourself and lift your spirits. As with all feelings, loneliness is worsened by resistance and selfjudgment. We fear experiencing more pain if we allow our heart to open. Often, the reverse is true. Allowing feelings to flow can not only release them, but also the energy expended in suppressing them. Our emotional state shifts, so that we feel invigorated, peaceful, tired, or content in our aloneness. For more suggestions, read “Coping with Loneliness” in Codependency for Dummies. John T. Cacioppo, Stephanie Cacioppo, “The Phenotype of Loneliness” European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 2012 Jul 1; 9(4): 446–452. John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick, “Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection,” The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 2008. Angus Chen, “Loneliness May Warp Our Genes, And Our Immune Systems,” NPR, Your Health, November 29, 2015. Lau, S., & Gruen, G. E. (1992). “The social stigma of loneliness: Effect of target person’s and perceiver’s sex.” Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 182-189. Turkle, Sherry, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk,” The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2015.
© 2015 Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, and expert on relationships and codependency. You can contact Darlene directly at info@ darlenelancer.com or follow her at www.whatiscodependency.com and on Facebook.
JAN-FEB 2016 - 13
Mindfulness by Terra Schaad
I’ve been told for quite some time that I am a mindful person. I had no idea what it meant, even as a young, grasshopper, therapist. Other senior therapists would infer that my mindful nature was due to my experience with horses and while I didn’t argue with them, I still wanted something more concrete. They’d say, mindfulness is a practice and a way of being. This only further frustrated me and my desire for something I could sink my teeth into. The truth is, they were right. Mindfulness is simply paying attention on purpose. Paying attention on purpose gives us data. That data gives us the opportunity to change to behaviors or create situations so that we are more happy, grateful, connected, and tolerant of triggers and stress. Mindfulness is the amazing opportunity we have to pay attention NOW, so we don’t pay for behaviors later. Please pause, breathe deeply and maybe pull a Kleenex. In 2010, my world fell apart and mindfulness became a necessity for me after my fiancé called off our wedding two months out. We had been together for six years. We were both educated, young, bright, and accomplished entrepreneurs. I had completed everything my 32-year-old self had set my mind to. Here is an excerpt from one of my journals back then He told me he wasn’t happy and that he didn’t think I loved him. He said it was over and that he couldn’t marry me. My inside voice was screaming, “What?! We were just shopping for baby cars last week! Surely, you must be kidding. Hold on. Tell me again why you aren’t happy in our seeming perfect life, with me, after six years?” But, as he continued to talk, I could feel my heart begin to break, and I realized I was powerless to sway him back towards me. And in that gut wrenching moment, speechless and unable to breathe and to hear and comprehend, I did what I have done since I was ten… I put my shoes on and sprinted for my horse. And there, in the safety of his stall, under the stars, Rocky stood, staring, breathing, knowing, and I fell to my knees sobbing, vulnerable, needing, and unable to endure. As always, the Universe conspired for me, and almost immediately an opportunity to go to Italy to work on a leadership model at an international MBA program arose. My role would be to serve as coach and to research mindfulness and its effect on leadership.
Can you say, “divine timing”?! In my most broken state, I studied mindfulness and myself for two painfully, delicious years. It took all that time of logging emotional reconnection hours to pull me fully out of the state of desperation, grief, and rage. I decided early on that if I was going down I was going all the way down; all band aids off, notice, feel, heal, don’t come up or out till you know you’re done and it is fixed approach. So, I mindfully ate my way through Italy and sat still in observation of my emotions. I got curious about them, began journaling, and savored the stories. I threw snowballs, smashed baseballs, screamed, and cried just to rid myself of the rage that was inside of me because he had cheated on me. I bet if you’re human, you’re mad too now. Nonetheless, I was determined to get down to my personal thoughts and belief systems that had shifted our once idyllic love, so I kept journaling and noticing my behaviors. I noticed I would thwart off men doing kind things for me, like picking me up for dinner and paying for it. I realized my zealous independence was actually a big taboo in the Italian culture, and likely was a covert emasculation of the love of my life. What I began to uncover were ingrained biases that wouldn’t allow me to hear him when he said “I don’t feel like you love me. I don’t feel like I can take care of you.” – AND I had created that feeling in him by being overly independent, driven, and strong. We create the situation and emotions of our life through our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It’s a new year. What if we committed to live more mindfully so that we could be happier, more grateful, and more connected? We can do that and how we do it is simple. For the next month, practice recording the data of your life. At the end of the month, see if you find patterns. Patterns give you POWER of choice to move towards happiness.
© Terra is a zealous horse lover and the executive director of Hunkapi Programs, Inc. Terra holds a bachelor of science degree in pre-veterinary medicine from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Arizona State University. She practices living mindfully, is an avid adventurer, yogi, and two-time Ironman Arizona finisher. She embraces her extraordinary life with mindful, contagious enthusiasm and gratitude.
14 - JAN-FEB 2016
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Dan Griffin on
Real Men, Real Reovery
The Promises Series When I was young and just coming into recovery, I read these words on pages 83 and 84 and saw for the first time what my life could be some day. In the midst of my deep insecurity, shame, fear, and hopelessness, these words were a beacon. I took very seriously the fact that they are called the Promises, not the Maybes or the Might Happens. I went to meetings where men and women talked about how the promises had come true in their life and so I held onto them as a covenant between me and the fellowship. They have come true for me. And, they will come true for you, too—so long as you are willing to do the work.
feeding one another from across the table. If you see the world as a place in which you never have enough, you will always be trying to meet your needs but without success. Seeking to fulfill solely your own needs is like digging a bottomless pit. There is no happiness to be found on that path. In reality, you have everything you need right now.
Of course, it is easy to say we have everything we need but truly believing it is another story. We have been programmed to want—more and more. We have been programmed to believe that we are somehow incomplete or less than if we do not have certain things. As long as I am in search of that Promise #8: which will make me happy and fill me up I am seeking on Self-seeking will slip away behalf of my self. It is through the program of recovery and learning to be of service that I get to discover the paradox that A picture that I love shows two scenes: one of Heaven and when I reach out to you, I get connection; when I give to you, one of Hell. In Hell, everyone is seated at a table with grossly I receive; and when I seek to be of service to help you in your elongated spoons that they simply cannot fit into their mouths. journey toward happiness, I am filled. In Heaven, everyone is seated at a very similar table with the same exact elongated spoons. The only difference? They are Illustrations courtesy of: Chicago Recovery Alliance
© Dan Griffin, MA is a husband, father, and author and has been on his own journey of recovery since 1994. You can follow Dan at DanGriffin.com
JAN-FEB 2016 - 15
Fortifying Your Strength
by Batista Gremaud
In part one of this series, we looked at the relapse process and one of its triggers, which is relationships. Today, we’ll look at a second offender to watch out for in recovery: stress. Stress: The relationship between stress and addictions has long been established. Acute stress can lead to drug abuse in vulnerable individuals and increase the risk of relapse in recovering addicts. Stress response hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released via the sympathetic nervous system. The heart rate increases, causing blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to increase as a result of the fight and flight response. The recovering individual might be more susceptible to stress due to the way that alcohol and drug abuse has changed brain chemistry. This may also explain why some individuals relapse in response to situations that would only be considered mildly stressful by others. Long-term, fulfilling sobriety happens by attaining emotional sobriety, which requires the ability to remain calm and centered under stress. The compulsive addictive way is to feel, overreact and think about consequences later. The healthy mind uses clear thinking: 1. Feel the emotion 2. Think first of how to respond and evaluate possible outcomes 3. Take appropriate action In time, this process will lead to a complete lifestyle change through habit modification. Example: substituting good food rather than unhealthy food that could possibly affect mood behavior because of allergic reactions to the foods eaten; substituting harmful substances for natural supplementation. Avoiding getting too hungry, angry, lonely and tired, as referred to by the acronym H.A.L.T. This might be easier said than done, especially for the individual who has lost a tremendous amount of functional strength and is already frazzled because the nervous system is overloaded. Strengthening the nervous system is a key component to emotional sobriety. Treatment centers incorporate stress management courses and other interventions aimed at helping addicts more successfully manage their stress by focusing on social support, problem solving and coping skills. Some are beginning to incorporate tools such as yoga or meditation for the purpose of calming the mind. However, the nervous system is an organ of the body and requires to be strengthened, much like a muscle, so to speak. While these tools offer great benefits physically and emotionally,
they do not increase one’s functional strength by 20% to 50% in 20 minutes, like strength training can, which immediately fortifies the nervous system, quiets the mind and produces a massive amount of endorphins being released into the brain by way of the blood expansion being pumped throughout the body’s circulatory system. This is known to elevate mood behaviors while physically getting stronger and healthier. Every trait of character can be used for a positive or negative outcome. One characteristic of the addict mind is the pursuit of instant gratification. Why not then turn this trait of character into a positive and use it towards recovery by choosing an activity that enhances it while providing fast benefits? Unlike aerobic activities and yoga, strength training uses specific muscle fibers and muscle contractions that allow for immediate functional strength increase. It is a safe sport that enables you to go at your own pace and level of athleticism, provides fast and measurable results and an instant sense of well being, by quieting the mind. Exercise becomes a desired fun activity rather than one more thing on the to-do list. Fast becoming the number one anti-aging sport because of its amazing overall health benefits, strength training assists in rebuilding the alcoholic brain by increasing neurogenesis, and enables you to become more balanced physically and emotionally as, it stimulates the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters that help to relieve stress response and fight against depression. It serves as a form of meditation that takes the mind off stress factors. Strength training is a revolutionary weapon that when incorporated into one’s schedule will manifest such positive changes as mentioned in this article.
© Batista Gremaud AKA Batista is a published author, empowerment speaker, entertainer and Co-founder of Body Design Formula and the International Institute of Body Design. She is a 7th Degree Master Teacher in Dr. Fitness USA’s protocols, Body Design. Her recent book, Feminine Body Design is now available at Amazon.com. You can contact Batista for more information at doc@DrFitnessUSA.com
16 - JAN-FEB 2016
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By Karen VanDenBerg
ArtiCHOKE the Onion I love Artichokes. Seriously. It’s one of the very first “vegetables” I made a “choice” to publicly appreciate. Me and veggies have a history. Sitting at the kitchen table for hours refusing to eat my peas was one of the earliest signs of my rebellious hard-headed nature. I sat there for long periods of time—pouting! It’s not like I was scared the peas would somehow hurt me! Anyway, I digress, this is about artichokes. To look at an artichoke, you’d never guess it has a tender heart protected under all that tough, prickly roughage. The outermost layers are the toughest but at the base of every leaf is a soft, tasty representation of the heart underneath.
go, the sweeter and softer the layers become. We can pace ourselves with one leaf at a time without tackling the whole layer at once or disrupting the structure itself. Peeling away each leaf yields an opportunity to discard some of the shield and reap a tender, albeit small, reward. Each plucked leaf scraped and discarded brings us closer to the gift inside. With every effort, we get closer to the heart—the protected goldmine of goodness! I’m going to start peeling away the leaves of my artichoke, and I think I’m going to really love what’s at the heart of it.
People in recovery like to talk about peeling away the layers of an onion as a metaphor for uncovering a new layer of …. Of what? More onion! Maybe a better recovery metaphor is peeling away the leaves of an artichoke. The deeper you
JAN-FEB 2016 - 17
Step 12 Magazine’s
Are You Out of Your Mind? A friend once told me: “Your mind is an extremely dangerous neighborhood. I advise you never to venture there alone, especially at night.” It’s good advice. Inside our heads is often a tangle of thoughts and jumbled ideas, often so incoherent they don’t make the slightest bit of sense. During the lowest lows, our minds can become a labyrinth of pent-up resentments and rage all penned into tiny cages. They clang on the bars with sharpened knives, demanding to be let out to wreak havoc on our sanity. Going back in there day after day, hoping to find something different is akin to madness. I can’t count how many times people have asked me: “Are you out of your mind?” My standard answer is: “Yes! I am absolutely out of my mind, and you won’t see me going back in there anytime soon! Have you seen the craziness in there?”
elephant with tusks longer than your own body. You are so close to this magnificent beast that your nose is touching the side of the animal. From here, what do you see? Nothing but grey skin and huge wrinkles. It doesn’t smell all that pleasant either. From this perspective, the humongous critter right in front of you doesn’t even look like an elephant. Now, back away, one step at a time, until you can see the entire creature. And then step back even further, until you can see the tree the elephant is standing next to, and back away again until you can see the plateau it is standing in, with other trees, and maybe even some more elephants.
“Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.” We spend so much time inside our own heads that it can drive us mad. It can be tough to walk away from your “self” at first, but making an effort to get out of our minds and focus on the people, places and things around us can really make a postive difference to our own path towards recovery. Getting involved in a variety activities that fully occupy the mind really helps. This is not to say that the enormous elephant in the room suddenly vanished while we were busily occupying our thoughts with other things. There are still many unresolved issues, myriad problems, countless mood swings and emotional troubles up the wazoo. The constant distractions are resolved by decreasing the apparent size of the elephant. What starts out as something so large, there is barely any wiggle room, can be transformed into something smaller and much more manageable. Let’s play a game: Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply, in and out through your nose. Count to ten as you relax your whole body. Now, imagine yourself standing right next to an adult male African
By now, you might begin to see other things too: a lake, a distant mountain, a giraffe, a lion in the grass, some ducks on the water. Now, walk in a big circle around your elephant and look at it from different directions. Just because there are other things around, the elephant didn’t suddenly go away. It just became easier to look at in its entirety and, as a problem to get around, a lot more manageable. This is the whole point. Our illnesses aren’t going anywhere, but keeping our minds busy with plenty of other interesting activitie that enhance and enrich our lives helps to keep the monsters at bay. “Are you out of your mind?” I hope so! Get out of your mind!
Newcomer’s Checklist aDon’t Take That First Drink or Drug aMake Plenty of Meetings aCall Sponsor aHang out with AA/NA People aFocus on the Positive aTalk about your Feelings 18 - JAN-FEB 2016
aBeware of People, Places, & Things aTake One Day at a Time aAsk Higher Power for Help aStay out of “Your Head” aMove a Muscle, Change a Thought aRead the Literature Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354
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JAN-FEB 2016 - 19
20 IMPORTANT Self-Assessment QUESTIONS For You or a Loved One
One of the oldest and most time tested dependency evaluation tools for chemical dependency has its origins from the Johnson Institute of Minneapolis. Many variations exist, but the basic questions are as follows: 1. Has anyone ever suggested you quit or cut back on your drug/alcohol use? Y / N 2. Has drinking or using affected your reputation? Y / N 3. Have you made promises to control your drinking or using and then broken them? Y / N 4. Have you ever switched to different drinks or drugs or changed your using pattern in an effort to control or reduce your consumption? Y / N 5. Have you ever gotten into financial, legal, or relationship difficulties due to drinking or using? Y / N 6. Have you ever lost time from work because of drinking or using? Y / N 7. Have you ever sneaked or hidden your use? Y / N 8. On occasion, do you feel uncomfortable if alcohol or your drug is not available? Y / N 9. Do you continue drinking or using when friends or family suggest you have had enough? Y / N 10. Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed about your drinking or using or what you did while under the influence? Y / N 11. Has your efficiency decreased as a result of your drinking or using? Y / N 12. When using or drinking, do you neglect to eat properly? Y/N 13. Do you use or drink alone? Y / N 14. Do you use or drink more than usual when under pressure, angry, or depressed? Y / N 15. Are you able to drink or use more now without feeling it, compared to when you first started using? Y / N 16. Have you lost interest in other activities or noticed a decrease in your ambition as a result of your drinking or using? Y / N 17. Have you had the shakes or tremors following heavy drinking or using or not using for a period of time Y/ N 18. Do you want to drink or use at a particular time each day? Y/N 19. Do you go on and off the wagon? Y / N 20. Is drinking or using jeopardizing your job? Y / N Three or more â&#x20AC;&#x153;yesâ&#x20AC;? answers suggest that you should more closely evaluate your drug and or alcohol use. Call for help today!
20 - JAN-FEB 2016
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UNLOCKEDFor Life with
Three Words “I got this” was my way of saying I’m a man, I’m capable, I’m prepared, I’m smart and I’m bad-ass. You can’t stop a guy who’s “got it.” There is no humility, no vulnerability and no room for intervention for anyone who’s “got it.” I could be standing in a courtroom before a judge who was holding my future in his hands. As the gavel swung down and handed me another jail sentence, my head would tell me, “I got this.” I could be on the street running into a crowd of angry gangbangers justifiably pissed off with me, and my head would belligerently tell me “I got this” just before I’d get the shit kicked out of me. Whether in or out of jail I ALWAYS thought, “I got this.” Regardless of the situation, “I got this” was a common phrase running through my head and it was always to my detriment. My way of handling things “my way” was self-destructive. What I “got” was pain, misery, anger. What I was hiding, was fear and failure. As a tough guy convict, egotistical, prideful person, asking for help was unthinkable. I might as well have been saying, “I’m not a man,” “I’m stupid,” “you can’t trust me,” “I’m incompetent.” In that world, with that mindset, surrender was not an option. Surrender was not a word in my vocabulary. Surrender was a word banished to the cornfields with other useless words like helpless, begging, and weakness. The truth is, I needed help. In the courtroom I needed the help of the lawyer and the judge. In the street, I needed the help of people stronger than myself. In my head, I needed the help of a teacher—someone who could show me a better way
of thinking. In my heart, I needed the help of a force greater than my own. I didn’t know I needed these things at the time. Hindsight is 20-20. What I knew at the time was this: “I got this” was a lie but it was all I had. No matter what experiences life hands us, we all need help. Making a decision to move from a mindset of “I got this” to “I need help” means to me now to be open to a possibility that there’s another way to handle a situation or challenge. I began to recognize that there’s another way to manage my life. I had to give up the notion that accepting help was forfeiting my power. The old belief that you could take full credit for my success by simply helping me had to go! The old notion that it wasn’t worth doing unless I did it MYSELF (all by myself) had to be smashed. I only know what I know. As much as I pretended I knew it all, I knew I didn’t. I have learned that the only way to know more is to learn more. The only way to learn more is to ask for help. Help comes in the form of books, relationships, the wisdom of others, and so much more. Help comes in the form of a power much greater than ourselves. The most uncomfortable situations for me are those that are unfamiliar. Asking for help was unfamiliar territory. Unfamiliar territory makes me feel leery. I learned this fear through continuous repetition—believing false beliefs and having negative outcomes. Today I learn the same way— through continuous repetition. But today, I counter false beliefs by asking for help and the outcomes are no longer jail time, fights, drinking/drugging and grandiosity. Today, I know that I don’t know everything. Today I think maybe there’s another way to handle a situation that is different from the way I already tried, and maybe that will produce a better outcome. Knowing that I don’t know everything, making it possible to ask for help, has been life-changing on every level. I am able to receive help today, and every area of my life is experiencing recovery because of that—addiction to alcohol/drugs, bad associations, work ethic, relationships (romantic, professional, friendship, family)—all areas of life in general! I am not ashamed to admit that I need help. Sometimes I verbalize it and sometimes I don’t. I am open to a new way of doing things so I can have a new outcome and in the process of that I learn. And I practice. I practice “I need help” and banish “I got this” to the cornfield where surrender used to be.
© Dan Sanfellipo received his education in the California State Penal system from the age of 13. A trauma survivor, author of the upcoming book “Unlocked for Life” and founder of support and coaching program of the same name, Dan is a practicing member of 12-step recovery and an international competitor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Dan has dedicated his energy, experience, strength and hope to helping men and women find lasting freedom—from poverty, restriction, stigma, addiction, despair and prison. Dan can be reached at Dan@unlockedforlife.com
JAN-FEB 2016 - 21
A New Start for Men Abused as Children
The Holidays can be a very tough time for men and women abused as children. So many have never told their family the secret they carry deep inside and often the perpetrator is there, in person, at the family events. Many survivors have to prepare far in advance and steel themselves to be in the same room with the perpetrator, watching their family members interact kindly to the person who stole their childhood innocence. The scenario often looks like this: the survivor trying to remain in control of their anxiety may drink to prepare themselves, or take drugs to numb their feelings before they get to their destination. On edge during the entire event, they go home exhausted and swear never to go back only to repeat the event the following year. His brother, Jim abused Joseph, a 40-year-old man when he was only 10. He finally told his mother this year. She was empathetic and cried with him. Joseph explained he wasn’t quite ready to confront Jim and his mother said she could understand, however she still wanted to invite them both to Christmas dinner, after all Jim was still her son and part of the family and she refused to leave him out. Joseph felt betrayed once again and proceeded to get drunk at the holiday party got into a fight with his brother Jim over a trivial event. Joseph stormed off into the night only to feel guilty and ashamed. Often this results in distancing from family members, isolating and becoming depressed. Receiving phone calls from siblings asking,” What is wrong with you, why did you act that way”? Feeling this is the chance to come clean but still not able to tell them. Vowing to tell his siblings, Joseph journals, rehearsing how he would go about telling them and what he would say. Not one of his imagined scenarios turned out well, so he tucked it all back inside. A male survivor that does not express the hurt and pain of being abused usually ends up expressing it as rage, for those unable to express the rage externally they express it internally with selfcriticism, depression, low self worth, drugs and alcohol, and even suicidal thoughts. A New Year offers another opportunity to begin the healing process. The first steps in healing is speaking your truth and telling your story to a safe person, a therapist that is trained in trauma, a sponsor, or clergy. The statistics are staggering, one in four boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. With the statistics this high a survivor can rest assured he is not alone. I have found that group therapy is one of the most healing modalities. During groups that I run new men constantly remark, after hearing other men’s stories, that they thought they were the only ones experiencing the feelings and behaviors they have. It is such a relief to know they are not alone and to eventually accept it was not their fault. Children tend to blame themselves for the bad behavior of their parents, instinctively knowing if they accept the blame they have the power to do something about it; they can get older, wiser, taller, more handsome, more coordinated and then they can “fix” their parents. If you think about it children know they
By Carol Teitelbaum, MFT
need to protect their parents, if they consider the parents crazy or sick who will take care of them? The children have no way to pay bills, not old enough to drive, or have a house, they need their parents to take care of them, so they constantly sacrifice themselves to make their parents appear okay. Survivors can come to understand the dysfunction of their family of origin and learn how those dysfunctional behaviors can be passed down from generation to generation. They can make the decision to let the dysfunctional behaviors stop in their own life and not pass them on to their children. Survivors can get educated about abuse and its effects on their lives, they can read books, listen to podcasts, research you tube. There is so much information available now that we never had before. Beginning the therapy process, and actually feeling and facing the pain of childhood trauma can develop new coping skills, learning the tools to deal with triggers that will come up. Many men feel if they admit their abuse or even write about it in their 4th step of a 12-step program that they are done dealing with this part of their lives. Truthfully the process is just starting. 68% of men in recovery facilities are abuse survivors but most have not told anyone. The issue I see is that these men finish their program, leave the facility, get triggered and relapse. It is so important to actually do the work. I have seen so many men improve their lives by getting involved in a group process where they feel safe to share who they are with other men, to have support, compassion and empathy. This New Year can be the new beginning of many men’s lives by making a commitment to this year being the one when they free themselves and place the shame where it belongs–with the perpetrator.
© Carol Teitlebaum, MFT is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She is also the founder of Creative Change Conferences and It Happens to Boys Program. She offers free group counseling to men and teen boys who have been sexually abused as children, and a yearly conference bringing well known experts in the field of trauma, addiction and recovery together creating a two day healing community. For more information go to CreativeChangeConferences.com or call 760-346-4606
22 - JAN-FEB 2016
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39th Annual SAN DIEGO SPRING ROUND UP March 24-27, 2016 Town & Country Resort Hotel
As ow sL A s om Ro ns rso Pe 4 o 1t
by 12 The Step e Magazin Team
The following book reviews are honest IMPRESSIONS of these newly released titles. Grab a copy and see if you agree... These are not “paid” reviews.
Don’t Jump: Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘N Roll... And My Fucking Mother by Vicki Abelson
“Don’t Jump” is a total trip to read! You will laugh, you will cringe, and you will even tear up. She got high so much, I think I was getting the second hand smoke high! Her addiction to pot was just as strong as any of her other addictions, from men to fame. I was enamored with all of the celebrity appearances in this book. Andi is a woman of many talents, always striving for something new and exciting in the entertainment industry in NYC. She is a force to be reckoned with, indeed. If she wanted something, she was going to get it or die trying. The perseverance that Andi has is palpable, and you wonder why she was not on the front pages of People Magazine back in the 80’s. Told with true grit and splendor, you will not want to put this book down. Available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0991536835
Broken by Roni Askey-Doran
I’ve read several of Roni’s books and I think this is the best so far. Detailing what is to be the last day of protagonist Emily Zylaz’s life, hour-byhour, Roni takes you on a journey into the psyche of a damaged person wanting to be well, but seeing no alternative to suicide. Although this premise may sound depressing or off-putting to those not used to the subject matter, readers should not be fooled into thinking this book fits into any particular genre. It is at once stark, moving, funny, horrifying, thoughtful and delightful. Moving at a fast pace and at the length of a novella, don’t be surprised if you read it in one or two sittings. Emily is a complex character, and the author makes sure we get to know her properly, even if only for a short time. Roni really inhabits Emily’s skin, and as such Emily will get under yours. You will wish you knew her in real life, so that you could be friends. Available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/097576005X
JAN-FEB 2016 - 23
With Bob K
Are You Having Fun Yet?
Hi Everyone! This issue’s article is about fun in recovery. Did anyone out there besides me think that getting clean and sober would mean that fun was no longer an option? That myth helped keep me away from the rooms for 10 years after I discovered I had a problem and nearly killed me. Readers can see that I do clean and sober cruise conferences at sea. This is certainly one way to have a great time and lots of fun. In fact, I am writing the article during a cruise conference at sea on the Norwegian Jade in the Western Caribbean. Not everyone is interested in a cruise. So, what other ways do we create an atmosphere of fun in recovery? OMG, there are so many options! TravelSober was not founded as a cruise conference company. That evolved from its beginnings. When I was working for other people and companies, I had either directed or lent a helping hand in Christmas parties, company golf tournaments, softball and basketball teams, getting groups to concerts and sporting events, and much more. That is the behavior of an extrovert. So, the transition when I got sober was a natural one. In the first year of recovery, I did the exact same things and so can you. Many areas around the country have sober clubs and clubhouses. In our state they are called Alano Clubs. This is a great area to find out what interests people. Sign-up sheets can be posted for all kinds of activities. If you have sports teams in your area, a trip to a ballgame is a safe fun way to fellowship. The same is true for concerts. If you live nears mountains where winter sports are available, how about a sober ski trip? Are you near the ocean or large lakes? What about a sober sailing adventure or a sober houseboat trip? Before TravelSober did cruises, we used the same format we do today on sober houseboat trips at Lake Shasta, CA. Sober picnics and golf tournaments are lots of fun and easy to organize. If you like solitude with company, how about a sober spa resort weekend or planning a retreat for your group? All ideas are good ideas. Find common interests in your groups and plan to have some fun! Now about the cruise I am on! We have visited, CozumelMexico, Belize City-Belize, and Roatan-Honduras. The people on the cruise have snorkeled, scuba dived, gone swimming with nurse sharks and stingrays, done dolphin encounters, gone cave tubing and ziplining. Comedian Mark L. provided the group with a private comedy show and a workshop on relapse prevention. Two recording artists have provided songs to entertain the group and of course, there have been daily meetings fo AA’s, Al Anon’s, NA’s and other programs too. We have several trips coming your way in 2016 and our 2017 schedule will be out soon. Write to us at email@example.com if you would like help planning and or facilitating a cruise or any events for your group. We are also glad to help you create events from any of the great ideas you come up with. We are here to help. And as always, travel safe and TravelSober Bob Kocher has spent over 22 years in the travel industry, working as a guide, group planner, agency owner and more. He has led more than 125 groups worldwide. Check out the agency web site www.travelsober.com for updates on travel tips or information on a specific travel destination.
24 - JAN-FEB 2016
“ What do YOU do for FUN in Recovery?”
And you answered!
Robert: I build rockets ... really ... High Powered Amateur Rocketry. Member of Tripoli and National Association of Rocketry. Chuck: Spend time with my children, dinner with my wife, ride my HD, go to movies, play golf... every thing I used to talk about when I was drinking but never did. And more. I can go anywhere and do anything and alcohol is never required. Charles: Bowling, horseshoes, going to the gym. Karen: Road trips! Denise: Go to to the movies with a gaggle of girls and LAUGH and LAUGH and LAUGH. Jimmy: Play music... Alison: Hike in the mountains, go camping. Katie: I play my violin. Mostly classical music. Dave: I like to read but I don’t have much money to buy books, so I go to the library and sit in a big comfortable chair and spend hours reading books. When I leave, I make a note of the page, and if it’s still there when I come back, I can keep reading the same book. Jessica: I cook. I get out my Mom’s old recipe books and find something she used to make when we were kids, and I make it. It just feels so much like home with those smells in the kitchen. Jennifer: Fellowship ... the meeting after the meeting. Coffee ... Dinner ... etc. Ruth: Oh my gosh, dance, play volley ball, sing, bowl, eat lots of junk food and watch movies with a friend, ride horses, go to the wild animal park, hike, go to a country western bar and drink water and sodas and line dance! Mike: Live life to its fullest. The list of fun things to do is limitless. Check out Step 12 Magazine on Social Media
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Solutions on Page 44
Word Puzzles Build Boating Camp Cooking Crafts Dancing Decorate Doodle Fishing Golf
Exercise Happy Healthy Horseback Riding Laughter Paint Photo Bomb Play Movies
Race Reading Run Scrabble Singing Swimming Television Vacation Word search
2. Gathering of people in celebration of something. 4. Let there be ______ on earth, and let it begin with me. 6. Musical communication. 9. Round object used in many sports. 11. Rule 62: Don’t take yourself too ________ 13. We are not a _____ lot. 14. Time away from normal routine, often done away from normal environment. 17. Food in a basket, blanket on the ground, ants on the march. 18. A tranquil place where the ocean meets the land.
Solution on Page 44
Spot the 12 differences in these pictures
1. Moving to the music. 3. Gathering of like-minded people for bonding and sharing 5. Are we having ____ yet? 7. Planting seeds, pulling weeds, turning soil. 8. At a baseball game: “______ ball!!” 10. A one or two person vessel that uses paddles for propulsion. 12. The sound of funny. 15. What a director commands when filming. 16. Physical propulsion in water.
JAN-FEB 2016 - 25
An Exclusive Four Part Series for Step 12 Magazine onThe Neurobiology of Addiction This series is a basic explanation of exactly what happens to the chemically dependent brain during addiction and how it can be restored to a healthy state of being with recovery. We will be using the latest diagnostic tools available today to demonstrate that to you. The topics we will be telling you about are: Part 1 - Neurobiology of Alcohol Dependence/Use Disorder Part 2 - Neurobiology of Opiate Dependence/Use Disorder Part 3 - Neurobiology of Stimulant Dependence/Use Disorder (Methamphetamine and Cocaine) Part 4 - Neurobiology of Marijuana Dependence/Use Disorder I believe, if you actually know how your brain functions and processes information, and what is going on with the interaction of using chemicals to temporarily change your emotional state, your body and mind, you, can also learn the tools of recovery, and restore your brain and life,
Neurobiology is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as: “A branch of the life sciences that deals with the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system,” but I believe there is so much more to this definition given the nature of the variety of addictions today.
Part 3: The Neurobiology of Methamphetamine Dependence Stimulants such as amphetamines, methamphetamines and cocaine have an extremely high propensity for abuse and addiction. Users can readily develop an accumulated tolerance to the euphoric effects of stimulants. This often necessitates users taking higher doses and engaging in increasingly experimental and dangerous means of ingesting these powerful substances, in order to avert withdrawal symptoms. This cycle can quickly spiral into long-term psychostimulant addiction. Methamphetamine addiction is characterized by chronic cravings, compulsive drug seeking behaviors, relapses and molecular changes in the brain that can dramatically impair neurological functioning. Methamphetamine is known to stay longer in the circulation than cocaine and produce bigger changes in the pleasure centers of the brain compared to amphetamines (Adderall, Ritalin) and cocaine resulting in lasting problems. Chronic methamphetamine abuse can diminish the user’s ability to experience pleasure outside of getting high, further perpetuating dependency. It is not uncommon for users to exhibit substantial anxiety, insomnia, mood disorders, displays of violence, psychosis characterized by paranoia, hallucinations and delusions (e.g.: sensation of insects creeping under the skin . Withdrawal symptoms can be particularly daunting and are often punctuated with depression, lethargy, anxiety/ panic attacks and severe cravings for the drug. Stressful experiences have been known to precipitate psychotic symptoms in those with previous history of psychotic symptoms. These symptoms can sometimes last several years and become resistant to conventional antipsychotic medications. Studies have demonstrated a higher risk of stroke and Parkinson’s disease with chronic use of methamphetamine. These symptoms reflect significant molecular changes in the brain that can have lasting effects if the underlying addiction is not proactively and expediently addressed. Physical effects including weight loss, dental changes and skin sores due to skin picking are not
26 - JAN-FEB 2016
uncommon complications of methamphetamine dependence. All of these factors make recovery from methamphetamine dependence an urgent call for action. Through neuroimaging, researchers have been able to correlate chronic methamphetamine use to alterations in the dopamine centers of the brain In the following image from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, dramatic differences can be seen when contrasting healthy, methamphetamine addicted and recovering brains. As highlighted in the image, the striatum (a brain region associated with movement and memory) is significantly impacted by methamphetamine abuse, which impairs the binding of dopamine to dopamine transporters. With prolonged abstinence (14 months) dopamine transporters in this area can be restored. Methamphetamine abuse is also known to affect excessive
Recovery of Brain Dopamine Transporters in Chronic Methamphetamine Abusers microglial cell activity in the brain. These are support cells that serve to defend against foreign invaders and remove damaged nerve cells. When these glial cells are hyperactive; they can cause severe damage to the nerve which compose
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SUNDERstanding (Continued from Page 26)
Are you okay? If not, ask yourself these questions
the brain. Imaging studies found that microglial cells were nearly doubled in the brains of meth addicts versus the brains of healthy individuals. This is a plausible explanation for why methamphetamines are associated with toxic effects in the brain. Further, a protective protein called the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is found at lower levels in chronic users. Those suffering from this gripping form of addiction need not lose heart, as these studies all point out patterns of reversibility with these neurobiological side effects. With prolonged abstinence and comprehensive intensive programs involving behavioral treatments, targeted brain supplementation and treatment of psychiatric disorders, both motor function and memory impairments have been shown to vastly improve, along with microglial cell activity reverting back to near normal levels in recovering addicts who had been clean from thirty days to several years or more. The sooner a person relieves their brain of these stressors, the quicker they can begin the healing process towards neurobiological wellness and an enhanced quality of life. ÂŠ Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished Physician with extensive experience as a clinician, researcher, administrator, teacher, lecturer and writer. In Feb 2013, he was invited to join the Editorial Team of the prestigious Journal of Addiction Therapy and Research. He is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. Dr. Sunder currently serves as Medical Director for the Mind & Body Treatment and Research Institute and Brisas IOP in Riverside, California and Principal Investigator for CNS Clinical Trials at Clinical Innovations in Riverside, California. You can follow Dr. Sunder at www. asoundmindandbody.com and mbtrins.com or reach him at DrKeerthy@mbtrins.com
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Realities of the Addicted Family
by Susan Jackson
Understanding the Seven Realities Did you know that there are Seven Realities that can have a powerful influence on your daily life? Growing up in an addicted or chaotic family environment can cause specific realities that often affect each member of the family in negative ways. One of the realities (the sixth reality), is the Family Scrimmage. The actual definition of the word scrimmage originated in England in the late 1400s and means, “a rough and vigorous struggle that can lead to a bloody battle.” People who have grown up in an addictive family understand that rough and vigorous struggle which, unfortunately can become the bloody battle. Scrimmage accurately describes the addicted family. Unlike a regular team scrimmage where the rules are understood, the addictive family rules are assumed silently by addictive gestures because these assumed rules force family members into specific team positions. For instance, an assumed rule in the addictive family is each member of the family must take a side, either with the alcoholic or codependent, then choose offense or defense for the day. The addict or alcoholic determines these rules by emotionally inflicting their addiction onto family members with angry facial expressions and unpredictable behavior. This behavior can often be abusive, emotionally, physically or otherwise. Over time, as the disease of addiction progresses, the assumed family rules progress becoming rigid and unrelenting. Living with these rigid and unrelenting rules eventually becomes uncomfortably familiar. Symptoms of depression, anxiety and rage emerge. The assumed rules are uncompromising, they cause a fathomless level of emotional pain, which cripples the emotional development of each and every member of the family. The emotional pain which comes from living with addiction often poisons their reality. The family system becomes unhealthy. Everything in the family member’s life becomes characterized by incongruence: incongruence between one’s thoughts and feelings, feelings and actions, behavior and values. Each individual remains in a state of confusion. Unlike the healthy family which is typically congruent in these areas, the addictive family is often perplexed about their emotions, mental status, and spirituality. Adjusting to living with uncomfortably familiar relentless and rigid rules, almost anything they experience is incongruent with how they feel. Feeling miserable and usually unaware of the depth of their misery, the family’s condition turns grave. It is what I refer to as Grave Incongruence (the 4th reality), and each member of the family endures it.
This is just an introduction to the seven realities of the addictive family, the family scrimmage and the powerful effects they have on us as individuals and as a family. I have worked 28 years with the addictive family and have observed the destructive pain addiction inflicts on each family member and how impacting these realities are on children. Over the next few issues we will explore all of the realities which includes: (1) Pathos, emotional suffering, (2) Synchronized Pathos, the family suffers together, (3) Addictive Family Secrets are Abstruse, that which so hidden it becomes the “secret’s secret,” (4) The Grave Incongruence, a serious state of unequal being, (5) The Wrath Experience, the seeking for revenge, (6) The Daily Family Scrimmage, rough and vigorous battle, and (7) Profound Coherence, an understanding that occurs when the secrets are exposed and the shame vanishes. Everything fits. You will learn how these realities distort and alter decision making. You will also understand how each reality impacts your daily life and close relationships. Of course, the ultimate goal is Profound Coherence (the 7th reality), which makes exploring the Seven Realities of the Family Scrimmage a true journey to recovery.
© Susan Jackson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, and Clinical Director for New Creation Healthcare Foundation/His House. Susan has contributed to the field of addiction, as distinguished Clinician, Clinical Supervisor, Director, and Author for over 28 years. She began her career working for the City of Chino, as a Gang Interventionist, Domestic Violence Counselor, and Prevention Specialist. Susan’s dedication and experience working with adolescents with substance use disorders, and their afflicted families, led her to Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center, where she became the Family Therapist on the Chemical Dependency Unit.
28 - JAN-FEB 2016
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“The truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago. What they lost on December 3rd was hope.“ - Mary Forsberg Weiland
In December, the world mourned Scott Weiland, who was best known as the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots from 1989 to 2013, and Velvet Revolver from 2003 to 2008. Scott was a man who had everything to live for, and the tradegy of his death is a grim reminder that the rest of us do too. It makes no difference if we are rock stars, movie legends, builders, artists, accountants, or bag ladies who roam the streets anonymously. We are all valuable to society, and we all have something precious to live for. When someone famous dies, the world mourns, regardless of the circumstances of their death, glorifying the “rock star life“ and it’s apparent inevitability. However, there is nothing glorious about abusing your body until it gives up on you. What is truly glorious is hanging onto hope and living, one day at a time, a true and fulfilling life.
Resources for Families Naranon Family Groups http://www.nar-anon.org/ Alanon Family Groups http://al-anon.org/ CODA for Co-dependents http://coda.org/ NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) http://www.drugabuse.gov/ Drugfree.org http://www.drugfree.org/ Ask The Judge (answers for teens about the law) http://www.askthejudge.info/ TheFix.com https://www.thefix.com/ Addiction Inbox http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/ Pathway to Prevention (teen use and abuse stops here) http://www.pathwaytoprevention.org/ CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) https://www.robertjmeyersphd.com/index.html GRASP (Grief support for those who have lost someone to addiction) http://grasphelp.org/ Camp Mariposa (For children who have addiction in the family) http://www.moyerfoundation.org/campmariposa Recovery Research Institute http://www.recoveryanswers.org/ The McAlister Institute (low cost/no cost treatment services) http://www.mcalisterinc.org/ Resource List from Denise Krochta at Addicts Family Lifeline, Inc.
JAN-FEB 2016 - 29
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OUR AWESOME
READERS THANK YOU
Please send your contributions to: email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you. The Method by Wes Chadsey “I want to say fuck your rules-----But I am learning I must use … MY BETTER TOOLS. I won’t be made a fool. Stay clear---duck, and RUN. …Not even the sweetest whisper of a beer in your little ear. OR you will be done. Live in the now and here And never forget where you came from And keep up with this run. …For your story is never at an end... You MUST learn how to bend your own rules, and make those amends. They say it gets easier as you go, but when will it be the day? I can’t be left at that bay, from which I was slowly sinking in. Knowing this life now, I feel so dumb for letting myself become so numb. But…THY WILL BE DONE. I am ready to fight for my life. The Sun is in my eyes and if I don’t learn how to rely on the Son, I will forever be done.
I Miss You, Dad by Roni Askey-Doran I saw you today. We talked. And you looked at me With the eyes of a stranger. I’m the baby you held When you came back from war. I’m the little girl who stood on your boots and we danced. I’m the wild teenager who drove you crazy and kept you awake at night. I’m the woman you walked down the aisle. And yet, when you look at me, I’m nobody. I miss you, Dad. I miss the man who taught me to fish and ride a bike. I miss that guy who both inspired and frightened me. And yet, you haven’t gone anywhere. You’re here. You’re with us. But you’re also gone. My heart is shattered, unrepairable. I mourn a man with a heartbeat. All that is left are my memories Of a superman, ten-feet tall and bulletproof Who knew everything there was to know And who could do anything. I miss you, Dad. I love you. In each of the million pieces of my heart It is the love that will never be lost.
30 - JAN-FEB 2016
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A Synopsis of Fun in Sobriety By Lyn P. Unity Hall, Sun City
Fade-in. Wax my surfboard, gear up, paddle out, catch the wild, wooly waves, kooky style. Jog anywhere, play penny poker, take local road trips, write, play water volleyball, cook nutritious food, but eat take-out once in a while. Work out at the gym, swim, float round and round in the jacuzzi. Write and mail three thank you cards per day. Do the mani-pedi thing, visit my chiropractor, indulge in a relaxing massage, throw a small, potluck dinner party. Take a course in calligraphy, bake cupcakes, organize my office, attend free community events, snow ski, partake in a Trivia battle. Help my friends with tedious tasks, read a novel, go to a Padre’s baseball game with my 19 year-old son in his BIG, gonzo truck. Cruise wine country roads, taking photos of the scenic landscape. Ride along with the Menifee Fire Department, brainstorm with other scriptwriters, take random photos of people, places and things. Create storyboards and make a short movie with video footage. Sign up for courses related to nursing or real estate, replace a tail lamp on my car, repair the refrigerator condenser fan (oh, wait, that wasn’t fun), take a small child to the park: swing high and jump off; belly slide; race to each play set. Get my butt kicked in paintball (I giggle when I’m hiding). Rearrange the furniture. Color my gray hair brown. Smile warmly at everyone I encounter just to see what happens. Pick up three pieces of trash per day (or more), take Roxy Girl Doggie on a run with me in the back-forty, ride my bike all over town. Sincerely acknowledge those people by name who serve me (it’s usually on their name tag). Volunteer for a community effort, attend chamber mixers and city council meetings, pray, meditate, hold the door open for someone approaching behind.
Listen, speak kindly and eloquently, laugh at myself, make hot chocolate, share a box of fresh pastries, learn something new every day (Aboriginal Australians is a term coined by Britain when they colonized Australia in 1788. It refers to the original inhabitants of the continent). Eat a polish dog at Costco while observing peeps. Walk around a mall in cushy shoes and window shop. Seek to understand a complicated dilemma. Remain open to simple solutions. Watch funny shows late at night (Duck Dynasty, The Office, My Name is Earl). Crank up my headset and play air guitar with Ted Nugent, Van Halen and The Scorpions. Write. Secretly order and pay for a pizza delivery for a neighbor. Dance, hop, skip and jump (gingerly, so I won’t dislocate arthritic joints). Sing really loudly to uplifting music playing in my car. When stuck in a traffic gridlock, call any 1-800-How-Am-I-Driving phone number posted on the back of commercial vehicle to pitch a compliment about the driver. Wouldn’t you agree that your own list of fun things to do in sobriety, individually and collectively, in town and out, during the day or the night, planned or impromptu, is inexhaustible and vastly unique, just like you? Go ahead, take a new friend to a meeting and make the coffee. Help a member move, type a handwritten letter and create a phone list. Go to an AA conference or to an out-of-town meeting. Shop on-line for fancy birthday chips. Visit a member in the hospital, babysit the kids, make random phone calls of good cheer to peeps the phone list. Happy New Year and Valentine’s Day. Fade-out.
JAN-FEB 2016 - 31
ang h W e n Suzan
What a WHANGderful World! Stopping to Smell the Carousel
For decades, the people around me suggested that I meditate. And I would bite their heads off. First of all, I don’t like unsolicited advice. Secondly, meditating seemed like the most boring thing in the world. Stay still, close my eyes, count my breaths? You’ve gotta be freakin’ kidding me. I was impatient and fidgety. There’s no way I would be able to do that for more than a few seconds. Plus, they didn’t understand how busy I was, saving the world. Being all things to all people. I used to sleep about 3 hours a night, and rush around doing more in one day than most people do in a week. I ate fast food in order to not waste time, or sometimes I would completely forget to eat. I rarely drank water. I didn’t exercise. And I often said “yes” when I meant “no”. Then a healer friend of mine said to me, “Suzanne, we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.” I wanted to punch her in the face. I had been living my life as if when I got to heaven, the guardian at the gate would say, “Congratulations. You DID more THINGS than any other human being! You get an A+!” In 2006 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was forced to slow down. I had ignored the gentle whispers from friends that I should take better care of myself. The universe had gone from tapping me on the shoulder, to nudging me, to poking me, and nothing had worked. I had to be slammed to the ground and be physically incapacitated in order to get the lesson. I finally decided to try meditating. I was told that there were many different ways of meditating. I could meditate sitting down or lying down. I could open my eyes or close my eyes. I could meditate in silence, or to music, or try a guided meditation. And someone said I could even do it while walking. A walking meditation? What’s that? Sounds way better than all that other crap. I was told that a walking meditation is simply meditating while walking, ideally outside. I would just slowly walk around my neighborhood, with no goal other than experiencing the world with all of my senses, and basking in the beauty of nature. I would focus on breathing deeply and slowly, while enjoying the sights, sounds, smells, and textures that I encounter. Looking at the world with childlike awe and wonder. Receiving the glorious miracles of my surroundings. One day I was doing a walking meditation outside in a beautiful neighborhood in Los Angeles. On this particular day, I encountered a flower on a vine that enveloped a fence in front of someone’s house. The flower was so magnificent, my jaw literally dropped. I truly could not believe that it was real. I must have stared at it for ten minutes.
People walking or driving by probably thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care. The flower looked like a multi-tiered, multicolored carousel! It was periwinkle, chartreuse, tangerine, white and black. It looked like it was an elaborate contraption, meant to be in motion, with each level moving in a different direction. Then I wanted to know what it smelled like, so I took a deep whiff. It was an olfactory blissgasm. Fruity and tangy. I gently caressed the flower, curious to have a tactile experience of it as well. I was completely astonished and enthralled with its beauty. When I got home from the meditation, I did some online research to find out what this extraordinary flower was called. Turns out it’s called a PASSION fruit flower. How appropriate! It grows on a vine, and it also bears delicious fruit. I’m so glad that I was walking slowly enough to both notice it and appreciate it. In my 12-step experience, slowing down, relaxing, having fun, and enjoying the journey have been crucial to my recovery. I now understand why we are called human BE-ings. Miracles are everywhere. I used to zoom past them. But now I savor the present moment, and I do my best to taste every drop. Oh, and by the way, I’m cancer-free.
© Suzanne Whang is best known as the host of HGTV’s #1 show, House Hunters, for almost a decade. She also co-hosted Bloopers with Dick Clark on NBC, and FOX After Breakfast with Tom Bergeron. Suzanne played Polly on NBC’s Las Vegas for four seasons, and she’s a double award-winning stand-up comedian. She’s a published author, keynote speaker, teacher, coach, political activist, metaphysical minister, and stage-four breast cancer thriver. Suzanne has a B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, and a Masters in Cognitive Psychology from Brown University. She’s currently starring in the sitcom From Here On Out (Here TV), recurring on the new DirecTV series Kingdom, and starring in the upcoming feature film, Dinner with the Stankershets. Suzanne just shot a role on the new CBS sitcom Angel from Hell, starring Jane Lynch.
32 - JAN-FEB 2016
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My Appeal Was Turned Down? Ogden, Utah Dear Petra: So I was turned down on my appeal for Solvadi and Daklinza because I have Cirrhosis. Does anyone know what you can do when you Ins won’t get these meds. I have gone through two requests and one appeal. No way can I afford this. Dear Appealer: This is one of the toughest questions for me to answer. In fact, it makes me sick to my stomach. Just know that there are “forces” working to remove the dispicable “qualification process” for ALL patients to recieve treatment. Please do not lose hope and take good care of yourself until we work TOGETHER to change this process. I was turned down for Treatment? Surrey, BC Dear Petra: I was diagnosed about five years ago, and told to wait for the new treatments, which I did. I have been waiting for updates and a fibroscan for almost two years now. Yesterday the hammer cam down, and I quote, “You don’t have any scarring or inflammation of the liver, so you do not qualify for the treatment.” My doctor who is the Head of the Hepatitis C unit in my city also told me that I could have a couple of drinks. Dear Please Don’t Drink: You are a personal friend of mine, and I have lost many of you to this terrible PANDEMIC disease. I also know the “monster” who calls himself a doctor, whom you have been seeing. I have had run-ins with him in the past and he told me he “does not deal with Hepatitis C” when I invited him to a World Hepatitis Day event. A year later I was informed that he is heading the Hep C unit. NO DOCTOR on this planet should tell a Hep C patient that drinking alcohol is okay. I pray that you follow your own instincts on this. Alcohol makes the Hep C virus clone itself millions of times faster than it already does. If patients were treated (even with the old interferon) within a year of contracting the disease, they would see a 99.7% success rate! The sooner the virus is treated the better the outcome. It makes me sick that they are waiting until the liver is severely damaged first. This is damage that can never be undone. Can my Toothbrush Reinfect Me? Lisbon, Portugal Dear Petra: When should I change toothbrush ect when on HCV treatment? Since I don’t know exactly when/if I clear, how would I go about making sure I don’t reinfect myself? Example: I change my toothbrush tommorow, but if I still have the virus can I reinfect myself? Should I use a new brush everyday for the next 4-7 months? Dear Toothbrusher: I often thought about this as well when I was undergoing treatment. Even to this day, I even think about how the toothpaste touches my toothbrush...and should IT be shared or reused? I would suggest changing it once a week...you can get them cheap at a dollar store these days. ATTENTION DEAR READERS... My colleagues and I have been working on a platform that translates in all languages globally in real time (after we receive funding). It connects doctors and scientists and NGO’s to patients and caregivers and to one another. We pray in time that it will help raise awareness and education and ERADICATE the STIGMA! Please do your part and sign up today! www.HepTalk.org © 2016 Petra aka Petrabilities is a Mental Health Counselor, Clinical Hypnotherapist, and CEO of
Hepatitis C Global Initiatives. Being an expert in her field, Petra is here to answer all your questions and concerns related to living with Hep-C. This is not a medical advice column. Please send your questions via the contact form at www.Petrabilities.com
34 - JAN-FEB 2016
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Fun. In. Recovery. My intelligent editor broke our unwritten rule. The loosely agreed upon instructions include her tossing me one word, a theme each month for this magazine and then I spin a spiel of wisdom about her idea. So far, it’s worked. Then, this happened. Three words. Ordinarily, I would simply step up (This magazine is called “Step 12”, after all) and earn my writer’s badge by conquering the challenge. But, these three words? They don’t belong together. Fun? Recovery? In? Those three words don’t go in the same sentence. Do they? I had to think about it. My brain blew up. Fun. In. Recovery. How could I possibly find the bond between those non-sequiturs? Recovery isn’t fun. In recovery, the only fun is imaginary, right? Time to imagine some fun …. Firstly, in recovery, we live. That’s fun. We breathe cleanly, maybe for the first time in decades. That’s fun too. We make new friends, who share our stories – fun. The search begins for new things to do, to replace our former activities. (And I use that term lightly.) Fun. Colors appear more vivid. We actually arise before the colors of days disappear. Smiles sneak up where previously joy was annihilated. We notice. That’s the fun. Walking our pets is joyful rather than a chore full of obligation. Better food choices mean better bodies. Fun. Exercise is fun! It is, right? Maybe if we don’t call it “exercise”, but sports. Yeah, sports is better. Everything is better, but we don’t notice until we try. Are we having fun yet?
By Lori Nelson
Our families reconnect. Our spiritual search begins or accelerates. We become employable. (Wait … that doesn’t necessarily qualify as “fun”.) We explore. Hobbies reconnect our childhood dreams with our current fantasies. Recovery is a terrain that deserves exploration and introspective reflection. We notice what we previously missed. Fun. Fun. It’s the discovery of what IS fun, I decide. Previously, we existed the best way we could. We did what we did, knew what we knew, struggled to survive in the only ways we could. We kept our issues hidden; we hid the best parts of our personalities, because we couldn’t cope with ourselves. We’re not different people in recovery, but we feel differently. We discover or uncover what always lay buried beneath, inside our scared souls. We feel the scars thicken with defense as we push through our pain to surface again and again until it feels natural and – well, Fun! There it is! I found it! Fun in Recovery. The words fit together. The idea is that “fun” is natural. Until our natural selves emerge from the cocoon of commotion, the chaos caused by self-abasement and other abuse, we can only imagine fun as a peripheral pursuit. It’s what other people do, not us. Knowledge is the most fun of all. But knowledge is useless without implementation. So now that I know there is fun in recovery, I’m going to go have some. FUN.
© Lori Nelson is an author, speaker, educator, and an international “edu-tainer” aboard cruise ships. She occasionally blogs (rants, really) at anotherloristory. blogspot.com. You can find Lori on Facebook. Her book, Torture: Broken Foot, Shattered Soul, is available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or email Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lori lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Twelve Songs Workbook
Experience the Twelve Steps through Music! The Twelve Songs CD has been out for years and has already proven to be a success in helping people hear the message of recovery through music. The workbook is a one of a kind music study that enhances the recovery experience on an individual basis through music and reflection. The workbook makes it easier to have conversations about the principles of The twelve steps. Each page includes the lyrics, a picture and a series of questions that relate to the corresponding song (and step). This workbook is a great way to experience the steps through music and is currently being used in residential treatment centers and IOPs with great success. It can also be used at retreats, seminars, sponsorship or individual study.
Please check out sobrietysongs.com for special package offers or you can contact Mary Lyn B. personally through the website. This is an exciting, fun and affordable new way to enjoy recovery.
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“Take care of the employees and they’ll take care of the customers.” at Affinity Detox is remarkable. The staff They are happy, caring, and effective. It is a pleasure and an honor to work at Affinity Detox and only the best of the best are hired. The respect and appreciation shown to the staff is reflected in the way clients are treated.
Detox is the first action a person takes after making the decision to get help for addiction to drugs or alcohol. The primary focus of Affinity Detox is to facilitate the detoxification process through medically supervised attention to the physical withdrawal. Above and beyond that, they are committed to addressing the emotional needs of their clients. I walked into the Newport Beach detox facility expecting a glum lot. Detox is no picnic. The experience is uncomfortable and emotional. However, at Affinity Detox I found a sense of serenity the moment I walked through the door. The welcoming atmosphere is laced with smiles from the clients and the staff. The ocean view is breathtaking, the crystal clear swimming pool is inviting and the fixtures are modern, clean, and functional. Newport Beach is where the women’s facility is located. The men’s facility is located in San Juan Capistrano. Having gender-specific facilities allows for genderfocused care. Detoxing from drugs/alcohol puts people in a vulnerable state. Affinity detox recognizes that less complication and less drama facilitates a deeper level of healing when people are at their most vulnerable. The average stay at Affinity is 10 days. During that time, clients are treated with respect, compassion and encouragement. It’s a huge step for someone to take — making a commitment to seek help and Affinity is keenly aware of that and devoted to making the transition comfortable and successful. In preparation for continued treatment of the underlying causes that allowed addiction to take hold in a person’s life, Affinity Detox provides the tools necessary to move forward on that journey. There are several group therapy meetings per day in addition to 12-step meetings, yoga, and individualized one-on-one counseling sessions with licensed therapists on staff. It’s the staff that makes Affinity Detox so effective. On the front lines in this journey of recovery, the staff mirrors and reflects the respect shown to them by extending the same to their clients. Behind every successful addictionsurvivor is someone supporting and encouraging them on the path to a better life.
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Finding Joy in Recovery
When I think of having fun in recovery it takes me back to what I thought was fun before recovery. So much has changed over the last 10 years. When I first got sober, I figured my life was over, that I would never have fun or BE fun again. So I’ll take you back to when I was using. I thought I was fun. And being part of the LGBTQ community, I found that the bar had everything I needed. This was before meeting people online was super convenient, and it was in gay bars that I was able to “be myself”. In Los Angeles, I could go into West Hollywood every night of the week and find an 18+ bar. I could let myself go and not have to worry about what anyone thought of my sexuality, or even what I thought about it. I could keep the booze in the car and could manage to go back and forth throughout the night. This was fun for me. I loved the scene so much I made it my lifestyle. At 21, I got a job at the bar and at 22 I learned how to DJ. Everything that I did took place in that scene. I had popularity and prestige in the little gay bar in Santa Cruz, California. Fun happened when I walked in. And if you weren’t having fun or part of this scene I wanted nothing to do with you. I would dance till dawn with the help of cocaine and other club drugs. I would laugh and be merry and nothing could stop me. Until one day when I sat at the bar, having had run through numerous relationships, without my biological family or any family of choice, seeing where the party had taken me. The party and the fun had run out. Over the seven years of working in that bar, the only thing that stayed the same was me and some of the regulars. Everyone else had gone on to do other things. I would sit at the bar and tell everyone what I was going to do someday. How I would go back to school and I would travel the world. I had grandiose ideas of who I was and who I was to become, but the only things I did was sit at the same bar, day after day. In the rooms, I have heard the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. And that was me. I was sitting at the same bar, doing the same thing day in and day out, and nothing was changing. I was blessed to find recovery. I only wanted to “dry out” when I moved to Bozeman in 2005. But to this day I have not had to take a drink or a drug, and I relate that all to being able to find fun in recovery. I was sitting at my first sober party in 2005 thinking, “Is this really my life?” and not in a good way. I was against the wall holding onto a soda with a death grip. I had never been a wallflower. But this was just too much. How was I going to make conversation, laugh, or even dance sober? And I can tell you, that did not happen that night. But little by little I took chances. It started by getting together with like- minded sober individuals to create parties that were actually fun.
After my first NYE party that consisted of two banjoes and some white cake at a local Alano club, I made a pact with myself and the others that we would never have a NYE like that again. So we didn’t. I became the local sober party DJ. It was the way I gave back and did acts of service. I can remember the first party I DJed sober. It was TERRIFYING. And sober people love to quiz you on your music knowledge. Drunk people are so much easier. But you know, the best part of that night, was actually remembering it. Over the years, I have had to create a new sense of fun. An old timer told me that I had to create new memories sober. I had to create new neuropathways in order to stay sober. So that’s what I did. Most everything that I thought was fun drunk or high, I have done sober. Playing pool, bowling, floating, dancing, DJing, comedy shows, doing drag and concerts to name a few. I got into all sorts of sporting things, and I have a closet full of gear to prove it. What’s cool is that I don’t have to like everything I do, but I do get to try it. After working in a gay bar for most of my using career, I have also made a living amend to my community. I have gone out and worked events for non-profit LGBTQ companies. I have raised funds and have made it my passion to help my community. Yes, I have fun in recovery. But what I ultimately get in recovery is joy. The joy I get from helping others and giving back to my community is without compare. Recovery gave me the ability to help my community in a way that I could not do when I was using. Fun for me today has a whole new meaning, a deeper meaning and for that I am grateful.
© Beck Gee-Cohen is the Northeast Outreach Professional for The Refuge in Florida. Beck also teaches addiction and mental health professionals about being better clinicians to the LGBTQ communities. They help many treatment institutions understand the Transgender population by training facilities and answering questions that facilities have to be better and more inclusive
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The Question of
Ever since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (or manic depression as it was known way back in the dark ages of mental illness diagnoses) I’ve been running as fast as my fat little legs would carry me in the opposite direction of all kinds of prescribed chemical treatments. From Zoloft and Prozac to a massive range of other unpronounceable moodaltering concoctions that medical and psychiatric professionals were only too happy to prescribe faster than my lovely round bottom could settle into their comfy sofa chairs, the scariest of all was Lithium. It’s an alkali metal said to increase the synthesis of serotonin and decrease the release of noradrenaline and is somehow designed to make my loopy, messed up brain happier. One aspect of my bipolarity that has never been taken into consideration by anyone is that my attitude to these totally zombifying treatments is at the pole opposite of professional attitudes to treatment, making the entire treatment concept a bipolar one, and not just an unwelcome illness residing inside my own twisted mind. An addled brain filled with introduced heavy metals (not counting Iron Maiden and Metallica) was never one of my highest goals in life. However, recently I had an experience that caused me to pause and think about the idea of lithium as a viable solution for a moment longer. Maybe, just maybe, lithium isn’t so bad as a treatment for my Bipolar Disorder, after all. People who know me well at this point will be asking, “Where is the real Roni, and what have you done with her body?” It’s true that I’m not the kind of person who would double back on my own convictions and give up a lifelong battle just like that. You don’t fight against something with full claws out for so long just to prance daintily up to the chopping block like a lamb to slaughter, ready to be converted into neat little chops shaped by the hands of others. But this has now become a perspective issue. Maybe, for all these depressionriddled moody rollercoaster-riding years, I’ve been looking at the whole Lithium Question from the wrong angle. On a trip back home from home – which takes me half way around the globe and all the way across the Pacific Ocean (twice) – while staying with some friends in Los Angeles, I visited a local adult shop to replace my big-girl version of Buzz Lightyear. The old one had thrown in the towel many months previously and fun toys like that are not so readily available out in the boonies of South America. In fact, adult stores in Latin America are as rare as men who don’t urinate in the streets. Culturally speaking, women are supposed to hook up with aforementioned men (and be happy about it!). Ugh! Give me a latex lover over a Latin lover any day.
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by Roni Askey-Doran
While I was in the store, the friendly salesgirl pointed out a few different multi-speed models based on my specifications and then proudly announced with a big smile, “These ones run on lithium batteries. You’ll get a lot more happy miles out of them!” Really? A light bulb popped over my head. Lithium. To treat bipolar depression. OF COURSE! If all those therapists had been prescribing this kind of lithium as medication, instead of trying to convince me to fill my body internally with toxic metals, I probably wouldn’t have fled quite so quickly. It couldn’t be simpler, could it? Buzzing myself to bliss, a couple of well-chosen lithium batterypowered appliances have the potential to make a world of difference to how I’m feeling. Buzz Lightyear Mark II was an instant hit. Oh yeah! He made me very happy! In fact, if he hadn’t been powered by lithium, he’d probably have melted from exhaustion with dead double As and burned out pinions (just like the last one). Then of course, lithium has a multitude of other uses to whip my bipolarity back into its place. I mean, one does have to get out and about from time to time, breathe fresh air, feel the sun on one’s skin, listen to waves break on the beach. Armed with a lithium battery-powered camera, I can now go outside the house and feel good too. I love to take photos. Here’s the thing: over the years, I have found that doing things I enjoy helps me to feel good. Taking photos is great fun! Then, there’s the lithium-powered cordless drill option. My inner-carpenter can buzz her way to bliss with her clothes on and make home improvements at the same time. Apparently, there are even cars and motorbikes that run on lithium. I love to drive, it’s relaxing. What better way to beat Bipolar Disorder than to whack in some lithium and rev it up? The choices are unlimited! All kinds of gadgets and toys run on lithium these days. Things have changed a bit since the dark ages. My attitude to lithium has changed too. When applied externally, I see great potential for lithium not only as a remedy for Bipolar Disorder, but for all kinds of ills that plague modern society. De-stress with lithium! Admittedly, I have not done any personal studies on the side effects of externally administered lithium treatments – and since I’m the only subject at this point in time, I doubt any recorded results would be considered objective or conclusive. However, from my experience, I can say that lithium has certainly made a difference to my mood swings and levels of happiness. It’s just probably not quite what all those therapists I’ve seen over the years were expecting me to do. So, I’m off… to Al’s Toy Barn… and beyond…. Excerpted from I’m Bipolar And I Know It! It Works Out Available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0975760068
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Experience, Strength & Hope Awards Honoring
author of High on Arrival This year’s honoree is ac singer, author and rec tor, overy advocate, Mackenzie Phillips. Best known for he roles in American Graffi r ti and the sitcom One Da y a Time, and last year’s at film, Girl on the Edge. High on Arrival is her moving an d inspiring memoir.
. Host: Ed Begley, Jr dden o B o z n lo A , n ia d e Com TBA s t s e u G l ia c e p S s Plu 16 ry Tuesday, Februa
ultural Cengetelers, CA 90049 Skirball Ced a Blvd., Los An 2701 N. Sepulv
Ed Begley, Jr.
tion: 5:30 p e c e R g in rk o tw e Catered N M Show: 7:30-9:00 P
Previous Recipients: Christopher Kennedy Lawford • Lou Gossett, Jr. • Buzz Aldrin • John Taylor, Duran Duran • Carrie White • Joe Pantoliano Previous Participants: Dr. Gabor Maté, Joanna Cassidy, Tony Denison, Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Lundholm, Sharon Lawrence, Bobcat Goldthwait, Jack McGee, Mackenzie Phillips, Ione Skye, Danny Trejo, Dan Fante
Tickets: $75 • For Information: (818) 762-0461 www.step12magazine.com
JAN-FEB 2016 - 39
Coping With an Alcoholic Parent Breaking the Cycle If your mom or dad is an alcoholic, you already know how difficult that is to explain to anyone else. You wonder why your parent can’t be normal. Why can’t they show up to every game or school event? When they do show up, you worry that they’ll embarrass you - none of your friend’s parents slur their words or get loud and argumentative. You think you’re the only one. Every other kid goes home to a cleaner house with dinner on the table, rather than the weird chaos that always surrounds your family. The truth is that no one’s life is “normal.” Everyone has oddities in their family they worry about. Everyone has problems. But that knowledge doesn’t do a lot of good when you feel like no one understands you. In fact, you often feel like your parent’s alcoholism makes them, and you, not as good as anyone else. These are hard feelings to get past. And they’re not true. The feelings of “less than” are negative self-talk that just don’t hold true in reality. They’re also the same kind of negative self-image that goes hand in hand with addiction.
admit they have a problem and, even when they do, they may not be able to fix the issue. For you, the solution may seem easy - just stop drinking! Your emotions on this might range from fear and embarrassment to complete rage. And you have every right to feel how you feel. A parent is supposed to put your needs before their own and alcoholics usually can’t. Their need to drink often looks like selfishness. You learn not to count on them and go without because they didn’t take care of things most parents would. While your feelings are all valid, what you need to understand is that an alcoholic doesn’t love any less than someone who isn’t dependent. Their inability to do what you need doesn’t say anything negative about you. They love you in the best way they can and their lack of showing they care doesn’t make you unworthy of love. They may be so dependent that they literally can’t stop drinking because their body needs the alcohol. If they’re severely addicted, quitting will lead to physical withdrawal that can be dangerous. Some alcoholics have mood swings or temper problems while drinking. They also might be moody when they’re trying not to drink. Many alcoholics also suffer from other problems, such as depression - these dual situations can be very difficult for the addict and their family because the mental issues increase the alcoholism symptoms and the substances increase the symptoms of depression making a very dark cycle to withstand.
You’re Not Bob The Builder - You Can’t Fix This “Can we fix it?” No, you can’t. Most children of alcoholics wonder how they can fix the situation. How do you get them to quit drinking? How do you get them to be happy without the alcohol? The short answer is that you can’t. No one can make an alcoholic quit drinking. They need to make this decision on their own and forcing an alcoholic to seek treatment will not work unless they are willing to quit. That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk with them about the issue. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek guidance from people who can help. What it means is that you cannot take responsibility for their decisions. You can’t feel guilty because you didn’t get them enough help or make them quit. Those things are largely out of your control.
Comprehension: It’s Not Just Something They Measure On Standardized Tests
From Coping to Hoping
So, what can you do to cope? What can you do to make your life hopeful, even though your parent’s life might be spiraling Understanding your parent’s addiction can be your strongest out of control? While you can’t control what other people asset - it will help you to remove the guilt and negative self- do, you can take control over your own decisions and your talk. It can also help you avoid walking in their path. reactions to your parent’s issues. Here are some methods you Alcohol addiction takes many forms. A lot of people don’t can use to help you cope with your parent’s addiction.
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Teen Corner (Continued from page 40) 1. Talk to someone. It’s important that you have a support system - someone you can trust and be honest with. Whether this person is a friend, family member or teacher at school. Pick a supportive person who can give you sound advice when things get hard. 2. Join a support group. Alateen is an excellent group for teens and children of alcoholics. Whether or not your parent goes for treatment, you can still join a group that will help you deal with the addiction. Groups such as these will let you talk with other kids your age going through the same issues. 3. Education. Take some time to read and learn about alcoholism. The more you understand about the disease, the more clearly you can deal with its impact on your life and the better prepared you’ll be to avoid suffering from it down the road. Alcoholism often runs in families. Having a parent who is an alcoholic puts you more at risk for developing the problem. This doesn’t mean that you’re destined to have a drinking problem. What it does mean is that you should become familiar with the triggers and find healthy alternatives to build a better life for yourself. © Mendi Baron, LCSW, is the founder and CEO of Evolve Treatment Centers, a treatment Center for teens struggling with mental health and addiction issues, based in Southern California. A passionate advocate for teens in the field of mental health and addiction, Mendi is a go-to expert to start the conversation on critical issues that impact teens and their families. For more information go to www.evolvetreatment.com or email Mendi at Mendib@evolvetreatment.com.
Overeaters Anonymous Birthday Party Weekend Celebration Celebrating 56 Years
Join 100’s of people from across the United States, Canada, and around the Globe for a weekend of recovery and fellowship.
When: January 15-17, 2016
(Program Begins at 3:00pm on Friday) Where: LAX Hilton 5711 West Century Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90045
You can’t do this alone,
YOU NEED HELP!
This applies to both the family and the individual suffering from substance abuse issues.
We’re Here To Help
Day and Evening Outpatient Intervention Services Structured Sober Living Rehab Alternatives Drug Testing Counseling Court Approved
Register online ASAP at: register.oabirthday.com Weekend Highlights
Panels Workshops Marathon Meetings Sober Eating Body Image Meet/Greet Sessions
Meditation On-Site Shopping Boutique OA History Room Entertainment and MORE
JAN-FEB 2016 - 41
Angels Surround Us by Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis My head swirled with the Why? Why would someone try to kill us, I wondered? Maybe it was just a coincidence. I never found out the why or who of the situation. I do know that the angels given charge over us were diligent to take us to safety. The man that stopped was kind enough to drive the car off the hillside to safety on the shoulder of the road We had completed half our journey and were anxious while his wife continued to console my daughter and to arrive home later that evening. My daughter had just me. She continued to express her gratitude and disbelief finished an interview and we were exhausted. Bogie, our that we lived through the experience and were totally untouched. little Maltese puppy, was sleeping in the backseat. Suddenly without warning the car in front of us slammed on its brakes and came to a screeching halt. This was a four lane highway traveling west with a guard rail and fencing separating the four lanes traveling east. The passenger’s side of the car was flanked by a deep ravine devoid of guard rail.
After gaining our composure, we continued our travels deciding to alter our plans and stop for the night. Bogie was still asleep in the backseat as if nothing had happened.
As I reflected on the scene and the car spinning out of control, I remembered thinking it was as if some force My daughter was driving and did her best to stop, had lifted our car off the road and gently set it to rest on slamming on the brakes. Our car started spinning the bank of the road. It had to be angels surrounding us. uncontrollably around and around as we faced the on coming traffic. I believed that I was going to meet the How many times have we escaped danger that we are Lord. I started praying that it was OK and that I was not even aware of? How many times has our Higher ready to come home, but I begged, “Please spare my Power provided protection that we are not even aware of? I think when we get to heaven the knowledge of daughter.” those times will fill our hearts with admiration for a All of this took place while the car continued to spin in loving Savior that leads, guides, and protects… many slow motion, barely missing the oncoming cars as my times without us even knowing it. Praise God. daughter screamed and struggled to get the car under control. Finally the car came to rest. It was hanging on the hill and tottering over a deep ravine, the drivers side up in the air and the passengers side pressed against the hill. It seemed that any movement could cause the car to roll down the hill into the ravine. Slowly we exited the car on the driver’s side to be met by a man and his wife that had witnessed the entire ordeal and had stopped to help. They could not believe that we escaped unharmed, without a scratch on either of us or the car. They had witnessed the vehicle that stopped in front of us and said that they saw absolutely no reason for the car in front to have stopped. They further stated that as soon as our car started spinning out of control, the stopped car sped away with tires squealing. The whole ordeal seemed to have been planned … not an accident at all.
© Rev. Carrol graduated from Furman University, ordained in 1975. Honored in Who’s Who, Dr. Phyllis E. graduated from the Union Institute. Davis & Davis were awarded the Christian Authors Award for “Stop the Violence Seven Stages to Sanctify.” Participants give the book, “Journey of the Soul Cracked Pots and Broken Vessels,” and workshops five star reviews as they journey to resolve challenges of living life in a fallen world. www.thejourneypathwaystohealing.net
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Humor Page Q: What did the Letter say to the envelope? A: I’ll keep you posted! Q: What has a face and two hands but no body? A: A clock Q: If you have me, you want to share me. If you share me, you haven’t got me. What am I? A: A secret Q: Did you hear the joke about the Toilet? A: Never mind... its too dirty! Q: Why was the swordfish’s nose 11 inches long? A: Because if it was 12 inches it would be a foot! Q: What word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? A: “short” Q: What is bigger than you but doesn’t weigh anything? A: Your shadow
Q: What did the duck say when he bought the lipstick? A: “Put it on my bill” Q: How much dirt is there in a hole that measures three feet by four feet by two feet? A: There is no dirt in a hole. Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Officer asks a young engineer fresh out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “And what starting salary are you looking for?” The engineer replies, “In the region of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.” The interviewer inquires, “Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?” The engineer sits up straight and says, “Wow! Are you kidding?” The interviewer replies, “Yeah, but you started it.”
Q: Johnny’s mother has three children. The first child’s name is April, the second is named May. What is the third child’s name? A: Johnny, of course
A teacher asked her students to use the word “beans” in a sentence. “My father grows beans,” said one girl. “My mother cooks beans,” said a boy. A third student spoke up, “We are all human beans.”
Q: There is a clerk at the butcher shop. He is 5 feet and six inches tall, and he wears size 13 shoes. What does he weigh? A: Meat
In a Catholic school cafeteria, a nun places a note in front of a pile of apples, “Only take one. God is watching.” Further down the line is a pile of cookies. A little boy makes his own note, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”
Q: Before Mount Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world? A: Mount Everest Q: What happens to a frog’s car when it breaks down? A: It gets toad away! Q: What do you get when you cross ants with ticks? A: Endless antics.
A recent worldwide survey showed that out of 2,146,703,436 people, 94% were too lazy to actually read that number. Instead of “the John,” I call my toilet “the Jim.” That way it sounds better when I say I go to the Jim first thing every morning.
JAN-FEB 2016 - 43
Magaz i ne Ste[p12
Solution to Word Search on Page 25
Carrying A Message of Hope
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Solution to Crossword on Page 25
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Recovery Trivia, Messages
and things that make ya go “Hmmmm..” The word
actually means to induce sleep, but the public often interprets it, incorrectly, to mean any legal drug sometimes used illegally.
The New York Times, declared that the most common drug in America was c a f fe i n e , and stated, “Coffee drunkenness is a commoner failing than the whiskey habit .... This country is full of tea and coffee drunkards.”
JAN-FEB 2016 - 45
Jan / Feb
JAN– December 2015 has a tremendously complex set of influences to untangle. Overall, this month should be productive enough but may also be draining. Some areas of your life may become more complicated but this will settle down as you enter the new year thanks to a very stabilizing new transit. This can be a time of culmination of previous hard work and you can act with authority and come away with a good sense of self-satisfaction. Aries Mar 21 – Apr 19 FEB– An attached Aries could find their eyes roving at certain intervals during this year of sexy and dangerous romance. If single you are feeling the lucky vibrations and could do something totally out of character, believing anything is possible. As the end of the month approaches, you should feel like you finally have achieved the intimacy that you so deeply desire and this happiness adds a new dimension to your attractiveness. JAN– 2016 should be a dreamy and surreal year for you. You are on a spiritual journey. You will feel more sensitive and can use this year to further develop any psychic talents. The plight of others in the world less fortunate than yourself will be of more concern. You should find that others are drawn to you in mysterious ways that neither of you can put your finger on. You have the ability to bring people together, so may find that groups of people evolve around you, or you may simply be drawn to groups or societies. Taurus Apr 20 – May 20 FEB– Your popularity is surging, so when teams are chosen, you’re going to be one of the first picks. Don’t be intimidated by the extra attention-- soak every drop of it up. It might not last long, so you had better take advantage of it while you can. Brighter stars are coming to steal away some of your thunder. Enjoy being in the limelight, for now, and savor all the adulation you’re getting while you can.
JAN– Someone you thought you knew inside and out will surprise you by how they react this month. Their feelings might reveal some shocking things about their philosophies of life, but that doesn’t have to alter how you feel about them. You care about them for who they are, not whether or not they agree with you all the time, right? This could be the beginning of a new phase for the two of you, when you’ll see each other as more complicated (and thus more interesting) people. Libra Sept 23 – Oct 22 FEB– Often it’s the quietest moment that carries the biggest impact . You won’t need thunder and lightening to know that you’ve come upon a huge revelation. The changes you want might not be the changes you need, so be open-minded about the conclusions you come to. They might not be what you expected or what you wanted, but they will be the best answer. Don’t hesitate to start down this new path. Once you do, you’ll know it’s right. JAN– You’ve got a lot of ideas germinating, right now, but it’s going to take a great deal of concentrated effort to shape any one of them into something that you can actually make happen. Don’t let this frustrate you, though. You did the hard part -- now all you have to do is wait. Wait for the right time, the right person, or the right opportunity to present itself. The wait will be worth it. FEB– Those in relationships may experience some turbulence, while singletons could find impatience Scorpio Oct 23 – Nov 21 getting them into some complicated spots. At least love’s not boring now! Mid month’s a good time to settle down and look before any romantic leaps. Luck’s on your side, harness your good instincts and your willingness to fearlessly go after what you want.
JAN– This year you are a tad more impulsive than usual but the big news is he is taking on Saturn and actually opposing that stern taskmaster all year. You want your way this year and will use any means to achieve that end. With Neptune holding tight to your Tenth House you have decided that your career must have more personal meaning, and look for more authenticity in all areas of your life. FEB– You are gifted with a talent for communication and any career changes ahead are all for the better. Gemini May 21 – Jun 20 Engaging in chatter is what you do best and if you are in love it’s time to confess, as that awesome or inspiring conversation has to take place before love can begin. If there isn’t an intellectual simpatico between the two of you, the relationship can at times be rocky.
JAN– You should fight your urge to be shy and hide in the background when all the hoopla gets going. You will have so much more fun if you’re loud (and even a bit obnoxious!). The people you will be with this month aren’t interested in polite people -- they are interested in interesting people! You need to show how interesting you can be by standing up and being counted. Get yourself noticed by being uncharacteristically aggressive. Make an impression on the people who have influence over your life! Sagittarius Nov 22 – Dec 21 FEB– Your sign is known for its luck, and as the New Year begins, this is on display in your love life in a big way. This is a quiet but intense time, when you’re seriously thinking about a shared future. Single Sagittarians have the same luck going for them, too. The 18th and 19th are great times for meeting new dating partners who are really on your level. Your words have great weight. Say what you mean and mean what you say. JAN– Friendship can mean different things to different people, so be very careful that you are not making too many assumptions about what a new friendship is all about. An unexpected comment could catch you off guard -- they clearly have different ideas about what constitutes ‘a good time’. This might not necessarily be a deal-breaker, but it is something you should clarify. What they tell you will probably open up the door to a whole new level of fun. Capricorn Dec 22 – Jan 19 FEB– You may spend so much time advancing at work that you seldom have time to be with your partner as much as you’d like. Departures from work for silly & playful moments will be invaluable. If you’re seeking new love in your life, try the 11th and 12th as times to step outside your comfort zone. Attending an event or activity on your own may be scary, but you’ll meet so many exciting people! Try to do things that will put you in the company of interesting new people. JAN– Your sense of who you are has been growing slowly but steadily, and you are already seeing the rewards of being more self-assured in your social life. You can look forward to it becoming effective in your career life, too. Your ambition have been ambivalent lately, but soon you will finally see where you want things to go. Then you will start making them happen, so get ready! Aquarius FEB– You’re feeling just a little bit freaked out over the recent news that broke before you were ready for Jan 20 – Feb 18 the world to know -- but this should be good for you in the long run. Just smile and let people say what they will. You need to feel like part of something bigger, so get some volunteer time in or look into some spiritual business that appeals to you on a deep level. Be useful to others!
JAN– Big things are coming, but you are still in a holding pattern. While you wait, you need to be careful not to get your hopes too high -- you cannot count those chickens before you hear them squawking! Letting your eagerness get the best of you is a big mistake. Wait until things happen before you figure out how you will react to them. FEB– The holidays aren’t just a chance to get together with friends and family. They’re a chance to show Cancer Jun 21 –Jul 22 off your home, and feel a strong bond of community with everyone around you, including your partner. Single Cancer natives may find the 8th, 9th, and 10th conducive to starting new conversations with potential dating partners. Whether you’re communicating online or in person, there’s much to explore in the people around you now. JAN– You should seek stability this month-- take a break from frivolous events and flaky people and head home. Spend more time with the family members and friends you know well. The tried-and-true people in your life aren’t boring -- they are comforting! Things that go the distance offer the most value in life, so if you’re looking for any new furniture or clothing, go shopping at an antique store or vintage shop. Substance beats out trend, every time. Leo Jul 23 – Aug 22 FEB– Your partner may be the voice of reason this month, trying to pare your guest list down from about 100 to a sensible 10 or so. If you’re single, try mixing it up with some of your various tribes. Work friends may be able to introduce you to someone exciting, for example.. Trying something new yields much better results when it comes to dating now. The 18th is a day for rest and relaxation, away from the stressors of life and work. JAN– You take a lot of pride in getting the job done -- and done correctly -- so you don’t mind staying behind and working extra hours while everyone else is enjoying their time off. And while you don’t encounter a lot of stop signs this month, you might come across one or two that advise you to yield. It’s great that you have so many options in front of you but pausing to smell the flowers every once in awhile is a good idea, too. Virgo Aug 23 – Sept 22 FEB– All that lighthearted and flirtatious banter you’ve been having with that super-cute someone has been fun, but this month you should follow your urge to take things to the next level. Instead of skimming the surface, delve deep down into real substance, and see what you come up with. Is this person who you think they are? After a lengthy conversation, you might discover that you feel a lot differently about them.
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JAN– That warm and fuzzy feeling someone gives you is starting to grow into a decidedly hotter vibe -- and not necessarily in a good way. There is some real friction going on between you two, and you just don’t seem to be on the same page anymore. The good news is that this tension doesn’t have to be scary. Disagreements do not signal the beginning of end -- they’re just disagreements! Stop giving them so much power. You two can (and will) work through this. Pisces Feb 19 – Mar 20 FEB– If you don’t really know what’s going on this month, try to stay on the edges -- you don’t want to dive in and find out the pool is empty! Once your instincts start to click, you should feel good about the next step. Afterall swimming with sharks may be uncomfortable but it has its benefits. Keep your eyes open and dive down as far as you can go. You never know when you’ll find a pearl.
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