Addiction Awareness Month

Addiction is a complex and often misunderstood subject. When most people think of “addiction,” they picture people severely dependent on drugs or alcohol. But the truth is that addiction is on a broad spectrum, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to learn about addiction, its causes, and how we can help those affected. September 2022: Addiction Awareness Month In1989, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) made...
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Finding Your Spirituality

Spirituality plays a pivotal role on the road to recovery from addiction. Developing a sense of a “higher power” can push us to make significant strides toward healing our mind and body in a way that may have been unachievable otherwise. Even though finding a higher power or spiritual connection may be difficult for most, once it is found, it becomes a very important part of recovery. A simple step to finding your spirituality is to start with a connection. A few questions that can help you...
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The Dance of Addiction

The long road of recovery is sure to bring one thing: change. Good or bad, change is always uncomfortable and exhausting. We resist change, for better or worse, and in doing so risk sabotaging our progress, or worse, our loved one’s progress. Imagine yourself dancing with a partner in a well-choreographed dance. You don’t particularly like the dance or the music, but you know the steps and are completely in sync. Suddenly, one of the dancers changes the moves, or worse, the music. A fam...
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The Discovery Phase of Recovery

With addiction, pleasure and enjoyment become deeply linked with the drug or behavior of choice. Once a client stops the behavior they often feel that “something is missing,” or that they do not know how to enjoy life to the fullest. I’d like to share some of my approaches to working with the “discovery” phase of recovery because I think that they can help anyone live a more enjoyable and creative life. In mental health, we often use a 3-phase conceptualization of healing which was fi...
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The Secret to Coping: Aware, Accept, Act

Three, easy to remember, words that basically sum up “coping skills.” Try this out next time you are feeling upset or dissatisfied in any way. Aware – We have to have enough distance from what’s happening to be aware of it. If we are “mindlessly” doing something, or impulsively doing something, we are not aware. Accept – Not accepting reality can take many forms: a vague irritability, righteous anger, feeling like a victim, acting distant or shut-down, etc. I...
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Sound and Vibration as Therapy? Yes!

Many people use music to help regulate their mood – a certain type to energize for a workout, another type for focusing at work, and yet another for winding down after a long day.  We know from experience that sound has a powerful impact on how we feel.  Sound is simply pressure waves traveling through the air.  We call it “sound” when the frequency of the waves is in the range that can be picked up by our ears.  Lower frequency vibrations that cannot be heard can someti...
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Book Review – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate

As a mental health clinician working in the addiction recovery field, I highly recommend Gabor Mate’s exceptionally well-written book on addiction, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.  Mate, a psychiatrist, has worked for 12 years with severely addicted people on skid row in Vancouver.  In the first half of the book, he weaves together stories of his patients with the story of his own “high status” addiction of purchasing expensive classical mus...
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How do People Change?

“Why don’t you just stop?” “I wish I could change but I don’t know where to start!” How many times have you heard this from yourself or a loved one? Change sounds easy—just stop, do it differently, try another way, etc. They sound like good suggestions but carrying them out is a different issue entirely. Many people really don’t know how to stop because they don’t know another way. Some are deeply in denial and are not truly aware of the depth of the problem. It’s frustrating...
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Try Out a Guided Meditation

One of the core elements of our program at Welwynn is mindfulness: being aware of the present moment in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness is the first step towards any change in behavior or belief. If we don’t realize what’s happening, or are too wrapped up in judgments, we cannot our response.  In mindfulness practice, we set aside a few minutes to practice tuning into the present.  This time of focused practice makes it easier to be mindful as we move throughout the day....
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“Coming Out” as a Person in Recovery

Michael Botticelli is a former Director of National Drug Control Policy, as well as a person in recovery from addiction and a gay man.  In this talk, Michael explains the paralells between the way society shamed and neglected gay men suffering with HIV/AIDs in the 1980 to the way society treats people struggling with addiction today.  In both cases, blame for the disease was placed on the person suffering instead of in a broader context of society and biology.  In both cases, the shame associ...
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