Monday, February 17, 2020

Can you hear?

Do you trust your Higher Power? Do you hear it? How often do you listen to your inner prompting? When we are using alcohol or other drugs that voice gets drowned out. We either can't hear it because we are practically comatose or because endorphins are rushing through our brain and we are moving along a million miles an hour. I used substances so that I wouldn't have to hear that voice at all. Not only did I not want to hear the voice, but I didn't want to catch a glimpse of an inner knowing by looking in the mirror, into my own eyes. I cannot tell you how many people I have heard in recovery groups say the same thing. It's a common thing, a characteristic of addiction. Eventually though, I would come out of my drunken state, and lay awake in my bed in the deep of the night, and I would feel the terror creep over me, the knowledge that I was ignoring my Higher Power, the fear of what was going to happen if I continued to do so. 

After we put down the substances, and our brain heals, and our heart starts to beat again, the voice is still there. We can hear it again, we can feel it again, the inner promptings. 1 Kings 19:11-13 talks about God's voice being a "still small voice". Elijah was standing in the midst of tornado style winds and an earthquake. But it was not in the storm that God was, but in the silence. God used the storm to get my attention, but I had to get quiet to hear his voice. And I believe that is how it works with our Higher Power. 

I wish I knew that answer as to why we ignore that voice. It has pained me my whole life. I have come to some sort of an understanding that for me, it is a rebellious act. However, why I feel like I have to rebel, I don't know! Rebelling against my creator is futile. It's like a  Honey Bee refusing to pollinate. The bee starves and the flowers don't produce fruit. Same thing happens when I ignore my Higher Power and rebel against his plan for my life. I starve spiritually, financially, physically, emotionally, and socially. My life bears no fruit. 

The decision to listen to your inner  prompting can be scary. But truly, the SAFEST place to be is in God's will. This is why, in my opinion, step three of the 12 steps is a turning point. If you do step three in earnest things will change for you. Suddenly you have tapped into the power supply and you can do things that you haven't been able to do before. 

Listen, trust, have faith, take action. Life is too short and too beautiful to not be living your purpose. 


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Let's talk about NOW

Nowcovery is a term that I use instead of "recovery"  because it's NOW focused. The word "recovery" is great, and it's a relevant term in that everyone knows what it means to be recovering. We can be recovering from a lot of different things such as  surgery, addiction, healing from a bad relationship etc. But what does recovery entail? If you really look at it closely, and break it down to the simplest of actions, it entails the choice you make in the moment, in the right NOW. If I am trying to overcome something, how do I do it? By making a choice NOW.

So,  let's take this theory of NOW and put it into the context of recovering from an addiction through actively choosing positive behavior. How am I going to Nowcover? Consider how I begin my day when I wake up. The alarm goes off, and I already have a choice. Hit snooze and sleep a little longer? Or, don't hit snooze and wake up so I have time to do a morning reading and reflection? Honestly, the best option will change from day to day. In other words, the NOW will be different today than it is  tomorrow. If I didn't sleep well,  the best positive behavior may be to hit the snooze and catch a few more moments of rest. Or, maybe I slept great and the urge to be lazy needs to be pushed aside so that reading and reflection can take place.

We can only make choices one moment at a time. That's the only place where we actually are, the only thing we have any control over is THIS moment of NOW. Where we run into trouble is continuity and endurance to make the best choice in each moment of now. We make a few good choices in the now, and somehow for whatever reason, we stop and we revert back to the old choices for too long and we get way off track. This is why we need support! We need someone to say "Hey! Have you noticed your making old choices again?!".  DENIAL is sneaky in that we don't always know we are in it. We need people to help us with our blind spot.  Counselors can do this for us, good friends can do this for us, and so can a recovery coach. Preferably all three should be utilized for a healthy Nowcovery program. Please don't continue to live in your blind spot, call today for coaching.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Action not words


If you want to make a change in  your life you have got to make a change in your life. Lingering in the contemplation or preparation stages of change will not do you any good. If I could have back the time that I spent in contemplating change I would have years. It's really important to do the work that you can do at the time. Reading about solutions, researching resources, and planning are essential components of change. But at some point, you have to step out onto the water. This takes faith. Faith in the solutions, faith in the resources, faith in your plan, and faith in your endurance. I hate it when people say the opposite of faith is fear. That's ridiculous. Faith and fear are often times partners while your go through challenges. "There's no way to do this unafraid" were words I heard frequently from my counselor when I was making huge changes in my life. I wanted to wait until my fear was gone, thinking that there was some crucial step in the planning that I was missing, that once I figured it out fear would go away. I waited for two years while I twisted and turned over my choices and wrestled with my fear. In the end, I did it afraid. Terrified is more like it, but I had faith that it would get better, and it DID.

If you are miserable and clinging to a behavior that you are somehow unwilling to let go off because somewhere in the back of your mind you are terrified to live without it? Take action. Struggling with an addiction to alcohol? Make an appointment to go to a counselor, go to an open AA meeting, make an appointment to see your doctor, tell a trusted friend, research what alcohol does TO you instead of FOR you at Alcohologist.com  . Pick one of these and do it today.  Are you in a bad habit of eating ice cream every night and you are sad because it's showing on your waistline? Take action. Throw away what's in your freezer, join weight watchers, switch to low-fat yogurt, go for a walk, dance to your favorite music for 10 minutes, tell a trusted friend, Pick one of these and do it today! Are you stuck in a relationship that is draining you? Make an appointment to go see a counselor (with or without that person), take an honest inventory of your behaviors, read a book about boundaries, pray for that person. Pick on of these actions and do it! 

Taking bits of action at a time add up to change. Changes may happen slowly or quickly. If you are tired of being stuck, the only way out is through action. And when you take action, you show yourself that you aren't powerless. And that is going to make you feel a whole lot better. God bless!

 Photo by Minervastock, used with permission

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nowcovery and safe places

I use the term “nowcovery” instead of “Recovery”. I am not “REcovering anything. And most of the women I work with aren’t interested in “Recovering” much either. What they are interested in is building a new life. Building new relationships with the people that they have broken relationships with. For so many of them, their life in the past was not ever in a good place. So many come from a past that is filled with poverty and abuse. They may have never had a healthy relationship with their parents or children. Why would they want to recover any of it? They don’t. They want a new life. They want to focus on NOW.

Nowcovery is a lot of work and a lengthy process. While we are talking about what’s happening in our lives NOW and making each day the most positive and healthy it can be, we still have to go back into our past. We HAVE to make the connection between what has happened to us, to how that is driving our current behavior. Being able to go and look at the past requires that we get to a safe place to do it. Where that safe place is, will be different for everyone. Some people find a safe place in church. They make the necessary human connections there, perhaps with the church leaders, or small groups. There are different recovery groups in churches too, Celebrate Recovery and Freedom Seekers to name a few. Millions of people find that safe place “in the rooms” of Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 step programs. Smart Recovery has had great success for people who relate best to the world of psychology.  Women for Sobriety also has a large following (Men for Sobriety is starting to gain ground). Other people seem to be able to find the necessary safe place in one on one counseling. The point is, there are plenty of opportunities to find that space.

No person, no group owns the market of sobriety or recovery. Finding YOUR path is critical. I started my recovery “in the rooms”. That is what worked for me. From there I found I couldn’t do anything without Jesus Christ. Jesus showed me that he gave me the gift of a love of psychology, so Smart Recovery concepts help me to learn a new way of interpreting my thoughts. And my desire to learn how to be a strong, healthy woman brought me to Women for Sobriety. It worked for me, and my road of NOWCOVERY keeps leading me into new lessons. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE… we are all our OWN selves. Jump into your NOWCOVERY and keep an open mind. Start searching for your safe places.


Friday, July 22, 2016

"practice these principles in all our affairs". ie, walk your talk

Have you ever spent so much time with someone that you think you know them and their reactions really well? For example, a co-worker. We spend many hours a week with our coworkers and we see them perform under some very stressful situations. We see the best of their behavior when a project comes together smoothly, or the team is really cooperating well, or the day is flowing along without any chaos. And we also see the worst of their behavior, when none of the above is happening, and road blocks are popping up in all of the days activities. Seeing so much of our coworkers really leads us to believe that we know them quite well. The same can be said for people we spend time with in recovery meetings. Perhaps we have spent years sitting at the tables with the same core group of people and have seen these people go through all of the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, we have spent tens or hundreds of hours with these people, and we can practically know what they are going to say about a topic before they even speak. We KNOW them. Or do we?

How well can we ever really know another person? All we can go with is what they present to us. WE aren't in their heads, we can't read their thoughts, and we don't see their behavior when they are alone. Its safe to say we don't know everything there is to know even about the people that we are involved in intimate relationships with. So, really knowing someone we work with, or go to meetings with is an even further stretch. We all play roles, it's a part of being human, it's a part of having a personality. Roles of wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. And we all have professional roles we play. Managers, accountants, waitresses, nurses, doctors, counselors, custodians etc. My idea of the role of a wife, may be completely different than your idea of that role. We will play our roles differently. Based upon our life experience, and our wants and needs, everyone chooses how to play their roles. 

But there is a big difference between playing a role, and lying about who we are and what we do. Most professional roles don't mix well with swearing like a sailor. So, at work, we don't swear a lot, or out loud, or in meetings. But outside of work, maybe we swear like crazy! Loudly! Not swearing at work doesn't make us fake or a liar. We just know that to be successful in our work role, swearing is not appropriate. 

However, sitting at the tables and talking about how honest we are, while outside of the meetings we sell stolen merchandise out of the trunk of our car, is lying. Talking in meetings about how much we have learned to respect others, while outside of meetings we talk about everyone behind their backs and spread gossip, is lying. Claiming to be responsible people now, but aren't even opening the bills up when they come, is lying. If I am sitting in a meeting, talking about how I behave now that I am in recovery, you should be able to recognize me outside of the meetings. My words should be matching my behavior outside of the meeting. In other words, I should be walking my talk. And if I am not, that means I am not trustworthy. And that is unacceptable for us if we want to stay sober. 

Getting real with ourselves, and listening to what we say we do and comparing it to what we actually do, is part of our daily inventory. When we catch those inconsistencies, we need to either adjust our behavior, or we need to get real with our speech and stop pretending we are recovered where we are not. I know how my disease works. It grows off of shame, and I really work hard to not give myself things to be shameful about. Walking my talk, and practicing these principles in ALL of my affairs is the tool I use for that. 

"practice these principles in all our affairs". ie, walk your talk

Have you ever spent so much time with someone that you think you know them and their reactions really well? For example, a co-worker. We spend many hours a week with our coworkers and we see them perform under some very stressful situations. We see the best of their behavior when a project comes together smoothly, or the team is really cooperating well, or the day is flowing along without any chaos. And we also see the worst of their behavior, when none of the above is happening, and road blocks are popping up in all of the days activities. Seeing so much of our coworkers really leads us to believe that we know them quite well. The same can be said for people we spend time with in recovery meetings. Perhaps we have spent years sitting at the tables with the same core group of people and have seen these people go through all of the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, we have spent tens or hundreds of hours with these people, and we can practically know what they are going to say about a topic before they even speak. We KNOW them. Or do we?

How well can we ever really know another person? All we can go with is what they present to us. WE aren't in their heads, we can't read their thoughts, and we don't see their behavior when they are alone. Its safe to say we don't know everything there is to know even about the people that we are involved in intimate relationships with. So, really knowing someone we work with, or go to meetings with is an even further stretch. We all play roles, it's a part of being human, it's a part of having a personality. Roles of wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. And we all have professional roles we play. Managers, accountants, waitresses, nurses, doctors, counselors, custodians etc. My idea of the role of a wife, may be completely different than your idea of that role. We will play our roles differently. Based upon our life experience, and our wants and needs, everyone chooses how to play their roles. 

But there is a big difference between playing a role, and lying about who we are and what we do. Most professional roles don't mix well with swearing like a sailor. So, at work, we don't swear a lot, or out loud, or in meetings. But outside of work, maybe we swear like crazy! Loudly! Not swearing at work doesn't make us fake or a liar. We just know that to be successful in our work role, swearing is not appropriate. 

However, sitting at the tables and talking about how honest we are, while outside of the meetings we sell stolen merchandise out of the trunk of our car, is lying. Talking in meetings about how much we have learned to respect others, while outside of meetings we talk about everyone behind their backs and spread gossip, is lying. Claiming to be responsible people now, but aren't even opening the bills up when they come, is lying. If I am sitting in a meeting, talking about how I behave now that I am in recovery, you should be able to recognize me outside of the meetings. My words should be matching my behavior outside of the meeting. In other words, I should be walking my talk. And if I am not, that means I am not trustworthy. And that is unacceptable for us if we want to stay sober. 

Getting real with ourselves, and listening to what we say we do and comparing it to what we actually do, is part of our daily inventory. When we catch those inconsistencies, we need to either adjust our behavior, or we need to get real with our speech and stop pretending we are recovered where we are not. I know how my disease works. It grows off of shame, and I really work hard to not give myself things to be shameful about. Walking my talk, and practicing these principles in ALL of my affairs is the tool I use for that. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Recovery Coaching sows seeds for the future of addiction treatment

We have all heard the definition of insanity, especially if you are in recovery. It means doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. As we work in the field of trying to help addicts move into sobriety and stay in sobriety, we can’t help but get frustrated and saddened by repeated relapses, death of our clients, and incarceration of our client due to relapses.

Addiction truly is insanity in action. But perhaps we need to be taking a look at our treatment plans and ask if we aren’t behaving in the same manner. Repeating the same patterns with each client, and expecting different results. Sometimes the plan works, which gives us enough inspiration to keep repeating the treatment plan with hopes that sooner or later it will work with each one because we will get good enough at our jobs, find the rights words, give the client the right tools, etc. Is it time to treat addiction in a completely new way?

As science has made huge advances in brain imaging and understanding the mechanisms of addiction, treatment has made slow progress in comparison.  What is progress though? How do we measure progress in the field of addiction treatment? In a recent article Telehealth rises as crucial tool for substance abuse treatment, by Joseph Goedert, Jacob Levenson states “In the addiction treatment arena there is no standardization-we can’t agree on what success looks like and what relapse is, or what treatment methods to utilize.” Levenson is the CEO of Map Health Management.  And he hints at the core of the addiction treatment problem: We haven’t even been able to clarify -- and insurance companies are growing tired of paying for -- treatments that can’t be proven to improve outcomes for the consumers once they leave.

Levenson goes on to state that Map Health Management (a data analytics vendor focusing on behavioral health) has multiple insurers lined up to measure quality among provider networks. One of the key things they use to measure quality is how adequately providers engage patients AFTER they leave the hospital or rehabilitation center.  Cost effectiveness and return on value are also components to measure quality.

Telehealth is one way that is proving to be extremely effective, and relatively low cost, in engaging consumers to stay focused on their recovery plans and goals. Consumers are monitored via telephone or video by professional recovery coaches and peer specialists who are able to check in with whatever frequency the consumer needs to feel supported and not isolated.

Hope Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse of Kenosha WI has been a leader in their county, utilizing recovery coaches to work with their clients in the Intoxicated Driver Program. Through a grant, they are able to provide free coaching to clients who qualify, for up to two years. The grant also allows monies to support people referred to Hope Council through other agencies. Recovery coaches provide weekly support to clients via telephone monitoring.


The future of the addiction recovery industry points clearly in the direction of professional coaching helping to ensure results following a PHP or IOP engagement.  While we need to continue to keep evolving addiction treatment in the initial assessment and care, telehealth and professional coaching can make certain we’re not doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.