From Emptiness To Addiction – How Did We Get There?

If we were to travel from Los Angeles to, lets say, New York, we would definitely be able to map out the departure, the destination and most importantly the arrival at that destination. In other words, we should be able to trace the journey it took to get from one place to another. We would have to start at LAX International airport in Los Angeles (maybe Bob Hope for you Burbank fans), probably a layover somewhere like Atlanta, Baltimore possibly Newark, New Jersey. Whatever the case, we would ultimately land at either JFK or La Guardia in New York City. Once again the point is knowing how we got from one place to another, plain and simple. We would, in fact, understand the journey we just set out on. We took a trip and that trip started in Los Angeles and concluded in New York when we arrived. We understood everything about that trip. But, what about the trip from emptiness to addiction – how did we get there?

Traveling The Roads From Emptiness To Addiction

It would be an understatement to say that we are ALL guilty of self-destruction or self-sabotage in some way, shape or form, that has ultimately affected our lives in one way or the other. If this does not apply to you, then leave now and consider yourself either “lucky” or “ignorant to knowing” that this truth simply doesn’t apply to you. The truth is, none of us are exempt. As a matter of fact, I believe that wisdom can only truly be gained two ways. The first way is God given and the second is learning from your mistakes, which equates to God given insight anyways, to be able to learn from your mistakes and turn those mistakes into a wealth of knowledge. We all have empty places in our lives. Many of us just choose to ignore it rather than face it. So why is it that we find ourselves so empty that it seems as though drugs or alcohol can seemingly be the one thing to fill the void. More importantly, why do we buy this lie knowing good and well that it is not the truth, but we buy the lie anyway? Why is it easier to buy the lie than to search for the truth? Why are we empty inside? What’s missing? What’s been missing for sometime now?

Let’s look at some possible roads we have traveled with this emptiness that has ultimately led us into a place where we actually believe that the alcohol or drugs (the addiction) could, and would, fill the void of that emptiness or would somehow just magically make things go away or get better.

Childhood Issues – We Have All Had Them!

Many things happened when we were children, or youth, and we have to stop and think real good about these things sometimes for answers about what’s going on today. Many things have happened to us that we preferred to just tuck away and forget about. But these things have gone no where; they are just not in sight, but they are there.

I don’t know anyone else’s story except my own. I don’t know if it happened to you when you were 5 years old, or 7 years old, maybe 11 or even 15. I’m not sure what it was maybe physical abuse or possibly verbal abuse. It could have very well been sexual abuse from someone or molestation or even rape that was the offense. And they got away with it. Someone didn’t believe you when you told them what happened, could have very well been your own mother or father who didn’t believe your story when you told them.

Could have been someone very close to you that damaged you as a child. Could have been something a little more digestible like lack of affection, never gave you praise for your accomplishments, never showed up for anything at school to support you or never told you the words, “I love you”. Possibly never received a hug or a kiss from mom or dad. The list goes on and the point is this…we have never had any closure to ANY of this, so we go on pretending everything is OK. Even worse, we begin to accept this as ‘normal’ when in fact it is anything but that. We are now dealing with a damaged child within us and we don’t even know it yet.

Took The Child Into The Teenage Years – We All Did This Too!

Since the child has continued to grow, so has the depth of the unresolved issues or hurt (which we now call ‘damage’). It is just tucked away real good, but it is still present. It is important to understand the relationship that the teenager still has with the child. The child may have never had a voice or was never heard as a child. Now the child is growing physically. Unless something drastic or tragic happens, such as a life changing accident, the physical body will continue to mature, through puberty and into adulthood. That will not change. However, the psychological growth, or the mentality, has in many ways been affected by traumatic situations as we reviewed in the above paragraph.

Unless there is a ‘debriefing’ or ‘closure’ process to these traumatic events, the mind psychologically is affected and for a better term, it is ‘stunted’. Although other areas of the person psyche will continue to develop, those other areas of damage will continue to be obstacles. The result is the teenager will become rebellious, act out or, in worse case, even self-hurt. These are just a few of a long list, but you should get the point. The teenager is growing into a big child, and the child that had no voice is now the teenager that is acting out instead of talking about it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. If no closure has been reached, the child continues to grow.

The Child Time Travels To Adulthood – The Danger Zone

As the years go by with no closure being reached the child continues to act out but now as an adult, who as an adult, has responsibilities of making adult decisions. This is where the conflict comes in because the adult now has that emptiness that has become unidentifiable and the voice of the child becomes prominent in the decision-making. Quick example of what that looks like is this:

You need to go to the store to get more alcohol, but the adult in you realizes that you are too lit (drunk or high) to drive. The child in you, however, says, “oh its just up the street, you can make it, the police won’t catch you!” The adult reasons, “man you should just walk to the store if you need to go that bad, because you might get in a wreck!” The child replies, “man by the time you walk your buzz will be gone, your friends will leave and it will take too long to walk anyway!” So, you listen to the child in you.

That trip to the store was cut short because you didn’t see that STOP sign (being drunk and all) and T-Boned that vehicle.

That childish decision to drive regardless of the circumstances ended up costing you your freedom, your license and your vehicle all in one shot. Does the story sound familiar to anybody? Or at least similar? It was the child that caused this havoc, but it was the adult who made the decision to listen. Make sense??

Realizing The Adult Damage Done From The Empty Child

There’s a million and 1 stories like this. We all have our own. Although our emptiness comes from many situations, circumstances and events that have taken place in our lives the one thing that remains similar in us all is that we have taken the child with us into our adult life and are oblivious to the realization that they (he or she, the child) are still there, now controlling our lives with the adolescent behavior that we should have left behind a long time ago.

But how could we leave a child behind? Wouldn’t that be like child abandonment or child neglect? If we just left them behind? Stay with me… I’m going somewhere with this.

We actually do not have to leave the child behind because the child is us. And the child can live with us. The child just needs someone to go inside and tell them, “It’s OK, I got this…you can rest now!” In other words, the adult needs to step up and say to self, “Hey guess what kiddo? We are gonna do something different from what we have been doing, because playing on the playground all day and taking our chances at life just to avoid the emptiness is not working!”

The emptiness must be confronted, not consoled by our addiction. Our addiction is just one form of escaping our reality. That reality is rooted deep into many previous years before, where no closure was insight or available.

We have to go inside of our self, grab that child inside of us and tell them “I know you got a bad deal when you were young, I know you deserved love instead of abuse, I know there was a family out there who would have loved you, I know you didn’t deserve to be treated like that…but it’s OK now because I am going to take care of us.”

You see, if we don’t go inside and get that child, he or she will continue to act out, and the adult you will pay the consequences for the child’s behavior. We need to look at alcohol and drugs as “the playground” where the child hangs out. If you, the adult, don’t take control and tell the child, “We have to go now” the child will keep you at the playground until it’s dark, and long since closed, everyone has gone home and you and the child are all alone at the playground, sitting on the bench, alone and empty. With that said, the child is now asleep, because it’s really way past their bedtime and the adult has been left alone and empty with the wreckage that has taken place throughout the day at ‘the playground’.

We can now see clearly the wreckage we have suffered, and will continue to suffer as long as we allow the child to keep taking us to the playground.

A famous man once said, “when I was a child I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I acted as a child…but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” So consider this a call to ‘man-up’ or ‘woman-up’…and let the child rest, because he or she is very tired right now…wouldn’t you agree?

Whatever, whenever and wherever we can help speak into your life, reach out…we are just a keyboard stroke away. Don’t forget to leave your comments or concerns.

Much Love,

Timo

How To Help Homeless Vets – From War To Addiction

Although the question of how to help homeless vets who have come home from war, only to now suffer from PTSD, depression and eventually addiction to boot, has been an ongoing “unanswered” dilemma in this country. As well, although homelessness affects many people from many walks of life and circumstances, there seems to be a pattern, or reference point, for many combat veteran’s who after making it home from the war have succumbed to circumstances that have only allowed them to continue fighting the war (long after it is over) in their mind. Many of our combat veteran’s who suffer from PTSD have found themselves not only homeless in the greatest country in the world, but have found themselves discarded and disregarded similarly by our government as last night’s leftovers thrown in the trash. In the process, many have resorted and resulted to drugs and alcohol to calm the spiritual storm that war wages and weighs heavily upon.

Today we will be looking at two words that should never be seen together: HOMELESS and VETERAN would be those two words. In many cases of homeless veteran’s, we see many veteran’s go from war straight to addiction, eventually becoming homeless rather by choice or circumstances. We need to be a part of the journey from war to addiction and, then, seeing addiction making it’s way back home, and home in this instance is in the mind. Because the mind is terrible place to be when you are in bondage, but it’s a beautiful place to be when you are free. Sad to say, many of our veterans are NOT free, and we owe them a journey to freedom, just as the freedom they fought for you and me. Many who fought for our freedom have already succumbed to the wilds of addiction and depression, being alone, even after making it home from combat. For many it proves to be a ‘unbearable’ place to live.

How To Help Homeless Veterans – Defining “Homeless Veteran”

First, let’s break this down. What is the definition of “homeless”? According to the National Coalition of Homeless VeteransThe United States Code contains the official federal definition of homelessness, which is commonly used because it controls federal funding streams. In Title 42, Chapter 119, Subchapter 1, “homeless” is defined as what follows precisely (Dunne, Eugene, et al.): “homeless” or “homeless individual or homeless person” includes an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is:

  • a public or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations such as welfare hotels, shelters, and transitional housing.
  • An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be
    institutionalized.
  • A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping
    accommodation for human beings (Dunne, Eugene, et al.).

Second, what is the definition of “veteran”? The Code of Federal Regulations, published in 2020, defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” This definition explains that any individual that completed a service for any branch of the United States of America’s Armed Forces classifies as a veteran if they were not dishonorably discharged. In general, most organizations use U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs eligibility criteria to determine which veteran’s can access services. Eligibility for VA benefits is, once again, “based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions” (Code of Federal Regulations: Traverse City Record Eagle). Benefits vary according to factors connected with the type and length of military service.

Over 120, 000 of the United States of America’s Military Veterans are homeless today and at any given time. The same homeless veteran’s that I speak of have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon and Persian Gulf War. Nearly half of homeless veteran’s served in Vietnam, two-thirds served our country for at least three years and one-third of that have been stationed in a war zone. It is important to know, says veteran activist and journalist Stephan Metraux, that “another 1.4 million veterans will be considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of social network support, and foul living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing, as the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans concurs with this report. This is unacceptable for any individual who has fought for the freedom, democracies, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all individual citizens of the United States. Not just the ones who died fighting. But for the ones who survived and have been forgotten and left to fight another battle alone……and that alone is the battle that lives in their head after coming home from war. But each of us tends to look toward our U.S. Government for their relief. And with good measure. But it’s a job for everyone. Any citizen of this count, It’s your job too.”

Overwhelming Statistics

Today we will expose this tragic military fate and injustice, what’s been ignored by not only our own government, but by individual citizens, and review some possible solutions. Let’s look at some stats of the problem first. Here are some demographics of homeless veteran’s in the U.S.:

  • 24% of the male homeless population are veteran’s
  • 72% reside in principle cities
  • 35% reside in suburban/rural areas
  • 54% of individual homeless veteran’s have disabilities
  • 51% have serious mental illness
  • 73% have substance abuse problems
  • 11% of the homeless adult population are veteran’s
  • 24% of the homeless population in Los Angeles are male veteran’s

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that the nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male. The majority are single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. Over 22% of all the U.S. adult homeless population are combat veteran’s. Roughly 47% of all homeless combat veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 11.4% and 3.9% of the U.S. veteran population, respectively. In addition to the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness, which are extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care, many displaced and at-risk veteran’s live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of government, family and social support networks.

  • Employment Opportunities: To add insult to injury military occupation and training is not a guarantee to transfer to the civilian workforce, which inevitably place some veteran’s at a disadvantage when competing for employment in the civilian work place after coming home from serving this country.
  • Incarceration: In May 2020, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a special report on incarcerated veteran’s. The BJS elaborates on the incarcerated vets due to drug charges linked the drug use to existing conditions related to PTSD and escaping reality and this is what they revealed from personal interviews that were conducted:

Numbers and Profiles:

      • There were an estimated 139,900 veteran’s held in state and federal prisons. State prisons held 129,400 of these veteran’s, and federal prisons held 13,000.
      • Male veteran’s were half as likely as other men to be held in prison
      • Veterans in both state and federal prison were almost exclusively male
      • The median age of veteran’s in state prison was 12 years older than that of non-veteran’s. Non-veteran inmates were nearly four times more likely than veteran’s to be under the age of 35.
      • Veterans were much better educated than other prisoners. Close to 91% of veteran’s in state prison reported at least a high school diploma or GED, while an estimated 40% of non-veteran’s lacked either.

Military Backgrounds:

      • The United States Army accounted for 43% of veteran’s living in the United States yet 57% of veteran’s in state prison.
      • In 2020, the percentage of state prisoners who reported prior military service in the U.S. Armed Forces was almost 3 times as much at 30% than reported in 1996 which was 12%.
      • 54% of state prison veteran’s reported service during a wartime era, while 20% saw combat duty. In federal prison two-thirds of veteran’s had served during wartime, and one quarter had seen combat.
      • Six in 10 incarcerated veteran’s received an honorable discharge.

Mental Health:

      • Veteran status did not correlate to inmate reports of mental health problems.
      • Combat service was not related to prevalence of recent mental health problems. Just over half of both combat and non-combat veteran’s reported any history of mental health problems.
      • Veterans were less likely than non-veteran prisoners to have used drugs. 44% of veteran’s used drugs in the month before their offense compared to 58% of non-veteran’s.
      • Veterans had shorter criminal histories than non-veteran’s in state prison.
      • Veterans reported longer average sentences than non-veteran’s, regardless of offense type.
      • 57% of veteran’s were serving time for violent offenses, compared to 43% of non-veteran’s.
      • 33% of veteran’s in state prison had maximum sentences of at least 20 years to Life or Death

What Is The Solution? – Can We At Least Recognize The Problem?

The U.S. must give a top priority for homeless veteran’s when it comes to secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol. A high percentage of veterans are caught in the grip of addiction/alcoholism because it is an escape from the nightmare that they repeatedly live. Safe housing is essential to combat alternative street solutions, such as crime, drugs and suicide or homicide.

Veteran Needs Met – What do our veteran’s need?

  • Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment. In addition, veteran’s need job assessment, training and placement assistance when coming back from combat or even simply discharging from active duty. These options need to be afforded to them.
  • The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans advocates strongly and believes that all programs to assist homeless veteran’s must focus on helping them obtain and sustain permanent housing and employment.

Veteran Programs That Are Effective – What seems to work best?

  • The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit, “veteran’s helping veteran’s” groups. Programs that seem to work best feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veteran’s who are succeeding at bettering themselves.
  • Government money, while important, is limited to say the least, and available services are often at capacity. It is critical, therefore, that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities that most non-veteran Americans benefit from and take for granted such as housing, employment and health care. Veterans who participate in collaborative programs are afforded more services and have higher chances of becoming successful, self-fulfilled tax-paying, productive citizens again.

Community Outreach Participation from Civilians – What can I do?

  • Determine the need and participate in your community. Visit with homeless veteran service providers and outreach centers for veteran’s in your area. Contact your city councilmen office for a list of providers
  • Involve others. If you are not already part of an organization, align yourself with a few other people who are interested in attacking this issue.
  • Participate in local homeless coalitions. Chances are there is one in your community. If not, this could be the time to bring people together around this critical need to launch.
  • Donate to your local non-profit homeless veteran service provider.
  • Contact your elected officials. Discuss what is being done in your community for homeless veteran’s. There is power in numbers

In Review

Veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than other Americans due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. The problem of homelessness among veterans is huge because even though the Veteran Administration (VA) served more than 92,000 homeless veteran’s in 2014, an estimated 500,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year. The VA reaches 20% of those in need, which leaves roughly 400,000 veteran’s without supportive services (Vietnam Veterans).

Review: About 1.4 million veterans are considered at-risk of homelessness (American Journal of Public Health). We remember that “at risk” is defined as being below the poverty level as well as paying more than 50% of individual income on rent. It also includes households with a member who has a disability, a person living alone, and those who are not in the labor force. Research shows that the greatest risk factors for homelessness are lack of support and social isolation after discharge. Veterans have low marriage rates and high divorce rates; and, currently, 1 in 5 veterans is living alone. Social networks are particularly important for those who have a crisis or need temporary help. Without this assistance, they are at high risk for homelessness. Nearly half a million veterans are severely rent burdened and paying more than 50% of their income for rent (American Journal of Public Health). More 55% of veteran’s with severe housing cost burden fell below the poverty level and 43% receive food stamps. Approximately 47% of the 1.7 million veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are seeking disability compensation (Get Better at Counting Homeless Veterans). The average wait to get a disability claim processed and approved is any where from 8 months to 2 years.

Conclusion

Although homelessness affects many people from many walks of life and circumstances, there seems to be a pattern or reference point for many combat veteran’s. Sad to say that the reference point is the battlefield that we, as Americans, have left them on…. alone. So, the question is “knowing what you know now, what are you going to do?” What will you do to protect the veteran’s that fought for the very freedom and liberty that you, the American citizen or resident, are recipients of today? Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for us to stop looking at the government, the non-profit organization, the Democrats, the Republicans, the conservative, the liberal or whatever else you may call yourself. It’s time to answer the call to preserve the quality of life our homeless veterans are living……we need to suit up and get on the battlefield for them just as they did for us. The point is not to try to save everyone; it’s impossible. But if we each do our part, as our veteran’s did for us, we can turn impossible into possibilities. Each one of us can teach one of us. This is the goal. In addiction period. Homelessness is just another consolation prize of addiction.

The last thing I want to say is please do not misunderstand what I am saying about addiction, homelessness and veteran’s. Just because it is a veteran doesn’t excuse the addiction. I am not saying that veteran’s have a free pass to get high because they fought for our country. What I am saying is that many veteran’s situation, as you have read above in the statistics, have common reference points, one being PTSD from combat or service in general. Many veteran’s prior to service had no affiliation with drugs or alcohol. Once again, I am not saying that this is excused based on the individual being a veteran. However, a veteran that has served, fought, lost a limb, killed enemies and has been taken out of that hostile environment and brought back home with no debriefing, closure or relief is a far cry different from Johnny who would just rather get high with his knucklehead friends, ditch school, live off mom and dad and run them into the ground and then wake up one day and realize he has burned all of his bridges. You get my point, and for those of you who don’t, maybe you will get it on the way home.

I would like to thank the following people and their work that I was able to cite in putting together my research and, hopefully, persuasive message to encourage ALL of us to support our troops, and to support them not only in OUR time of need, but in their time of need as well. Many veterans are still fighting the battle years after the war is over. Many will, as we speak, just be beginning their battle as well. Let us keep this at our forefront. They deserve our best.

    

Dunne, Eugene, et al. “Increased Risk for Substance Use and Health-Related Problems

Among Homeless Veterans.” The American Journal on Addictions, 2020, pp.676-678.

Elms, Sarah. “Agencies Team up to Help Homeless Veterans.” Code of Federal Regulations:

Traverse City Record Eagle. N.p., 16 July 2019.

“How Did the Vietnam War Affect America?” The Vietnam War. N.p., 05 May 2019. Access 20

May 2021.

Metraux , Stephan et al. “Risk Factors for Becoming Homeless – A Cohort of Veterans

Who Served in the Era of the Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts” American Journal of

Public Health 103.S2 (2019): 255-261. Print.

“National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.” National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. N.p.,

n.d. Access. 20 May 2021.

“Office of Research & Development.” Vietnam Veterans. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 April 2017.

Rosenheck, Robert, et al. “Vietnam Era and Vietnam Combat Veterans among the Homeless”

American Journal of Public Health, vol. 91, no.8, 2020.

Wogan, J.B. “Get Better at Counting Homeless Veterans.” Counting Homeless Veterans. N.p.,

10 Oct. 2019. Access. 20 May 2021.

Can I Get Sober On My Own – I Don’t Know Can You?

If anyone has ever asked themselves the question while they were in their addiction, their alcoholism or even after an episode of detox without knowing what the next step would be, that question that may be directed to your inner self may be saying, “can I get sober on my own?” And, this would be a valid question for most, if not all, of us who have been involved with the process of recovery. This is a natural question that has haunted ALL of us who have had our struggles with one form of substance or alcohol use disorder. It is as natural a question as it is natural for self-doubting ourselves for success with sobriety.

This question is more of an inner spiritual existence than an actual verbal question that we ask ourselves. It is a conditional as well as an optional obstacle that we either overcome or submit to.

Correct Answers – With Different Angles

So, the correct answer to the question “can I get sober on my own?” requires an approach from a different angle. Left up to our own devices, we could probably answer that question in all honesty with something like, or similar, to this: “If I were able to get sober on my own, I would have already done it!” This is actually as honest as it gets because the same decisions that we have made to get us here (in our addiction) cannot be the same decisions necessary to conquer that addiction. In other words, the same mind that got your ass in this mess will not be the same mind to get you out of it.

One Way Of Looking At It – Closely

Let’s look at the question closely: “Can I get sober on my own?”

The reply: “I don’t know, can you?”

I asked my mother one time (one of many I may add), “Mom can I have another cookie?” My mother would reply, “I don’t know, can you?” It was a lesson to re frame the question to have a more definitive content so that the answer left no room to wonder. The word ‘can’ needed to be replaced with the word ‘may’. Now it would look as such: “Mom, may I have another cookie?” Now her answer was, “No you may not have another cookie because you have already had eight!” Just joking she said, “Yes baby you may have another cookie.”

This is just one analogy of developing a more definitive, productive question that leaves room for results in the answer opposed to just being a question in doubt.

One Word Transforms The Entire Sentence – How

The one word to transform this question into a question requiring action rather than a question full of wondering is ‘how’. Now see the word transform the question “Can I get sober on my own?” into “How can I get sober on my own?”

Good work! We have now transformed the question into a position of having a definitive answer, or results consisting of options.

One Right Answer – For Those Who Are Still Clean & Sober

The answer to the question now may have multiple choices to choose from that are available. However, I personally can only provide one. The answer to “How can I get sober on my own” is “you can’t”.

We who have been grounded in our sobriety know that this is not a gig that can be successfully accomplished single-handedly, on our own or alone.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to re-raise an alcoholic addict. There is so much defective behavior involved in alcohol and substance use disorder that insane decisions become normal for us. We need to enroll back in school for a new education from a new community of teachers referred to as the Fellowship in Recovery. Here in the school of recovery, learned behavior that has been practiced, honed and mastered in our active addiction, will now become unlearned or unpracticed, basically meaning this behavior will be replaced with new behavior, fundamental to who we are, not defective to who we aren’t. As an example, our selfishness, if we allow the teachers to teach, will be transformed into selflessness as we engage into the process of recovery. This process is ongoing and includes a fearless moral inventory of self, an amends process of our wrongs to be addressed and corrected and a continuance stance of relaying this process and message to others in search of the same freedom which we have found.

The Only Conclusion – Is Yours and Mines

The only answer I believe to be both true and fact for us is that it is not possible for us to get clean and sober on our own. I don’t believe we were meant to do this

alone since it has been proven to be virtually impossible to sustain sobriety alone. It may last for a minute for a few of us, but like anything else if you are not plugged into a source, you will eventually find that you are once again without power, or powerless.

How many times have you gotten clean? What’s the longest period you have stayed clean? Why did you go back, relapse? What made you go back, and relapse? How long did you stay out before you came back? How long have you still been out?

Getting clean is not the hard part my friends. Getting clean is the easy part. We know because we do it over and over and over again. We can get clean at any time. Staying clean, my friends, is the hard part.

In closing, you should know that what you can do on your own is make a decision that you are not going to do this alone. So make the decision to surround yourself with like-minded people. It’s the right decision…and you’re going to make a decision rather you like it or not. Make one that is going to count.

I would ask you to share in the comments your current situation, rather it is favorable or rather it is not so advantageous. What area is out of control? Where do you need help at? And most importantly, how can we help?

Staying Sober Without AA – Possible For Some, Unlikely For Many

Some people are inclined to believe that the only way for an alcoholic or drug addict (and it doesn’t really matter if you are addicted to alcohol or rather you use drugs alcoholically or vice versa) to acquire meaningful, long-term and consistent sobriety is to be faithfully connected to a 12-Step Fellowship. Some would even imply that staying sober without it is unlikely to happen.

The two most popular 12-Step Fellowships, with members of longevity known, respectively, are the Fellowship of AA, meaning Alcoholics Anonymous, and the NA Fellowship, meaning Narcotics Anonymous. There is also the fellowship of CA which is Cocaine Anonymous and probably a few more recent fellowships that I may not be aware of. The two most recognized books used in recovery would be the “Big Book” from AA (which is also used by CA members) and the “Basic Text” from NA.

Most of the new drugs out now were not from my era. I come from the 60s and 70s when speed was “black beauties or cross tops” not crack or crystal meth. Being that I was an “Old School ” heroin addict and the dope was uncut, I have watched the heroin being stepped on and replaced with Fentanyl as an SUD Counselor now working in treatment. I also see the synthetic prescription opiates like Oxy, Norcos and Vicodin that are becoming major gateways to long term addiction. My point is not to glamorize the plight or the history of how drugs have continued to evolve into an epidemic that has crushed countries, societies, communities, families and individuals with the wrath that it leaves. That wrath is addiction and it is not a California thing or a New York thing, it’s not even a United States thing or a North America thing…it is a GLOBAL THING. Addiction is internationally known and it affects us globally here on this planet we call Earth.

With that said, we also have another movement that is global as well. According to statistics from one source, the membership of Alcoholics Anonymous, as of 2020, was over 2.5 million members worldwide, with over 120,000 weekly meetings worldwide and it all taking place in over 179 countries worldwide. These numbers reflect successful members that remain sober.

So is staying sober without AA even possible. Unfortunately, statistics say it is possible, but highly unlikely for any long-term sobriety to take place if not grounded in a fellowship and continuous, rigorous work. However, one thing remains true and that is that statistics are designed to be broken.

A Look At The Pluses – The Upside

Being part of a supportive 12-Step Fellowship, such as AA, definitely has a huge upside. We could probably talk about the huge upside all day if necessary, but I have listed a few benefits for the purpose of this post. Let’s take a look at the pluses:

  • Becoming a member is absolutely FREE
  • Sponsorship to guide in 12-STEP RECOVERY work
  • Abundance of meetings ALL day EVERY day and near EVERYWHERE
  • A HUGE community of ongoing support

Unlike you local Country Club, you 24-Hour Fitness pass or even you annual membership to COSTCO, AA membership is absolutely free. There is no cost to join, only the will to remain abstinent or stay clean, sober. The support that is offered to fellow members is so undeniable, that a famous doctor back in the 30’s (when there were no treatment facilities, only insane asylums) made public reference that he himself, as a renowned physician, has never seen anything as effective, medicine or otherwise, in bringing these men back from the gates of hell as two alcoholics working together. And it has been that way ever since.

Along with this free membership comes sponsorship for the asking. A sponsor is someone who has previously worked the program steps and is qualified to give another member direction, and ultimately guide them through the process. This is referred to as 12-Step work and it consists of rigorous honesty within yourself to go through this fact finding process about one’s self. As an Alcohol & Drug Counselor now, as well as an ex-junkie who was strung out on heroin, I can honestly say that this type of therapeutic, spiritual awakening that any licensed therapist would attempt to me mick would cost you way out-of-pocket and the results would probably be less than advantageous. The root of this gig is pure “selflessness” and this is the one precursor to becoming a successful member. However, it is still considered “all good” because this selflessness is what keeps us sober. In other words, the one who practices this is the one who benefits. It’s a “pay it forward” type of deal where no money is exchanged. Just the locking of empty hands with one another.

Another upside to this fellowship deal is that there is a meeting near you, all day, every day, in any city, in any state and probably even in every country that requires a passport. This is monumental for the continued building of an unmovable foundation. When we first get clean, the house is just a frame with no real structure or foundation that is strong enough to last while it’s being built on. The AA Meetings are a form of “brick & mortar” for our continued sobriety if you will. In each meeting, something new is being built on. It’s an inside job that continually takes place if we allow it.

The icing on the cake, for the purpose of this post, is that with the population of recovering alcoholics and addicts, there is no shortage of advice or support for ANY member. The common analogy and camaraderie is that “you cannot keep what you have unless you give it away!” This better explained in laymen term is that each individual in recovery is to be willing to take someone else through the 12-Step process that they themselves have undergone. It’s that simple. Each one, teach one. Not only can you not keep what you have unless you give it away, but you have to give it away for FREE!

A Look At The Minuses – The Flipside

Everything that goes up must, eventually, come down. I guess that why we have up and down or pros and cons, advantages or disadvantages, pluses and minuses. What all this equates to is, really, good and bad. You simply have the good and the bad in everything. The good thing about a Lamborghini is that is a HELL of a car. The bad thing is that most people can’t afford one, it cost way too much money. The good thing about that Chocalate Fudge Banana Split Sundae is that it is TRUELY delicious and to die for. The bad thing is that it is 1350 calories.

It is safe to say, as well, that staying sober without AA may prove to be more difficult than being able to stay sober while being involved with AA, as a member. It really only stands to reason just based on the statistics alone of the 2.5 million people that have maintained sobriety within the AA community. That fact alone is (or should be) enough to convince anyone struggling with addiction, that there is a solution available. It should also be known that the founders of the fellowship themselves have stated, “we do not claim a monopoly on recovery”, meaning AA may not be the only way to recover.

The truth is some people have recovered with fitness and exercise, some people have recovered with church involvement, some people have not done either and just had the sheer will to stop, and did. But at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself (and be true to thine self) am I that person that is able to pull it off? Do I have the special ingredient that will allow me to bypass this proven process of recovery?

I’ve got news for you. If you are or were anything like me, the answer is NO, I am not. Because the truth is this: Rather you have been in this alcoholism or addiction for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 30 years, the answer is the same. The same mind that got you into this mess is not going to be the same mind to get you out of it and if you were able to get out of it, you would have done so already. Let’s fundamentally look at the Minuses as opposites of the Pluses:

  • not becoming a member (and it was absolutely FREE)
  • not having enough humility to admit you need help (Sponsorship)
  • Isolating yourself ALL day EVERY day from people who love and care about you
  • Instead of A HUGE community of healthy living and ongoing sober support, you choose the LARGER community of misery, which includes addicts, alcoholics, con-artists, pimps, prostitutes, slum hotels, criminals

Listen, I know the other scientific cons or psychological cons such as men vs. women in recovery and that men drink to feel more powerful and in control, but women drink to blot out traumatic events such as sexual or physical abuse. Women do not do as good as men in recovery and they prove to do better with, for example, CBT or cognitive behavior therapy and do better in programs’ such as trauma recovery empowerment model known as TREM. Other barriers are simply humanistic nature of believing in something more than you, like God or, as in the fellowship, a higher power in general. Some people say stupid shit like, “you higher power can even be a door knob” but “it just can’t be you”.

The difference in the Pluses – The Upside column and the Minuses – The Flipside column is ONE ingredient.

One Major Ingredient Needed

The co-founder of AA, Bill Wilson, known to the AA population worldwide as “Bill W.” said himself in the Big Book of AA that, “upon therapy for the alcoholic himself, we surely have no monopoly.” He (Bill Wilson) also stated in the Big Book that, “the roads to recovery are many…any story or theory of recovery from one who has trod the highway is bound to contain much truth.” And, the one that he reports that I like the most is, “In no circumstances should members feel that Alcoholics Anonymous is the know-all and do-all of alcoholism.”

So the conclusion that Bill W. came to should be the same conclusion that we somehow reach as well. That conclusion is that there is no therapy that has a monopoly on recovering and no therapy, AA or otherwise, that guarantees recovery. It just simply does not exist. What does exist is a simple program that has worked for millions of people worldwide. I am one of those people. The 12-Steps is a design for living. A transformation of the mind. An overhaul on perspective. It is a program that works. It is a simple program but it is not easy. The reason it is not easy is because there is an obstacle in the way of the programs’ recovery process. Can you guess what the obstacle is. Exactly. It is us, you and me. We are the one’s that make this process difficult, and even impossible for some of us. We are involved in the process. This makes the work difficult, and impossible for some, to complete and continue.

As I mentioned above, the difference in the pluses and minuses columns is just one ingredient. One ingredient turns this whole thing around. The ingredient is in us. It just needs to be activated. The ingredient is WILLINGNESS.

You have to be willing to change for anything to work. Just exercising the willingness (you don’t even have to necessarily want to do anything) changes the board for you because willingness is clothed in humility, not ego. Our ego is what has us here in the first place. Time to trade the ego in for a little humility. And a little humility goes a long way.

To Wrap It Up

I would be lying if I told you that ANY program will guarantee you lifetime, or even long-term, sobriety. There just are no guarantees available, and if anybody tells you different, there a liar. All we have are statistics. The current statistics say the deck is stacked against us to begin with because the road to recovery is slim and for few to begin with. It’s not because recovery is not available to everyone. It’s not because recovery is ineffective. It’s been effective for at least 2.5 million in AA alone, not including the other fellowship stats of recovered individuals. None of these 2.5 million people had any guarantee that there recovery efforts would be successful. None of them had that guarantee. What made them successful was that they realized they were involved in the process and were willing to get out of their own way and be led down a different path. Willingness was what they brought to the table. And it will be nothing less asked of us.

Do we need AA or NA? Do we need some other type of program or intervention? It’s possible.

Can we do it alone? That too is possible…but highly unlikely.

Help Me Out

I would love some feedback on you experience, personal journey, where you are at now or where you would like to see yourself in the future and if there is any direction we can provide you with. See you on the next post family!

How To Help Someone With Meth Addiction – What The Plan Looks Like

Today we will be sharing a treatment plan of how to help someone with meth addiction that hasn’t used for 8 months.  Due to being locked up this individual remained clean after adverse actions, like incarceration, prevented his continued use. In order to “break free” completely and avoid a possible relapse, certain steps need to be implemented for preventive maintenance and we need to know what the plan would hypothetically look like. For all intended purposes we will be looking at a random and nameless individual for this scenario. This individual who has made the FIRST STEP in the direction of making a 180 degree turnaround from active addiction could actually be you…or maybe your brother…possibly a father or even a son. The first step, however, is only the beginning toward treatment for his addiction. This is meant to be inspirational as well as “right down to earth where the reality lies”. To the ladies, you may also place yourself as this random and nameless individual as well as the men. You see, the gender, the sex, the names, the places, the ethnicity, the drugs involved, the days, months or years that have been utilized, the sexual preferences, the status quo and any other self-identifying aspects of an individual which you could think of are really irrelevant when it comes to addiction. The reason is that addiction doesn’t care, first of all, and, secondly, addiction does not, nor will it ever, discriminate against anyone…EVER! It could give two hoots or care less about whom, what, how, why or where you are. Addiction will meet you whenever, wherever and whoever you are. Let’s look at this plan as it unfolds and follow the curriculum:

Identifying & Personal Data: The Individual 

Client is a single, 35-year old Mexican-American male. Client states that he currently resides alone and has a 6-year old daughter from a previous relationship. Client explained that he has shared custody (not joint) in which his daughter spends weekends with him as well as unsupervised visits as mutual consent from the daughter’s mother, whom the daughter resides with legally. Client appears to be in a rational state and receptive during this interview. Clients personal appearance is well groomed, with good hygiene noticeable. Client appears to be alert, focused and concerned with his current situation of being court ordered for Intensive Outpatient Program placement.

Drug Specific Data: What Is The Use Disorder History 

Client admits to having a 17-year history of drug/alcohol abuse and/or use disorder, with methamphetamine being the primary and alcohol being the secondary. Client states that he was age 22 when he first used primary drug and that he has used it on a weekly basis for the past 10 years. Client states that he was age 18  when he first used alcohol. Client states that he has used alcohol heavily approximately 8 days out of the month for the past 5 years (weekends regularly). Client  has had no prior treatment episodes and no sobriety periods prior to now. Client currently has 8-months sobriety (incarceration) as of this interview. Client further shares that he has no history of mental health or current suicidal ideations. Client has elaborated, however, that homicidal ideations were frequent for him between the ages of 20-22, but no attempts were ever exercised, only ideations.

Presenting Problem: Court Order For Use History

Client has no present physical substance abuse problem, as he has been abstinence from drugs/alcohol for 8-months due to incarceration. Regular and random  urinalysis testing of client while in SAP for past 8-months confirm client’s abstinence report. Client does admit other strained family relationships that currently exist due to his previous substance abuse. Client prefers not to elaborate. Client is court ordered by the Los Angeles County Probation Department and referred to his agency by CASC due to arrest for possession and DUI, which has afforded formal probation. Client is to complete an IOP program due to history and longevity of drug use without intervention. Client has been self-employed for the past 5 years and states that he has no current financial hardships, health issues, or any other legal matters pending other than court ordered treatment.

Family Background History: Predisposition Relevant

Client reports no physical or sexual abuse history. Clients mother has history of depression, for which she received past treatment. Client expressed that his  mother has not had a depression episode in 7 years. Client explained that his childhood was fatherless, and that his mother suffered from depression, as a result of the father’s abandonment of his family. Client was 7-years old when his father left. Client has 2 older brothers and 1 younger sister. Although client is not a documented gang member, client shared that his older brothers were and had some influence on his early childhood, which he participated in criminal activities at the age of 11. Client shared that his mother had several boyfriends that sold drugs, and even though he did not participate at that time, he feels that maybe a “seed” was planted that maybe later got “watered” as client expressed. Client expressed a loneliness of being the middle child. Client stated that his older brother or either his younger sister always got the attention from their mother. Client shared that he felt “invisible” at times.

Summary Of Ongoing Treatment

Client has a 17-year history of substance abuse, with methamphetamine being the primary and alcohol being the secondary choice of use. Client treatment plan  will consist of short term goals, long term goals, and action steps to enforce goals. Client will achieve abstinence, learn the facts about his addiction, and  understand how client’s addiction has caused his life to become unmanageable and dysfunctional. Long term, Client must maintain total sobriety and receive  further education about his own addictive behavior and personality. To achieve this plan of action, client will attend group meetings three (3) times a week. Client will further participate in one-on-one counseling once a week. Client will also participate and submit to regular/random urinalysis as directed. Client will also participate in three (3) outside recovery meetings a week.

Client Observation 

Client states that he witnessed quite a bit in “The Barrio”, from gang beatings, to sexual abuse, drug abuse, and fatal shootings, even though he was not a direct  victim of these circumstances. Client said that “my mom did the best she could under the circumstances and pressure of raising four kids by herself”.  Client  makes no excuses for his actions, and takes responsibilities for his choices, that he now says “I realize were the wrong ones”. Client states that his drug and  alcohol use started late in his early adulthood so he really could not be honest in connecting his decisions and choices solely based on his childhood. Client shared
that “my meth use was an experiment that went sideways and never ended. It was an experiment that never ended until I got arrested”.

Client Prognosis

In prognosis, client shows favorable odds for recovery. Client displays a willingness to change a destructive pattern that has rendered his life “dysfunctional” for  too many years. I believe if client stays the course, the outcome will be favorable for client. In explanation, client is receptive to the process in which he is involved in. Client is willing to participate in his own recovery. Client understands that his current situation warrants professional help and understands the ramifications of not taking advantage of the help provided. The most important factor, I believe, that will serve this client in positive regard is that the client makes no excuses
for his behavior. Client does not play the “victim” card and realizes that his situation is a direct result of his own decisions. Client assumes full responsibility for his change to take place and is optimistic that this agency will guide him in the direction that must be taken. Client is willing and will continue to attend group
counseling, one-on-one counseling, outside meetings as directed and comply with monitored abstinence with regular, as well as random, urinalysis testing. This client’s prognosis is positively favorable at this level of care and recommendation for the next level of care with the following modalities are as follows:

Recommendations – Continued Outpatient Programs

Further treatment modalities that would benefit this client by his own admission are:

  1. Effective Parenting – client expressed his desire to become a better parent for his daughter.
  2. Anger Management – client expressed funnels of agitation and impatience at times. I believe this would serve as a safeguard, and continued education
    in recovery. Resentment can become the number one offender of relapse.
  3. Health/Fitness Program – client stated that while incarcerated he found a peace in exercise. Continued fitness will benefit stress levels and frustration. These ingredients need to be channeled in a positive way.
  4. 12 Step Work – A program of any recovery will involve a fearless inventory of yourself and an effort to make amends to any persons that you have harmed.
  5. Grief/Loss Coping – Client is definitely impacted by the absence of his father. Client does not want to become the father to his daughter that his father was to him, which was “absent”, but with no new information, that is what could certainly take place (I believe).
  6. Domestic Violence – Client could benefit from this class as to model “what NOT to do” in his future relationships.

In closing, simply put, if the work is put in, the results will follow and have a destination.  My question to you is…have you put in as much work in your recovery as you have put into your addiction?  Because the truth is that this hypothetical scenario is reality to someone, if not many. Do your footwork…stay out the results. Leave your comments and feel free to always direct any questions or concerns…or even if you just need to reach out and talk about it ~Timo Therapy~

My Relapse Prevention Plan – The Life Long Journey

While there is much to be discussed about the vital ingredients in the recipe of successful addiction recovery, there is still one underlying element that is a contributor and potential threat to the equation of long term sobriety. This element is referred to as the infamous ‘relapse’ and it is, and will be to most, as much a part of the process in long-term recovery as sobriety is. For that reason alone it should (and actually will be) also be referred to as the ‘inevitable’ relapse.

I can honestly say, personally, that my relapse prevention plan has been an ongoing executed plan for the past 13 years. My relapse prevention plan has not, and is not, a rewritten novel that includes “THE END” on the last page of a book that I read and neither will yours be. The term relapse will remain infamous to those who are aware and respect it. It will also become inevitable for those who do not. There is no gray area associated with this. It is clearly black and white. You will either continue to maintain sobriety or you will relapse. Layman term: you are either clean or you are dirty.

The best way to describe ‘my relapse prevention plan’ would be to add ‘what is’ or ‘what will be’. This is a self-addressed question that requires re-visiting on a daily basis by anyone who identifies as being an alcoholic or an addict. If I may tell the truth, the first step in recovery is admittance. So if you are reading this and you are saying to yourself, ‘I don’t have a problem’ then you are in the wrong place. Many people die (and will continue to die) in the disease of addiction because of this simple lack of realization. Unfortunately you cannot change what you do not realize. The truth is simply this; relapse is a part of recovery and it has to be treated as such. This is why a relapse prevention plan is necessary. Having a plan doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to utilize it. What it does mean, however, is that it is better to have one (a plan) and not need it than to need one and not have it. It is a plan for a life journey and a design for living. So ‘who’ are we talking about and ‘who’ are we talking to on this journey?

Understanding Who Needs A Plan

First of all, the ‘who’ is anyone who identifies as an addict or alcoholic. Without the self-diagnoses of identifying as an addict or alcoholic, chances of recovery are slim to none. I believe we all know people who drink, smoke a little weed or toot a little blow, for example. Some of these people have nice houses, have secure jobs, are raising children, have multiple vehicles, participate in different functions etc: and they drink or use occasionally and maybe even regularly. Some of these people have bars in there homes and wine cellars and vintage bottles of this and that. These people we know have been living this way for years. They still have their home, their jobs, their relationships with their children and other family members, they get together still on holidays to celebrate and they seem quite normal. More importantly, they appear to still have the one ingredient that I could never keep intact. That ingredient was my sanity. Whenever I had just one drink, just one puff or just one line, it led to another, then another, then something stronger, then something stronger than that and ra-da-tat-tat (sound familiar for you too). Before I knew it, it was pitch black dark and all was lost. Including my residence, relationships, employment, integrity, morals, you name it, it got stripped behind the beginning of the end of ‘just one!’ If you identify with me more than those other people who “have been living this way for years” then you would be the ‘WHO’ needs a plan people, just like me.

Relapse Prevention Is Contingent Upon Daily Maintenance

Every plan is not tailored the same just as every well-made suit is not tailored the same. It is tailored to fit the individual. A relapse prevention plan, however, has fundamental elements, or ingredients, that apply to all. As an example, every relapse prevention plan must be grounded on the foundation of understanding that drinking or using is not an option. This is a fundamental element that is strictly ALL inclusive. This applies to all who identifies. It is important to understand that if nothing changes, then nothing changes. The signs of relapse are red flags that we intuitively know and see during the journey of our recovery. The problem for many comes from not being able to recognize the signs of relapse before it takes place and understanding what cannot be compromised during this journey. A possible incomparable contingency to understand that applies to us is, “I cannot drink or use…period!” If this contingency cannot be fundamentally protected by the individual, then relapse is inevitable.

Getting Clean Is Just The Beginning

One of the most, if not the most, important fundamental ingredients to maintaining sobriety is individual participation in continued recovery after treatment. You may have gone through detox treatment and felt that it was enough. Maybe you have gone through both detox and residential treatment and stayed clean for a while. Or, possibly you may have done outpatient treatment as well, with no detox or residential treatment. Hypothetically speaking, some of you have done 20 episodes of detox treatment and 10 episodes of residential treatment and still find yourself with yet another relapse. This is extreme I know, but it is also the Gods Honest Truth for most of us.

Treatment regimens vary but in this extreme example of 20 episodes of detox and 10 episodes of residential treatment, one thing you can establish for certain is this: relapse exists because getting clean is the easy…staying clean is the hard part. Once you get clean, you have to decide one of two things: “either I am going to stay clean or I am not” and that decision is going to be made rather you like it or not. You are going to do one or you are going to do the other. Treatment episodes, rather detox, residential or outpatient are only the beginning of the sobriety journey. Treatment is the “getting clean” part. The most difficult, slippery and challenging situations take place outside of treatment.

Sobriety Is A Journey, Not A Destination

It is important to understand the different plans involved with addiction, substance use disorder. There’s a treatment plan, a recovery plan and a relapse prevention plan. If the first two are utilized effectively, the latter won’t be necessary. Unfortunately, statistics say otherwise. The statistics of relapse in this country alone are quite depressing. The good news is statistics are meant to be broken.

To Sum It Up

Your relapse prevention plan may not fully resemble my relapse prevention plan or anybody else for that matter. In our sobriety we have to replace time we spend in our alcoholism or our addiction, with productive, new or old, activities that we love, or that we once loved and no longer do because of our time-consuming addiction. You may find playing golf is relaxing, where I may find that playing the drums is soothing. One may enjoy cooking more than someone else who prefers hiking as a productive pastime now. But WE ALL have one thing in common that we must agree on if we are going to be successful. And this applies inclusively. That one thing is the same mindset that we ALL agree on…we cannot afford the luxury of drinking or using like other people. We have discovered the truth that when we use, we lose relationships, we lose children into the system, we lose our homes, our jobs, our self-respect, our self-worth and our freedom from incarceration to say the least. We simply LOSE EVERYTHING.

So you see, the mindset has to be that, “relapse is not an option here”. The foundation of relapse prevention must be built around the precursor that the mind has made a decision to remain abstinent from anything that is mind altering. The process is simple, the concept is easy. What makes this whole gig difficult is that we, the individual, are involved with the decision-making in the process. So we have to firmly decide “not to use no matter what”. It’s really that simple. Simple, yet difficult. But difficult is not impossible, and if it’s not impossible then it is possible, and if it is possible then it can, simply, be done. So decide. You are going to make a decision rather you like it or not.

How To Recover From Drug Addiction – Mindset Is Essential For Change

The road to recover from drug addiction (or any other addiction for that matter) should be understood, to begin with, as a journey and NOT a destination. Simply put, you continue to move forward but you never arrive. The reason you continue to move forward, as any addict, is because ALL you really have is a daily reprieve contingent upon your daily maintenance and what you have done for your recovery to sustain “that day” for having another day of successful recovery. The old cliche, one day at a time. However, that cliche stands true today as it has for the past 80+ years.

It should also be understood that if you have found, or find, yourself in the “grip of the disease” known as addiction that many roads of opportunity will clear a path for you. Let’s see…there’s a road to selfishness, a road to self-centeredness, another road to dishonesty, that particular road that leads to criminal activity, the road to self-destruction, don’t forget the road to incarceration and the road to alienation, just to name a few. Do any of them sound familiar?

There are many elements involved in successful, long term sobriety. If, you are reading this it is fair to assume you have probably traveled down many of these roads I have mentioned.

As I kick off this series of “how to recover from drug addiction”, we will be exploring the many limbs that will make up this particular body that will, in turn, function successfully when ALL the limbs are being utilized properly. Although we may individually be unique, our situation is not. Most of the characteristics that addicts have in common have proven to lead to the exact same consequences that addicts suffer from. One of the many characteristics would be the mindset of the addict in active addiction.

My Mind Is Playing Tricks On Me

No, I am not going to talk about The Ghetto Boys rap song and I am not going to quote the old “go to college” commercial “a mind is a terrible thing to waste!” you’re are familiar, cool…if not, stay with me… I’m going somewhere.

The mind is a primary part of this equation because without it we have no solution, no possible chance to recover from a drug addiction successfully. This actually rings true in life in general. A healthy mind will produce a healthy environment as well as healthy fruit. A damaged mind will produce an unstable environment along with damaged fruit…period…that’s life. The mind that studies, on another hand, is likely to excel in learning or education. A mind that doesn’t study, on the other hand, will probably fail and remain uneducated. All of this is probable and the ONLY chance for change is contingent upon one thing. The mindset…it is essential for change to take place in the mind.

The Mind Involved With Addiction, Recovery & Relapse

Some of you here have never relapsed, because you have never quit your addiction since you started. Some of you have been clean for 1 month (congratulations), some of you have been clean for 6 months (awesome!) and some for 1 year or even 10 years (major accomplishment). So some of you have remained in your addiction since the onset with no remedy and then some of you have refrained, gotten clean, maintained sobriety for some length of time…and then unfortunately came the relapse. Wherever you find yourself, one factor plays a role that definitely assisted you in getting there. And that would s your mindset.

Let’s look at a couple of hypothetical, yet realistic, scenarios:

He works for a Law Firm and has been a paralegal for 5 years. Tom used to be very noticeably productive at work. His co-workers notice a change. Tom has been using heroin now for 10 months. It started out as “recreational” so he thought. He never used drugs before this and now finds himself, at 38 years old, using more and more on a daily basis. He still has his job but is often late to work and is now behind 3 months on his car note. Tom also realizes that he is dependent on the heroin but believes that he can juggle everything that is progressively taking place. Unfortunately it only took 5 more months for Tom to find himself homeless and addicted to heroin living on the streets. His mindset gradually went from productive to powerless.

On the other hypothetical scene:

Susan has been clean now for 18 months. She had used everything from cocaine to heroin to alcohol previously. She used for 10 years at the time she was determined to get clean. Her determination afforded her the sobriety that she currently has. Her mindset had changed.

After working for the past 18 months, one day Susan walked into a Liquor Store to get a pack of gum and some cigarettes. The thought came out of no where. “It sure would be nice to have a drink right now!” Other thoughts came in to validate that thought, such as, “You deserve it because you have been working so hard” and “Just one drink…nobody will know”. Susan came out of the liquor store with a pack of cigarettes, a pack of gum and a pint of Vodka. This led her back to the familiar faces in the places she used to get high in and before the night was through, was strung out on heroin, as well, once again. Susan had picked up right where she left off 18 months ago. Her mindset had changed…again.

Why The Mindset Is Essential For Change

I truly believe that you cannot change who you are. I have to believe that each one of you, just as I, were created whole, perfect and complete at birth. When I was born, I doubt very seriously that my plan was to grow up to be a drug addict or a convicted convict. As a child, I had dreams like any other child. We all have the free will to follow whatever path, right or wrong, that we choose to. There are paths that lead to success and there are those which lead to destruction but at the end of the day, it is a decision. To change is impossible. You can’t change who you are. What will you change into…lions, tigers & bears..OH MY!! STAY WITH ME!

“OK TIMO, so I can’t change…then what can I do?”

I am so glad you asked!

What you CAN DO is eliminate the things that do not serve you, and work on being the best version of YOU that YOU can be! This process does not change you, it evolves you with positive growth into who you really are to begin with.

While you can’t change who you are, you CAN change your mind into becoming the BEST YOU that is possible. Listen, God (and even if you don’t believe it’s still true) didn’t make a mistake when He created you. The thing that plaques us is the freedom of choice, the freedom of free will. We get to decide what we do, when we do it.

Wrapping It Up To Go With Comparison

When it comes to addiction, and the mindset required for recovery and sobriety, I like to look at it the way Morgan Freeman did in The Shawshank Redemption. After he was finally released from prison after 40 years (and your addiction is quite comparable to any prison sentence-trust me, I’ve been there) he was writing in his journal, saying, “I find it harder and harder every day to make it out here”. He was so used to that cell and that yard after 40 years that he couldn’t see his way out. All of a sudden, in the midst of it all, it dawned on him that he had a DECISION to make. He could either get busy living…or get busy dying. This wraps it up in a nut shell. Your mindset will either support you or it will defeat you. There is no gray area when it comes to addiction. You’re gonna get busy living or get busy dying!

Last Words Of Impact

I myself have traveled down many, many roads that were full of obvious obstacles ahead. Yet and still, I traveled them. The consequences that came with traveling them were plentiful and didn’t lack any abundance of destructive content. The roads I inherited, just to name a few from my decisions along with my addiction, consisted of crime, deceit, betrayal and incarceration among many.

What I have ultimately come to realize that I hope I can convey is this: I realized that the human being in me could not change; the circumstances, choices and decisions I made most certainly could though. So clear, I was able to realize 13 years ago that the same mindset that got me into this mess, would not possibly be the mind to get me out of it. That had to change. The process of elimination had to begin. I began to start pruning the things that did not serve me. I also realized that I was going to make a decision. That’s how powerful we are. We are so powerful, that we are going to make a decision rather we like it or not. We are going to choose life or we are going to choose death with the knowledge that these are the only two options for us.

Moving forward we have many topics to cover and information to absorb. I am sure that we have all been down many futile roads in our lives that have led to nowhere. There is a narrow path, a road to speak, that we can travel. Rather, we take the easy, wide, destructive paths that consist of a bunch of endless misery, or rather we decide to take the right, only, narrow path to a better life that is a journey, not a destination, is totally up to us. One thing is for sure. When you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.

Make the decision, once and for all, to finally change your mind for good.

Much Love and I will see you all on the next post!

Timo

About Timo Therapy

A Little About Timo…A Little About Therapy

If you haven’t figured it out yet Timo would be myself.  My name is actually Timothy but my friends and family have called me “Timo” since I was a young buck. It is pronounced T-Mo…like T-Mobile without the “bull”. So with that said, timotherapy rhymes with chemotherapy, we both seek remission and recovery for specific cancer(s) and we both understand that recovering & recovery is an ongoing process dependent upon our daily maintenance if we are, or have been, affected by the disease.

It is important to understand that I come from a background that is considered “two-fold” in this arena and this is what I will be bringing to the table.

On one platform I am a certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. I graduated from Los Angeles City College with my Certification in Human Services: Alcohol & Drug Counseling and also registered with credentialing agency CAADE (California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators). I have been on this platform for the past 7 years.

On the second platform I am a recovering heroin addict who spent over 20 years in active addiction. To add insult to injury, I subsequently spend close to 22 years in prison for armed robbery as a direct result of my addiction. With addiction comes a criminal lifestyle for many and I was definitely one of the “many” community. To share my whole story (and I am willing) would take very, very, very……long. What is the most important element about “who I am today” is simply this….I had to be who I was, and go where I went, and do what I did…to make me WHO I AM today. I had to have that experience, I had to have made those awful decisions and accept the consequences for those awful decisions…to become who I was always meant to become. Some might say a day late, and a dollar short. I believe I arrived right on time!

How Am I Able To Help With Your Recovery?

This is the $1,000,000 question. And I will do my best to transmit this as clear as possible. If you have a professional who has been educated in addiction but has had no history with addiction then the barrier of “street experience” exists. This doesn’t mean that a person with no drug use or alcohol abuse (today known as substance use disorder) is rendered useless for helping someone with their use disorder. It does mean that there will always be a barrier of actually “being able to have walked in their shoes” and understand the full plight of the alcoholic or drug addict from their personal perspective.

I believe that a psychological and scientific scholastic approach alone with no “street knowledge” or experience presents a barrier of trying to transmit what you do not have. In this process I have witnessed many interventions that would have otherwise been successful. I believe the education that I have received, both “extensive street and sufficient schooling”, will allow me to reach a larger population online and ultimately make a difference in saving life’s with long term recovery & sobriety.

Timo Therapy Has One Mission, One Purpose & One Goal

There is an old saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” meaning not just the parents but other relevant individuals such as teachers, doctors, employers, coaches, pastors etc; it takes a village to impart in a productive life is the bottom line. The road to recovery is a journey not meant to be traveled alone. In my own addiction I realize that I have traveled down many, countless, endless roads that have led to nowhere.

For the past 13 years I have maintained my sobriety and stayed on a narrow path that has kept me much longer than I ever expected. My mission is to reach, my purpose is to educate and my goal is to transmit what I have that has allowed me to be set free from ALL those roads that have led to nowhere. I come to find that “when you don’t know where you are going…any road will do.” And if you are reading this, you are on the right road now.

We are here to help you on your journey to recover and should you ever have ANY questions or concern about your recovery, you can direct your concerns directly to me at timo@timotherapy.com or for questions in general at info@timotherapy.com

Blessings and Much Love,

Timo
Founder of TimoTherapy.com