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Join Us for Our Friends of Austin Recovery Annual Fall Luncheon

Join us for this year’s Friends of Austin Recovery Annual Fall Luncheon on Thursday, October 9 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. This year’s esteemed guest speaker is author, professor, and thought-leader, Hamilton Beazley, Ph.D.

Dr. Beazley is a Scholar-in-Residence at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and a former Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Beazley served in a variety of executive positions including President of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc., New York City and is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Division on Addictions of the Harvard Medical School. He is the author of seven books, including the award winning No Regrets, and has appeared on “Oprah Winfrey,” NBC, CNN, CNBC, Fox and a host of radio programs from coast to coast.

Click here for more information and to register.

Friends of AR Luncheon 2014 - Invitation - ONLINE VERSION

Guest Blog Post: A Year of Firsts

My name is Maryse Saffle, and I serve as the Experiential Coordinator at Austin Recovery. As we celebrate Recovery Month, as well as commemorate 9/11, I am reminded of the impact both of these events continue to have on my life. Let me take you back to 2001….

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I had been isolating and feeling stuck, suicidal and hopeless for a long time. When 9/11 happened, I was glued to the TV for days, albeit drunk or high, but somehow my own personal fog of self-pity began to lift. Here were people who had REAL problems, here were stories of loss and despair, but also hope and overcoming and selflessness. How small my world had become, in the face of the human drama unfolding on the screen.…I made a decision I had been contemplating for 6 months, made arrangements for my son and my dog to be taken care of, and entered detox at Austin Recovery on October 2nd, 2001. Nothing would ever be the same.

I had a vital spiritual experience at Austin Recovery that changed my life. I learned a lot about the disease, and a little about myself during that month. But mainly, I learned about the Steps and a fellowship of people just like me who could help me. Treatment worked, now recovery was beginning…

November 8th was my discharge date, and I returned to Temple, and attended my first meeting in a non-descript, cigarette smelling house; I was so afraid before entering these rooms, shaky and self-conscious, but ended up meeting a tribe who took me under their collective wing for that first year. My first trip to the grocery store triggered all kinds of memories even looking at the beer aisle, cravings rushed through me from nowhere, demons waiting to pounce…I prayed my ass off, and could not wait for the next meeting, to release these thoughts and get support. I also came back to Austin Recovery every Sunday for about 6 months, to attend the service and the Alumni meetings. That place was hallowed ground for me.

Next came the first trip home to Switzerland at Christmas, barely 2 months sober, back to the place where I learned to drink, and where wine is an intrinsic and cultural part of the social fabric. YIKES! Bloody Mary called my name on the flight, but I ignored her, all the while noticing how weird it felt to travel without booze. My family graciously agreed to drink apple juice with our Christmas dinner, where the norm was 5 or 6 courses, and just as many kinds of wine pairings. Only the first year, mind you, after that, it was my job to stay sober. I attended AA meetings in French, and once again, met tribe members who helped me stay sober.

And then came my first “crush”…an AA member with 14 years of sobriety…even though my sponsor and counselor had told me not to get involved in a romantic relationship for a year, I started feeling the familiar stirrings of what I now know as codependency. But then, I justified those feelings and thought they just did not understand, I was different, and this guy was sober after all…It took barely 3 months for me to realize how right they both were, I was unable to focus on myself, and projecting all my unmet needs on a person who was himself known as a predator in the rooms…I remained sober through it all, even though he stated he was so hurt when I ended it.

That was another first: recognizing when a relationship was wrong, and ending it in a clear, concise, non-dramatic way. It was time to establish a healthy relationship with myself. I refocused on working the program, and dedicated myself to taking AA meetings to Bell County Jail, another first.

Now I had never been to jail, through no effort of my own, mind you. It was clearly grace that saved me, on two continents, after dealing heroin and meth, and too many drunk or high shenanigans to remember. Not even a DWI….these women were doing MY time! Focusing on service work, and helping others addicts/alcoholics, nurtured the seed that AR had planted: this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I made a decision to return to school to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. All these years of research and “on the job training” were finally paying off!

There were other, smaller sober “firsts”: the first football game, the first New Year celebration, the first birthday, the first dance, etc. But throughout that first year, I held out for the next colored coin and key ring, those little token handed out at meetings to celebrate times of sobriety, both in AA and NA. 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months….and finally, a year! Hard to believe, but I had made it, with spiritual and human help. I kept a journal of my inner states of mind, simply sharing with God what was going on, and every year at this time, I read again the daily entries during my stay in treatment. Humbling and powerful….

Nowadays, I am simply blessed to work daily with my tribe, and help others find what I have found here: a deep connection with my higher power and myself, which are one and the same. Spirituality is not a treatment outcome, it is the ESSENCE of what we are.

Mark Your Calendars for September Events at Austin Recovery

Gateway to Recovery - September 3 & 10, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.*
*Note New Time!*
The Gateway to Recovery series provides information on how to detect addiction and what friends and families can do to help those needing treatment. This information series is free and often the first step in helping people find treatment and begin the healing process. Facilitated by Mary Boone, LCSW, LCDC, Gateway to Recovery is held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the first and second Wednesday of each month at Austin Recovery’s Center for Recovering Families office (3420 Executive Center Drive, Suite G100, Austin, Texas 78731).** Click here for more information**Note New Location!**

300_5x7_JamesH2013_08_07_AUG_5225Retouch - CROPSecond Saturday Workshop – September 13, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
“Confessions of a Recovery Hypnotist: Mind-Body Approaches to Maintaining Sobriety” presented by James Hazlerig, MA, CHP
Hypnosis is real, it’s powerful, and it can help you maintain sobriety – but of course it’s not what you’ve seen on TV. In this experiential workshop, you’ll discover how hypnosis actually works, how a hypnosis practitioner can support your recovery, and how guided self-hypnosis and goal-oriented meditation can help you to change your life-and keep the change! Two hours of continuing education credits are offered to chemical dependency professionals with LCDC, ADC, LMFT, LCSW and LMSW certifications as approved by DSHS and TCBAP. Second Saturday is held at Austin Recovery (4201 S. Congress Avenue, Suite 202, Austin, TX 78745).** Click here for more information.**Note New Location!**

Big Texas Rally for Recovery – Saturday, September 13, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., State Capitol Grounds, South Steps
Let’s make history in Texas! Join thousands of people from across this great state at our State Capitol in Austin for National Recovery Month, Saturday, September 13th, 2014, to show your support for people living in and seeking Recovery in Texas from addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. Join people in recovery, their family members and friends, addiction treatment professionals and allies in Texas. Let’s spread the positive message that people can and do recover.  Click here for more information.

Second Annual Mulligan Open Benefitting Austin Recovery Alumni Association - Saturday, September 20, 12:30 p.m.
The Alumni Association is hosting the Second Annual Golf Tournament at Balcones Country Club Saturday, September 20, 2014, beginning with a Putting Contest at 12:30 p.m. We are currently accepting donations and team registrations.  Funds from the event cover the cost of Alumni events and help those new in recovery pay for the costs of Alumni events throughout the year. The cost to play per person is $75. Get your team ready as prizes are available in different events.  The event takes place at Balcones Country Club (8600 Balcones Club Drive, Austin, Texas 78750).  Contact Allen J. at 512-825-0772 for more information.

Austin Recovery Alumni Events
Join the Austin Recovery Alumni for fun events and fellowship throughout the week. Events include Sunday Night Alumni Speaker Meetings, Big Book study groups, Musical Journey, skating, hikes around Lady Bird Lake, drum circles, bowling nights, game nights, evenings at the coffee shop and more. For more information, contact Austin Recovery Alumni Services Coordinator Cary Acevedo at 512-697-8513 or click on the Alumni events link on www.AustinRecovery.org.

 Volunteer Opportunities at Austin Recovery
Austin Recovery is always looking for volunteers to provide additional support to our clients in residential addiction treatment in the following areas: financial planning, parenting skills, healthy relationships, job readiness/ interviewing skills, stress management, anger management, self-esteem and abuse issues. We also need volunteers for clerical work, yoga, arts and crafts, dance, spa days (pedicures, manicures, hairstyling), recreation and weightlifting. If you are interested or have questions, please contact Austin Recovery Director of Volunteer Services Sinclair Fleetwood at 512-697-8537 or sfleetwood@austinrecovery.org.

#FactOrFictionFriday: Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Our sister organization, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, launched a Facebook campaign this year known as #FactOrFictionFriday in which they share statistics from reputable sources on topics ranging from process addictions to substance abuse to mental health.  In light of the recent passing of beloved actor Robin Williams, we wanted to take a moment today to share some of The Council’s #FactOrFiction images that have to do with some of the lesser discussed topics of mental health, illness, and impairment and how they can sometimes be tied into a substance abuse issue.
02.07.14 - By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide

4 Million Children Serious Mental Illness

8.9 Million Adults Co Occurring

28 Percent Alcoholism with Depression

Co-Occurring Treatment Received

Guest Blog Post: Success in Recovery

Austin Recovery is fortunate to have an extremely active Alumni Association that provides an environment of support, hope and encouragement to those battling addiction and working towards maintaining sobriety. One of our alums recently reached out to us to share her story in hopes that it can inspire others through the Austin Recovery blog.

Here is her story.

Alumna Story

“I was fortunate enough to attend the Edith Royal Campus the summer of 2013.  I spent 70 days in the Women’s Journey program and during that time I was given a new sense of hope towards life.  I do not recall much of my detox or the first few weeks of treatment.  I do remember being stubborn and thinking that I had it all figured out.  After attending several mandatory classes and morning meditations I began to get involved.  I experienced a spiritual awakening during a musical journey that then turned my heart into true compassion for wanting to help myself and others.  During my stay at Austin Recovery I became very close with the DCS staff and with the counselors.  I like to think that I became a mentor to many of the others clients that I was able to watch come and go.

Austin Recovery is a huge part of my success in recovery today.  Something I do recommend if you want to feel the success of recovery is to do as suggested.  Do all four stages: Detox, Residential, Intensive Outpatient, and the Aftercare.  I feel that after completing all four of these stages it allowed me to grow with the community and adapt to my new surroundings and behaviors.  I am also an active member of our alumni and participate in as many events as I can.  I play on our Austin Recovery alumni softball team and hope to start bringing a class to the women in treatment at the Hicks Family Ranch.  People often ask me how I have stayed sober for a year and two months….these are my suggestions:

    1. Find your High Power
    2. Open your heart, your mind, and listen to what people have to offer
    3. Stay involved with your support community – Austin Recovery is my family!!”

Thank you so much to all of our fantastic Austin Recovery Alumni Association family! If you are interested in learning more about our Alumni Association, please visit our website.

Updates from Our Medical Director: Recent Drug Trends

_DSC0316_webToday, Austin Recovery’s Medical Director, Dr. Marilyn Vaché, shares a few updates on recent drug trends including information on synthetic drugs and marijuana.

Endlessly Creative, Endlessly Risk-taking

Synthetic drug use, abuse and overdose has been popping up in the news a lot recently, such as this recent story on a local Round Rock boy who died after ingesting a synthetic drug known as “25i.” As the story demonstrate, drug experimentation can be deadly. And it’s nothing new. Some of us remember the tragedy of contaminated heroin that resulted in sudden-onset and dementing Parkinsonism that occurred as an epidemic in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Most of the synthetic drugs of today are related to cannabis (“K-2” and “spice”), amphetamines (“bath salts”), and hallucinogenic drugs like mescaline and LSD (“25i,” “nBomb”). One drug that is still new and still uncontrolled (meaning the FDA has not — yet — put it in the category of dangerous and illegal drugs) is methoxetamine (“legal ketamine”). It is similar to ketamine, a short-acting anesthetic. Its particular danger lies in the fact that it can take up to 90 minutes to kick in, so users may take a dose and then, losing patience, take another one. The cumulative effect can cause confusion, agitation, rapid heart beat, and high blood pressure requiring emergency management.

An up-to-date list of new street drugs comes from The Carlat Report: http://www.thecarlatchildreport.com/sites/default/files/New%20Drugs%20and%20Legal%20Highs%20At-A-Glance_0.pdf

 

Marijuana, Memory, and the Developing Brain

Here are some recent findings from conferences and scientific literature:

Daily marijuana use in teens grew from 2.4% n 1993 to 6.5% in 2012, and even weekly marijuana use is associated with worrisome changes in mood and even IQ. At the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting a symposium highlighted research from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A study led by Krista Lisdahl, PhD, followed over a thousand people from birth to age 38, and found that regular marijuana use in adolescents was associated with changes in brain structure and an average IQ drop of 6 points. There were also identifiable brain changes in imaging studies done on users vs non-users.

This is not too surprising, given previous studies showing persistent use of marijuana by adolescents is associated with an 8 point IQ drop by age 38 (Meier, et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 2012). A study by Geller, et al., published in Translational Psychiatry, used the fact the mouse brains, too, have receptors for cannabinoids. The adolescent (but not adult) mice given marijuana had less inhibition of brain firing, and less ability to learn from previously fear-inducing experiences. And on dissection they had abnormalities in the memory areas of the brain. In Nature Neuroscience Puighermanal et al, 2009, were able to outline the protein synthesis pathways where cannabis interferes with memory. These proteins are what make our memories.

Since Lancet first published an article in 2007 it’s been known that use of marijuana increases by about 40%  the risk of psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusional beliefs), particularly in people with other mental illness such as depression and bipolar disorder. Adolescent and heavy users are particularly likely to experience these severe problems.

William White’s “Five Things Families Can Do To Support Recovery of a Family Member”

Happy Friday! We recently ran across this helpful article on HBO’s Addiction website regarding how to support a family member through their recovery and wanted to share a snippet with you today. The post was written by William White, a Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems / Lighthouse Institute and past-chair of the board of Recovery Communities United. Enjoy!

“Five Things Families Can Do to Support Recovery of a Family Member”
by William L. White, M.A.

“Addiction puts great strain on families. Here are a few things to help the adjustment process go more smoothly when a family member is recovering.

Experts have long known that addiction can negatively affect all family members and disrupt family relationships. But recent studies have also shown that recovery from addiction can also exert great strain on family members and family relationships at the very time family relationships have to be readjusted to meet the realities and demands of recovery. Here are several things family members can do to help speed these adjustments…
 
To read the full article and learn the five ways you can assist your family members in this process, please visit HBO’s Addiction website by clicking  here.

Mark Your Calendars for August Events at Austin Recovery

Gateway to Recovery - August 6 & 13, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.*
*Note New Time!*

The Gateway to Recovery series provides information on how to detect addiction and what friends and families can do to help those needing treatment. This information series is free and often the first step in helping people find treatment and begin the healing process. Facilitated by Mary Boone, LCSW, LCDC, Gateway to Recovery is held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the first and second Wednesday of each month at Austin Recovery’s Center for Recovering Families office (3420 Executive Center Drive, Suite G100, Austin, Texas 78731).** Click here for more information. **Note New Location!**

AR Back to School Website ButtonBack to School Workshop - August 6, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Presented by Crystal Collier, PhD, LPC-S, Jill Ahrens, M.Ed., LPC, Rob Hammett, LCDC, PRS, and Courtney Stollon, LMSW
Join us for this educational workshop for educators, counselors and parents covering adolescent issues you should be aware of when school starts again this fall. Topics covered will include: Science of High-Risk Behavior, Prevention Science: Achieving Lasting Change, Current Drugs of Abuse, The Role of Alternative Peer Groups (APG), Why Risk It?: The Legal and Social Consequences of Underage Drinking. 4 CEUs available.  Click here for more information and to register. Presentation is held at Covenant Presbyterian Church (3003 Northland Dr., Austin, Texas 78757).

Second Saturday Workshop – August 9, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
“Recovery Sculpt” presented by Sabrina Beck, LPC, MEd, NCC�
Is your recovery in balance? Is your life in balance? Come find out! Through this interactive and experiential workshop, you will begin to see what parts of your life are supporting your recovery and what areas of your life are taking up even more energy than you realize. Navigating through early recovery is a challenge; one that can be met with proper support. We will discuss these challenges, as well as how to create more balance in your life and develop a community of support. Two hours of continuing education credits are offered to chemical dependency professionals with LCDC, ADC, LMFT, LCSW and LMSW certifications as approved by DSHS and TCBAP. Second Saturday is held at Austin Recovery (8402 Cross Park Dr., Austin, TX, 78754). Click here for more information.

 Austin Recovery Alumni Events
Join the Austin Recovery Alumni for fun events and fellowship throughout the week. Events include Sunday Night Alumni Speaker Meetings, Big Book study groups, Musical Journey, skating, hikes around Lady Bird Lake, drum circles, bowling nights, game nights, evenings at the coffee shop and more. For more information, contact Austin Recovery Alumni Services Coordinator Cary Acevedo at 512-697-8513 or click on the Alumni events link on www.AustinRecovery.org.

Volunteer Opportunities at Austin Recovery
Austin Recovery is always looking for volunteers to provide additional support to our clients in residential addiction treatment in the following areas: financial planning, parenting skills, healthy relationships, job readiness/ interviewing skills, stress management, anger management, self-esteem and abuse issues. We also need volunteers for clerical work, yoga, arts and crafts, dance, spa days (pedicures, manicures, hairstyling), recreation and weightlifting. If you are interested or have questions, please contact Austin Recovery Director of Volunteer Services Sinclair Fleetwood at 512-697-8537 or sfleetwood@austinrecovery.org.

Guest Blog Post: Back to School Stress Management

Happy Friday! August is almost here and that means a new school year is just on the horizon. Today’s blog post comes from Jill Ahrens, one of our counselors at the Center for Recovering Families with our sister organization, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. Jill regularly works with adolescents and their families to provide prevention and counseling services for adolescents struggling with substance abuse, mental health issues and behavior problems.

Back to School Stress Management
By Jill Ahrens, M.Ed., LPC, Choices Program Manager, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston

 

Back to School Stress

 

With the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, parents and their children are much more likely to have increased stress levels.  Whether you are a parent of a child who attends an elementary, middle school, or high school (or all three!) or the student enrolled in school, there are many changes that come with the beginning of a new school year.

With this increased stress and change comes an increase of cortisol in the body and brain.  Cortisol is a stress hormone which is vital to homeostasis in the adrenal system.  Prolonged release of cortisol can suppress the effects of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel calm and happy.  With the increase in cortisol and the suppression of dopamine that occurs during stress, people often seek out an easy fix like drugs, alcohol, comfort food, video games, or other destructive behaviors to help manage the way they feel.  Of course, these behaviors can provide temporary relief which allows these negative coping strategies to create a large spike dopamine in the brain.  This may result in a quick euphoria or feeling of happiness, but the results are not long lasting and can ultimately lead to addiction.

This school year, a focus on positive coping strategies when dealing with stress and change can reduce the likelihood of you or your children engaging in high-risk, potentially addictive behaviors.  This is a very important time for parents to pay attention, monitor their children’s health, behaviors, thoughts and feelings.  Parents should listen carefully, learn and model stress management skills, and support involvement in clubs, sports, and other pro-social activities.  Also, as evidenced by a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to use and abuse substances.

There are many healthy, effective ways to reduce or manage stress.  Things like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercise help us keep our endorphins flowing and help us deal with the day to day stressors we experience in life.  If you suspect your child or adolescent is struggling with stressors or maladaptive behaviors, seek help as soon as possible to minimize to potential impact and to increase his or her positive coping strategies.

If you are a parent, counselor, or educator, make sure to sign up for one of our Back to School CEU Workshops to learn about the latest prevention techniques and current drugs of abuse. If you live in the Austin area, click here for more information on the one-day Back to School CEU Workshop Austin Recovery will be hosting on Wednesday, August 6. If you live in Houston, click here to learn more about the two-day Back to School CEU Workshop that our sister organization, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, will be hosting on Thursday, August 7 and Friday, August 8.

Guest Blog Post: Loving Your Loved One Through Addiction

Today on the blog, one of our amazing volunteers, Sara Richey, a Community, Family and Addiction Services Major at Texas Tech University, graciously shares some thoughts on how to love someone battling addiction based on her personal experiences. Enjoy!

Loving Your Loved One Through Addiction
By Sara Richey , Volunteer at Austin Recovery

Loving Your Loved One Through Addiction Blog Banner

There is a lot of information about what to do/act/say when your loved one is going through recovery, but what about when they are still active in their addiction? The hardest thing, from my experience, is to know what to do while you’re loved one is barreling through the continuum of addiction with no sign of wanting to stop. What I found out the hard way, is that the addict will not seek help sincerely with the intention of sobriety unless it is their personal choice.

This disease has taken the life of my uncle, and is still holding on tight to my brother and my other uncle.

Helplessness. Helplessness is what you feel when the person(s) you love, are related to, share the same DNA with can’t stop killing themselves with substances. A new realm of helplessness entered my life when I discovered that no one in my family was willing to acknowledge the fact that addiction was going to continue to take the lives of more of our loved ones if things did not change. Nor, would they address this problem as a family disease, not just a disease within my brother and uncle. Making addiction your “family secret” will not fix any problem, but from experience, hiding your family’s struggle will do more damage than anything.

But what I can tell you without any hesitation that the best thing you can do for an addict who is a prisoner to this disease, is to love them unconditionally. Unconditional love has no shame, it doesn’t produce guilt, and it is not a weapon for punishment. Unconditional love can sometimes be their only reason to choose recovery. It may be the only thing that is keeping them on this earth.

Until your loved one chooses sobriety, you can choose love—the unconditional kind.