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Guest Blog Post: Only Half the Equation

Dr. Crystal Collier with our sister organization, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, discusses how the combination of reducing high-risk behavior, providing information about how harmful drugs and alcohol are on the body, and targeting executive functioning skills development is the best way to treat adolescent substance use issues in today’s blog.

Only Half The Equation

Only Half the Equation
Written by Crystal Collier, PhD, LPC-S, Director of the Behavioral Health Institute at The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston

Reducing high-risk behavior is only half of the equation when treating adolescent and young adult substance use issues. Interventions that aim to reduce high-risk behavior in youth must include standardized drug testing and information regarding the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs while simultaneously targeting executive functioning skills development. Research shows that adolescents enjoy learning didactic information about the damaging effects of substances but even when this information is delivered by the most dynamic therapist, this intervention alone fails to change their behavior.

No, the reason is not because they are as dumb as a box of bricks as some parents have expressed! Most adolescents and many young adults just do not possess the executive functioning to control their impulses when faced with a tempting situation. Executive functioning is a broad term used to describe the abilities performed by the prefrontal cortex, a part of the human brain not fully developed until age 25. The average 16 year old in the U.S. holds roughly 50% of the adult’s capacity to act in a psychosocially mature manner. Thus, developmental science tells us that parents have scientific justification to serve as their adolescent’s frontal lobe until they have one of their own. This developmental sequence also helps indicate how much control to exert over their lives and how much freedom to allow them to earn.

Just because the average American 16 year old has 50% frontal lobe growth, this does not mean that it has to be that way. While their brain is percolating, parents, clinicians, and teachers have the ability to increase executive functioning on a daily basis! The rate at which the prefrontal cortex creates new connections for executive functioning skills can be increased. The underlying process that governs the growth of neuronal connections is the ‘use it or lose’ principle. The more our youth engaged in skills like problem-solving, decision-making, and impulse control, the longer the chains neurons that correspond to these skills grow within the frontal lobe. If they are not using those neurons, they may be in danger of being pruned away. In their place, long strings of neurons may form for dependency instead.

The scientific literature regarding high-risk behavior prevention reflects that when youth delay drug and alcohol use until age 21, they are likely to never have a problem with addiction during their lifetime. More encouraging, those youth who have a genetic predisposition to addiction delay use until age 21 are 40% less likely to deal with addiction issues as adults. We believe the reason is because they allowed their brains to mature, creating long strings of complex prefrontal cortex connections for executive functioning. This science forms the basis for all of our treatment programs and parent coaching education. Increasing positive reinforcement for executive functioning skills sets the stage for the kind of skills building our youth need when faced with touch decisions regarding a variety of high-risk behavior.

Hollywood Veteran Jeffrey Tambor Helps Raise over $400,000 for Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Houston

 Hollywood Veteran Jeffrey Tambor Helps Raise over $400,000 for Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Houston
The Actor Spoke at Annual Benefit for The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston

Jeffrey Tambor on Stage 1 (Smaller)Actor and Hollywood veteran Jeffrey Tambor shared his personal story of recovery from alcoholism to a crowd of over 800 on Friday, on November 7, 2014 at Hilton Americas-Houston for The Waggoners Foundation Speaker Series’ Annual Fall Luncheon. The luncheon, co-chaired by Christi and Dean Quinn and Andrea and Andrew Steptowe, raised over $400,000 for The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston.

Tambor, who has been performing on film, television and stage since the 1970’s (including playing memorable characters on The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development) considers his greatest honor to be his accomplishments in his recovery.  “This disease, there is a misunderstanding, a mishandling, a stigma and phobia. There are lives at stake,” Tambor shared during Friday’s luncheon. “Alcoholism affects lives, not only the alcoholic’s, but the wives, children,” Tambor continued. “This is about saving lives, saving spirits.”

“Jeffrey Tambor shed light on the realities of the effects of alcoholism on the whole family system,” said Mel Taylor, President and CEO, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. “We are so grateful when celebrities like him open up to help bring this disease out of the closet, and show our community that recovery is attainable.”  

LJeffrey Tambor with Luncheon Chairs (Smaller)uncheon guests included longtime news anchor Minerva Perez as Mistress of Ceremonies, Jerri and Jim Moore, Beth Robertson, Marc Melcher and Anne Schlumberger, Kathy McGovern, Tom Brown of the Hamill Foundation, Rachel and Jeff Bagwell, Jennifer and Joel Moore, Rhonda and Jeff Miller, Bernice and Pat Houstoun, and Brad Lindig. Series Benefactor June Waggoner was also present.

The Council directly touches over 80,000 lives each year through prevention, in-school counseling for teens, outpatient substance abuse treatment for adults, resources for children and family, and more. The annual Fall Luncheon raises financial resources in support of The Council’s commitment to provide best-in-class services for both addiction and mental health disorders while turning no one away.  For more information, visit www.Council-Houston.org.

The Daring Way™

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The Daring Way™
Written by Abi Williams, PhD, LCSW, CGP, Senior Clinical Advisor, Austin Recovery

Are you tired of carrying the weight of perfection, struggling to feel good enough, and feeling like you have to earn love and worthiness?  Have you ever said to yourself,I’m not _____ (successful, smart, talented, attractive, etc.) enough?” Would you like to put an end to the self-doubt and second-guessing and start living a fuller and braver life?  Are you currently wrestling with the question “Who Am I?” and wondering where to go next in your life?  Would you like a deeper connection with your friends and family? The Daring Way™ will help you find the keys to discovering your true and authentic self.

The Daring Way™ is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The method was developed to help men, women, and adolescents learn how to show up, be seen, and live braver lives. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing a courage practice that transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. For more information on The Daring Way™, please go to www.thedaringway.com.

We all long to be seen, known, loved, and accepted; yet, deep down, we doubt we are really worthy of these things. We will often engage in behaviors that assist in avoiding these painful feelings of unworthiness. The fear and avoidance of shame evokes underlying challenges that we all face.

Having previously gone through the Connections™ training and now the new Daring Way™ national training for facilitators, I continue to be awed by the relevancy of this model to day-to-day living for all of us. (Earlier this year the Connections™ curriculum evolved into the Daring Way™ curriculum.) The Daring Way faculty promote the notion that facilitators cannot “do the work unless they do the work”, giving credibility to the very important idea of doing your own work before taking others through theirs.

As both a fully engaged participant in the national training and serving as the Senior Clinical Advisor for Austin Recovery and the Center for Recovering Families, I am impressed by the application of this model in uncovering what gets in our way of living fully both for myself personally and with those seeking recovery from addiction in themselves or a loved one.

Daring Way Workshop Website Button - AR Website

The Daring Way™ is engaging and experiential curriculum is immersed in and arises from more than a decade of shame and shame resilience research by Dr. Brené Brown. Uncovering and dealing with shame as a part of recovery is not a new idea. In fact, it’s been covered rather elegantly in the past by people like John Bradshaw, Gershen Kaufman, and Pia Mellody, among others. This model, however, provides hands-on opportunities to uncover the self-limiting messages we use to stay safe and protected, yet often times unfulfilled. As such, it is specifically designed to help participants show up, be seen, and live braver, more engaged lives. As nearly the entire curriculum was evolved using the language and experiences of the thousands of individuals that Dr. Brown has studied, the process is exceptionally understandable and relatable. Check out her TED talks, her work on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, or read her books (especially The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly).

If you are interested in learning more, please join us for an experiential weekend workshop on The Daring Way™ Friday, December 5 through Sunday, December 7 at Austin Recovery’s Center for Recovering Families located 3420 Executive Center Drive, Suite G100, Austin, Texas 78731. For more information, please call Abi Williams at 512-948-6118 or visit http://www.austinrecovery.org/RecoveryResources/TheDaringWayWorkshop.aspx.

 

 


The Daring Way™ method is based on the research of Brené Brown, Ph.D. LMSW. Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past twelve years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Her groundbreaking research has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, The Katie Show, and Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday. Brene is the author of two #1 New York Times bestsellers: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012), and The Gifts of Imperfection (2010). She is also the author of I Thought It Was Just Me (2007). Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the top ten most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 14 million viewers. Additionally, Brené gave the closing talk at the 2012 TED conference, where she talked about shame, courage, and innovation.

Most of us can think of areas in our lives we’d like to live more bravely. Where do you want to show up, be seen and live more bravely and more authentically? In your relationship? As a parent? As a friend? At work?

Taking work as an example, we’ve all had the experience of contributing to a discussion in a meeting—bravely putting out a new idea, a new thought, an opinion. Heart racing, expectantly waiting to see how our input is received—and it’s met with a lack of enthusiasm from the others. You know that feeling: the sinking sensation, second-guessing moment that our input falls flat. For some of us, an experience like that would cause us to shrink away, keep quiet, and even withdraw. For others, it might cause us to puff up, to become aggressive and blame. And still for others of us, that experience might cause us to try to over-explain and people-please. Where do you fall on this continuum? All of these responses are ways to cope with the destructive internal experience of shame.

This is one example of what The Daring Way™ helps to show us. And just as we all respond differently to the scenario above, we all have different things in our lives that contribute to that intolerable feeling. How we respond to that feeling is very individual. This is part of the work of The Daring Way™.

Through The Daring Way™, you will walk away with tools and skills that help you cultivate more resilience, self-compassion, empathy, creativity, joy, and connection in your life. Like most everything in life, though, this is a journey, not a destination. The Daring Way™ will give you a path to travel and tools to help keep your pathway clear.

Mark Your Calendars for November Events at Austin Recovery!

Gateway to Recovery - November 5 & 12, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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!*

UT School of Social Work Presentation at Austin Recovery – November 7, 9 a.m. to 12 noon
“Third Stage Recovery: A Transpersonal Approach to the Healing of Addiction” presented by Jacquelyn Small, LMSW
Jacquelyn Small will discuss a paradigm of addiction recovery that describes its first, second, and third stages, and defines the true Self as both an ego personality and a soul. She will offer 12 principles of this psycho-spiritual approach and ways to embody them in one’s life. Participants will be able to describe the basic principles of holistic psychology, utilize the healing process as it develops using this approach, and define the concept of the sub-personality. 3 CEUs available. Click here to RSVP. Presentation is held at Austin Recovery (4201 S. Congress Avenue, Suite 202, Austin, TX 78745).* Click here for more information*Note New Location!*

Noel Nelson - CroppedSecond Saturday Workshop - November 8, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
“Nutrition and Recovery: Deficiencies in Excess” presented by Noel Nelson, BA, MNT
Nutrient deficiencies associated with addiction have a major negative effect on your client’s overall health and their individual recovery process. Nutritional support within the field of addiction is essential. It can decrease cravings, relieve anxiety, and reduce relapse. Looking at nutrients as building blocks for physical and mental well-being can highlight the multitude of pathways that are affected by what we choose to eat. Come see how your client’s ability to make incremental lifestyle changes every day may be enhanced by establishing a new relationship with food. 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!*

UT School of Social Work Presentation at Austin Recovery – November 21, 9 a.m. to 12 noon
“Medications With a Role in Treatment of Substance Use Disorders” presented by Reid Minot, MSN, APRN
This workshop will include a review of the medications used in detoxification from addictive medications, and those medications that can be used to decrease relapse from recovery. The speaker will address the advantages and drawbacks of the individual medications. He will also examine the role of co-occurring psychiatric disorders in blocking recovery, and the ways that treatment of mental health disorders may be coordinated with substance recovery. Participants will be able to: identify medications used in treatment of addiction to alcohol, narcotics, stimulants, sedatives, nicotine, cannabis, and other abusable drugs; discuss risks and benefits of the individual medications; recognize common patterns in which mental health disorders may undermine recovery from substance use disorders, and effective interventions to address these patterns.  3 CEUs available.  Click here to RSVP.  Presentation is held at Austin Recovery (4201 S. Congress Avenue, Suite 202, Austin, TX 78745).* Click here for more information*Note New Location!*

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 Erika Hagler at 512-697-8537 or ehagler@austinrecovery.org

Guest Blog Post: A Day in the Life of a Cradles Case Manager

The Cradles Project at our sister organization, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, focuses on the physical and mental well-being of pregnant women and new mothers who may have struggled with substance abuse in the past or present. The Cradles Project provides case management services, parenting resources, and social activities for these women who are ready to begin their road to recovery and become better mothers to their babies. Today, one of the Cradles team members shares what a typical day may look like in her job as a caseworker, and reflects on some of the life lessons she has learned through her clients. She has asked to remain anonymous to help further protect the women she works with.

Cradles Case Manager

A Day in the Life of A Cradles Case Manager

As I prepare to leave my office, I perform one final check.  I look at the order of clients to visit today and confirm I have their correct home addresses, make sure I have new intake packets, and collect any materials they may need on parenting, domestic violence, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and referral information.

My route on any given day may take me anywhere around Houston – most of my clients do not live close to the office.  It can be interesting to drive around and see all the different neighborhoods we have in the city; however traffic in Houston is always an issue!

I never know what I am going to find during a home visit. My clients come from very different backgrounds and ethnicities, have a wide variety of life experiences, and span many different age groups.  I have seen teen mothers of fourteen or fifteen all the way up to women in their late thirties or early forties whose baby might their third or fourth child.  The women themselves range from naïve and trusting to those who have experienced tremendous trauma and are going to be suspicious of anyone who does not look like them.  The question is: How do I engage them?

It will take some time and I always have to be very careful and respectful of their needs.  I have learned from my experience not to make assumptions or go in with a preconceived idea of what it is they need or have gone through.  I always thought I was very open-minded, however, I have found myself in situations where my clients sharing their lives with me has taught me humility and shown me that I still have a lot to learn.

As I reflect back on the clients I have worked with, there are a few that have impacted me as much as, if not more, then I have impacted them.  I always remember the young woman who I thought needed to go back to school to improve her skills and get a better job.  She sat there quietly while I reviewed all the information I had gathered for her, and when I was done, she quietly asked me if I could help her fill out her child’s school paperwork.  Her focus and priority was on getting her daughter taken care of first, and then potentially to think about what she might need to do for herself.

Another client I came to know worked harder than any client I have ever met, and will stay with me forever.  She struggled with several health issues, some fairly significant.  Throughout my time with her, she sometimes needed extra support, time, or a different path to achieve her goals.  She never let her disabilities stop her, and always approached our work together with an “I will overcome” attitude.  She struggled to ask for help, and over time we developed a relationship that allowed us to work together to help access the resources and support she needed to become successful.

Over the many years I have been doing this work, I have seen women become empowered, learn to trust, sometimes relapse, enter recovery, and maintain sobriety. But most of all, I have seen women grow and been witness to their incredible strength and resiliency.  Every day as I work with these women, I am reminded of Marion Woodman’s “The Ravaged Bridegroom” quote:

“We have to learn to connect with the primal wisdom that assures us that we are loved, that life is our birthright, that we need not prove ourselves or justify our existence.”
(1990, p. 32)

 

Guest Blog Post: From a Parent’s Perspective

Today, a couple whose daughter went through our program at Austin Recovery would like to share a bit of their insight about the journey from the point of view of the parents of an addict.

From a Parent's Perspective

From a Parent’s Perspective

What an educational, tearful, joyous, painful, hopeful, and inspiring journey treatment for addiction  has been…and that’s from the parents of the addict! We can’t believe what it must look like from the eyes of the addict. We stand in awe of so many accomplishments by so many.

It has been a long journey for us. From not understanding the disease, through Al-anon to help us understand ourselves, to becoming a part of the Austin Recovery family, all in support of someone so dear to us and for whom we spent so many nights wishing we could take her pain and struggle away or trade places (which we have learned is not possible!) Again, we stand in awe of our daughter’s work, accomplishments, and Program relationships that have been the foundation of success for her.

What we have learned is that success in addiction recovery is not possible without the “want to,” hard work, and commitment of the addict to embrace the Program; without the support of the Austin Recovery “family” of tireless efforts by Austin Recovery personnel and sponsors; and by the grace of the “higher power” for all of us.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is promised to no one. We will always embrace an attitude of gratitude and treasure what today brings, and be grateful each and every day for the Austin Recovery program and family!

2014 Friends of Austin Recovery Luncheon Recap

 Hamilton BeazleySteve Hicks and Edith RoyalA week ago, 225 of us gathered at Riverbend Church for the Friends of Austin Recovery Annual Fall Luncheon. This luncheon is an annual gathering of Austin Recovery supporters and friends for a speaker presentation, while raising funds for Austin Recovery.

Jack Daniel, Board Chair of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, welcomed the crowd before introducing Mel Taylor.  Mel Taylor, President and CEO of Austin Recovery and The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, shared agency updates from the past year, as well as exciting news about the year to come.  Mel had the honor of introducing our special guest speaker, author, professors, and thought-leader Hamilton Beazley, Ph.D.

Hamilton, who has been involved with both Austin Recovery and The Council for years, is the current Austin Recovery Chairman of the Board.  The crowd was moved and inspired as Hamilton shared his story.

After Hamilton’s speech, immediate past Board Chair Patti Halladay continued our tradition of honoring long-time supporter (and former Board member) Edith Royal with a bouquet of flowers.  Patti then announced Steve Hicks as the recipient of our annual Edith Royal Service Award.  Steve has also been a long-time supporter of Austin Recovery, currently serving on the Board of Trustees.  Steve helped co-chair our successful Capital Campaign, and his family’s support enabled us to name our Hicks Family Ranch in their honor.

We are looking forward to our annual Speaker Series Luncheon at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater in May 2015!

Hollywood Veteran Jeffrey Tambor to Raise Awareness about Mental Health and Alcoholism at Houston Benefit

Hollywood Veteran Jeffrey Tambor to Raise Awareness about Mental Health and Alcoholism at Houston Benefit
The actor will share his personal story at The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston’s Annual Fall Luncheon

Council - 2014 Fall Luncheon - Home Page Button - Jeffrey TamborOn Friday, November 7, actor Jeffrey Tambor will tell his personal story of recovery from alcoholism and a family history of mental health issues at The Waggoners Foundation Speaker Series’ 2014 Fall Luncheon to benefit The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. Co-chaired by Christi and Dean Quinn and Andrea and Andrew Steptowe, the event will once again take place at the Hilton Americas-Houston.

Jeffrey Tambor can best be described as a Hollywood veteran, performing on film, television and stage since the 1970’s.  While Jeffrey may be most recognizable for his recent television accomplishments including his memorable characters on The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development, he considers his greatest honor to be his accomplishments in his recovery.  Growing up in a family with a pattern of mental health issues, Jeffrey not only had to overcome his personal struggles, but also had to watch as the disease of alcoholism claimed the life of his older brother.  For Jeffrey, managing his recovery is a never-ending journey, one that can become bearable only with the love, support, and inspiration of others.

“We are fortunate when someone like Jeffrey Tambor opens up about the realities – and tragedies – that go along with co-occurring mental health issues and alcoholism,” said Mel Taylor, President and CEO of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. “The more we talk about it, the more we can reduce the stigma, which will empower more people to seek the help they need for themselves and their loved ones.”

According to a 2009 national study by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 8.9 million adults suffer from both a mental health and substance use disorder.  When both the mental health and substance abuse conditions are treated at the same time, outcomes are improved.  The Council provides individualized treatment services to every member of the family affected by addiction and other compulsive behaviors in order to address their co-occurring disorders.

Through counseling services and outpatient treatment as well as prevention and education programs, The Council impacts the lives of over 80,000 every year. The annual Fall Luncheon raises financial resources in support of The Council’s commitment to provide best-in-class services for both addiction and mental health disorders while turning no one away.  Tables and seats are currently available for purchase at www.Council-Houston.org.

Guest Blog Post: The “More or Less” of Addiction

Our Austin Recovery Alumni Association is a fellowship of graduates of Austin Recovery who want to share their experience, strength and hope with one another so that they may solve their common problem and help other alumni recover for their alcoholism and addiction. Today on the blog, one of our alums shares their personal journey and why they believe there is no such thing as “more or less” in the world of addiction.

The More or Less of Addiction

The “More or Less” of Addiction

I like to think more or less, that I am an alcoholic and drug addict. Except with the disease of addiction there is no such thing as “more or less” of an alcoholic and drug addict. You either have it or you don’t. There is no middle of the road diagnosis that says I may or may not have this disease. There is not a granular measure of my addiction.  No one person diagnosed is better off than the next person diagnosed. We have it, or we don’t. Drinking more or drinking less, shooting more or shooting less, does not grade the level of our addiction or our qualifications as one type of addict over the other.

What that means for me is I never have a day where I can say to myself, I’ll just have one shot of heroin or one line of coke. I can’t think of Tuesdays as my drinking day or Thursdays as my blunt day. It’s all days or no days. To non-addictive people this may sound like I am doomed to lead a miserable existence chained to an unimaginable burden. But that is far from the truth.

In fact my life is blessed with the miracle of recovery. And although I may never take an addictive substance without the risk of sending my life spiraling out of control, I do lead a life beyond my wildest dreams. Even my “normal” friends remark on the things I do and comment with a touch of envy. You may be wondering how someone with such a pervasive disease exists and even thrives in a world where alcohol consumption is widely accepted, even encouraged, and drugs are so readily available.

For this addict, it happens because of my faith. Not the faith that many find by attending church or religious organizations, although many have found their way out of this disease in those places. In my case, my faith is developed more each day. With each passing hour that I remain sober, my faith strengthens and grows. I find that being active in the act of helping others somehow keeps me connected to the source of power that also keeps me clean. I say “somehow” because I am not quite sure how it works. I just know that it does. It does not really compute to me how helping someone else is actually more beneficial to me than it is to the person I am helping.

If anyone reading this has been around recovery programs, you have heard the term “service work”. Service work is what we, who have a reprieve from the obsession and compulsion of addiction, refer to when we help someone else. Service work does not pay us in the traditional sense of dollars and cents, but it does return something much more valuable than money. It provides to us an insurance against that first drink or shot of dope.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us “…nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.”  I have found that to be the case for me as well. I have struggled with addiction most of my life. It was not until I started to get involved with service work that I realized that I could survive long term without giving into my disease.

I have met many friends through the course of my service work. Many of them in turn have helped me. It does not seem to matter to us which way the help is flowing as long as we are working for the right motives.

And because I am involved in the service aspect I am privy to opportunities I would not otherwise even know existed. I recently became vice-president of our recovery center alumni organization. This connects me with the clients at our in-patient treatment facilities to help them transition back into the real world after their 30 to 90 day stay in a protected environment. That connection stems from the fact that I was approached by the same organization when I first left treatment. It is a close and caring society that perpetuates the cycle of recovery rather than the cycle of addiction.

I cannot debate the idea of having this disease; it’s a pointless argument that has no productive outcome for me. But I can say that I am grateful that there is a solution to the problem of addiction, and I can say I am grateful for the fellowship that I have been introduced to, and I can say I am grateful for my recovery.

So while I can’t say that I am an alcoholic and addict – more or less, I can say I am more, not less because of the solution I have found.

Guest Blog Post: Parents, Are You Aware of These Current Drug Trends?

Are You Aware of These Current Drug Trends

Parents, Are You Aware of These Current Drug Trends?
Written by Jill Ahrens, Choices Program Manager, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston

Drug trends are constantly changing, and it can be difficult as a parent, educator, or adult to keep up with the ever-changing ways teens are getting high, hiding their use, and sneaking around drug tests.  This summer at the Back to School Workshop, participants were presented with the most recent trends seen among adolescents today.

With the legalization of marijuana in certain states, our teens are receiving mixed messages about marijuana.  Teens today are frequently trying marijuana before alcohol and tobacco, and they are using inventive and creative ways to use it, hide it, and pass urine analyses.  Keep in mind, marijuana of today is much more potent than marijuana of the past.  Today’s marijuana contains much more THC, the active chemical in marijuana, than the marijuana of generations past, creating a greater euphoric effect and a higher likelihood for addiction.  Smoke shops around the country are selling vaporizers that teens are using to smoke the wax form of marijuana, also known as “dabbing”.  Smoke shops also sell kits with synthetic urine that one can strap to his/her leg or waistband to use to pass a urine analysis.  They even have fake soda cans that double as a place to stash marijuana without anyone ever noticing.

In addition to the concerns around marijuana sue, there are concerns about cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of Cannabis.  CBD is currently legal in all 50 states, and it is being marketed as “Cannabis E-liquid.”  CBD oils are typically vaporized, much like marijuana wax.  Though CBD does not contain THC, it is not FDA researched or approved.

Alcohol use and binge drinking is another concerning trend among teens.  One way teens are using alcohol is by purchasing alcopops, which typically contain up to 12% alcohol, whereas most beer or malt beverages contain about 4.5% alcohol.  Alcopops often come in 23.5 oz. containers, which means that they have much more alcohol in them, are in a bigger can, have a higher percentage of alcohol in them, and therefore are more dangerous.  Alcopops cans often look much like a kid-friendly can of lemonade, or sometimes very similar to an energy drink.   They are easy for teens to over-consume, and can often lead to alcohol poisoning.  Smoking alcohol is another concerning trend, as inhaling alcohol vapors causes an immediate, but dangerous, level of intoxication.  The real danger is that once it is inhaled, there is no turning back.  When we drink alcohol, our body has natural responses to rid our body of alcohol when it reaches toxic levels.  With inhaling alcohol, those natural responses don’t take place, so we can get to a toxic level without a way the remedy the situation.  This is how smoking or vaporizing alcohol can be deadly.

Another current drug trend is e-cigs and hookah.  Both e-cigs and hookah are used as ways to smoke nicotine without smoking traditional tobacco-filled cigarettes.  E-cigarettes are personal vaporizers that turn liquid solution into an aerosol mist.  The solutions used for e-cigs are not FDA regulated, and the long term outcomes and consequences are unknown.  One study researching the nicotine content in e-cig solution found that most solutions were labeled with inaccurate nicotine contents, perhaps in order to keep those trying to quit addicted.  Hookah has reportedly been used by 1 in 5 high school seniors, and 37% of college freshmen believe water pipes are less harmful than cigarettes.  In reality, according to WHO, an hour long hookah session is the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes.

I would encourage all parents, educators and adults to do their best to stay on top of the ever-changing drug and alcohol trends and stay vigilant of what’s going on with the teens in their lives. If you suspect your child or an adolescent you know may have an issue, please contact Austin Recovery or The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston to learn more about what you can do to help.