Divine Intervention

kelsi-blog-womens-sober-livingFor many years, I bought into the delusion that if I wanted to stop using, I would. “I just don’t want to,” was my response to family members and loved ones who watched me face external and internal consequences repeatedly.  Despite the uncontrollable sadness, anxiety, overwhelming anger, and an overall inability to show up for life, I could not see how sobering up would solve these problems. It seemed impossible, and honestly, I was not interested in a new way of living.

At 18 years old, I was faced with a number of legal consequences – consequences I was sure were merely being put in my path as a scare-tactic. The level of entitlement within me at that point is astonishing to look back on today. I was certain family would pick up the pieces for me yet again.

Due to these consequences, I was placed in a drug court program in the Midwest. My sobriety was verified multiple times per week, outpatient treatment was mandatory for 18 months, and Twelve Step meetings were required. With, what I thought would be, a set up for success, I could not seem to pull off any more than three months of continual sobriety. The bedevilments on page 52 of the Big Book were alive and well in me with any length of time without drugs and alcohol. County jail became my second home for the next 18 months.

On October 1, 2013, I was faced, yet again, with my inability to remain sober for any period of time and the consequences that I was promised 18 months prior. As I sat on my bunk in county jail, that had become much too familiar to me, I conceded to my innermost self that I was powerless over drugs and alcohol. The lies I had tried to sell others and myself were just that – lies. I was sure that I would walk through the next five months in a correctional facility and use again, regardless of how badly I wanted to do something different with my life. Mind-altering substances had become my master. I had, finally, been beaten into a state of reasonableness.

I entered BRC Recovery on March 7, 2014 after a long-term cognitive and behavioral treatment program. In the next four months, I would come to find that there was a solution to what I was suffering from. I learned that there was a three-fold disease that explained me and the vicious cycle I had been stuck in to a “T.” I could see a light at the end of the tunnel and was willing to believe that the women’s program directors at BRC knew how to help me.

My journey, from that point on, has been very simple. Not always easy, but simple. I was taught to follow direction, take suggestions, and sit with the truth about myself. The past three years of my life have entailed the same three, simple tools. Although I could not see it at the time, I can now see that I was, indeed, gifted with a divine intervention from my Creator. I am, and will be, forever grateful for the divine intervention that interrupted my self-will, leading me to the life of love and abundance I am able to live today.

kelsi_divine-interventionKelsi Kinney
Segue by BRC Recovery

Prince and the Tragic Story of Mislabeled Drugs

prince1Recently, you will recall, the music world suffered a great loss when it learned of the death of the musician Prince. Reports surfaced shortly thereafter that his death was caused by an overdose of the drug fentanyl.

Reports of the cause of his death came as a shock, as Prince was known to live a healthy lifestyle and did not even drink alcohol. So it came as quite a surprise as stories broke about his possible addiction to painkillers.

This week further reports have surfaced that pills found at the artist’s home that contained fentanyl were mislabeled as lower-potency painkillers. It remains unclear whether the pills were mislabeled by the manufacturer, or whether they were produced and obtained illegally, and whether Prince took any drug knowing that it contained fentanyl.

That last question, whether he knowingly ingested fentanyl, raises an issue that is occurring more and more frequently – dealers and illicit drug manufacturers mixing fentanyl into doses of heroin and other drugs, as well as deliberately mislabeling pills that contain fentanyl. This is often done without the user’s knowledge, and can lead to fatal results.

What is fentanyl? It is a synthetic opioid that is prescribed to people in extreme pain from conditions such as late stage cancer. According to the DEA, it is the most potent opioid available for medical use and can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Because of this potency, a fatal dose of the drug is much smaller than that of other drugs. It is often mixed with other drugs because it is inexpensive compared to heroin and other opioids. As a result of that combination of cost and potency, fentanyl-related overdoses in the United States, and even here in Austin, are exploding.

Even if a user were to knowingly buy a substance containing fentanyl, he or she faces additional unknown risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most of the fentanyl on the streets is non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, which is often manufactured in China and is not manufactured to the same standards as the prescription version. As such, the imported drugs may vary in potency and may contain other chemicals as well. Further, with recent legislative crackdowns on fentanyl, illicit manufacturers continually change the drug’s formula to produce new analogues, the effects of which are unknown.

Because of these unknown variables, a purchaser cannot know what he or she is getting when purchasing illegal drugs. When fentanyl is mixed in with heroin or other drugs, each dose has the potential to be a fatal one.

Fortunately, if you or a loved one is addicted to opioids, the outcome can be different than Prince’s fate. Opioid addiction can be treated. At BRC Recovery, we understand that a simple detoxification is not enough, so we offer long-term residential solutions to provide the support and teach the skills needed to help you or your loved one recover from an addiction.

Love is an Action Word

Love-is-an-Action-Word_Blog-Pic_Marsha-and-SonsWell today is the big day! After much dreaming and planning- Spearhead Lodge officially opens today!   I feel like I am watching my child walk up the steps to the first day of kindergarten! Nervous, excited, full of pangs of joy and sadness all mixed into a great big smile and a full and grateful heart.

I find my mind drifting back to the nights when my two oldest sons raised their hands and asked for help with their addiction. The phone rings and the familiar voice on the line says “Mama I can’t stop drinking and using. Will you help me?” In an instant the world stops for a moment. Come home. That’s what you say. Of course that’s what you say. Come home and we will figure this out together. Then the family meeting…

And, despite everything I know about alcoholism and addiction, I felt somehow responsible for the pain and anguish I saw in their eyes. What’s next? I did what parents do. I took action to take care of my boys. By reaching out to friends I trusted for help, I was able to get them quickly into treatment and thankfully they are both thriving in their recoveries today.

But the thoughts continued to linger. I was moved by their experiences. And I was moved by my own experience. In the past seven years the addiction epidemic in this country has shown up at BRC in our census. Our median age has gotten younger and younger, and the clients have presented with more and more clinical complications.

What’s happening? Why all the surge in addiction? Is it really just over prescribing? Is it greed? A combination of both? Or is it a hurting America? Broken families and broken hearts? The need for more and more anesthesia in whatever form is readily available…

I don’t think there’s a solution in simply answering or debating the ‘why’ question, although it’s quite valid. Instead, I find myself drawn to finding a solution. Or creating one.

A place where young men would be focused on recovery. Where their natural energy would be seen as an asset and not as a distraction. Where experiential and recreational therapy are utilized in order to engage young men. And where recovery is presented as a process of change that looks appealing and fun!

The Big Book states on pg 124, “The alcoholic’s past thus becomes the principal asset of the family and frequently almost the only one! This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem.”

This has certainly been my experience, both as a woman in recovery and now as the mom of two young men in recovery. So I present to you- Spearhead Lodge. What a wonderful blessing of pain and providence. My hope and prayer is that this tangible expression of pain, experience and hope will bless countless young men and their families with the gift of lasting recovery, freedom and happiness. TYG


Marsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery


Fixing Myself, Part 2: The Paradox of Focusing on Myself

You’ve discovered your loved one or friend is an alcoholic or addict—now what?

Fixing-Myself-Part-2For many people in that situation, their first reaction is, “What can I do to fix my alcoholic/addict?” It took a while for me to figure out that I couldn’t “fix” my son. Instead, I needed to focus on fixing myself, because my son wasn’t the only one who had issues; our whole family system was broken. As I began going to therapy sessions and reading books about broken families, l discovered many resources are available to people who are on the journey toward recovery. Because people have different experiences and backgrounds, you may find some of them more helpful than others. Last time, we looked at Al-Anon as a primary resource. This time, we’ll examine the paradox of focusing on our own lives to fix ourselves.

Many of us grew up with the admonition to “put others first” ringing in our ears. And because we codependents are pleasers who want everyone to be happy all the time, putting others first comes easily, even when it is to our own detriment. However, while putting others first may be a good idea for people who are not codependent (and I’m not convinced it is), it spells danger for us. Part of codependence is being over-involved with the lives of other people, sometimes to the point of trying to live their lives for them or enabling them to continue living in destructive patterns.

Step 1 of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous reads, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” And one of the chief ways our lives become unmanageable is through our focus on the lives of everyone around us instead of on our own lives. When I think back to the crazy things I did while living an unmanageable life, I’m amazed that I was able to continue that pattern for so many years. In seeking to control the alcoholic in my life, I tried a lot of things that didn’t work; checking his trunk to see if he had bottles or cans stashed, drawing up agreements for him to sign, buying a breathalyzer, and the list goes on…

I also sought to control the lives of other family members, which they didn’t appreciate. I felt compelled to offer friends, and even complete strangers, advice on various topics. In short, I ran myself ragged trying to make sure everyone toed the line (MY line) and had all the information they could possibly need. When people asked me to lighten up, I viewed them as being ungrateful for all I tried to do to help them. Finally, the stress of managing the lives of everyone around me sent me into overload and threatened to destroy relationships with family and friends.

How did I finally break free of the need to control other people’s lives?

I read some great books on codependence and “pleaser” personalities, and they described me. They pointed out things I had never thought about:

  1. In my quest to control others, I focused almost exclusively on them and ignored my own needs.
  2. I am unable to truly give to anyone else unless I focus on myself first; the ability to serve others in a healthy manner grows from an understanding of self. Think of the oxygen masks on a plane; put your own on first, and then you can help other people.

For years, I thought the ultimate sacrifice was to live my life for others. What I didn’t realize was that my belief grew from my codependence on other people. I needed to be nurturing them and pleasing them in order to feel good about myself. And that contributed to my enmeshment with my family; we interacted in very unhealthy ways.

Fortunately, through attending Al-Anon meetings and reading books about codependence and family dynamics, I learned a few more things:

  1. Focusing on other people’s lives makes my life unmanageable.
  2. Focusing on myself helps keep my eyes off everyone else’s lives.

The huge benefit with focusing on myself is that it creates time and space in my life so I can explore who I am, what I like, and what I want to be when I grow up. It allows me to rest peacefully at night instead of tossing and turning, worrying about people and the decisions they’re making. It allows me to give my family and friends the space they need to live their lives, which has helped heal my relationships with them.

So the paradox of focusing on my own life to fix myself has allowed me to regain control of my life. I’ve learned that putting myself first makes it possible to let other people live their own lives without my interference, which greatly enhances our relationships. Now my life is much more manageable, and I am able to help and serve others in appropriate ways, which makes us all happier.

Diana Urban Blog_Fixing Myself Pt 2


When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present by Sue Augustine

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You by David Hawkins


Sober Living in Austin, Texas

Living-Room-1One of the greatest fears for a person in recovery is transitioning from inpatient treatment back into “the real world”. Multiple studies conducted by The National Institutes of Health highly support the importance of high accountability sober living and the impact it has on potential relapse. With this knowledge, BRC Recovery extended our continuum of care and in 2012 purchased our first company owned sober living apartments in central Austin, Texas.

Austin, Texas offers many great resources to those in recovery. From fellowship meetings to recovery conferences, sober lounges and community centers, there are so many opportunities to participate in the recovery community. The benefits of sober living in Austin don’t stop there. Austin, TX provides a wide range of activities in and around town that you and your friends in recovery can enjoy together.

womens-sober-living-AustinDo you like music? Well, you’re in luck. Austin is often called the “Live Music Capital of the World”, and for good reason. Austin originally adopted that nickname after the claim that it had more live music venues per capita than any other city. Whether you prefer the ambiance of a small stage, such as the Elephant Room, or a large venue like the Austin360 Amphitheater, you will be sure to find a place to enjoy a live show.

If you are more of an outdoors person, there are plenty of things for you to see and do as well in Austin. You can take a scenic hike up Mount Bonnell, where you can take in some of the best views of the city; take a refreshing swim at Barton Springs Pool; or ride a bike along the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail, or one of the city’s many other bicycle trails.

mens-sober-living-AustinFor those that enjoy culture, Austin has multiple music options including the Austin Symphony, the Austin Lyric Opera, and Ballet Austin. Additionally, there are several museums, including The Blanton Museum of Art, the Museum of the Weird, the Texas Military Museum, and the Austin Toy Museum among others. And for politicos, Austin is home to the LBJ Presidential Library.

Austin offers the perfect mix of arts and music, sports, culture, food and drink, and a variety of other activities that any individual can enjoy while living sober.

At BRC Recovery, we can help you begin your journey to sober living in Austin. Our sober living apartments and sober living homes provide the support and environment needed to discover a life of freedom in sobriety. We offer gender-specific recovery residences managed by a Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist, structure and guidance for those transitioning into the next phase of their recovery.

If you or a loved one would like more information about sober living in Austin and our programs, please contact our Admissions Team today at (866) 905-4550.



Create the Fellowship You Crave

Jonathan-Stone_Chris-SolaMy struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction began at the age of twelve years old. I have experienced darkness that neither I nor my family were prepared to encounter.  From multiple hospital and psychiatric unit stays, to jails and twenty-five residential treatment centers it continued for what felt like an eternity.  I was the garden variety drunk who chronically relapsed.  Nothing could keep me sober and I tried everything that I thought possibly would, except the 12 Steps of course.  I reconciled that I would likely spend the rest of my life in the vicious cycle of entering institutions, getting sober temporarily and using once again until I died. Delusional thinking would sometimes hope that I would just simply “grow out of it.”

There seemed no hope for a guy like me but I was miserable and knew that I could not continue to live this way of life indefinitely. Fortunately, God had a different plan. Although I did not acknowledge His presence in my life, He was still there just as He had always been. I finally ended up in what I thought was just another recovery center that would be one more attempt at sobriety and one more failure. Little did I know at that point, that I was about to be “rocketed into the fourth dimension of existence”.

I cannot even explain the complete alteration that has taken place in my life.  There is no other explanation other than the loving hand of God.  I could never rationalize how my entire world has changed but can only be grateful for the clear cut directions of the program of recovery.  It can only be called what it is, a miracle.  I found the solution, freedom, and peace I had been looking for in the one place I refused to try, the 12 Steps.  My life today is beautiful and full of opportunities.  It astounds me each and every morning when I wake up excited about life! In my journey it was so important for me to be surrounded by a strong community in sobriety to support my early recovery.  I am so excited to be in a position to continue to develop that and grow this resource for those who continue to walk through this difficult but beautiful process. My experience with what page 164 of the Big Book says is true, “He continues to show me how to create the fellowship we crave”.

Chris-Sola_The-Fellowship-You-CraveChris Sola, Alumni Coordinator
BRC Recovery

For more information about the BRC Recovery Alumni Program, please contact Chris Sola via email at csola@brcrecovery.com. Also, if you are a Mark Houston and BRC Recovery Alumni join our community on Facebook for support, upcoming meeting information, community outreach opportunities, group outings, and more at BRC Recovery Alumni.





Coming Full Circle

Lauryn-Crutchfield_BRC-Outreach-CoordinatorTo some it may seem that moving back home to the Northeast in the midst of a heroin pandemic was completely irrational, but today I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have been given the rare opportunity to carry the message of hope to those suffering from the disease of addiction in my community through BRC Recovery’s Bringing Real Change NE Citywide Meeting. Growing up in small town New England was everything out of a story book.  The fresh cut green grass, the vibrant colors of the autumn leaves and the cheering on the sidelines at Friday night football games.  It was perfect, or so it appeared.  My life took a devastating turn when OxyContin became my new best friend, my mentor, and love.  The OxyContin boom not only took my freedom, but it took a hold on the Northeast as well.  Prescription pills became my normal mode of operating.  Every city was affected by this devastating little pill.  It created and opiate epidemic that would forever change our neighborhoods.

For years that one little pill held me in the palm of its hand until I collapsed.  I reached a new low claiming the cheaper, faster, heroin as my drug of no choice.  I was addicted.  Eventually, I ended up robbing the college I was attending for close to ten thousand dollars.  They told me I had to leave and the look on their faces told me that they never wanted to see me again.  I had not only ruined my life, but my education as well.  It was over. The gig was up.

The idea that I could be recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body seemed unfathomable to me at the time.  I had been to over ten treatment centers coupled with countless stints in detoxes attempting to spin dry my life into a state that was merely manageable.  Surviving through homelessness, state prison, and heroin addiction was my sign from God that I was meant to be on this earth.  I was meant to be someone better.  God absolutely wanted that for me.

Getting sober at BRC Recovery changed my life.  I was able to connect to a Power that I call God and experience ultimate freedom.  Not only a physical freedom from the substances, but more importantly a spiritual and emotional liberation as well.  I took this last chance at life and grabbed it by the horns.  Newly sober, I began applying back to colleges in an attempt to complete my Bachelors in Family Studies.  I submitted applications to numerous colleges in Texas and took a long shot applying back at the same school I had once robbed.  Through what I recognize today as the orchestration of God, that same college allowed me to come back.  My readmission was contingent on my willingness to make proper amends and pay all the money back that I had stolen.  I was able to do that and more. Six months ago I graduated from that college, with honors.  I believe I owed that to them.

After completing my Bachelor’s, I began working for BRC Recovery as their Outreach Coordinator for the Northeast Region.  It has truly been the most gratifying experience of my life.  It is my obligation as a woman in recovery to make every effort in turning the tide up here in the Northeast.  We are dying at lightning speed from the combination of fentanyl and minimal treatment facilities.  I do my job and stay in the trenches fighting for those who are unable to do it for themselves.  Day in and day out I meet with community members, judges, lawyers, probation officers, school principals, and the those seeking recovery to tell them that addiction does not have to be a death sentence.  That we need to pull together as one. That people do recover and make it through anything.  That you can make a living amends to the same community you once took everything from.  It is my duty to my community to be on the firing line for them and to be the change they want to see.  I am honored to have an opportunity to live the motto “love thy neighbor as thyself”.  That my friends, is the true definition of coming full circle.  For being given this second chance to be a connector, I am eternally grateful.

Lauryn Crutchfield_Coming Full CircleLauryn Crutchfield, Outreach Coordinator/Northeast Region
BRC Recovery

For more information about the BRC Recovery Bringing Real Change NE Citywide Meeting, please contact Lauryn Crutchfield via email at lcrutchfield@brcrecovery.com. Also, join our group on Facebook for up-to-date meeting information, times, and speakers at Bringing Real Change NE Citywide Meeting.



The Family Afterward

Marsha-Stone-Audrey-WoodfinAppropriately titled The Family Afterward, the ninth chapter in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous begins to answer the first question I am asked by those surrounding their newly sober loved one. Now what? The alcoholic has begun their journey and the family is curious as to where to place their own energy and what role to play moving forward. This chapter applies to many beyond the scope of a family member. It could in fact be titled, “To Anyone Who Loves an Alcoholic.” The disease of alcoholism and addiction is so deeply rooted in shame and it extends to those who do not even have it. The effects flow freely into our homes and then out into the world like a rip tide penetrating our occupations, social structure and personal affairs.

“All members of the family should meet upon the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love. This involves a process of deflation. The alcoholic, his wife, his children, the in laws, each one is likely to have fixed ideas about the family’s attitude towards himself or herself. Each is interested in having his or her wishes respected. We find the more one member of the family demands that others concede to him, the more resentful they become. This makes for discord and unhappiness.” (Big Book pg. 122)

This can be a very tall order for someone who has been badly mangled by the disease of addiction. Some of us have interestingly enough played more than one role in this family dynamic. We have been the person entering recovery, the partner, the in law or the child. What could all of these players possibly have in common? Each of them longs for the return of happiness and security. Invariably each one would like for those comforts to return immediately with the cessation of drinking or drug use. The chapter continues on to tell us that it is only the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition. We have all had to learn how to trust the process and that lesson in growth is often propelled by pain.

A number of years into my personal recovery from alcoholism, I was confronted with a statement that I felt unprepared to acknowledge. During a casual conversation with a man I respected, I recounted my dissatisfaction regarding the way a particular situation was unfolding in my life. I explained my position and the desire to be helpful although my efforts had been to no avail. His kind eyes stopped me dead in my tracks as he said these words, “Audrey that is 100% about you and your level of codependency.” I was floored. My father had gotten sober after all, so surely I could not be wrestling with codependency. I was left to consider the possibility that I may be wrong. I was no longer attempting to control his recovery but was still plagued with fear, loss of control and lack of boundaries manifesting in new areas of my life. These things had not been put to rest with his sobriety and my emotional discord was the obvious result. In order to break free from this bondage of self, a new admission of powerlessness and commitment to my recovery would be required. It will forever be a journey for me and those I am blessed to help.

It is a privilege to be working in a capacity with BRC that allows me to offer families these connections and support them in a life of abundance. How does the family begin to engage with concepts such as boundaries, detachment and codependency? The comforting news is that there are many valuable resources for families available. Therapeutic professionals, literature and 12 step fellowships are waiting to show us how to reclaim our lives. The power of God goes deep and there is no limit to the amount of freedom available to me when I am willing to take the necessary action. Today I am grateful to be a woman participating in both sides of my recovery.

Audrey-Woodfin_The-Family-AfterwardAudrey Woodfin, Director of Outreach Programs
BRC Recovery