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

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My Journey Through Sobriety

Gerard-Bob-Alex-mens-sober-livingBefore arriving at BRC I was a broken man. Struggling in life, jobless, penniless, drowning in alcohol, drugs, and misery, a shell of my former self. Not knowing where or how I went wrong in life, I was lost. Fortunately my worried, loving, and supporting parents held an intervention on me and by the grace of God, I ended up on BRC’s doorstep. At that point in my life I wanted to change, but I just didn’t know how or even where to start. Through the excellent direction, support, and caring of the staff, I started to gain my life back.

BRC excels in solid 12 step recovery. This was my first exposure to any kind of recovery. I had never been to a 12 Step fellowship meeting or any other similar place. In fact I had never even considered living a life without drugs and alcohol in it. The very thought of not having any substances in my life was too hard to imagine. After being down that road for so long, it was scary to think about not being able to alter my mind at will with a drink or drug. BRC showed me a new way to live, one that didn’t have to include substances.

When I first arrived, it was extremely hard to see what I really was, rather admit, that I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. However, the staff and residents relayed to me through their own experiences what it is to be an alcoholic/addict and how to find out for myself. Through a lot of honest soul searching and matching up my own life experiences, I saw the truth, and that is where I started my journey through sobriety.

BRC is a complete 12 step immersion program. With the addition of an excellent meal plan, workout program run by a highly committed and professional personal trainer, and for me an added therapist element, it was just what I needed to set me up for success in early sobriety. Not only was there dedicated staff involved, but also a peer base aspect that really drove the program to a new level. We as residents were encouraged to help and guide each other through the program and grow as a community and in so doing I made lifelong friends as well.

After completing the residential portion I was able to continue on to the BRC sober living to gradually make my way back into society while having a safe and comfortable environment to return to each day. Not only was I still immersed in the BRC atmosphere, I had the opportunity to participate in the Segue program, which not only continued to guide me in the right direction, it helped to mend and foster a new and better relationship with my parents.

Now I have the opportunity to work for the company that gave so much to me. I have been employed at BRC for more than 2 years now, and to be able to be a part of helping other men and to see the incredible transformations and success stories that start here is a true honor. From a jobless, lost, and wreck of a man, to getting to help other men recover from alcoholism and addiction has been a true blessing.

Gerard-B-sober-livingGerard Berens
Segue by BRC Recovery

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Ethics and Mama Birds

Baby-BirdsFor the last few weeks my husband and I have been watching a potential tragedy unfold. A mama bird decided to make a nest for her babies. She has been working very diligently on a daily basis to build the best and safest nest for her offspring. Unfortunately, she placed the nest in the corner of our garage, in the midst of a mix of brooms, mops, shovels, and other miscellaneous tools. The placement is precarious at best; a strong wind could bring the whole operation toppling down. In addition, she is unable to sit on her eggs during the night when the garage is closed. I fear this won’t end well.

A long time ago, I was a 22 year old mama bird, with two babies of my own, 11 months apart. From the moment I saw them, I loved those babies with a love I had never known. I did my very best to be the best mom I could be. In hindsight, I was often afraid, overwhelmed, and quite selfish. In sum, pretty unprepared and ill equipped for the monumental task at hand.

Likewise, I became CEO of BRC Recovery in summer 2011, right about this time of the year. In the past 5 years I have made a lot of decisions. Some of them good, some of them not so good. What they all had in common, however, was that they were all made after thought and deliberation, and, at the time, they seemed like the next “right” thing to do.

I have learned in recovery that most people do the very best they can, with the knowledge, information and experience they bring to the task or decision at hand. I have also learned that judgment and resentment separate me from my fellows, and from God. Further, my resentments and judgments are 100% self-centered and filtered through my own lens of knowledge, information and experience.

These days, the addiction treatment field finds itself in trying times. Big business has come calling, and people are afraid. Words like fraudulent and unethical are being thrown around a lot these days. Social media has added gasoline to the fire. Statistics alone would suggest there are some bad actors, but I personally know a LOT of good, hard working people fulfilling their life’s mission in this work.

To be sure, we are in a time of examination, and I do believe this is necessary. Oversight and correction are good and necessary in any field. My prayer is that during this time we talk with one another, and share our knowledge, information and experience. What seems obvious for someone who has “been around awhile” may seem confusing for a newbie, and that newbie may have been swayed into wrong action, by bad information, in spite of good intentions.

Let’s be gentle with one another, shall we? After all, we all have to hatch our first litter at some time or another. I am so grateful Facebook wasn’t around when I was 22. I don’t think I would have gotten many “likes” despite my best intentions.

I’ll keep y’all posted about Mama bird. I did convince my husband to keep the garage door open while the whole thing unfolds. For now, I will pray and trust the process, in all things…. Peace and Love 🙏

Ethics and Mama Birds_Marsha StoneMarsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery

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Detox and Intervention

Detox-&-InterventionWhen you or a loved one begin to look at treatment options for addiction, you are likely to hear a lot about interventions and detox programs. In this post, we take a closer look at these two programs to provide you with more information to assist you in choosing the best road of recovery for your situation.

DETOXIFICATION

Detox, short for detoxification, is a word that gets thrown around a lot, in contexts ranging from substance abuse to “cleanses” and diets. Detox simply means “abstain from or rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances”.  In the context of addiction, it can also refer to a program where an individual refrains from the abused substance for a certain period of time, often in a residential setting at a treatment center.  The long-term process is generally known as “rehab”, with the detoxification being the first step.

During the detox period, an addict is often closely monitored by medical staff or addiction specialists to minimize the negative symptoms of alcohol or drug withdrawal, which can both cause severe physical consequences. Attempting detox without medical supervision may have very adverse health effects and, in certain cases, can be fatal. As a result, addicts in a controlled detox program are more likely to continue the course of action than those who attempt to go “cold turkey” on their own.

While detoxification does not cure the underlying addiction, it puts an addict in the position to approach long-term treatment options from a place of sobriety, greatly improving the odds of continued success. In fact, here at BRC Recovery, we’ve helped hundreds of people achieve and maintain sobriety through our residential rehab programs, with many of them beginning their recovery with a medically supervised detoxification.

INTERVENTION

Intervention is not a treatment like detox or a long-term rehab program, as it neither cures an underlying addiction nor rids the body of the harmful substances. Despite that, intervention often serves as the first, and most critical, step in the treatment process – it gets the addict to recognize that he or she has a problem and needs help.

Addiction, whether it is to alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs, is very often accompanied by an addict’s denial of his or her addiction. If an addict is in denial about their addiction, they will not seek treatment. Often, it takes the help of an addict’s family and friends to get an addict to see the problem and the impact that his/her addiction has, not only the addict but also on those who care about them.

While there are multiple models of intervention, in its simplest form intervention involves the family and friends of an addict confronting the addict about his addiction and the consequences of his continued substance abuse. In some cases, hearing a loved one speak, in an intervention setting, about the pain the addict is causing may be enough to get the addict to admit that there is a problem. That outcome may lead to the addict seeking treatment.

At BRC Recovery, we have helped many people through interventions. If you have a loved one that is suffering with an addiction, and want to learn more about how we can help him or her, please call (866) 905-4550 or email us at admissions@brcrecovery.com for a confidential consultation.

Detox & Intervention_Marsha Blog

Fixing Myself, Part 1

Now-What_Fixing-Myself-BlogYou’ve discovered your loved one or friend is an alcoholic or addict—now what?

For many people in that situation, their first reaction is, “What can I do to fix my alcoholic/addict?” I know that was my reaction, and 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….

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 learned a key concept: if one family member begins to change, even by taking tiny steps toward recovery, the other family members must change, because the family dynamics will shift due to that one person changing. When I took my first small step toward recovery by finding a therapist, I could not have envisioned the cataclysmic change that would cascade through my family over the next two years.

It took me a while to figure out what resources I found most helpful, and I’ve heard other people share that sentiment. There are many resources 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. This month, we’ll look at Al-Anon as a primary resource.

Some people have tried Al-Anon thinking it was a way to “fix” their loved one, but it is actually a venue where members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. In doing so, they find help and hope for themselves. Hearing other people share their experiences and how they handled them encourages members, because they realize they are not alone.

If you’ve tried Al-Anon and didn’t like it for some reason (maybe it seemed like everyone was just complaining about their problems, or it was at an inconvenient time or place, or your personality didn’t mesh with the group, or any other reason) it’s possible that you attended a meeting that wasn’t a good fit for you. Al-Anon meetings are similar to other groups in that they take on the characteristics of the group members. Because we each have different experiences and backgrounds, each of us will benefit from different types of groups. While your friend or neighbor may find a certain Al-Anon group helpful and encouraging, it’s okay if you don’t feel that way about that group. If that’s the case, keep trying different meetings until you find one that’s a good fit.

There are many different types of groups, so it’s worth checking out the various types to see what you find encouraging and helpful. Some groups offer babysitting; others are geared toward newcomers, parents, women, men, LBGT, adult children of alcoholics, or Spanish speakers. Still other groups focus on discussion, the Twelve Steps and/or the Twelve Traditions, or Al-Anon literature. Some groups have speakers occasionally. There are even phone and email/online groups!

Al-Anon is where you can find hope, help, and encouragement among people who share many of your same experiences. One of the most difficult things about having a loved one who is an alcoholic is that you can feel isolated, as though you’re the only one who has to deal with the types of issues and situations that occur. But many people are surprised to find in Al-Anon that others have had the same or similar experiences, and they find immeasurable help and encouragement by sharing those experiences with each other and talking through how they handled them. However, members do not give advice; they merely share what they’ve gone through, and everyone is encouraged to “take what they like and leave the rest;” in other words, you can decide for yourself which lessons to apply to your life.

So if you’ve tried an Al-Anon meeting or two (or more) and have written off Al-Anon because it didn’t seem like a good fit for you for some reason, consider attending several different meetings for three or four times each. They can vary greatly depending on who attends that meeting and what topic is discussed. Chances are good you’ll find one where you gain experience, strength, and hope from sharing your individual story with others and hearing their personal stories.

Al-Anon is one of many resources available to families and friends of alcoholics and addicts. Although it’s geared toward people who have alcoholic loved ones, anyone is welcome, and a variety of people benefit, including those whose loved ones are addicts or have died.

If you’re wondering what Al-Anon is all about and would like more information, visit the Al-Anon Family Groups (http://www.al-anon.org/) website. There you’ll find information about meetings and what they’re like, as well as how Al-Anon works and what literature is available. You owe it to yourself to explore an option that has brought strength and hope to millions of people.

Diana Urban Blog_Fixing Myself (Updated Blog Pic 1)Diana Urban

 

Resources

Al-Anon Family Groups

Greater Austin Area Al-Anon & Alateen Meetings List

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The Power of Hope

Marsha-Stone-Blog_The-Power-of-HopeWhen he beat Liston in 1964 and said “I must be the Greatest”, I was 11 and average. From that moment on, I wanted to be great.” –Thomas Henderson, former Dallas Cowboy

I had the opportunity last week to attend the West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders. What an amazing event held in beautiful (albeit HOT) Palm Springs, California! On Saturday night BRC hosted an intimate gathering of old and new friends to network and discuss treatment solutions, have a nice meal and enjoy fellowship (and air conditioning!!) I was seated next to an employee, an alumni, of BRC, who was recounting his experiences while a resident. He talked of the 12 step immersion, the accountability, the therapeutic process, the life skills, physical fitness and nutrition, and every other component of the program.

Yet, above all those things,  he stated that the most powerful part of the program was the tangible hope he found in the recovered men and women who worked at the program, and in the alumni who visited on a weekly basis to share their experience, strength and hope. He stated he wanted what they had, and because of their sharing hope with him, he believed he could have “it” too. They “hooked me with a vision” he said and laughed with the laugh of a man with an awakened spirit!

The power of hope is undeniable. As a person in long term recovery, I can remember the early days where hope was about all I had. Now some years later, I believe that, above all, what I have to offer others is hope. I often share my recovery experience with other people. I tell them that at my most broken moment, I became willing to take a long, hard look at myself and my life. And I began to be willing to take direction that was contrary to my thinking mind, but was born out of the successful experiences of those who had come before me. They told me I could get well and I believed them. Hope was instilled!

I am so grateful for the courageous heroes that came before me and paved the way to freedom. If you believe it, you can achieve it! I have a Higher Power that wants the very best for me in every area of my life. My sponsor tells me “God loves you like crazy!!” And, I firmly believe that with that foundation, I am the author of my own life, and the creator of my own destiny. Thought, word, deed…

Thank you Mohammad Ali and many others who told and showed us that greatness truly is attainable. Thank you to the heroes in recovery who shared their own hope, and taught us to trust in the process, and that this “greatness” thing surely is an inside job. TYG

The Power of Hope _Marsha StoneMarsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery

Waking Up

Caroline and HaleyMy name is Caroline Holderfield, and I am a Recovery Coach with the Women’s Segue Program of BRC Recovery. During my active alcoholism one of the most painful parts of each day for me was waking up. I still very clearly remember the mornings when I would awake fairly sober to suffocating fear that felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I would immediately reach for whatever substance I had to calm my nerves and allow me to breathe. When the Big Book talks about the Four Horsemen—Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair— it perfectly describes the state of internal conflict I lived in most of the time, especially in the mornings. I remember consistently thinking, ‘this has got to stop’, and feeling hopeless because everything I tried to do to get myself out of the destructive cycle I was in ultimately failed.

My life today does not even resemble the life I just described. I have gotten to experience a new life full of the promises that the Big Book offers as a result of working the 12 Steps and living a life guided by spiritual principles. Today I no longer have to face the hideous Four Horsemen. I get to wake up at peace, excited for the new day, and grateful for the ability to breathe without drugs and alcohol. I have overwhelming gratitude for what the program has done not only for my external life, but my internal condition as well. Today, I am passionate about the work I do, I have a host of wonderful friends, my relationship with my family has been reconstructed, and I am proud of who I have become. I can look the world in the eye again, and I can sit alone at perfect peace and ease. Recovery allows me to live a life that is dramatically more fulfilling and joyful than the life I lived before. I am still at times astonished that my life looks and feels the way that it does. I actually get to enjoy waking up in the morning.

Caroline H_Blog PicCaroline Holderfield
Segue by BRC Recovery

Macklemore Joins President Obama to Discuss the Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

President Obama and MacklemoreWith so many high-profile deaths as a result of prescription drug abuse in the news recently, it is no surprise that President Obama has become invested in the problem— after all, prescription drugs, particularly prescription painkillers, are accessible to people of all ages in the United States.  Drugs like codeine and Vicodin, both derived from similar compounds as heroin and morphine, are commonly prescribed to people who are experiencing significant levels of pain.  They are extremely effective as short-term painkillers, but they also pose significant risks: one of the most important risks is, of course, addiction.

President Obama and Hip Hop Recording Artist, Macklemore, addressed the nation during the President’s weekly address in an attempt to shed some light on the problem of prescription painkiller addiction in the United States as a whole.  The problem of addiction to prescription painkillers, Macklemore told President Obama, is that they are widely accessible to nearly anyone, young or old, who is interested or curious about using them.  Opioids have long been a problem for the rapper, who has admitted that addiction has plagued him since his early teen years.  His successful fight against addiction and his story regarding his meteoric rise to fame is something that he seems to hope will invigorate other young people to resist using prescription drugs and avoid the dangers of prescription painkiller addiction.

Prescription painkiller addiction is one of the fastest-growing problems in the United States, and although steps have been taken to offset this problem, more and more young people are falling prey to these powerful medications. President Obama has recently supported legislation designed to address the problem of opioid addiction in the United States, but he claims that the version of the bill that has passed through the House and the Senate does not do enough to provide treatment options for people who have fallen victim to this silent addiction.  Greater support infrastructure is fundamentally important to address this growing issue, and further conversations like the one between the President, Macklemore, and the country as a whole can only improve the current situation. As Macklemore told the nation, “Addiction is like any other disease— it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what color you are, whether you’re a guy or a girl, rich or poor, whether you live in the inner city, a suburb, or rural America. This doesn’t just happen to other people’s kids or in some other neighborhood. It can happen to any of us.”  This fight is one that affects everyone, and expanding treatment options can only help those who are struggling with the issue.

Hearing an icon like Macklemore speak out against recreational prescription painkiller use might not stop the epidemic that is sweeping the United States, but the singer’s investment in the cause could potentially begin the conversation for many families.  Because drug education programs targeted at children and young teens focus so heavily on illicit drugs, the problem of easy-accessible prescription painkillers is sometimes ignored.  By opening up to the country and the world as a whole, Macklemore has allowed many families around the country to begin talking about the problem of opioid addiction.  Indeed, in families where opioid addiction is not a problem, parents might even be able to take action to remove these dangerous substances from the medicine cabinet that could be accessible to an adolescent.  Removing access and maintaining a watchful eye for signs of addiction are the first steps to reducing rates of prescription painkiller addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with prescription painkiller addiction, please contact our Admissions team at (866) 905-4550.