Friday, January 31, 2014

Does Intervention Really Work

What to do when you suspect your Loved One is abusing or addicted to Drugs or Alcohol, Or is addicted to something such as Internet Use, Gambling, Shopping, Food, and Porn or  Sex.
Does the Addicted Loved One (“ALO”) need to “HIT BOTTOM” before getting help?
The myth that “Hitting Bottom” is required before an ALO is ready for treatment has been disproven and disregarded by addiction professionals, mental health professionals, and medical professionals for quite some time.   Further, waiting until an ALO recognizes his or her problem or asks for help is potentially dangerous because denial is a strong characteristic of addiction and the ALO may cause irreparable damage to himself, herself, or others if left untreated.  More importantly, the definition of “hitting bottom” is often different for every person.  For some, becoming homeless is hitting bottom.  For others, simply having their boss or their spouse tell them they have a problem is enough.
If your ALO’s substance use or abuse has become out of control, has progressed beyond recreational use, or its consequences require attention, it is the right time for concerned others to take action.  As a concerned family member or friend, in the past you may not have been more than vocal in your concerns.  Either way, your approach has not been successful.  If you haven’t stated your worries, if you have stood by silently while your fear, resentment, and frustration grew, the first intervention you should do is calmly express your concerns about his or her behavior.   He or she need to hear this from you.  The first step is to express your fears and tell him or her that you want him or her to get professional help.
Indicators of Drug or Alcohol Abuse or Other Addictive Behaviors
1.       Has the drug or alcohol use or other behavior affected your ALO’s
a.       Responsibilities at home (housework, daily responsibilities, paying bills)?
b.      Responsibilities and performance at work or school (calling in sick, being unable to perform at work, missing classes and assignments)?
c.       Personal relationships (canceling on friends and family)?
d.      Financial status?
2.       Has the drug or alcohol use or behavior led to legal or financial difficulties?
3.       Does he or she have feelings of shame, regret, or embarrassment about what he or she has done when under the influence or uses again after staying sober?
4.       Does he or she continue to use even though he or she puts himself in physically dangerous situations?
Initial Interventions
If your ALO is willing to try to quit his or her substance abuse or addictive behavior, it is critical to put a plan into action.  Most of the time, the ALO will want to do the minimal amount of changing possible.  There are two things the addict or alcoholic dislike most – 1) the way things are, and 2) change that he or she cannot control.  So what is the ALO willing to do?
1.      Quit strictly on his or her own?

2.      Attend a 12 Step Meeting – AA, NA or some other program?

3.      See an addiction counselor?

4.      Outpatient treatment?

5.      Intensive day/night treatment?

6.      Inpatient treatment?
However, what if her or she says “NO” when asked to get help? What if he or she agrees to cut down but not quit?  In these circumstances, a more formal intervention may be necessary.
The Family Intervention
A family or friend intervention can be very effective.  There are several books, available on family intervention.  Many interventionists have published books on “do-it-yourself” interventions.  The following are a few:

·         Vernon E. Johnson, “Intervention: A Step-by-Step Guide for Families and Friends of Chemically Dependent Persons”, Center City: Hazelden, 1986.
·         Jeff Day & Debra Day, Love First, Center City: Hazelden, 2000.
·         Judith Landau & James Garrett, Invitational Intervention: A Step by Step Guide, Booksurge, 2006.
·         Andrew T. Wainwright & Robert Poznanovich, It’s not OK to be a Cannibal, Center City: Hazelden, 2007.
·         Brad Lamm, “How to Change Someone You Love”, New York: St Martin’s Press, 2009.
·         Candy Finnigan, When Enough is Enough, New York: Penguin Press, 2008.
·         Joanni Gammill, The Interventionist, Center City: Hazelden, 2011.
·         Mark S. Komrad, You Need Help!, Center City: Hazelden, 2012.
The Do-It-Yourself Intervention
The Do-It-Yourself Intervention can be highly effective if done with compassion and clarity.  To do this type of intervention, select one person to be the chairperson and another or the same person to be the detail person.  Try to find three to eight family members and friends whom the ALO trusts, respects and values.  Then, generally follow the checklist below:
1.      Set up a planning meeting to discuss moving forward with the intervention and set a date.
2.      Discuss the importance of not alerting the ALO until all the plans are finalized and everything is in place.

3.      Have each person write a letter describing how much the ALO means to you, the ways that his/her substance abuse have caused negative consequences and affect you as well as him or her. Make sure to include a message of hope at the end.

4.      Read your letters to each other to edit out anger, blame, and judgment.

5.      Determine bottom lines,

6.      Find an appropriate treatment program and make arrangements for treatment.

7.      Discuss with the treatment center whether detox will be necessary.  If the person is abusing alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax, the person will likely need detox.  If the person is abusing cocaine, crystal meth, crack, or other forms of speed, then detox may or may not be necessary.

8.      Make airline reservations if the treatment center is out of state.

9.      Create a plan to likely assure the ALO will be present at the intervention.

10.  Pack suit case and make list of prescriptions used by ALO.

11.  Conduct the intervention in a peaceful, safe place – usually not the home of the ALO.

12.  If the ALO agrees to get help, have someone accompany him or her to treatment with encouragement.  If the ALO does not agree, have a back-up plan in place.
Types of Interventions  
Many people have seen the A&E television program “Intervention” so they have an idea of one type of intervention.  Generally, there are three types of interventions:
1.      Confrontational – This is the type used by the A&E television show “Intervention”.  The ALO is not told that the intervention will take place; it is a surprise.  The focus is simply on getting the ALO into treatment and generally does not deal with concurrent issues in the family. 

2.      ARISE or Invitational – This type of intervention is set by the Family Contact and the ALO is told “We are concerned about “your drinking” or “your behavior” and a few of your friends and family are meeting this Saturday at 10 am to discuss what needs to be done and we would like you to come.  Often the ALO refuses, but when he or she is told that the group is still going to meet to discuss what they are going to do, the ALO rarely refuses to attend for the mere fact that he or she wants to know what everyone will say about him or her.  In this method, usually everyone becomes involved in change or treatment of some kind.

3.      Systemic Family Systems – This model is highly successful with multiple addictive or mental health issues among family members.  The focus is on the family, not the individual.
When to Use a Professional Interventionist
A professional interventionist takes a great deal of the heavy work off the shoulders of the family member who is planning the intervention.  They have access to the appropriate treatment center, can arrange for detox and special needs, and often can safely transport the ALO from the intervention to treatment.  The specific situations when a professional interventionist is advisable are the following:
1.      If there have been previous attempts at intervention and they were unsuccessful,

2.      If there is a history of violence or abuse,

3.      If there are concurrent mental health issues, such as depression, bi-polar, anxiety or schizophrenia,

4.      If there have been threats or attempts at suicide,

5.      If the ALO has a complicated substance abuse or cross-addictive behaviors, or

6.      If the family members are intimidated or beholding to the ALO.
Professional interventionists should be licensed and insured.  Ask for references and check them out. 
Intervening upon a person engaged in such self-destructive behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, shopping, or sex, or eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, is one of the greatest acts of love that one can give.  Trauma and other painful experiences are usually behind addictive behaviors. Interventions bring hope and healing.  It allows everyone to heal, to change and to grow.  I never give up on anyone and I encourage you to seek help from family, friends or a professional if you are dealing with someone in the grip of addiction.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Keep the body moving!!!

People suffering from addiction often suffer from real and phantom pain.  After periods of substance abuse, they have likely neglected to stay physically active.  As a result, they are out of shape and reluctant to get moving.  An important axiom to remember is the following:
"For the body to remain healthy, it must keep moving."
"For the mind to remain healthy, it must be kept at peace."
For people who have arthritis or physical pain, they should be sure to keep exercising and that their exercise routine has these goals in mind:
  1. A better range of motion (improved joint mobility and flexibility). To increase one's range of motion, one should move a joint as far as it can go and then try to push a little farther. These exercises can be done any time, even when the joints are painful or swollen, as long as you do them gently.
  2. Stronger muscles (through resistance training). Fancy equipment isn't needed.  A person can use his or her own body weight as resistance to build muscles. For example, the simple exercise described below can help ease the strain on knees by strengthening your thigh muscles. Sit in a chair. Now lean forward and stand by pushing up with the thigh muscles (use your arms for balance only). Stand a moment, then sit back down, using the thigh muscles only.
  3. Better endurance. Aerobic exercise — such as walking, swimming, and bicycling — strengthens the heart and lungs and thereby increases endurance and overall health. Stick to activities that don't jar your joints, and avoid high impact activities such as jogging. If you're having a flare-up of symptoms, wait until it subsides before doing endurance exercise.
  4. Better balance. There are simple ways to work on balance. For example, one should stand with weight on both feet. Then try lifting one foot while you balance on the other foot for 5 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Over time, work your way up to 30 seconds. Yoga and tai chi are also good for balance.
These exercises create a sense of well being emotionally as well as physically.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why a Professional Interventionist

The last day I drank, I begged God that if He could take away this self-centered self-destruction, I would do whatever I was asked to do.  Doing interventions and helping others get clean and sober seems to be what I am destined to do...because I am damn good at it.  So far, I have not lost one yet.

I believe that anyone can beat his or her addiction with the right treatment and the right attitude. Most people suffering from addiction want to change; they simply cannot imagine the way out.  For most of us, our addictions worked in the beginning.  We really, really liked our addicted life – even when little things began to go wrong.  Our addiction was the one thing we could always count on.  We need 5 things to change – A wake up call, a willingness to change, hope that change is possible and good, something to take charge of, and permission to dream again. A good intervention shows the addicted loved one that his or her lives are in crisis and their current lifestyle is unsustainable, that the problems they have are solvable, that we know a way out that they are going to like, and that life can be truly wonderful again – an absolute adventure!!!

Why do I need a professional interventionist?
If your loved one is caught up in a destructive behavior, such as addiction to drugs or alcohol, gambling, internet addiction or an eating disorder, these destructive behaviors will not improve by ignoring the problem and hoping it gets better, or by covering up or by shielding the loved one from the consequences of their actions.   In virtually all cases, by the time you realize there is a problem, the behavior has been going on for much longer than you think and is always much worse than you think.  Moreover, when an individual is caught up in addictive behavior, the very nature of the addiction is to lie, to deny, minimize and hide it.  Addiction is often called a disease of deception for the very reason that the disease dictates the terms of disclosure and behavior.  Many times it takes a professional to break through the denial and delusion.
But why do I need a professional interventionist?
1.     The Professional speaks the language of addiction, the language of normal people, and the language of recovery.  Often the Professional Interventionist serves as an interpreter.  The Interventionist is usually, or is best when, he or she is a recovering addict or alcoholic and understands the language of addictive thinking.  Examples of addictive thinking include statements such as “I have been lying to many people about my drinking, but if I go to treatment to get help when I am really not an alcoholic, that would really make me a liar and I need to be honest now” or “Why should I make any changes?  I am not the one with the problem; they are.  When others make the appropriate changes, I won’t need to drink or use any other drug.”  Often the family gets so frustrated at the addict or alcoholic that they either explode in rage or give up – the professional understands what the addictive thought process is and can communicate it to both parties.
2.     The family is susceptible to emotional blackmail.  Often the addict or alcoholic is highly manipulative and can often make the family members feel guilty for some imaginary or real excuse for their behavior, often blaming the family for some wrong that causes the loved one to drink or drug. Many times the manipulations are subtle and easily effective when the family is sued to it and the family patterns.
3.     The family has often been enabling the addict or alcoholic and cannot change their own behavior to see what the right solutions are.  Addiction is a family disease and everyone’s perceptions are altered by the drugs or alcohol.  The fact is that everyone is sick and everyone suffers from the addiction.  The addict or alcoholic simply has the closest relationship to the substance.  The Professional Interventionist can see in which ways the family enables the loved one and in which ways the loved one is manipulating the family.
4.     The family lacks credibility because they have not been through treatment themselves. Often no immediate family member is in recovery or gone to treatment.  Frequently, the addict or alcoholic will deflect criticism and attacks by family members by telling them that they know nothing about addiction so why should he or she listen to anything the family says.  Contrarily, the addict or alcoholic will accuse other family members of having a substance abuse problem or other problem worse than he or she has.  The addict or alcoholic will also accuse others “You take pills” or “You drink more than I smoke daily!”  The Professional can accurately defend the family and return the emphasis on the loved one.
The main reason that the loved one does not want to get help or go to treatment is because he or she is afraid of the unknown – of what will happen. The Professional Interventionist knows what is going to happen in treatment and what recovery

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Natural Remedies for High Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol! It’s the evil substance plugging arteries everywhere, and statins are the drug industry’s Drano. Even orange juice is jumping on the bandwagon! What did Americans do before the advent of plant oils, margarine, cholesterol-free soy protein, fat-free dairy, and statins? Back when they lived on beef and lard and salt pork and butter and cream and there was no 1% milk to be found, how did they manage their cholesterol? Whatever did they do?
Oddly enough, one thing they didn’t do was die of heart disease.
Cholesterol, and saturated fat, are not necessarily unhealthy. People who eliminate trans fat and carbohydrates from grains (soda, pasta, bread, desserts) see major drops in bad cholesterol and triglycerides despite continuing to eat cholesterol-rich foods like red meat, eggs, cream, and butter. In fact, there’s good reason to question the reigning “lipid hypothesis“, which posits that dietary cholesterol clogs the arteries and leads to heart disease. LDL (bad) cholesterol builds up in the arteries not from how many omelets you eat, but in response to inflammation. This is triggered by a diet high in trans fat and processed carbohydrates, not saturated fat.
If you want to lower your cholesterol, what you’re really talking about is improving your health and reducing your risk of heart disease, right? Right. So be sure that along with lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol you boost good (HDL) cholesterol and control inflammation.
These foods will help you do just that!
1. The grain issue.
Most cholesterol-lowering guides will recommend that you switch refined carbohydrates to whole-grain carbohydrates (such as whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain bread). If you’ve been living on a diet of starchy carbohydrates, this switch will help lower your cholesterol. But to really lower your cholesterol – and reduce inflammation, which is just as significant to heart health and more significant for overall health – eliminate grains entirely. Yes – you read that correctly. Here’s why you need to banish even complex grain carbohydrates from your diet.
2. Eat fruit instead of guzzling juice.
If you are going to eat something sweet, first make sure it’s fruit instead of desserts and candies. But choose fruit, not fruit juice. The benefit of fruit comes from the fiber, so if you drink juice, you’re losing that wonderful benefit and essentially drinking sugar water.
3. Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables daily, and work up to 9.
Good ones are colorful bell peppers, chili peppers, and broccoli.
4. Raise your good cholesterol!
We tend to focus on the negative, but it’s equally important to raise your good cholesterol. Do this with a daily serving of essential fatty acids from avocados, nuts, olive oil, nut oils, and nut butters.
5. Take advantage of every opportunity for Omega-3′s.
Switch from regular eggs to DHA-enhanced eggs. They’re all over the place and relatively inexpensive.
6. Fish: the multi-tasker.
Eat wild, fatty, cold-water fish and consider a fish oil supplement. (Best bets: wild, Alaskan salmon, wild mackerel, Nordic sardines.) Fish is the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids, so aim for two or three portions a week. Make sure you choose wild, cold-water fish to reduce exposure to chemicals like mercury.
7. Garlic.
Garlic is wonderful for your cardiovascular system and as part of the allium family of plants it’s a natural anti-inflammatory. Other great foods that reduce inflammation: ginger, curry, and chili peppers.
8. Onions ‘n things.
Whether it’s scallions, leeks, chives, white onions, red onions, or shallots, these flavorful bulbs are terrific for quelling inflammation and healing your arteries. Onions also contain high levels of quercetin, an important flavonoid that reduces cholesterol. Try to eat some every day.
In general, focus on eating only fresh, whole, unprocessed foods: meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, legumes, fruits, and nuts.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014


I think FEAR is the greatest evil in life. It holds us back from joy and deprives us of opportunity and adventure.  The greatest fear for many alcoholics or addicts is that 1) I will either lose what I have, or 2) never get what I want.

My sponsor will ask "Have you asked God to help you? Have you prayed for God to help you?" Relying on God for the guidance to deal with our problems seems way too simple and maybe an easy out.  Yet, for many of us, we spend years looking to alcohol, or drugs, or food, or relationships for the solution to the ache that never left.  It never occurred to us that God might be willing to provide help, support, strength, guidance and courage, if only we earnestly ask for help.  I finally did ask God for help to take away my obsession to drink and it happened.  I have asked God for many opportunities and guidance and understanding - and my prayers were answered.  Yet, still I often forget to ask God for help.   It has never been in our nature to keep our lives simple.  But in recovery, we practice keeping it simple.

We need to choose, daily, to believe that God can, will, and does provide for our needs.  Most of us have not had a spiritual experience that may be supremely profound.  However, we must decide to trust and allow the proof of our faith to present itself.  By looking to God on a daily basis to guide us and protect us, we can see the tangible proof of this.  A moment of quiet and a prayer is that that is required to start.  In my darkest, loneliest days, I now remember that God is never more than a word and prayer away.  


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Who are you?

Treatment is really about self-discovery. Recovery takes place after one decides to become sober or free of his or her addiction.  Self-discovery is part of the recovery process. In recovery, we find out who we really are.  Here is a start:
1.                   If you could do any other work than the work that you do, what would it be?

2.                   If you could live in another country other than the United States, where would you want to live?

3.                   If you could have one super-power, what would it be?

4.                   What do you fear most in your life?

5.                   What is the most courageous thing you have every done?

6.                   What do you think you need to change in your life to live sober?

7.                   Describe your higher power in a few words?

8.                   What do you like most about yourself?

9.                   To whom do you owe the greatest amends and why?

10.               Have you ever experienced a miracle?

11.               If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?

12.               What are you must grateful for in your life?