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recovery residence

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

Time and again, family members come into Purple seeking help for a client whose life has spiraled out of control and has put tremendous stress and pressure on the family. These tired, weary and scared families typically convey the same general message, "We've tried everything and nothing has worked, so it's time for something to change". Without knowing anything different, the family refers to the client as that "something" that needs changing; not realizing that they too need to change. 

While it is true that the client will need to work hard to change his life, the reality is family members need to work also to embrace the process of change. Why? You
see, an old adage, "Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes" is often used to describe families that can't seem to get off the roller coaster ride that the addictive behavior of someone they love has put them on. They plunge forward with the false belief that "one more try and I'll get control of this situation", eventually leaving them more exhausted, frustrated, hopeless and angry. They know they need to get off the roller coaster, but simply do not know how. 

"Tag You're It"

"Tag You're It"

Last May, Campbell Manning of Hope for Families, shared her own personal story of dealing with her sons' addictions and she introduced the phrase "Tag You're It!" as the premise for the way parents or other family members approach the shifting of responsibility to others, especially children. Just like the childhood game, one person is "it" and he or she does his or her best to tag another participant, who then becomes the new "it." As you know, no one wants to be "it" for long, so they quickly seek to tag someone else to release the responsibility.

Often times, the parent or loved one of an addict become the "IT" and soon find their hands tied behind their backs, accepting all responsibility for the addictive behavior, mostly in an effort to fix it or control it. 

In Campbell's experience as mother and addiction counselor, declaring "Tag You're It" is crucial to stopping the cycle of enabling, rescuing, blaming, and codependency. Symbolically, it's time to "tag you're it" by passing on the responsibility to the addict.

Instead of reacting, take action. Are you one who says your phone is always ringing with requests, complaints, or blaming? "Tag You're It!" by setting limits and boundaries. Are you still on the emotional roller coaster of codependency? "Tag You're It" by helping the addict move toward recovery. Remember,it gets better ONLY when the addict wants it, regardless of how much the family may long for the changes. Look at your role - Are you standing in the way? Do you find it extremely painful to watch the addict struggle even though progress is being made? "Tag You're It" by refusing to relieve the pain by enabling.

Recovery begins when the addict takes responsibility for their situation and decides to improve things. For family members, recovery begins when you make the choice to accept the powerlessness over the disease of addiction.

"Tag You're It" simply means releasing someone else's responsibility, which is essential to allowing that person to grow and change.  

What are you MORE of or LESS of after being on this journey of recovery?

In recovery, we seek more meaningful relationships and spend less time with those who are stuck on frivolous things of little importance. We become much more accepting and less judgmental. We become more willing to ask for help and listen to what others are saying and less likely to try to fix or control. On our journeys, we seek to find serenity and happiness even though someone we love may be suffering. We become more focused on our recovery and Less focused on someone else's.

Applying the slogan "Let it begin with ME" is about being responsible for our own actions and stop focusing so intently on what those around us say, do, feel, and instead put the focus on ourselves. In your own quiet time, what would you say that you are MORE of or LESS of? Take some time to reflect on that and write it down to look back on later in your own journey.

3 questions about gratitude:
What surprised you today? What inspired you today? What touched your heart today? We encourage you to take time to reflect on questions to bring the focus back on those things YOU can control. Lastly, Campbell recited these words from a Cat Stevens' song :

"But take your time, think a lot
Why think of everything you got
For you will be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not"

Loving someone with an addiction; It's not about being tough

Loving someone with an addiction; It's not about being tough

What is tough love? Is tough love really about being tough? When is a time that you felt that tough love was needed ? These are the questions our family group discussed to explore the topic of "tough love". 

Loving someone with an addiction can sometimes be tough, but it's still love. It requires taking action to avoid protecting or rescuing them from consequences of their choices. The toughest part of this kind of love is be courageous enough to set limits and boundaries on bad behaviors that have put a strain on the family relationships.

The goal is to bring about change in a firm, but loving way, while focusing on providing yourself, and all family members, with a healthy, safe environment that promotes responsible behavior.

"Tough Love" is really about courage. As the Serenity Prayer says:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.   

Be Courageous!

Connection is the Cure to Addiction

Connection is the Cure to Addiction

Amber Hollingworth, a Master Addiction Counselor from Hope for Families, presented an engaging lecture which addressed some of the underlying conditions that make a person more vulnerable to developing an addiction. From the brain perspective, there is the down regulation of several important brain chemicals(endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin) and people often use substances to make up for these deficits in neurochemicals, especially when they experience some sudden loss, like death, divorce, major injury, loss of dream, etc. The substance abuse often progresses to addiction, where disconnections with others often follow. Without connection, the disease will continue to progress as all humans are made to connect with each other.

In treatment, the best way to help heal these deficits is to help clients reconnect with others. With new, positive connections, the brain chemicals naturally begin to rebalance making it easier for the individual to address their depression, anxiety, trauma, ADD, or grief. Addressing these things helps to jump start and strengthen the recovery process and maintain sobriety. Luckily, when people engage in recovery programs, support groups, and treatment, this natural process almost immediately begins to help heal the brain. The connection to others is a major change factor! Thus the reason that addiction treatment centers around group therapy and 12-step meeting attendance. It is the process of engaging in these groups that is healing the client.

Amber also provided a different perspective on “tough love.” Instead of pushing the person out of their lives until they “learn their lesson,” she showed how healthy connection is more effective in supporting change. It is true that sometimes family and friends need to distance themselves for their own emotional safety, but the idea of instituting a withdrawal of love as a technique that would make the addict get clean simply doesn’t work.

Grace Through the 12 Steps

Grace Through the 12 Steps

The disease of addiction eases into lives and eventually extinguishes the light of spirituality. As the light slowly fades away, anger, resentment, disappointment, grief, and shame leave everyone in total darkness. 

In recovery, our journey slowly moves us back toward the light making it possible to feel its warmth and flourish in it. Then, and only then, is when we receive God's grace.

Although the following was written from the perspective of an addict, our family members could easily relate to the unveiling of God's grace through the 12 Step Recovery Process.

Through the process of accepting powerlessness and need for spiritual help, we are awakened to GRACE. 

Step One: I received the gift of desperation. God helped me realize that I was powerless over a deadly disease and that I could not manage my life any longer.


Step Two: He gave me the gift of powerlessness over my addictive thinking and behavior. I came to believe that I needed his help to overcome my insanity. 


Step Three: I embedded God's gift of grace into my heart, and saw that without his grace and love, I could never get better. Accepting his will was a big step in my recovery which allowed me to grow my faith.
Step Four: God gave me the gift of courage and forgiveness.And his gifts gave me the strength to forgive those that caused me harm.


Step Five: He gave me the gift of humility when I admitted to him and another human my resentments and my part in them. 


Step Six: He gave me the gift of discovery which allowed me to see the traits of my addictive thinking and to accept that I needed to change these defects of character. 


Step Seven: I received the gift of a desire to change. I admitted that I could not change my addictive thinking on my own and I needed  his help thru this process.


Steps Eight and Nine: I used his gift of humility. He provided me the strength to ask for forgiveness to those I have wronged. I was scared, but though  his grace, I was forgiven.


Step Ten: I received the gift of awareness, honesty and growth. I started doing a  daily inventory to see what I needed to work on and what I was doing well. I realized I had the desire to become a better person. 


Step Eleven: I received the gift of spirituality. As I continued to receive God's gifts, I continued to pray and meditate daily and continued to accept that there are things in my life that I cannot control or do on my own. 


Step Twelve: He provided me the gift of spiritual awakening and a desire to serve. I began to see God's grace working in other recovering alcoholics and addicts. I truly found a desire to volunteer and serve others. In return, I found my purpose in life. 

As the program teaches us, the way to keep the blessings of recovery is to give away the experience to others following along our path. 

Today, may God's grace shine in your life giving you the desire and strength to continue to grow in recovery. 

Dysfunctional Families versus Nurturing Families

Dysfunctional Families versus Nurturing Families

Our last family group took at look at what defines a "dysfunctional" family as compared to a healthy, nurturing one. Active addiction takes a toil on all families and often the family unit becomes fragmented, characterized by dishonesty, denial, and a general lack of respect and trust placing the family into turmoil.

In recovery, we seek to gain back a nurturing family where positive communication is the hub of the wheel. Families are free to talk about feelings, or any subject, in a relaxed atmosphere that promotes growth and encourages individual differences. 

The reality is that most families face addiction without the knowledge and understanding that we gain through recovery. Therefore, reactions are generally from a place of misunderstanding, but most are out of concern, love, and usually desperation, which can easily be viewed as dysfunctional. Dysfunctional can have a negative connotation, so our group consensus is that generally speaking, families do the best they can at the time, on the information they have.

In recovery, we can let go of that label of dysfunctional, and give credit for the many things that we all try to constantly improve in order to be healthier, whole, and nurturing families again! 

"MICHAEL'S CORNER"

"MICHAEL'S CORNER"

In my 9 years of working with addicted people, I have learned that trying to make someone change a behavior is an exercise of futility. I enjoy the challenge of helping people, looking at their behaviors and developing an appropriate path to change. What I try to do when working with clients at Purple is determine where the client is in the stages of change, use conscious raising activities to motivate change, discussing different behaviors/habits that will socially liberate them from temptation, use self-reevaluation that involves cognitive reappraisal of how behavior change is part of one’s identity, and emotional arousal to help maintain the motivation to change. Each client has their own path to recovery and deserves that autonomy with in the structure of the 12 Steps.  


As I interact with clients my primary purpose is to practice empathy, unconditional positive regard, and collaboration rather than confrontation. I have learned that “rolling with resistance” is helpful when working with addicted people. By rolling with resistance, it disrupts any “struggle” that may occur and interactions are less likely to resemble an argument or the client’s playing "devil's advocate" to the counselor's suggestions. The value ofhaving the client define the problem and develop their own solutions- leaves little for the clients to resist.

Michael & Donna's Comprehensive Substance Abuse Assessments

When a family member is using drugs, it affects the entire family making it difficult to confront the drug user. In our assessment process, Donna Gunter meets with family members to assess their readiness to change. Michael Whatley will simultaneously meet with the drug user, assessing their substance use, his/her readiness to change, and obtain a biopsychosocial. Then, everyone will meet together and an appropriate treatment recommendation will be made for the family.

Michael managed the adolescent addiction program at Ridgeview Institute from 2012-2017 where he assessed psychiatric/addicted patients and made appropriate treatment recommendations. He has tuned his ability to help people feel comfortable/trust him with their difficulties in life by being warm, authentic and transparent. Working at Ridgeview Institute He gained a vast knowledge of treatment resources for addicted patients making me confident in helping families find appropriate referrals.

Donna Gunter was educated at The University of Georgia and began a teaching career in the late 70's. When confronted by her own son’s substance abuse problem in the early 2000's she began her personal journey of helping other families. Her final years as a Gwinnett County educator were spent in the counseling office at Brookwood High School. For the last decade, she has been committed to helping families find solutions to their child's substance abuse problem. 

Call Today, Adam will set up your appt. 678-572-6856

Honesty is the Cornerstone of Recovery

Honesty is the Cornerstone of Recovery

Honesty is the guiding principle throughout 12-Step Recovery. It begins with Step One, when one becomes willing to throw open the curtain and shine a light on those roadblocks that are keeping you in denial about the reality of the situation you face. On Saturday, we used the analogy of emptying our pitcher of all these things: guilt, shame, control, enabling, jealousy, anxiety, fear, resentment, frustration, etc. so that we could be honest with ourselves, be open to a power greater than ourselves, and be willing to take certain steps to lay down a solid foundation for recovery. 

Your inability to be honest is usually based on FEAR. The dictionary definition of fear is something likely to be dangerous, painful or threatening. Life may never be completely absent of fear, but recovery gives you the courage to continue in the face of it. How? By looking at what F.E.A.R. usually is- False Evidence Appearing Real or Future Events Already Ruined. These common acronyms remind us to keep our focus on TODAY and avoid busying ourselves with predicting, obsessing, or future tripping. 

Instead, let's look at a new meaning of F.E.A.R.-Face Everything AndRecover. Modeling real honesty opens the door to better communication and builds trust. Having REAL honesty means trusting the process of recovery. Recovery is a long, hard process where rigorous honesty brings about the serenity and peace that you seek. Is is worth it to show up and do the work? Absolutely! 

It's easy for us to see the faults of others - this one isn't being honest or that one isn't letting go. It's not so easy to analyze your own behavior. Getting real with Step Four requires the most rigorous honesty of all. A searching and moral inventory of ourselves leads one to gain insight and strength so that we can grow. So now that we've emptied out our pitcher, what do we want to fill it with? Self-confidence, trust, peace, security, emotional stability, assurance, and hope to name a few from our workshop.  

Being completely honest is a lifelong struggle, but taking the time to look at yourself in regards to honesty, really opens the door to getting real. You have to be honest with yourself, if not, you cannot be honest with anyone else. 

Daily Gratitude For Sober Living

Daily Gratitude For Sober Living

 

By Bo Howell

In sobriety and recovery, we often refer to the spiritual “tool kit” when we refer to all of the suggested actions and practices that we have found effective in helping us to live and face life and its challenges successfully.  In the spiritual tool kit, I would have to say that Gratitude is perhaps the Phillips head screwdriver. It’s simple, effective, and required often.

 In my first 12 step meeting, I remember the leader sharing something that sticks with me to this day. He said, “the enemy of sobriety is negative thinking.” As a matter of fact, the root of addiction itself is in negative, fear-based obsessive thinking. If not challenged and actively addressed using the tool kit, this untreated thinking will undoubtedly lead the sufferer to seek relief via substances.

 One of the best definitions of gratitude is “an acknowledgement of a benefit that an individual has received.” However, the addict or alcoholic, whose perspective is often entirely negative and discontented, is only able to perceive circumstances in their lives negatively, and without constant daily efforts to connect with the truth of the benefits they have received, they will stay in the painful place of taking good things for granted and keeping tally of all of the perceived wrongs. If out of a 1000 things, 999 are positive blessings, the unwell addict will only be able to focus on the 1 thing that didn’t go as they thought it should. In the active addict’s world, nothing is ever good enough. This is only worsened when he inaccurately compares himself to those whom he is certain have been more fortunate, which triggers a deep sense of self-pity and shame.

The best medicine for this self-centered lack of perspective is the daily practice of gratitude. Some of the best advice most of us ever got was when we were very young. “Count your blessings,” they told us. And for his very survival and ultimately happiness, the addict needs to practice this diligently. Thankfulness is a muscle. The more it is exercised, the stronger it becomes. When connecting with the positive benefits we have received, we are automatically practicing positive thinking. The negative thinking an addict engages in is never accurate. Daily gratitude is the connecting with the truth of the blessings in our lives. Whether it’s a daily gratitude journal or list, or an action of service based upon the awareness of our fortune, or a deep mindful meditation of gratitude, we’ve found a little often goes a long way. Connecting with the truth and its underlying power is the beginning of hope, sanity and healing from the pernicious disease of addiction.

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"YOU alone cannot; WE together can"

"YOU alone cannot; WE together can"

A FEW MOMENTS WITH BO:  

Addiction is a disease that thrives on isolation. Be it physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual (and typically it’s a combination of all of these forms) this isolation- if not interrupted- is crippling and ultimately lethal for an addict or alcoholic. One of, if not the most outstanding qualities of someone who has crossed the point of no return in addiction, is the inability to remain sober without some supportive network of people to aid in the ongoing recovery process. What we’ve seen work best at keeping addicted people sober is when recovering people form a tight knit community amongst themselves, interacting regularly, intensively, honestly and lovingly. Even if addicts aren’t perhaps sold on recovery or ambivalent about sobriety, they tend to improve and get better when surrounded by and connected to other active, sober individuals.

In fact, the main of reason I joined the staff at Purple, as a certified Addiction Counselor, a few months ago, is that I believe, at its best, Purple provides as good a recovery environment for young men as I have seen in my eight years in the addiction treatment world. Addiction and alcoholism are dire afflictions that tend to consume many lives. Some cases are too severe and all treatment efforts end up being unsuccessful, but as we have experienced up to this point the most effective medicine for this disease is what we practice and believe here in our work with the men of Purple. Isolation and loneliness can be supplanted by fellowship, brotherhood, and union. Furthermore a sense of belonging can replace the addict’s long-held belief that they were doomed to be misunderstood and alone. Unfortunately, not every case goes this way, but we see dramatic returns to health and vitality occurring on a regular basis.

So the suffering addict or alcoholic gets support, but what about the family members and loved ones who have been deeply afflicted by this ruinous and dark malady as well? They are typically no less isolated, lonely, confused, and hurt than the addicted person themselves, but what can be done to help in these situations? Again, what we have overwhelmingly found works best is a shift from isolation to connection. The good news is that the possibilities for family members of recovering folks to find support and community have grown in recent years, be it AlAnon, Families Anonymous, religious or faith-based support groups, on-line groups, etc. In the same way the drug- addicted person gets better when regularly connecting with peers, the same is also true for suffering family members. Families ravaged by years of attempting to deal with a growing forest fire of addiction are well aware of the many unique problems, fears, pains, and embarrassing situations these devastating issues can bring about. Nothing we’ve found imparts precious hope in these situations like listening and relating to other people’s similar struggles and solutions.

This is why I love what Donna, Adam, Brett and Joel do here at Purple with the family workshops and programs. If you have not attended one of these sessions, I would encourage you to give it a try. We find them to be very helpful and positive and would love to see you there!

Michael & Donna's Comprehensive Substance Abuse Assessments

Michael & Donna's Comprehensive Substance Abuse Assessments

When a family member is using drugs, it affects the entire family making it difficult to confront the drug user. In our assessment process Donna Gunter meets with family members to assess the their readiness to change. Michael Whatley will simultaneously meet with the drug user, assessing their substance use, his/her readiness to change, and obtain a biopsychosocial. Then, everyone will meet together and an appropriate treatment recommendation will be made for the family.

Michael managed the adolescent addiction program at Ridgeview Institute from 2012-2017 where he assessed psychiatric/addicted patients and made appropriate treatment recommendations. He has tuned his ability to help people feel comfortable/trust him with their difficulties in life by being warm, authentic and transparent. Working at Ridgeview Institute He gained a vast knowledge of treatment resources for addicted patients making me confident in helping families find appropriate referrals.

Donna Gunter was educated at The University of Georgia and began a teaching career in the late 70's. When confronted by her own sons's substance abuse problem in the early 2000's she began her personal journey of helping other families. Her final years as a Gwinnett County educator were spent in the counseling office at Brookwood High School. For the last decade she has been committed to helping families find solutions to their child's substance abuse problem. 

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