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Category Archives: Addiction

Halloween Thoughts: Addiction and Vampirism

Dr. ephLooking for something scary to watch during the Halloween season?  For those of you not familiar with the drama-horror TV Series, The Strain, it is a story set in modern day NYC featuring the rise of vampires.  This show, airing on FX, is based on a novel by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan and features a lead character, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, who is in recovery from alcoholism. 

Ephraim, referred to as Eph, is employed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and has first-hand knowledge of the vampire uprising.  If anything was ever going to be a trigger for relapse, it would be a vampire uprising, but Eph uses supports to maintain his sobriety. 

In one of the episodes, there’s a scene of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that Eph attends after a stressful situation.  What’s interesting about the depiction of Eph’s recovery is that it’s seamlessly woven into the storyline.  Eph’s recovery is not explained, it’s just part of the character.  To date, he has never told anyone he’s in recovery and the AA scene was never mentioned as being an AA meeting. 

Does this mean that recovery is now becoming common to the layperson and needs no explanation?  It will be interesting to see if the series explores the similarities between addiction and vampirism in upcoming episodes.  There will be at least one more season for this to happen because The Strain will air a second season.

Interested in seeing the series?  All episodes can be seen on FX’s website.  http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/the-strain/about

Jason Radosky 
Criminal Justice Manager 
The Council of Southeast PA, Inc.

Thanks to a Persistent Teacher, Friend and Counselor

My name is Michelle H., and I participated in The Council’s TASC Program where Greta King was my counselor.  I want to take the time to explain how Greta helped me work through my denial and defiant ways. 

When I met Greta in 2009, I had just gotten a DUI, and not by my choice I was introduced to Greta.  I had been in and out of so many programs throughout my life and none of them worked.  But this was different. 

Greta made me get honest with myself and take the first steps to recovery.  She taught me that it was ok to be an addict – just not an active addict.  Greta was so persistent and promised that if I opened-up and trusted her, she would teach me to live life clean and sober.  I finally opened-up and began to work with her in group and one-on-one.  Honestly, I believe she saved my life.  When everyone else gave up on me (including my family) Greta never did.  She worked so diligently with me.  Greta taught me life skills, coping skills and helped me recognize my triggers. When my court ordered “counseling” was complete, I continued to work with Greta.  She took so much interest in “me” and still to this day I keep in contact with her.

Greta has truly saved a lot of girls and women from her persistence and knowledge of addiction.  The TASC program would not have been as successful as it was for me and still is for so many others, and it’s all due to Greta’s persistence. 

Thank you Greta King for being such a persistent teacher, friend and one of the best counsellors I have ever come in contact with. 

Sincerely,
Michelle H

                                                                             

My Journey Back to Newark NJ: Only To Find Out Philadelphia Was And Is My New Home

I have family in Newark NJ, where I was raised. I came to Philadelphia seven years ago when I first entered recovery. I lived in a recovery house and eventually rented a room in a home. I lived there until November of 2013 when I decided to go back to Newark and “help” my nieces and nephews, be the uncle I should be, not the uncle I was in my active addiction. I thought I could share my experiences with them.

I found myself doing the same things I did when I was actively using;  isolating myself and not taking care of myself, only this time, I was doing it in recovery. I felt like I had no “me” time. I felt trapped and I didn’t realize it until I got a call saying an efficiency apartment was available in Philadelphia in the same building a friend that has been there for me through my recovery process lived. I was so excited. I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough. I came back in the beginning of May to stay with a friend and just moved into my apartment this past June 6th.

Being a volunteer for The Philadelphia Recovery Community Center has taught me how to deal with my problems, talk about my problems, not hold everything inside and I learned how to ask for and accept help. That it is not a weakness to ask for help but strength to ask for help and to know when you need help.

I do miss my family but I have to let them grow, and I have to think what is best for me and my recovery process. So, I am grateful today for all of my friends through my 12-step mutual support group and most especially the PRCC staff and volunteers.  I am grateful to be a volunteer at the PRCC because it gives me an opportunity to give back to my adopted community. I have learned to really meet people where they are at, to listen to others when they are struggling with a situation.  I have even learned how to facilitate groups and discovered some recovery discussion groups I like to run.

Life couldn’t be better; just for today!

Greg High
PRCC/PRO-ACT Volunteer

Hello, I’m an Addict named Cindy

I always felt as though I never fit in or was truly loved.   I ran away at the age of 14 and continued running until the age of 48, always trying to escape myself. My life became a long, lonely road of self-destruction. I have seen and survived many years of self-inflicted drug and alcohol abuse, all of which brought about abusive relationships, lies, theft, prostitution, a brutal rape, jail cells and psychiatric wards.  My childhood dream of becoming a nurse disappeared. 

On January 14, 2014, I ended up in yet another psychiatric facility. Broken, desperate, and suicidal, I still felt blessed for a moment of clarity:  acceptance set in that I was the problem.  I was graced with the willingness to change. 

I became receptive to treatment for addiction and open to suggestions to live differently.  I entered a treatment facility and stayed there for nearly a month. The process of working on me had officially begun.

Through that process, I was introduced to the recovery community in Bucks County.  It was suggested that I get involved. Soon after, I registered as a participant with the Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center and PRO-ACT. 

The Recovery Community Center and PRO-ACT welcomed me into a safe and supportive environment.  In February of 2014 they took a chance on me, and I became a volunteer.  My passion for helping others once again returned.  I volunteer nearly every day now.  You can find me facilitating a Stress Management group or providing administrative support.  The Center has become a life line for me. 

 At 4 ½ months clean and sober,  I no longer feel isolated or like a social idiot. I have a grateful heart today and believe in myself once again. I am able to look forward to each new day because I start with the intention of how I may be of assistance to the next individual in recovery. 

I want to thank the Recovery Center staff, PRO-ACT volunteers and the wonderful service participants for helping me along the way.  I never imagined that I would be recognized for my efforts. For the month of June, SBRCC/PRO-ACT honored me with the distinction of being their “Volunteer of the Month.” 

I have been blessed with the opportunity to live a productive and meaningful way of life today.

Cindy
PRO-ACT Volunteer
June 2014 Volunteer of the Month

My Brother’s Wisdom

On May 5th, 2011, I was being chased, tackled and arrested by the police in a McDonald’s parking lot, while my 14 year old brother watched from across the street.  At that time, I didn’t know who I was.  All I knew was that my present and future consisted of getting high, making money and hurting those around me. I had no real friends, my family had given up on me, and the only thing I cared about was feeding my addiction.

As a result of my arrest, I was looking at serious jail time. The judge had offered me Drug Court to avoid a state sentence and to try to change my life for the better.  I didn’t want that. I wanted to serve my time so that I could get out and resort back to my old ways.

One day, all of that changed during a family visit.  My little brother turned around and said, “Gina, have you ever seen the movie ‘Walk the Line’?” I replied that I had. “Well, you remind me of Johnny Cash. In the movie, all of his loved ones are there trying to help him, and he doesn’t get it. You’re doing the same thing.” For the first time in my life, I was speechless.

Months later, I was being sworn into the Bucks County Drug Court Program. I got engaged with a recovery specialist, Rick P, at the Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center, as part of the Drug Court’s requirements. He helped me develop a resume, look for employment and gave me great advice on how to cope with daily struggles. In between looking for employment, I began volunteering and giving back to others what was freely given to me.

During this time, I was slowly developing healthy relationships with my family members and people in the rooms of 12 step support meetings.  The rooms taught me how to be honest with others, as well as myself. I was gaining trust back with my family, and they could see that I was on the road to long term recovery.   

Once I found employment, my volunteering ceased. Rick P. could see how passionate I was about helping others.  He suggested I take the CRS (Certified Recovery Specialist) training through Pro-Act. I mentioned it to my family, and they thought it was a great idea.  They even paid for it!

From there, things just kept getting better for me. I passed my CRS exam in July of 2013. I graduated from the Drug Court Program in August of 2013. I was hired at the Council of Southeast PA and Pro-Act in November of 2013 as a CRS for the participants that are still on Drug Court!

I can honestly say that I never could have imagined my life heading in this direction.  But I am so glad it did. Today, I have friends I can rely on, and who are there for me to pick me up when I’m having a bad day. I receive texts from my little brother, now 17, saying how proud he is of me and my progress. My boyfriend of 2 years holds my hand and continues to support me through my journey. My grandparents and my mother thank God every day that they have “the old Gina” back. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I found a road to recovery and developed a support system that works for me.  So can you.

Gina P

The Key to My Success: Almost a Relic

My physician directed me to have knee-replacement surgery. What followed taught me some valuable lessons about recovery.  My experience is a reminder to us all that we must continue to speak-up as a community for ourselves and our loved ones, to demand the quality of care warranted by the chronic disease of addiction.      

In the case of my knee, the health system provided ample diagnosis, prescriptions, education and supports prior to, during and after surgery.  First, the surgeon directed me to have a check-up by my primary care physician to get pre-surgery approval.  Then I had to visit my dentist to make certain I had no dental infection that would complicate my surgery by making my knee vulnerable to infection.  My wife and I then attended a knee-replacement orientation together.  A nurse called afterwards with pre-surgery instructions on what to purchase to ease recovery obstacles, and inform me about who to call if I had questions.  A nurse and physical therapist visited my home to provide my spouse and me with directions and exercises, and to answer our questions about recovery issues that arise post-surgery.    

Nothing comparable exists for most of us in addiction recovery. Everything is left to the patient and the family to discover on their own.  Most who have an addiction disorder face an array of hapless, haphazard and sometimes contradictory recommendations that impose more rather than fewer obstacles to a continuum of care.  Often, these obstacles are the reason a person has difficulties in accessing or sustaining long term recovery.  The person with the disease is then blamed for not having enough will-power.    

Twenty-nine years ago, due to the fortuitous observation of someone in recovery, I was helped in getting an assessment for a substance use disorder.  That was my first indication that I had a problem with alcohol.  I was given choices of outpatient followed by inpatient care.  I was ultimately directed to inpatient by an informed expert.  At that time, volunteers in recovery actually assisted the inpatient professionals with patient counseling.   

Also 29 years ago, my family was offered orientation and therapy.  My spouse also went to a family program at the residential rehabilitation facility I attended.  After leaving the rehab, a designee took me on a guided tour of 12-Step Meetings and instructed me as to which ones would and would not be helpful and why.   

The health system and volunteers both wrapped their arms around my wife and I, and didn’t let go.  I owe my unbroken sobriety to excellent care before, during and after treatment.  

Such quality of care still exists today if one is having their knee replaced and has excellent insurance coverage.  However, the same quality of care if you need recovery from addiction is unlikely.  The excellent insurance coverage I had 29 years ago is today rare. 

 After years of actions by managed care that eliminated treatment and recovery options, the period of enlightenment that provided me with such excellent care 29 years ago has dimmed.  Decades of coverage cuts have had dismal effects.   

 So we have our work cut out to turn back the clock.  The Affordable Care Act creates an opportunity.  But for others to have the same key to success I did, we must work hard as a community to define and enable a continuum of recovery planning and support.

 It’s now our turn to volunteer, wrap our arms around the health system and not let go – until it recovers.     

 Allen McQuarrie
Chairperson
PRO-ACT, Bucks County

My Pathway to Hope

hopeThe word ‘hopeless’ has always stirred up sadness in me.  It seems so final, lacking any room for progress.  I’ve been hopeless.  I’ve been called hopeless. I’ve heard friends whisper behind my back that I lost the willingness to live.  They were right.  I was an active heroin and cocaine user for 15 years and my only job on this earth was to make it through one more day. 

Like so many others, my addiction started with herniated discs, a visit to an empathetic doctor, and a large dose of depression.   I wanted to be out of pain….physical, emotional and mental agony, and my desire met opportunity that day.  From that moment on, the spiral of addiction went downward at top speed and I became a completely different person.  No one knew who I was anymore, especially me.

Then life as I knew it changed.  With a knock at the window of my Nissan Pathfinder and a beam of light hitting my face shone by a man in blue, I realized in that instant that nothing was going to be the same.  I was both terrified and relieved that the life I created was finally over.  The police officer didn’t understand why I thanked him when he pulled me out of my car.  He stopped what I couldn’t.

Going to jail was my intervention, but meeting people who were already on the path to recovery was where my journey started.  I surrendered. I listened. I hoped.  And I had to trust people I never met before. 

I knew about PRO-ACT through the Recovery Walk and a staff member who came weekly to the halfway house where I lived in 2008 (who later became my sponsor!).  She asked if I could stop by the Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center to stuff envelopes, and I did.  I came back the next day, and the next.  I became a volunteer, a facilitator and a recovery coach.  I did this for over a year until I felt I was ready to go back into the work force.  I was supported and encouraged.  I treasured recovery.  I loved meetings and sponsorship and helping others who struggled. I knew this was my calling.

I saw an ad in the paper for a non-profit organization that worked in substance abuse and it needed help with data entry.  Not knowing it was The Council, or that it was  related to PRO-ACT, I applied and got the job.  That was in 2009.  I now manage The Council’s Women’s Recovery Community Center, continue as a Data Coordinator, and help women who struggle to get another day clean by showing them recovery is possible. 

I hope my recovery story helps our communities to see the reality that there truly is help, hope and healing from addiction.  Because today, when I see the word ‘hopeless’, I only see the first four letters, and for that, I’m grateful. 

Jan Landis, CRS
House Coordinator/Data Coordinator
Women’s Recovery Community Center
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc./PRO-ACT

Addiction: Recovering Main Street

blogDramatic increases in overdose rates now terrorize rural and suburban neighborhoods. Inner cities have long dealt with the quiet desperations of addiction, but now these new communities also are overrun. This clashes with our stereotypes of misuse and addiction.

My point isn’t to criticize very real and merited terror over prescription drug and heroin epidemics. It is to ask: what can we learn from this about our attitudes toward addiction and those who suffer from it?

 

Read the complete blog at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/public_health/Addiction-Recovering-Main-Street.html#7mmXFR8ROmXbssOK.99

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