Council Administrative Offices | 215.345.6644 -- Information, Intervention, Recovery Support Line | 1.800.221.6333

Families Now Have a Tool to Prevent Overdose

narcan-with-needle3-300x234One person dies every 19 minutes from unintentional drug overdose (Paulozzi 2012). Pennsylvania is among the ten states with the highest opioid use and overdose rates (Paulozzi 2012).  With these staggering statistics, families at times may feel powerless in protecting their loved ones from an overdose.  However, on September 30, 2014, Pennsylvania legislators voted to enact a law that will provide a tool to prevent overdose.   Effective December 1, 2014, Pennsylvania became the 21st state to implement a “Good Samaritan Law” which allows an individual to call 911 or emergency services for a person who is overdosing without fear of facing charges themselves for being involved in drug use or being impaired.

The Good Samaritan Law also added Pennsylvania to the list of states which provide legal access to Naloxone, a lifesaving drug that reverses the effects of opiates/opioids. To date there are 29 states which provide access to either families, friends or both. The means of access vary from state to state but here in PA, starting December 1st, any physician can write a prescription for the lifesaving drug Naloxone to family members or friends. The stigma of addiction in today’s society is bad enough, but withholding a lifesaving drug based on stigma alone is inexcusable.

Now with the passing of The Good Samaritan Law, friends and family members of someone who is in an active opiate addiction can get a prescription so that they will have it on hand in case it is needed.  The access to Naloxone should not be reserved for opiate dependent persons. Anyone who is prescribed an opioid runs the risk of accidental overdose. So perhaps in order to protect our family and friends, Naloxone should be scripted to anyone receiving a prescription for an opioid pain medication. Since all opioid pain medications carry the risk of accidental overdose, this precautionary measure would no doubt save lives.

The access to Naloxone should not be stigmatized as a safety net as some have called it, but as a tool to prevent overdose.  Recovery support services and family education should follow any treatment for a substance use disorder.  The Good Samaritan Law provides a way for families and friends to prevent their loved ones from overdose, and accessing emergency services without fear of incrimination. The Good Samaritan Law also allows families and individuals who have experienced an overdose to get the support they need to start their path to recovery.  Through education and recovery support services, individuals and families will learn tools and strategies to help break the intergenerational cycle of addiction and preserve our next generation.  What our community can learn from the enactment of the Good Samaritan Law is that every life is valuable and we need to offer all supports available to protect the next generation. 

The Council’s Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board offers an “Overdose Prevention, Education and Response Training” that walks a person through treating someone who is experiencing an overdose and how families can administer Naloxone.  This training is not meant to replace calling 911, rather it designed to stabilize a person until first responders arrive. The first step in any overdose, should always be to call 911. It is vital to get the person who is overdosing medical attention even after the person is given Naloxone and brought out of their overdose. Since the effects of heroin outlast the effects of naloxone, the person could slip back into an overdose once the Naloxone wears off.

So now that the Good Samaritan Law has been enacted, it will no doubt save lives. It is our responsibility to let people know that this law exists and how to navigate it. If you have a friend, family member or loved one who could benefit from this law and access to Naloxone, let them know about it and encourage them to attend a training. The Council will be offering a newly revised training in January that expands on The Good Samaritan Law and Naloxone administration and distribution.  For more information please visit our Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board webpage: http://councilsepa.org/programs/prevention/overdose-prevention-and-education/

David Fialko, BS
Prevention Specialis
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

We Take Care of Our Own

 
ThanksgivingBanner
  

On Tuesday, December 2, charities, families, schools and many other organizations around the country and the world come together to celebrate generosity and to give back.  This year The Council and PRO-ACT are launching our first ever peer-to-peer giving fundraising initiative and we are turning to you, as past and present supporters of recovery, to help us make this campaign a success.

This effort to generate support for recovery will allow us to continue to provide prevention, advocacy and recovery support to individuals and families wishing to access recovery or stop the inter-generational transmission of addiction in our community.  

Research tells us that if an individual with a diagnosis of a substance use disorder (addiction) is supported and able to remain abstinent for 5 years, there is an 86% probability of life long recovery.  A remarkable statistic when compared with other chronic illnesses!  

Over the past year The Council’s Recovery Support/Recovery Management programs provided services to 2100 individuals to help them access and sustain life long recovery.  Our Prevention early intervention programs provided services to 217 families to help them stop the inter-generational transmission of this disease to their children and 45 pregnant and postpartum women were served through our MOMS program helping to preserve the next generation.  With your support we can do more!

Your investment in recovery embodies the spirit of the adage “we take care of our own” and with your help, we can continue to play a significant role to ensure the continuation and success of these vital services.  In the links below you will find many ways to support recovery in this season of giving.  Please join us. 

Scrip gift card program:  http://www.councilsepa.org/support/scrip/

Tree of Hope:  http://www.councilsepa.org/events/tree-of-hope/

Giving Tuesday supporting our MOMS Program: http://www.councilsepa.org/cart/products/Donate-to-The-council/GivingTuesdayBucks.html

With gratitude,

Beverly J. Haberle, M.H.S., L.P.C., C.A.C.
Executive Director
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.
Project Director, PRO-ACT

40 Assets and Family Dinners

Family eatingThe Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets are the building blocks of development that help children grow up healthy, caring and responsible. According to the Search Institute, studies consistently show that the more protective factors that young people have, the more likely they are to be prepared for life and the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behaviors.

How can I incorporate the 40 Assets in my home?
One way to get things started is to encourage regular family dinners. This is a simple event that has become few and far between in many households. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), children that eat dinner with their parents regularly are less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke, and that parent/child engagement around the dinner table is one of the most powerful tools in helping parents to raise healthy, drug-free children.

My family has been affected by addiction. Is it too late for us?
No! While it may have been a tougher road for those children who grew up with one or more parents struggling with a substance use disorder, children are very resilient. It is never too late to begin building assets. In these cases, there is a need to boost assets in other areas of the child’s environment. Research shows that children at high risk still have a chance to bounce back and grow up to be happy, confident and successful individuals. It is just a matter of strengthening support in other areas to make up for those that may be lacking. Another important factor is to create and/or maintain family rituals. If these rituals continue, even if parents are struggling with substance use disorders, children are less likely to become involved with alcohol or other drugs.

Protective factors can be provided in the home, school, church, or in the general community.  These factors are divided into two categories, in a total of eight areas:

External: Things that other people provide for youth in the home, school and community:
Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them.
Empowerment: Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.
Boundaries and Expectations: Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.
Constructive Use of Time: Young people need opportunities outside of school to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.

Internal: The attitudes, values and capabilities within each child:
Commitment to Learning: Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.
Positive Values: Young people need to develop strong guiding values to help them make healthy life choices.
Social Competencies: Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.
Positive Identity: Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel they have control over the things that happen to them.      

Check out the full list of the 40 Developmental Assets and other great family resources here:  

http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18 (40 Developmental Assets)
http://bit.ly/1EftInJ (South Bend Kroc Center “Ideas for Parents” newsletter)
http://bitly.com/1Ab3X9N
(Search Institute’s “Family Assets List”)
http://bitly.com/1tWPCsF
(Parent Further article “Building Family Assets at Home: Ideas for All Family Members”)
 http://bit.ly/1Abefqe (CASA study, “Importance of Family Dinners VIII”)

Jessica Schwartz
Prevention Specialist
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Parents…The #1 Prevention Tool

Parents-should-always-talk-to-their-kids-about-drugsParents Have the Power!
Parents – did you know that you are the most powerful prevention tool in your child’s life? Contrary to popular belief, your influence is greater than that of peers, the Internet and social media! This fact is backed by over 35 years of scientific research. Engaging in on-going dialogue with your child about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) is one of the best strategies you can employ to improve your child’s outlook for a healthy, drug-free future.

When to have the talk.
Using ATOD is a decision that youth are being forced to make at increasingly earlier ages. The average child takes his or her first drink at age 12. The earlier parents begin dialogue with their children about drug and alcohol prevention, the less likely they are to turn to these substances when they reach adolescence. The conversation and language will sound different depending on the child’s age. Information should be age-appropriate. For instance, early elementary children should understand the difference between food and poison, medicine and illegal drugs, but older children should understand the risks and short- and long-term consequences of ATOD, including addiction. Continue the dialogue, even throughout the college years.

What should you say? 
The former “just say no” approach of the Nancy Reagan era is not effective. It is important to teach your child how  to say “no” to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) and specifically what to say or do in certain situations. Practice different scenarios to allow your child to think about how he or she would respond when presented with various situations. You can even make it fun! Encourage your child to use you as an excuse (e.g. “My mom would kill me if she found out I was drinking beer!”).

The brain continues to develop until age 25, and so a child’s biological ability to make good decisions on their own is not mature. Parents should set specific boundaries and rules around the acceptance of drug and alcohol use. Children will not assume that you disapprove of their use of alcohol and other drugs; it must be explicitly stated, as well as consequences of breaking the rules. If you are unclear about your position, children may be confused and tempted to experiment. Research shows that children who chose to avoid ATOD did so because they did not want to disappoint their parents. When parents establish clear, consistent “no use” rules, their children are more likely to lead alcohol- and drug-free lives.

Parents are sometimes hesitant to engage in ATOD conversation for fear of being questioned about their own use as a teen. Whether you are in recovery or had experimented with drugs as a teen, you can use your own experience to convey a prevention message. Honesty is fine, but do avoid glamorizing any past use or providing too much detail. Instead, emphasize the negative consequences that resulted from your use. In addition, let your child know that much has changed since you were a teen. This includes the purity of drugs like heroin, the strength of THC in marijuana and nicotine in tobacco products and the proliferation of prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse. In addition, new brain research reveals that early ATOD use can cause permanent brain cell damage and vulnerability to addiction.

How should you have the talk?
Find teachable moments. In the age of technology and instant access to news and other information, the subject of ATOD is unavoidable. Celebrities or professional athletes in the news due to drug use, and the negative consequences, could spark a meaningful dialogue. Ask about your child’s opinion on a book or character, movie or TV show, local and national news. If a friend or family member is struggling with addiction, help your child process this by having a conversation about it.

Family dinners and driving in the car offer ideal opportunities to start a conversation about ATOD. The dialogue should go two-ways. Ask open-ended questions to encourage a more in-depth conversation with your child. Ask what he or she knows or has heard about ATOD.

What else can you do to utilize your power as a parent?
Have daily positive interactions with your child. Children are less likely to engage in ATOD use when their parents are involved in their lives and when they share a close bond. Educate yourselves about ATOD and current drugs trends. Much of the information available online is pro-drug, so if your child or his or her peers obtain their information via the Internet, most likely it will be one-sided. It is important that your child knows he or she can come to you for accurate information, and that you are equipped to dispel any myths he or she may have read online or heard from a friend. Children are 50% less likely to use ATOD if they learn the risks of drugs from their parents.

One in four children is exposed to a substance use disorder in the family. Inform your child that addiction has a strong familial component. If you or an immediate family member is in recovery or has struggled with addiction, it is important that your child understands that this increases his or her overall risk of developing an addiction. The risk is both genetic and environmental; research shows that children of parents with substance use disorders are more than five times more likely to develop an ATOD-related problem than children in families without them. This familial component paired with the high level of risk-taking inspired by the teen brain increases a young person’s risk of becoming addicted even more.

Teen prescription drug misuse has increased in recent years. This is attributed to a lowered perception of harm in misusing medications because they are legal and prescribed by a doctor. In reality, some prescription drugs, particularly the opioid-based narcotics, are equally as harmful as street drugs such as heroin when misused. Parents can help educate their children about the risks involved. In addition to the health risks, it is illegal to give or sell prescription drugs to someone for whom the prescription was not intended, yet 70% of people who misuse prescription pain relievers say that they obtain them from family or friends.

Parents can restrict access to any medications they may be prescribed by locking up their medicine cabinet or storing the medications in a secure place, as well as counting and monitoring the number of pills. If parents have any medications that are unwanted, expired or unneeded, they may dispose of them in any of the 31 permanent medication drop boxes that are located in police departments throughout Bucks County as well as the Bucks County Courthouse.

To find a drop box near you, visit http://buckspromise.blogspot.com for Bucks County; http://www.montcopa.org/index.aspx?nid=1766 for Montgomery County; http://www.delcoda.com/latest-news/143-heroin-task-force-unveils-delco-medicine-drop-boxes for Delaware County; http://chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=2673 for Chester County locations. For an update on medication drop boxes in Philadelphia County and locations statewide, please visit the interactive state map on the website of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1677241&mode=2.

Alcohol and drug use can be prevented and prevention starts with you! Never underestimate your power to prevent substance abuse. To educate yourself about ATOD and remain up-to-date on the latest trends, as well as to obtain ideas for talking to your kids about ATOD, please visit the following sites:

www.drugfree.org/the-parent-toolkit/  (Partnership for Drug-free Kids)

www.drugabuse.gov/parents-educators (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

www.madd.org/underage-drinking/the-power-of-parents (MADD)

www.stopalcoholabuse.gov (Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking ([ICCPUD])

www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com (DEA)

www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Unleash your parent power and get together with your kids…before drugs do!

Melanie Swanson, M.Ed., CTTS
Prevention Specialist
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Does Being Tired Really Affect My Recovery?

tiredEverybody gets tired to varying extents. Being tired can take a significant toll on your body, mind and spirit. It can also often contribute to feelings of depression. We all need to relax as well as make sure we are getting the right amount of sleep, especially in recovery.  We have all heard the expression “you will never die from lack of sleep. Well truth be said, lack of sleep may not be fatal, but insomnia, for the person in recovery, can lead to relapse which can be fatal or at minimum lead to a negative outcome which could have been prevented.

Insomnia is all too common among so many of us today. It is a double edged sword for both the person in active addiction as well as the person in early recovery.

 It is a specific problem for those in an addiction whose sleep is constantly being disrupted by the brain altering effects of the chemicals being ingested. Our sleep habits are governed by what are called circadian rhythms. These are cyclical patterns in the brain that regulate our neurological activity during the nighttime hours allowing us to sleep. Drugs and alcohol impact every natural process in our bodies including these circadian rhythms.

Though sleep is one of the first things to come back into place in early recovery as the brain repairs, typically within 60 to 90 days, this time can be especially difficult. Similarly, in early recovery, it is not uncommon to still be disconnected from our feelings. Oftentimes we may feel uncomfortable but may not recognize the origin of that feeling. We may ignore tiredness at times or be so disconnected from our feelings that we misinterpret fatigue for fear or irritability or sadness or a multitude of other emotions. The first important step is to not ignore or even to recognize that we are tired.

During these first 3 months as a person moves to a restoration of more positive sleep functioning it is very easy to look to the use of sedatives and hypnotics to “fix” the insomnia.  Knowledge, patience through mindfulness and awareness, and life skills play an important role in riding the wave through this period of insomnia and conquering this trigger.

So, let’s take some time to review some of the facts we have identified above about why being tired REALLY does effect recovery.

  • During active addiction your body’s natural sleep rhythms are disturbed.
  • Sleep disturbances are common in early recovery and are part of the post- acute withdrawal process.
  • Your sleep requirements may change in transition from addiction to recovery.
  • Your body must re-establish regular sleep cycles in the absence of drugs and alcohol and this may take several weeks to months
  • Most sleep problems resolve themselves without medical treatment
  • You should avoid any temptation to self- medicate with prescribed or over the counter sleep aids unless it is supervised by a physician trained in addiction medicine

Some key tips for dealing with tiredness in early recovery are:

  • Set a consistent time for going to bed
  • Create a good sleeping environment
  • Avoid daytime naps
  • Get exercise early in the day and not before bedtime
  • Eliminate or reduce the intake of caffeine
  • Avoid large late meals
  • Minimize activities other than sleeping in your bed such as watching TV. eating, reading etc.
  • Learn and utilize relaxation techniques, visualization, relaxation, mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises.

At PRO-ACT’s Recovery Centers, we offer many programs which will support the development of healthy practices of meditation, mindfulness, stress reduction and yoga, all of which will help you with the issue of insomnia and/or being tired in early recovery.

The Philadelphia Recovery Community Center is offering a 9 week class on Stress Reduction and Relaxation on Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 –November 4-30

The Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center has Yoga on Monday evenings at 6:30 two times per month and a quarterly four week series on Wholistic Recovery which includes mindfulness meditation. Tuesday mornings at 10:30 there is also a Stress Management group.

The Central Bucks Recovery Resource Center has a Health and Wellness group which meets every Monday evening form 7:30- 8:30 which also addresses meditation, yoga and stress management.

All of the above listed programs are great opportunities for you to learn ways to ride the wave of insomnia and feeling tired in early recovery (or at any time) and develop new practices for healthy living. For more information on any of these programs contact our PRO-ACT volunteer coordinators: In Philadelphia John Carlson at 215-923-1661 and She-Ria Bethea at 215-223-7700 x102; in Southern Bucks call Karen Burke at 215-788-3738 x100 and in Central Bucks contact Rick Petrolawicz at 215-345-6644 x3151

Lena Marder MCAT, ATR-BC, LPC, CCDP-D
Bucks County Coordinator of Recovery Support Services
The Council of Southeast PA, Inc.

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.

Coping with Lonely Moments in Recovery

LonelyWhen I started my journey of alcohol and other drug addiction recovery, I learned an easy-to-use guide to help steer me away from danger and keep me on my positive path. I was told to NEVER allow myself to get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. These feelings and biological experiences may lead a person to use a substance to help them cope with those uncomfortable feelings. I learned to HALT whenever I had these feelings and stop and think before acting and choose a more positive means to cope. It is an effective tool and twenty-two years later, I am still using it!   

Continuing our HALT series, we are focusing on LONELY (the forgotten middle child of HALT). While it may be relatively easy to identify when you are hungry, angry, or tired because of the observable physiological identifiers, loneliness is trickier. Loneliness can creep up on you and before you realize it, you are sinking in a bog of depression that is hard to escape. Loneliness is difficult to describe, very subjective, and differs from person to person. You may have heard people say that they can feel lonely in a room full of people. We all have felt lonely at times. For me, it takes the form of isolation. 

Let me give you a little bit of my history: I experience social anxiety which means that I prefer to be alone. I am also the youngest of seven kids, married with an 11 month old child, and work in the helping field, which keeps me constantly surrounded by people. In fact, I dream about being alone! Every fiber of my being tells me to get away from what is causing these uncomfortable feelings and in the past, I used alcohol and other drugs to cope. 

We are social beings and like it or not being around people, POSITIVE people, is healthy for us. When we isolate, we tend to get in our heads and get stuck thinking negative and often depressing thoughts. We need to HALT, and make a decision to get out of ourselves. The key to this is to learn what your own personal signs of loneliness are and then do something about it. For some people, myself included, this can be a daunting task. PRO-ACT offers recovery support services that can help a person with loneliness. 

At PRO-ACT’s Philadelphia Recovery Center (PRCC), we have fun alcohol and drug free social activities every Friday. We call it Fun Fridays and  do things like karaoke, line dancing, board games, music and being around fun and positive people. On Friday, October 31st  from 5 – 7:30 pm we are having a Halloween Party with a prize for the best costume! 

The PRCC offers a meditative class called “Being Present” to help you get out of dwelling on your past or worrying about the future. The class is a series held on Wednesdays from 1:45 to 3 pm. If you prefer one-to-one interaction, you can sit down with a Certified Recovery Specialist to create a Recovery Plan which can be your map to your recovery journey. Call us at 215-223-7700 for more information on these programs. 

Volunteering is another great way to get out of yourself and focus on helping others. We have many volunteer activities to choose from. To get involved contact our PRO-ACT Volunteer Coordinators:  In Philadelphia call She-Ria Bethea 215-223-7700 x102 and John Carlson at  215-923-1661; in Southern Bucks call Karen Burke at 215-788-3738 x100; in Central Bucks call Rick Petrolawicz at 215-345-6644.

If you feel that your loneliness is more severe and you are considering professional help, call our Information/Intervention Helpline at 1-800-221-6333 to find resources in your area.

Sean E. Brinda, MSW, CCDP Diplomate
Senior Peer Services Coordinator
PRO-ACT

Coping with Angry Moments in Recovery

amgerLet’s face it… we all get angry from time to time.  After all, we are human beings, first and foremost.  In dealing with the many elements of recovery from a substance use disorder, we are often overwhelmed with a flood of emotions that have, in the past, been suppressed through the use of drugs or alcohol.  Anger is often a feeling that doesn’t subside when we stop ‘using.’  In fact, sometimes anger becomes predominant. 

Anger Defined:  In the most general sense, anger is a feeling or emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense fury and/or rage.  This may also lead to hostile and violent behaviors.  Hostility  is seen as a form of emotionally charged, angry behavior.   Many people often confuse anger with aggression.  Aggression is a behavior that is intended to cause harm or injury to another person or damage property.  Hostility, on the other hand, refers to a set of attitudes and judgments that motivate aggressive behaviors. 

When does Anger Become a Problem?:  Anger becomes a problem when it is felt too intensely, felt too frequently, or is expressed inappropriately.   Feeling anger too intensely or frequently places extreme physical strain on the body.  The inappropriate expression of anger initially has apparent payoffs (e.g. releasing tension, controlling people).  In the long-term, however, these payoffs lead to negative consequences.  That is why they are called “apparent” payoffs: the long-term negative consequences far outweigh the short-term gains. 

Myths about Anger:  There are many myths surrounding anger.  I will attempt to dispel four of these beliefs, as follows:

Myth #1: Anger is inherited.  FALSE!  One misconception or myth about anger is that the way people express anger is inherited and cannot be changed.  Evidence from research studies, however, indicates that people are not born with set and specific ways to express anger.  Rather, these studies show that the expression of anger is learned behavior and that more appropriate ways of expressing anger can also be learned.  In other words, “Stinking thinking leads to drinking.” 

Myth #2: Anger Automatically Leads to Aggression.  FALSE!  A related myth involves the misconception that the only effective way to express anger is through aggression.  There are other, more constructive and assertive ways, however, to express anger.  Effective anger management involves controlling the escalation of anger by learning assertiveness skills, changing negative and hostile ‘self-talk,’ challenging irrational beliefs, and empowering a variety of behavioral strategies.  These skills, techniques and strategies are acquired through a learning process, which when developed over time, will replace aggressive behaviors.

Myth #3: You must Be Aggressive to Get What You Want:  Many people confuse assertiveness with aggression.  The goal of aggression is to dominate, intimidate, humiliate, harm, or injure another person—to win at any cost.  Conversely, the goal of assertiveness is to express feelings of anger in a way that is respectful of other people.  Expressing yourself in an assertive manner does not blame or threaten other people and minimizes the chance of emotional harm. 

Myth #4: Venting Anger is Always Desirable.  FALSE!   For many years, there was a popular belief that the aggressive expression of anger, such as screaming into or beating on pillows was therapeutic and a healthy outlet… and in comparison to screaming at or beating another person, this certainly holds true.  Research shows, however, that people who vent their anger aggressively simply get better at being more aggressive.  In other words, venting anger in an aggressive manner reinforces aggressive behavior. 

Anger is a Habit… Time to Break the Habit.  Anger often becomes a routine, familiar and predictable response to a variety of situations.  When anger is displayed frequently and aggressively, it can become a maladaptive habit.  A habit, by definition, means performing behaviors automatically, over and over again, without thinking.  The frequent and aggressive expression of anger can be viewed as a maladaptive behavior because it results in negative consequences.  One of the consequences is that we develop resentments, which result in a repetitive cycle of anger and sometimes hostility.  This behavior, unchecked, can often lead to relapse or ‘picking up’ as a coping mechanism.  Returning to substance use just furthers the dilemma and makes matters much worse.

You can break the anger habit by becoming aware of the events and circumstances that trigger your anger and the negative consequences that are associated with it.  In addition, you need to develop a set of strategies to effectively manage your anger.

Debunking the myths! The good news is that all of these myths can be effectively dispelled through the development of strategies, skills, and techniques that focus on assertiveness, not aggression.   I hope I have given you some ideas and tools you can use in addressing anger issues when confronted with these recurring feelings. The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania has developed an Anger Management Program to assist with this process.  

The program is designed specifically for people with substance use disorders and is presented in multiple week formats, ranging from 6 – 12 sessions.  Successful completion of this program will equip you with the ability to be aware of Events and Cues that trigger situational anger; and how to develop and utilize an Anger Control plan, as part of an overall Recovery Plan.  The Aggression Cycle is exposed and replaced with Assertiveness Training as a means of Conflict Resolution

The program will help you identify relationships in which anger is used to manipulate and control others, including spouse, family, friends and co-workers.  All-in-all, this program will not only help you control and address anger issues, but help you create balance and synergy in many aspects of your daily life.   For more information about The Council’s Anger Management Program, please contact Stephen Osborne at 215-345-6644 x3113 or email sosborne@councilsepa.org.

Stephen F. Osborne, CRS
Survey Coordinator for Montgomery County
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania/PRO-ACT

A Note of Thanks

The following is a letter from a service recipient to the staff and volunteers at The Council’s Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center. Thank_you_small

 

August, 8 2014
PRO-ACT
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania
Bristol PA Office

Dear Sir/Madam,

Just a note of thanks.  I started using the services here (Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center) over a year ago.  When I got sober again I quite literally only had the clothes on my back, little to no prospects and very little hope I could ever get back on my feet.  Through AA, some friends that were sober and the staff and services here, I find myself in a position that I really doubted I could get back to.  While by no means am I where I was before things got bad with my addiction, if you would have told me I’d be as far along as I am I would have taken the deal and thought I was stealing from you. 

The services offered at The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania and the staff and volunteers were a godsend.  Their dedication to helping people recover and always positive approach was more help than I typically admit to.  Karen, Miguel and Annika in particular were hugely helpful and always encouraging along with the volunteers at the Bristol location.  I was so taken by the satff and volunteers dedication that I even volunteered and found the experience very rewarding and hopefully I’ve helped someone in some small way to get back on their feet or get another day clean and sober.

Again, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the staff and volunteers here.  I’m starting a position that will not allow me to spend much time here to volunteer but, again, that is kind of the point of what you do here.  Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.  I don’t doubt for a moment that the only reason I have been given the opportunity that I have is because of the staff, volunteers and the services offered here.

Best regards,
Anonymous service recipient

Turning a Corner

Courtney Barnes PictureFor 2 ½ years I have worked for The Council as a case manager in the TASC Program.  TASC works with individuals in the criminal justice system who have a substance use disorder and related issues.  I help clients develop and implement their plan for recovery and reintegration into the community.      

I have recently been working with a young adult in TASC.  This client is still a teenager and is at a critical learning point in his/her recovery process.  By this I mean that the client is just beginning to learn about his/her substance use disorder and what is required to stay sober.  The idea of staying sober is difficult, especially for someone who is young in years or young in their recovery process.  They believe they can still drink responsibly despite much evidence (and negative consequences) to the contrary.  

This process of growing in understanding is all part of their journey, and is a focal point for me when working with clients.  I help people understand that there is a realistic path to a better, more meaningful life, and then I help them walk the path they choose by offering guidance, resources and support.  The process involves gaining insight, learning good strategies, perseverance, support and hope.  It’s a process, not an event.   

In the case of this particular client, the path towards recovery seemed unreachable at first.  But now there has been a real change.  The client’s Mother came by my office to personally thank me for the help provided through The Council’s TASC Program.  The client’s Mother stated she is seeing some serious changes, and has never seen this level of effort before.  She simply wanted to tell me how grateful she was to see her child doing so well. 

It seems that her child has turned a corner. While all the credit goes to the client, it has been very gratifying to help along the way. 

Courtney Barnes, TASC Manager
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Bailiwick Office Campus Unit 12, 252 West Swamp Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901 | 215.345.6644

 

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