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Monthly Archives: October 2014

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.

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

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

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

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


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