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Category Archives: Recovery

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

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.

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

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
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.

Bev Haberle Wants the Hope of Recovery to “Spread Like Wildfire.”

292358_253486728127055_1051017011_nI am a person in long-term recovery who hasn’t drank alcohol or used other drugs for more than 43 years.  My recovery has allowed me to be a mother, a wife, Executive Director of The Council, Project Director of PRO-ACT and many more accomplishments.  

I only just started speaking publicly about my own recovery about 15 years ago, when I began to help mobilize the recovery community.  I didn’t think people needed to see long term recovery role models.  I now understand that we are the evidence that long term recovery is a reality.  We are the proof that investing in recovery “pays off.” 

I strongly believe that speaking out is not right for everyone.  We respect that for many, recovery is a private matter that should stay private.  To “come out” is a big decision, and we fully support an individual’s choice in this regard.  

Still, there may be a misperception among some people who have been in recovery for several decades that because they no longer face stigma from their addiction, it’s not as critical to speak out publicly.  The reality is that as more people earlier in their recovery have come out, we also see people talking more and more about their 20, 30, 40 years in recovery.  Before they might have been afraid they were breaking traditions, or maybe they didn’t see their silence as an issue.  But now they see that speaking about their recovery has some very important benefits.     

Also, silence is a problem.  It can breed stigma, shame and the tendency for society to treat people and families suffering from addiction differently than other chronic illnesses.  My hope is that as more of us speak out, the mounting evidence that recovery is a reality will allow addiction treatment and recovery to one day be on par with the treatment regiments for other chronic diseases. 

For example, I am a breast cancer survivor.  The initial support I received after my diagnosis of cancer was much different than the initial support I received after my addiction diagnosis.  In 1971, during my hospital admission for alcohol poisoning, my doctor called for a family meeting and presented two options:  a year-long stay in a psychiatric asylum or brain surgery to alleviate my compulsion to drink alcohol (a prefrontal lobotomy).  Fortunately, my minister and a female member of a recovery support meeting at my church quietly interceded.  After hearing the woman’s recovery story, I learned of a third option.  I experienced “peer-to-peer support” at its best, even though my connection to this support was veiled in secrecy.  

This experience contrasts sharply with my battle against cancer.  As a person with breast cancer, I was immediately inundated with support from the healthcare system.  I recall stepping onto my oncologist’s floor and seeing a sign that read, “How can we help you with your recovery?”  I was then offered “make-up and wig” advice, yoga, family counseling  and nutrition consultations.  When I asked my doctor how much these services cost, he replied, “Nothing.  It’s all part of your treatment.  We want you to have the best chance of recovery that you can possibly have.” 

I want exactly the same thing for individuals and families who are suffering from the terrible disease of addiction: the best chance at recovery they can possibly have.  For this to occur, addiction treatment and recovery supports services are critical, and need to be connected through the whole recovery process.  We should not be fighting insurance companies for one more day of treatment, recovery check-ups or other recovery support services.  We should be free from the social stigma that characterizes us as weak or morally flawed.  Our disease should not take from us our dignity.    

This is an exciting time for recovery.  We are learning how to be more effective in dealing with this illness and how to really help people access and sustain long-term recovery.  We’re also having a huge impact on their families and their children and other people that see them. And more people are speaking out in support of recovery and against barriers.

So please support recovery in whatever way you feel is right for you.  Finding out more about PRO-ACT’s activities is a great place to start, as there are many, many ways that PRO-ACT members can and do support recovery.  Click here to read more about PRO-ACT. 

I believe that with your help, the hope for recovery is going to spread like wildfire. 

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

Watch the video of Beverly Haberle talking about recovery, from the makers of “The Anonymous People”

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. 

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.

PRO-ACT Volunteer
June 2014 Volunteer of the Month

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