What does the word recovery really mean to someone like Michael Phelps?
The phenomenal Olympian’s legacy was called into question over the past 8 years after he was charged with substance abuse.
Photographed taking a hit from a bong
Handed two DUI’s
Sentenced to an 18 month probation
Suspended from Team USA Swimming and forced to miss world championships in Russia
Spent six weeks in an alcohol rehabilitation program
Girlfriend became his fiancée
Estranged relationship with his father improved
Peers elected him captain of Team USA
Developed reputation as a mentor at 2016 Olympics
Increased his Olympic medal collection to 26 (as of today)
Recovery is rewarding. But recovery is a hard word to swallow. A lot of people seem to believe the word brands them as addict, or alcoholic. Yet experts tell us that only the individual who has suffered from substance abuse can brand himself or state he is in recovery.
Michael Phelps rebranded Michael Phelps. The word recovery, in my opinion, should only be used in the context that Phelps recovered his career, his self-respect, respect of loved ones and peers, and most important, a rewarding relationship with his authentic self. His journey should be celebrated on multiple levels and bring a message of hope to families who struggle with loved ones who suffer from substance abuse. Congratulations, Michael Phelps. And thanks for showing those of us who want to recover our own self-image, that we can.
Reporting on CORE Conference Summer 2016
I attended this conference on Amelia Island Florida in July. The membership goal is to improve accessibility to and the quality of addiction treatment and to promote recovery solutions.
The conference is “structured as a forum to increase the collective understanding of the addiction recovery processes.” Participants are eager, in general, to improve addiction treatment outcomes by better integrating abstinence-based practices and Twelve-Step principles into therapeutic initiatives.
Four themes emerged during the four day event.
More often, meds are being delivered in a physician’s office, administered in many cases by the physician’s assistant. Atlanta has seen this trend with Adderall. Used to be, a psychologist or psychiatrist would diagnose ADD or ADHD and submit the treatment plan with a prescription. Nowadays, people can get a prescription, without the rigorous assessment that was required formerly. In the case of opioid addiction, many physician’s assistants are writing the treatment plan. And many are not necessarily trained to develop it. Doctors’ offices are focused on harm reduction, which is good. But do they understand the cravings? Do they understand how medication could actually threaten authentic sobriety? These were the sorts of questions and issues that were explored.
Suboxone is used as a detox agent, and it represents a $1.5 Billion market. Doctors wrote 9 million prescriptions last year. One expert stated, “And guess what? It’s harder to kick than heroin.” Insurance companies encourage its use, allegedly, because users don’t need to go into detox, which costs insurance companies money. Many experts rejected claims of its benefits, because “it undermines the brain’s ability to present as one’s authentic self.”
Without “full surrender to abstinence, people cannot engage in recovery and 12-step (programs) as their own, real, authentic selves,” said the CEO of a recovery program. Otherwise, claimed many experts, people trying to recover can remain isolated and addicted.
“Full surrender” to medication-free recovery made a suboxone prescription sound sketchy, at best. But there is no question that some specific co-occurring disorders warrant medication.
4. Pornography addiction is a big ugly taboo problem. It is impacting a lot of folks, particularly 12-16 year olds who watch online. It has serious implications for brain receptors, in terms of the stimulation, even compared to what certain drugs do to the brain. I don’t know anything more, but will keep you posted.
The many dedicated professionals were on hand at CORE who are committed to helping people recover and lead full and happy lives – they were nothing short of inspiring. I am so glad I was able to attend and learn more about what they do, how they help others. Want to learn more about CORE?
You are not alone. But it’s time to get help, whether you think you need it or not. Talbott Recovery Atlanta and Aspen Group provided me with the same document on Anger. It offers rich insight and advice.
The document suggests first answering these 5 questions:
Do you feel guilty for your rage?
Do you feel remorse for hurting others?
Are you or others embarrassed by your behavior?
Are you disappointed in yourself?
Are you afraid you may hurt someone in anger?
Do you feel hopeless and/or full of shame?
What is Anger?
Well, it’s quite simply a response to stress that usually comes from inaccurate perceptions of events. And contrary to what some might think at a given moment, it is generated from thoughts and beliefs that CAN BE CHANGED.
Anger Is Called the Great Manipulator
It is often used to manipulate others into getting what they want, kind of the way bullies bully people to get what they want. And it might win in the short term, but rarely in the long term. Anger, sadly, can make people feel powerful and in control, even when they are not.
Anger is a Bad Habit
We make ourselves angry by engaging in angry thinking:
Judging an event as unfair or hurtful
Demanding (should and shouldn’ts/always and never)
You Know Your Triggers, So Move from Anger to Thinking
Breathe and count to 10 before responding
Take a time out away from the situation to cool off and gain perspective
Wash your hands in cool water and drink cool water
Ask for help from someone nearby who is calm
Set a time to talk or use a mediator
Choose your “battles” wisely
Have structure in place that outlines rules and expectation
Use an “I feel” statement
Take verbal accountability for hearing your anger: say “I’m sorry” and talk about what you choose to do differently
Enter a safety contract with your family to outline your strategy for intervening to stop acting out of anger
Anger Hurts Teens
It leaves a teen feeling powerless, unable to change, fearful, alone, embarrassed, humiliated.
As a result, teens can feel revengeful, betrayed, falsely accused, rejected, stressed, inadequate, frustrated and guilty. It’s important to get on track and stay on track with teens.
Here are some self-help books that the document recommended.
Calming the Family Storm: Anger Management for Moms, Dads, and all the Kids by McKay and May bell
When Anger Hurts Your Kids by McKay, Fanning, Paleg, Landis. And check out these sites:
The Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a remarkable organization dedicated to helping Americans, particularly recovery professionals and people in crisis, to better navigate substance abuse issues with better tools and information. It also performs research on programs and tracks and reports outcomes. This checklist is beneficial to any parent who is trying to make a decision about what comes next for their teen in crisis. Whether a parent is alone in this journey or working with a therapist, law enforcement office, or school counselor, the list is a dependable guide to understand quickly what one must look for in terms of support services.
When you are looking for a recovery program for your teen, here is a list of services that you should feel are required.
12-Step Programs are communities whose members come from all walks of life. They share a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsion. Per Wikipedia, a 12 step program was originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous as a method of recovery from alcohol. The original Twelve Steps were first published in 1939; then they were adapted and became the foundation of other 12-step programs.
American Psychological Association summarized following as hallmarks of 12-step programs:
Many 12-step and AA meetings will group people by age segment (any by sex, and by newcomers versus longstanding members). A young teen or adult will probably hear about a circumstance much like their own if they get in a group that is more a reflection of them, as opposed to a group with lots of adults.
Here are a few characteristics of the program, which probably need to coincide with other programs or support:
www.al-anon.alateen.org for teens
www.alanon.org for parents
If you need to pay bail, then arrange to pay, or get a bail bondsman to pay, so you can get your child home and stabilized. If it’s not the first time, let your child figure it what to do this time. Watching that unfold will enlighten you about the extent of the problem – is this a bump in the road, a chronic habit, or a bigger problemiss?
Call the number on the citation and get a copy of the police report, to see what exactly happened and whether other stuff went on. This could take 2-3 days. You will need to go to the jail to get the report. But get it, because you need to know what really happened.
Get an attorney for your child or request a court assigned attorney. Everyone has a right to one. If you hire one, get a specialist, a litigator who has handled this sort of issue before, preferably in the county or court system in which it is assigned. Expertise helps save a lot of time.
Comply with a lawyer’s advice. First time offender statutes work in your favor, if you think your kid will abide by the statutes.
Show up in court, and early. The court system can be punishing to anyone who wastes its time. Tell your child to address the judge yes or no, “your honor” and to look presentable. It matters.
If the incident was reported to your child’s school, schedule a meeting with the school counselor and your child immediately. Make the school your friend. Believe it or not, school administrators are potential advocates for your child, unless he has been a repeat offender – in which case, they might feel your problem is beyond their expertise.
J. Tom Morgan wrote an excellent book called Ignorance Is No Defense, about the laws in Georgia impacting teenagers. It is an excellent overview of what every teen and parent needs to know.
So you have found a program. And you are aware that it is time to pile in the car and get to an intensive outpatient center (IOP) or inpatient program. It’s time to get real answers, for your unique, specific crisis. Understanding what different programs offer is critical to knowing that your child or loved one will get the help that they really need. Here are some questions that will help you differentiate programs, along with suggestions for what else you should expect before sending someone you care about to an IOP.
It’s OK. A lot of recovery centers are for-profit. A lot are not. Many do not offer outcomes reporting or track for them. But they should be able to provide family references to contact.
Detailed learning for parents can be found at The American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry website.
This site also has another great resource of questions to ask a program or facility which can be found at this link.
Alcoholism and substance abuse is a family disease. Because of this, you should assess yourself AND your teen. It could be very informative and enable you to understand just how a problem evolved and whether hereditary traits exist. Here is a terrific “about my drinking” self-assessment by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that helps you to determine the degree of a problem. Anyone can take it on line, anonymously.
Face the Facts so you can act.
Thinking there’s no way this could happen to me is a dangerous mindset. The sooner parents realize how prevalent these issues are, including mental health issues, the faster they can face up to the potential reality that a teen needs help. Here is a snapshot from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA, 2014:
Here are some other great guides that will help you.
Intervention Guide – this is the best online alcohol abuse assessment tool, from Drugfree.org. And it is available online and can be downloaded anonymously. Click Here for access to this resource