marbles blog post image

The Marble

By: Pat McGinn, CEO Harbor Hall

When I was a child in elementary school, marbles were a valuable asset.  We would go to school with a big bag of marbles that was filled with a variety of sizes, shapes and color.  There were Cats eyes, steely, glass, clay, aggie, boulders, red devil mixed color, opaque, black, swirly, tiger, shooter and the most coveted of all (in my school) the puree.  As soon as the snow started to melt and spring was in the air, all of the kids would bring in marbles for games and we played for keeps.  Playing for keeps was very serious, so we had to choose wisely the type of marble to be used.  In those days purees were hard to come by,  so in our own made-up value system, the puree has the highest desire attached. 

As I grew older the excitement of the marble games diminished, and the bags were put away.  Maybe it is was just a kids game but I find it funny how you don’t see kids playing marbles anymore today.

About 25 years ago I met one of my most important mentors who was a great inspiration to me.  As a tradition he would give marbles to people who were completing addiction treatment.  He would say to me that the marble was an important symbol for persons new to recovery.  He had a presentation that was very special and unique in the presentation of this symbolic gift.  Over the years I had adapted this presentation that continues today. 

Over the past 25 years I venture to guess that I have given away hundreds of marbles.  These marbles are purees and crystal clear…the most coveted of all marbles (in my opinion).  So at each presentation I pass out a clear marble to each person they all look the same at first.  Then I talk about the symbolism of the marble as it relates to changing thinking.  (To understand grab a clear marble and look at it as I describe the meaning).

First notice that it is round.  The round is 360 degrees, reminding us that what goes around comes around.  It’s a completeness, it is the beginning and the end, the circle of life. 

Notice that it is clear.  This symbolizes that as we practice a routine of sobriety, our thinking clears up, we begin to learn how to live life in a rational manner and the choices we make become better. 

Notice that it looks perfect, but if you look closely you will see nicks, chips, scars, bubbles.  This reminds us no one is perfect and we all have our scars, chips, nicks, bubbles.  This is a reminder to be patient and tolerant of ourselves and of others.

Notice that when you look through it everything is upside down.  This reminds us that no matter the clarity of our thinking, the world around us sometimes feels upside down.

The group is told that this can be a powerful relapse prevention tool.  They are told that first they need to keep in in their pocket otherwise it will not work.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are on the verge of using, take the marble out of your pocket at place it on your forehead, then hit it with a hammer, if the marble breaks it is okay to use.  Okay that is meant to be funny, but I have had folks come to me and tell me that this is exactly what they thought of and in diverted attention.

Then finally, Keep the marble I your pocket and on those days when you feel like you have lost all of your marbles, you will have at least one.

From a game as a child to a powerful symbol of recovery.  I have had many people over the years come back and tell me that they still carry their marble as they pat their pants pocket. 

Needs Pyramid

Motivation to Change

Addressing each individual’s needs to develop a life that is free from substance misuse.

Article by: Chief Executive Officer – Patrick McGinn – MS, MA, LLP, CAADC, CCS-M

Whenever I am talking about motivation to change, my first thought goes back to PSYC 101 and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Dr. Abraham Maslow first described this model in 1954. It is still, to this day, considered to be a masterpiece in any discussion about motivation and change. Because of the simplicity of the model in explaining motivation it is a useful tool to begin to understand why we do some of the things we do, and how they play a role in substance misuse.

Maslow proposed a five level hierarchy of needs as the basis of his theory on motivation. The hierarchy of needs begins with physiological need, then progresses in sequence through safety need, belonging need, esteem need and self-actualization need. According to this hierarchical structure, the lower-level need has to be largely satisfied and its impact on behavior diminished before the person transitions to the next level.

Physiological Needs.

This is described as the most basic of needs, satisfying for the relief of thirst, hunger, and physical drives.

Safety Needs.

The need to be free from harm or danger, to have a secure and predictable daily life.

Love or Belonging Needs.

Beyond the needs of survival are the desires for nurturing, acceptance, respect, and caring relationships.

Esteem Needs.

Mental/emotional well-being, built on the perception of oneself as worthy and recognized by others, to be appreciated.

Last but not least….

Self-Actualization Needs.

Defined as the individual ability to recognize and develop capabilities to realize one’s fullest potentials.

Creating an environment to foster the motivation to change.

At Harbor Hall we believe that by addressing the individual needs as described above, the individual is more motivated to develop a life that is free from substance misuse. Our professional staff go all-out to make the facility comfortable, clean, and safe.

Our clients are well-nourished, there is opportunity for exercise and all physical needs are examined and addressed. Once the physical and safety needs taken care of, the residents and staff can concentrate and focus on the harder issues of therapy. Residents are assigned to a primary group. The treatment milieu is highly structured 24/7 and the residents are in primary and big groups participating in all activities together. A very strong emphasis is placed on connection with one another and a sense of comradery and kinship is developed.

Together residents work on anger, communication, conflict resolution, and other topics that support the attainment of belonging and being a part of. As a natural result to this process, esteem builds, spiritual concepts develop and residents being to gain confidence in their own abilities to address life situations. By the time a resident is discharged from treatment and they have responded well to the treatment process, they will be well on their way to recognizing their own unique potential and at the beginning of making plans to be successful in their life.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
– C.S. Lewis

The Election Reminds Us That Our Political System Is Failing Addicted and Mentally Ill Individuals

by David Sack, M.D.

The hot-button topic in our current election cycle is the economy. Basically, finances seem to be the sole focus of nearly every campaign. And why not? With unemployment rates hovering in the 8 percent range, our nation’s financial situation is a major issue. But almost as many Americans suffer from a serious mental illness as are unemployed, and there are many more people dealing with addiction than are unemployed. Even in an economy-driven election — perhaps especially in an economy-driven election — politicians should be paying attention to these facts. After all, whether it is a debilitating mental illness such as bipolar disorder or a mind-addling addiction to prescription medications, these issues cost our nation serious money. And the amount increases when the problems are left untreated or passed off to the criminal justice system.The simple fact is that just about everyone knows someone — a loved one, a friend, a co-worker — with a mental health or addiction issue. Nevertheless, politicians routinely ignore the need to treat these populations. Perhaps this neglect stems from the fact that addiction and mental illness have historically been viewed as moral failings as opposed to treatable illnesses. Alcoholics were seen as hopeless bums and a drain on society, drug addicts were degenerate criminals to be feared and thrown in jail, and the mentally ill were unfortunate creatures best hidden away in locked rooms or placed in asylums “for their own good.” Sadly, even though the medical and scientific communities now possess considerable evidence indicating these once-upon-a-time “facts” have little, if anything, to do with the reality of alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness, our socio-political system continues to wallow in the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil dark ages. Rather than dealing with these problems head on, we choose to either ignore them or use the judicial system to sweep them under the rug.This unhelpful attitude has, over the last several decades, led to a bevy of unfortunate, expensive and wildly unsuccessful federal, state and local policies focused on interdiction and punishment rather than treatment. And in most respects these moth-eaten “contain and control” strategies persist despite the ever-growing mountain of evidence clearly demonstrating their abysmal inadequacy. Consider, for instance, the tried and truly failed idea that we can “arrest” our way to a drug-free America. Today, there are more than seven million Americans under the supervision of the criminal justice system, with a large percentage of that number in on drug offenses. Yet more people than ever are dying drug-related deaths. However many people we lock up, the ravages of addiction continue unabated.

If we look at the matter objectively, we see clearly that the war on drugs is over, and everybody lost. So why do we continue to address the “addiction problem” primarily through the criminal justice system? Rather than dumping countless billions into a quagmire of policies that we know don’t work, couldn’t we refocus our efforts and funnel these same resources into improving our treatment methodologies and making that treatment affordable, accessible and without stigma?

One common argument against the above idea is that federal and state governments should not be throwing their limited financial resources at a tiny segment of the population when so many larger, more pressing issues (i.e., the economy) need to be addressed. Of course, this argument fails to recognize that arresting and incarcerating drug users, oftentimes repeatedly, without addressing their underlying issues costs, over time, significantly more money than helping those individuals identify and overcome their problems through proper treatment. And the financial costs don’t end with arrest and incarceration! The number of work-days lost to addiction is incalculable, costing employers millions, perhaps even billions. And what about the healthcare system? Medical expenses for an untreated alcoholic are triple those of a nonalcoholic.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, addicted and/or mentally ill people are hardly a “tiny segment” of the U.S. population. It is thought that approximately 12 percent of Americans suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, and approximately 5 percent suffer from a serious mental illness. (A “serious mental illness” is an emotional or psychological disorder resulting in a functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.) And these numbers take into account only the individuals directly affected by the disorder. We should also consider the millions of children, spouses, parents and friends who are indirectly affected.

Nevertheless, most jurisdictions determinedly perpetuate policies of interdiction, arrest and incarceration — probably because seeming “soft on crime” is a good way to lose votes. Thus, resources for dealing with addiction and mental illness have become highly politicized, with policies that sound good to the voting population winning out despite their well-documented lack of success.
Happily, not all is doom and gloom on the political front. Earlier this year, in April, the Obama administration released its thoughtful, informed, and progressive 2012 National Drug Control Strategy, building nicely on the president’s initial Drug Control Strategy introduced in 2010. Basically, the administration’s policy is grounded in three research-based premises that are now widely accepted in the addiction treatment community:

1) Drug addiction is not a moral failing; rather, it is a preventable and treatable chronic brain disease.

2) People can and do recover from addiction.

3) Criminal justice reforms are needed if we truly want to stop the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, release, more drug use, and re-arrest.

In part, the president’s policy focuses on the two most current drug-related challenges: the prescription drug epidemic, and the millions of people who need substance abuse treatment but do not receive it. If it is followed through — and that’s still a big if — the new approach will respond to the aforementioned two challenges by diverting nonviolent drug offenders into treatment, and expanding overall access to treatment. For instance, the Affordable Care Act will force insurers to cover drug addiction treatment as they would any other chronic disease. Overall, the new policy is a revolutionary and long-overdue shift in the federal approach.

Unfortunately, addiction and mental illness have (as usual) been placed on a back burner in the current presidential election, with state and local races following suit. Campaign speeches and advertisements are focused on the economy, while the ongoing issue of treating rather than ignoring and/or incarcerating a large, constantly growing and needful segment of our population remains unaddressed. Until this attitude of political neglect changes, we’re likely stuck with the current jumble of antiquated laws that do more harm than good. Thus, the individual suffering of millions of people — not to mention their friends and families — will continue, as will the unwarranted funding of numerous failed drug control strategies. Yes, the new National Drug Control Policy is a significant step in the right direction, but at the moment it’s a lone beacon of light that most politicians are choosing to ignore in favor of “vote grabbing” topics.

David Sack, M.D., is board certified in addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine. As CEO of Elements Behavioral Health he oversees a network of addiction treatment centers that include Promises, The Ranch, The Recovery Place, and The Sexual Recovery Institute.

Even though the elections are over, this article is still relevant with facts pertaining to current drug control strategies.

To subscribe to Dr. David Sack's Blog Please Click Here

Spirituality in Recovery

Dan Thompson, MA writes on the importance of spirituality in recovery.

What does spirituality have to do with recovery at Harbor Hall?  Everything!  At our Residential Treatment Center, we concur with 12 Step writings, on page 83, “The Spiritual life is not a theory, we have to live it.”  There is another phrase we identify with that reminds us: “we are spiritual people on a human journey”.

Our understanding of spirituality is that it is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning or purpose, and the way we experience sacred or holy connection to the moment, to self, to others, to our environment, to a Higher Power, or to God (as we understood Him).

In our care, you will be welcomed and accepted wherever you are at spiritually and/or religiously.  Whether or not you refer to a Higher Power, to God, or regardless how you assign yourself as perhaps atheist, agnostic, theist, or deist, you will be welcomed and treated fairly and justly.

We believe in the power of the human spirit that exists within each of us, and that with proper help can be relieved, revived, and/or restored.  Our core teaching on spirituality promotes a kind of lifestyle practice that is honorable, whereby the basic spiritual habits which reflect our pursuit of transformation involves discipline, accountability, servant hood, humility, and safety.   We also refer back to our lifestyle that resisted change, where we dishonored our self and others with habits influenced with bitterness, arrogance, danger, lawlessness, and self-centeredness.

As it states on page 110 of Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions, our effort with clients is fueled by the hope and truth that the “eyes of men and women open with wonder as they move from darkness into light, to see their lives quickly fill with new purpose and meaning, to see whole families reassembled, to see the alcoholic/addict outcast received back into his/her community in full citizenship, and above all to watch these people awaken to the presence of a loving Presence or Higher Power in their lives”.

In our recovery treatment program, spirituality has everything to do with our sanity, serenity, trust, respect, and joy.  These are the results we strive for and believe can occur in treatment under the professional, clinical, and spiritual care that is offered through our program.

Blessings to you

 

A Guide to Intervention

Prior to getting a professional interventionist involved, most families have tried to confront their loved ones about their destructive behaviors. Many times this was ineffective because you tried to go it alone and separately, where your concerns could be easily defended against by mechanisms that the substance abusing person engages in to keep everyone away from the heart of the problem. The concerns were not presented with the support of other family members and/or friends and there was not a concerted effort to plan for contingencies, if the loved one chose not to engage in the recovery process. You probably have fears that an intervention will fail and begin to think that you may never get your loved one away from the negative lifestyle that they continue to be involved with. This usually leaves you feeling more alone and isolated and imagining that there may be no hope to potentially save your loved one’s life.

Oftentimes the person engaging in the negative behaviors is believing that they are not affecting anyone around them. A “true” professional intervention differs from that of individual “conversations.” It is carefully planned and orchestrated. No one wants to know that their behavior is hurting the people around them and the intervention is an; “eye-opening” experience that leaves little room for denial.  It can be a very powerful process because of the level of emotion that is displayed by the caring partners that are helping to; “open the person’s eyes as to how their behavior has affected those around them.”

The ultimate goal is to engage the person in a partnership to get them on the road to true recovery. You want the loved one to “go to treatment, start engaging in recovery, so that you can welcome back the person that you love and care about”

Family intervention uses the power of love and concern to break through denial and get your loved one into treatment. By organizing family members and friends in a very specific way, as laid out in Love First, we are able to get results that were impossible in the past.

The keys to a successful intervention are planning, preparation and technique. Many people think they’ve tried everything, but often family members have been working against each other. They‘ve never taken an organized approach or worked with a professional interventionist

Intervention unifies the family and gets everyone working together. Before the intervention ever takes place, the team goes through a planning a rehearsal process that leaves nothing to chance. Take a look at this intervention checklist.

Here’s an excerpt from Love First, by Jeff Jay and Debra Jay:

In the past, expressions of love were delegated to a few brief sentences during an intervention. We’ve learned that when we expand the role of love in intervention, it is love that first breaks through denial, not toughness. Using love first, we often never have to use tough love.

Jeff Jay is a professional interventionist, educator and author. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and a certified addictions professional. His work has appeared on CNN, the Jane Pauley Show, PBS, Forbes Online and in professional journals. He has served as president of the Terry McGovern Foundation in Washington, DC, and on the boards of directors for several professional organizations.

Jeff Jay is the co-author of Love First: A New Approach to Intervention for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, and co-author of At Wit’s End: What You Need to Know When a Loved One Is Diagnosed with Addiction and Mental Illness, a book on dual disorders published in April 2007 by Hazelden. He heads a national private practice that provides intervention and recovery mentoring services. He is a former clinician with the Hazelden Foundation and Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center.

Debra Jay has worked as an interventionist since 1996 and is currently in private practice, providing intervention training and consultation services, with an additional specialty in older adult intervention. She previously worked for the Hazelden Foundation as an inpatient addiction therapist with both men and women in primary and extended care. She also facilitated the Hazelden family program and coordinated the older adult program.

Debra Jay is the author of No More Letting Go: The Spirituality of Taking Action Against Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, published by Bantam in 2006. She has also co-authored two Hazelden Guidebooks: Love First: A New Approach to Intervention and Aging and Addiction: Helping Older Adults Overcome Alcohol or Medication Dependence.

Debra Jay is a nationally known speaker and has regularly appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Most recently, she was seen on The Dr. Oz Show. She is a graduate of Ohio State University.

Jeff and Debra live in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan and travel nationally. They write a monthly column on alcohol, drugs, and family for the Grosse Pointe News.

Harbor Hall is very committed to the process of recovery and helping people to change their lives. Sometimes there is a necessity to get an intervention specialist involved to engage your loved one in the recovery process. We support; “Love First’s” model of clinical interventions and believe that they are true professionals who can help you and your loved one on the path to recovery. Check them out here: Love First

 

 

Enter: The Affordable Care Act

For many people who are struggling with the new health care laws and how it may affect them; persons with behavioral health disorders, such as mental illness or substance abuse,  need to know where to look for answers. I am enclosing a useful link which will direct you to potential resources. Some of these links may be on how to advocate for others, some may be for understanding the law and some may just include getting some much needed assistance. Please see the following link for assistance:

The Affordable Care Act and What it Means for You

Transformation of the Culture of Recovery in America

Click Here to Watch The Video

Presented by William “Bill” White October 18, 2011; 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Dawn Farm in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I had to travel a distance to see Bill this evening and it was well worth it. Many know that I consider Bill White to be a mentor and I am fascinated by his breadth of knowledge of Addiction and Recovery in America and abroad. Here he discusses history of addiction and treatment in America and the new Recovery Movement.

Please click here for articles, papers and books by William White.

 

 

The Anonymous People

This is a story that is worth telling. The Anonymous People is a grassroots movement to get people in recovery to advocate for others that are still out there suffering from the disease of addiction. It basically scolds us in recovery to say that; “By Our Silence, We Let Others Define Us – Susan Rook” I attended the Celebrate Recovery walk on September 15th on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan. There I met Pat Taylor from Faces and Voices of Recovery, Gil Kerlikowske Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Ben Jones from NCADD of Detroit and others who came out to Walk for Recovery. We can share this story, we owe it to our fellow addict to spread this story. Please watch; “The Anonymous People.” Spread the word, Share the Story.

Veterans Struggling With PTSD and Substance Abuse Face Increased Risk of Death

Veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse face an increased risk of death, a new study suggests. The study included 272,509 veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD. Those who had a substance use disorder were more likely to die during the study follow-up period.

For all age groups, veterans with PTSD and substance use disorder were more likely to die from injuries than those with PTSD alone. For veterans under age 45, those with PTSD and substance use disorder were more likely than older veterans to die from non-injury-related causes, PsychCentral.com reports.

Injury related deaths included suicides, homicides and accidents. Non-injury related deaths included cancer, heart disease and other health problems.

The study of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is the first to evaluate the combined impact of drug or alcohol use disorders in combination with PTSD, according to the University of Michigan researchers.

“Attention needs to be paid to veteran patients with PTSD, with an emphasis on identifying those who might also have a problem with drug or alcohol use,” lead author Kipling Bohnert said in a news release. “This study highlights the potential importance of effective treatment for both conditions in helping veterans after they’ve returned from conflict.”

The results appear in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.