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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

What are Boundaries in Recovery?

Early in the process it can be frustrating to figure out what a boundary is, how to create boundaries that will be effective, and most importantly, how to reinforce our boundaries when they are threatened or violated. Like any new skill, it may take several clumsy but well-meaning attempts before we begin to learn how to apply even the most basic principles. The important thing to remember is, as with any skill, the more we practice, the easier it gets and the more proficient we become.

A common misconception, which often goes unchallenged, relates to the idea that boundaries are meant to somehow teach a lesson to the one with the addiction. We mistakenly believe that the more harsh our consequences and the more strict our expectations, the more they will see how serious we are and “snap out of it.” It doesn’t take long to realize that, sadly, the monster which is controlling them has no interest in learning anything from us at all. Therefore, our efforts must be turned towards protecting ourselves and those in the path of their destruction.

Do not try to go about establishing boundaries in recovery on your own for the first time. Let those who specialize in this deadly disease guide you through the process until you feel comfortable enough to stand on your own.

For more on setting boundaries, check out this great resource

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Surviving the cartel and the addiction!

I recently had the honor of interviewing a brave recovering addict, who was sold to the cartel and only recently escaped. Her story was so amazing and is a testament to what a person can overcome. Now she is in recovery and has made great strides in her individual improvement and self-care. Fighting addiction is no easy matter, but it can be done, and you can win. 

You can read the full story of her capture, escape, rehab treatment, and addiction recovery here

Here are some more memorable quotes from the story:




Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Current hurdles to providing individualized addiction treatment:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 142 Americans die every single day from drug overdose. These people need saved, and it has to happen on an individual basis. As of now, there just is no other way to do it. Some may argue a broader approach by doing things like reducing access to opioids. Though this could help some, the problem is actually more complex. As access is limited, people are increasingly turning to street opioids, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, a mixture of each, or other dangerous and illegal drugs. The real problem is that despite all our efforts, only 10 percent of the almost 21 million Americans addicted to drugs receive any level of treatment. Lack of access to health care and the fear of stigma contribute to this epidemic.

This video explains the need for individualized addiction treatment in more detail:

Also, more information can be found here.

The statistic mentioned above are from the Commission Interim Report

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I started with lines of Meth but quickly wanted to try shooting it. I asked one of my friends who was shooting Meth and he said to me, “This will change your life.” I thought he was being dramatic, but in all honesty, it did change my life, because I got just as addicted to that needle as anything. It was all in the ritual and the process. Getting it, burning it, making it, pulling that cloud of blood, and pushing it back in. You get the taste of it in your mouth before it’s even in your body. I loved the ritual so much that if I had drugs but no needle, I’d hold onto the drugs until I could get one. It’s overwhelming what that needle did to me and how it controlled my life for the next ten years.

My drug addiction overtook my life and I started doing crazy things. I’d go to Las Vegas to score a bunch of dope get loaded for days on end. I’d sell drugs to support my habit, I began ripping off everyone I knew, and started to get into a little bit of trouble with the law.

Because of my hookups, I could get pills for around $5 each, then turn around and sell them for $40. I’d use the money to purchase Meth and Heroine. If I didn’t have the money, I’d steal, manipulate, and hustle to get the drugs. I’d even walk into convenience stores, grab two cases of beer, and walk right out like I owned the place. I wasn’t even stealing the good beer either, I’d take two 30-packs of Stroh’s because that’s as much as I could carry. One time a big Polynesian lady gave chase and, being 130 pounds, I couldn’t outrun her with a case in each hand. I was running as fast as I could but she was catching up to me, so I had to ditch one of the 30s. It must have looked really interesting to the bystanders as I ran down the road, hugging a case of 30s while a big Polynesian lady chased me.

I made it back to the hotel and was out on the front porch smoking a cigarette when I saw a police car pull up to the building. I knew that police car was coming for me, but I just didn’t have it in me to run anymore. That was a moment of clarity and serenity for me. I could have taken off and probably got away, because I would have had a huge head start, but I just sat there and smoked that cigarette. I watched them go to the lobby, come up the stairs, walk towards me, and I just surrendered right there. I wanted to be done using but I didn’t know how. I wanted to be sober, but I didn’t think it was possible for me, because once I got sober, that’s when the true pain would begin. They took me to the Utah county jail where I detoxed over the next few days. Detoxing in jail was terrible but I also think it might be the best way to do it. Nobody is going to come and check on you, see how you’re doing or what they can do for you. You just have to suffer and you can’t act like a little bitch about it because you’re in jail. I appeared before the same judge I had to present to many times before, and this judge had given me every chance in the past, but this time he was finally fed up with me and sentenced me to serve a year in jail.

This is a portion of an incredibly moving story I wrote about my friend. Please check out the rest of it at

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I just wanted to let people know about this amazing Podcast about addiction and alcoholism. It's been a great help to me and many of my friends. You can subscribe on all the regular podcast distributors, but you can also watch it as a Vodcast on the recovery soapbox site.

Recovery Soapbox was started as a place to openly discuss drug addiction, alcoholism and recovery. It's put on by a rehab center in Utah, but it's in no way a commercial for them. This clip is just a short preview, the full episodes are free and about an hour long on average. They are on their 9th episode. Withing the podcast, they do a Women in Recovery series that has been amazing. There are now three episode of Women in Recovery. 

The guests on the podcast really know what they are talking about when it comes to alcoholism, drugs, addiction, rehab and recovery. Check it out if you get a chance or pass it along to someone who may be in need of some extra help. 

This was an episode with a recovering addict named Sarah Kappos. It's one of my favorites. 


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Why would a Utah rehab center want to particularly reach out to artists? According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, opioids kills 90 people in the U.S. every day, and, as it turns out, a disproportionate number of those deaths are artists.  


Artists, and musicians especially, find themselves victims of addiction for a number of reasons, but here we will talk about two of the biggest.




Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Why The Stigma of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Holds Everyone Back


Stigma is the look on their face when they find out you've done drugs. It's the judgment that crossed their minds. It's the assumption that you must have a lesser mental capacity than most. It's having to lie about your past for fear of being viewed as a criminal. It's not always obvious, except to the addict and likely to those who have loved an addict. Common misconceptions include thinking that willpower can cure addiction, or that more severe punishments will motivate addicts to stop using. Many even think that terming addiction a ‘disease’ is just an excuse. When it comes to addiction recovery, this stigma can be the biggest hurdle of all.


Stigma increases the difficulty individuals and families face when seeking the help they desperately need. This results in many people preferring to delay or avoid treatment rather than face the stigma from co-workers, managers, friends, and even family. This tends to only deepens the isolation and the addictions. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has estimated that 22.7 million Americans need drug and alcohol addiction treatment, but only 2.5 million people receive it. That's less than a one in ten.



Posted by on in Alcoholism

The standard stay for patients at in-patient addiction treatment programs has historically been 28 to 30 days. Ever wondered how this came about? Unfortunately, the 28 day treatment template is not some magical number based on science or evidence. Rather it was implemented for a number of other reasons, largely based on financial regulations and arbitrary logic. Discover why addiction experts are urging treatment providers and clients to reconsider standards about length of stay.

The Origins of the "28 Day Rehab"

The reasons behind the formulation of the month long treatment go back to the 1970's. During this period the United States Air Force established its first addiction treatment program. When choosing the duration of treatment for members of the Air Force they based their methods on the existing reassignment rules. These rules stated that if individuals were away from treatment for more than 30 days they had to be reassigned. So they selected 28 days as the standard to avoid the arduous reassignment process.

Dr. David Lewis, who in the 1970's helped establish the addiction treatment in the U.S. Air Force, says 30-day stays were scheduled for bureaucratic reasons rather than any scientific or medical evidence.

In the following years, as addiction treatment grew and expanded, other treatment centers adopted the Air Force's standard. Insurance companies drafted their policies and coverage plans to align with the newly founded standard length of stay. This standard has existed for decades, largely unchallenged until recently. Now professionals and researchers are coming forward with evidence and experience that shows we need to re-evaluate the ideal length of stay in inpatient facilities.



Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Around the addiction treatment profession there are statistics floating around like “only 2% of people who go to rehab stay sober” or “90% of people who leave rehab will end up in another rehab”. These statistics tend to make it seem like addiction treatment has a low success rate. In my opinion, there are only a few reasons for these statistics.

Reason A) Rehab and Treatment Don’t Work

Reason B) Addiction Can’t Be Fixed, It’s Impossible to Stay Sober

Reason C) The Patient Doesn’t Give Their Best Effort or Follow Suggestions

We know from experience and research that the first two reasons can occur, but they are not the contributing factor as to why rehab fails. Rehab has been proven to be successful for addiction, and people with addiction can heal and stay sober. It is true that staying sober is not a simple or easy feat, and rehab does not work for everyone or every time. Thus logic and evidence would point to Reason C as the main factor in why rehab programs fail to work. Read about my Top 8 reasons why rehabs fail….


Posted by on in Alcoholism


Working at an outpatient treatment center I am always interested by new methods for helping people get sober. There are constantly new theories evolving from psychology in the field of substance abuse. Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) is an unconventional means of getting an addict or alcoholic to seek help and enter treatment. Remarkably, the creators of CRAFT claim a 64% success rate compared to conventional interventions (25%) and Al-Anon (14%). This statistic is based on the percentage of people staying sober after attending outpatient under the directive of each respective system. When I looked into CRAFT I could only find a handful of sites and articles on the subject. If it is so effective, then why is this method not more widespread and more importantly what is it?

What is CRAFT?

The basis of CRAFT is quite simple. Instead of using threats and confrontation to convince an addict or alcoholic to get help, the family or therapist of the person uses what they call a “motivational model of help”. Unlike many other ways of dealing with substance abuse CRAFT is based on reward-based positive reinforcement. Instead of punishing or condemning a person when they abuse drugs, CRAFT rewards the person for abstinence and good behavior. When someone is abusing drugs CRAFT suggests that the family distance themselves emotional and physically until the person sobers up. The core idea behind CRAFT is in the interaction between family and the alcoholic when they are sober. CRAFT aims to make sobriety seem desirable and appealing, so that someone with a substance abuse problem realizes what their addiction is making them miss out on.

CRAFT shows you how to develop your loved one’s motivation to change by helping you figure out how to appropriately reward healthy behavior. You learn how to make sober activities more attractive to your loved one, and drug- or alcohol-using activities less inviting. In this way, you minimize conflict and maximize cooperative relationship-enhancing interactions with your loved one.

According to the creators of the program an addict will enter treatment only when the reasons not to use outweigh the reasons to continue using.  By making sobriety seem more attractive they claim to be “raising the bottom” of the person so that they do not have to experience dire consequences before seeking help. CRAFT makes sobriety more attractive by showing the addict or alcoholic the fun activities possible only when sober. When sober the family gives affection, kindness, and attention to the person and ceases this if the person begins using again.  CRAFT also puts an emphasis on improving communication of the family members and instituting non-violent communication into dialogue.


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