By: Kelli Wagner, Behavioral Health Technician, The Meadows
Christmas carols, the spirit of giving, joy and laughter; this is what the holidays are all about...right?
The New Year symbolizes a time for fresh starts. Everyone is making resolutions to better themselves in the coming year, so it’s no surprise that many people decide to pursue sobriety. Starting a new year with the decision to find sobriety and heal lifelong wounds is a very courageous decision. Usually, though, simply making a resolution is not enough. This is true even with non-addicts. But the good news is, there are steps to take that can significantly aid in reaching and maintaining sobriety.
If you decide an inpatient program is the right decision for you, make sure that the program is designed to meet your individual needs and the needs of your family. Consider what will nurture your well-being. If being in a warm, peaceful environment and having sunshine is an important part of nurturing yourself, then consider The Meadows programs in Wickenburg, Arizona. We are nestled in the serene Sonoran desert, where many people feel that the clear, dry air has healing powers.
As the nation’s premier program for treating alcohol, drug and other addictive disorders for 40 years, our Meadows Model is the most clinically comprehensive and nurturing program available today.
There is no better time to begin your journey to sobriety than right now. Make this year your year of recovery. The treatment program at The Meadows can help you create an entire lifetime of peace and healing. To learn more about our programs, call us at 800-244-4949 or contact us here.
By Dr. David Anderson, The Meadows Executive Director
Last week, on the Meadows campus, we dedicated a new flagpole and flag. It gave us an opportunity to honor and show appreciation for members of the Armed Services, and to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of free nations and also on the freedoms we experience in recovery.
In 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a state of union speech just 11 months prior to the beginning of World War II in which he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people the world over ought to be able to enjoy:
For those of us in The Program, we celebrate not only these freedoms, but also the fundamental freedoms we enjoy while living in the “Nation of Recovery.” These freedoms might be described as…
Of course, everybody’s journey is unique; thus, many of us may discover other kinds of freedoms as we continue along the path of recovery and transformation.
The dedication of our new flagpole intersected with our celebration of National Recovery Month. In honor of the occasion, a number of our patients created their own personal flags of recovery through their expressive arts therapy sessions.
These personalized flags represented their current freedoms and the freedoms they hope to continue to discover through sobriety. We asked the patients to “plant” these flags around the flagpole as a reminder of the support available in their communities and as a testament of hope and inspiration for themselves and others.
Each flag is a reminder of the courage it takes to choose freedom over bondage, love over hatred, serenity over fear, and recovery over disease. We are honored to have been given the opportunity to display them on our campus.
Sober life can be filled with fun in the sun, so take advantage of all life has to offer this summer. Here are ten ideas to help you put some spice into sober life.
1. Take a Joke: LOL! There’s nothing like humor to soothe the soul. Grab a bunch of your sober friends and check out a recovery comedian. Or, have a movie fest in your living room by playing your all-time favorite funny flicks on a Friday night. Whip up a batch of popcorn and let the good times roll!
2. Hola: You may have thought about learning another language, but never had the time to see it through. Now’s a good a time as any. Learn Italian and head to Italy to show off your new vocabulary. How about a trip to France after your French is simply fabulous? Learning a language allows you to expand your social network and will keep your mind sharp. What’s more, you can learn via DVDs, online courses, or the old-fashioned way in classroom settings.
3. Team Effort: There’s a healthy supply of leagues to choose from –softball, football, soccer, baseball, basketball and even bowling – so jump right in. Get in some hearty exercise while joining forces with like-minded individuals. You’ll be compelled to show up for every game because the team is counting on you. You have to be in it to win it – so sign on.
4. Lend a Hand: There’s an abundance of organizations that would welcome your help. Volunteering is a win-win. Both parties reap rich rewards. The first question is where do you want to focus your energy? Would you like to tutor children? Feed the homeless? Comfort the elderly? Help preserve your local park? You can test out several options to figure out which one most warms your heart.
5. Hot Stuff: Eat and greet. Check out local cooking classes and dine in style with your co-chefs after your meal is elegantly served. Take recipe notes and recreate your meal for you and your fab friends in the comfort of your own home. You can even learn to create and decorate your next birthday cake at the abundance of baking classes springing up! Cooking classes are all the rage, so be sure to bring your appetite.
6. Get Crafty: Join the artsy crowd and get crafty. Take up beading, pottery or knit your favorite aunt a sweater. You’ll enjoy the process and feel a sense of accomplishment after showing off your creations. Or, try your hand at painting. You never know what talents lie within!
7. Take a Hike: Summer is a great time to embrace the great outdoors. Take a scenic hike through your favorite park or go camping with your best buddies. Be daring and have a karaoke competition with your fellow campers. Kayaking is another fun way to spend a leisurely afternoon. There’s nothing like a little fresh air to rejuvenate your soul!
8. Listen to This: Do you love the sound of guitars? Or, do you prefer the melody of a piano? Learning how to play an instrument does wonders for your self-esteem. Pick up some sheet music and take an online course to get you started. Gather your family and friends and play to a standing-room-only crowd.
9. Of Course: Do you have a craving to learn American History at midnight? Do you want to figure out how to amass money in the stock market? Are you eager to learn how to help your family eat better? Online courses cover the gamut from banking to baking, so choose a course and power on your computer.
10. Move On: Gyms now offer everything from dancing to dashing. You can opt for a Zumba class or make a dash for the treadmill. Opt for a few sessions with a personal trainer to secure an appropriate regimen for your fitness level. You’ll surely find something to get you going and you’ll feel better for it.
To learn more about The Meadows, visit us here or call (800) 244-4949.
A group I facilitate for Vietnam Veterans struggled with this question even before the name of the accused sergeant was released. Violence, injury, death and war stir intense emotions in all, particularly among veterans who have been up close and personal. The issue of atrocity and slaughter of civilians is, naturally, an incredibly intense and sensitive subject.
My group members wrestled with this for 90 minutes; most had extreme empathy for the cumulative damage war has upon warriors. They could not even begin to grasp the immense pressure put upon younger soldiers, some of whom serve three, four, and up to nine tours. They/we are humbled by shocking reports of soldiers committing sudden violence, some of which is toward family, but more often towards self. They embraced the contributing factors that need be considered: alcoholism, traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), financial problems, issues of unemployment, possible relationship problems, a passed over promotion, an unwanted next tour, recent injury, and experiencing the wounding or killing of fellow warriors.
Reports indicated that Sgt. Bales was suffering from many of these factors; he was also reported to be highly decorated, a model soldier, and has saved lives of civilians and Americans in some of the hottest conflicts in Iraq. How could a highly trained soldier, a member of an elite unit, trained sniper and leader of men possibly commit such an atrocity? Our group struggled with this question and did not come to a clear explanation. They had empathy and contempt; some launched into politics of the current wars, some blamed the military for too many rotations, some defended the military, others discussed the role of combat, loss of recent friends, PTSD, alcohol, and tbi (traumatic brain injury). The discussions were intense and a few favored certain factors, but no consensus or full explanation was derived.
One thing we did derive: in certain situations our usual narratives fall apart. If the conditions are right, we are all capable of sudden violence or extreme behavior. The media will no doubt speculate on which factor(s) were critical in this current horror. Forensic experts will attempt to definitively opine, but we may never fully know why this particular soldier "snapped" in such a dramatic and horrific fashion. Thousands of soldiers carry the burdens of war. Most struggle in silence and harm no one, and if they do injure anyone, they hurt or punish themselves.
We may never know the full explanation of what went wrong. My personal speculation is that alcohol played a large factor. It is the most common variable in violence: domestic, self or toward others. It also works in tandem with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. What will probably emerge is a complex picture of a determined and accomplished soldier worn down by many variables, military and domestic. Early reports suggest Sgt. Bales and others were drinking heavily that evening, against military rules. Those early reports also suggested drinking to levels of blackout. Sgt. Bales allegedly had a drunk driving hit and run episode while stateside. Whereas not the sole factor, alcohol might have been the "tipping point". Alcohol is a common way of "self-medicating" or "de-stressing", but it can have an almost "evil" impact in unleashing primitive emotions. In fact, it is a common but often understated factor in the surging suicide numbers in young soldiers. Alcohol has a long history of violence in so many settings, especially the home. Unfortunately, we continue to deny alcohol's power or even its presence. Mr. Bale's attorney alleged his client had not been drinking.
We will know more as facts emerge, but we may never fully grasp what went wrong or why. We do know that war is ugly; it changes people and distorts mind, body and soul. The results of war can make you feel "untouchable" and unique. My hope is that veterans or military personnel reading this blog will recognize that their worst fears are not reflected in the rare disasters. Most people, even civilians, have a fear of "snapping". Exposure to the horrors of war intensify that fear beyond that which most observers can express or comprehend. The vast majority of those who develop PTSD do not snap. Instead, they suffer quietly and deconstruct their lives. PTSD, especially with co-occurring addiction, is complicated and destructive, but highly treatable. Recovery requires Sleep, Safety and Sobriety, the three "S's" that are the first steps in separating you from the demons of war.
Jerry Boriskin, Ph.D, has been at the forefront of the treatment of PTSD, addiction, and co-occurring disorders for more than 30 years. He is the author of several books, including PTSD and Addiction: A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Counselors and At Wit's End: What Families Need to Know When a Loved One is Diagnosed With Addiction and Mental Illness.
For more about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for PTSD and other disorders, see www.themeadows.com or call The Meadows at 800-244-4949.