recovery support services

my brief history with CCAR

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we're off to see the wizard

“Auntie Em: Help us out today and find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble!
Dorothy: A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…

my brief history with recovery support began in 2005 when i took a position to co-facilitate a substance use treatment group. that position surprisingly lasted 1 1/2 years. the group was 6 persons when the therapist and i began and it was well over 20 when i left. i learned first hand how working with others strengthened my sense of recovery and i also learned how impactful relevant support could be to treatment engagement.

i volunteered for a recovery organization here in denver for a couple of years just after i was given an advocacy award by that same outfit (my grandfather’s term). i learned quite a bit, but its mission seemed shortsighted and self-serving. i then implemented a peer support element at a methadone clinic where i was employed. once again, the group attendance and engagement in activities as well as education and discussion of recovery increased exponentially. sadly the management transitioned after the 2nd year of implementation, and the idea that patients could and would recover took a back seat to managing bodies, billing, and behavior became the sole purpose. i felt very much like mary poppins then and realized that my work was done. i grabbed my umbrella and let the wind carry me onward.

that wind blew me to connecticut for a recovery coach training. i had, by that time, become familiar with the concept and perhaps a little adept at working with other. i completed the training and the tot(train the trainer) so that i  would be able to train others to see the secrets that the magical organization in connecticut had summoned from our heavens.  the training was exemplary. it was like witnessing an all star game. the players were as varied as the types of tulips growing in the countryside of holland. but the work was the same. one person in recovery working with another and asking real questions and sharing real time life lessons and all that truth creating permission for realness to go deeper.

good coach trainings are full of laughter and tears which normalizes the process of change and even encourages it. learning boundaries, reminding each other that “no” is an appropriate answer are just part of the gift left behind. a bigger gift is the renewed understanding that lives and experiences are so different from our and with that difference comes empathy and wonder.

3 years later, i am still frolicking in empathy and wonder. and i’m feeling lucky to have found ccar- it is my own emerald city. the freshest news and the sincerest of stories. i continue to be enthralled with the storytelling ritual whose roots in our culture are justified and ancient. 

the historical timeline below is reposted from Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery’s website at


CCAR was founded in 1998 when Bob Savage, a long-time state employee, set out to answer two questions:
Where are the people in recovery when policy decisions are made?
Can the recovery community be organized?
Many years later, thanks in large part to his early vision and dedication, the organized recovery community is at the table (locally and nationally) and our presence is growing. In the early years, CCAR focused solely on advocacy and because of the influence of the recovery community, then evolved into providing recovery support services. Seventeen years later, and its amazing to see how CCAR has come.
CCAR holds Connecticut’s first Recovering Community Organization meeting

Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery officially named

5 founding members spoke at statewide CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) conference, publicly for the first time putting a face on recovery, resulting in initial funding from DMHAS

Mailing list topped 100

Awarded an original CSAT Recovery Community Support Program (RCSP) grant

Awarded funding from DMHAS

60 members attended 1st Legislative Day at State Capitol

1st Board of Directors meeting held

15 members spoke at CSAT Public Hearing in Hartford “Changing the Conversation, A National Plan to Improve Substance Abuse Treatment”

140 attended CCAR Conference” In Celebration of Recovery!”

1st video “Putting a Face on Recovery” released

5 people in recovery selected to serve on DMHAS State Advisory Board, 2 appointed by Governor

Recovery Support Services Concept Paper submitted to CSAT for conference grant

Co-presented with Advocacy Unlimited, a mental health advocacy organization, on the “Recovery Basic Premises and Recovery Core Values” (Note: these values ultimately served as the basis for the DMHAS Recovery-Oriented System of Care)

Hosted 2nd Legislative Day, over 100 people attended

Started “Legacies” support group for parents who had lost children to addiction

Hosted training – Racism of the Well-Intended, Slaying the Dragon

700 attended first annual Recovery Walks! at Bushnell Park in Hartford

“Putting a Face on Recovery” video distributed to 700+

1st edition of The Recovery Herald newsletter published and distributed to 6500+

112 people attended 1st Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner

1st of 7 Chapters established giving CCAR local and regional presence

200+ people attended 3rd Legislative Day, 36 legislators sponsored the event with 3 talking about their own recovery

Non-profit 501(c)3 status granted

10,000+ Recovery Posters distributed nationwide

Website goes live

“Putting a Face on Recovery” video updated; 2000+ distributed nationwide

Awarded CSAT Recovery Community Support Program (RCSP) Track II grant

2000+ participated in 2nd Recovery Walks! held 5 days after terrorist attack of 9/11

16 members testified at Informational Forum at the invitation by CT Legislature Judiciary Committee issues relating to felony conviction and sustained recovery

200+ people attended CCAR’s trauma/recovery forum “Recovery Speaks in the Shadow of 9/11” in New London

Membership topped 2000

3000+ participated in 3rd annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

200+ attended 2nd trauma/recovery forum in Bridgeport

Code of Ethics established

Shifted successfully from Recovery Community Support Program to Recovery Community Services Program

1st of 42 trainings in the “Recovery Training Series” delivered

New video “Healing Power of Recover” completed

3000+ participated in 4th annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

Staff invited to “Innovator’s Meeting: Strategic Planning for Peer Recovery Support Services” SAMHSA/CSAT Access to Recovery (ATR) Program

First audit for year ending June 30, 2003 completed and earned a non-qualified opinion

CCAR involved in development of state ATR proposal

200+ people attended Grand Opening of Windham Recovery Community Center

First Family Support Group met in Windham Recovery Community Center

Transition of leadership to new Executive Director

Executive Director Co-chairs state team with DMHAS Commissioner at National Policy Academy on Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders

Formal Volunteer Management System implemented

Awarded CSAT Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) Track III grant

3000+ participated in 5th annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

New London Recovery Community Center opened

Recovery Housing Project developed state-of the-art internet database to include 100 independently owned, privately operated recovery houses covering 1069 beds

Recovery Housing Coalition of Connecticut (RHCC) established

RHCC established standards for independently owned, privately operated recovery housing

Recovery Housing Project training “So… You Want to Open a Recovery House” generated 7 new recovery houses totaling 70 new recovery beds

Prison Support Groups established in Enfield and Bridgeport

Comprehensive Volunteer Management System implemented

An article on Recovery Walks! appeared on the cover of the inaugural edition of Rising Recovery in Action, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR)’s national magazine

Recovery Walks! model replicated in several other states

Recovery Walks! drew 2000+, Honor Guard established for first time

Executive Director served on CSAT Summit Planning Committee

Established Recovery Capital Tool and Recovery Friendly Tool for evaluation purposes

Hosts recognition dinner in honor of CCAR founder, Bob Savage

The WRCC attracted 10,000 visitors

More than 350 individuals attended Recovery Training Series

CCAR represented at historic Faces and Voices of Recovery summit in Washington, DC

Executive Director presented at CSAT Summit

Begin series of Oldtimer (20+ years of recovery) Retreats and Focus Groups

The 50th ‘Hooked on Recovery’ article penned

2006 – Annual_Report_2006
Core Elements of a Recovery Community Center written

Volunteer Coordinator hired

Telephone Recovery Support became CCAR’s first “fee-for-service”

Article published on Telephone Recovery Support in Addiction Professional magazine

New London Recovery Community Center held successful comedy night/pasta dinner event

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin received the Dr. Edward Brown Humanitarian Award for her work in support of recovery in Willimantic.

Executive Director traveled to AZ to serve as consultant to a sister Recovery Community Organization

Hosts 1st Annual Volunteer Recognition dinner with comedian Mark Lundholm, 144 registered CCAR volunteers invited, Keith Sawyer earns Presidential Award with over 1200 hours

Legacy of Hope: Recovery Elders Video Project launched

CCAR staff ran workshops, served on panels and introduced speakers in statewide DMHAS Recovery Conference: Vision to Outcomes

Bridgeport Recovery Community Center opened (#3)

Purchased a 3-story Victorian on 198 Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford to house the Hartford Recovery Community Center and the administrative offices

Individual Giving campaign launched

Recovery Walks! held for the 7th consecutive year, a lead event for Rally for Recovery, banner for 46 other events held nationally on same day

Executive Director Phillip Valentine received America Honors Recovery award from The Johnson Institute at the National Press Club, Washington DC

Executive Director presented on CCAR, recovery support services and promotes the RCSP at congressional briefing in Washington, DC

WRCC attracted more than 15,000 visitors

Hartford Recovery Community Center opened (#4)

Technology grant received from Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

2007 Annual_Report_2007
Hosted HBO “Addiction” premier at St. Francis Hospital Chawla Auditorium for 125 persons

Hosted 2nd Annual Volunteer Recognition dinner with comedian Mark Lundholm, more than 200 registered CCAR volunteers invited, 17 Presidential Awards given

The CCAR experience highlighted in interviews published on Faces &Voices of Recovery website, Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center (GLATTC) website, Recovery Solutions magazine

Hartford Recovery Community Center launched with Grand Opening for more than 200 people

CCAR leased space to Columbus House “Road to Recovery” program on 3rd floor of the HRCC

New author Richard Anthony (his pen name) began new recovery column that goes out on CCAR website and list serve, “Reflections of a 10th Leper”

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin celebrated 20 years of recovery

Legislative breakfasts held in each of the Recovery Community Centers

NLRCC held 2nd successful Comedy Night

CCAR presents at CCB conference on co-occurring disorders

Executive Director presents at NASADAD (National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors) on the CCAR experience in Burlington, VT

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Michael Askew retires and moves to North Carolina

Executive Director is lead author on a paper titled,” The Recovery Community Organization: Toward A Working Definition and Description” with Bill White and Pat Taylor

CCAR won $270,000 DMHAS grant to provide Telephone Recovery Support to 2500 recoverees

Staff expanded from 10 to 15.

Recovery Walks! held for the 8th consecutive year, Songwriter/vocalist Paul Williams keynotes, first time weather bad, yet sun breaks out during Honor Guard

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Kim Haugabook represented CCAR at a Whitehouse Roundtable in Washington, DC

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin presented at New England Association of Drug Court Professionals in Boston, MA

Executive Director represented CCAR at CSAT Regional Recovery Summit state planning meeting

Executive Director served on a consensus panel for a Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) TIP (Treatment Improvement Protocol) on Relapse Prevention

Volunteer Manager Normajean Cefarelli presented on the CCAR Volunteer Management System in Kentucky

Long time Office Manager Pat Howard retires

CCAR completed a strategic planning process

Executive Director Phillip Valentine celebrated 20 years of recovery

Volunteer hours served topped 10,000

2008 Annual_Report_2008
CCAR formed the Recovery Technical Assistance Group (RTAG) to provide consulting, technical assistance to recovery community organizations and other entities

Held the 3rd annual Volunteer Recognition and Celebration dinner with Mark Lundholm. 221 people attended, 123 of them volunteers and 21 Presidential awards were given. The CT Attorney General also signed certificates for each of the Presidential Award recipients

CCAR won 4 DMHAS Innovative Recovery Initiative one-time grants totaling $139,000 – Oldtimers Conference, Legacy of Hope 2, Women In Recovery through Enhanced Designed (WIRED) and Recovery Coaching

DMHAS Commissioner Thomas Kirk attended a CCAR Board meeting and the discussion focused on sustainability

CCAR collaborated with a treatment provider, ADRC (Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center) and won a state grant to provide Recovery Oriented Employment Services (ROES)

With the CT Certification Board (CCB), CCAR assisted with the Recovery Support Services Conference: Promoting Recovery with Recovery Support Services. Several CCAR volunteers and staff presented.

Diane Potvin WRCC Manager was voted in as a co-chair of the DMHAS State Advisory Board

United Way contributions to CCAR topped $1,000

The 1st Recovery Coach Academy was held, a 7-day training that drew 30 participants in a “learning laboratory” model

The number of recoverees reached through Telephone Recovery Support tops 1,000

2009 Annual_Report_2009
Held the 4th annual Volunteer Recognition and Celebration dinner with Mark Lundholm. 209 people attended, 108 of them volunteers and 27 Presidential awards were given. The CT Attorney General also signed certificates for each of the Presidential Award recipients.

CCAR earned a $100,000 contract form the CT Department of Correction for the Re-Entry & Recovery Project for people in the Hartford parole district.

Michael Askew returned from North Carolina to serve once again as the Manager of the Bridgeport Recovery Community Center.

DMHAS Commissioner Thomas Kirk retired. The CCAR Executive Director served on the committee to interview candidates for the position. Pat Rehmer appointed new Commissioner.

The Recovery Coach Academy was held 4 times, a 5-day training that drew participants from 13 different states.

The Recovery Technical Assistant Group expands – a recovery community organization development contract in Sioux Falls, SD; a Recovery Coach Academy in Des Moines, IA; Telephone Recovery Support TA in VA, TX; numerous speaking engagements (MN, VT, ME, NH)

CCAR had visits from several states interested in our model – Texas, New Jersey, South Dakota, Massachusetts and Vermont. Also, a gentleman from England visited the HRCC.

The number of recoverees reached through Telephone Recovery Support tops 2,000.

Recovery Walks! celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Hartford Business Journal selects CCAR Executive Director Phillip Valentine as Non-Profit Executive of the Year. became an official e-commerce site.

2010 Annual Report 2010
CCAR Recovery Community Centers welcomes over 15,000 visits.

New London Recovery Community Center closes, leaving 3 Recovery Community Centers in operation.

Telephone Recovery Support enrolled more than 1,218 new recoverees. Our volunteers had more than 6,800 conversations about recovery. lists over 150 houses from seven states.

The Recovery Coach Academy was held 5 times and trained 62 coaches representing 18 states.

CCAR volunteers continue to be the backbone of the organization; 319 volunteers served over 14,426 hours in 2010.

CCAR honored our volunteers at the 5th Annual Recognition dinner. 34 volunteers were presented with Presented with Presidential awards and one volunteer received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Shaded Soul wowed us at the 11th annual Recovery Walks.

CCAR staff provided RTAG Recovery Works training for folks in a recovery community organization in Maryland.

Men’s Wearhouse supports CCAR and our recoverees by donating professional attire on a regular basis.

2011 Annual_Report_2011
Executive Director, Phillip Valentine, traveled to Wales and the United Kingdom to speak on the power of recovery and the recovery community organization model. Phil attended the grand opening of the Newcastle Gateshead Recovery Centre, a recovery center modeled after CCAR.

CCAR wide strategic plan was conducted outlining agency priorities for upcoming years.

Yoly Lebron was promoted to Director of Administrator/Human Resource Officer role

Recovery Works hires new Coordinator; 203 individuals referred to program, 54 completed it and 56 gained employment.

Ken Aligata, CCAR volunteer and supporter, hired as Community Educator to conduct outreach to providers and individuals in treatment programs. 16 trainings conducted reached 226 participants.

The number of recoverees that received Telephone Recovery Support calls tripled, with volunteers calling nearly 650 people each week.

BRCC supported Keytrain, an initiative that prepared people to become more employable.

CCAR Recovery Community Centers saw more than 35,000 visitors, hosted 38 different trainings, and held 375 other events.

CCAR’s Telephone Recovery Support model expanded to Minnesota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and the United Kingdom.

The Recovery Coach Academy was held 4 times and trained 124 coaches representing 28 states; 32 scholarships were provided to CCAR volunteers.

Recovery Coach Academy model trained total of 958 coaches nationwide.

317 CCAR volunteers contributed over 20,438 hours of service.

2012 Annual Report 2012
Maine RCO Leader, Deb Dettor, hired as Director of Operations to implement program development based on strategic plan.

Volunteer workforce number lessens slightly, but 291 individuals serve even more hours than previous years, contributing 23,264 hours.

TRS volunteer callers make 34,230 total calls and engage in 12,765 conversations.

CCAR’s Recovery Community Centers saw even more visitors, nearly 50,000 people.

Windham and Bridgeport Recovery Community Centers each doubled their space.

Community Educator expanded outreach to promote recovery posting YouTube Recovery Minute videos and daily Twitter Affirmations.

CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© ran 117 times across the country and trained 2,038 new coaches.

Recovery Walks! celebrated simultaneously with Recovery Walk in Manchester, England with live-feed broadcast.

CCAR technology upgraded thanks to grant from Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

2013 Annual Report 2013
CCAR hired first Recovery Coach Academy Coordinator, Stacy Rosay.

Bob Savage Recovery Advocate of the Year Award given to Greg Williams, producer of The Anonymous People.

CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© conducted 121 times across the country and trained 1,741 new coaches.

A new Recovery Coach Ethics training was developed.

Performance Support Learning Communities implemented by consultant/trainer Art Woodard with Recovery Coaches in CCAR Recovery Community Centers.

CCAR sponsored the April sneak preview of the groundbreaking documentary, The Anonymous People.

Volunteer service rose again, with 293 individuals providing 28,427 total hours, averaging 97 hours per volunteer.

CCAR Executive Director teamed with local media celebrity in recovery to host a weekly radio show, Voices of Recovery, on CT’s largest AM radio station.

Executive Director Phil Valentine awarded with thanks for 14 years of Annual Recovery Walks! leadership.

Recovery Walks! celebrated first ever Friday, drawing 1,000 people. CT Governor Dannel Malloy spoke, as first active Governor keynote at a Recovery Walk event.

Rebecca Allen promoted to new Telephone Recovery Support (TRS) Manager position.

Significant rise in CCAR’s Recovery Community Centers activities; 300 trainings ran with 2,438 participants and 1,131 other events drew 24,336 attendees.

CCAR piloted weekly Artists in Recovery; and sponsored first artwork exhibition at Annual Recovery Walks!

 2014 Annual Report 2014
2015 Annual Report 2015


vagabond superstar

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There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.

firstly, ii would request that all readers also read mark olmsted’s blog regarding the passing of phillip seymour hoffman at question marxist. mark olmsted – aka the trash whisperer- touches on the very core of a major challenge with living in recovery- emotional sobriety. people with addictions – both active and arrested- remains the most complicated and treacherous path that I have walked and that those ii walk with encounter.


What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?

there are moments in which the clarity and cruelty of feeling are so uber-pronounced and omnipresent that frozen only begins to describe the fear and uncertainty that follow. sometimes an exchange of words or ideas will give a glimpse of unknowing that feels just like the chill of a visiting spirit. someone may something to me that ii am not clear how to take and ii will panic- not because of what was said, but more because of the not knowing how to proceed.

it may turn out that I struggle with emotionality for the rest of my days. it gets easier and the frightful crazy part lasts shorter periods of time. but as mark olmsted points out, it is not how we feel that creates problems, but more how we think we should feel.


Emotional Management

There is no feeling without a thought. There is no feeling or thought without a corresponding physical response. We are not many. We are one.

It is a mistake for any of us to so divide ourselves into segments that we lose the sense of ourselves as holistic beings. There is no thought without a feeling. However by singling out a specific aspect of how we as people function, in this case the emotions, specific care can be given on that aspect. Feelings have the power to both take us to heaven and pitch us into hell. Feelings are perfectly capable of telling us the saving truth as well as sending us on the road to destruction. Feelings are powerful. As with all powerful things the task is to control and manage that power so it works to the person’s benefit.

Feelings must be understood for what they are and where they originate if the person experiencing them is to gain a life of sobriety, balance and serenity.

Topics covered in our various products dealing with emotional management:

  • Understanding the anatomy of emotions
  • Learning to feel long repressed feelings
  • Discerning if the feeling is telling us a useful truth
  • Not allowing feelings to be the sole dictator of behavior
  • Steps to gaining emotional management
  • words and thoughts by ernie larsen

here comes the sun

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But I wouldn’t be happy anywhere else
Nobody to tell us what to do, all by ourselves
Isn’t this a fine hello, I wish I hadn’t seen you go
It’s always been a bitter pill, the broken mirror’s broken still
The letters never made the post, a thousand more I never wrote
And here on dark unfriendly streets
I find the comfort that I seek
And I’m happy, and I’ve been happy,…shaun escoffery
today, the marketing rep who has been working with our department for the last few months came by today with a photographer to secure images for a brochure and some in house promotions.  the brochure will depict the peer support network that has ignited at our campus. 
the day was full, hectic, and lit by a very positive buzz. there are 4 individual peers chosen for tiny recovery bios, all of whom have been in relationship with methadone for over a decade.  we all took lunch together after the flashbulbs and the labyrinth of portraits. these conquerors that were heralded today let their inner lights shine as they spun tales of old which were braided with the changes upon the clinic and this new network. i am proudest most of the glee and incredulity involved when they talk about the changes they perceive. 
their joy was so big it filled my cup today. and i took a long cool drink. i love days like this. the  particular song posted  i first heard at an early morning jaunt at the endup in san francisco. the]morning light was bright, the sky a perfect blue, and the sense of peace that  encircled me like glenda the goodwitch. 


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we started a new process at the workplace for new methadone patients to provide support and education as they transition from a using lifestyle hopefully to one more geared towards recovery. it will last 3 months and the caveat for weekly contact is the promise of weekend take-outs at the end if attendance is stellar and tox screens are substance free. 
my perception of the most valuable aspect of this new approach is the more intensive support towards changing the lifestyle. becoming recovery focused is not a simple task when the majority of a person’s life is the same as it was the years before they sought recovery. they still have family relationships that are strained or broken, friends that continue to use and more, and a sense of self that is disjointed and dark. this group experience can hopefully bring some light back into their lives.  it is magical  to witness self esteem as it returns to a person and a light begins to emanate from their eyes. who needs a vacation right now. i have the gift of new beginnings.
here is an outline of the curriculum which was gleaned from a study in the uk:
Introductory session: acquaintance, coordination of expectations, overview of the
sessions schedule 1
Clinic rules (with the clinic director) 2
Methadone: facts and myths (with a physician) 3
Addiction-related diseases (with a physician) 4
Addiction: damages and consequences 5
What is recovery? 6
Coping with craving and relapse prevention 7
Recovery Support 8
Anger management 9
The addict and his/her family 10
Maintaining Change 11
Summary and separation 12
i am very excited and hopeful about the prospects here. there is a very good chance that this type of introduction to medicated-assisted-treatment (mat) could directly influence the culture at the clinic. people who are new to recovery definitely need to learn to live within new boundaries, but they need hope and a hand in order to aim their sites higher for themselves.
the first of these groups took place yesterday. we are holding them on saturdays and i have changed my work schedule to accommodate. if you have been following my blogs at all, you are aware that i love to get new things started. it may have actually become my life’s work. there are blessings and bloodletting that accompany life’s work and i have had the privilege and the responsibility to walk through both- not always perfectly or even with ease.
i never did opiates- well i did heroin once in 1983- euphoria is what i remember the most. i was on a cloud for a long time and i met a young man i dated for a while as i drifted in that fog. i knew that the undertow of that buzz was too strong for my constitution. i never allowed it to become a drug of choice. ergo i cannot directly relate to the struggles of the souls i am working with. but i can relate to the challenges of change and recovery. especially self-care and self-respect. these are the building blocks of a better life which can help lead us to safe harbor.

aria ready

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maria callas image credit….

“Human life is a most difficult classroom until you learn the simple fact that your truth is your power, your salvation, your fulfillment, your purpose and your way. Once you can truly believe that, life becomes the joyous and abundant garden that it was meant to be..” 
~ from Emmanuel’s Book
i probably am jinxing our opportunity tomorrow by writing about it here, but i am excited enough to try to make it more real. as i’ve mentioned, we are moving forward with implementing a peer-to-peer network at my workplace. a grant has been written and within that process a framework was created for roll out. we are approaching another funding stream tomorrow and i have been asked to go along to discuss the concept, the framework, and the nuts and bolts. 
this represents a step in a direction i have at once coveted and doubted. this could very well mean that the mania-driven dreamstorming i have been doing this last year within the parameters of several organizations might stand a chance to have some life breathed into them. and beyond my own process and aspirations, it means that this idea of “recovery community” might actually become part of the architecture of public health substance treatment in colorado. ergo- our citizens with no resources might have more support when trying to put their lives back together- and that would be supplied very often by people just like them. this is like a multi-layer ganache cake to me.
the photograph of maria callas  is posted today because whenever i think of arias, i first think of her. she just might always represent the premier diva to me. she captivated a planet when she put her mind to it and she literally breathed life into an art form that had nearly become a museum exhibit. she was bright, talented, inspired. she was difficult, provocative, and a classic. she made no apologies. 
i googled aria as audition and came across a site named and found that there were 5 tips offered as follows.
1) Know your voice and your range and stick to them.
2) Select a diverse group of arias within your range.
3) Always start your auditions with the aria that is most solid in your voice and your heart.
4) Knowing the whole role is not necessary for your audition.
5) Always represent and present your personal brand.
so i will head to the meeting tomorrow with these tips in mind and some blueprints i have been working on. i am sharing them here to review the offerings. first there is the submitted grant- 18 pages of an outline. then there are some window dressings- 
1) A plan to implement and develop a coaching academy for our part of the country.
2) A plan to implement a volunteer workforce and addition to our campus.
3) Creating a value system from our peers to infiltrate our processes and help shift from a medical model.
4) Invite and support a multi-cultural peer network with the resilience necessary to speak to our population.
5) Create positive events for our recovering community to participate in with the intention of creating a recovery community.

new order

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image credit… john baldessari
  “Blue Monday”

How does it feel
To treat me like you do
When you’ve laid laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are

I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me how do I feel
Tell me now how do I feel

Those who came before me
Lived through their vocations
From the past until completion
They will turn away no more

And I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me
Just how I should feel today

I see a ship in the harbor
I can and shall obey
But if it wasn’t for your misfortunes
I’d be a heavenly person today

And I thought I was mistaken
And I thought I heard you speak
Tell me how do I feel
Tell me now how should I feel

i am just finishing a week of satisfaction surveys at my workplace. it has been both an exhausting and exhilarating week. i have had some incredible help from client volunteers and my hope is that their efforts have helped them as much as they have helped our organization. 

my understanding is that there has not been client involvement like this at our establishment in a very long time. my impression is that it has been a welcome change. there was a lot more healthy and positive verbal exchange in our hallways and waiting rooms than i can recall in the few years i have been around.

substance treatment has long had a very deep stigmatized and punitive edge to it. it usually comes about when a person has demonstrated the inability to modify their behaviors on their own volition. shame and disappointment are the very first of many self-criticisms that pull up their moving trucks and unpack their bags. and just like cockroaches or other vermin, there are many friends and family members that soon show up to add to the humiliation and defeat upon the foundation laid. 
traditionally, our workplace has reflected this punitive aspect. probationers, street-walkers, sex workers, addicts turned thieves, traumatized persons trapped in numbness make up a good portion of our daily participants. at least that is how they appear when they first enter our doors. it is our task to help the remember that they are and can still be much more than a few pigeon-holed labels. 
in a rather “medical model” tradition we have treated them with something and sent them on their way, expecting that they will find the other components necessary to remember their higher purpose outside our purview. our workplace has carried on with this belief for a very long time.
but with new leadership, along with healthcare reform, substance abuse and mental health parity, and a burgeoning national grass roots social movement, our society and medical community is learning and incorporating the idea of recovery (and more universally- change) requires more than just treatment. it involves support along a few fronts- ergo recovery support services. and my workplace is following suit.
the inclusion of clients in our current satisfaction survey hopefully represents a much larger philosophical shift within our walls. out of necessity (and some honest desire) we are looking to stronger outcomes, healthier practices, and more trauma-informed care. we have not become experts at recovery, only well informed about treatment. our schooling has not ended.
this week has ushered in another possibility which involves my daily work focus and activities. a very poignant piece of my story resides here- last summer, as i initiated the peer based recovery support services concept, i fantasized about the amazing possibility of implementing such a facet to a large public hospital clinic setting. then life continued to seesaw as is it’s custom, and i let go of that fantasy. but here i am sitting in my chair, contemplating a misplaced idea, and feeling hesitant to embrace excitement. 
i only hope i can learn to let go of fear someday.. 
i felt silly on this friday evening and thought it appropriate to post my favorite cover version of this anthem of my eighties.
but for you hardcore traditionalists, here is a remix of the undeniable classic from new order but a 90’s release on a cd appropriately titled “substance abuse” remixed by dmc.

 “let’s have some fun- shall we?”

the cat that ate the canary

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image credit… things that dreams are made of blog

(idiomatic) A person who appears self-satisfied or smug, especially while concealing something mischievous, prohibited, or private

(idiomatic) A person whose appearance and behavior suggest guilt mixed with other qualities, such as satisfaction or feigned nonchalance.

this recent 4 day week has left me at once drained of thoughts yet full of wonder and hope. i have found myself amidst a myriad of projects which leads my manic-leaning brain to a really lovely place, but while there i am forced to remind myself of my limitations and a mandate to forgo perfection. 
my duties have taken a swift and slight turn to my “right” and it certainly feels that way. my fear (connected to hope) is that this shift will somehow just be temporary- but this last bit is completely my own psychology getting in my way.
last summer, while i was spending a short time as a member of the board for a local recovery advocacy organization, i was taking steps to begin to add to the current culture at my workplace. and by add i mean to start including the idea of success and recovery to our programs. since methadone is such an integral part of our clinic’s make-up and there are such a multitude of peripheral issues with that population-i.e. criminal, mental health, physical health, poverty- that success may have just slipped to below the horizon when working with our people on a day-to-day basis. re-introducing this idea and integrating into our daily operations has the potential to be a magnanimous gift to all concerned- clients and staff alike. 
in grantee fashion, it is time for our annual customer satisfaction survey. most of our patients are at our clinic 3-6 days a week and we are conducting the survey for 1 week. this year i asked to include the peer specialists and some patients who are doing well in their recovery to participate and help facilitate. i am thrilled that we get to include the peers and highlight peer support and the idea of success. we will have a drawing for a free week of treatment. i believe strongly that each time a client participates, we are acknowledging their ability and their value.
i have been facilitating a group for gay clients (mostly hiv+) for 3 years. recently my schedule changed and it became necessary to end that group. i am working to start a new one at a different time and i have tried to re-brand it and give it a new personality. as groups go, it was probably time for a change anyway. the new group has struggled with attendance over the last 2 months, but the last 2 weeks have brought some new blood. yesterdays group included a referral from a state agency who seems to be a bit of a drifter, unemployed and reports to be living with a meth addict. he seems puzzled why he has lost 2 jobs because of his mandatory UA’s. this is one great example of  the kind of outreach i hope to generate. i think it is called unmet need. i have been struggling with the logistics of developing a service that might be aptly called pre-treatment. it basically is outreach that supports helping people get connected with services (especially substance abuse) by enhancing their motivation to change. there are not many funding streams for this activity which creates challenges in grant funded operations. personally, i believe it also falls under the umbrella of recovery support services with the support being aimed at before recovery. hopefully GAB will be allowed to grow and we can see if this might have a positive effect. here is the new marketing collateral deliciously served up by jenna legrand at rocket house designs. i contacted malone sizelove in chicago and he graciously agreed to allow me to panhandle the name of his satirical and penetrating  GAB magazine which had a long and healthy shelf life emanating from boystown chicago in the 1990’s. you can see more about bhicago’s GAB magazine on facebook.

i stumbled upon this mash-up from summer 2012 and it’s haunting quality has captured an unfinished part of my spirit. feel free to listen a time or two. i believe there is magic in here. if you are interested, you can listen to a plethera of mashups from daft beatles on soundcloud here