undisclosed desires

Posted on


On Gratitude:
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.

it has been a hella couple of months. i had no idea that my nature was so easy to track and my muse so omnipresent. life has felt so alive with inspiration and opportunity since i made a change in my full time gig. i knew i was unhappy, but i didn’t realize how stifled i had been feeling. each day since then seems to have brought new discovery, new beings, new collaborations, and a promise of some better days.

the next coach training is almost here. i think there might be enough requests to do another. we are presenting for a training contract next week as well. we will be starting a recover group in aurora on thursday nights and may look at another night in lakewood-both located conveniently in treatment oriented buildings that lend themselves to collaboration.

i am also looking toward pride right now. my friend mark has agreed to try to resurrect “surrounded by recovery” as a community building, consciousness raising, team building event this time during pride. the idea is to gather enough folks to hold hands and encircle the capital to raise awareness of the growing epidemic of deaths by overdose, the shortage of treatment availability, and that recovery is an option that has positive outcomes and often gets overlooked. here’s a glimpse of what use to happen and what we hope will happen again.

it has seemed almost like my ship was sinking and i have been rescued by a friendly fishing crew. i am reacquainting with fun at the workplace, and with not feeling constant financial pressure. it remains to be seen if i have learned what i need.

there are 2 more curricula to add to our course selections for this year: ccar introduced me to another training organization (mt) who have opened up my mind and eyes to possibilities.

1)Self-Care for Recovery Coaches & CRPA in a two day, retreat style format. Specifically for those who utilize peer support principles this workshop offers a parallel process of introspection and professional development. Participants are challenged to evolve their own self-care plan while developing the sensitivities to a recoveree’s unique pathway dynamics. Participants emerge from this two day workshop with a keen understanding of the role authenticity contributes to their role of recovery coaches as well as their personal well-being.

2)Recovery Coaching for All – Families, Friends & Colleagues,based on the original RCA, acknowledges and explores the experience of “everyone else” who either lives or works with an addict or recoveree. This new 30-hour curriculum (chronological or modular delivery available) is designed for people who wish to provide coaching support to all those affected by the addiction and/or recovery of another – first-tier family members, friends, partners, colleagues, employers, etc.  Coaches are trained to help people identify, manage and meet their own recovery wellness goals independent of the addict/recoveree.
Topics include:

  • Distinguish between addict/addiction
  • Define and increase fluency in the language of recovery
  • Delineate the roles and tools of a recovery coach
  • Articulate the problems, pitfalls and potential of recovery
  • Recognize and understand RECOVERY CAPITAL
  • Build capacity to perform in a recovery coach role
  • Discover and develop an authentic voice of recovery
  • Describe how relationships impact recovery coaching
  • Understand ethical context for recovery coaching
  • Practice newly acquired skills

Specific skill sets – professional boundaries, recovery wellness planning, self-disclosure, stages of change/recovery, active listening, motivational interviewing, cultural competence, systems of care, multiple pathways, advocacy

oh yeah- have i shared with you my hopes for Bhaven? ask me if you would like to know more.

ROSC- Recovery Oriented Systems of Care

Posted on Updated on

c’est moi at African American Health Fair Denver
The following  information was cut and pasted from the SAMHSA website. It is the up-to-date information regarding healthcare reform with regard to substance abuse and mental health treatment. This particular information is of particular interest to me because I work in these fields. And these issues intersect in my life every day in many ways. I believe (through and through) that these issues are worth spending my days around. Some people I know and some people I care about have struggles with these issues that swallow up their lives. So the idea of equal access to treatment is almost worth the national debt. 
But along with parity comes the idea that treatment for both mental health and substance abuse have a mandate to improve their efficacy to coincide with their accessibility. In their current state, these treatment modalities offer stigma, uncertainty, an extremely low percentage of successful outcomes, options that are designed for the providers benefit and not the recipients- i.e. 28 day in-patient- 90 day outpatient- etc,  the focus of substance abuse and mental health will need to expand from treatment to recovery/resilience if it is to be taken seriously. As science moves us forward in understanding, it reveals to us that the brain effects caused by substance and chemical imbalance are lifetime issues for the majority of us and we need to look towards caring for those issues with longterm solutions. Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care are the options that the movers and shakers are looking towards. We might have much better outcomes when we start to treat the whole person for the whole of their lives. ps- if you are inteterested in recovery i recommend you start reading the work of william white at

On October 3rd, 2008, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was signed into law. This new Federal law requires group health insurance plans (those with more than 50 insured employees) that offer coverage for mental illness and substance use disorders to provide those benefits in no more restrictive way than all other medical and surgical procedures covered by the plan. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act does not require group health plans to cover mental health (MH) and substance use disorder (SUD) benefits but, when plans do cover these benefits, MH and SUD benefits must be covered at levels that are no lower and with treatment limitations that are no more restrictive than would be the case for the other medical and surgical benefits offered by the plan.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act:
Eliminates the practice of unequal health treatment. This practice has kept individuals with untreated substance use and mental health disorders from receiving critically important treatment services. Providing parity provides insurance coverage for substance use and mental health disorders equally to other chronic health conditions like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.

Improves access to much needed mental health and substance use disorder treatment services through more equitable coverage. Millions of Americans with mental health (MH) and/or substance use disorders (SUD) fail to receive the treatment they need to get and stay well. The lack of health insurance coverage for MH and SUD treatment has contributed to a large gap in treatment services. Improving coverage of MH and SUD services will help more people get the care they need.

Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that is person-centered and builds on the strengths and resilience of individuals, families, and communities to achieve abstinence and improved health, wellness, and quality of life for those with or at risk of alcohol and drug problems. SAMHSA/CSAT
Note: Prevention Services also play a major role in developing ROSC.
ROSC will require developing supports and services that provide self-directed approaches which respect the role of personal choice and commitment in pursuit of health and wellness. Developing a ROSC also requires helpinging engage people and families in support networks in their communities, to ease their integration back into the community and get their lives back on track. Linking people to services and supports helps sustain long-term recovery. The services and supports may include resources such as:
  • recovery centers in your community;
  • recovery activities and websites;
  • peer support;
  • mutual help groups;
  • faith based supports;
  • housing;
  • transportation;
  • education and vocational;
  • mental health services;
  • medical care, including HIV Services;
  • financial and budget counseling;
  • legal, and advocacy services;
  • alcohol/drug and gambling services;
  • prevention for children and adolescents; and
  • parenting and family services.
Developing a Recovery Oriented System of Care that is built on the strengths and resilience of individuals, families and communities who are actively taking responsibility for their health and wellness drives the continued efforts to build a foundation for recovery in our future .

new order

Posted on Updated on

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?”

pieces of me

Posted on Updated on

image credit.. damien blottiere

Common to my recovery advocacy work and my work in recovery management is the proposition that there are multiple pathways of long-term addiction recovery. I recently collaborated with Ernie Kurtz on a monograph that tries to convey what we know about such pathways and styles of recovery from the standpoint of history and science [20]. In this work, we plotted variations in the frameworks of recovery (religious, spiritual and secular), the scope and depth of recovery, styles and contexts of recovery initiation, and differences in recovery identity and relationships. We also tried to answer the questions of when recovery was stable and durable and whether recovery was ever completed. Our goals were to both summarize current knowledge about recovery for addiction counselors and recovery advocates and to stimulate future recovery-focused research…William L White
it has been a zany month. i got pneumonia at the end of february and was basically out of commission for 2 weeks. i then worked 19 days in a row including some training for the rosc intervention i am championing at my workplace. 
it has not been overwhelming, but it has been a lot. 
my sponsor reported that he was in the hospital all week with a carcinoma scare. he went to the emergency room on monday and the hospital kept him for observation all week. he has already undergone esophageal surgery (highly dangerous) and this new development is not without concern. it is definitely one of those times when my personal lack of power is magnified. 
we have decided to start the recovery rally 2012 on september 8. we are hoping to secure civic center park this year. the last couple of years, the rally has not been held downtown. we consciously made an effort to separate ourselves from a similar event (now dark) that left a tainted footprint in its wake. the rally committee meetings should begin in april. i hope we can create an event for memory as it will be the return to downtown denver. 
just feeling a little sassy this morning. my friend robbie posted this on fb and i was flooded with some memories of days gone by. i still think spp is a hoot and i know i had some crazy good times. and i certainly don’t have any misgivings about having no desire to recreate those days.

evolution of recovery.. beyond the status quo

Posted on Updated on

˜The concept of recovery capital reflects a shift in focus from the pathology of addiction to a focus on the internal and external assets required to initiate and sustain long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug problems…. 
Steve Gumbley

i spent yesterday at a training presented by afr and attc. its focus was a concept named (rosc) recovery oriented systems of care. its focus is that of the changing face of addiction treatment coinciding with the seismic shift called healthcare reform.

the presentation seemed validating in many ways with a shift in focus from treatment to recovery. and modifying my approach to my work to fit into this model should not require decades of reconstruction. and that is a major issue, really. the industry of drug and alcohol treatment will need to make drastic changes to stay afloat with this federally mandated tsunami called reform.

the beauty of the concept is that the patient/client gets the benefit. there is a longer view of the support that a person seeking recovery will have access. the time involved in recovery shifts from the classic (without evidence) 28 days and 90 days to 3 years for a stronger possibility of long-term recovery.

steve gumbley (the current board president of favor) presented in the afternoon segment. he shared some of his story of 25 years with recovery and discussed the idea of public responsibility with such a personal journey. this was a concept i had not considered thus far, although it is not too far from my own philosophy.
i am sharing the slides here. a couple of things that i take from this day are 1) in 3 months of treatment we may very well see a client only about 10 hours. this seems like a cruel joke with regard to the change that is expected from the client. 2) that treatment might really only be a triage, and that recovery support pathways are where the real work is done. 3) that mental health, physical health, emotional health are all involved in a person’s recovery and need to be tended if they are to grow. 4) providers, counselors, nurses, physicians might be more effective if they were to expand a client’s recovery capital as much as possible before releasing them from care.

as a person living in recovery, i am acutely aware that my recovery involves three levels of sobriety- physical sobriety, emotional sobriety, and spiritual sobriety. it makes sense that that treatment providers generally take this concept to a higher (pun intended) level. we need to address all these areas to assure our clients a better chance at a healthier recovery.

if you work in treatment, you definitely need to know about these concepts as this is the direction that samhsa has the money going. if you are in recovery, or seeking recovery, please consider these concepts. they are completely designed with people in recovery at the table. the language of recovery is changing and the business of treatment is evolving. no doubt it is way overdue… a million thanks to the obama administration for moving beyond the status quo.

Recovery Frameworks Steve G Nov2011(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })(); Recovery Management Steve G Nov2011(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })(); Recovery and Treatment_Steve G_Nov2011(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();
(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = ““; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();