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recovery

Holiday Gifts

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I am so very fortunate to be dancing thru life on earth in 2016. It is no all easy by any stretch of the imagination. It is mostly an affront to my ego. But this is how it is supposed to be. My ego needs to be drop kicked as often as possible.

While the daily ego bashing continues, so do many amazing  opportunities to savor some very beautiful aspects of life on earth. Vivid color. Celebrations. Gastronomic innovations. Simple good food. Heart-opening artworks. Flowers and fauna. Kinship and kindness. Recovery and new beginnings.

These are the true gifts of the season and of life. Here are some memories of this year’s holiday celebrations I shared. Parties have an entirely new meaning from a sober point of view.

Merry Christmas to all of us. May we each have a chance to take in the gifts and the lights of the holidays.

recovery management- fly robin fly

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flocking-to-recovery-management

the next wave in the continuum needed to address the aod epidemic may just be recovery management. so much emphasis has been placed on diagnosis and treatment over the last 30 years, but statistics reveal that those strategies do not eradicate the problem. Diagnosis and treatment work on a percentage of the afflicted. The do not reverse the stop or slow down the illness in a larger percentage. they only delay disease progression.

recovery has been named the goal for several decades, but access and wraparound recovery services have been lacking in the disbursement of services. providers have long seen themselves as treatment providers who provide access to recovery. this does not reflect the true picture of treatment services in the country. it reflects the picture that treatment providers prefer to see themselves, but until long term recovery is the focus of programs, clinics, hospitals, residential treatment services, this will remain only a picture.

recovery management is the next big thing. fueled by the recovery advocacy and activism of the last 5 years, so very many of the flock are setting their sites on sustainable recovery as the goal.

hallelujah!

Cracked Veneer

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Each day, we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we can’t handle whatever is happening. It’s too much. It’s gone too far. We feel bad about ourselves. There’s no way we can manipulate the situation to make ourselves come out looking good. No matter how hard we try, it just won’t work. Basically, life has just nailed us.
It’s as if you just looked at yourself in the mirror, and you saw a gorilla. The mirror’s there; it’s showing “you”, and what you see looks bad. You try to angle the mirror so you will look a little better, but no matter what you do, you still look like a gorilla. That’s being nailed by life, the place where you have no choice except to embrace what’s happening or push it away.
Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain. In fact, the rampant materialism that we see in the world stems from this moment. There are so many ways that have been dreamt up to entertain us away from the moment, soften its hard edge, deaden it, so we don’t have to feel the full impact of the pain that arises when we cannot manipulate the situation to make us come out looking fine….pema chodron

i have been wrestling with guerrillas in the mirror, morals and ethical questions for a couple of months. There is a trail of crumbs that keep leading me down a path to a destination not known. As is often the case, I follow my instincts and encounter both comfort and the opposite. I then need to discern the temporary from the true. Once the veneer cracks. Perhaps that image, with the cracked facade, is the actual picture.

Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk
To the way you move
Everybody here is watching you
‘Cause you feel like home
You’re like a dream come true
But if by chance you’re here alone
Can I have a moment
Before I go?
‘Cause I’ve been by myself all night long
Hoping you’re someone I used to know
You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young
Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
I was so scared to face my fears
Nobody told me that you’d be here
And I swore you moved overseas
That’s what you said, when you left me

 

in memoriam

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suspended-animation

I found out today that one of our clients died of an overdose in mid-September. he and his girlfriend had just had a baby late spring and they moved to florida to raise their baby daughter near their families.

he had tapered off methadone quite quickly and didn’t have an emergency plan. but he successfully got off and transitioned to his new life with no visible baggage and began the next chapter. he was 24, full of sweetness, exotic, and full of poise and good humor.

as is often the problem with addiction is that the root of the problem is not always easily detected. most likely he was craving and hurting and not talking to anyone about it.

this reinforces my resolve to do more to address this prescription drug and overdose epidemic. just how many losses are acceptable before something changes? before we change?

A dozen really does feel good

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“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

It is really hard to believe that I have been fortunate enough to have lived 12 years substance free. It definitely the most sober time I’ve ever had. My emotional sobriety has grown the most in the last 5 or so years and I have become a much better citizen, friend, and neighbor.

this is due especially because I had a mentor who reassured me often that  god does not create junk and therefore I had worth. With that support, my ability to see beyond my own limitations to find hope and courage to just be ok. Today I’m thrilled with ok. It requires much less stress.

My mentor Paul passed away a few years back. Still today I miss him and can feel the support from the infrastructure he helped me build. My post today is strictly gratitude for all my mentors and teachers. Without you I am nothing. Thank you universe for the invitation to taste so much in this life. I will do my best to

Is CARA merely a thought balloon?

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image

This is a Call-Up to wake the frock up. We’ve been living in a dream world for too long.

The big news in treatment  and recovery world this month is the passage of CARA -which is the first response to the bloating prescription drug epidemic that has been the root of the 130-something opiate overdoses completely ignored (until now) by our quagmired puppeteer-driven DC leadership. 130-something Americans dying every day while our elected officials squabble about providing funding to address the epidemic. Their  solution  is to bare bones the effort, manage some photo-ops, then make a direct line to dive into the longest summer break in this century’s history. Meanwhile, the 130-something daily American overdose fatalities continue to pile up like floating refuse at a clogged street drain.

although CARA could be an affective first step in rerouting this insanity, it needs to be more than an image of a response to be effective. We need education and reframing on a systemic level if things are to change. This current thought bubble of an effort hardly stands a chance.

Fellow Americans- we need to take a long hard look at what our priorities and values are as a nation. It’s a great time to work for change. Stop calling ourselves Christian and while we ignore our neighbors dying.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate on March 10, 2016, by a vote of 94-1.

Brief Summary of Provisions of CARA

Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of methamphetamines, opioids and heroin, and to promote treatment and recovery.
Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country.
Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program.
Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

 

Ring, ring, it’s 7:00 A.M.
Move yourself to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place
Knuckle merchants and your bankers too
Must get up and learn those rules
Weather man and the crazy chief
One says sun and one says sleet
A.M., the F.M. the P.M. too
Churnin’ out that boogaloo
Gets you up and it gets you out
But how long can you keep it up?
Gimme Honda, gimme Sony
So cheap and real phony
Hong Kong dollar, Indian cents
English pounds and Eskimo pence
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
Working for a rise, better my station
Take my baby to sophistication
Seen the ads, she thinks it’s nice
Better work…

 

I feel the earth move

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I feel the earth move Under my feet I feel my heart start to tremblin' Whenever you're around.
I feel the earth move
Under my feet
I feel my heart start to tremblin’
Whenever you’re around.

as my 58th birthday rounds I have noticed a distinct shift in my focus and my intention. Until recently, I have been taking direction from my muse and my instinct. I’m not sure if it’s general fatigue or perhaps a shift in direction, but I am becoming acutely aware of a change ahead.

the last two years I have worked as a substance use counselor while I have advocated for more focus on recovery in my community. I have increasingly become more conflicted as I work for organizations whose implied interest in leading clients to recovery is overshadowed by behavior management, compliance, and billing and collections. Although I have a soft spot for helping people who are enmeshed in struggle, I do understand financial realities of doing business. I simply am not convinced that recovery oriented treatment services and financial stability are not mutually exclusive. I certainly hope I can experience that theory before I retire.

this tremor beneath my feet which is making itself known is connected to a deeper allegiance to merging the ideas of recovery oriented services being both fiscally and morally prioritized. The karmic aspects of accepting less than those ideals is beckoning me to reflect here.

the interesting caveat here is a newly detected laissez-faire with regard to fitting a square peg in a round hole here.

although I covet a shift in the focus of treatment to actually focus on the client, the older I become the more satisfied I can be cooking great food, growing and pruning, telling stories and teaching. The latter have much less heartache.

 

Varsity

 

“Generation Found” showing in Denver

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Beyond Betty
Beyond Betty

Recovery Film Buffs-

We are going to show the next recovery film by Greg Williams (who filmed Anonymous People) titled Generation Found in Denver. We pre-sell just 60 film tickets ($11.50 each) to confirm the screening. If for some reason, we do not sell 60 tickets, then you will not be charged and the film will not be screened. Please click on the link below to reserve tickets and for more information. Please help me spread the word, so those that want to can see Generation Found on September 15, 2016 at 7:30pm at Colorado Stadium 9 (I-25 and Colorado Blvd). You can share the link below on social media sites to help spread the word too. All support is appreciated!

http://gathr.us/screening/15624

Official Trailer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iHNztoBkEv8

FYI – September is Recovery month!

almost blue

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a little bit blue

one of my family members has developed lung cancer and it is no longer treatable. it is no longer a matter of what, it is more a matter of when. how soon might even be a more accurate question.

loss of friends and families to nature continues to befuddle me. i lost my very best friend when i was 27 with quite a few following him. i lost my grandmother and grandfather shortly thereafter. all during that time i was expecting to walk the plank myself.  now i am not quite so  traumatized by the cycle of life, but i am sad.

my relative used to live in idaho springs and i would visit he and his wife with some regularity. i always cooked decadent meals for them because i liked the practice and i loved spoiling them. selfishly i liked to practice the dishes too. over the last 15 years we became quite connected. we even watched the south park movie and i lovingly have referred to him as uncle fucker ever since.

they moved away last year so he could be closer to a treatment option. i don’t know that i will see him again before he goes. somehow being aware that he knows how i feel and i know how he feels does not dilute the sadness very much.

a bonus here is finding comfort in sorrow. i mean in feeling. my life and my heart did not have room nor time to notice or experience true feelings such as this. there is definitely some grace in not running. emotional sobriey- i don’t know. but emotion ? certainly.

 

our own private idaho

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“This road never ends. It probably goes all around the world. “

My Own Private Idaho 

This is a phrase taken directly from the 1980 dance pop song, “Your Own Private Idaho” by the outrageous party band, the B-52’s.

It means “living inside an Idaho potato”, or a very small space. Metaphorically, it refers to someone who is not paying attention because he is daydreaming, or under the influence, or otherwise wrapped up within his own very narrow sphere of interest or frame of reference.

Car Driver: Damn! That guy just pulled out in front of me as if I weren’t here! We almost crashed!

Passenger: Yeah, he’s just yakking away on his cellphone, in his own private Idaho.

i came across these photos of river phoenix from one of my favorite films – “my own private idaho” from gus van sant. river was a very popular and de rigeur public figure who died from a heroin overdose  on halloween night while hanging out at johnny depp’s then  popular santa monica nightclub “viper”.

this event played out on that night in 1993 as has become more normal than anomaly. according the cdc -at least 78 americans die every day from overdoses-all opioid not all heroin. this seems an epidemic that is crippling our nations emotional structure..80 families (and more) per day are being torn apart from the inside from losses like the phoenix family faced back then.

 “More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1 And since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers andheroin) nearly quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” reposted from the cdc.

to murky up the picture even more- its not just opiate deaths that are rising, its much more . president obama just led a summit on prescription drug overdoses. time magazine’s chris wilson wrote:

It’s not just opioids and heroin. Fatal overdoses of other drugs are also steeply on the rise

President Obama addressed the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin summit in Atlanta Tuesday, calling further attention to the drug epidemic in America just two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control issued new recommendations on limited the use of narcotic painkillers. Data clearly shows that opioid and heroin addiction have become an epidemic in the past 15 years.

But prescription painkillers and heroin are not the only drugs whose use has exploded in the past 15 years. Using the same CDC database that tracks the growth in fatal opioid and heroin overdoses, TIME collected data on cocaine, benzodiazepines (sedatives like Valium and Xanax) and stimulants like crystal meth. All three categories have risen dramatically since the year 2000, as the following charts show. see charts here

as a recovery advocate- overdose deaths are a bit over my league. but as a citizen and community member, i am compelled to listed to our younger advocates like justin luke riley and greg williams- both of whom are founding members of young people in recovery and share the task of heralding the new message- that talking about recovery being a solution is not enough. we have to more aggressively address this overdose issue. our friends and neighbors are dying at impossible rates and there is not much being done.

i haven’t quite realized how i can be of service in this area, but i know that i have to do something.  i lived through the 80’s and 90’s when thousands of gay men were dying and there was nothing that we seemed to be able to do. but things changed and that situation changed. same thing- different day.

 

americans have become connoisseurs of roads we’ve been tasting all kinds of roads. just look at our society and politics. we’ve been sleepwalkers. somnambulists. we’ve had narcolepsy. it’s such a difficult problem to wrap our collective heads around, we haven’t even tried. this needs to change. today. with me.

 

 

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