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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Personal Thoughts, Stories & Reflections From People In Early Recovery: Part 5

recovery reflections
Client A

Growing up

Growing up taught
Taught me to stay quite
And apologize for
Growing up taught
Taught me hide me tears
And put others over
Growing up taught
Taught me..
Treatment showed me
Me I can express
All emotions
Treatment showed me
Me the…

Client C


Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today
This doesn’t mean all my problems will go away
If I remember this, my life will be okay
When struggling, the acceptance prayer is what I’ll say

Client H

Canyon has taught me how to love myself. I have truly redefined my definition of beauty. Being around all these strong beautiful women has impacted my life for the better. I’m learning how to see the beauty in everything no matter how small.

Client K

Yesterday was my 6 months clean and sober and I have never been more proud of myself. This is my first attempt at sobriety and the journey has been such a blessing to me. I am finally learning to love myself and am grateful to have my Higher Power carry me through it all. Life is beautiful. My past, all the struggles, and all of my experiences have lead me to this moment and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Client K

Self Love 

I love myself today
Self love is important
Without loving myself I would be in a very dark hole
I haven’t told myself I love myself since I was 12 and now I am 19
It’s a great day to be alive when I love myself
I couldn’t have done it without people loving me until I love myself

Client L

I was so scared when I came to recovery but I have met the most wonderful people here. They have made the adjustment here so much easier than it would have been. They are a family and they have let me be a part of it and that means more to me than anything.

Client M

I used to tell myself that nobody loved me, I wasn’t worthy, and that my voice didn’t matter. I lived in a world full of doubt and pain. My mind would race with thoughts of self- judgment, fear, and chaos. Today, I have been reborn. I am a new woman, full of hope, joy, and serenity. I owe all of the credit to sobriety. I look forward to the future, knowing that I am intelligent, beautiful, and that I can do anything that I set my mind to. Today, I have many friends who genuinely love me for who I am, not for what I have. It’s amazing, all of the gifts that sobriety has given me. My higher power, my friends and family, and the program keep me on the right track every single day. I have to use all of the knowledge I’ve learned in sobriety daily, to keep moving in the right direction, and to grow closer with my higher power. My heart is full of gratitude, and I am truly blessed to have the life that I do.

Client T

One of my most favorite quotes is “In the depths of winter I found an invincible summer.”

This is so true about my recovery. When I got to CCR 5 months ago I was living in pure darkness. Nothing was ok, I had no hope, no self love, no compassion for others, and I basically didn’t want to live. The recovery I have found here is second to none. none of the latter is true today. I live my life in light. I love being of service and engaging in life as much as possible. I never ever want to live the way I was in my past. CCR has shown me another way. I owe them my life!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Personal Thoughts, Stories & Reflections From People In Early Recovery: Part 4

thoughts early sobrietyClient A

Ever since I was a young girl I always looked for out-side esteem; since entering recovery I finally realized how to build true self-esteem. Out-side Esteem was one of my biggest downfalls. I never truly felt happy unless I was getting praise from others. Even at my old job I would only feel worthy because I am helping others as a cook; but I would go home and still be judgmental about my writing or project. True self-esteem means for me the ability to be curious, creative and accept everyone’s uniqueness throughout life. My quote to remember this is “remember our mind is like a garden and our thoughts and ideas are the seeds, you can either grow flowers or weeds” thinking of this quote makes me remember no garden is the same they all have their own unique qualities some have roses some have daisies, some have fountains and others do not but what we must remember is that all gardens can grow weeds (we all can have negative thoughts) but some just don’t show.

Client C


I had no hope in myself
Thought I was as good as I could get
Didn’t think twice about my health
Felt like I was caught in a net
Now I'm sober and clean
I’m able to do great things
I’m proud to show myself, to be seen
I’m growing up, spreading my wings
I can do this, I know I can
I flew through hell, and now I can land

- A recovering meth addict

Client H

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Man I hate when I have a frown.
Moments when I do, I walk around town.
I look around at the people, cars and trees,
Enjoying this new life; free.
Living new and strong,
No longer doing the same wrongs.
Thank God my life will be long.

Client J

I have been struggling this week. I feel like I have grown more distant from my higher power. Things are becoming more difficult and I am feeling more and more discouraged. I am hoping that things will turn around and that I will go back to feeling spiritually connected. This of course will require me to become more open and surrender my life to something that I hope can help me. Hopefully the upcoming weeks will be better.

Client K

I am coming to the realization that I am not only triggered by alcohol but I am absolutely terrified of it. Thinking of how my disease affected my life makes me feel absolutely miserable. Thinking of how powerless I am over alcohol makes me feel weak. I know that this realization will only make me grow stronger and make me look at my disease in ways that I have yet to discover. Recovery is tough, but hey.. So am I.

One day at a time.

Client K

I’m healing. Slowly but surely. I’ve got my sponsor and call her every day. I go to my meetings and share as much as I can. I have a home group. I do what I can to help clean up after meetings and help set up. Recovery and service work has helped me so many ways. It helps me stay sober and serine. I am happy now and have a clear head on my shoulders. I surround myself with other people in recovery. Having friends in recovery makes me not feel alone and an outsider. Normies don’t quite understand, they don’t understand that I have a different way of life. A sober way of life.

Client M

Growing Pains

The earth crumbles beneath my feet
I burn alive falling to ashes
Becoming the soil that will grow life
Then the flowers begin to rise from my pores
Searching for the sun

Client M

Run, Run, Run
Physically, emotionally and mentally
I pack a bag where ever I go
Full of hidden resentments and fear
Just in case
That one day comes
Full of fear
I’ll be prepared to disappear
But this isn’t living life at all
Always stuck to something
Not wanting to face the pain
Always ending up in the same place that I ran from
In the end, I was only running from myself
I’m stuck with me where ever I go
No matter what I do
I’m willing to be free today
I’m setting my heart on fire
I’m taking my power back
No more escaping
No more running
I’m free

Client S 

Dear God,

I worship you through being in nature. I feel connected to you when I’m in your creation. I need you to love me and be by my side so I don’t feel alone. I need help to block out the thoughts of hurting myself and for you to take them away from me. I want to be willing to believe in you an believe in your plan for me and my life. When I talk to you I want to be able to hear you answer me. I want to feel as if my needs are important enough to be asked for. I want to surrender my will to you and trust in you. And when my thoughts take over I want to pray to you to take them away. I want to be able to feel your presence every time I walk outside. My life has become a mess and I can’t get it together on my own so I ask you for help. Help me to see the bigger picture and understand the plan you have for me.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Changing Behaviors

changing behaviorsAchieving lasting and sustainable behavioral change when recovering from addiction is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of treating chemical dependency. Most individuals who are challenged to change long standing habits and choices are often resistant and terrified at the thought of change. When attempting to support an individual in initiating behavioral changes we tend to see a predictable series of stages that one moves through as part of his or her process of change. These stages are described in more detail below:

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

Individuals in this first stage may have some awareness of the negative consequences related to their addiction, however they tend to minimize or rationalize poor choices, unable to see just how detrimental these choices and behaviors have been. During this stage there is not a high level of desire to make any changes, and the individual may not be entirely conscious of the severity of his or her condition.

Stage 2: Contemplation 

As individuals move in to the second phase, the contemplation stage, they become more aware of the impact of their addictive behaviors, yet they may remain ambivalent about putting forth the effort to change. The individual may start to consider changing “someday” but are not quite ready to commit to true change.

When the individual moves toward stage three, they gradually become aware that changing their behaviors outweigh the costs of not changing. At this point, behavioral change becomes a possibility and is given serious consideration.

Stage 3: Preparation 

At this stage the individual begins to assume more responsibility for their choices, decisions, and behaviors. They may set specific intentions to change and begin to gather the necessary resources that will assist them in making important changes. Sometimes these resources take the form of therapeutic support, 12 step meetings or other sober based fellowships. At this point, with resources available, the individual feels prepared to make a commitment to change.

Stage 4: Action 

In stage four, the individual begins to take action to initiate positive psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical change by immersing themselves in their recovery process. This involves much more than abstinence from drugs and alcohol. It is an entire transformation of cognitions, behaviors, and one’s general approach to life’s challenges. During this stage, the individual continues to take action to create sustainable change in all areas of his or her life.

Stage 5: Maintenance 

Once an individual has reached the maintenance stage they have been able to sustain new and positive behavioral patterns. The individual often discovers that the more consistently they engage in new positive behaviors, the easier and more natural these behaviors become. At this point in the individual’s recovery, he or she is aware of triggers and risky situations that could lead to relapse. The core values that guide one’s recovery and relapse prevention strategies become an integrated part of the individual.

Stage 6: Termination 

At the final termination stage, the individual often presents as an entirely new person. They are able to reflect back on their past and old destructive behaviors while considering it unthinkable to return to that former lifestyle. At this stage, the individual knows that if they maintain their commitment to recovery, they can enjoy a new and fulfilling life.

It is important to note that, although these Stages of Change provide a linear and orderly way in which to view the process of recovery, it is not a simple and straightforward path. Many individuals can move back and forth through the stages, become stuck, or even relapse. When this occurs, it can an opportunity to re-set and reinforce one’s sense of determination to change.

While it is important to understand patterns of behavior and the process by which one can make sustainable behavioral changes, it is equally as important to understand the practical application of this theoretical approach to change. How does one actually change patterns of behavior that have persisted for the majority of one’s lifetime? What happens when relapse occurs? How do I maintain positive behavioral change?

Any individual considering significant behavioral changes, might start by making a list of behaviors that may constitute a pattern. It is important to begin by raising awareness and taking an honest look at the behaviors one has engaged in most of his or her life. While a necessary step, taking such an inventory can be uncomfortable and challenging, often requiring the support of others who have already been through the process.

Behavioral modification approaches help to engage individuals in substance use treatment by providing incentives for progress and ongoing abstinence, modifying unhealthy beliefs and behaviors related to drug and/or alcohol use, and increasing the individual’s coping skills to manage stressful circumstances and environmental risks that may trigger intense cravings. Intensive cognitive and behavioral modification therapies go hand in hand. One of the most common and effective interventions in treating substance use disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The cognitive aspect of this modality addresses maladaptive thoughts and core beliefs, the behavioral aspect focuses on unhealthy habits and actions. CBT helps individuals work through the thoughts, behaviors, and risky situations that contribute to their addiction and relapse risk potential.

Behavioral modification can also help people deal with negative peer influence and interpersonal conflict--two challenges that can make it extremely hard for individuals to refrain from drug and/or alcohol use. Behavioral therapy can help people practice the coping and conflict resolution skills necessary to deal with situations that could place their sobriety and/or mental health at risk.

Relapse prevention education and planning is another important part of behavioral modification therapy and behavioral change in substance use treatment. Individuals are taught to consider all types of situations that could provoke a relapse, and then the individual can practice in a therapeutic setting managing those situations. The individual is also assisted in the development and implementation of a comprehensive relapse prevention plan for when they are faced with overwhelming cravings to use, risky situations and/or people, difficult emotions, and/or any environmental cues that may heighten one’s potential for relapse.

Behavior therapy and behavioral change as viewed through the stages of change can be very effective for modifying and changing unhealthy addictive behaviors and helping suffering individuals to generally improve their lives. If you or a loved one are interested in behavior modification therapy and lasting behavioral change, seek help and support through an initial consultation with a qualified professional, therapy, and support groups. These are powerful ways in which one can begin to make important and lasting changes, ultimately allowing for the achievement of desired goals and dreams.

Marie Tueller, MEd, LPC

Monday, May 28, 2018

Personal Thoughts, Stories & Reflections From People In Early Recovery: Part 3

stories early recoveryClient A 

Growing up with Disney and Grims brothers has taught me so many lessons. Mulan taught me respect and honor. Snow white showed how being friendly and kind can change those on others. Little red with that big wolf teaches us no matter the size of the person it doesn’t define the amount of bravery inside them. A beautiful tribal princess taught us we can respect the old yet embrace the new. So many lessons but my two favorite lessons were taught two rebellious princesses one who dreamed to escape the sea and the other dreamed of seeing the world. First a curious redhead who teach us curiosity is the key to understanding something new and lastly a princess shows us love has no social class… even a princess can love a street rat.

Client J 

This week I am struggling with living in God’s will. I recently have been starting to question my God and have been less spiritually connected. I originally thought I was a Christian. I was raised in a Christian home by my mother. My sister is a devout Christian. I have been thinking that maybe Jesus is just a man who did great things. I have been thinking that maybe I believe in Judaism rather than Christianity. My sponsor has been very supportive and encouraging me to search for a religion that fits me. I am very grateful to have her and Canyon Crossing in my life.

Client K 

I have never been a very open person and have always internalized my struggles. This has caused me much pain and suffering in my addiction and has continued to cause me pain and suffering in my sobriety. I have a deeply rooted core belief that my feelings don’t matter and shy away from being open about what I’m going through and how I am feeling. I realize how dangerous this is to my recovery and how important it is that I begin opening up more. Keeping all my struggles and emotions to myself is so unhealthy and holding all of that in leads me to the bottle every single time. I am terrified of relapsing and am willing to go to any lengths to stay sober. It’s time to be vulnerable and to connect on a deeper level with the people I love by opening up to them more and showing more of myself, the good and the sad!

Client K 

I Have to Tell You 

6 minutes. That’s all the time I have. I have to tell you… 
That you are beautiful. 
That you are strong. 
That you are worth it. 
That you can do this. 
That you can beat this disease. 
That your feelings matter. 
That you have a voice. 
That you are not your past. 
That people love and care about you. 
That you don’t have to give up. 

Client M 

My skin always felt foreign to me, like I was wearing clothes that were not mine. It did not feel like the home it was supposed to. It was a haunted house I had been locked in away in for years. I was empty and scared of who I was and what I was capable of being. It wasn’t until eighteen years later when I started to see light coming through the windows and flowers started to bloom inside of me. I am alive again.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Personal Thoughts, Stories & Reflections From People In Early Recovery: Part 2

stories early recoveryClient AJ 

When I came to Canyon Crossing I was angrier than I think than I have ever been. I was mad that I was in treatment and I was an alcoholic and drug addict. I was more scared than angry, that was the underlying emotion. I had many traumas which I had justified my use. I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship and was in the delusion that he was the love of my life. I was perfectly okay with going back to my abuser. After going to EMDR therapy and finally believing that I was worth more than I had received, I became a powerhouse in my own recovery and have fought for my life here. I have been here a while, however I am willing to go to any length to say sober. I thank everyday that I came to Canyon Crossing and I thank my higher power that the staff here has given me that love. Now believe that I am loved and that I am worth it.

Client A

I am scared because of the feeling of you. I associate everything negative in my life as you being the root cause and I run from you. Feeling emotional pain hurts to the very core of my soul and feels like I will not be able to escape you.

I try to treat you as if you don’t exist and will not get to me by building up barriers in my relationships. When you are able to seep thru a crack in that wall I have tried to numb you out with food, alcohol, drugs, work (business) or relationships. In the end you are still there.

Therefore, I would like to be able to identify and express the emotions that eventually lead up to pain in a positive way. Because of you, I have been able to make positive changes in myself. I would like to know you in not such a destructive way, but instead, as an opportunity for growth. Walking thru pain is ultimately how I find true joy!

Client B 

I found a short poem a few weeks ago, and as a worrier and someone who lives in shame about my past, it really hit home. When that feeling gets severe, I’ve been turning to it…


There are two days in every week about which we should not worry; two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is YESTERDAY with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed, we cannot erase a single word said—YESTERDAY IS GONE!

The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW with its possible burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond out immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds—but it will rise. Until it does we have no stake in tomorrow for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day—TODAY! Any man can fight the battle of just one day. It is only when you and I carry the burdens of those two awful eternities—YESTERDAY and TOMORROW—that we break down.

Client J

Just before Canyon Crossing Recovery I had settled into a life handicapped by a controlled substance that had taken away the things that meant most to me. My parents and family have always been my life and I had allowed myself to accept a new life without them. I always dreamed of having two or three kids close in age. After having my son, Subutex took that dream away from me and I had lied to myself believing I was fine in a life with only one child. The lies Subutex had me telling myself had me really thinking they were my own thoughts. I was content with a life that I would of said was a miserable life prior to this controlling substance. In recovery I was finally told something I truly wanted to know as true, that there is a happy healthy life without Subutex. There are no more lies. No more false contention. Only truth that I can have the life I’ve always wanted and the dreams I had can come back and be a reality.

Client K
My New Life 

I came to Prescott in February & started yet another treatment center at Viewpoint but due to changes, I came to Canyon Crossing. When I first heard the news that I was switching treatment centers, I was shocked & kind of scared but now that I am here at Canyon, I absolutely love it. I am so happy to be here surrounded by other girls that I feel truly care about me & my well being. I feel this helps me to have more motivation to move forward in my recovery & maintain my sobriety with support around me. My goal is to complete the program here at CCR & make myself & my parents proud. My parents have been surprisingly so supportive & caring throughout all this & I am beyond grateful for their support after all we have been through together.

Client R 
I Come From… 

I Come From Shakopee, Minnesota 
I Come From Peanut Butter Waffles 
I Come From You Are Pretty 
I Come From You Are Stupid 
I Come From Anything Pink With Ruffles 
I Come From In The Ocean 
I Come From The Dark Alone 
I Come From Staying Sober 
I Come From Pushing My Family Away 
I Come From 93 Days Clean 
I Come From Falling In Love 
I Come From My Grandfathers Dock In The Keys 
I Come From Just For Today 
I Come From My Scars 
I Come From My Tattoos 
I Come From In The Forest 
I Come From Promising Myself To Keep Working On Trusting 

Client T 


Friday, May 11, 2018

Personal Thoughts, Stories & Reflections From People In Early Recovery

reflections early recovery
Client C


Walking down the street
Minding my own business
Me and some white substance meet
It took me back to my past, the mess
My heart drops
I want to look back
Ignore the urge, just stop
I don’t want that sack
I’m 5 months clean
Don’t throw your life away
Time to adult not act like a teen
One step at a time all through the day.

- A recovering meth addict

Client H

I can only go up from here
Never looking back
I have learned how to hack
Life and all my fears.
I love myself
More than EVER
I can now face all of life’s endeavors.

Client J

Today I feel very emotional. I miss my old life. I have been thinking about my ex-husband and my family. I spoke to a fellow client about the way I was feeling and I feel so much better. Now the feeling of sadness has gone away. Relying on your friends and speaking about your problems releases your fears and worries. If I had not had this support I would have carried around the sadness for hours, beating myself up and worrying about my past. I am thankful for the clients at Canyon Crossing and the help they have given me.

Client K

I am currently working on my 4th Step and it is really opening my eyes to how miserable I made myself. I was so comfortable in my misery and thrived on the fact that I would never be better. Having that mindset gave me the excuse to drink the way that I did for so long. Being better meant me having to make a change, and change scared the hell out of me. Looking back on it, I think I was more terrified of change and of seeking help than I was of dying. Now that I am on the other side of it, my miserable nature is no longer beneficial to me. I found myself trying to sink back into misery and internally numbing myself last week and quickly snapped out of it. Nothing about living like that makes me feel good and I am so happy that I now have the awareness and the tools to get myself back on track.

Client K

Why? You put me down a path I thought I would never take A path I tried to steer away from You took my father there You took my grandmother there You took my cousin there Why? Why did you do this? Did you think it would make us stronger? Or did you think it would kill us? Why? What were you thinking? You stole my father You killed my grandmother You are making my cousin suffer You are worrying my mother and aunt Why? Why did you do this? Well guess what… It’s time Time for me to fight you Time for me to show you whose boss Surprised? Why? Did you think you could take me? You thought wrong I’m not falling into your trap Not today buddy So let me ask you Why did you think you could win?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Addict's Brain

addict's brainAddiction involves intense craving, complete loss of control over the use of substances, and continued use despite adverse consequences. Decades of research has confirmed that addiction does in fact change the circuitry of the brain, first by subverting the way it registers pleasure and then by disrupting other normal drives such as learning, memory, and motivation. Although breaking the cycle of addiction is difficult, it can and is possible. With help, it is possible for the addicted brain to heal and reestablish equilibrium.

The way human beings learn to survive is based on a complex reward system that exists in the neurocircuitry of the brain. When we engage in some activity that helps our survival, like eating, having sex, exercising, etc., the brain’s limbic system alerts the brain by rewarding us for this behavior through the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurochemical that produces a sense of pleasure and reward. Since this reward feels good, we quickly learn to repeat the rewarded behavior so that we can continue to experience the sense of pleasure that it yields.

Various chemical substances (i.e. drugs and alcohol) can enter the limbic system (aka the reward center in our brains) in a variety of ways, but it is important to note that all abuseable substances cause the brain to release extremely high levels of dopamine. This release of dopamine can range anywhere from 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine the brain is typically accustomed to processing, thus resulting in the intense "rush" or "high" often experienced by users.

Because of this powerful release of dopamine and its subsequent impact on the brain's reward system, substance users’ brains learn very quickly to repeat the behavior (substance use) as it has activated the pleasure, learning, and memory centers of the brain. Substance users learn to continue and increase their use of the substance over time in the same way one learns to eat, reproduce, breath, or exercise, but even quicker and with much more intensity, since the release of dopamine is so much larger. Because the amount of dopamine released after using certain substances is so significant, the brain begins to have difficulty reestablishing a normal chemical balance after the effects of the substance wear off. This produces what we typically think of as a hangover, or in other cases withdrawal symptoms from a substance. These withdrawal symptoms can range anywhere from physical pain, depression, anxiety, confusion, convulsions, and even dangerous behavior. These symptoms can vary based on the substance, type and length of use, and quantity of use over time.

Prolonged use of a substance can actually change the physical make-up of the brain and cause the brain to stop producing as much dopamine as it normally does without the substance. This creates further withdrawal, leading to physical dependency. In other words, the addicted individual ultimately needs to use more of the substance simply to feel “normal”, thus creating a vicious cycle of addiction that can be difficult to break.

Because of this neurological learning process and growing physical dependence on a substance, the substance user becomes dependent on the drug, feeling as though he or she needs it in order to survive. As a result, the abuser loses total control over his or her use of the substance. Use of the substance becomes even more important than our most basic survival functions like eating, sleeping, breathing, and reproducing. Substance use IS survival for the addicted person due to the drastic neurological changes that have taken place in the reward, learning, and memory centers of the brain.

According to the disease model of addiction now endorsed by the American Medical Association and all other major medical and psychiatric organizations, the brain's learning and reward motivational centers become altered and reorganized. The priorities of the addicted individual become rearranged so that finding and using the substance becomes the brain’s top priority. In other words, the substance has high jacked the brain, and the addicted person is no longer in control of his or her behavior in many ways. The urge to continue using despite horrific consequences is quite literally irresistible.

The good news is that the human brain has a remarkable capacity to heal, rewire, and reestablish balance with training, support, and through learning new behaviors. With the help of treatment, therapy, support groups, in some cases psychotropic medications, while taking a holistic approach when addressing the disease of addiction, addicted individuals can and do recover. Approaches like CBT, behavioral modification, and skills training are particularly effective when helping the addict to recover while rewiring the brain to once again find balance.

Marie Tueller, MED, LPC