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happiness is possible.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Recovering and Working in the Addiction Field

recovering working addiction field
When I was in early recovery at 22 years of age I didn’t have a purpose in life. Alcoholism had robbed me of completing college and created a very deep sense of purposelessness in my life. At this time in 1983 the old-timers of Alcoholics Anonymous would say things like, “Don’t become a counselor because you will drink!” and “You can’t work a 12-step and get paid, it’s against the traditions!” I was 23 years old, sober, and looking for a way to make a living and create purpose in my life. My options seemed limited and my interests were narrow. I wanted to help alcoholics stay sober and I wanted to get paid for it, so I went to school to become a Certified Addictions Counselor (CAC) on Long Island, NY. At this time this credential was fairly new and the state of New York had begun requiring training and certification. Prior to this you could work in a treatment center as a recovering alcoholic without any other training than being sober and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Against a lot of advice I attended two years of training, interned at a local treatment center, and took a grueling two day test. I received my credential and got a job in a hospital working with eating disorder clients in an inpatient setting. Throughout my training I attended AA and worked with a sponsor. I remained sober and took great pleasure in remaining so and telling those same old-timers that I was working in the field and staying sober. They would just laugh and say, “Keep coming back!”

After several years of working in the field I started to slack off on my meetings and I didn’t sponsor anyone because I was, “just too busy!” I also succumbed to the misunderstanding that since I was working with addicts all day I didn’t need to, “freely give what I had freely gotten.” This thinking lead to a selfishness, which is every alcoholic’s down fall. It negatively affected my program and kept me isolated from my fellow alcoholics and made me feel like I was different than my peers.

When I got burned out working with addicts and felt as if I couldn’t help another person I took a long break from working in the field. I re-committed myself to AA and working with newcomers because my early sponsors had drilled this concept into me, “you cannot keep that which you don’t give away.” I had become too selfish to give of myself freely, which affected the quality of my sobriety. I was sober but I was isolated. I was sober but I was too professional to work with another alcoholic for free. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly states that in order for me to stay sober I need to work with another alcoholic. I don’t work with another alcoholic for pay, prestige, or purpose. I have to work with another alcoholic to stay sober. I am a better person when I’m sponsoring or being helpful because it’s what I’m supposed to do, not because it’s my job.

I enjoy working in the field because I truly love people and love helping addicts find a new way to live. I also attend meetings and work with fellow alcoholics because I want to keep my sobriety and increase the quality of my sobriety. I will never make the mistake of keeping my sobriety to myself because I suffered from a lack of spirituality when I was acting from my own alcoholism instead of my sobriety. My early sponsor was right, the old-timers were half right, and I’m very grateful that I didn’t have to drink to find out I still need to work the 12th step as it is written and follow the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Janet E. Bontrager BA 
Primary Therapist

Friday, October 12, 2018

Healthy Ways to Prevent Relapse in Recovery

When you live with addiction, one of the first things to understand is that you have a lifelong illness. And, just like with other chronic diseases, you’ll need to learn long-term strategies to manage it – including finding healthy ways to prevent relapse.

Entering a qualified drug detox program is a positive first step to getting your addiction under control. However, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes, going through rehab isn’t a “cure.” They report that, for as many as 40 to 60 percent of people, relapse is part of the cycle of recovery.

What Is Relapse?

Though many recovering addicts view relapse as a single event, it’s closer to the truth to describe relapse as a multi-stage process:
  • Relapse through thoughts – “I have been sober for long enough to be cured of my addiction. I deserve just one drink to help me unwind.”
  • Relapse through behavior – “My preoccupation with using again is affecting my feelings and how I treat others.”
  • Relapse through controlled use – “Using a substance in a controlled way will help me handle everyday problems more easily.”
People in the third stage of relapse may begin using small quantities of drugs or alcohol, believing they can manage their substance use on their own. However, the compulsive nature of addiction can bring them all the way back to where they were before they sought treatment.

Understanding Relapse Triggers

To be successful in recovery, it is essential to recognize the triggers that can lead to a relapse, and what coping strategies are available to help prevent relapse and keep you sober. Your unique triggers may include stress, anxiety or depression. Or, perhaps you find yourself in situations that remind you of the days when you were using your drug of choice, awakening cravings to use again.

Five Ways to Prevent Relapse

  1. Have a support network of family and friends who will encourage you to stay sober.
  2. Attend 12-step meetings where you can talk with people who have worked through similar challenges.
  3. Start a physical fitness regimen to improve your physical and emotional well-being.
  4. Write down a list of the negative consequences of using again.
  5. Remind yourself you’re not alone in your challenges.

Get Drug Rehab in Prescott, AZ

Understanding how to prevent the relapse process can help you avoid returning to addiction. If you are on the verge of or in the middle of a relapse, reach out to our helpful team to learn more about how our treatment plans can help you get back on the road to sobriety – and equip you with the necessary tools to stay there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Personal Thoughts, Stories & Reflections From People In Early Recovery: Part 11

I am almost 20 weeks in at Canyon and time has flown by. I can still remember the day I came in, not in the best condition mentally or physically. I do not feel like the same girl who was broken on the inside anymore. I am having an interesting week at Canyon right now, it’s pretty tough but I know it’s for the best. I am truly grateful for this program and what it has done for me in just a short amount of time.

Client C

I’m feeling really grateful
for having been born into the family
that I did
with the parents,
that I have.
I’ve been working the steps and I feel so blessed
to have been brought up
knowing that my Higher Power exists
that He is in control of it all
that I can always turn to Him,
and He will always listen
that I can trust Him with anything and everything
that I am never alone
that He is always there for me
and here with me,
that He always will be,
and that He loves me.
Thank you Ma & Pa- for opening my eyes to these truths,
for having done so since the moment my eyes first opened.

Client R

A few days ago I got a job and I just love it. I am a grooming assistant. It has taught me so much in the few days I have been there. It has taught me to be on time. It has taught me patience for others and for animals. How has it helped me with daily life? It has brought calmness to my life. It has also brought light and comfort. I am truly happy today and that is to the help here and for this job. I am so blessed life has never been better

Client R

“Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.” –Virgil Thomson

This quote is a huge part of my life I like to think of it in my recovery as my first sobriety attempt in 2015 and my second was for a quick week in early 2018 now this third attempt I have stuck with the curiosity of the sober life for six months. I first tried to and not found out it would hurt me so a few years later I retried to learn how to be sober and now I am in my third try seeing how I like it.

Client A

I recently read that “the brightest light comes out of the greatest darkness.” I can honestly say that nothing has ever been truer for me. When I arrived at here I was broken; I was defeated, hopeless, and lost. After only a few months I am beginning to find myself again. Every day is a new adventure where I get to discover a new passion, interest, or strength. A month ago I lost someone to the disease of addiction and I fell under a cloud of darkness. Being here during this time of grief has saved my life. In this time of darkness, my community of sisters helped support me and lift me up. It is because of them that I have found my way through and am able to let the light shine through again.

Client J

Fear is voluntarily threatening our own lives and blaming something else. My fear gets in the way of my life and especially my sobriety. It leads me down a path of self destruction because I put on this fa├žade that I’m fearless and because of that I take risks that put my life in danger. Because of fear of how my life will be sober I take actions to destroy my progress and blame it on the stress that others are putting on me. Fear holds me back from making progress in my recovery.

Client S

Monday, October 8, 2018

How Spirituality Plays a Role in Your Recovery

Spirituality is valuable for people in recovery, who can rely on the strong foundation and sense of purpose it provides. However, discovering – or rediscovering – spirituality in recovery can be a challenge, especially for non-religious people.

Spirituality goes beyond ideology or religious beliefs. For those in recovery, spirituality is a component of the 12-step program, and represents embracing a connection to something that is larger than yourself. Regardless of whether you consider yourself to be a religious person, spirituality can play a significant role in your recovery process.

Are Spirituality And Religion the Same? 

While spirituality can be closely intertwined with religion for many people, they are not one and the same. If you aren’t a devout person, you can view spirituality as a personal quest to find meaning in life and your role within the world.

Although some people express their spirituality through religious observance, others practice it through meditation, yoga, journaling, spending time in nature or any number of secular methods. Anything that helps you focus and be more present in the moment can help you become more mindful, gain clarity and give you a more positive outlook on the challenges of life. There’s no wrong answer, as long as your journey remains grounded in love and compassion as you strive to establish your connection to the universe.

The Importance of Spirituality In Recovery 

Addiction robs you of everything, including your spirituality. The good news is that rediscovering your spirituality can be the spark that helps you find your path back from your illness and give you a renewed sense of purpose. Reconnecting with yourself on a spiritual level can also provide the mental and emotional support that’s so essential to a successful journey of recovery.

Although spirituality may be a key element of recovery, it doesn’t come inherently to everyone – and that’s OK. If you’re struggling to find your spirituality, be open to new and different ways of connecting to your inner self. What may have worked for you before you became addicted may not be the right answer in recovery, so don’t be afraid to explore other methods.

Connect With Canyon Crossing 

If you’re ready to learn more about addiction recovery for yourself or a loved one, contact Canyon Crossing today. We are a unique women’s-only treatment center in Prescott, AZ, offering tools and education to help our clients discover a healthy and sober way of life. Spiritual retreats are one of our many program offerings that help women live a meaningful life without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Boundaries: An Imperative Aspect of Healthy Relationships

What are boundaries? A simple way to describe the concept of boundaries in relationships is where I end, and you begin. They ensure each person in the relationship maintains a sense of self. When a person’s boundaries are weak or nonexistent, they are likely to compromise their sense of self, which can lead to feelings of anger or resentment towards self or others. Boundaries can be physical, symbolic, or even both, and serve as guidelines for behaviors and actions in relationships.

Boundaries are important in all relationships but essential in relationships with those who experience addiction. When a loved one is in their addiction, they are likely to push against your boundaries. Maybe they continue to ask for money when you’ve said no multiple times, extend their stay in your home past agreed timelines, disrespect your space, violate your trust, or even cross physical boundaries. When you hold firm in your boundaries, it forces that loved one to take responsibility for their actions and hopefully, seek help to change their behaviors.

Addiction can turn family members into enablers, caretakers, scapegoats, and doormats. By setting the boundaries necessary to focus on your own well-being, you are taking steps to free yourself from the chaos that can come with addiction, and giving your loved one the nudge necessary to take care of themselves and their own recovery.

When the sole intent is to help the loved one, it’s easy to forget that the word “No,” in and of itself is not only a complete sentence, but a boundary all unto itself. No, I will not give you any more money- for gas, rent, or food. No, you cannot come and live with us. No, we are not bailing you out this time. 

Boundaries need to be communicated to be effective. They cannot simply be assumed, or the loved one is left guessing at what is acceptable in the relationship and what is not. To set the boundary, tell your loved one how their behavior impacts you: “When you say/do this (specific behavior), I feel this way (emotions). If you continue to do/say (specific behavior), I will (take an action) to take care of myself.

Boundaries must be followed through with to be effective. When you set a boundary with someone and then don’t follow through with that boundary, future boundaries will likely not be taken seriously.

When initiating the process of setting boundaries, it is common to be perceived as the ‘bad guy.’ Feelings of guilt can be a withdrawal symptom of the tendency to put others’ needs ahead of your own. You may feel selfish in setting boundaries but try to remember that setting a boundary is self-care, not selfish.

Get support. There are plenty of resources available to those who struggle with codependent relationships. The following are a few that may help to get you started:

1) Alanon
2) Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PALS)
3) The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie 
4) Codependent No More by Melody Beattie 
5) Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes From, How It Sabotages Our Lives by Pia Mellody 

Remember, you are not alone. The disease of addiction has now reached epidemic levels. Chances are, you have friends, relatives, coworkers, or peers who are in the same boat. Talk, share ideas, support each other, get help. Chances are, this may be one of the most challenging experiences you deal with. You don’t have to do this by yourself. 

Heather Smyly, BS 
Director of Operation and Family Communications 

References Mellody, P. (2003, 1st Edition 1989). Facing codependence: What it is, where it comes from, how it sabotages our lives. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Understanding the Unique Needs of Women in Addiction Recovery

Though men are more likely than women to misuse both illegal and prescription drugs, both sexes are equally susceptible to developing a substance use disorder. However, the prevalence of mental health issues such as anxiety and eating disorders is higher in women than in men, which may predispose females to fall into the trap of addiction.

Women may also be more vulnerable to both craving and relapse, which are key phases of the addiction cycle. Women in recovery often have very different treatment needs, and addressing those needs is essential for them to successfully achieve freedom from substance misuse.

Barriers to Women’s Addiction Treatment

Unfortunately, even when women cannot overcome addiction on their own, they are less likely to seek professional help than men. There are many underlying factors influencing this trend, including economic barriers, a more significant social stigma surrounding entering treatment, greater household responsibilities and a history of trauma. In addition, many women who have co-occurring disorders such as depression may seek therapy solely for their mental health, without addressing their underlying substance use disorders.

At Canyon Crossing, our program helps women overcome many of these common obstacles to treatment. We offer both long-term and outpatient treatment options, featuring therapies that center specifically on women’s health and emotional needs.

Benefits of Women’s-Only Therapy

Our comprehensive Arizona drug rehab program is designed to address the gender-specific issues of women, including co-occurring disorders, trauma, relationship issues and relapse prevention. We encourage our all-female clients to pursue total mind-body wellness through integrated treatment options such as experiential therapy, adventure therapy, educational workshops, spiritual retreats and eye movement therapy for trauma.

We help our clients achieve lifelong recovery by allowing them to reconnect with their true selves, getting to the heart of the emotional and mental issues that trigger their substance misuse. Through our women’s-only program, clients can focus on getting past the unique array of challenges that led to their addiction, and emerging as healthier and more well-rounded individuals.

Holistic Healing at Canyon Crossing

At our Prescott, AZ treatment facility, we have crafted every facet of our programming using evidence-based practices and the utmost consideration for the unique needs of women. In our nurturing environment, female clients learn practical life skills alongside addiction treatment and therapy. Our structured transitional living program helps support clients in long-term sobriety. To learn more, reach out to us anytime.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Personal Thoughts, Stories & Reflections From People In Early Recovery: Part 10

recovery reflections
Being in recovery has been really good this time around. I’ve finally found the desire to stay sober & I can honestly say I’ve been really happy for a pretty consecutive amount of time now. I’m starting to see the promises really come true. I’m also moving today & I’m pretty excited about it. It’ll be my first time moving since I’ve been here & I think it will be a nice change.

Client K

He is a son
He was a husband
He is a father
He is talented
He is artistic
He is loving and caring
He has brown hair and blue eyes
He made me giggle and fell like a little princess
He is a drug addict
He is nowhere to be found but confirmed alive
He is my dad and I miss him very much

Client K

“Fear is a signal to become courageous and take action, anything else is giving up on ourselves”

I believe in walking into the things that terrify us the most. My whole life I’ve stood on the sidelines of my own life and stayed on the bench, afraid of the unknown. And every day since I got sober, I’ve taken another step into my fears. I get a little freedom and serenity with each step. My higher power pushes me to follow my heart and hear my 2nd voice. To trust my instincts. To have faith in my abilities. For too long I’ve not taken action and I’ve continuously given up on myself. But I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to fight for my life. One of my favorite quotes goes something like “all you need is 15 seconds of insane courage.” I have faith in my higher power as I finally walk into my fear and take action.

Client M

I’ve just gotten here
a bit ago
and I’ve come to realize
I am not here
to “do my time”
I am here
to save my life.
However long it takes,
(and recovery road is forevers long),
I will march forward
I will show up for life,
for others,
for myself.
Because I am worth it.
Because I deserve this.

-Worth the Work
Client R

I put my cold hands over my heart to feel again. The question of life or death at my fingertips. The chill sinks into my veins and ices over my heart. It spreads through out my body as tears begin to pour. I close my eyes and the water rushes down my face. I dream of a familiar place. With a white sink and gold faucet. And that cold tile floor with drops of red. I quickly down a bottle of Tito’s Vodka then glare at myself and the illusion I’ve become. Then suddenly everything goes black. I awake, my head throbbing, my face and hands wet and sticky. I begin to stand and then crumble back down to the floor. I attempt to push my chest up when blood starts to drip from my head. I reach my hand towards the pain and feel around until I find a deep gash on my forehead. I slowly stand, my weak knees shaking beneath me. Again I see the illusion but this time it’s shattered.

Client S