Author: Justin Mckibben
Being the month of THANKSgiving, not to mention the month of Veterans Day to show appreciation for the armed forces, it should come as no surprise that November is recognized by many as National Gratitude Month.
But we know that true gratitude is more than saying “thank you” for what others may do or the things we are fortunate enough to have. Gratitude gives us the ability to look past the negative parts of our situation, our lives or the world we live in and focus on appreciating all the good that we do have. Practicing daily gratitude allows us to create a more profound understanding and connection with ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. Gratitude creates compassion and empathy; it helps us to be more involved and more self-aware.
But this writer believes that true gratitude takes action. So this month, in observance of National Gratitude Month, I encourage people to take action to share that gratitude with others.
The Practice of Being Grateful
Back in 2015, November was officially proclaimed National Gratitude Month throughout the US and Canada by National Day Calendar. The initial announcement for the observance comes from Stacey Grewal, an author, spiritual mentor and coach who advocated for the proclamation. Grewal stated,
“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,”
Grewal herself has been proclaimed a “gratitude guru” who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals.
10 years ago in 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude and found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Practicing gratitude also impacts the overall experience of happiness. All this is typically not a momentary improvement. Many of these benefits turn out to be long-lasting.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
- Greater optimism and happiness
- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crisis
- Increased self-esteem
- Amplified energy levels
- Strengthened heart
- Improved immune system
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved emotional and academic intelligence
- Extended aptitude for forgiveness
- Decreased stress, anxiety, depression
- Reduced headaches
- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
- Heightened sense of spirituality
There are even a number of events and activities to get involved with this month, including the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge where one can sign up for a daily email that suggests opportunities to practice gratitude in new and interesting ways.
But you don’t have to commit to any event or challenge to help promote gratitude.
Giving with Gratitude
Looking at the definition of gratitude on the all-knowing Google, we find it as:
“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Right there we see the inclusion of the concept that gratitude means to at least be willing to take some kind of action, i.e. showing appreciation and returning the kindness.
The way I express my understanding of gratitude is like this:
- If I am grateful for my job, I show up and work hard
- If I am grateful for my home, I respect it and honor it, along with anyone who may live there
- Being grateful for those who have helped me, I help whoever I can when I can
My expression of gratitude means making every attempt possible to ensure I do not take the gifts I have for granted. We should not neglect the things or the people we have in our lives as if we know they will always be there. When we become complacent, our gratitude might slip away.
Recovery from addiction gives us so much more to do with that gratitude.
Grateful for Recovery
In recovery from drugs or alcohol, it can be especially important for many of us to stay grateful. In the recovery community, we hear people all the time talking about how grateful they are to be alive, or how grateful they are to have another chance at life or a fellowship of support in recovery. All of this is so important, but again it takes action.
If we are grateful for the opportunity to get better, we should not squander it with defiance and neglect.
If we are grateful to be alive, we should focus on living better lives and doing something meaning with our lives; even if to you that simply means being a better parent/spouse/child/sibling in your family.
Being grateful reminds us of the kindness of others and the strength that they gave us to get ourselves out of addiction. So we should live by example and help those who still need help, recovering or not. With all the benefits of gratitude we’ve mentioned, it only makes sense that someone in recovery from addiction would want to take advantage of National Gratitude Month as an excuse to exercise that part of themselves. Treating others as if you are already grateful for the opportunity is training for the mind, body, and spirit. For those working to overcome addiction, gratitude can be a
Share the Love for National Gratitude Month
If you want to get involved, it is pretty easy. Just be grateful every chance you get.
In the world, as it is right now we could use more love and gratitude. With so much going on in such divisive times, like the opioid crisis and overdose outbreak tearing apart so many lives, we should take every chance to bring our communities together.
Or if you want to help share the love and raise awareness, share this article with your friends and use #NationalGratitudeMonth on social media posts.
Have an amazing November! Remember to be grateful and to show that appreciation and kindness with action and goodwill toward others!
It’s been said that healing can come from the places you least expect it. Make sure to appreciate the opportunity. For those who are looking for something to be grateful for, it starts with the fact you are still here. If you are suffering or lost, maybe its time for a new foundation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
When we talk about national addiction recovery, what we mean is acknowledging how we as a country and a culture are recovering in our communities. How are we supporting those in addiction treatment? What services are we making available? How is our economy recovering? What are we doing to prevent the spread of addiction?
So if we are taking away resources that not only treat those already struggling, but also prevent more people from suffering, how do we expect to ever escape the devastation caused by the opioid epidemic and rise of overdose deaths?
One of the most divisive issues facing America today is access to healthcare and the extent to which health coverage should or should not be provided. The debate has gone on for a long time, and in the shuffle of each proposal, it seems mental health and addiction services are constantly threatened. Recently there have been more attacks on addiction treatment access. So how is the possibility of more decreases in health coverage going to hurt national addiction recovery?
The Parity Protections
Once upon a time in 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) created guidelines that required health insurers to treat mental health and addiction coverage exactly the same as they would with medical and surgical care options. So this means that prior to the MHPAEA those who were lucky enough to have health insurance still could not be guaranteed to receive equitable benefits for mental health or substance abuse care.
These protections were even further expanded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and legislation put forth by Congress in 2016 with the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes tougher enforcement of parity requirements.
Since the Trump administration stepped in adamantly proclaiming the goal or repealing and replacing the ACA there has been a lot of concern about whether or not any new proposals will decrease health coverage for mental health and addiction services. Many addiction and mental health advocates worry that parity protections and enforcement will also lose their power.
As of yet, politicians are still hoping for a compromise that will keep the protections and resources for treating addiction and mental health intact.
BCBS Cuts Mental Health Coverage
One instance of concerning changes in policy has come out of Minnesota. Just this September the largest insurance carrier in the area, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is making drastic decreases to payments to mental health providers.
We are talking about cuts in addiction and mental health coverage to the tune of that’s 33%!
This decision came after a recent survey showed that the individual therapy costs of Minnesota had exceeded the national average for the last two years. But mental health professionals immediately spoke out against this move. Protests actually took place on Thursday the 14th outside the headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Eagan, MN. Many advocates and protesters are saying these kinds of cuts will put mental health clinics out of business.
The insurance provider is now under fire as caregivers insist this change will discourage necessary, extended psychotherapy services. People in Minnesota see decisions like that of BCBS as being a violation of the protections offered by parity.
If this kind of policy shift within insurance providers becomes a trend, we could see a dramatic decrease in the people getting substance abuse and mental health treatment. These changes can hurt our national addiction recovery by slowly cutting off the people who need every chance they can get, especially during a devastating opioid epidemic.
Threats within Medicaid
Believe it or not, Medicaid is currently the single largest payer for behavioral health services in America. Threats to the Medicaid health coverage of services like this could do critical damage.
At one point the Trump administration and congressional leaders seemed partial to the idea of turning Medicaid into a block grant program. This strategy would give states a fixed amount of money to provide healthcare for low-income residents. However, policy experts say that means states would have to:
- Reduce eligibility
- Narrow the scope of benefits
- Impose cost-sharing requirements
All of which would also impact the number of people seeking substance abuse and mental health treatment.
Recently GOP representatives and the Trump administration began the work of fundamentally altering state Medicaid programs. Some of these new requirements include governors pushing for:
So again, there is the very real possibility of more hurdles being put in-between those who need help and the already limited resources available to them.
Stigma Influencing Policy
The bigger part of this issue is that these shifts are happening in a way that shows how stigma is influencing policy. We are only further hurting our national addiction recovery by letting this idea that addiction is a moral failing or class issue limit what we are willing to provide to those who need help.
The reason behavioral and mental health services are so crucial is because the cause of addiction is not just the drugs themselves. The vast majority of recovery advocates endorse the concept that addiction develops from multiple factors, such as:
- Lack of access to resources
- Poor social networks
So in fact, by limiting coverage to mental health services, the problem could be magnified.
Mental health services like behavioral therapy being lost with a decrease in coverage means that more children and young adults could go without the support systems. What this does is puts more people in the exact circumstances where we see substance abuse and addiction grow.
So in essence, not only could these constant threats to addiction and mental health coverage be taking away treatment for those already addicted, but it also takes away from prevention programs in communities that fight to keep addiction rates down.
National Addiction Recovery Effects Everyone
If we have any hope of having sustainable national addiction recovery then it is vital that our country continues to push for mental health parity in every discussion about healthcare. If we ever hope to overcome the demoralization of communities we have to fight for mental health and addiction services.
This isn’t about treating the individual’s symptoms with just medications either. Access to other crucial elements like housing, medical care, and basic preventative measures all contribute to the overall mental health of any individual.
When people have better access to the specific levels of care they need, we empower them to contribute to the better communities we need for healthy nation-wide recovery.
People struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders deserve comprehensive and compassionate treatment, and we should all fight to protect coverage that makes treatment more available. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The past week the country watched as yet another powerful natural disaster loomed overhead. Hurricane Irma had been measured as an intensely powerful Category 5 storm. By the time it reached Florida the storm was spanning at 400 miles wide. Winds topped over 130 miles per hour on Sunday. All this came only about a week after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey struck the state of Texas. Landing as a Category 4 on the west coast of South Florida, the dangerous winds of Hurricane Irma reached out to Miami and even West Palm Beach on the eastern coastline.
Areas have begun experiencing flooding, and there were even earlier reports of tornadoes picking up as more than 4.7 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power.
Shelters across the state had been utilized to help thousands and thousands of residents, while well over 30,000 evacuated from the Florida Keys ahead of the storm. As of Monday, Hurricane Irma had downgraded to a tropical storm with dwindled intensity as it nears Georgia. Resources are currently working diligently in Florida to assure the residents’ safety and restore power and clear roadways.
As the incident unfolds and recovery efforts begin, the recovery community of Florida stands strong as well.
Of course in a situation like this staying connected is crucial for everyone. Whether people choose to evacuate and travel outside the projected path, or if they stock up on supplies and fortify their homes, communication is key.
By staying connected people can get updates on the possible dangers that may still be present after the initial storm. They can also stay informed on relief efforts in their area if needed. Some may feel they are safely out of harms way after the perilous gusts and overwhelming rains have ceased. However, there are still residual risks that come after these storms.
Staying connected can be made even more difficult with power outages.
For the recovery community in South Florida staying connected has helped so many people keep track of their peers in the recovery community to provide support. Not only are accredited addiction treatment providers coordinating with local officials to ensure the safety of their clients and staff, they are also connecting with families and loved ones to help clients update their contacts about current conditions.
Meanwhile, people within the recovery community continue to check in with their peers. Many of us are dedicated to ensuring our friends in sobriety are safe and protected. In situations like this sometimes those in recovery also need someone to reach out to. These stressful times can be all it takes to push some individuals toward risk behaviors. In this case, relapse prevention maybe mean as much as staying connected through Hurricane Irma.
Service and Support
Supporting each other within the community is a vital piece of the recovery process, both in the aftermath of a natural disaster and in the addiction recovery community. When something tragic impacts so many lives people always band together to restore stability to family, friends and neighbors. First responders and volunteers try to help people clear out wreckage, provide food and other important amenities, and rescue those in need. Public officials coordinate with other organizations and community efforts to help repair what needs repaired and ensure citizens’ health and safety.
In short, great numbers of people commit to doing service to aid in the recovery.
In the world of drug and alcohol addiction, service to others and giving back can be a pivatol aspect of the recovery process. Men and women in recovery from addiction band together to provide each other with the means to be safe and supported. Recovering addicts and alcoholics volunteer themselves to working with those most in need, and they take on positions of service in order to ensure everyone has an opportunity to stay healthy and safe.
All this can be seen in South Florida after Hurricane Irma, when both aspects of the community (recovery and non-recovery) have worked independently and collaboratively to protect the people in need and support each other. Addiction treatment and mental health services have actively coordinated with first responders. Meanwhile, individuals offer assistance to their peers through meetings and service work. Sometimes something as simple as a ride to work a place to stay with power makes a huge difference.
Rebuilding after Hurricane Irma
Most of the eastern coastline was spared the brunt of the storms destructive power. Still, Hurricane Irma still managed to impact those farthest from the landfall. Palm Beach County alone experienced an estimated 375,350 power outages, while areas like Miami-Dade reached up to 623,820 outages.
So far there has been a great deal of effective restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. All Florida highways are now open. Gas supplies are still struggling, but the state is coordinating with the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to open ports for tankers carrying fuel. Now shipments to the tune of millions or gallons are flowing toward Port Everglades. Airports have reopened and curfews have either been lifted or shortened. Electrical companies are working diligently to restore services to the state, but that effort could be ongoing for some time.
The Florida Keys suffered a great deal of damage, and efforts to help revive the area are ongoing, thought this too seems like it will be an uphill battle for now. The fight today has become a mission for the return to normalcy for most Florida residents. Officials are hoping to get people back to work and get businesses back to serving their communities as well.
A Community in Recovery
For the addiction recovery community, getting back to helping those in need is also a priority. Getting people into safe environments that help their sobriety; pursuing further outreach efforts to those in active addiction who may be suffering now more than ever; support groups re-opening to be there for their members.
There is a strong presence in this area of those who are already experienced in bouncing back from devastation and desperation; the recovering alcoholics and addicts of South Florida. Some of us are used to going without amenities. In sobriety many of us are used to giving all we can to others. Now is definitely the time to put those unique experiences to good use.
Today, all of Florida recovers from the effects of Hurricane Irma. Those of us in addiction recovery should always be willing to give back to the community that has given us so much. We can find a way to volunteer some time, or make donations to support those with less than us. Now more than ever we should offer assistance to the addicts and alcoholics who still struggle. But don’t stop there. All of Florida is now a community in recovery. We are all in this together, so lets all be part of something to make it better. We will recover.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those effected.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma the South Florida area is still home to one of the strongest recovery communities in the world. This is a community with a strong commitment to safe and effective treatment options. South Florida is full of amazing individual’s working hard to hold each other up. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Overconfidence in Recovery:
Confidence is supposed to be an excellent quality. We are always told to believe in ourselves in every endeavor we pursue. Whether it is a sport or a school exam, having confidence is touted as the key to success. However, when it comes to addiction recovery, can too much confidence actually become harmful?
Overconfidence Can Lead to Relapse:
The reality is too much confidence is not great in recovery. While it is great to have confidence in your program, it is important to stay humble. The emotions that arise from overconfidence can block underlying issues. Having an overconfident mindset can hinder your recovery process. It is important to make recovery a priority regardless of how much time you have.
Why Overconfidence Encourages Relapse:
- Distorted Self-Image: A major part of recovery is staying humble. Overconfidence makes someone believe that they are not as bad as newcomers. They may start to feel they no longer need their program and start to ponder if they are an addict at all. Overconfidence encourages the belief that it is not a huge deal to have a drink or use casually, which is far from true for an addict.
- Irrational Thoughts: Overconfidence can lead an addict to believe they deserve certain rewards in conjunction to their success. They might feel they are worthy of a celebration. They quickly convince themselves that one drink is not going to hurt them because they are now “in control” of their addiction. This is risky behavior and can lead someone down a slippery slope.
- Complacent Behavior: This is when an addict starts to believe that their addiction is not nearly as bad as they once thought. They start believing that they can now live normally due to the length of time they have been sober. They think they are cured so they slowly stop going to meetings and stop thinking of themselves as an addict. This leads to new addiction or a relapse.
Signs of Overconfidence Include:
- Rejecting suggestions from others
- Seeking immediate results
- Belief in having all the answers
- Always seeing your situation as unique from everyone else
- Feeling that you deserve preferential treatment
- Feeling “healed” or “in control”
- Always wanting to lead instead of listening
It is crucial to understand that addiction will not simply disappear. Regardless of how long you have been sober, addiction can always creep up again. Addiction is not a curable disease; it is a manageable disease that does not have room for overconfidence.
How We Become Too Confident:
Overconfidence may be a trait acquired in recovery, or it can be a trait a person struggled with before sobriety. In fact, most addicts battle overconfidence their entire life. For example, those times you tried to use and thought no one would notice.
Sadly, this behavior can persist after recovery even after hitting rock bottom. Even those with no history of overconfidence can start to become overzealous in their recovery program. They start to believe that they are above the rest of their friends and family because of the work they have done in their recovery.
Consequences of Overconfidence:
When you act too confident, you hurt yourself and others. You hurt others who are still learning to trust the person you have become. You hurt yourself because overconfidence increases the vulnerability to a relapse. It is important to remember that recovery is something that takes effort every single day. Regardless of how much time you have, stay humble in your program. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Remember to support others struggling, and stay focused on your recovery. Overconfidence is not a quality anyone should strive for. Instead, focus on staying sober every single day. If you are struggling to stay sober, or are currently having issues with substance abuse. Please reach out. We want to help you get back on track.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Working in the blogging and social media sector of the world-wide web you get to see a lot of differences of opinion on a lot of topics; from the most mainstream to the most infamously controversial. In fact, pretty much anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account has exposure on a regular basis to a variety of intense debates and collective views. Of course another thing the internet does is provide us with perspective and statistics, and some of those data inventories actually make a strong impact on our own opinions. However, some figures may miss the mark when it comes to truly all-inclusive data. This is especially true when it comes to the measure of success in recovery from addiction.
Some people claim that the majority of support groups and programs don’t have very impressive or even adequate rates of success in recovery. Others will go as far as to claim that these support groups and recovery programs hurt more than they help. If you dig deep enough, there are plenty of people claiming that nothing out there works for helping addicts and alcoholics who need help.
But is that accurate? Truthfully, I have more than enough reason to doubt these claims for a very simple reason…
Who is truly capable of quantifying someone else’s “success”?
Instead of asking if drug treatment is successful, maybe we should be asking the real question… what is the real measure of success in recovery?
Talking about Treatment
Back in 2013 TIME magazine wrote that because there is no standard definition or what “rehab” is, there is no standard metric for measuring their success. The therapeutic community at one point said they could only claim a 30% success rate. However, the source also indicated that they only count ‘success’ by those who complete the entire program, and between 70% and 80% of people drop out of aftercare around 3-6 months after treatment. To sum that up, some people just stop reporting on their progress, so their ‘success’ could not be confirmed.
Other treatment providers will measure their success rates on how many patients report being completely abstinent for an extended time after leaving treatment. However, as we discuss later in the article, abstinence is not the requirement in the definition of success.
The fact is, because there are various addiction treatment models, to measure the success of recovery based on the numbers even treatment providers themselves gather is actually inappropriate and ineffective.
Focusing on the Fallen
When was the last time you saw a story on the news about an overdose victim? These days if we go 24 hours without seeing one it is surprising, right?
Well… when was the last time you saw a story on the news about a recovered addict who owns their own business, or is working a 9-5 and volunteering in their community? When was the last time you saw a breaking report about the alcoholic who went home to be an amazing parent to their newborn child or started a foundation to help the less fortunate?
I thought so. But allow me to blow your mind… because these people do exist!
This is probably one of the greatest injustices dealt to the recovery community. I’ve written about this before, and about how changing the communities views means overcoming stigma. Media outlets are always itching to give a dramatic account of every drug overdose or crime committed by an addict. Thus, that is all the rest of the world sees. It should be no surprise that people claim the recovery programs and support groups are failing, because no one pats you on the back for being a decent person. The only time people seem to applaud recovering addicts in the media is when they’re a celebrity.
It is easy to claim that drug addiction treatment doesn’t work when someone only focuses on the overdose rates in their community. It is easy to point to the individuals who have fallen, who need another chance at getting healthy, and say they are proof that the institutions are broken. Raising awareness on all those who still need help is important, but it is counterproductive to use them as indication that no progress is being made.
One conflict with measuring success is with 12 Step programs, mainly because they are anonymous programs. As a member of a 12 Step program I am definitely not trying to discredit these methods. The reality is true success rates of 12 Step programs are such a matter of contention because the standard of anonymity. Many people will simply not wish to be involved in studies based on their desire to remain anonymous.
When trying to debate the success rates of 12 Step programs we have to take any statistics with a heaping serving of salt. Out of the pieces of data available, those numbers are not an all-encompassing assessment.
Also, the only data for success in recovery from 12 Step groups is ongoing sobriety percentages, measured by years. And just about any member will tell you time does not equate sobriety. And limited data means the programs may help people to find a meaningful life, but if they do not remain members then they are not included in those success rates.
Some will only measure their success in recovery on a 24 hour basis, because they take life a day at a time.
Even 12 Step literature will point out that they have no monopoly on spirituality or recovery. 12 Step literature acknowledges that some people reach a point where their drug abuse or drinking caused great physical, personal and professional damage, but after intervention and treatment some can turn their lives around without a 12 Step program. Of course abstinence is often suggested as the best course of action for most recovering addicts and alcoholics. Once drugs or drinking create enough devastation, turmoil and helplessness many people find it is far too late to ever go back. Yet, abstinence is not necessarily the requirement for “success in recovery”.
Success in Recovery is Subjective: Speak Up
What truly transcends the debate over effective drug treatment is how we measure success in recovery in the first place. How do we decide someone is successful in life? Because isn’t that what recovery is; building a life that is happy and whole? So how do we calculate the extent of someone else’s transformation?
In essence, that is what we are talking about; discovering a fulfilled and meaningful shift that allows freedom to pursue happiness and connection. Given this description, success in recovery is definitively subjective. The meaning of recovery is more conjectural.
The measure of successful recovery should be a more fulfilled life.
Not just with material wealth, prestige or surface value but with connection, contribution and genuine gratitude. In the end, men and women who struggle with drug abuse or alcoholism recover in innumerable ways. Some turn to religious bodies, while others thrive on support groups. Some focus on physical fitness and mindfulness. There is no way to measure every success story, because they are life-long journeys through self-awareness. Each puzzle piece makes a different picture.
In order to show that there is hope, I hope more of us speak up about our experiences in recovery from alcoholism and addiction. There is so much emphasis on the bad, there is more of a need than ever to show the world something good. This means shattering the stigma that stands against us. People will never know we can succeed if we don’t try to show them how we already have. Recovery from addiction should be outspoken more often. Not because I think anonymity isn’t important; I have great respect for the traditions of 12 Step fellowships.
But… I do believe that if we don’t speak up for ourselves, stigma is going to keep speaking for us.
Every community, including yours, is filled with people who have empowering and inspiring success stories after overcoming drugs and alcohol. It all begins with a foundation. It is up to you to measure your success, but it’s also up to you to take action and make your success story possible. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135