Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some Days are Just GREAT

I just got off the phone from someone that wrote a message into my website about her brother that has been on meth for many years and has attended state-funded programs and continues to battle with life and addiction to the point that he is feeling as though there isn't much reason to live.

I just got off the phone with the addict's sister and I realized that I was talking to someone that really understood that I was relaying this information to her to help her brother and that what I was telling her was coming from years of experience, both losses and wins, but that I have gotten to a place where my knowledge is of high value to anyone that is needing help in my field of expertise, and without anyone saying that, I realized that it was obviously understood.

Today, in our society, there is a lack of trust in taking any ideas from others. People feel that everyone is giving advice or suggesting an opinion because of some personal reward and not because they have answers that can help. All of us have had too many occasions where we have joined the excitement of something new, that sounds almost too good to be true, to find out that it wasn't real and it was too good to be true. No one likes to be taken advantage of and it hurts at a level that can close us off to taking that risk again.

That wasn't the case with this sister and I felt that I was able to convey the truth to her and she understood that what I was saying for the her own good and, of course, her brother's, and not because I had some other agenda.

Where this element of distrust has come from is open to speculation, but it is pervasive in our society and it does keep us from being as successful as we could be... I can speak for my profession, but I am confident that it is the same with most professional fields and it does hinder progress.

What I can definitely say, is that one success in helping a family makes up for all of the losses that I have had in the past. I really don't have any alternative but to keep on delivering the truth and fight against anything that doesn't save addicts from their turmoil of living in addiction. I am thankful that I do know what works and what doesn't even if I do feel at times like I know what all mavericks in history must have felt when trying to convince others that there is another way to travel than what is being endorsed by the majority.

There really is hope and there really is real help and the losses that everyone has had in wanting to help someone to only find out that it has led to no change cannot harden us to the point that we don't stay open to anything new and different. Twenty-first century man hasn't discovered all of the answers and if you think we have, then why are things as problematic as we find in our society?

I really doubt that anyone will read this blog, but if you have, thanks for your time while I blew off some of my earlier failures and shared my win in helping someone today that will take my message and give her brother an opportunity to live a happy, ethical and successful life free of alcohol and other drugs.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wine or Communication?

Today I received a call on my helpline toll-free number from a 37 year old mother of two who wanted advice on how to get her body to quit shaking in the mornings, which is being caused by drinking a couple of liters of wine/day.  I was intrigued that she was seeking a solution for the shaking and not the drinking.  As I investigated further, I discovered that her husband was unaware of her drinking problem and it would be “impossible” for her to go to any form of treatment since he would then know that she had a problem.  

I never ceased to be amazed at how little some couples know about what their spouses are doing in violation of their mutual agreements.    As I got more information, I realized that the caller’s parents did know about her drinking problem and had told her that she had to get it under control so as not to embarrass them at an upcoming family reunion.  Now, I think it is of further interest that this woman’s parents know she has a problem, but the man that she is living with and is with her every night is unaware of any out-points in their relationship.

I say that it is astonishing, but from my many years in helping couples cope and individuals find effective alcohol and drug treatment, I am no longer truly amazed at how well people can create an alternative reality rather than confront a problem.  To keep this facade in working order, it requires that they reduce their communication to items other than themselves and the obvious.  

It can be a very lonely world as a young mother of two toddlers and extra wine can temporarily make it feel warm again, but it never last and even though we try to use alcohol as the universal solvent in ways other than chemistry, it never last and only leaves us shaking in the mornings.  

I told her how alcohol leaches out the B vitamins and the calcium and magnesium from her body and how to replace those, but I emphasized that it is only by communicating with her husband can she hope to have a real fix on this problem.  I told her that her shaking is the message of our lives impinging on us to change and it isn’t bad or good, but is life threatening at the physical and spiritual levels of existence.  I hope she will reduce her drinking and increase her honesty.  I never hear back from these calls, so I just add them to my list of humans that I hope will get it right, this time around.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Postpartum Depression Screening

There is an ongoing effort to have postpartum depression screening mandated by law.  Some state have already adopted such measures and the current administration is pushing for a federal law to mandate this procedure.

Addressing a prevalent problem in mental health care is what is expected of a compassionate society, but only if we can assume that we ahve a solution for what we are addressing.  This isn't the case when it comes to depression.  The medical community relies on psychiatric medications to handle most of these cases, even in light of the fact that there is more and more evidence of the negative consequences of these medications, especially with women having hormonal changes. has practitioners who specialize in helping people get off of antidepressant medications and there are many professionals that work with women who have postpartum depression and are successful in alleviating their pain without these risky drugs. More information about drug treatment can be found at

Having mandated screening is a good idea, but enforcing one solution is suppressive.  

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Total Responsibility means the buck stop here!

I was pondering on the personal responsibility piece that I wrote yesterday and I received a call from a someone looking for a drug treatment program. In the conversation, I said that I was happy to do whatever I could to help and he said "that is awfully white of you"... a racial slur that I hadn't heard in years and I later thought that packaging groups of people in ways that makes them less that totally real is a way, of course, to take away some of their power, but it is also our human's shirk their on responsibility for the situation.

Full responsibility for the condition of those people in our society that have suffered at the hand of suppression requires that we give them at least equal respect to any other group or individuals, but preferably we recognize that the damage that came from the suppression requires us to offer them a little more support so that they can have an equal chance.

It was when I thought about "equal chance" that it dawned on me why certain groups work so hard at keeping other groups separate and less than equal. As long as most people don't feel that they deserve as much as I do, then my entitlement to a large part of the resources will be easier to garnish.

I don't have a lot of time today, but I want us all to continue to think and write about personal responsibility, since it is at this level that everything either gets worse or resolves. If I take total responsibility for the slavery in American and I also take full responsibility for allowing myself to be a slave, then I have very little hatred for anyone, but only compassion and understanding.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

What Happened to Personal Responsibility

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...." John Donne

I read this the other day and I hadn't thought about it for some time. I remember how important John Donne was to me in English Lit class in college, when I had time to muse about life, a time when I knew so little. In those days I didn't have the same appreciation that I have for this poem's meaning today... today it speaks to me about: who is responsible for your life or for all of human existence?" One does not send to find for whom the bell tolls without realizing a profound level of responsibility for it all.

I had the honor today to attend a training in a rural community of Oklahoma that was designed to build awareness about the methamphetamine (meth or crystal meth) problem in our communities. The group was attended by law enforcement, school teachers and coaches, a church youth director, students from the local high school and professionals from community based organizations and the local Health Department. I attended because I am part of this rural community and I have experience in the development of prevention coalitions as well as representing the drug treatment aspects of this problem.

As the group teased out what were the problems surrounding meth in their community and all of the "why's" for that problem, it became abundantly clear that the problem of meth use as well as most of the other identified problems could be traced from a lack of personal responsibility on the part of the parents, in particular, but a lack of personal responsibility on the part of most people in the community that allowed this problem to continue.

I couldn't help but think of what is going on with the financial crisis and all of the Wall Street executives and others that are singing this same tune, which led me to ponder genesis of this lack of taking responsibility in our communities, government and, perhaps, our country.

I lived in Denmark for about five years and living in a country where the government "seems" to take care of everything from birth to grave, I experienced a public that wasn't big on accepting responsibility for their role in any of their problems. I wondered if we haven't become the same, but for other reasons.

When I work with an addict to help him overcome his need for alcohol and other drugs, my task is to get the person to realize that he is responsible for every condition in his life. As a patient begins to take on more and more personal responsibility and begins to recognize that he "could" be responsible for some of the misfortunate and unfulfilled dreams in his life, he becomes more functional. His IQ increases and likewise, his memory expands and the more and more that he truly feels responsible for his life, his care and compassion increases for his fellow man and it will continue to expand until he cares about his group, community and his country.

I have seen this phenomenon repeat itself in every case to the point that it has become, what I fell, is a law of human existence... If you want to be happy, then take responsibility for everything, or as much as you can do authentically.

(I am hoping to get others to begin to chime in on my post, but at this point, no one is reading my blogs, and so I haven't been able to have the challenge of others on my thoughts, but I will take full responsibility for what I have said and to this point, it is pretty easy.)

I decided that I would take responsibility for the fact that meth is the second most used drugs in our community, after alcohol, so I volunteered to start a parent training course, which I will design to be a examination of what we as parents should expect from our schools, community based organizations, churches and others and what we should do in terms of being the ultimate reason on why anything is going wrong in our world. Perhaps if I can start at that level things will get better at many other levels. It will be a challenge. Probably as hard or harder than getting the addict to see where he is responsible for his addiction and the actions that come from there.

Some of you that may read my past blogs will know that I dislike the disease model of addiction and this responsibility factor is the reason why. You can't get totally well with the idea that you have a chronic an progressive disease... unless you take the responsibility that you chose the disease and you created it...I have yet to hear anyone describe their role as a victim of addiction in those terms.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Can People Really Change?

As I was eating breakfast this morning I heard a piece on Good Morning America about a Christian minister who had allowed an ex-felon to live in the basement of his home with his wife and five children while he was looking for work. The felon, who is now in his early 60's, had served time for the murder of an adolescent and had broken out of prison at some point as well. The felon claims that he found Christ about 18 years ago and is a different man today. He certainly had convinced the minister that he had changed and that there wasn't any danger in having him living in their home.

However, the community had a different opinion. Some of the neighbors had set up a tent to watch the house, many protested his living in their community, others were interviewed by GMA and when asked if their attitudes didn't go against Christ's teachings, they hesitated and answered "there are more deserving people to support if you are looking for someone to help". Basically, many didn't believe that people can change.

When the minister was asked if he believed that someone can change and that evil people are always evil. His response was that there was no reason to preach the Gospel of Christ, if that was your belief.

This idea that people are always what they have done is supported by the psychologist and mental health profession that see man as a bag of chemicals and doesn't recognize that he has a soul or that there is something in man that can allow him to see his wrongs and repair his mistakes and do differently.

I am afraid that this attitude is held by more people that I would like to think. This attitude is behind the support for psychiatric medications and drug use in general. Most addicts believe that they can't live happy lives without their drugs. This prevalent attitude is frightening to me in terms of who we are an American society.

Ineffective alcohol and drug rehab must also take some responsibility for these rigid attitudes since most programs preach that addiction is a chronic (lasting forever) and progressive (get worse over time) disease. That no matter what you do, that once you have this "disease" you are sentenced to a life time of struggle in terms of alcohol and drug cravings and relapses. Also, since most alcohol and drug treatment centers get less than 10% success, it adds to the idea that most people are incapable of change.

As a skilled therapist, I have learned that if certain internal/personal conditions are confronted and if a person doesn't want to confront his life and his "crimes", he many not make significant change, but if given a real therapeutic environment, meaning a therapy that truly is effective, people will ALWAYS change for the better. I couldn't have dedicated my life to helping others if I believed otherwise, or if I had witnessed more successes than failures. I am not the strongest guy on the planet, so I needed to find practices that made change possible. As I have followed many of those that have lived disreputable lives when they were in their addiction, but after treatment, they have lived stellar lives of love, kindness and helping of others to the point that I know that MAN is basically good and that anyone can change for the better, or the worse, at any time in his/her life.

We can fix the financial crisis, we can have peace on this planet and we can open our hearts and minds to the idea that there is such a thing as hope and that real help is available. To have this type of change in one's life or that of a loved one, it only requires that you want to change, that you find the vehicle to help you and don't get caught in mental health programs and with psychologist and psychiatrist that dispense drugs to change your chemical makeup, and believe that you are worthy of change.

I would hate to live in a society that believes otherwise and if I didn't realize that ABC network and stories like the one I saw this morning are created to help their sponsors who are selling psych drugs, I would be worried about our country. I am confident that there are many that believe that evil is a constant and can't be changed, but there are many more than have changed themselves and believe that others can as well.

Be aware of these attitudes and let me know your experiences. Learn more at and

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are We Fussing About Freedom?

In reading today's news, or any other days news, there are some constants that make it hard for me to believe how little effort is given to portraying the events and people in the news with the same old prejudices and black and white thinking that has been part of journalism since I started keeping up with events in the 1960's. I would like to think that others are as tired of this angry, and prejudicial reporting. Today I looked at an article in the Huffington Post that was criticizing , not so much for what they had done as for who they were as human beings, and in particular that Sara Palin is a born again Christian and one of her lawyers and his wife are Scientologist.

These comments didn't have any other reason for being mentioned except to build basis, assuming that the reader would see all of them as less than creditable if it were mentioned that they have spiritual beliefs outside of the writer's accepted norm... in other words, if they didn't fit the religious mold of what the writer felt was acceptable for all "decent" people. He felt that his argument was strengthened by showing that they are not part of mainstream religious thought... defined by his prejudice, of course.

There is a famous quote that reads something like this: "There is enough bad in the best of us and enough good int he worst of us that it behooves none of us to talk about the rest of use."

Implicit in the writer's comments was the idea that there is some ideal religion that helps one pass as being worthy of public acceptance. How is this any different that deciding that only one skin color can use the public facilities? Or, carried to extreme, that only the Arian race is worthy of life?

There is no room for this ignorant and hate-filled writing in our discourse about politics or, in this case gossip. I contend that the writer knows very little about any religion, and much less about these two types of spiritual thought. He goes on to quote Time Magazine for its criticism of Scientology..taken from the time twenty years ago, when Time was sued by the Church of Scientology for the same type of bigoted reporting. This is the periodical that chose Hitler as "Man of the Year" in the 1930's. Any religion is better than no religion and it is fundamentally one of the rights that we, as American's, established our Constitution and founded this country, but because we have free speech, the writer feels that he can use this public platform to ridicule certain types of religion.

It would have been much more enlightened to have not mentioned it all and if it was really an important part of the article, then mention that the people in question are religious and nothing more. I have had the blessing of being raised by very religious parents and my brother has just retired from the ministry, after dedicating his life to helping bring understanding and love to our world.

Isn't it high time that we criticize things that we know are facts and deserve criticism and let the world worship as they see fit. Needless to say, our forefathers knew that government and public opinion can't bring out our better natures and they therefore saw that a civilized country must have freedom of religious thought. I have studied the writings of L. Ron Hubbard and I know what the Church of Scientology stands for and that bar is not very different than most other religions. It is based on love of your fellow man, ethics and dedication to life and care for others.

What I got from his article is that Sara Palin is obviously more tolerant than she is being made out to be.

Learn more abut my profession and my beliefs about addiction by going to these websites: or
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