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10 Tips For Staying Sober New Years Eve



According to a 2011 feature in TIME magazine, New Year’s Eve ranks number one in the list of the “booziest” holidays of the year. It is the holiday when people consume the most alcohol, and is also one of the holidays with the highest rates of drunk driving accidents on the calendar.
Joann Miller

SFYB Senior Desk Editor

Even those who avoid injury in a DUI crash are at risk of being pulled over and arrested for drinking and driving. In addition to the high rates of alcohol consumption, many people use drugs during their New Year’s Eve celebrations. Whether you are working to maintain your sobriety after quitting drugs or alcohol, or if you are trying to help a friend or family member avoid substance abuse on the coming holiday, here are some tips that you can use to achieve a drug and alcohol free New Year this year:


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  1. Remember that it’s not all about getting drunk or high
    It’s too easy to think of New Year’s Eve as one big drunk fest, a party holiday when the goal is to get as drunk or high as possible and do things you wouldn’t normally do. It doesn’t have to be this way! You can enjoy New Year’s Eve while sober, celebrating everything you have done this past year and looking forward to the coming year with your friends and family.
  2. Go with a buddy
    If you are going to a party where alcohol will be served or drugs will be available, find someone you trust and go with that person. This should be someone who knows about your intention to remain sober, who is supportive of that intention, and who you can trust to help you make the right decisions.
  3. Have an emergency plan
    Realize that if you are going to a New Year’s Eve party, you may find yourself in a difficult situation. You might be surrounded by friends and acquaintances who are drinking or using drugs and feel pressured to join in. Someone might offer you a drink or a hit. What will you do then? How can you say “No” without feeling awkward? Unless you’re comfortable saying “No,” you should have some type of excuse that you can use to turn down the offer or even to leave the party if you’re feeling too much pressure.
  4. Choose a party where drugs or alcohol won’t be the focus
    It may seem like you can’t go to a New Year’s Eve party without being surrounded by drunk people, but this simply isn’t the case. Most people know at least one person who is going to a party where drinking isn’t the main event, and if you ask around you can probably find a party like this.
  5. Celebrate with sober friends
    You probably know someone, or perhaps even many people, who aren’t all that interested in drugs or alcohol. Maybe they’re having their own party, or maybe you can go with them to another party. Even at parties where some people are getting drunk or high, there are usually other people at the same venue who are staying sober but having at least as much fun, or maybe even more. Spend your time with these people!
  6. Take care of yourself
    The holiday season is the favorite time of year for many people, but it is also the most stressful time of year for just as many people. It’s easy to push yourself too hard, to set expectations too high and to allow yourself to be spread too thin. The final result of all this stress could be you deciding to cut loose and get drunk or high. No matter how much you may feel obligated to show up to every party or try to make the holidays perfect for everyone, remember to set limits and take care of yourself, so that you don’t end up burning yourself out.
  7. Don’t set yourself for failure
    It’s too easy to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Maybe you have decided to spend New Year’s Eve sober and to stay away from drugs and alcohol entirely. What happens if you do take a drink or a hit? Too often, someone in this situation decides that he or she has failed, gives up and goes off the deep end drinking or using drugs. It’s good to have the goal of staying sober, but don’t go into the holiday with unrealistic expectations. If you do make a mistake, be willing to forgive yourself and start over; it’s better to have one drink and then stay sober than to give up on the goal of sobriety after having a moment of weakness.
  8. Eat a healthy diet
    The holiday season is a time when people usually over-indulge in sweets, eat too much and generally consume a poor diet. When you eat this way, you tend to feel bad, and this stress can lead to wanting to have a drink or get high to “take the edge off.” If you maintain a healthy diet and eat in moderation in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, you will have a more solid foundation from which to work on your goal of staying sober.
  9. Set up a reward for staying sober
    One thing you can do to increase the likelihood that you will make it through New Year’s Eve sober is to arrange some type of reward for yourself. Maybe it’s a purchase of some item you’ve been wanting, or perhaps it’s being able to have New Year’s brunch at your favorite restaurant. Alternatively, the reward could be being relieved from something unpleasant, such as if your spouse agrees to do the dishes for a week if you manage to stay sober. Whatever it may be, find something that will motivate you to stick to your decision to avoid drinking or using drugs on New Year’s Eve.
  10. Get started early on your New Year’s resolution
    If you have been struggling with substance abuse or have recently quit in an effort to overcome your addiction, you probably have a New Year’s resolution along the lines of, “I will stay sober for the entire year in 2014.” Why wait until January first to get started on this? Begin applying your resolution on New Year’s Eve. That way, you won’t have to start off your 2014 with a hangover, and when you reach the end of the year, you can be that much more proud of yourself for having started out the year on the right foot.






Cindy Ouellette

Cindy Charles Ouellette SFYB Staff Editor & Author

Critter Under the Bed (written because for some: “it is time to open your eyes and see”)


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My husband of 13 years was one of the local pharmacists plus owned 5 drug stores in our coastal town in Oaxaca.  He was highly respected and loved in our community. And he was labeled as the town widower with five adult children, who had married the American Teacher.  (That’s me.)  Pharmacist Gabriel was wealthy, yet extremely frugal.  He cut corners on everything except his own London style clothing and holiday family banquets.  The family had had the same Ama de Llave ( head servant ) for 20 years .

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She ran the house her way and usually with her blame game of verbal control.  Her expertise of Gabriel’s favourite recipes, taught to her by his late mom, gave her leverage to do as she pleased.  The adult children were very fearful of ever having to manage daily life, house cleaning and meals without her.  They could not fantom the many family celebration “ fiestas” without her.  Who would do all the cooking?  Even though she was a prized housekeeper, Pharmacist Gabriel never gave her a raise.  He assumed Vicky was where she was supposed to be, caring for whom she was supposed to care for. 

One of my husband’s passions was his love for Mexico’s culture and terrain.  We often took bus tours to different states in Mexico to see the ruins and cathedrals.  In addition, we looked forward to spending time in the local produce markets tasting  ‘fixed on the spot’ tamales, cheeses, sauces, hot soups, etc.  Of course, we only toured on economy class buses with economy tourist packets and native guides.


These second class trips involved traveling with 30 folks I did not know, sightseeing through the bus’ dusty opened windows, patiently controlling between bathroom stops with my own supply of sanitary paper in my pocket, fitting elbow to elbow around family style restaurant tables, and posing in tightly grouped camera shots.   All that was easy for me.  Even having to sit crunched up beside strangers on bus, taxi, ferry-boat and train trolley seats never bothered me.  

Critter 2 girl sitting in bus

You see, my ex-husband did not sit beside me / he didn’t permit physical contact.  I found no challenge with Mexican village menus and praying to bless the unsanitary food settings where the bus driver unloaded us to grab a bite.


 In route to the next big towns the bus driver would park on a shoulder of the highway where people had set up stands to cook and serve ‘fast food’ for travelers.   We would stand in line waiting for our food to be served out of hot towel covered buckets and from the makeshift sizzling hibachis.  Our ‘GO’ plates could be anything from pre torn squares of pinkish butcher paper to large banana leafs. Passing cargo trucks added exhaust fumes and muffler noise to the ambience.  Now that’s real getting down and being one of them!  Actually, I love it!  You know the ole saying: “When in Rome…..do as the Romans do”.

This trip was going to be my last adventure as the highly respected Pharmacist’s wife. I was privately preparing for a departure back to my own country. (Exciting but terrifying) I had been in this familiar, Mexican habitat some 21 years while raising my innocent son. He never deserved to be put through my codependence prisons we had endured.  He was gone now and learning the American way of life. That’s a culture shock for any new comer to The United States, I assure you.  And now it was my turn to go through that challenging period of adjustment as did my son.  

My thought life secretly pondered:  What was ahead? What to take with me , where to go, could I get a job, would I ever find a true love, could I stay clean and sober, could I drive on a freeway, survive snow, build credit, make friends? This was all so scary. 

I had been in a recovered alcoholic over 2 years now.  One day, just for today, I did not drink no matter what.   And being in substance abuse recovery via the 12 step manual, internet sponsors, & 12 Step Study audios, I had learned one thing for over 2 years.  And that lesson is to “trust and rely on God”.

My heart had run out of hope for my marriage and the painful loneliness was beginning to kill me. My private doctor and physiatrist agreed that I had one chance to live and not die. And that last resort was to leave. I had been doing the same thing over and over some 13 years and expecting a different result. No matter how hard I perfected and care gave and gave up me, I could not make my husband, Gabriel, love me. I was making him and me unhappy. His coldness, flippant indifference and public unfaithfulness were subconsciously suffocating my desire to live.   


My mind and body had shut down 2 months prior on New Year’s Day 2006. I had flown to Chicago to witness my wonderful son’s boot camp graduation. 

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Oh how beautiful that day and weekend was. … (I’ll tell that miracle tale on another day). 


But briefly I had waited my turn at the taxi pick-up point outside the Chicago O’Hare Airport two hours from midnight to 2:00 a.m.  I was heavily exposed to a snow blizzard. I was used to 110 degrees hot weather south of the border.  My lungs got much too cold waiting for that taxi outside 2 hours.  So, three days later when I returned home to Oaxaca I had developed a bad constant cough. 

It was almost Christmas and my spouse wanted us to take the overnight tour bus to Mexico City to see the famous Almeda Park Christmas lights. 


Adam, my son, used to go with us each year. Just a Christmas tradition, but I had to pay my own way and my son’s expenses everywhere we went and ate.  That held true for about 90% of our expenses at home, too.   


I was asked to pay for my own laundry soap, cleaning agents for ours and Adam’s room.  I was responsible for my share of the telephone and electric bill as well.  These were senseless ‘roommate type’ living expenses that most husbands absorb, (especially wealthy ones).  The 74 year old pharmacist had money, but only for his family (whatever that meant).  

Remember me mentioning the controlling personality of the house cook?  She was the one who made sure Adam and I knew that the family fruit, milk supply and soda pops were just for that….the family provisions and not ours!  In my point of view, every-time I shopped for these household supplies, it was a stinging reminder that my own husband did not care for me! It was not about money. To me it was all about unkept marriage vows.

After getting home home from Chicago,my personal physician, told me it was dangerous for me to travel until my lungs were better, but my husband insisted we go to Mexico City.  So my doctor gave me an injection to get me thru the holiday trip.  Back then, Mexico City had very visible pollution.  And Mexico 

City has mile high altitude…not good for congested lungs.

Upon return we soon had a house full of 4 step daughters and 5 grandkids visiting grandpa’s house for Christmas and New Year’s. 


I slept in my son, Adam’s room to not keep ‘My Love’ awake by my nonstop coughing. Dec. 31 about 10 a.m. my Gabriel called me over to our bedroom and stated very firmly with stand-up tall, self-dignity: “Gueda, (white one) I have told you two other times that I married you to take care of me and not for me to take care of you. Your coughing is keeping one of the babies awake. You need to leave now.  Go where you need to go. If you need to return to your country, I will help you. But you need to leave.”

He adjusted his tie and walked out of our bedroom to go to his office.  I turned around and entered the bathroom, looked up to my God of my understanding (which is Love, Love, Love) and said: “Well, Sir, I have been asking You over three years to do your will in my marriage and this hideous triangle of lovers my husband has. I take this as my answer from You. Thank- you, Sir.”

I had no fear. I packed a tiny bag, Bible and 12 step readings. 


The doctor had the car that day so I took a cab to an internet web café to email my on line alcohol recovery sponsor, who lived in California.  After that I called the dad of one of my former university students, as his dad was also in recovery.  I asked him to suggest a safe and clean hostel or pension. He hurried to where I was in total shock of what had been done to me!  He found a clean pension and drove me there.  I was just fine and prayed, read and slept well. But the next morning my body had shut down from a truly whipped and broken heart. I could not talk so I very slowly texted Josephine, a girlfriend.  Josephine rushed over and got me to the emergency room of the clinic that my doctor owned. My doctor was away for the holiday season. 


The staff workers rolled me into the emergency room and popped a pill under my tongue.  I only remember Josephine screaming to Jesus and digging in her purse for anointing oil. 

Critter 26 hand picking up bed sheet corner

Then 4 days later I awoke at Josephine’s home and she insisted it was time for me to talk to my husband. I finally yielded under her sweet nagging.  I called him and agreed to return home per his request. He wanted to discuss something with me.  And he wanted me to come back home. 

The day I went back home I called Mary, a dear friend I had taught English with at the university.  Actually I had had to leave my director position at the university in order to have free time to attend 12 step meetings in the mornings. That’s the way I did not relapse.  Meetings were and are my reminder of the illness I have and where I came from, not to return by picking up one little sip. 


I still owned my little school that I ran at night. Mary and I were going to drive around town and wait in the car, while my secretary posted signs about a new course I was opening.

That cough; that cough. I needed to buy some cough drops and there was a new convenience store caddy corner to my husband’s office over his main drug store.  So I pulled in the parking lot of the handy little store to buy the cough drops real fast.  As I was reaching for my coin purse, I glanced in the rear view mirror. Oh my goodness! I grabbed my chest and tried to catch my breathe!  I then pointed to them so Mary would turn and look.  One of my husband’s girlfriends and he entered a cab beside his office building.  He had just called that he was having coffee with Attorney So and So and would be home a little late for dinner.

I whispered to Mary: “ I need a drink.” She firmly returned: “No.  No drink.  Breath deeply.  Collect yourself.”

I dropped my face on the steering wheel and asked God “why?”   This was happening on my first day home and my husband had asked me to return.  He couldn’t have the consideration to pretend faithfulness just one day!

I heard the answer in my inner self. I think that was the first time I had literally known that Still Small Voice. 

“Because it is time for you to open your eyes and see”

Long story made short, Mary, my secretary and I drove to every coffee shop in town and called Lawyer So and So.  The lawyer had not talked to my husband in three months and the coffee shop he later said he went to was now out of business!

So I secretly began to make all arrangements to disappear. First, I needed to leave in good graces with all Mexican government departments.  Secondly I wanted to bless my girlfriends with my worldly possessions.  I couldn’t take my material accumulations of 21 years with me.  So, I had a blast giving them away!  Most of my friends were on very modest budgets, so they were excited about the gifts I bestowed on them saying I was down sizing.  And I commenced to settle all immigration and Hacienda (Mexican IRS) matters before leaving the country.

My physician and psychiatrist told me to prepare my departure without telling anyone or I would shut down again from the heart breaking experience of “goodbyes”.  I was silently bidding “goodbye” to my community, profession, coworkers, blended family, town, new adopted culture and foods of 21 years.  It would be too hard for my emotions and mind to handle.  I was told that my codependence addiction toward my cold shouldered husband was so extreme, that I could go into withdrawal. My instruction was just get to America and get immediate help for codependency. These two professionals informed me that in medical school they had learned that 10 out of 100 emotionally abused women pass away within 24 hours after walking out of the relationship.  The doctor gave me 10 pills from Germany to calm me until I got to a Co-da ( codependency anonymous ) meeting for support.  They were a non mind altering medication prescribed to start taking the day before I left. 

Preparations were in motion to escape quietly to the airport one early morning soon.. But one last detail had to be completed on this tropical rain forest vacation trip before I left.  I would make my last attempt to see if my spouse could ever love me. I hadn’t totally given up.  Yet, I was finally at peace. I really knew the answer and only needed to cross my “T” and dot my “I “confirming I had done my part before fleeing.

This Chiapas journey was so beautiful, as it was extremely close to nature in the raw sense of the word. We’re talking about some nights without even an outhouse, much less electric lights, fan, TV, carpeting.  I learned to whirl a rag in a propeller motion while waving it up and down my body length to keep insects away, to bathe with half a pail of well water behind nature’s shower curtain of late night darkness, 


to be a quick change artist in broad daylight while sitting on my bus seat (without anyone getting a peek), to tear a piece of cardboard box off at the market to be a most valued hand fan, to use an old t-shirt for a bath towel and lay it across my seat back to get dry in transit. All these lack of modern conveniences have never fazed me as hardships. I enjoy the art of being in nature’s flow full of gratitude and adventure.  I practice focusing on expectation for what God has around the bend.

Actually one of the most exciting memorable praise times I have ever had was on this last trip when we spent a day where there were several shallow clear natural pools. They looked very “you Tarzan, me Jane”. 


It was quite a hot day so dipping in the clear water was tantalizing. Each pool was a different color.  They ranged from turquoise to powdery blue to a purple hue. In order to enter the water one had to carefully step over and maneuver around thick intertwining tree roots. The pools were not beside each other so a mini hike was in store between swims. I was alone and having a peaceful blast quietly planning my preparations for my return to my motherland. My husband always stayed near the tourist guide’s 17 year old helper.  We had been on several tours with this guide and his young assistant to different Mexican states.

Actually Gabriel was always kinder and more considerate to that teen tour guide than he ever was to Adam, my son – his own step son.

I had raised my boy to the best of my ability. To tell the truth, Adam had survived his childhood but by the grace of God. We had really been thru the emotional wringer. I had made our bed and poor Adam had had to sleep in it. He finally had a father and that father’s name was Uncle Sam!  I was now able to go back to my homeland without the worry of providing for my son.  I didn’t have to worry about my son should I not get a good job or find a decent place to live. His address was at sea with room and board!  


I had never had family for us to go back to in the United States.

As I daydreamed about starting my new life at last, I sang my own made up songs to the Lord.  After the water time our guide gathered us to a picnic sight to have beans and hand patted tortillas. There was also a paper thin slice of sun dried meat. (What animal the jerky was from, I have no clue, but it was unbelievably tough!) 

After eating, my husband started off for a climb in the jungle mountain. He had a game he would laugh about as he periodically enjoyed telling the tale. The story was in memory of his late wife. He would make her walk from one end of downtown Mexico City to the other while he marched in rapid pace glancing in shop display windows. He was an athlete and walked at a very fast speed with great ease. He would laugh about how his late wife would be limping and exhausted after the almost 2 mile hike on asphalt and cement. I had also been victim to his game twice on our Oaxaca town seawall. Both times I needed injections in an ankle and ended up having to drag one leg for months.  It was just not healthy to try to keep up with him. Too fast!!!

He was up to it again. ..This time the game was for me to keep up with his climb up the jungle mountain as he followed the teenage guide. 


But I grabbed a strong long, dry pole from the ground and let my husband hurry off thinking I would race behind frantically.  I was in my own spiritual world of praise and worship, singing to my Lord at the top of my lungs. 

I didn’t see the danger of all the twig and leaf covered trail steps leading up and up. I didn’t think anything about snakes or critters in the vines and under fallen foliage.  I was just finally having the freedom to worship and sing without having people around. There was no church, Bible time or prayer before meals at the house. So this very private alleluia session in a tropical forest was wonderful! I never hesitated to grab onto vines and pull myself up and step on the unknown footings.  And then, I realized I was on top of a high jungle mountain!  I had arrived! 


I was overlooking magnificent waterfalls. I sang even louder and happier. I know the feeling of an eagle now. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.  Yeh! Oh Father God, how beautiful!!!

I had to return pretty fast because it began to rain hard and the path down could get muddy and slippery.  Long fall….

What a nice day. I guess it got me filled with the conscious contact with God that I was going to need for that very evening.

Our guide had given us a pep talk that he saved the best for the last two days! Yippee! We were spending the night at a luxury beach resort area for the middle class National Mexicans.  The vacation spot was called Puerto Risco. Needless to say we arrived both bushed from swim and  hike;  all famished for a real meal.


As the bus entered the city an unpleasant stench appeared at each street corner. There were high piles of stinky, fly covered garbage thrown at the end of each block on the media. Whoa! What an invite!  It was some festival and carnival time.  The booth lights were set up in little parks. The few restaurants in the resort town were full of customers eating, and our tummies were empty. So we piled out of the tour bus to walk the main street spreading out to fin for ourselves in quest for dinner.  We were to reunite at the town square for our hotel arrangements in one hour.

The guide confessed we would be scattered all over as no one hotel had had enough room for the whole bus load. 


Some ladies were even staying in private homes with families. One basement room had three  twin beds in a circle with  a toilet in the middle of the room and a curtain was improvised around the toilet. The only mini window looked out to the sidewalk as sandals and flip flops walked by.  Poor ladies!

The beloved pharmacist and wife (us) were to get the best accommodations (or so we were told).

It was almost impossible to communicate with my husband. His past time at home was sitting in front of the TV upstairs in the family room. He watched Hitler movies about three hours a day never getting bored of them. His library had shelves and shelves of books based on this hero of his. I had discovered two times that it was effective to call his secretary and just make an appointment as a client if I had an issue I needed to discuss with him. I had done that upon two different occasions when I had been particularly upset about one of his public displays of infidelity. 

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Tonight was going to be one of those rare times we could communicate, or so I planned.  We walked on the beach and sat under a palapa (palm leaf shelter) while awaiting our room. As we sat and viewed the foamy tide I took in a deep breath and bravely asked:

“I am confused about some things.  Why is it you have never even turned your head to look at any of my photos when I want to share my life with you through them?

When I tell you memories of when I worked at NASA or was an airline hostess / model / had my jewelry supply business / was an Indian jewelry trader on the road in my motorhome, you never even pretend to listen, much less make a comment.

You have never told me you are proud of me for the books I have written or the language institutes I have launched.  I don’t understand. Please tell me why.  Today I want to know why.”


Now inside my love starved imagination I suddenly saw my husband gallop in on a white horse, hop off the stallion and run up to me, kneel and kiss my hand as he declared how blind he had been and now he suddenly had fallen deeply in love with the beautiful accomplished women that I am!!!  I almost crossed my fingers waiting for his love and kindness to evolve.

His answer was quick and cutting to the core! It took my breathe away. It slapped sense into me at last.

“Oh Guerda (white one), even your son says you are crazy” at which he got up to swipe off the sand and he walked away not even waiting for me much less helping me up from the ground.

That is just what I had taken this trip to discover.  And I remembered what the Still Small Voice had told me:

“It is time to open your eyes and see”


Remember the story about the frogs in the big tamale pot (or crab pot or canning pot / what did your area call it?) 

Well, the frogs settled in close together and made the best of it as the water got hotter and hotter. Maybe they were thinking: “It’s O.K.  It’s all good.  I can do this. Things will get better soon”.

And the water began to boil and they never even tried to escape and they killed themselves.  Did I tell you that the pot was very shallow and they could have jumped over the rim at any time, should they have chosen to live? They all died.

My hidden flight itinerary was dated for March 10, 2006. In two more weeks, I was going to leap over the rim of the boiling pot, passing goal and not going to, but getting out of my own jail. My husband, Gabriel, had just dropped the last straw on this camel’s back!  I held back the tears and put on a peaceful face, as always. My eyes were opened.  I finally could see.  He had just given me permission to carry on with my escape plan.

But first for a good’s night sleep….tomorrow would unfold tomorrow.

Critter 23 hammock and spray can

The guide was at the nicer hotel in town waiting for us to return from eating. The lobby was under the hotel rooms in an opened area patio that was tropically furnished. On the front desk counter was a little bell to wake the clerk if he was asleep on the nearby hammock. Oh yes, and a broom was propped up against the wall. Plus there was a spray can of insecticide at one end of the counter. (That should have been my clue.)

The guide had brought our luggage from the bus and he explained this was the nicest room left in the city and he would see us at the plaza at noon. Off he scurried with his young male assistant. They were probably going to sleep in the bus.

Critter 24 simple Hotel room

I rolled my flight bag on wheels into our room. Double bed, marble floor, one wooden stick chair, mini closet without a door on the left of the room and 2 steps that entered a sterile bathroom with only the necessities.  There was not even a shower curtain or toilet seat. I checked and the bathroom window was well locked. As was my custom, I emptied and lined up my toiletries, went to the closet and got my Bible and 12 step manual out of the luggage along with my flashlight, towel, flip-flops, and night wear to go take a shower. Gabriel was just sitting in the chair. There really wasn’t room to do anything else.

The Voice, the Voice; It said: “Go over to your side of the bed and look under the bed.”

Now, Mexican hotels are very practical about bases for beds. To save on wear & tear and because cement is so much more affordable than wood, most teachers’ desks in public schools and hotel bed frames or just poured cement. One never had to clean under the bed and it was great on the spine. So beds were merely a mattress over a concrete rectangle.

I knew that and I knew God knew it. So, I thought ‘nah’ it must have been my imagination. I went to brush my teeth. 

The Still Small Voice repeated ever so kindly: “Go over to your side of the bed and look under the bed.” 

Oh! O.K. Maybe someone left a gold watch or 100 pesos there. Yeah right. I better get the flashlight and  a coat hanger to reach with. I mean there is no “under the bed” so best not get too close.

As you recall the broom against the wall in a hotel lobby and insecticide ready to grab and aim, were clues I didn’t pick up on. About every two months, my spouse’s grandkids, Sonny and Adriana,  would come screaming ““Night-Night”, “Night-Night”, un raton!” 

They named me “Night-Night” because I said that before we departed to go to sleep at night. And raton means a mouse. So when they spotted a mouse the hunt was on. Vicky, the maid, and I would run for the brooms on the back steps and head for the last scene of the crime. How the kids would shrill and jump up and down as the mouse would escape from one piece of furniture to the next and laugh at Vicky and me do our routine until mouse died ~ we won.


Where was Gabriel all this time the mouse hunts were on?  Hiding in the bedroom. He hates critters.

So, that is why the hotel night clerk had the broom ready for action. They had critters!

With close toed shoes on (not flip flops); with the flashlight in one hand; and a wire coat hanger in the other; I cautiously leaned over to see my side of the bed which was 12 inches from the wall and window.

Nothing visible. Using the coat hanger I elevated the long white sheet that draped over the side of the bed almost to the floor. “WOW!” 

Wow, Wow, Wow.

Big, Big…….sooooo Big!!!

As I was moving swiftly to the bathroom to collect my beauty aids and then to the closet to rapidly stuff my towel, books and other possessions in my luggage and zip up, I was singing praise songs with eyes as big as a deer looking at a spot light! That’s what I do in the middle of any crisis once my vocal cords can function. I sing to the Lord…glory, glory, glory, glory…

Gabriel asked where I was going. I said back to Oaxaca; that I had had enough. He said that there were not any buses or trains or an airport. I said I would walk; I had had it.

I handed him the flashlight and demanded he go see, but to be very careful.

Critter 26 hand picking up bed sheet corner

He tip-toed over very slowly, bent over a bit, peeked using his fingers at the corner of the cover sheet.

He looked about a whole minute (like he was frozen) and said: “It’s a scorpion”

He left the room and I stood in the hall with my baggage in my arms and my eyes focused on the pathway from me to it! How can I explain this for you to really get it? Oh yes. A banana. That’s it, a banana. Think of a dark, over ripe yet firm banana standing on one end and curving up other end. The tip of the curved up end pointed up in the air was in a striking position! 

Critter 27 giant scorpion

BIG scorpion!!!

Gabriel and the night clerk arrived with spray can and that broom. They entered. I walked down to the exit area. 5 minutes later they returned to the hall and closed the door behind them. We were all walking to another building. No one talking except then the man informed us this is a brand new wing to the hotel and everything was new. I tip toed around to check it out. There were high cedar closets that did not go all the way to the ceiling. The bed didn’t have a headboard installed yet, so there was a three to four inch space between bed and wall. I went over everything singing under my breath. “Glory, glory, glory, glory”.  Then I told them to get a ladder and look on top of the cedar closets. Gabriel had never been so obliging before. He told the man to go get the ladder.

I must have shined the flashlight between the wall and bed and over the closets and around the room ten times thru out the night. I have to admit I was not totally trusting and relying on God. 

Why didn’t I meditate on the fact that God did not tell me to look under my side of the bed so I could be moved to another room just to be stung by a ‘Critter’. Duh, Cindy ! “Have some faith!  Know who your God is!”

The next morning I was able to get Gabriel’s attention long enough to learn the whole amazing story.

They had killed the banana sized scorpion I had seen. But they decided to check the rest of the bed to spray it.

Here goes.

The cement bed base was hollow to save money on construction costs. The base had cracked open with a 2 inch gap and the sheet was hiding the hole. The nest, better yet, scorpion colony was in that bed base. Gabriel said there must have been 20 of them! He and the night attendant just hurried out and shut the door behind them.

I wouldn’t be here today if I had not listened to the voice of my Shepard. Sing to Him when I get scared or angry or confused? You bet I sing to Him! Yes! Even in public He is worthy of my praise.

Behold, I give unto you power to thread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  Like 10:19

I invite you to enjoy my addiction recovery tales ( Oh yes!  This tale was the addiction of codependency ) Check out my Lizard Tales.  They are fun, insightful readings.  And guess who the lizard is?  Me!  Www.StopFryingYourBrain.com. Just type: Lizard Stories in the search box on the right midway down or got to the category and select right menu bar. Here’s what to look for (see or click below)

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T. E. Pepper

SFYB Staff Writer

A Simple Way to Survive the Loneliness of the Holiday Season

By: T.E. Pepper

Here’s the thing. A lot of us have burned through friendships and family, and no one wants to see us anymore. Some don’t know where we are, or if we’re even still alive.

When we drink and cause misery in the lives of others, sometimes it takes a long time to reestablish, repair, and resume those relationships. Sometimes we never can. And that makes this a lonely time of year for many of us.

A Simple Way to Survive the Loneliness of the Holiday Season

Being alone for the holidays is isolating and often depressing. But sobriety offers the opportunity to make new friends. I’m talking about people who are safe to be with during the holidays because they’re sober.

Most big cities sponsor recovery clubhouses and charities with round-the-clock AA meetings during the holidays. It’s a great idea to get out and attend a meeting if you’re feeling lonely.

Talk to people. Call another recovering alcoholic. Get out of your house or apartment and go to coffee shops. Be around people.

Sign up for a yoga class or go to a reading at a bookstore or library. Go to a holiday church service or a non-religious meeting like the Ethical Society.

A Simple Way to Survive the Loneliness of the Holiday Season Click to Tweet

A Simple Way to Survive the Loneliness of the Holiday Season

Offer to help people less fortunate than you. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Get into the spirit of the season by focusing outward on others.

Find something you care about and dedicate yourself to that for a few days. Maybe it will become a lifelong hobby. Wouldn’t that be great?

The holidays can be a difficult time, and newly sober people are often seduced into relapse by the mental and emotional pressures bombarding them this time of year. We know we will find “friends” in a bar. But we also know those aren’t real friends. We won’t be happier or less lonely just because we drink.

Being sober means we find new, healthy ways to have relationships with people. The key is not to succumb to depression and isolation. We can’t allow the disease to regain a foothold in our lives again and drive us back to drinking and that kind of misery.

A_people holding hands

Yes, the holiday season can be terribly lonely. But not if you change your focus. See it as an opportunity. Take the next step in your recovery and make more sober friends, help others, investigate a new hobby.

There’s a wonderful sober world out there. Check it out. It’s worth the effort.


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How I Survived the Hunger Games of Law @StopFyringBrain


Prior to enrolling in law school, I had no idea about the “cutthroat” culture and law students using guerrilla tactics to gain an edge in obtaining better grades, accolades, and academic distinctions. During my first semester, I witnessed despicable classmates hide study guides in the library stacks during finals week, outright reject modest peer requests for copies of study outlines; and deceive absent classmates about the subject matter discussed by professors during exam study halls. These were just a few examples of atrocities of human nature I witnessed. Very quickly, it became clear that the motto “each man for himself” was ingrained in the law school culture. Essentially, I was one out of about 100 recruits enlisted to train as a “law student mercenary.” The mission: focus solely upon surviving law school, no matter the cost.

As semesters came and went, it became obvious that many of my classmates’ mental and physical health were deteriorating. On countless occasions, I witnessed students break down in tears after exams, and later observed many peers miserably hiding in between the law library stacks. For fear of stigma and shame, many classmates chose to cope with their anxiety and depression in their respective ways. Meanwhile, some sinister overachievers quietly reveled in their misery. Displays of integrity and decency were almost non-existent. Understandably, some students “mailed it in,” and dropped out altogether.

Without question, a majority of students leaned on substances to cope with academic stress and anxiety. For instance, some carried flasks of whiskey in their backpacks while others would pop loads of Adderall to fuel all night study sessions. Our weekly Friday Happy Hour slowly morphed into Happy Hours. Quite frankly, drinking, drugging, and addiction were very much a part of law student culture.

As for myself, my approach was simple: keep my head down, trust a select few, nurture genuine relationships with faculty and administration; and never distract myself with law school politics. It seemed that simple right? In spite of my mother battling a terminal neurological disorder, I remained focused on the prize. In 2010, I graduated with strong academic credentials right before my mother passed away and reveled in her being proud of her son.

Stress-big-law-anxiety-law practice-depression-anxiety-competition-addiction.jpg
Entering The Real Life Practice Of Law

Admittedly, I was naive to think that once I entered the real world of law practice, the fierce competition would quiet down a bit. First, I began as solo practitioner, and worked concurrently as judicial clerk for a senior probate judge. Itching to gain courtroom experience, I joined a close friend at a South Florida firm representing institutional lenders in foreclosure actions. If I had a dime for every complaint I heard from staff and attorneys, I’d be a very rich man. With the exception of the sole shareholder, there wasn’t a happy employee in the office. Further, it was obvious to me that many were abusing alcohol and other substances while “on the clock,” and few took pride in their work. Management neither demonstrated a modicum of interest to boost employee morale nor even attempted to address employee wellness.

After a year, it became clearly apparent that continuing to represent banks in residential foreclosure actions would eventually lead to career suicide. More importantly, my legal mind was atrophying. So, I leveraged my local connections and joined “Big Law” where I concentrated my experience in a professional liability defense group. At the time, I felt like I had reached the pinnacle of my career. For starters, I had a beautiful office with an ocean view, a great salary, great benefits, and I was working on newsworthy cases. To quote Rod Tidwell from Jerry MacGuire, “I had reached the qualm.” Sadly, it only took a few short weeks to realize that this was merely a figment of my imagination.

Deciding Whether My “Big Law” Colleague Remained An Ally Or An Enemy

Unfortunately, starting out in “Big Law” was as terrifying as landing on the chaotic Normandy Beach in 1943, and being clueless as to where your “fellow” soldiers’ loyalties existed – with the allies or the axis. Trying to distinguish which of your colleagues was an enemy or a friend was next to impossible. Since my performance was primarily measured by the amount of monthly billable hours, I anxiously practiced in fear of my superiors and wary of the motives of fellow attorneys. As for my beautiful office with an ocean view, I rarely took my eyes off of my computer screen, so I barely had an opportunity to admire the blue horizon.

As the weeks went on, it became clear to me that I was an insignificant associate droning away at a “Big Law” firm fighting battles on multiple fronts. On one front, I was battling to meet my monthly billable hour quota. Keep in mind, the firm shareholders spared no mercy when it came to reminding me that my job security solely depended on meeting my monthly billable hour quota. On a second front, I had to aggressively jockey for access to mentorship and opportunities to professionally grow. Otherwise, my professional progression would end up permanently stunted. I also had a very difficult time establishing a solid rapport with fellow colleagues outside of my practice group based primarily upon the fact that intrafirm competition successfully suppressed trust-building conversations and camaraderie.

Overall, the office morale was exceedingly low. I commonly observed poor body language in my fellow colleagues, and often heard of them quietly thinking aloud of their “exit strategy.” The partners generally appeared miserable, and the stench of scotch emanated from their orifices at all times of the day. Granted, the firm boasted some brilliant legal minds with high IQ’s, but their emotional intelligence was well below average. It became very clear to me that this was not a place to for me, a millennial lawyer, to thrive.

Stress-big-law-anxiety-law practice-depression-anxiety-competition-addiction-pressure-coping
Coping With the Immense Stress and Pressure

Quite frankly, I numbed my depression and anxiety with alcohol. During the weekdays, I would come home and cook dinner while polishing a bottle of wine. Every Friday afternoon, it was routine for me to greet my wife (then fiancé) with a handle of Jack Daniels (instead of flowers) and make sure it was polished come Sunday. No exceptions. Additionally, I began smoking cigarettes while driving to work, prior to attending court, and in some cases before and after client meetings. I stopped exercising (because I had no time), and my diet primarily consisted of Chinese takeout and pizza. To make matters worse, I saw how helpless my wife felt as she witnessed me transform into a depressed attorney that medicated himself with vices of all sorts. It nearly destroyed me and broke my heart.

Without question, I was killing myself slowly, but surely. Ironically, I ignored the all-too familiar warning signs. After all, I lost several close friends in the legal industry because they failed to address their depression, anxiety, and addiction issues. All things considered, why would I neglect my mental and physical wellness? Simple, lawyers like myself, are taught never to show weakness or vulnerability, as their jobs partially depend on maintaining this impenetrable façade of resilience. I was frightened of the scenario that word would get out that I was seeking professional help, and my career would come to an abrupt end.

My Moment of Clarity and Finding Purpose

After slaving away for about seven months in “Big Law” and seeing how my mental and physical health deteriorated to concerning levels, my family and wife demanded I resign. The very next day, I tendered my resignation and decided to focus on rehabilitating myself. This was the hardest and best decision I’ve ever had to make. Looking back, it was a life-saving decision.

Candidly, I spent the next year or so saddled with confusion, self-doubt, anger, and regret. Rather than wallow in a state of depression, I chose sobriety as my vehicle to regain my clarity and confidence. During this long period of introspection, my creative juices began to flow once again and I finally discovered my purpose.

For better or for worse, I uniquely possess the crucial characteristic of spending years engaged in that daily struggles that accompany a high stress profession, such as law. Today, I draw upon my experiences to connect with my fellow attorneys and professionals who feel tortured and confused. Phrased differently, the sharpest tool I have in my toolbox of communication assets is empathy. It is an effective trust-building asset that can slice through any psychological defense mechanism.

I am now the founder of MindWell Coaching and Counseling, spawned from my own personal experience to help solve a problem where no solution exists: to coach and counsel lawyers and educated professionals battling depression, anxiety, addiction, and simply neglecting their physical health. My wife, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and assists with repairing the family unit.

We recognize there is a generational gap when it comes to the priorities of millennial professionals and our esteemed elder statesmen (and women). Together, we coach and counsel attorneys, professionals, and “ordinary” people who suffer from depression, anxiety, addiction, and those who simply feel stagnant professionally.

Today, I stand proud that I had the courage to walk away and save myself.  I am here for those who need to rebuild their confidence and courage.


Are you having trouble finding a detox center in NJ?


New Jersey, believe it or not is a beautiful state. Many who reside there are very happy with “The Garden State”.


Xanax addiction is hard to overcome stay away at all costs

However, in recent years’ New jersey has seen a big influx of heroin addiction and overdoses. Many people who are addicted to opiate pain killers or heroin are seeking detox for withdrawal symptoms from heroin or pain killers.

There are quite a few detox’s and treatment programs within the state. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming influx of addicts seeking treatment for heroin addiction there are not many beds available. This proposes a big question for the state funded programs; What can we do to help more?

There doesn’t seem to be a solution that can come quick enough to solve the problem. Detox Centers in New Jersey number in 30’s excluding actual hospitals. These issues don’t even account for the regular treatment visits for alcoholism and other addictions.

What and where are these Detox Centers in New Jersey?

Below are the four inpatient detox centers in new jersey that offer inpatient medical detox treatment using FDA approved detox medications. However, try calling them and seeing if there are beds available. Let me know how that works out for you.

  • New Hope Foundation Inc Marlboro, NJ 07746
  • Maryville Inc 1903 Grant Avenue Williamstown, NJ 08094
  • Evergreen Treatment Center 230 East Ridgewood Avenue Paramus, NJ 07652
  • Sunrise Detox II 1272 Long Hill Road Stirling, NJ 07980

What are the primary reasons people seek detox for in New Jersey?

According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Overdoses and treatment admissions have skyrocketed in the New Jersey since 2007. In some cases, they have gone up 100% or more. This raises some big issues and questions as far as affordable healthcare and healthcare policy pertaining to addiction treatment in New Jersey.

What about Medicare or Medicaid Accepting Detox’s

What about them? There are tons of Outpatient clinics in New Jersey that accept these insurance plans. However, many of them do a methadone maintenance or suboxone maintenance protocol and isn’t very effective to stop abuse dead in its tracks. You’re still dependent on a substance which leaves things just as complicated, but manageable.

My summary:

My only hope in writing this is to create awareness to those in my home state. Many aren’t aware that the drug addicts in their back yard do want help and don’t want to live that way. They have lost hope in trying to find treatment because they can’t get in. It’s important to get the addict into a detox treatment program as soon as possible after they become willing.


God Bless



What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?


Xanax addiction is hard to overcome stay away at all costs

IOP this means: Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs are services for individuals with substance use problems who do not meet diagnostic requirements for inpatient or residential substance abuse therapy. Mostly for those who are discharged from 24 hour care in an inpatient medication center and continue to need more support than the weekly or even  per week sessions provide in customary outpatient care.

IOP service provide a minimum of nine hours of service per week in 3, 3 hours sessions; but, some programs provide more sessions per week and much longer sessions per day, and many programs become less intense over time .Because services are offered in outpatient background, the duration can be more than that required for inpatient services.  Allow individuals to stay in their own homes and communities, which could increase their adjustment to community life.

What does an IOP Program Do and How does it work?

Intensive Outpatient Programs treat individuals with substance use disorders or co-occurring psychological and substance use disorders who do not require medical detoxification or 24 hour guidance. They offer a particular number of hours weekly of structured group, individual, and family treatment plus psycho education about substance use and mental disorders.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine  defines 5 levels of care to support professionals in choosing the right intensity for treating alcohol and drug use disorders beginning treatment services, Level I outpatient Level, services II intense outpatient services, Level III residential and inpatient services, and Level IV medically controlled intense inpatient services. Thus, IOPs represent a much higher level of care than normal outpatient services and a reduced level of care than residential and inpatient services.

The Substance Abuse and psychological healthiness Services Administration defines a set of core services for inclusion in IOPs, like a specified number of hours of organized programming per week; individual, group, and/or family members treatment; and psycho education about substance use and psychological disorders

IOP objectives help the individual study early stage relapse management and dealing strategies, make sure the person has psycho-social help, and address individual disorders and needs. But, wide variation across programs in regards to service delivery for example. systems for testing and examination, treatment planning and planning, crisis control, discharge planning, together with intensity and duration of care limit tries to assess the effectiveness and quality of care across IOPs.

Moreover, IOP services vary by establishing: community, hospitals behavioral health centers, or perhaps day treatment programs. The ASAM criteria note that the duration of treatment varies aided by the severity associated with the person’s illness and his/her response to the medication intervention. So, progress in a particular level of care, instead of a determined length of stay, determines a person’s movement through the treatment continuum.


In general, the present research shows that a number of service intensities may be effective for people with drug use disorders. There’s a high level of proof because of the caveats we’ve noted that IOPs are equally reliable when compared with inpatient and residential treatments.

Intensive Outpatient Programs have emerged as an important facet of twenty-first century addiction treatment plan for individuals who need a more intensive level of service than normal outpatient treatment, as well as allow participants to avoid or step down effectively from inpatient services. That is a most important thought for policy makers, suppliers, and individuals involved in substance abuse treatment services once determining which level of care is most suitable for specified medical circumstances.




Laura Temin

Laura Beth Temin SFYB Staff Writer

What does it take to Outsmart an Addiction ? Seriously….

never again

How many times have you said to yourself, ‘never again’ as you hugged the toilet, or attempted to work despite that massive headache and brain fog? Yet somehow, there you are, repeating that cycle.
How many people can simply make up their mind to stop drinking and actually accomplish that?
Research indicates…very few.

Why is it so difficult to succeed when we know that we ‘should’ drink less, or we ‘need to’ stop drinking, even when some part of us really wants to change?

The reason is because ‘knowing and doing are completely different; they are controlled by different parts of the brain and they require different tools. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize this so they try to regulate their drinking by using old, ineffective strategies.

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And what happens? They fail again, and with each unsuccessful attempt they feel worse. Before long they become hopeless and convince themselves that they are weak minded, flawed and incapable of success. Eventually they just give up.  



In order to outsmart an addiction we need to recognize what’s really going on when a person tries to stop drinking. I am not talking about the physiological addiction, the brain chemistry or the reward system. I am talking about something else. I am talking about that part of the mind that feels threatened, anxious and deprived by the thought of NO MORE. The part that rises to the surface and screams BUT WAIT! The part that is so emotionally attached to the thought, memory or illusion of drinking that feels like it will die without it. That is the part that controls our destiny. Because that part of the mind truly is the decision maker. And no amount of logic and reason in the world will have any power over that part of our mind..

Meltdown-MentorsWhen that part of the mind is triggered it feels to us like survival and we feel compelled to hold on even tighter to the drink.) That part of us automatically throws up obstacles and blocks our well intentioned attempts. It’s that part that firmly plants its feet and states, “Not now” “I will begin tomorrow” or “Just one more.”.

the-truthThe truth is that most addiction programs, rehab centers and drug and alcohol treatment services address the logical part of the mind. They encourage us to use our reasoning abilities to override our addiction. They say things like, “think before you drink” or “Remind yourself that you can lose everything you value” They act as though we will magically begin thinking logically and solve the problem. Unfortunately they don’t recognize that the logical part of the mind is powerless in the face of those survival instincts and intense emotions.


If we treat only the logical part of the mind, we will remain at odds with ourselves and will continue to hug the toilet and ask ourselves the same well intended questions that everyone else asks us, how much more do you have to lose before you hit bottom and make the decision to stop drinking?

Engage-NYC-2013-1We must engage the part of the mind that drives our decisions, otherwise we continue to struggle against ourselves and our addictions will run our lives. Understanding and addressing that piece is the essential component to successfully outsmarting the addiction.

To outsmart an addiction, we must quiet the panic and fear so we can gently release the struggle. Only then can the mind calmly and comfortably let go of the drink. 

Over the years we have discovered how to engage the decision making part of the mind. Ideally we would recommend an individualized approach. But because we know that is not possible for everyone, we are making our services available in a format that is accessible and affordable to all.




Big Blink




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Like a Champion

Are you a champion doing what you do best? Or would you say there is room for improvement in your life
Mike Downing

Mike Downing Contributing Author

It is likely that you are one of the millions of people from around the world that have been watching the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Regardless of winning or losing the game everyone appreciates the level of dedication required to reach the top in their game. This intense training and performance of the body doesn’t display the confidential work an athlete must undergo to train the brain for maximum performance.


As we watch the physical ability of the athlete- can you imagine what is going on inside of the athletes brain and the mental conditioning to reach those levels? Nobody earns that level of success without hard work, dedication, tremendous sacrifice and a coachable attitude. Athletes are excellent examples and model the coachable attitude that comes directly from discipline in the brain.


Let’s look at what a coachable attitude really means and keep in mind the coachable attitude relies 100% on the athlete’s responsibility to think clearly. The athlete must be willing to accept feedback from a coach in a safe environment without turning negative or shutting down. Athletes understand the coach is working exclusively for and supporting the athlete’s goals. The coach earns respect by skillfully demonstrating the ability to hold the athletes focus to reach maximum potential in the moment of training or competing.

The skilled coaching conversation between the athlete and coach will open the mind to awaken and discover the missing pieces required to move forward like a champion. Unfortunately, we are not able to coach ourselves objectively or as effectively without a coach to frame an objective view of personal performance.


When we reach the top of our career or win the game we need to learn how to manage that level of success in a productive manner. It’s healthier to have a receptive mind at all times to cross check and allow our thinking to be challenged. There is nothing wrong with demonstrating self-control and no reason to be embarrassed or feel insecure at any time during the process of achieving higher goals while working with a coach.


Professional coaches create a safe and productive learning environment to draw out the best of each client. How would your life improve if you hired a personal coach to unlock strengths inside of you? That’s right, if you believe you are coachable and ready to move forward in your career or struggling with an addiction – why are you not reaching out for help? Studies indicate that people are responsible for placing personal and professional limits on themselves. Skilled coaches help you increase your limits with confidence and sustainability by connecting your strengths, core values, beliefs, needs and wants to confirm balance in your life.

Naturally, a coach will look for a strong commitment with a coachable attitude to create a dynamic relationship between the athlete and coach. During the private conversation the coach will deliberately stretch the client further to reach higher levels faster. This process requires a client to mentally and physically push through challenges every time the client feels like giving up, throwing in the towel or quitting.
Let’s be candid and get serious about taking responsibility for our personal growth and development. Today there are several books based on the brain and how the brain functions. The brain is empty and pure when we are born and continually develops and learns until we take our last breath. Unless, a medically diagnosed condition is found that prohibits the ability to learn or retain information.


We understand the brain activate when we use our five senses. (eyes-ears-nose-mouth-touch) Meaning everything we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel will record new data instantly and permanently in our brain. When this information is received into the brain it will become our responsibility to further challenge the new information quickly using our learned filters to process whether this information is good or bad for us. This is key because the filtering process is learned and will help us navigate decisions based on the facts. We learn the difference between right from wrong, good from bad, yes from no and all of these filters start applying when we are very young and learning from our parents, friends, family, school, television, games, etc…

Unfortunately, most people choose what they believe is bad for them because someone else told them it was bad and not to do it. Wow, that’s right! Notice when someone tells us not to do something we might do it without them knowing. When a person uses his or her free will to choose there is not much we can do for them when deliberately acting out and choosing things that have the potential to cause harm. Respectfully, how does that work for all teachers out there? It’s never worked for me. The first opportunity a curious person gets to find out what bad really means will immediately uncover the other side. Yes, the temporary good feeling of pleasure, rewards sensations being released inside of our bodies chemical factory.

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Did you know, there is very strong evidence supporting the brains natural organic ability to learn, process and retain new information on how to set higher goals based on your strengths and core values? Yes, with the right program repeated several times the brain will eventually respond and accept the client’s decision for change. Training the brain will condition a new normal with confidence and sustainability to moving forward to break free from an addiction, manage time more effectively, improve relationships, health, fitness and life balance.

My guess would be that if you are reading this article you are ready for help or you know someone who is looking for help. My job, our job is to get real about who you are and why are you here reading this article. I don’t believe things happen by accident as much as divine moments in time. Tell me what’s happing right now in your life that’s not working and when do you want to get back on track?

My job, our job is to create a custom plan built exclusively for you and your situation that defines what your focus will include and what you want to achieve moving forward.
How would you answer the next set of questions: Are you struggling with an addiction or need help adjusting to something new? Do you want help? If so, when do you want to start? And who will trust to uncover those obstacles that are holding you back from moving forward? You must be willing to be completely transparent on where you are right now and what you expect moving forward.

Hopefully, this article will encourage you to reach out for help and find a program that matches your situation. Retaining a personal commitment, addiction recovery coach like Mike Downing will help you reach your goals faster with clarity. Help has arrived! www.PureCommitment.com
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Why wait?whywait

Mike Downing

Mike Downing Contributing Author

Have you ever thought about why a person struggling with an addiction would wait and not ask for help when they can reach out and get help now? When was the last time you added up the cost of your addiction? How long can you afford your addiction?
Below are three examples of real client stories and how waiting only added to their cost. The names have been removed for privacy. Notice how similar the stories unfold even though they have different choice addictions.
T-gambling-enHD-AR12016-06-18_11-35-27Client #1

Struggles with a gambling addiction that started several years ago. At this point there has been hundreds of thousands of dollars gambled away with a few wins to keep the addict believing the next win will be the jackpot. Unfortunately, Client #1 wasn’t ready until the spouse gave an ultimatum to either get help or stop gambling or the marriage would end in divorce. That is almost like having a gun put to a person’s head. So, think about this: What if your spouse told you to stop or else? Would you ask for help or get a divorce? Tell me more about your choice?
The added stress from a spouse can be helpful to motivate a person to ask for help, but most likely asking for help won’t be enough to just quit without a carefully designed plan. If a huge financial loss of money wasn’t enough to stop gambling – add the cost of getting divorced! Client #1 is looking for help to save the marriage but really doesn’t want to stop gambling. How long can Client #1 keep gambling in secret?  How much money would you choose to lose before you would get help to stop gambling and save your marriage?

marijuana-joint-620x420Client #2

Struggles with drugs and alcohol addiction that has everyone in the family worried about client’s health and safety. Sadly the spouse moved out, hired an attorney and filed for divorce. Client #2 tried everything- even quit drinking cold turkey for ten weeks while trying to save the 20 year marriage. Unfortunately, his wife decided it was too late and she didn’t want any more of his false promises. She also said that she would rather live alone than be married to a drunk. Shortly after his wife moved out things only began to get worse. Why? Because Client #2 had nobody around to monitor his daily consumption that led to not being able to get out of the house for several days. This condition escalated to the point of exhaustion combined with a feeling of being paralyzed and depressed. He just stop caring about life while grieving over his loss. How many relationships and how much money are you willing to spend for your addiction?

95129-91622Client #3

Struggles with over eating. About seven years ago client #3 notice his life changing after getting married. His lovely wife supported and loved him unconditionally as he grew larger weekly by 2-3 pounds until he slowly gained 100+ pounds of additional body weight over a seven year period. He wanted help to lose weight but felt it was impossible. Also, how would he medicate his stress if not eating those favorite foods in large quantities? It was obvious he wanted to commit to a plan that would help manage his food in a healthy manner. His wife prepared his meal at home as normal but Client #3 used food to medicate stress. He would pick up fast food on the way home to secretly eat in the car before going home to eat with his wife. As soon as he started chewing he felt immediate relief.

The food would reduce stress by activating the brain to trigger and release natural chemicals so that he would feel pleasure right away while preparing to eat again at home and repeat the pleasure. His wife never knew about his secret eating habit and the weight never really bothered her. She tried to cook him healthier meals but he continued to gain weight. When we met he shared that he was concerned that his weight was over 300 lbs. and he needed help. How much is his secret costing him? How much is your secret addiction costing you?


Most clients agree their addiction slowly turns into an automatic response without thought to feed the cravings and activate the pleasure circuitry and feel good in the moment. (temporarily) This becomes the daily routine without questioning WHY do I keep doing the same thing every day without asking for help? Having this same daily unchanged pattern results in an out of balance lifestyle.

Have you set a stop using date yet? Hopefully you are looking forward to beginning detox, rehab and recovery soon. Think about how good you would feel if you respond sooner rather than later…Why Wait? We are talking about saving you time, money and a lot of suffering all at the same time. Respond only if you are interested in reducing the cost or saving your marriage, saving your job, lowering your chance for an accident or injury etc…

When fighting any addiction we must agree and understand the meaning of the word and how the addiction is overpowering when left alone or keeping the addiction hidden from family and friends only compounds the situation. We know how controlling the daily fight can be especially for those not ready for help. For example: An addict that is honest and seeking help will openly explain how everyday it is a challenge to make better choices.


The mind and body of an addict is exhausted and powerless against the need or craving to feel completely satisfied. Unfortunately, the brain of an addict releases chemicals that cause temporary satisfaction and the addict will need help to overcome the initial stages from detox to recovery. We also know from reading and studying addictions most addictions will escalate or increase as the body builds tolerance setting the bar higher to reach a new normal.

Here’s a question to think about: What is your normal? You have the right to answer this question any way you want. This article in not meant to judge, shame or condemn anyone into doing something.
I look forward to hearing from those seriously ready to get started with a pure and committed heart for authentic lifestyle full of endless opportunities and possibilities.
Life is a Choice and Help Has Arrived!

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Mike Downing

Mike Downing Contributing Author


The Movie – Starring You!

Have you ever thought about making a movie starring you and sharing your personal story to help others overcome addiction? What would your movie look like and how would your story display on the big screen? Would it be a box office smash or a flop?

Would people be encouraged by how you pushed through obstacles and life challenges and survived to tell your story? Do you know why your story is so important to understand? I believe there is power, strength, and personal growth in your story that will give you and others the confidence needed to stay healthy and celebrate better lifestyle changes. Yes, when an individual is ready and wants to stop making excuses – the normal next step is to find help and learn how to deal with life as life unfolds naturally. Think about the building blocks of how your story will stack up.

Then as you prepare the outline use three basic steps. Notice there will always be a beginning, middle and end to every story.

Start by rewinding the tape in your head until you can find a spot called the beginning – the event or feeling just before your addiction started.

For example: find the pain point – divorce, rejection, the first drink, the first inhalation, viewing internet porn, the first needle, shopping, gambling or eating to comfort that moment.

In order to begin your story. Do you see yourself on the big screen at this point? Were you happy? Were you scared? How an actor would be portraying your experience. It is important not to get too hung up or stuck in all of the details in order to make a point of reference. This approach will help structure and move you through the details to keep you focused on where you want to end up. You will gain strength by skimming through the details (like a movie) and discovering you came through even when you believed there was no way and completely impossible. We want to spend time reviewing the good stuff – the positive aspects and what is working in your life and why did you stop appreciating those things? Or how did you lose focus on what was really important? Tell me more about your strengths?

Get to the middle of your story – the maintenance part. The part where you still thought you had control of your addiction. The middle of denial. Then move on to the finish. Has your story finished yet? What would you want people to remember most about how you choose to live your life? Yes, the key word to remember is choose. We all have to make choices that will be part of our movie and those choices will spill out and affect those in your life. You can change your appearance, your habits, your friends, your job…but you can’t change unless you want to change and that change will require structure, new discipline and many hours of practice for results.

When you are ready get something to write out your thoughts – preferably pen and paper work the best. I recommend hand writing over using electronic devices to get the most from this exercise. As your eyes and mind begin to open let the pen in hand feel your words flow freely into your notes for later review. Write your script and take your time and keep asking yourself does my mess turn into my message? Or was my story a test that turned into my testimonial? How does my story help people that are headed to where I have been? How can the ending of my story prepare someone for a strong finish? Allow the questions to guide your direction. Be honest because the truth will set you free!


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