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Reach: 72.4k Reg & 86k+ Facilities & 26.8M Social Media + (Email Community Total 180k) Nations largest organic addiction related community. Welcome Andrea Grubb Barthwell, M.D., F.A.S.A.M., is the founder and CEO of Two Dreams and past president of ASAM

A Call To Action!

With a world flooded with those who would seek to take advantage of those in need, the fleecing of private insurance providers by insane overbilling schemes and fraud within the treatment industry doesn’t end there.
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John SFYB Admin/Outreach

When a few ounces of urine are converted into liquid gold by profit mongers using elaborate laboratory schemes promising riches that far exceed any realm of reason, the sincerity of the message literally gets flushed down the toilet. Multi-million-dollar yacht owner James Slattery aptly named his boat “Pissed Away” as almost a means of mocking the federal investigation of his company Millennium Health and the subsequent 256 million dollars fine which was paid the day it was ordered.

This story seems overshadowed by the Chris Bathum scandal by where the self-proclaimed Rehab Mogul is alleged to have perpetrated over $400 Million in fraud, racking up 75 sexual assault charges and earning himself a 35 years sentence. Most recently we watched as the FBI raided Sovereign Health treatment facilities across Southern California to advance their criminal investigations of fraudulent activity within that billion-dollar business. Add to that the Steve Johnson saga in Palm Beach racking up 48 charges of patient brokering and so as the list grows from top to bottom we are forced to stare the corruption down as the epidemic grows.

The opioid epidemic can no longer be swept under the carpet as mainstream America and the world feel its deadly grip grows, grasping increasingly more within its fatal clutch.

The CDC mortality rates may not be the precise statistics some may require in order to raise the red flag yet you simply need a stroll through any impoverished area in order to look this beast in its eyes. That isn’t to say this blight on our species is limited to those poverty stricken by any means as suburbia suffers alongside the ghetto watching its youth die in unimaginable numbers.

Numbers and stats, rates and flow charts can’t compare to the pain we each feel when this brutal onslaught touches down in our lives and we are left baffled as to where we should turn for help. The headline news highlights these two evils almost simultaneously leaving fear for the lives of the addict in our world and doubt that any true help exists.

Power corrupts and great financial means is often confused as such which is what may cause these perpetrators to believe themselves untouchable until some alphabet agency kicks in the door, but what about the addict?

What about the loved seeking help and assistance dealing with the addict? What about the society that will bear the cost of treating the addict?

The solution is transparency and openness in this business which when corrupted is often shrouded and guarded from peering eyes hidden behind HIPAA, a protection intended to aid the client not the facility. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. This legislation has been the protective shield for many clients, helping them find recovery without fear of the unfortunate stigma addiction carries.

Being that 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose and over half those are prescribed by their primary care physician this shadow of darkness must be brought into the light!

When the epidemic more than doubles in deadly force from 2015 and the 33,000 estimated dead from opioid overdose alone, 158,000 estimated total deaths from all drugs that year to shocking numbers this year proves to show, we must rally together for effective means of putting this evil genie back in it’s lantern. 2017 shows so far to be the deadliest year on record where overdose is concerned and it’s only a little more than half over.

Combining the scandal and fraud perpetrated by the very institutions tasked with combatting this disease, the TRILLIONS spent, billed and thrown at it and the headline news airing something about the growing epidemic we must rethink, shift and find a new way. We at Stop Frying Your Brain are a community of over a quarter million addicts joining hands as we do at the end of meetings and shouting for change!

..Revolution in the means we go about treating the addict! Real Progress in the fight against the deadly killer which is not on the streets but the illness within!

Transparent facilities with open doors and legitimate practices! You got nothing to hide you say, SHOW ME! No more will we stand for the same lies and bureaucratic run around, we want to know what you plan to do different! Countless treatment facilities claiming to be evidence based,  well show us the evidence!

The numbers are shocking and I’m not quoting sources because I want you to look them up, I want you informed and not by me, go look and find 90% relapse rates, 85% of all in need receive no help at all, 23 million in need, 4.7 trillion billed…. This disaster must be treated as such, Start asking questions, start taking action!

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Lessons from Intensive Care: AKA Detox

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Whenever a person is brought into any emergency room on Earth the same general procedure is followed. The person seeking help is usually a complete stranger to the healthcare providers working there.
Stephen Kavalkovich

SFYB Certified Coach

That being said, an initial assessment is required to rule out immediate life threats. If one of these conditions is discovered, the patient is brought right back and treated according to their individual circumstances. If the stars are aligned and this person survives their ordeal, many times they are brought to intensive care to begin the recovery process.

The process of getting into recovery form the fastest growing killer, addiction, is practically the same. However, there is one small difference, someone entering into treatment is in a life threatening condition versus a rather benign condition such as a bunion or the common cold.

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When someone has made the decision to seek treatment, the first step is finding a center. Unfortunately, treatment centers and detox units are not as prevalent as emergency rooms, but that is another conversation entirely.

My focus is to address what happens when a facility is located and the sick person first walks in. Based on the assessment performed by facility staff as to what substances the patient is using and their own unique needs, placement takes place. It is generally assumed that the person is in a life or death condition and the shoe could drop at any moment.

They are brought in just as one who is having a heart attack or stroke with the understanding that the end result without stabilization is death or disability. Notice I said the word stabilization, not cure. Curing any life threat isn’t en overnight process with most any disease process, but especially with addiction. As it was once posed to me, if you walk 8 miles into the deep forest, there are no shortcuts out.

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Detox is the first step in the recovery from substance abuse addiction treatment. Some substances require intensive monitoring if one is now deciding to stop putting them into their body. Speaking from my personal experience, opiate withdrawal is excruciating and I felt like I was gonna die, but it won’t kill you.

That is, unless there are other underlying conditions. Alcohol and Benzodiazepine withdrawal can definitely kill a person if not done under medical supervision. Some examples of a “Benzo” would be Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, or Ativan. These drugs are prescribed many times for anxiety but also can treat certain seizure disorders making them have dangerous effects if stopping abruptly.

The initial assessment performed would help to make the safest and necessary detox care decisions. Once a bed is assigned and the patient is brought into the facility, the detox begins. Addressing the issues or reasons one has chosen to use drugs or alcohol cannot begin to happen until stabilization in detox. That onion has many layers and in most cases will take the rest of a persons life to peel.

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Detox can last one day to as many as several weeks. Again, this varies from patient to patient. In most cases they are given medications to help with symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, restless legs, and vomiting to name a few.

For most people entering detox, a hot meal may the first they have had in days or even weeks. Again, speaking from my experience, my money and thought process was on getting one more bag or pill. The thought of food was non existent most times.

A bed with pillows and blanket are provided, another simple luxury that is ignored when one is “running the streets.” Hygiene products are provided such as toothpaste and even a shower. When one is “caught in the grip” of their self destruction, they are reduced to an animal level of behaving and I don’t know many monkeys or coyotes who bathe or brush their teeth.

Another major thing is the wide range of emotion, mood swings, and desire to go back to the thing that brought one into detox. These things can be addressed with 24/7 staff who are trained to deescalate a newly recovering person. All the things I have stated above are not from books or web streaming documentaries, they are from my hardly earned experience from multiple detox stays on my recovery journey.

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When a person is determined to be healthy enough to be released from “intensive care” and enter the next phase in recovery, case managers begin the work at finding a longer term treatment center or “rehab.”

This is no different from when a person leaving the hospital form having major heart surgery. They are out of immediate threat, but not ready to return just yet. They are also placed in a “rehab” to get stronger and healthier. In the addiction treatment world, rehab is where the real hard work begins.

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Detox is not the place for this as one needs to be brought to a place of homeostasis or balance first before being stretched, shaped, and molded into something new.

I would not have been able to begin facing the multifaceted issues that brought me to my knees without first going to intensive care. If you or your loved one is doing the same substances I was doing, detox is paramount.

I did everything I could get my hands on and the signs and symptoms of an active drug or alcohol user are the same and thus the recovery process requires the journey from the starting point. Reach out to me. 

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George Michael: His Decades Addiction Fueled by Grief

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“Grief can be dealt with early in one’s life and better coping mechanisms set up for the unconscious mind to reference leading to a healthier and more emotionally fulfilling life.”
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Randolph Adair SFYB Staff Reporter

Super Star George Michael’s passing was such a shock to the pop culture world. His creative talent and force left indelibly sealed by MTV as his videos were at the height when video iconography reigned in the late 80’s and 90’s .

What was shared on the video screen was the projection of confidence and smoldering sex appeal. But what was underneath, inside his mind, was a battle with depression for over 2 decades.

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The death of his first love, Anselmo Feleppa and later his mother, Lesley, plunged him into a deep depression. He told the Independent, “I struggled with huge depression after my mother died. Losing your mother and your lover in the space of three years is a tough one.”

Feleppa died in 1993 and Michael coped with the death by smoking as many as 23 marijuana joints in a day and throwing himself in this music, said the Mirror.

He also turned to Prozac as he was devastated when his mother died in 1997.

Recently it’s been brought to light that the pop star battled a “spiraling” heroin addiction, according to a UK media outlet.

An unnamed source has told The Telegraph newspaper that the pop legend had been battling addiction over the past year and had been treated in a hospital for an overdose.

My writing here is strictly a review of others accounts and in no way makes any judgement regarding Michael. It’s a gleaning from his own words, reports and evidences of his life.

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Grief, emotional pain, deep betrayal; when they happen to us, our mind tries to find a way to deal with it, rationalize it. To do this the mind will send emotions to a body part/organ which then develops into a somatization or possibly a dis-ease. We will also develop a coping mechanism, mostly selected from learned modeling and emotional imprinting from our family and those who raised and influenced us.

Many times, clients will say they have dealt with the grief. That they have been to therapy and understand it better. They have pushed it away, out of site out of mind, they don’t think about it. They will say, “I don’t need any help with that, I will figure it out on my own.”

OR, they will say they don’t want to forget because it’s a reminder of what happened and how they will never ever let it happen again. Only, it happens again, and again and again. Because it’s an emotional coping pattern they have reinforced in their lives that the unconscious feels will make them safe. Right or Wrong, Good or Bad, that program has been installed and they will repeat it.

But understanding it better, pushing it away, not thinking about it, figuring it out on our own, or keeping it as a reminder does nothing to change it or transform it.

With my clients I take the past, their old memories, release the troubling memory in a loving safe way, and replace it with what they do want in their lives.

Michael slid into depression as his coping skill after his lover died and into even deeper depression when his mother died later. It snowballed.

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To cover his emotional pain he dealt with it with cannabis, Prozac, work and possibly later with heroine.

People don’t know how to handle their pain is the bottom line. They are an “avoidaholic” looking for anything: food, sex, alcohol, drugs, substance abuse, work, exercise, meditation, TV, OCD, and any other hyper control mechanisms that can be used to hide behind as it’s painful to feel the emotions and deal with them.

The standard traditional methods used don’t actually transform the pain, mostly because most practitioners don’t think it can be transformed. Or the client has been told it’s not safe to be transformed; best do it in little increments.

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And then there are the economic forces as it’s more financially conducive for the practitioner to keep the client in that state of mind and trapped by continually examining, revisiting and further developing the story of the trauma, never ending.

With my clients, I step into their life, figure out what they are doing to continually recreate this belief and sadness. Then I help them on a continuing basis to ferret out the emotional traumas and pain, the grief, and loss of control and replace it with self-empowerment and the life they desire.

In a hypothetical reality, if Michael or a client similar to his situation had come to me after a lover’s death, we would have released the pain of the grief and kept the love that was there. He would then been able to move forward in life fueled by that love. He would have empowering coping skills to deal with any emotions or unexpected life events that would have arisen.

Then possibly the pain of his mother’s death would have been less and we would have continued again to go inside and let go of the grief and pain of the memory and circumstances around her death from cancer. He would have honored her and kept her loe, dropping the pain, using that to propel him in his life from there on out.

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According to reports Michael led an amazing and extraordinary life of humility, service and love to those around him and the issues he felt important. From my experience if I had encountered a client such as him early on in their life path, I would like to think their contribution would been even greater.

A life free from guilt and grief. A newly empowered life built on their existing capacity and with the addition of new tools learned with me, allowing them to move to even a higher plane of love and fulfillment.

Randolph is a Mind Performance and Life Coach successfully helping his clients prosper in their careers, relationships, health and wellness. He also works through emotional traumas, addictions and unwanted behaviors to help them find the life they truly desire. He can be contacted via the link in his profile below

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alph-dogThe Movie Alpha Dog

What makes some give up & others the drive to change the world?
erinkberndt

SFYB Author

Has anyone seen the movie Alpha Dog? If not it’s a true story in which a young hard core addict owes his dealer $1200 . So the dealer kidnaps the guys little brother. He is seen by 39 people while being held. Actually developing what the 15yr old thought were friendships. They took him all over the place. The guy watching him keeps giving him the chance to escape.

The teen decides to stay so that his brother won’t get in any more trouble & he knows his brother will pay it. When the brother refuses to pay off his debt the dealer orders the child’s death. They make him hike up a hill to where his grave is already dug, they blindfold & bind him, slam him in the back of the head w a shovel & then shoot him. They close in the end of the movie w the Mom, who was beautiful, thin & young before this happened, now blown up, unkempt woman in a psych ward.

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She is a complete wreck, her son died for $1200,because his brother wouldn’t tell them what was really going on. I’ve seen this movie a million times, as sad as it is, I like the actors. I watched it a few weeks ago, now w a new perception of the ending.
As the mother gives her side of the story you realize she’s institutionalized, & she slips into madness. Watching this I realized as it hit me like a brick; that could’ve so easily been me. I could’ve made different choices.

That first night I had been awake since the previous morning so approximately 36 hrs w no sleep, while I was walking along the highway trying to burn energy. My gaze kept going from the skies to the huge trucks that kept passing, if my son had faced death, there was no reason why I couldn’t do the same. But I didn’t do it.

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On Monday, I was complaining to my husband that there’d been no response from God yet. Yes, I really thought I should’ve had my sign already. So he tells me to watch my bird feeders for a new bird because he knows Anthony & I used to watch the birds at our feeders in the mornings when he was young. I need to interject at this point, I had been awake for all but 2hrs of sleep since that Saturday morning til Monday night. I could not keep anything at all in my body. I was violently ill from everywhere. I was also sickly & so weak previous to this.

I got another 2hrs Monday night, actually early Tues morning & went to have my tea & *down swooped my very first wild bald eagle as it soared over the lake along the surface, I knew immediately that was my sign. When I talked to my daughter later that day, she said “omg, mom. We were out for a ride yesterday & there was an eagle over the car”…… 1200 miles away. On Wednesday my 6yr old grandson (Anthony’s son) saw it at his bus stop & on Wednesday Ant’s gf saw it 20 miles from where my daughter & grandson were.

That solidified my belief in God. I was still sick, I was getting calls from MA, forcing me to attend the wake & funeral. I had no money & my ex assured me his family was covering all expenses. I was so grateful for that. There was no way I could’ve paid, & definitely not my ex. But I was harassed by my ex’s sister, telling me how bad I looked to everyone & what a shitty person I was. I was so sick & dehydrated, but I had to go. On Tuesday & Wednesday. I repented all of my sins & forgave everyone I felt had ever wronged me. This great big weight was lifted from my shoulders that I no longer felt, it had been there so long. I made personal apologies to everyone, but most choose to not be in my life & that’s 100% OK w me. I needed to do that to move on.

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On Thursday I flew “home” to Mass, because I still could keep nothing down or in, I collapsed in the airport trying to get to my connecting flight. I had to be cleared by the EMT’s to fly on. I got into town w 3 hours to spare. Sick to be in my house 25’ from my backyard in MA is the cemetery. I coincidentally had met my son in the cemetery just before I moved. It was me, his sister, his son & his nephew. That’s the last time I saw him alive & when we parted ways it was w an I Love You from all of us to all of us. I was OK not attending these forced services I had no hand in arranging & so I just followed what had been set up. The first sight of my son’s body hit me like bricks dropped from a skyscraper & I dropped to my knees. I had a lot of family support, my aunt & cousins I hadn’t seen in yrs, my brother, my sister-in-law, close friends. It was a very large turnout.

My son lay there for all of those there to see, dead at 25.They cried the tears, they appeared to mourn. Yet the shit that took place, was so typical for that small dirty evil town. No one cared while he was alive, he was called names, ignored by the family & just never important to them.

Ant’s cousin is , who is also rumored to be on Heroin, did a deal at the wake. My ex was trying to score percocet for himself & Ant’s gf who was at that point 4 days into withdrawal. He was also trying to take her mother home w him, since his own girlfriend had to put her 3yr old to bed.

The “best” part of the night though for me was when I had gone outside looking for a friend & was told that this drunk “relative”, you know the type, mom’s friend ends up family. She didn’t know me or my ex & she most definitely did not know my son. She caused a scene in front of his casket, then progressed to driving by the funeral home & swearing & sticking up her middle finger. When I came out she had parked just a house up from us. I approached her & asked her to leave. She went crazy & tried to storm the funeral home. I had to have the police called.

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His service the next afternoon was beautiful I had decided I did not want to see him lowered into the ground, but tongues immediately began wagging, horrible mother, mean, evil, crazy.

Call me what you want I had already had my good bye in that cemetery in March. That is how I choose to remember my son. My ex’s family had everything removed from his plot….. Granite edging, toys I had put there from Aiden, trinkets, the money. Gofundme was set up & money taken by an aunt, an education fund set up, that has never been mentioned again. Everything my son owned that should have gone to my grandson was whisked away & hidden by my daughter & ex.

I left MA w no regrets that I would be away from the hellish drama. Florida is home now. I lay down to try & get some sleep, on the night that marked a week, Sunday. I lay down exhausted & closed my eyes.
That was the moment God took over!!!

Now back to Alpha Dog & that poor mother, some of us get the shit beaten out of us & just stay down. Not me, I have prayed for mental breakdown, it would certainly explain my experiences a whole lot easier. But, that is not what I am made of & God knew this when he healed me & gave me the ideas, the motivation, the drive & passion, to put it all out there. To dedicate myself to helping others & trying to change addiction/recovery stigma. This girl is on fire!!!
Thank you
Erin Berndt

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Professional Family Recovery Coaches Making a Difference!

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Rev Kev

SFYB Contributing Author

Addiction impacts the whole family unit, not just the addicted family member. Who helps the family to heal while their loved one is in treatment?  How does the family unit learn about addiction, recovery, and how to change? How does the family learn new coping skills and not to enable addictive behaviors in the home? The family will need help just as much as the addicted member of the family when it comes to understanding and changing.

Think about the situation from this perspective for a moment. If you had a plant that was dying from a disease in the soil that it was planted in, you would change the soil and the pot that the plant was in. If the plant came back to full health within thirty days, you wouldn’t then put it back in the old pot and soil; that would be insanity!

Isn’t that what we do with a family member who goes into treatment? The addicted family member goes into a residential program for twenty-eight days and then they usually go home to the same environment. If the family unit has not changed and healed as a whole, we are putting the addicted family member back into an unhealthy environment.

Today we have professional family recovery coaches that work with the family to help them to understand the disease of addiction, the recovery process, the different modalities and styles of treatment, coping skills, enabling and defense mechanisms, sign and symptoms of addiction, and so much more. While the addicted family member is in treatment, the family recovery coach meets with the family and helps prepare them for the return of their loved one.  The coach helps the family unit to change and get well as a whole.

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There are also support groups like Families Anonymous and Al-Anon to give the families their own vehicle to change, their own program and fellowship of support. Addiction is very hard for everyone in the family; it works on everyone’s emotions. It’s amazing to watch families heal as a family unit; to see the anger leave and understanding take its place.

Professional recovery coaches can also help the family to make healthy choices while their loved one is in treatment and not participate in enabling behaviors. When the family has a professional family recovery coach to help them to achieve their goals and objectives, the coach can help them to get past any blocks or perception problems they may have. The coach utilizes specialized skill sets, tools, and core competencies that can help to improve the overall situation. The coach will help the family to complete a specific action plan to help them to reach their goals and objectives in a timely manner.

In many cases, the family is hurt and fearful because of the actions of the addicted family member. This often leads to anger within the family unit that needs to be healed to move forward. The family recovery coach has activities and exercises designed to help the family to let go of some of their old ways of thinking and get rid of past triggers.

In some cases, the family may need family counseling or therapy to be able to move past serious issues from family history, or mental health issues. In these cases, the professional family recovery coach will work with the counselor or therapist to help the family unit to heal. It’s important to understand that coaching is a client and results driven industry.  The coach is there to assist the family to reach solutions and achieve their goals.

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Our nation is in the middle of a drug epidemic that has already taken too many young lives. Professional family recovery coaches have already made a great impact on the success of the family with education, awareness, and prevention. These highly trained professionals have already been involved in helping to save many lives and helping to change the perspectives of many families so that they can heal. From referral through disengagement for both the addicted family member and the family, these professional coaches have made a big difference.

Imagine the fear a family faces when they find out that a family member is suffering from an addiction problem. These families no longer have to face this nightmare alone! There are also professional recovery coaches that work with the family member who suffers from addiction.

The coaching industry is booming right now; I’m not surprised! Everyone needs a little help every once in awhile; however, when it comes to addiction and families, there is no room for error. Professional Family recovery coaches help change and save lives!

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How I Survived the Hunger Games of Law @StopFyringBrain

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What Can A Certified Recovery Coach Do For You?

Stephen Kavalkovich

SFYB Contributing Writer

By Stephen Kavalkovich, Certified Recovery Coach

The first step in establishing a mutually respectful relationship is establishing trust. The bottom line is that people don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care. This is paramount to vetting someone that you are going to spend money and time on to attain a desired result.

trust

When speaking to a potential client, a coach should be assessing the multiple issues and circumstances that led them to make the call. I would start by letting them have a sounding board to bounce their “stuff” off of, not giving a bunch of “you need to commands’”. That comes later and with more receptive language. In my previous life as a paramedic, my first 2 minutes at the location of a given crises was to assess immediate life threats and put off other details to the side.

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This had to be done rapidly and with good clinical judgement. In the recovery coach world, the thought process is very similar. Someone who is in the grip of a fatal disease process such as addiction is fighting for their life as well. They might not have a stroke of heart attack currently, but we all die of cardiac arrest and a hot shot of heroin can produce the same result.

achieving-your-goals

My goal as a coach is to assess for and address immediate life threats such as a need for medical detox or psychiatric hospitalization. After these needs are examined and handled accordingly, a decision to take someone on as a client can be mutually agreed upon. In certain cases my professional opinion may be to refer someone to another qualified individual or service. The goal is to provide someone with the quality ethical, moral, and proper help. As a provider, the decision to say no has to occasionally be made in the interest of the client, not in the interest of collecting payment or boosting my resume.

Let’s say that I have taken Bobby on as a client, immediate personal safety needs have been met, now the time to begin establishing a coaching relationship has begun. A great analogy that I would use is out of my experience as a martial artist. When I was trained, a lot of times my teacher would stand in front of the room and give us examples of drills or techniques.

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Then our job was to repeat them thousands of times until they became automatic. He would pace slowly up the aisles and watch, correct, and always give encouraging words. Then we would take these new lessons home and be expected to set side to practice. The next class would be a time to continue practicing, and he would know if were actually taking study time at home. It would be obvious to him. If it wasn’t being done, he would get to the causes for not following through. Through this, relationship and trust would build. He would be assertive and sometimes blunt, but always from of a place of love and respect.

Recovery coaching is the same. I have to be able to meet a client where they are, give them tools and techniques to begin using while we are together. When alone, the responsibility is on the client to do their part. My job is not to do the work for them, but to encourage them to find their own way that works for them. Going back to my old Kung Fu training analogy, the techniques that were repeated over and over to exhaustion would eventually become automatic.

A 10 year food or heroin addiction does the same thing to our behavior. These things, over time, become automatic. Just like eating healthy and exercising become our default mode, so does maladaptive and destructive behavior. A coach can help someone begin to interrupt these behaviors and do something different. I am here to applaud victory, but also give reasonable consequences and accountability to a client. If someone wants to stop drinking 4 bottles of wine a day, perhaps a victory in the early stages would be drinking 2 bottles. This may not seem like progress to a family member who never had a problem with addiction, but the growth is clear. 2 is better than 4 in this case.

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A new goal might then to be 1 bottle. Of course, there are many other factors in this example, but the point should be clear here. Helping someone who has never done laundry and they are now 45 to now do it on their own is a victory and should be recognized. Progress is progress no matter how insignificant it may seem. My role as a coach is not to give someone a life’s purpose, but I would consider it imperative to help someone explore and discover this for himself.

There are many aspects to being a recovery coach, most importantly is to help someone become better than they were when they contacted me. Recovery can be the most challenging endeavor in a person’s life and for some, the most important one. I believe an effective coach should also be one who can identify with their client’s struggles.

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Circumstances may be different, but identifying hardships and feelings can also build rapport and trust. If I am learning how to do gymnastics, I wouldn’t go and ask a plumber how to do it. That is, unless he is also moonlighting as a gymnast. Another way a coach can be utilized is in helping the family of one in crises to become educated about the nature of the disease. They can also help them establish healthy boundaries that would be of unparalleled value to all parties. A coach is a great addition to a person’s recovery journey. Meeting someone where they are and taking them by the hand to to help steer them through a new life is a mutually rewarding experience than should be utilized and investigated fro anyone seeking recovery.

 

 

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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?

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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.

Powerless

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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FEE FOR SERVICE MANAGERS NEEDED.

CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM NEEDED FOR NEW AND EXISTING FACILITIES.

James White

SFYB Contributing Author James White National Intervention on Drugs and Alcohol  


Actively seeking acquisition opportunities” in addictions recovery and behavioural health facilities nationwide. Brokers and referrals are protected.

For years I’ve watched the decline of services being provided to the client who in the greatest time of need is let down either by the system or by the people who have created the system.

The client has become a commodity.
I vowed and along with my “CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM” have thrust upon making a change not only in the industry itself but the people within it.

resilience

The days of patient brokering and mis-representation leading to liability and fraud  can no longer be the norm. Is your group or your team passionate- are you ready to grow and become bigger and better then anything that currently exists in our market?

Our goal is to be number one in the field of addiction and youth- behavioural health. Lets talk, collaborate and build the vision so we can provide the best service available to “ OUR CLIENT”

Use the email ICON in my BIO to connect

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