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Facebook allows people to advertise at far lower cost than Google Adwords


paid-search-or-social-2Split testing demonstrates Paid Social is starting to outperform Google Adwords Delivering CPA & CPL numbers way below market average in most verticals.

Opportunity for operators to play with the big boys for a lot less

Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Founder


Facebook allows advertisers to zero in on a small, specific audience because Facebook aggregates data.
Facebook notes where people check in, what they like, whom they follow, and what they mention. And it makes that kind of information available to advertisers.

Facebook an interesting platform for an advertiser (a business owner or entrepreneur) who has a message, product, or service and who knows the audience they’re trying to reach. Facebook allows people to advertise at far lower cost than traditional Adwords advertising.

Being an old school Google PPC guy Facebook advertising is fast becoming… if not now the best direct-response platform and distribution channel to get a message to your ideal prospects according to our recent split testing. But a few things you need to learn.

Get New Customers FAST at lower CPA’s! 

A quick way to achieve decent traffic numbers fast, up your conversion rates and to generate revenue quickly is by incorporating paid social media marketing in your strategy.  Just call 772.206.6676

The organic reach on almost all social media networks is dying. This is no accident by rate limited designs and shrinking market reach/feeds. These platform providers have once again changed their value proposition after sucking us all in and grabbing our data. Organic advertisers are sucking air.

Not just Facebook’s organic numbers are falling off. Even Instagram and Twitter have shown signs of diminishing reach when it comes to potential customers the last 36 months.

No longer can you send out a tweet and hope for consumers to pay attention to your social media campaigns. Gone are the days. The new big opportunity for marketers is paid social. If you’re running only Adwords… your leaking marketing budget.

By investing in paid social media marketing campaigns, you’ll not just increase your engagement. You’ll also get higher organic reach and better search marketing as a result of paid social.

I’m currently transitioning Google Adwords advertisers onto Facebook paid social for those that have tight budgets and desire to have a competitive edge.  
I’ll be happy to help you get a bigger bang for your advertising dollar. Stop leaking marketing budget. Reach out to me today. Robert @ 772.206.6676


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Media Bias – Feed You Crap About Treatment Centers In Florida By:RJ ViedMedia Feeding You Crap

Listen please! I’m sick and tired of hearing about how “bad” south Florida is for treatment. A perfect example of media influence. I was going to bite my tongue but I refuse. First off, hope your all having a great day! This post isn’t to promote any one facility or treatment centers at all.

RJ Vied – SFYB Contributor

This is in hopes to clear up some of the one sided “what sells” media and gossip regarding South Florida. I’d first like to address the comment made by our Reporters. I quote ” The real victims are the insurance companies!” Are you f word kidding me!?!? I’d love to see a “victim” to whom on average receives close to 20 million dollar BONUSES each year. BONUSES.

How about why no one can offer a sufficient amount of scholarships? So soflo treatment centers are bad because they can no longer cover the expenses of a scholarship, due to the fact census across the board are way down, DUE to the fact Florida has self destructed itself by exposing NOTHING but negative and its faults. I am 110% in shutting down the bad, but to stigmatize the entire industry does no one any good.

Media Bias - Feed You Crap About Treatment Centers In Florida By:RJ Vied Click to Tweet


Last on the media, again I wanted to bite my tongue. The palm beach post was doing a piece on the SUCCESS in recovery in SOFLO.

They were in my living room interviewing my wife and I along with 10 other people who found recovery. When asked why this piece was never published this was their response, “it just doesn’t sell”. Hmmmm.


Finally, to have our representatives on tv telling the country “anyone who sends their kids to south Florida goes home in a body bag”.

What in the…… excuse me sir, but if you took the time to see the doubled amount of bodies living a fulfilling life as a result of Florida recovery, if the media would show the thousands who get together daily, who love and support each other, maybe just maybe the quality treatment centers can operate, save lives and offer more scholarships. Maybe you can have comfort in knowing YOUR state is offering solution to this epidemic.


This entire perception of South Florida is basically effed. Rather than making us look like the bad guys, why not NOTICE we are the FIRST state to take action.

We have dedicated police, task force and federal members doing an incredible job. NO ONE else is taking this kind of action to clean up the industry. Lets be real, you want to see corrupt, take your blinders off and visit any other state NOT under the radar, Yet! Florida is cleaning up for sure, but it’s a damn shame those people actually offering appropriate levels of care, family programs and aftercare are feeling the brunt of all this. America, there are MANY down here living in the solution.

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There are many quality treatment centers. And it’s a matter of doing some homework and research, but they’re here. At least for the next few months.

Then we are looking at a whole new bombshell of “what do we do now”. Finally and I’ll end with this because I have coffee getting cold. For all to whom want to beat the industry with the “insurance” stick. I walked my 1.5 year old little girl into the ER this past weekend. She was in shock from an allergic reaction.


Drenched in sweat and red as an apple. Two scared parents and a sick, scared little girl walk up to the front desk. FIRST and only question was ” does she have insurance?”

Yesterday I walked to a dentist, I asked if they could scholarship my root canal! I was looked at as if I had 3 heads. Your resentment and valid arguments should be towards the state, the ins companies and the government. Do NOT get mad at the treatment centers whom hire master level therapists, psychiatrists, doctors and qualified staff. I don’t see the Feds banging down St. Jude’s because there not giving away free chemo.


Point in this rant! Agree or disagree is cool with me. So many people have gotten a new shot at life by going to south Florida.

Many have built beautiful lives and families, applied to colleges and became awesome members of society. Please don’t take away from the good going on because of the few greedy people who WILL see their day. And to the media! Write up a piece about how great your state is, how thousands found a new way of life, show a little pride in success of others rather than sales from corruption.


Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee Publisher/Founder

To my young friend RJ. I think the media bias is a result of the politicians attempting to put a positive spin and justification to their current efforts. I have made several comments on the landing page. Click on image below to read them. Tks@R

New Florida Laws For Treatment and Detox Operators – Click Image



Killing Us Softly…The Opioid Epidemic3A29B97300000578-3915194-More_than_33_000_people_gathered_on_Independence_Mall_Monday_nig-a-17_1478610486566

In 2015, more than 33,000 people fatally overdosed on opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no other year on record has seen a higher number. Nearly half of the deaths involved a prescription opioid. Last year that number doubled. We need resources!
Mike Lindsey

Mike Lindsey SFYB AIR Store

Let’s take a closer look at these numbers. 33,000 doubled equals 66,000 lives lost to opioid overdose in 2016. For perspective, these following cities have populations close to 66,000…

Portland, Maine
Flagstaff, Arizona
Redondo Beach, California
St. Charles, Missouri
Weston, Florida
Youngstown, Ohio
Skokie, Illinois
This is just a few of many cities across the country with populations of approximately 66,000.
Killing Us Softly...The Opioid Epidemic Click to Tweet
JUST IMAGINE…next year one of these cities completely WIPED FROM THE MAP because our society could not get a handle on this epidemic.

Let that sink in for a minute. I GUARANTEE if one of these cities were wiped from the map by an outside source, the POTUS would retaliate. But the deaths of, on average, 181 people per day randomly across the country are overlooked.

66,000 deaths is approximately the number of total casualties in the Revolutionary War versus the British. Football stadiums that hold approximately 66,000 people are Gillette Stadium (NE Patriots) …Commonwealth Stadium (Kentucky Wildcats)…Century Link Stadium (Seattle Seahawks) These are staggering numbers, to say the least!! The time for change is NOW!!!


More perspective…The Zika Virus was announced and people and press absolutely LOST THEIR MINDS!!

There have been less than a handful of deaths in the U.S. due to the Zika Virus. WHY in world did this get so much attention?? Is it because Big Pharma profits on funds for vaccine research? Perhaps they are willing to seek a solution since there is no possibility of reaching a financial agreement with mosquitoes to continue the influx of newly affected victims.

Maybe I am guilty of being facetious here, but am I really that far off base? Big Pharma profits from the introduction to opioids via prescription to patients. As a patient becomes dependent on opioids, Big Pharma still profits. Now an addict out of control who can no longer afford or get enough prescriptions for opioids, the solution becomes heroin from the streets. So this patient who started their journey due to pain caused naturally, by surgery or other has a life threatening heroin addiction.


Big Pharma comes to the “rescue” with Methadone and Suboxone which is used to help wean addicts off of heroin.

So there is profit on the front, profit on the back…hell maybe Big Pharma profits off the import of heroin, fentanyl and other opiates into the U.S. from other countries. I would not be surprised, in the least, if they also profited from addiction treatment facilities above and beyond the use of Methadone and Suboxone.

In recovery, we often use the phrase, “You are only as sick as your secrets”. It has become quite apparent that our society is VERY sick…I am sure it is due to many secrets…


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New Florida Laws For Treatment and Detox Operators


The current Florida legislation that was passed on May 4, 2017 HB 807 (SB 788) broken down to simplistic terms;

Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Founder

Note from publisher

About the “New Florida Laws” for TC and Detox operators. While I get the intent I can’t tell you the number of calls I got from owners and operators wanting to know my thoughts;

The general feeling is this is a perfect example of how “Government” strangles small business owners. One owner told me it reminded him of the time when the chicken farmers decided to write a book on computer repairs. Epic failure. My two cents would be you can’t legislate morality. It doesn’t work.  The best example I can think of is they made dope illegal. How did that work out? 

The resulting legislation (PDF Here) is a big pile of goo and nobody has a clue what any of it  actually means. Overnight turned many good operators into criminals while increasing their operating costs, lowering their care and profits. Owners and operators are not happy as they attempt to change current operations to conform to something they don’t understand.

One investor/owner said; “We needed to hire a lawyer in an attempt to understand how to comply with these new laws and its still not very clear what we’re doing resulting in 10’s of thousands of dollars in additional costs to change current operations.

Our focus has changed from treating clients to complying with government regulations. One thing for sure government run operations are NEVER efficient or profitable. Our bricks and mortar assets will be sold…. and we’re moving out of Fla at first chance. We have to remain competitive in the industry or go out of business.”

The new laws probably won’t have much effect on the bad guys other than making them all move out of the state destroying 1000’s of badly needed jobs and making Fla the worst place to make multimillion dollar investments in these businesses.

You can’t blame the investors/owners. Owners/investors told me its hard enough running these places now they have to deal with DCF red tape and huge increased costs in terms of licensing and legal counsel to protect their million dollar investments. The margins are to skinny for this non-sense.

“Nope not happening we’re building in another state is the answer investors are saying”. So the investors are leaving. See ya Florida… we’re gone…. is the market response and have a nice day.

Did I mention it will drive up costs of treatment for those who badly need it and don’t have a dime. My take soon FLA will NOT be competitive in the market because of increased operating costs while providing less service for the dollar…. other states will steal our economic advantage.

I will tell you some of the best treatment providers are in Fla. Do your homework. Both good and bad in any state.

SMH Another industry destroyed by politicians? Need a job in this industry MOVE out of Fla. One thing for sure you…. don’t want to work and/or operate in Florida anymore they say. #Good Job

Their seems to be a lot of media bias to justify the new actions. You can read about that here. Click Me

New Florida Laws For Treatment and Detox Operators Click to Tweet

Marketing: Drug treatment center marketers will need to be licensed by the state’s Division of Consumer Services. Deceiving, lying, or misleading about treatment services offered, amenities, and the high jacking of 800 numbers will be first-degree misdemeanor.

Criminal Penalties: Statewide you can be investigated and prosecuted for patient brokering. Prosecution could result in a felony and the fines increase with the number of patients brokered. Brokering more than 20 patients will be a first-degree felony and a whopping fine of $500,000.

DCF’s Role (Department of Children and Families): It will now cost much more to license a facility and the penalty for operating without a license is a third-degree felony with a maximum 5 years in jail. DCF significant increase in licensing fees. Operating without a license becomes a third-degree felony, carrying a maximum five-year prison sentence. DCF now must draft the new rules including; clinical, treatment best-practices, operating standards, levels of qualifications for addiction professionals and the number of staff that will be required to operate. DCF will also be allowed to visit you center anytime without notice and inspect all of the above.

The current Florida legislation that was passed on May 4, 2017 HB 807 (SB 788) broken down to simplistic terms; Click to Tweet
As a treatment center owner, detox center owner, or sober living owner you need to completely understand the 5 bills that have passed;

HB 807 (SB 788) — Marketers will now have to be licensed and there are stiff penalties and fines for patient brokering. and centers will be help legally liable for deceptive marketing practices. It makes DCF the “big brother” and enforcer of the industry

Sponsors: Reps. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton; Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart; and Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boca Raton; and Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis.

HB 249 (SB 588) — Paramedics, emergency techs, and hospitals to collect data on overdoses and report them to the Dept. of Health. Forces hospitals to adapt overdose protocols.

Sponsors: Reps. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, Larry Lee Jr., D-Fort Pierce; and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

HB 477 —  Directly attacks drug dealers with min. and mandatory jail time including heavy fines for dealing in fentanyl. It also gives prosecutors the option of imposing murder charges.

Sponsors: Reps. Kathleen Peters, R-St. Petersburg; and Charlie Stone, R-Ocala.

HB 557 (SB 840) — Directed towards prescribing physicians controlling the quantity of opioids prescribed to five days. The Prescriptions that are filled for any controlled substances must be reported in the State prescription drug monitoring database within one day.

Sponsors: Rep. Nicholas Duran, D-Miami, Rep. David Silvers, D-West Palm Beach; and Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis.

SB 886 (HB 791) — Protects individuals that have been Marchman Acted by making their court records confidential.

Sponsors: Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach; and Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boca Raton.

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Combing the Floor for Coke Crumbs


Chelsearae SFYB Contributing Author

It was another night of drugs in the apartment I lived in. I was only 18 years old, still relatively new to the world of drugs, and was surrounded by my male friends;

Miles the shady OxyContin lover, Richard the musician, Spencer the fiend for chasing the dragon. We all stayed up the entire night doing coke and chatting away excitedly. Eventually, the last lines got split out on the table and we did them. Soon after this, we knew that it was gone.

Combing the Floor for Coke Crumbs Click to Tweet


This feeling is an almost tangible sensation in the air in a room full of people who love drugs. The conversation eventually tapers off and people speak less and less. Soon, the only measure of conversation is the odd sentence someone manages to get up the motivation to speak every once in a while. Everyone’s eyes start getting that empty and fiending look in them. You start noticing that people glance at the floor every so often, trying to hide the fact that they are hoping a bit of coke fell on the floor.


It’s similar to walking through an empty festival ground after the party is over and knowing everyone in your group is hoping that some extra drugs fell out of someone’s pocket unnoticed, lying on the ground, and that they will be the lucky one to come upon it. It’s a shameful state to be in, but the craving is stronger than the shame. This wasn’t the case for my friend Miles, however. The sun was up and we were coming down from the coke, and no sooner had the other guys left the room before he was down on his hands and knees, combing the carpet determinedly for just one little crumb of spare cocaine.

“What are you doing?” I asked. “I am pretty sure some fell on the floor earlier, so I’m just trying to find it,” he replied. This was a situation that I imagine someone should be embarrassed to be seen in, but for him, the craving was stronger.


Miles also wasn’t above combing the ashtrays to look for smoke-able butts when he ran out of cigarettes, but it was something he would only do in front of me.

In front of everyone else, he kept his mask in place and it worked quite well, at least for a little while. I knew his true colors though, at least to some degree. I watched his determined floor-combing with some measure of coke-comedown-addled detachment, somewhat fascinated.


I’ve never been huge into cocaine. I mean sure, I would never say no to free drugs being lined out in front of me, but it wasn’t my favorite.

Plus, even if he did find a small, leftover rock, the effect wouldn’t even be noticeable. What was the point of that? This was one of the few times I saw the real face beneath my “best friend” and partner in crime, and it didn’t look so pretty. Years would pass, however, before I would finally wake up and realize how ugly this life was. In the end I ended up contacting SFYB and they hooked me up with the read deal. Thanks Robert Henslee ur da rave…


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Who are homeless veterans?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that the nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly 9% being female. The majority are single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans.

Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Founder/CEO

Roughly 45% of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 10.4% and 3.4% of the U.S. veteran population, respectively.

Homeless veterans are younger on average than the total veteran population. Approximately 9% are between the ages of 18 and 30, and 41% are between the ages of 31 and 50. Conversely, only 5% of all veterans are between the ages of 18 and 30, and less than 23% are between 31 and 50.

America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.

About 1.4 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.



How many homeless veterans are there?

Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 39,471 veterans are homeless on any given night.

Approximately 12,700 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) were homeless in 2010. The number of young homeless veterans is increasing, but only constitutes 8.8% of the overall homeless veteran population.

110530011804_homeless_veterans-640Why are veterans homeless?

In addition to the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks. Additionally, military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment.

A top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol.

Doesn’t VA take care of homeless veterans?

To a certain extent, yes. Each year, VA’s specialized homelessness programs provide health care to almost 150,000 homeless veterans and other services to more than 112,000 veterans. Additionally, more than 40,000 homeless veterans receive compensation or pension benefits each month.

Since 1987, VA’s programs for homeless veterans have emphasized collaboration with such community service providers to help expand services to more veterans in crisis. VA, using its own resources or in partnerships with others, has secured nearly 15,000 residential rehabilitative and transitional beds and more than 30,000 permanent beds for homeless veterans throughout the nation. These partnerships are credited with reducing the number of homeless veterans by 70% since 2005.

What services do veterans need?

Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment. Additionally, veterans need job assessment, training and placement assistance.

NCHV strongly believes that all programs to assist homeless veterans must focus on helping them obtain and sustain employment.

What seems to work best?

The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit, “veterans helping veterans” groups. Programs that seem to work best feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veterans who are succeeding at bettering themselves.

Government money, while important, is limited, and available services are often at capacity. It is critical, therefore, that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities that most Americans take for granted: housing, employment and health care. Veterans who participate in collaborative programs are afforded more services and have higher chances of becoming tax-paying, productive citizens again.

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Know your rights when fighting Child Protective/Welfare Services

Dealing With Child Protective Services
Here are some of my recommendations. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice — so consider the source. Get an attorney if at all possible, and discuss these things with him/her. Your attorney will understand local procedures better than I possibly could.
Joann Miller

SFYB Desk Editor

What would you do if a child protective services (CPS) social worker came to your door with false accusations? What would be the best way to handle that. Read this to be prepared, before it happens to you, as it has happened to so many others…. people who believed it would never happen to them.


Know your rights when fighting Child Protective/Welfare Services Click to Tweet
Stay calmStay Calm

As you deal with the interview, remember to be polite. Child protective services workers may become angry at hostile and terrified parents, thinking they must have something to hide. Treat the social services caseworkers respectfully, but don’t give them any personal or self-incriminating information, or leads to more information.

They may need to see your children in order to close the case, and they will probably want to talk to both parents. Don’t be afraid. Do whatever needs to be done in order to get the case closed.

The less said, the better. Child protective services social workers usually show up at your door with little to no evidence. If they are acting on an anonymous tip, they have NOTHING. They cannot get a court order based on an anonymous tip. The only thing they can use against you is information you give them.

record everythingRecord and Document Everything

Check your state recording laws. Print out a copy of your state’s recording law, and put it in a file folder titled “Child Welfare Agents” near your front door. Have an audio recorder or video camera handy in the house at all times. If a child protective services social worker shows up at your door, be prepared to record the interview. You can, at that time, show them that you have a copy of the recording law.

Don’t be coerced not to record — this is your legal right if your state law says it is. Video is better than audio, if you can afford to do that instead.

Furthermore, you must document everything that happens in writing.

aid319398-728px-Take-Notes-Step-6-Version-2Take Notes.
 Keep a spiral-bound notebook on hand and use it to document every contact with child protective services or child protective services appointed “service providers”. Don’t back down on this! Prepare in advance, and stand firm against CPS agents! After each contact, write a letter (some recommend having such a letter notarized) detailing what occurred, and request that the social worker confirm or deny the facts as you understand them within ten days of receipt of your letter. If no letter disputing the facts is received, then your statement of facts will be automatically confirmed. This form of documentation can later be used as evidence in your favor in juvenile court. See: Your Case Notebook – Is It Up To Date?
hops656Don’t Invite The CPS Worker Inside

 You are under no obligation to let a child protective services social worker into your house. Under the basic law of our land, the United States Constitution, Amendment Four, you have the right to privacy in your home. No government agent of any type is allowed to enter your home without your permission. We know of many cases where entry was coerced by statements such as “let me in or I’ll take your kids”. Do not give in! Do not give up your Constitutional Rights! Stand firm on this! If your rights are not honored, you can sue them later, but it is so much better to force them to honor your rights now. Check out Forced Entry Lawsuit.

0727 warrant

The only exception would be if the child protective services agent shows up with a law enforcement officer bearing a search warrant. Usually, that doesn’t happen — and I will tell you why. The child protective services agent is there at your door to gather evidence. Usually, he doesn’t have enough real evidence to detain your child right away and there is not enough “probable cause” to obtain a search warrant. Typically, he will be just working on a phoned-in tip from someone who wants to retaliate against you for something. If you talk a lot, your words will be twisted in such a way as to be used against you in court. Also if you allow this person into your home, he will most likely find something there to complain about and use against you in court. A sink with 8 dishes needing washing can show up in his report as “a sink full of dirty dishes and a filthy kitchen” which of course would serve to make you look bad to a judge. Therefore, just don’t let these people into your home. You have no idea what an issue a child protective services social worker can make out of a pile of laundry sitting next to your washing machine!

If the complaint the child protective services social worker is there to investigate is that your house is dirty, you can go inside, take a few digital photos, and then go back outside to show her the house is just fine. Or, you can tell her that without a court order there will be no entry into your private home thanks to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. If she’s working with only an anonymous tip, she will not be able to get a court order. If instead, she has credible evidence, she may be able to get one.

Silent 11Say As Little As Possible

Of course, when you first see child protective services social workers on your doorstep, you want these people to go away and close their case. This will make you want to tell them things to clarify that you are not a danger to your children. Be careful what you say. As any activist will tell you, anything you say can be twisted and used against you!

For example, I thought it was good that my spouse and I were already involved in therapy and a 12-Step group for adult children of alcoholics. However this statement was used against me. It was used as evidence that I had problems and needed “services”. The fact that I was already taking care of my own needs and didn’t need a court order to do these things didn’t help.

cps rights

Another thing you really shouldn’t tell CPS agents is whether you were once in state custody. When you tell them you were a foster child, first of all they know there’s a file out there with your name in it from which they can pull documents to use as “evidence” against you. In my case, most of the paperwork in our thick file was pulled from my spouse’s very thick state custody file. They claimed they had evidence that he was violent from the time he was in kindergarten and they were prepared to use that juvenile file against us, even though he had never harmed our child. Second, if you tell them you were a foster child, it marks you as a victim and makes them think you can be victimized more. Former foster children have their children detained at a rate much higher than most, so just be on the safe side and don’t mention that fact if it pertains to you. It really is none of their business. You should not open your mouth to help them make a case against you.

It is also not wise to tell them something like, “I am not an abuser – I should know what that is – I was abused as a child.” What this says to them is that you were abused therefore you are likely to be an abuser. Believe me, no matter what terrible situation you went through as a child, it is better not to mention that to a social worker. They will not feel so sorry for you that they will just go away. No, it doesn’t work that way. They are looking for bad things to say about you to pad their caseworker report when they present it to a judge.


Yet another thing you shouldn’t say is whether your child was detained in the past. A history of child protective services interference in your family tells a caseworker you are on their hit list. If you have ever had a child taken from you by Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) move to another state or better yet, out of the country, and keep it a secret! There is a 1996 law (ASFA – the Adoptions and Safe Families Act) that gives the child protective services agents the right to take away all future children if you ever had a TPR in the past. If this law is used against you, there will be no reunification plan, no “reasonable efforts” to keep your family together, and most likely no visitation.

Child cust

Another thing to beware of: they may ask you for referrals to people to help prove your fitness to parent. For example, I was asked for my ex-husband’s phone number. Thinking he would give me a good referral, I complied. As it turned out, he was told that making a statement against me would help him keep custody of our children. The most damaging “evidence” they got against me were false statements signed by this ex-husband and his girlfriend, who had only met me briefly once and had never been in my home! This woman had the gall to make a twelve page false statement typed on legal paper regarding my parenting abilities! She called it an “affidavit” but did not sign it under penalty of perjury, and for good reason! Therefore I advise that you NOT give them “leads” to your friends, family, ex-spouses, therapists, doctors, etc. They are just looking for “evidence” against you and they are experts at coercing this sort of evidence from people who know you. Make them find their own evidence — don’t help them find or make contacts!

So, if CPS agents are at your door, stand firm and say as little as you possibly can! If you feel they are making a case against you anyhow, get an attorney to help you through an interview in your attorney’s office.

TrustingDon’t Trust CPS Social Workers

 In other words, know the enemy. Know who child protective services workers are. I used to work with child protective services workers in the Dept. of Public Social Services, Visalia, California, so I think I’m in a position to tell you what these government agents are like, though I’ve never been one. (I was a welfare eligibility worker.) The typical child protective services social worker is there for one reason: to have a job to pay his/her bills. This worker cannot afford to lose the job, so s/he will do whatever the supervisor says in order to maintain employment.

Now, if this child protective services social worker is put into a unit assigned to go investigate referrals and to make decisions regarding detainment, of children, then naturally this person would be suspect if s/he never detained a kid! In order to maintain employment, this child protective services social worker will have to take a certain number of children into custody… therefore when they are at your home, they are thinking to themselves, “what can I find out about this family to build a case aimed at taking their kid?” They must have a case to take to court, and they are there, looking for evidence.


Even if they seem nice and harmless, remember, this is how child protective services make money. To keep their jobs, they must take away children from their families. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They come to your door saying, “I’m just here to help.” The next thing you know, your children are in state custody and you are in court trying to prove your innocence. Remember, even if you like the person, behind every pleasant personality is a need to keep the child protective services social worker job. Behind every seemingly nice caseworker, there is a more experienced child protective services supervisor who may tell your caseworker to “find something” to use to detain your child. You would not believe some of the idiotic allegations I have seen in caseworker reports… but if they can get a judge to rubber stamp their side of the story, they can get away with keeping your children in state custody. Don’t trust these people!

ServicePlans3Service Plans

 You need to understand that child protective services funding is closely tied in with “service providers”. It is likely that the social worker will offer some kind of deal, saying you can keep your kid if you agree to “services” like psychological testing, drug testing, therapy, etc. What this offer really means is that they don’t have enough evidence to take your child into their custody, but if you will just go to their “service providers” they may get the “evidence” they need through these “service provider” reports.


Say, for example, you are accused of drug use. They want you to go to a drug testing service to prove your innocence. You say, “Okay, I’m not a drug user, I’ll go”. But then you find yourself facing false-positive results … or if you miss an appointment, you are told that will count as a positive drug test. Your life is being severely interfered with because you have to go to scheduled appointments, miss work, make special childcare arrangements, etc. Believe me, all this is not a “service” to you, no matter what they call it! It is only a way for child protective services social workers to try to get “evidence” against you so they can take your children away.

What I recommend based on what I’d do in similar circumstances: Do NOT sign their plans. Do NOT admit to anything. Force them to PROVE their cases in court, in a FULL TRIAL. Don’t accept just a hearing where you are coerced to sign guilty to the charges. They will try every trick in the book to get you to agree to their sick “service plans”. Stand firm and just say “no” when they ask you to sign your legal rights away.

no no no noJust Say “NO” To Private Interviews With Your Child

 The CPS agents will want to talk to your child alone. Just say “NO”. Tell the agents that your child has the right to have an attorney present and that if he insists on an interview then you and the attorney will be present and the interview will be recorded, preferably on videotape. Of course, if your child is attending a public school, you probably won’t get a chance to say “no”. What would happen is that the social worker would go to the school and, behind your back, get permission to talk with your children from the school employees. You can tell the school ahead of time (in writing) that you don’t permit such interviews, or anything other than basic education activities, however, you cannot trust school employees to go by your wishes. It might help to ask your attorney to write a letter to the school forbidding interviews with CPS workers. Keep in mind that the public schools are one of the major sources of CPS referrals. I have heard that caseworkers complain that public school employees actually want more child detentions than CPS agents do!

My advice is not to trust the schools, and to homeschool if possible. I am a big homeschooling advocate because I believe it is best for kids, and one of these days I will write a page about that too… but in the meantime, just keep in mind that it is hard to say “no” to interviews if your child’s school will say “yes”.

Public Schools

Already the government puts child protective services social workers into public schools to look for target children. Eventually, this may be the case in every public school. I think this is a good place for me to mention that I support the separation of school and state. Please check it out.

Be sure your children know that they have the right to say, “I don’t want to be interviewed without my parents and an attorney and a tape recorder present.” Child protective services social workers will not tell your child that s/he has the right to say that. If there is still time, you must be the one to train your child how to deal with government agents. Be sure your child knows the consequences of child protective services interviews. If anyone is detained, it is the child. If they say the wrong thing, they can be taken into custody and removed, possibly permanently, from parents, siblings, friends, their hometown, their pets, and everything else they hold dear in life! They will be traumatized by that separation, and probably put on harmful adult psychotropic drugs to deal with the separation. See: Drugging Foster Children.

If they complain too much about being incarcerated in state custody homes, they may be put into mental hospitals, or placed in restraints, which are known to be deadly. “Teach your children well,” as the old song goes. We live in perilous times. We owe it to our children to help them learn to deal with government agents that may harm them. Remember, children are eight to ten times more at risk of abuse in foster and group homes, so we are not over-reacting in teaching our children these self-protective measures.

prepAdvance Preparation

 I’ve suggested that you keep the following things on hand: a tape recorder, blank tape, video camera, spiral-bound notebook, and a file folder marked “Child Welfare Agents”. If you have time to prepare for a visit before it happens, you are very lucky. Most people don’t take the threat of government interference in their lives seriously — until after it happens to them.

To prepare, I suggest the following items be printed out from the internet and placed in your folder: your state and federal laws regarding child welfare services; court cases that ensure your rights; the Bill of Rights, newspaper articles and statistics showing that children are not safe in state custody homes. Be prepared to show these things to the social worker that comes to your door, and question them about the wisdom of taking children into state custody where they are eight to ten times more at risk of abuse.


If they want to take your kids, question them about the “reasonable efforts” requirement to keep families together, and about what “pre-placement preventative services” they are offering. If they want your child, ask about what “imminent danger” exists. Let them know that you know the laws!

For example, if they claim something happened on Monday to your child but they show up on Friday afternoon to pick your child up, you should be telling these social workers that obviously no “imminent danger” exists or they would have acted on the report right away! If you don’t stand firm and point out their mistakes, they will walk all over you and violate their own laws in many different ways. Yes, your child still might be detained, but if you show them you know their laws and can speak their lingo, they will think twice before choosing you as a new client.

Paper work

In addition to the paperwork detailed above, keep on hand in this “Child Welfare Agents” file your pediatrician’s doctor reports showing that your child is healthy. Every time your child sees a physician, request in writing that the full report be sent to you. You should not give these reports to a CPS agent, but you can let him know you have evidence showing that you are a good parent, not an abuser. Flash the papers before his/her face, don’t hand them over to be read… these are your own valuable documents and you don’t need to share or tell the worker who the child’s doctor is. Let the worker find evidence on his/her own. Don’t help a CPS agent try to build a case against you.

The point of having this folder is to let the social worker know that you know the laws and you are prepared to defend yourself! You are not going to share your “evidence” with a social worker. They have no right to it unless the case goes to court, and then you share it with your attorney only – or if you’re representing yourself, you can enter items like pediatrician reports into the court records as evidence.


 Be prepared to face coercion, even from your own court-appointed attorney. Just like many others, I too was told by my county attorney that I could take my child home that day if I would just sign guilty to the charges, and I was so desperate to get my baby, I signed. Thousands of us have done that. Believe me, it is better to say “No – I want a full trial – you must prove your charges!” If you give in to the coercion, you will be jumping through their “service plan” hoops for months to come. If you go through with a trial, there’s a possibility you will win your freedom from this government interference in your family’s life.

If you go through a trial, and your child is adjudged a state ward, and you are court-ordered to complete a “service plan” or “reunification plan,” then, of course, you should do your best to complete every part of it before the next court hearing. This plan will most likely include psychological testing and counseling — that is a standard waste of taxpayer money. If the social workers want to court order you to anything that does not apply to your case, you should insist that your attorney fights this requirement in court. For example, if they want you to go to drug testing despite the fact that you are not a drug user and they have no evidence that you might be, then fight it! After the court hearing, if social workers try to force you into “services” that are not in the court-ordered plan you can refuse to cooperate. You are only required to do things that the judge has ordered. You should document all such illegal requests for additional services that haven’t been required by a judge. You can request a state administrative hearing from the state social services department to discuss these requests with an Administrative Law Judge.


Likewise, you may find that child protective services social workers are trying to delay setting up services that are court ordered. You must document your repeated requests for such services and the excuses the child protective services social workers give for delaying the start of such services. Child protective services agents have been known to delay services so that your case will last longer. If your child is in state custody for 15 months, your parental rights can be terminated on that basis alone. Your goal will be to get your child returned at the next court hearing, so don’t allow delays!





The Greatest Story Ever Told Is YoursWhat The Hell Is Your Story

Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB CEO/Founder

If you have a great story to tell please get in touch with us right away. We want to hear it. Your story can save a life. Please help us help.

Live in another country? No Problem We reach 172 countries on the planet and would love to hear yours.

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Written or video is fine

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Robert Henslee

SFYB Founder

While sober livings can range in locations usually matching an individuals budget, they are not all in bad neighborhoods. Some do resemble the dark and dilapidated areas addicts turn to when they are getting high but the majority are in stable and comfortable areas. People may be surprised when driving through nicer communities in their local town to learn that the well kept home down the street actually houses a group of men or women looking to better their lives.


This goes hand-in-hand with the idea that the homes are in questionable neighborhoods. The aim of any reputable sober living home is to provide the same or better quality and comfort than the addict had at home. Imagine trying to begin a new chapter in your life and better yourself only to call a place home that resembles the condemned house that you used to pick up your drugs. For this reason and many more, sober living homes make it a special point to provide homes with amenities and creature comforts found
in higher end homes today. It is not uncommon to be greeted by hardwood floors, Travertine tile, marble counter tops, and plush leather furnishings.


On the contrary, sober living is one of the few ways to set up an individual in recovery for success. It is still up to the individual to do the leg work, but sober livings provide the stable and structured environment one needs to successfully transition back into their day-to-day life. While a 30, 60, or 90 inpatient program would represent the triage and emergency services a
patient would receive after a horrible accident. Sober living is akin to the follow up visits and continuing care after a patient has been stabilized. A sober home allows men and women who are still in a critical early point of recovery to rejoin life while still having the accountability needed for long term success.


Many people believe that sober living homes are unregulated, or even worse, fraudulent money making schemes. While a simple Google search can reveal the dark side of “sober livings.” It is important to remember that the true facilities are operating to help those suffering from addiction. Yes, they are businesses and need to make a profit to continue to help the future recovering alcoholics and addicts, but they do not do so at the sake of their current clients. Sober homes, depending upon the state they lie in, are subject to regulations, through zoning laws, state housing departments, state and municipal healthcare regulations and regulation specific to sober living communities and homes. While it would be nice to say every home is operating for benevolent reasons it is important to research the home your loved one chooses to continue their journey in sobriety. The best place to start is the inpatient treatment facility where your loved one is currently undergoing treatment; the counselors and staff will know which places have good or poor reputations.


Like most things in life you get what you pay for. If it is cheap, it is cheap for a reason. A sober living is exactly that; a home where each of clients is guaranteed to be able to come home and not be tempted by the same environment they had just left. Each home has their own rules for what happens in the event of relapse and be sure to discuss this with the director of the home. Rules can vary from speaking with their counselor to ensure it does not happen again, to being asked to leave the home temporarily until
the individual is able to test clean of all drugs, to asking any individual to leave the home in the event of any drug use. Companies that have been in business even for a short time will have seen cases of relapse and will have plans to handle each case accordingly.

More importantly, if a sober living has a good reputation, it enjoys it for a reason. They have built it over time and through the ability to foster success stories. They work with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds in the toughest and most mentally challenging moments of their lives to show them a better way to live. One of the reason they are so successful is because the
best homes are truly that.. a safe home for your loved one.

If you have a great sober living facility give us a call – Robert 772.206.6676

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What’s Your Passion?


Kristi Lynn

SFYB Author/Writer

Being from a very small rural area in Ohio, it is commonplace for all that you do to be under the microscopic view of the general public that surrounds you. Many talk in their hushed circles. Many speak from the aspect of their own stories and cast judgment due to personal reference. Many also participate in these conversations for the simple task of keeping the gossip mill running, full throttle.

Keep in mind, I’m neither an active addict nor am I an addict in active recovery. I’m just a person. A girl who has grown into adulthood understanding that no matter what path I’ve chosen, and will choose, it is, has been, and always will be under constant scrutiny.

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I’ve spent my life on the defense; defense of myself or of others. Not all of my paths have been the best ones I could’ve taken. However, the one aspect of myself that I have found to be consistent is that of standing my ground, and I do it well; even when shunned by the majority of those that surround me. I’m stubborn. But I’m passionately stubborn. It takes a wild soul to stand apart from the crowd. It takes an innately driven spirit to be comfortable enough with one’s self to be able to speak differently than what is considered to be the norm. It also takes many years of experience. I didn’t become this person overnight.

To those that know me, well or otherwise, it is not secret that I have suffered from depression my entire life. I chose to share this information a few years ago on social media. Some didn’t know or expect that I was affected by this; others knew and have watched me battle from the sidelines. But this battle has been a very hard one. Not always uphill, but extremely inclined when it was. I have spent many years learning to understand myself as well as aggressively despising those that didn’t understand a damn word that came out of my mouth.

As I drifted through my teenage years into my twenties, from high school and into college, I drank. I drank often. There was rarely an evening that I didn’t; there was hardly an occasion that didn’t call for it. I drank socially and I drank alone. I say I’m not an addict because I never needed it. My body didn’t physically depend on it. I liked who I became while drinking because I was brave. I also wrote, and I wrote often. My depression became the part I wanted because it was the part that brought me poetry. While in college, I may not have attended my classes all week and chose to remain on my couch during daylight, by nightfall alcohol fueled me. Slowly, I became sad more often. Not only did I carry the emptiness and uncertainty of myself and life, but it saddened me so much that I cried. I cried often and I cried a lot.


It was also during college that I discovered free writing. I wrote on the bad days, and I began re-reading what I wrote on the good days. Little did I know that this would be the start of my own evolution. In time, I started to see my weaknesses, I even laughed at times, at my words, my moods. Let alone having been called crazy by others when drinking, I began calling myself crazy when sober. It made me realize that I needed to change. The only question I had: Who was I?

I had no idea. I couldn’t answer it. I had no idea about the person I wanted to be because not only was I too busy worrying about how the world saw me but I hated the way the world made me feel. I began hating my depression. I hated this person living in sadness. I envied all of the faces that passed by me, wondering if they suffered, too. I started wondering if medication was something I should consider. Since I had been determined to overcome depression on my own, I saw relying on medicine to fix me as weakness. However, what I didn’t realize was drinking was a vice to mask it. Drinking or not, I was complacent inside, and I needed to find myself. In the same breath, the writer was the role I loved. But the writer existed because of my depression. It was as if the depression had given me a split personality, and as much as I hated her, I still couldn’t imagine my life without her; that girl that lived inside of me. The change wasn’t easy. But it happened. Today, I’m medicated. I’m functioning better than before, and for more days in a row. I still have hard days, and I always will. But my own struggle has helped me to understand more about myself than I ever would have known otherwise. I’ve seen the dark and I’m not afraid to live in the light now. Oh, and I’m still a writer. I’m now in my next to last semester in graduate school – that is, if I can survive it.


Through the years, I’ve suffered from a mentality of never being good enough. I’ve also learned that I have no idea whose standards of good enough I was trying to meet. Depression is a tricky beast. Yet, I had learned enough that I could eventually see my own triggers and work through the periods it wreaked havoc on me. Perhaps that’s why I started advocating for those suffering from addiction. Perhaps I have personal reasons close to my heart which propelled me. Either way, it’s a part of me now.

I have watched for decades as friends and acquaintances since childhood have battled with their addictions. Some have since quit in their own ways, some have been in and out of the legal system, and some are still using. The reasons for being an advocate I have concluded, are this: I live in an area that is heavily affected by the present epidemic. I live in an area where judgment is passed easier than the air that is breathed. As a human being, I am very aware that every day isn’t easy and every decision is not always right. As a lifetime member of my community, I also know that when you and others mess up, those mishaps are never forgotten. Ever. They hang over you like a bad aroma and noses turn up in your presence. If aura’s could be seen, the mistake itself would be the noticeable color. The conversations persist regardless of changes made in the positive, and the ‘I told you so’s’ fly freely, especially if another mistake happens thereafter.


I also know that along with my depression, came an intense compassion for mankind. In my most recent decision to become involved as an advocate, I’m not afraid to declare it on social media. I’m bold and brave and I say it all. I say so much that I’ve begun being shunned by family members, by friends, and by faces I don’t even know. Yet surprisingly, I don’t care. I don’t care because I have found my passion. In all reasons stated and all reasons not stated, I have found something that I strongly believe in. Living in a rural area, I have found the urge to stand up to all of the people that are clinging to a century old belief that addicts are worthless. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing it. I’ve known some great souls that sit on the judged side, and I realize that they can’t even be seen by others beyond their labels. They never have been seen. I can’t help but wonder why someone would choose to not socialize with another person just because of a label that another someone else gave them. The school district I reside in teaches my son and all of its students to stand up to bullying, every day; but the adults are doing it every day. It doesn’t seem right and it’s not. I know how it feels to be judged and I believe that’s all it takes for compassion. I have had a circle of friends canvasing all walks of life. I believe that every person I’ve encountered, whether I still associate with them daily, or not at all anymore, has some small part in helping me to become the person that I am.


I am appreciative of my bad days for showing me my good days. I have learned by watching and listening that remaining quiet during times that I should’ve spoken up have left me regretting my own silence. I have missed out on happiness because of other people’s opinions. I’ve missed out on being myself for the same reason. I’ve adjusted and became, time and again, and I was miserable. But today, I’ve finally evolved into the only person I can be, and I’m okay with that. There are people hindered from becoming because the rest of the world tells them they can’t. It’s sad, and it makes me sad to have watched it happen time and time again; I know how it feels being the person stuck in the same exact cycle, over and over. I know how destructive self-doubt can be, and I know how it feels to be trapped in the doubt of the world that surrounds you.

I have found solace in representing a population that remain stuck in their own evolution. I have a voice that can be heard and I’m sharing. While there are people that resent me, there are people quietly thanking me. While some call it crazy, I call it balance. While other people spend their time judging, I spend my time helping. And it feels awesome. Nothing good has come from the inability to promote growth, on any level. From the place inside of me that was once so overridden with depression I couldn’t function, to becoming someone positive, I hold true to my own belief that if I can change, anyone can change. The only question I have now is: Who’s going to stop me?


Deciding To Make a Change and Treatment Options

Dani La Barrie,LCSW,QS,CAP

SFYB Senior Author Dani LaBarrie 

Admitting and being aware of an addiction is the very first step to moving forward and healing. Deciding to make a change is one of the hardest steps along this process. In order to change habits, one must start by changing the way they think as well as their behavioral patterns. Some ways to start include:

Change Needed

  • Spending more time with others who do not use substances or alcohol.
  • Changing the way you feel about yourself through positive affirmation and creating self worth.
  • Learning healthy new ways to cope with feelings of anger, stress, and sadness.
  • Finding new activities to be involved in and new ways to spend free time.

Once you have decided to make a change, the next step is to start exploring treatment and/or recovery options. There are several different types of treatment options out there. To name a few:

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  • Inpatient: In this treatment, clients live at the facility. It’s also sometimes referred to as ‘residential’ treatment. The purpose of living at the facility is to remove distractions and remove the individual from the environment and surroundings that encouraged substance use.
  • Outpatient: this treatment involves meeting with a therapist or counselor a few times per week. It can be on a partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient level of care. These treatments involve regular visits to a treatment center or hospital for more formal care. This care, most of the time, includes psychiatric treatment and access to medical resources.
  • Dual Diagnosis: In this treatment, clients receive inpatient or outpatient care to treat substance abuse issues and mental health issues at the same time.


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Keep in mind, what works for one doesn’t work for all. Treatment must be tailored and individualized to the specific needs of the person. Therefore, it is important to appropriately assess and determine what is best for you or your loved one.

As you learn more about treatment options and the recovery process, you may come across 12-step recovery. Many treatment centers and recovery programs use the 12-step model as a part of their treatment approach. 12-step programs are social support groups that help people with their recovery from addiction. Some of the most popular 12-step groups include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous.






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What It Means to Be an Addiction Advocate ?


Kristi Lynn

SFYB Author/Writer & Friend

Many addicts have failed to move into recovery because of their environments, their communities, and their surroundings.

They have been tossed aside, shunned, and avoided due to their disease. Regardless of the population or location, opiates, drugs, and alcohol are everywhere. The ability to continue is equally prominent – and sadly, so is the stigma surrounding addicts. With all of the negativity and what seems to be an unforgiving and relentless cycle for an addict, why in the world would someone choose to be an advocate?

Compassion. It really is that simple. I have been blessed with many friends. I also know many that have suffered at the hand of addiction. I have known those that have lost a family member due to the grips of addiction. I see people that I have known for a lifetime still struggling in the cycle of addiction. I know that opportunities for me, the one who has not suffered from an addiction, are greater than those that have.

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I have watched repeatedly as addicts continue to live among the people in my community that refer to them as worthless, untrustworthy, felons, and wastes. I have seen and heard comments made by people I know regarding the of shaming addicts for the destruction suffered from addiction. I have been told, whether directly or indirectly, to associate myself with better people, that these people are a lost cause. I have even been brought to a level of questioning my own judgment for friendships I have endured over the years. My community, as are others, is quite finely divided.


Those that have suffered and are suffering with addiction are also great people.

They are people that feel lost and want to numb the pain that life seems to hand them repeatedly because the drug is what they know. The drug keeps them in that place that society has put them; they believe that they can’t change, they won’t change, and are ashamed of what they’ve become.

However, on the other side of this, I am also a Mom, as well as having an extended family covering all ages. Realizing that resources and information are limited, I would never want those I love to be at a loss in recovery. I am tired of watching those I have known battling their addictions unable to see their own worth. I refuse to accept that behind bars is where an addict belongs. I believe that help should be there, in over abundance. 



I am aware that an addiction can begin, or even continue, for many years before it causes destruction and wreaks havoc.

I have also learned that rather than take on the problem, many will deny it exists, they will ignore that it needs dealt with, and they will continue to live in naivety. I have watched how this has done nothing except to maintain the problem for those suffering. It has kept them trapped. It has kept them outside of the boundaries imposed by the community; of who is accepted and who is not.

edmicdicWith this epidemic rising at alarming numbers, I am also aware that the day may come when someone, whom I love dearly, may also become victim to this disease.

I have seen how friends and those close to me have already suffered. I have seen how the ignorance of the uneducated has spread among the masses. I have watched what happens to those left to their own devices, trying to survive without the resources, and having no outlet of support outside of their own immediate families. I would never wish this upon anyone, and I pray it never happens to my son, my nephews, my nieces, etc.

Quite frankly, I realized that the more I learned about addiction, the more I did not know about addiction. I have had many conversations with those that don’t view addiction as a disease but instead as a character flaw, a lack of good ethics, values, and morals. I have been told how people don’t change, how being an addict is something they will always be, and that this also means they will forever drain those around them of love and money, and that nothing good will ever come from supporting an addict. Of all of the statements, the only truth that stands at the forefront, is that an addict will always be an addict. However, I also know that this does not imply that an addict can never change. An addict does not have to remain in active addiction.

Since my advocacy began in 2016, I have seen and met many addicts in active recovery. Each of them know what they are up against personally and externally. Living as a drain on society is the one thing that each of these recovered addicts are not doing. In fact, they are sharing their stories in the hopes that they will help another.


Recovery is in fact the other side of addiction. Anyone that tells you otherwise, is a very uneducated individual that feels he has a right to declare another person’s worth based on past poor choices.

In fact, I have found that those stuck in the shaming part of society are the ones that hold society back from progression. These are the people that live inside of their own self-fulfilling prophecies.  A self-fulfilling prophecy is defined as any expectation, positive or negative, about a situation or event that affects an individual behavior in such a manner that it causes that expectation to be fulfilled (Mirriam Webster Dictionary). This also maintains their comfort zone.

Additionally, they are the same people that neither handle change well nor believe change is possible for an addict. What happens though is that most likely one of these people will soon know someone that is directly affected by an addiction. And then this person who refused to listen or learn, will reach out and want help, he will then want to know what addiction is and what can be done.


As an advocate, I have myself been shunned by members in my family and my community.

But I have also been commended for my efforts by other members of both. I still hear and take part in conversations about one or more people suffering from addiction. But the change for me has occurred because of the conversations I have had with people I know that are needing support, information, and advice for themselves or loved ones. I am aware of both the good and the bad opinions around me. I support those that need supporting.


Being an addiction advocate means that I am always learning, that I will offer support and information to those that need it. It means that when someone tries to take away hope from an addict that chooses recovery,

I will be there. It means that in a world of shallowness, my mind is open to opportunity. It means that for every negative remark, I have facts to show otherwise. It means I am actively seeking change in the communities that need it the most by offering awareness and resources and being a voice for those faces that don’t have one. It means that even when people choose not to listen, I will still be sharing for the ones that are listening. It means that in a world that needs compassion and hope, I am helping to spread both.

I find that those that stand against my advocacy have only fueled my motivation. I am proud of my advocacy. By sharing what I know I am able to help others. The negatives I receive, I turn into positives. Life happens to all of us, and it is up to each of us to make the most of our journey. None of us deserve to live a life stuck inside of the mistakes we have made.

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Demoralization: The under-recognized “engine” of addictionengine-1

Michael D Lukens, PhD © 2016
Michael Lukens

Dr. Michael Lukens SFYB Addiction Expert

Anxiety and depression underlie most addictions; as painfully troubling and enduring conditions they are primary motivating factors.  Ask any gathering of addicted or recovering individuals if they believe that a major part of what motivates them to use is to try to control their anxiety, their depression, or both . . . and they will almost all say “Yes.”  I know this is the case as I do this routinely in my work with addicts in recovery.

In general, the struggle people have with these two common mood states forms the basis of the emotional process that makes people feel the need to self medicate.  When you have a bad headache, you self medicate with aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and if they don’t work you look for something stronger — whatever will take away or reduce the pain of the headache.

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Heartaches or “mind aches” are similar in this way — when we’ve got them we feel the need to get rid of them, just like headaches.  And we are driven to do whatever it takes to make these kinds of pains go away.

There is no “gateway” analgesic phenomenon — you don’t go down the line through progressively ‘harder drugs’ all the way to opiates if aspirin gets rid of your headache.  That is, if in fact, getting rid of your headache is your real goal (secondary gain and other issues emerge to confound the “real goals” picture  — people ‘use’ for multiple reasons).  When it comes to medicating your headache you simply keep searching for stronger versions of pain relief until you get pain relief.  Similarly, when you have a “heartache” or a “mind ache” (perhaps you’re already recognizing the links to anxiety or depression) you feel the need to do something or take something that will help with that kind of pain.  When you find the best “something” for the job, you use it.  By doing so, you’re not an idiot or a miscreant, even if you are an addict-in-the-making.  And rather “sensibly” you keep using that something if the pain is recurring, or unrelenting.  This is the essence of Ed Khantzian’s original Self Medication Hypothesis.  

If you’re a toddler you self-soothe with your pacifier — life can be tough even for the youngest among us.  And your thumb can serve as a substitute when parents “prematurely” take your binkie away from you (triggering early onset symptom substitution?).  If they had the wherewithal toddlers would lie, cheat, and steal to keep their favorite stuffed animals, blankies, or binkies.  “Moral decay” does not tend to accompany the blanket addiction process for toddlers because they don’t have the skill sets or the access that would make these action patterns viable or available.  On the other hand, they do get rather compulsively attached, much like the adult addict, and they experience painful “emotional withdrawal” if forced to   give it up.  And they do find ways to put pressure on moms and dads to let them keep “using” — begging and pleading and being obstinate or acting out in some way.


Babies’ brains have not been modified by extensive use of the binkie so that they eventually lose their self control.

They don’t have much of that self control stuff in the first place — they don’t need it and don’t have what it takes yet to make self reflection happen.  Ironically, adult addicts are predictably stuck in a regressive mode that is lacking self reflection.

The babies’ reward centers in their brains are not running abnormally amok.   They like what they like, and they like some things a whole lot.  Feeling soothed and comforted and secure are high on the like list.   They are not “diseased” or even “deficient” in the strictest sense of those terms.   Most, if not all infants, are already emotionally and neurologically wired to get very “compulsively” attached to things that make fear go away or that can create a sense of being soothed when they’re lonely or their feelings are hurt.  Turns out most adults are wired similarly — viz., wanting to make anxiety and depression go away — it’s just unfortunate that so many of their soothing and security producing devices are vices with great harm potential attached to them.


Dissociation is not a side effect of “using” behavior . . . it’s the intended effect.  

The “high” is the sought after effect of deliberately altering one’s mood or feeling state. When a person experiences life itself or some major aspect of living as causing “emotional inflammation” — a persisting dispiriting of the mind or the soul — then there is motivation for dissociating.  We feel the need to seek some form of emotional relief.  This is a desire to feeling-wise remove one’s self from an emotional experience that one does not want to have . . .  either an experience that may happen (connected with anxiety) or an experience that one is already having (connected more to depression).  This kind of dissociative activity is always willfully engaged in.  Willful does not necessarily mean pre-planned or consciously deliberated.  When we act impulsively it is our will making us do the acting, even if it doesn’t  feel that way to us at the time.  Using behavior is not happening by accident; Nor is it by dint of some sort of disease.  When being in touch with “what’s real” or “what may be” is unwanted in a committed enough way, we find means to “check out” instead.  The toddler is taking the edge off of fear or loneliness or boredom or frustration; and the adult addict is pretty much doing the same thing.

Substances and addictive behaviors (eating, shopping, sex, gambling, video-gaming, religiosity, exercising, etc.) are vehicles or “tools” for creating people’s preferred forms of dissociation.  When fantasizing or daydreaming is not enough, teens and adults, like little children, will get “hooked” on whatever “thing”   manages to soothe them or effectively reduces their pain.

Depression and anxiety are painful and they themselves are surface manifestations of underlying unresolved pain or discomfort in living.   As Scott Peck said at the very beginning of his book “The Road Less Traveled” —  “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  He’s right . . . life is hard, and it almost universally produces some anxious and/or depressive mood states (many of which we don’t identify, detect, or diagnosis) so we are predictably motivated to make it “FEEL” less so by dissociating from our experience of living.  


No One Escapes the Drive to Escape

The implicit assumption that non-addicts are living pain free lives, or that some of us are living so “well” that we are immune from demoralization is patently false.  Positive thinking is not the ultimate answer to grief and loss, and it’s likewise real hard to come by when your self esteem is in the crapper.  Since life is difficult for all of us at times, and especially difficult a lot of the time for a great many of us, we should not be surprised that depression and anxiety would be so ubiquitous, to the point where they are statistically more “the norm” than the exception.  We also should be humbled enough by our recognition of this to acknowledge we are all at risk . . . for anxiety, depression, and the attendant drive to dissociate and/or self-medicate.

Anxiety and depression are conditions that persist over time and across situation, by technical definition, and are not merely momentary, passing feeling states.  Both of these are conditions that are formed by meaningfully significant demoralization experiences, and then they both, in turn, give rise to increasing demoralization over time.  This is the deeper structure of the engine that constitutes the vicious cycle of addiction.   It seems to be the case that some people are temperamentally predisposed to develop depressive and anxious response patterns as they go through life, and so they may be more “at risk” for falling into or “falling for” addiction.  But all of us are at some risk due to the predicaments and painful experiences that are really a “natural” if not inevitable part of our human existence.


Why Do the Behaviors Become Compulsive?

Over time, the pain relieving solution — the addiction behavior pattern — becomes a contributor to the problems and pains getting worse, and yet the behavior pattern is very hard to change.   Why are these sorts of “bad habits” so hard to change? The compulsivity develops because the short-term prospect of potential soothing of pain in the moment is more salient a motivating force than the longer term costs or pains that accrue to addictive use.  This is the time honored human dilemma we could call the “self-control vs. impulsivity conflict” in which longer term payoffs, that may be so clearly greater “on paper” than their short term counterparts, simply do not have the same level of motivational pull as the “right here and now reward” of our being potentially able to make ourselves feel better.   We may think of this as our being “irrational” on some level, but it is, organismically speaking, “systemic common sense” on some other level.  

The mature individual, unlike the infant, can sometimes override this short-term pacification impulse.  Things like “higher purposes” and “selfless commitments” help make such ‘overrides’ possible.  Nevertheless, there are no adults that I’ve met that you could say 100% of the time find they’re able to forego the pain-relieving “candy” in front of them for the sake of their self esteem or longer term goals.  Of course, some people are better at it than others.  The immediate question is “why” and the followup question is “why not?”  as in why would we expect it to be otherwise?  Most addicts can recognize some form of developmental “arrest” in their earlier life.  The immaturity shows up in common forms:  struggling to tolerate frustration and pain, and difficulty delaying gratification.  


These two abilities are hallmark features of adulthood. Demoralization and addiction both stunt emotional growth.  

Differences in degree and type of demoralization sit right in the middle of what explains these important individual differences.  Children don’t have the “structural maturity” to dedicate themselves to higher callings, which is why we see their egocentrism as par for the course in terms of their development.  People who’ve been traumatized or abused as children would be expected to be more addiction prone for some obvious reasons.  One unobvious reason is that it is hard for the person to set goals and follow through with applied extended effort if there is no expectation of having enough worth or personal power to start with.  

If life is bad enough and if in our history the promise of future rewards has not been kept or the payoffs, for whatever reason, fail to get delivered, we are then even less inclined to “hold out now for more to come later” — we are built or structured in such a way that we learn to more consistently take the reliable payoff of the short term “fix.”   You can see how these were meta-learning events, based on some interpersonal trauma or pain-involved learning experience — make it harder to trust fate or people.  This process can produce a kind of learned helplessness.  It involves a “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” sort of learning based conclusion about life.

It is my contention that in all cases of genuine addiction some form of demoralization accounts for the motivation to begin to play this form of Russian Roulette (RR) with substances and behaviors.  The RR aspect of the addiction process is not necessarily intentional (it clearly IS in some cases)  — it just goes with the territory of high potency/high risk pain relief.  If you had a migraine and you knew the medication that would sometimes relieve it was likely to cause stomach ulcers, would you take the risk just to get rid of the headache?  The headache is here and now,  while the potential for bleeding is far from here, existing in the abstract in some later time.  Most of us would act, or be strongly tempted to act impulsively given a situation with no better alternative available.  In fact, a large number of people would persist in taking the pain relievers even after there was copious and prolonged bleeding.  This behavior may seem mind boggling, paradoxical, ludicrous or irrational — if it’s not your headache.  


Addictive payoffs are what make the behaviors goal directed, even if addicted behaviors at some point seem totally compulsive, or even trance-based.  

The motive for using is to achieve that experienced payoff.  The motive can exist inside a ‘trance’ and the motive can energize enormous cravings.  The payoffs are intermittent, as noted, and this makes the search for the payoff something that would be sustained long after the payoffs actually stop.  A little lesson in behaviorism 101 might help explain.  The slot machine keeps people glued to the machine BECAUSE the payouts are potentially quite large and BECAUSE they happen infrequently without specific predictability.  If this quarter didn’t lead to a payout, it might be the next one, or the next one, and the one after that.  Littler payouts happen with a bit more regularity to fill the frustration gap between the last big payout and the next.  Watching others nearby get big payouts further supports this in being a “sticky” behavior for the casino fan.

Demoralization also accounts for the continued drive to play RR once the risk-taking takes on lethal proportions, as it represents a game of chance being willfully played with life itself.   When life consistently hurts, people are more inclined to develop a passive death wish — such as hoping to not wake up in the morning vs. actively plotting to suicide.   

Demoralization accounts for the triggering of relapsing regardless of how long a person is “in recovery.”  Consider the recovering person saying to him or herself “I’ve been doing so good and trying so hard . . . and now THIS happens.”  This would be a sudden disruption of sobriety/recovery due to the relatively major demoralizing event.   Very often, however, the relapse trigger is more like the straw that breaks the camel’s back:  “That does it, just too many damn things not going my way!”

Some form of demoralized state must exist as part of the context, the meaningful landscape in which a person lives, or there would be no motivation to move the person into addiction.  Going down the rabbit hole is not a choice made by people with high morale . . . they just are not at all inclined to do that.  In fact, most tend to eschew even recreational use or misuse since they are appreciative of and protective of the high morale they have about the game of life as they are currently experiencing it.


When and where recreational experimentation becomes committed addiction it is only and always through a pathway that is already lined with demoralization.

I would argue that even the inkling to try drugs and alcohol experimentally is sourced by low levels of demoralization.   Happy teenagers (which may be something of an oxymoron, recognizing how few of them there ever are in any  given community or culture) want to stay happy, they don’t want to mess with the good thing they have.  They do not as easily or readily succumb to peer pressure, which has its effect so much more prominently on those with pre-existing morale issues (or those with “heartaches” or anxiety or depression — of course I’m including even the subclinical kind).

In theory, the omnipresence in our culture of addictive substances and activities means that those who do not “go there” are not inclined to go there.  They do not find themselves at a never-ending temptation juncture fighting the competing urges to use or not to use.  Drugs, alcohol and other addictive behaviors are “everywhere” and so easily accessible, but if they don’t call your name you don’t have to fight the urge to indulge.  

If we look at what “turns” one of these non-addicted persons into someone who is “flirting” with it, we see demoralization of some kind has played a role in this shift.  When we then see someone go from a mere flirtation to full blown addiction we may see a convergence of pre-existing demoralization, fresh addiction-related demoralization, and a marriage of sorts between the lowered morale expressed by the will and the addict’s “choice” of lifestyle.  The bonds in this relationship are hard to break even if it is hell on earth and despite the well known risk that it could become a lethal affair.  Demoralization is part of the “glue” that makes these bonds so strong.


Sudden Demoralization

Demoralization can occur as a momentary experience, when there is a sudden “downdraft” of spirit, a drop in the quality of one’s appreciation for or “good faith” participation in the game of life.  I’m talking about a pain producing roadblock that utterly spoils the process (or our expectations for the process) of the quality of our experience of living; whenever the “acceptable enough” status quo of our journey through life is sufficiently trashed.  This can be enough to kick off a case of the “Fuckits” — a term that captures or expresses one’s reaction to the spike in demoralization in the vernacular.  

One reason this is frequently unrecognized as an “engine” sourcing addiction is the fact that for many people the status quo is already consistently a “not so good faith” relationship with the world in the first place.  Growing up with abuse, or poverty, or invalidation and oppression means there’s a very good chance demoralization becomes unseen due to its being such the experienced norm.  Demoralization can be a backdrop that is cloaked due to its subtlety and its chronicity.  Think of having the experience of being in your kitchen just at the moment you recognize the sound of the refrigerator in the background simply and only because it finally turns off for a minute.  This chronic form of low level demoralization is like that refrigerator noise, always there and yet, by and large, going unnoticed because the person is so accustomed to it.



Chronic Demoralization

Despite the compellingly robust findings from the ACE study , we are still trying to explain its results in simple terms:  How do early childhood traumas lead to the so-called “choice” to experiment that then eventually progress to the point the person begins in earnest the habitual use of addictive substances and/or frequent engaging in high risk behaviors?  The chronically demoralized young person is ‘ripe’ for falling into the rabbit hole as he or she gets introduced to the substance that will flip the unwanted chronic feeling states on their heads (or hold enough “promise” of doing so).  If an experience comes from the using that provides the antidote to the demoralized feeling state(s) then “we have a winner” — the DOC (drug of choice) fits the felt need well enough — and the engine of addiction is turned on.   

A teenager with a large chip on his shoulder is not likely to find that smoking pot is “enough” to calm his anger and help him tune out.  So pot is not the DOC for him or her.  Another teen, with only a tiny chip on his shoulder may get enough “defiance payoff” from occasionally drinking stuff taken from his dad’s liquor cabinet, or throwing a party when his parents are out of town.  If self esteem is horribly low a person is not likely to adopt a more socially engaged usage pattern, but if their self esteem is just slightly “below sea level” a few drinks may be enough to help a whole lot.

The overpowering emotional payoff from this negative reinforcement — temporary escape from feelings associated with low self esteem — is hard to resist; notice how it tends to take on the aforementioned pattern of intermittent payoffs, a schedule of reinforcement that B.F. Skinner himself noted is particularly robust and hard to change, producing a more powerful and lasting form of ‘learning’ that tends to develop into a habit.’  This can explain why addiction continues “long after the thrill is gone” and despite such a toll being taken.  The lingering hope for, or the expectation that the payoff will still happen is enough to make the engine keep running.  This is commonly referred to as “chasing the dragon.”


Musings About Typologies

There is the more sociopathic forms of demoralization that leave one predisposed to engage in socially frowned upon modes of conduct, and more socially condemned forms of substance use (hard core  DOCs).  There is a sizable ‘chip on the shoulder’ that represents some form of resentment or contempt that makes the F*** YOU part of using it.  So, for instance, Heroin, Crack, and Meth, are the “better fitting” DOCs for the group who strongly identify with and simultaneously resent their social disenfranchisement.  

At the other end of the spectrum there is “The Good Girl Drug”  — food — which is the selected dissociative “device” for so many women and a growing number of men.  This may be because either resentments are not ‘allowed’ or they are accompanied by overpowering guilt.  In some cases anger is simply not prominent among the major contributing forces fueling this type of engine.  

There is also, of course, the more socially acceptable “adult drug,” alcohol, and its anti-anxiety properties, which provide a reliable way of easing the process of socializing that is otherwise blocked by shyness or shame.  And since it’s “legal” and so incredibly available it has very little stigma attached to its general use.  You can “fit in” and drop out at the same time without a high risk being “outed” or ostracized.  The antisocial user drops out and wants to make it clear (in a defensively reactive manner, of course) that fitting in was not ‘desired’ in the first place.  Ironically, they then tend to transfer all that “fitting-in angst” to the local non conformist group they belong to.


There is the grief stricken young person who has a strong felt need to medicate sadness who feels terrible about letting others down in the process. Their self esteem damage comes after the addiction engine is turned on, not before.  

Addiction only adds grief to the grief process, so this can readily become an accelerating downhill spiral.  The more adult grief-driven addict is likelier to take the slow road to early termination of the game of life, recognizing the accumulation of negative health consequences and not giving a damn about their occurrence.  Consider this a latent, or passive death wish.

Then there are those whose self esteem has been damaged who turn on the engine in order to feel less shame and guilt and self loathing.  The self esteem wounds predate the addiction, and can be seen as a source motivation — the significant demoralizing pain that needs to be medicated. This tends to involve a need to numb to the prospect of internal and external invalidation.  The internal critic, which is just a spokesperson for the expectation of derision and rejection that shame tends to conjure up for us, in conjunction with the actual interpersonal or institutional “rejection” we encounter “for real” in life, can deeply and profoundly wound us at the core of our identity.  You can’t get enough numbing to stop this fully, and then the addiction only adds to the shame and damaged self esteem, so again, a vicious cycle is set in motion.  Numbing on top of numbing, or numbing more instead of facing the cost of numbing, becomes the dissociative commitment that I describe as “Full Mental Jacket” — a total anesthesia effect is being sought — so that eventually the idea of not being numb becomes impossible to consider.  Dreams and plans for reclaiming self esteem eventually die off, and so does the motivation to try to recover them or recover from addiction.



Cure at the Core

Love is the only genuine antidote for the self esteem medicating group. Love also has to be part of the support that the grief-stuck addicts require if they are to “complete” their grief and make their morale whole (enough) again.  

This is not as simple as it sounds, since we really don’t understand love very well — we’ve confused ourselves about love in all sorts of ways through the ages.  It’s time to clarify what love is, and the role it plays in changing and healing.  People are busy using the word love all over the place having fuzzy ideas about what it is, what it means to us, how it works, and how we can enhance our access to it and our substantively improve our “use” of love.  If we could clarify what Love IS, then we should be able to implement strategic solutions that hit the mark much better.  


Looking at love’s opposite — contempt — and recognizing it fits in so well with the general theme of this demoralization process, we see indirectly how contempt is key.  

The emergence of contempt in those who are largely disenfranchised and institutionally invalidated motivates an unfriendly form of acting out in the face of demoralization — this contempt drives many young people to take the direct “fuck everything and everyone” route down the higher risk rabbit holes.  For those less angry, it is major disappointment and frustrations due to the loss of a dream or an entitlement, or being on the crappy end (subjectively perceived) of a bad contract with the world  that form the structural components of the engine of addiction.  This is ‘softer contempt.’  The person is angry, but unclear who to be angry with or what to be upset about.  This original idea was first proposed by Nicholas Cummings, former APA president, responsible for groundbreaking ideas and methods for treating addiction.   It was over 35 years ago Cummings first wrote about this kind of identifiable disconnect from important personal goals that apparently “kick started”  the addiction process for many of the addicted people he worked with.  


I’m not alone in suggesting that the definition of addiction as a disease has a real problematic downside to it since it takes our attention off the “engine parts and processes” that we should be working on.  

Lance Dodes, Stanton Peele, and Gabor Mate (among others) have long been arguing for very similar understandings of the addict and the process of addiction.    

The conclusion that we are motivated to act out of a sense of demoralization by feeling a strong need to dissociate somehow is “pretty bad news” in the sense that we should expect that addiction would be rampant and recalcitrant.  Since demoralization is so common and so under-addressed it makes sense that there would be an addiction problem of epidemic proportions given how things are as they are for people in our modern world.  The “Good News” is that once we see the power of this cause-effect linkage between morale and addictive-proneness we are called to take action that could help to (a) prevent addictions from developing in the first place, and (b) achieve a much higher rate of success at recovering from addiction than is now the case.  Finding ways and means to focus our efforts on “morale building” and “morale repair” should significantly help us win the war on addiction.




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ALL DAY in the recovery community.



85 Of My Favorite Online Recovery Resources Click to Tweet

Whether you suffer from addiction yourself or are dealing with addiction in your family,  ALL OF THESE RESOURCES HAVE SOMETHING FOR YOU.



All of these resources are awesome.

down-arrow-red 85 Online Recovery Resources

RJ Vied 


@rjvied  www.facebook.com/rjvied  


About: RJ VIED is in long-term recovery. He is an Author, Father, Husband and Recovery Warrior.  RJ travels across the Country spreading hope and fighting the stigma of addiction.  He currently is doing a radio show Tuesday and Thursday nights at


9pm-11pm Eastern Standard Time

The show is streamed live to that Facebook link or at their website www.recoveryradio.fm

 Magnolia new beginnings – nonprofit – family support
http://magnolianewbeginnings.org    Blog  

Support Group Families

About: Support for families struggling with the disease of Addiction, Substance Use Disorder.  This is a NONPROFIT that was created by a mother who found herself alone and clueless of how to help save her child who was using heroin.  This is an amazing group of mother and fathers that have some together to keep other families from going through the isolation and unknowing of discovering your child is addicted to heroin.
 A Hangover Free Life
About: This British blog is run by Lou. Lou offers personal blog posts, how-tos, interviews, and workshops. This blog is an excellent resource for anyone living in recovery. Lou also includes an excellent section on mocktails, including in-depth recipes and photos.

 Adam Sledd
About: Adam Sledd recovered from a substance use disorder. Adam a for 27 years. Following this, he finally decided to get clean by entering a drug court program. Adam favors what he terms ‘self-directed, empowered recovery’ over the 12 step alternative.
Addiction Land
About: Addictionland is designed to help all types of addicts. The site includes recovery experts, addiction support resources, and various recovery paths. The primary purpose of Addictionland is to offer addicts, in and out of recovery, a place to blog and gain free insight.

 Addicts Mom – Facebook page and Support Groups
http://addictsmom.com  http://www.facebook.com/addictsmom
About: The Addict’s Mom” is a group focusing on the mothers of addicted children.

Addict Chick – Book & Recovery Blog Page – Facebook
http://addictchick.com     http://www.facebook.com/addictchick
 Addict Chick
About: At 34, Amanda Meredith had it all – A successful career, a home, a child, and everything that should have made her happy. She was also crazy in love; his name was Cage, and their love would become her first addiction—but not her last. Some would say that love destroyed her, but what she let ravage her mind, body, and soul had nothing to do with love and everything to do with a deep-seated need to destroy herself.

With the prick of a needle and a shot of methamphetamine, she lost everything- her child, her career, and she lost Cage. Homeless and alone on the streets of Dallas, she became a statistic. A broken nobody that had hit the gutter and licked it. Her story is not for the faint of heart. It is, however, an accurate account of what a life lived without an actual sense of self, without self-love, and addiction looks like.

Addict Chick: Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll is her heartbreak, her sorrow, and the story of how she fought like hell to save herself, with a little help from the Man above.

In this memoir, one woman proves that no matter who you are or how far you have fallen, nobody is beyond redemption.

 Alcohol Recovery Blog
About: Alcohol Recovery Blog is a written by an anonymous writer. The blog details this person’s journey into recovery.

 Casey’s Law 
http://www.caseyslaw.org   Support Group: CASEY”S LAW
About: If someone you love is struggling with the disease of addiction, Casey’s Law can help you get them the treatment they need. It is a law that allows family members and friends to petition the court to get the addict into court-ordered treatment without criminal punishment. This video features information on utilization of the law from the following individuals:

 Barbara Cofer Stoefen
About: Barbara Cofer Stoefen’s website is for families who grieve a loved one gripped by the disease of addiction. Barbara’s daughter successfully navigated an addiction to crystal meth. Barbara’s writings detail her experiences with her daughter’s addiction and subsequent recovery.

James Sweasy Live
Watch One Of My Favorite Videos of James Sweasy

About: James SWEASY is a breath of fresh air in a community that all too often hears the same lines over and over.  James has found a way to deliver the message without sounding like he is preaching or that you are in hell.  Please check this resource out.  You will be entertained while you learn the truth about the disease of addiction.

After 20 years of addiction and recovery combined.  I found a way to live without drugs and alcohol. I carry this message with public speaking.

 Buy Buy Beer
About: Kristen started her blog in 2011 ago while newly sober and quickly discovered a supportive community and just how many ways there are to get and stay sober. These days she writes more about finding balance and celebrating

13. Buzzkill Pod
About: Buzzkill Pod is a podcast run by Paul. Paul has been sober for more than five years. Buzzkill Pod is about life through the eyes of recovery. Paul comes from an AA background, but he respects all routes to sobriety.

 Candace Plattor
About: This blog is by a registered clinical counselor with 20+ years experience. Candace has also struggled with her issues with addiction. She was diagnosed with Crones Disease at the age of 22. She was prescribed valium and codeine and later became addicted to these drugs. For many years she used these drugs. She also became addicted to cannabis. She’s been in recovery since 1987, and she uses the blog to offer inspiration and guidance for others.

 Catholic Alcoholic
About: The Catholic Alcoholic is a blog written by an AA advocate and written from the perspective of a female Catholic now living her life in recovery.

Cathy Taughinbaugh
About: Blog for CathyTaughinbaugh.com, who is a personal coach and author of Free Guide, 7 Ways to Find Parental Recovery When Your Child is Addicted

Heroin is killing my town
http://hikmt.us  http://www.facebook.com/heroiniskillingmytown
About: Heroin is killing my town is a nonprofit organization owned and operated by the founder, Dina Favreau.  HIKMT Has been instrumental in changing the laws in Massachusetts and Dina just got started.

This website is pretty new, but it was already putting up high numbers and pumping out exceptional content.  This site is ideal for the one still suffering, in recovery or for their family wanting to understand.

 Changing Lives Foundation
About: This blog aims to help the family, friends, and employers of someone who is struggling with substance abuse/addiction. The Changing Lives Foundation is a Colorado-based Charitable C-corp.

About: Chipur is a blog for people who suffer from mood or anxiety disorders. Chipur is run by Bill White. Bill is a mental health professional,specializingand he’s recovered from what he describes as ‘decades of mood and anxiety torture.’ He’s also been sober since 1984.

 Crying Out Now
About: Crying Out Now is a community of women speaking about addiction and recovery – telling our truths, and breaking down the walls of stigma and denial surrounding addiction – One Story at a Time.

 Dirk Hanson
About: Articles and health studies about drugs, addiction, and alcoholism, including the most recent scientific and medical findings.

 Discovery Place
About: Discovery Place offers blog posts from the perspective of an alcohol rehab center.

 Drinking Diaries
About: A blog about women and drinking–the ups, downs, and everything in between.

Drinking to Distraction
About: This blog is run by Jenna Hollenstein. Jenna is a professional nutrition therapist. The blog includes personal stories, how-tos and podcast style interviews. Good information on different ‘holistic therapies’ and nutrition. Highly recommended.

 Drug Class
About: Drug Class is run by Rand Teed. Rand describes himself as a ‘nationally recognized leaders in the Drug and Alcohol Education and Prevention Field’. The main focus of the Drug Class Program is to help people better understand the nature of and problems associated with substance abuse.

Fine Anon
About: Fine-anon is run by Syd. Syd is an adult child of an alcoholic married to an alcoholic who is learning the steps to recovery through Al-Anon. The blog details Syd’s journey in search of serenity.

 Growing up Chaotic
About: This blog is run by Dawn Clancy. Dawn manages the blog as well as a popular podcast that provides a 360° view on all topics related to the addict’s or alcoholic’s family and friends, codependency, domestic violence, drugs and culture, mental health, recovery and siblings and addiction.

 Guinevere Gets Sober
About: A top-rated blog offering reliable news, reviews and straight talk about addiction, alcoholism, smoking, and recovery… plus good stories.

 Heroes in Recovery
About: Heroes in Recovery celebrates the heroic efforts of those who seek the addiction and mental health help they need without feeling ashamed or isolated.

 Hip Sobriety
About: The Hip Sobriety was formed in 2012 by Holly Glenn after hitting rock bottom. Holly was addicted to alcohol and cannabis. Holly uses the blog to discuss her individualized path of recovery. She believes sobriety isn’t just about quitting alcohol and drugs, but it’s about getting after your best life and having everything you ever dreamed of. It’s about living the way other people won’t live, so you can live the way most people can’t.

 Fu@k heroin foundation
 Fuck Heroin Foundation
About: .If you or a loved one hurt those around you, if you or a loved one wake up with withdrawal symptoms, if you or a loved one’s life is unmanageable, you or a loved one may be suffering from heroin addiction.
 Jagged Little Edges
About: Jagged Little Edges is run by Lorelie Rozanno.

Lorelie has been in recovery for more than 18 years.She is now an alcohol and drug counselor, as well as an author. Rozanno is passionate about helping others recover from the effects of addiction. Her blog aims to inspire addicts and their families to reach out for help.

 Jody Lamb
About: Jody Lamb is a blog written from the perspective of an ‘adult child of an alcoholic.’ Jody uses the blog to share her personal story and what she learned on this journey.

 Leaving AA
About: Leaving AA is run by Monica Richardson. Monica is an avid supporter for those harmed in any AA or NA meeting or it’s culture.

 Life Corked
About: Life Corked is a blog written by Chenoa Woods. Chenoa turned to alcohol following the death of her mother. Chenoa’s blog reflects on her experiences with alcohol and subsequent recovery. Chenoa attributes her success to her relationship with God.

 Living Without Alcohol
About: This blog is run by. Mrs D. Mrs. D is a New Zealand housewife who started anonymously blogging about her struggle with alcohol after realizing her drinking was out of controlPh.D.and she needed to stop. She feels that writing out her thoughts and feelings in the early days of sobriety was immensely strengthening, and the community of support that soon grew up around her blog meant. Mrs D was able to develop a robust and lasting recovery.. Mrs D is now over four years sober and continues to update her blog weekly with all the goings-on of her busy, domesticated, alcohol-free life.

 Liv’s Recovery Kitchen
About: Liv’s Recovery Kitchen’s Mission is to provide a dedicated resource for all you need to know about good nutrition & wellness in recovery from addiction. Whether your goal is to lose weight, to feel more energized, or to learn how to enjoy life in recovery, this is the place for you.

 Mark Goodson
Site: http://markgoodson.com
Blog Thumbnail:
About: Mark Goodson offers a hodgepodge of poetry, essays and creative non-fiction on addiction and recovery. Mark has been in clean for nine years. Mark’s blog aims to help and teach others who now face their issues with addiction and recovery.

 Message in a Bottle blog
About: Message in a Bottle is run by Paul, a former alcohol who’s clocked up more than 25 years in recovery. Paul’s an AA advocate and uses his blog to write about life in recovery.

 Holy Addiction

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/holyaddict 

About: Holy Addiction is my blog, so I had to put it here.  I hope you like the messages of hope and my new found love of iMovie and Adobe products to bring you cool movies like this.
My Journey From An Addict
About: My Journey from an Addict is a blog by Mary Beth Robertson. This blog details Mary’s life in recovery and offers inspiration to those contemplating life in recovery.

 My Life As 3D
About: This blog is run by Dean Dauphinais. Dean dedicates the blog to breaking the stigma associated with addiction. The blog allows Dean a platform for thoughts on addiction. Dean is the Father of a Person in Long-Term Recovery from Addiction, a member of the Parent Support Network at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and a Lead Advocate for Heroes in Recovery.

 One Crafty Mother
About: One Crafty Mother is written by Ellie Schoenberger. She is Founder of Crying Out Now, a blog where women tell their stories of addiction and recovery and offer each other support through a vibrant and growing community.

 Parent Pathway
About: Parent Pathway aims to support parents who’re children are affected by addiction. Parent Pathway was created for parents, by parents, to provide a place to find peace of mind at a time when their world feels like it is falling apart. Parent Pathway offers help for parents of addicts and alcoholics through information, support, community, and hope.

 Parents of an Addict
About: This blog is run by Ron and Darlene. Ron and Darlene are parents of a former addict now living in recovery. However, Ron and Darlene continue to share their experiences with the public through this fantastic blog. This blog is particularly useful for parents or over loved ones of an addiction/recovered addiction. This blog is an excellent companion to an Alanon program.

 Quit & Recovery Registry
About: Launched in September 2011, the International Quit & Recovery Registry seeks to understand what allows people to succeed in overcoming addiction, whether to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or harmful behaviors. Led by Warren Bickel, PhD, a world-renowned addiction researcher, and director of the Addiction Recovery Research Center of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the registry taps the insights and experiences of people who are in recovery from addiction.

 Quitting Crystal Meth
About: Quitting Crystal Meth is a blog by Joseph Sharp. Joseph is a survivor of HIV and cancer. He’s also a recovering crystal me

Choose Freedom

   Choose Freedom
About: Choose Freedom is a heartfelt blog by a young man in recovery that works hard every day to spread a message of hope to the world.  You can also find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/choosefreedom  

Reach Out Recovery
Site: http://reachoutrecovery.com
Blog Thumbnail:
About: Reach Out Recovery is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to Addiction Education, Prevention, and Recovery founded in March 2011

About: Johnsosophies are flashes of insight gained over years of trial and error… The musings of a recovering mind.

Recovery Reflections
Site: http://recoveryreflections.com
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About: Recovery Reflections offers inspiring blog posts for those in recovery.

Sandy Swenson
Site: http://sandyswenson.com
About: Sandy Swenson writes this blog from the perspective of a mother of an addicted child. Through her blog, Sandy is a voice for parents–particularly mothers–of children suffering from the disease of addiction, putting their thoughts and feeling into words.

Shatter Proof

Site: http://shatterproof.org
About: Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation that addiction causes families.

She Recovers
Site: http://sherecovers.co
About: This blog is run by Dawn Nickel, Taryn Strong and Sharonlee Latham and Asley Prosser. She Recovers is dedicated to women now living in recovery. This blog is an excellent resource for women suffering from addiction or now living in recovery, and the blog is one I often recommend to female patients of ours at Ocean Recovery Centre.

 Since Right Now

About: This blog is run by Chris Aguirre. Chris is a former alcoholic now living in recovery. Chris offers many resources, how-tos, personal stories and podcasts. Highly recommended!

Site: http://smyls.co.uk
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About: Beth’s main passion is Recovery Coaching, specialising in helping people to rebuild their lives and achieve success after problems such as addiction, stress, life changes, illness, divorce, life transitions and mental health disorders.


 Sober Courage
Site: http://sobercourage.com
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About: Sober Courage is run by Magz Shores. Sober Courage is somewhere for people to get together and celebrate life in recovery. This blog’s primary focus is on early sobriety, surviving Friday-Nights sober, sober parenting, and dealing with the social stigma.

 Sober Julie
Site: http://soberjulie.com
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About: Sober Julie is a treat for anyone living “straight up.” This funky sober mom blogger shares inspiration, life, health tips, recipes, reviews and giveaways.

 Sober Nation
Site: http://sobernation.com
Blog Thumbnail:
About: Sober Nation is a national resource center and online community for people seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

 Sober Senorita
Site: http://sobersenorita.com
Blog Thumbnail:
About: This blog is run by Kelly Fitzgerald. Kelly is an advocate for breaking the stigma of addiction. Striving to fit in with her peers and living the party girl lifestyle, Kelly quickly discovered her drinking habits were much more extreme than others, with devastating consequences. After escaping to Cancun, Mexico and living abroad for five years, she got sober in a spring breakers’ paradise. Today, she resides in Florida and writes about living life as a 20-something sober girl.

 Sober Unicorn
Site: http://soberunicorn.com
Blog Thumbnail:
About: Sober Unicorn is run by Cristina. Cristina has been sober since 2015. Sober Unicorn is an outlet for Cristina to be completely transparent and genuine. In this blog, Christina details her recovery experiences and reveals her failures and awakenings as stepping stones so that others may know the grace that has found her.

 The Discovering Alcoholic
Site: http://discoveringalcoholic.com
Blog Thumbnail:
About: The Discovering Alcoholic is run by Gavin. Gavin is a recovering alcoholic since 1994. He started the blog back in 2007 and offered the blog as an attempt to lessen the stigma associated with addiction and to encourage others to share in this confidence or feel more inclined to seek help.

 The Hurt Healer
Site: http://thehurthealer.com
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About: The Hurt Healer is run by Carolyn Hughes. Carolyn is a freelance writing specializing in addiction and mental health issues. She overcame her alcoholism and depression in the past. The Hurt Healer has a thriving community of worldwide members who want to make their journey to emotional wholeness and empowered living. The blog reflects Carolyn’s passion to inspire others to live their lives as the person they were meant to be.

 The Immortal Alcoholic
Site: http://immortalalcoholic.blogspot.com
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About: The Immortal Alcoholic is run by Linda Doyne. This blog details the effect of being a non-alcoholic person married to an end-stage alcoholic. This blog also provides useful insight and facts concerning the complexities of conflicting information.

 The Soberworld
Site: http://thesoberworld.com
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About: TheSoberWorld Magazine is published monthly and provides addiction resources and recovery services.

 The Sobriety Collective
Site: http://thesobrietycollective.com
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About: The Sobriety Collective is run by Laura. Laura’s aim is to create a living, breathing community of sober individuals. Laura advocates a mental health approach to addiction treatment.

 The Spirit of Recovery
Site: http://thespiritofrecovery.net
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About: The Spirit of Recovery is a blog written by Ron, a 57-year-old recovering alcoholic. Ron attributes his success in recovery to AA. Ron’s blog aims to help those who still suffer in the problem or struggle to maintain a fragile sobriety.

 The Unruffled
Site: http://theunruffled.com
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About: The Unruffled is run by Sondra. Sondra has been in recovery since 2014. Sondra’s blog details her experiences in recovery. Sondra helps people fill the void created when drugs and alcohol are abandoned.

 Tired of Thinking About Drinking
Site: http://tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com
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About: Tired of Thinking About Drinking is a blog written by Belle. This blog details belle’s journey to sobriety. The website includes blog posts, Belle’s 100-day serious challenge and a sober ‘jumpstart.’

 Tommy Rosen
Site: http://tommyrosen.com
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About: Tommy Rosen has been in recovery for over 23 years and learned first-hand how to move beyond addiction to real healing and freedom, one breath at a time.

 Transformation Is Real
Site: http://transformation-is-real.com
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About: Transformation Is Real shares stories, books, and podcasts about personal transformation, resilience, and addiction.

 Veronica Valli
Site: http://veronicavalli.com
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About: Veronica has worked as a therapist specializing in addiction for over ten years; her experience includes collaboration with young people in the criminal justice system, primary care adult treatment, outreach services and in private practice. Veronica has also worked in local government (in the UK) delivering the local drug and alcohol strategy.

Waking Up The Ghost
Site: http://wakinguptheghost.com
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About: Waking up the Ghost follows Marilyn Spiller’s life in recovery. She’s been dry since 2013. Marilyn’s blog offers many inspiration posts for people either in recovery or contemplating life in recovery.

 What Me Sober
Site: http://whatmesober.com
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About: What Me Sober is run by Bill. Bill has been a recovering alcoholic since 1989. Bill uses his blog to write about life in recovery. Bill started off blogging about Buddhism, but he now focuses on recovery.

William White Papers
Site: http://williamwhitepapers.com
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About: This site contains the full text of more than 300 articles, eight monographs, 30+ recovery tools, nine book chapters, three books, and links to an additional 15 books written by William White and co-authors over the past four decades as well as more than 100 interviews with addiction treatment and recovery leaders.

 Yoga and Recovery
Site: http://yoga-recovery.blogspot.com
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About: Yoga Recovery is run by Kyczy Hawk. Kyczy is a yoga teacher, and her primary focus is providing classes designed to help people recovering from addiction.

Site: http://www.facebook.com/SocialManage
Social Manage


About: Social Manage is a social media marketing firm that will manage your social media presence so you can focus on your clients.  Social Manage is recovery based and enjoys doing recovery based social media.  502-418-3020 We love to make you shine.





cycle-of-abuseAbuse & Addiction

We all know that there is a huge connection between abuse & addiction. Then there is the cycle that spins through each subsequent generation, if that cycle is not broken.

Loving Mom

I was raised in an abusive home by an alcoholic father. His first child (me) was a complete let down. He wanted a son & told my mother that as she was wheeled out of delivery. Eighteen mos later, my Mom gave him his son. Did this make him happy finally? No, my brother J had asthma, really bad & was in & out of the hospital his whole childhood.

My father beat us, he beat us w his fists, he beat us w the buckle on his belt, a huge buckle common in the 70’s w the state he was born in on it. I am so surprised that NEBRASKA is not branded into my back or backside. It is surely not for lack of trying & as I got too old for him to beat me w the belt he would just punch me in the face.

We all know that there is a huge connection between abuse & addiction. Click to Tweet

When I was 4 ½ my father’s dream child arrived, my younger brother Mat. We all loved him, he was a sweet little boy & I can remember him crawling into my bed & making up stories to cheer me up. He received every ounce of love my parents had.

My Mom had come from an alcoholic father too & the 3rd child had been the favored one. My Mom says her father married her mother only out of a promise he had made to his brother. So she was raised in a loveless home. except by her mother whose love knew no bounds.

I don’t know why my father turned into the monster he did. He says my grandfather beat him w “switches”, but I have only heard my grandfather raise his voice once in my life & that was at my son Anthony.
When I got pregnant at 17, it was by a young heavy drinker, heavy smoker, heavy pot user. The relationship was bad right from the beginning, 3 weeks in & he made me sleep on his floor….no pillow or blanket. So, my daughter was brought into an abusive addictive home. He married me when I got pregnant with our son, & was adamant he was only marrying me for the insurance we needed for the babies.


I was so messed up from my childhood & then from the abuse my husband heaped on me daily, that I was too defensive to be 100% the mother I could have been. I was there physically but every day with him was a struggle, from him stealing the milk from our daughters bottles, to the constant name calling, terror tactics, threats & terrifying experiences. I tried to raise my kids the best I could. Being told over & over that my daughter would grow up to be just like me & my son would be just like his father.
I thought that by teaching my daughter that she was dependent upon no man & if I just loved my son. That would be enough.

My ex husband was raised in an abusive addictive home also & that was how I excused his behavior. The excuses I made for the way HE treated me. We were forced into therapy, when my aunts intervened by calling Child Services on us for years. Yet they did nothing to stop the abuse when it was done to us as children.

This ended up in me pulling myself & my children away from that side of my family, so I never got to know my niece or nephews from my brothers. Unfortunately, whatever was told to them they fully believed. Mat came around after very many years had passed, but J told me I was dead to him & not to ever contact him.
I learned finally to break the cycle when my son was expecting our first grandchild & my ex was fist fighting w him in front of my grandsons mother.


But, I had learned years before in therapy that when we reach adulthood we have the power to change our lives, that we don’t have to continue to blame our parents for all of the wrongs in our life. that they too, did the best with what they were taught. That it is up to us, on how we choose to live our lives. There is therapy, parenting classes & now w the internet, the resources to change are always at your fingertips.
Here is the reason for today’s piece: when my niece Brittany (J’s daughter) was old enough to question things, because during her entire childhood, my kids & I were a taboo subject at family gatherings. I guess it was as if they all just chose to write us off as dead.

Brittany found me on FB. We connected & I told her the truth. I learned that my brother was abusive to her, & that nothing was ever said or complained about it by the family members who persecuted me, yet allowed my brother to beat on, verbally & psychologically abuse & not one of them stood up for her. He hasn’t been in a stable relationship in over 20 yrs, Britt’s Mom was the only actual one I know of. He did a LOT of internet dating & moving around. He would take Britt when she was little & leave her sitting in the car for hours while he was bouncer at a bar. apparently not a bit concerned for her safety. My situation was my ex abusing me in front of my children. Not the children being abused. Yet, the members who were telling on me allowed what was happening to my niece.


My brother is now 45 yrs old. This morning my niece screenshot a conversation between she & her “father”. It started w “Do you know where I can get some good bud” Her reply was a simple “Nooo”. He then began his abuse, she was called useless, told that he wished her stepfather had adopted her. At 23 yrs old my courageous, beautiful intelligent, niece told him off & admitted to him, that she to wishes her stepfather had adopted her. She has broken that cycle so young, I wish I could’ve been more self confidant enough to eject my father from my life when he threw me out pregnant at 17 in the middle of the night w nowhere to go. Brittany Rae I am so proud of you. You are no door mat. You did not follow down that long dark hallway your father put you in.


The point to all of this is breaking the cycle, if you are in an abusive relationship, LEAVE. If there is addiction, please get help. My children didn’t turn out like my niece, but then she did have a good Mom & stepfather to teach her what real love is supposed to be. I broke the cycle to late for my children. My daughter is now in a relationship w a very bad alcoholic, who treats my grandson terribly……….& my son who hid his pain in addiction is dead. Meanwhile his father & uncle who helped him to his grave are still living in full blown ignorant addiction.

There is HOPE & there is HELP. No judgement.




Addicts Are Weak – By: Blake Evan

Community Best Answer:  I can understand how one’s gut reaction to addictive behavior and people would be to say it is a weakness of the mind. I will further say that psychiatrists do not help by over diagnosing without proper diagnostic testing. But ultimately I believe many, if not most, *true* addicts suffer from defective “minds” (or, more literally, brains) rather than weak minds.

Blake Even

SFYB Author / Writer

Overwhelming scientific research of recent years has uncovered an untold amount of evidence pointing towards common genes and genetic defects among addicts. In addition, for some decades, scientists and psychiatrists have been acutely aware of the affect of some chemical imbalances on addiction, OCD and ADD being among these chemical disorders. As I said above, I do not believe for a minute that many of the people diagnosed with and medicated for such disorders actually have them (it is sickening how little diagnostic testing many psychiatrists do before prescribing pills and such)….but if you have had any experience directly or indirectly with such disorders, I’m sure you would agree mental defect, rather than mental weakness, is very often to blame for addictive personalities.

Addicts Are Weak - By: Blake Evan Click to Tweet

I don’t think chemical disorder is a blanket excuse that pardons one of their actions and behavior, but I do believe those that truly suffer from such imbalances have mitigating circumstances. I also think lazy psychiatrists are very much to blame for overdiagnosing, as they very often satiate the “need” of those just looking for an excuse for bad bahavior.

As others have mentioned here, behavior learned as a child from elders may also play a role in addiction. One not raised in such an environment can easily throw stones and suggest a strong mind is all that is needed to overcome such learned behaviors, but psychological research will provide insight as to how that is much easier said than done. Again – not an excuse, just a mitigating factor.

Source(s):But for the grace of God goes you or I.
Darlin Huntress
 People struggle with the idea that addiction is a disease.  Just take a moment to watch Blake put it into simple terms for you.  In the video Blake explains the addiction is a chronic, progressive and deadly disease.  That is the criteria for something to be labeled a disease.
No one can deny that addiction fits that bill perfect.  The next thing everyone wants to say is that addiction is a choice.  Ok, yes I made a choice to drink a beer when I was 21 years old.  Did you ever make that same choice?  What was the outcome for you?  Were you able to forget that crazy night and live your life?
If you have the disease of addiction you aren’t able to do that.  That first drink makes you feel like you never have before.  You are no longer uncomfortable in your skin and you want that back. Don’t take it from me, just take a few moments to watch Blake explain addiction and why it qualifies as a disease.




suck-meter2016 was by far the worse/best year ever. How is that even possible?


SFYB Author Editor/Admin

One name; God.Now I did not begin the year by finding Him, in fact, to a degree, I have always “believed”, but like SO many of us I had no actual proof. I have been gifted my whole life w the ability to see things before they happened, I’ve even saved my own life at 16, when I was overcome w the knowledge, that while we were speeding down a mountain road that something was in the road ahead. I yelled & the driver slowed, after a few more twists & turns………there in the middle of the road was a gigantic Cow. we didn’t do seat belts back then so i would’ve been propelled through the window.


I saw the Challenger blow up the day before it happened. I saw an explosion in a bright blue sky. it was winter & very dark & dreary in MA, yet that vision was so real. I thought we were going to be blown up by Bin Laden. The next day I watched as the exact vision I had seen the day before take place in a bright blue sky. There have been so many of these that to write them down would take far too long.

I have always felt that greater power, but because of my strict catholic upbringing, it never felt like I wasn’t “good enough” for God. The catholic religion paints us as continuous sinners, who are going to hell. After having a child out of wedlock & living in sin, I gave up all hope of ever seeing heaven. I claimed my reservation in hell w a seat by the fire!!!

2016 was by far the worse/best year ever. How is that even possible? Click to Tweet

That belief led to all of the wrong decisions, that I was making because I was sure I was already doomed. When I met & then married by current husband, I was introduced to a whole new God, through his Episcopalian religion, and I loved this new outlook on God. So I changed myself to Episcopalian. But still held no real proof that he existed & was convinced I had done more than enough to earn my place in hell.

2016, was one disaster after another. my disability had deteriorated my life to 4-6 hrs of awake time. At the end of March, 2 days before my son’s 25th birthday, me, my grandson (my sons son), my daughter & youngest grandson were up in the cemetery just 25’ feet behind our house.

It’s peaceful & the boys love the woods behind the cemetery. We saw that Anthony was also, so fatefully coincidentally, in the cemetery too. My grandson was over the moon for the few minutes he got w his Dad. it ended w “I love you’s” all around.


When I told my grandson’s other grandma who has custody that we had run into Anthony, she was Irate. I was lost because it had always been up to me, who in the family was allowed w him. I had never been told I was to turn my back on my son & not allow my grandson to see him. At that point it escalated into an awful war in which I lost the privilege of being in my grandsns life, when I had always had him at least once every week. Then there was the visit to my neurologist. I was a mess, I was just pretty much killing myself & she told me that if I didn’t make some serious changes then I wouldn’t be around for much longer. Knowing my son was dying, not being able to see my oldest grand son & my own impending death was too much for me in a 3 day period.

My husband & I were trying to start a delivery business & were leaving for FL the next day to deliver a boat motor. The man who we brought the motor to, asked my husband if he would be willing to move boats up & down the east coast for really good money.
I decided I wasn’t going back to that little poison filled town, so we decided to move to FL. My mom & dad live here so I stayed w them until I found a house. i searched hundreds of houses & only ended up where I am because of fate.


The job fell through & my stepson who had been headed down the same path of addiction as my own son, was unable to leave the state, so me & my youngest (step) daughter moved here waiting for the boys. I slept all the time, was lonely & miserable.

On Aug 9th I found my daughter’s bed empty & she was missing. I called the police & reported her missing. I was terrified, I thought she had been kidnapped, when in truth she had chosen to run away. It did nothing to allay the fears that I had lost my husbands & mine youngest child. I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again.

On Aug 28th at 12:13, the call I had run away from came, my son was dead. That meeting in the cemetery, was the last goodbye for all of us. I fell apart,the last shred of strength left in me was gone. I had to fly to MA for his wake & funeral & they were awful. I couldn’t go to the cemetery where I had seen him alive last. People judged & called me names. I don’t care, I said I loved him last there & I wasn’t going to take away from that as my last memory of him alive.


I turned to God from the minute I heard, it was instinctual & during that first week, I repented, forgave & prayed. I started receiving signs on Tues, 2 days after he died, but my daughter had actually gotten the sign first on Monday, it wasn’t until I told her about my experience, that she exclaimed, “OMG Mom we were taking a ride yesterday & when I looked up, I saw an Eagle over my car”. Yes a bald eagle 1200 miles apart. neither of us having ever seen one before in the wild. On wednesday, my grandson saw it at his bus stop & on Thursday Anthony’s girlfriend & her Mom saw it in yet another town. Ant & I had always bird watched & loved the birds of prey. So that all made perfect sense to me. My husband had actually told me to watch my feeders for a new bird. Not my son, not just any bird, but the biggest, baddest!!!

The following Sunday when I lay down after a week of the worse pain you could imagine x a million, my weak body refusing to take any nourishment, & w only about 12 hrs of total sleep, I lay down to try & rest. That is when God took the wheel.


All of a sudden my mind was alive, knowledge poured into me at such a fast rate, I kept explaining it like being a computer being downloaded w infinite knowledge. the week progressed w more & more amazing miracles. Major weight loss in 2 hrs……..no longer needing glasses to see, but, most importantly, a purpose. Every day I tried to reach out & share my story, e-mails disappeared, phones would ring w no answering machine. God was not ready for me to share my experiences. For the next month he changed me & I grew spiritually. I realized that I didn’t need a church to worship. God was in my home. He has my son & he isn’t in pain, fighting his demons any longer. He is free.

Now I am fighting this war on addiction. I have trouble still accepting that God has chosen me & put so much power into my hands. I feel so guilty that it took my son’s death to prove there is a God. But, now when I look back on what I went through what my life has been, was all leading up to this, that this is where God needed me to be & only the death of my youngest would pull me from my own wishes of a merciful death.


So here I am sharing how in the most awful nightmare imaginable, I was given Miracles & strength. My son will never be forgotten. I will not stop fighting until I know that I have fulfilled the job I was given.

I am so thankful to those who have helped me w this very mighty task, for all of the love & support in the recovery community, to all of you who have been touched like I have, thank you for sharing w me & proving to me that I am not unique, that Miracles are happening everywhere.

God is an important player in our war. I see everyday that I am not the only one He has touched, we all feel him & have our stories. I’m ready to share mine, with the hopes that others come forward also.2017 is not just change in the addiction/recovery community, but in the world.

Happy New Year to you all!!!

Click image Below To Read My Story2017-03-30_10-08-18



Union Member Turned Heroin Addict – by RJ Vied


In Recovery

At the ripe old age of 17 I found myself on my way to fatherhood. Fears set in as my entire life was about to change. I mean I was still a kid myself. Unable to finish school due to early addict behaviors I found myself in a very dark place. A once honor roll student now skipping school, racking up detention hours and fist fighting anyone that looked at me wrong. I could see myself going nowhere fast. That was until my opportunity to join Carpenters Local 626 presented itself.

Union Member Turned Heroin Addict Click to Tweet

Having seen a tape measure half a dozen times my fear set in as to how I was going to excel in this career, how was I going to provide for my daughter if I wasn’t made for this industry. That fear quickly diminished as my apprenticeship of four years taught me more than any college or tech school ever could. I didn’t only learn how to build with my hands, I learned to construct with pride and quality. For the first time in my life I felt essential and accomplished. I felt a part of something big, yet small enough to feel important. Within a few short years all that will have changed. After I completed my apprenticeship I found myself sky high building scaffold in oil refineries throughout the North East. The danger was a high for me, the sudden gas leaks and fires gave me a rush, hanging off a 2.5” bar 100+ feet off the ground was exhilarating. I excelled and quickly found myself managing a few dozen men most almost twice my age. I was accountable and hardworking, I was a UNION MAN. This was my life and I was going to retire a proud member. Or so I thought!


Vitadone On my way to work one day I was suddenly cut off on the highway. It was 5 am, my coffee hadn’t kicked in yet and the fog was heavy. All I can remember was hearing a bang followed by a white light. I hit the barrier at 70 mph head on. I awoke a few hours later covered in blood as my father stood at my bedside. After a few short weeks I found myself ready to work. My daughter had to eat and I needed to keep a roof over our heads. My first morning back the rain was coming down hard. I didn’t see the red light up ahead. Suddenly I broad sided a large blue figure, later to find out was a full size ford f 250, I thought to myself “this is it, I’m going to die!” My body landed a few feet from the scene, as I awoke I remember thanking God for yet again sparing me from an early death. Little did I know it would spark the beginning of a very slow one.



The accidents I was involved in will forever change the course of my life. Even with minor injuries the amount of pain pills I was prescribed was enough to waken a demon. I began withdrawing as my prescription quickly ran out, I found myself buying pills off the streets. It wasn’t but a few months later I was in complete addiction and my life was turning into a horror story. Missed days at work, there was domestic violence at home, and I was robbing and stealing from my family and friends. All the things this once catholic altar boy was taught never to do. As hard as my Union members tried helping me I was at the point of no return. My last day as a union member, the day I was banned from every refinery in the country was one of the most painful days of my life. I walked in to work, ready to climb with my whisky filled coffee container. 8 am and I was already seeing double.

The difficulty of strapping on a harness, hiding your breath and maintaining balance was hard work. I remember feeling severe withdraw that morning, the alcohol wasn’t helping and no one would give me pills anymore. I remember this really nice man who could barely climb a ladder due to his injured back. My addict mind quickly came up with a plan. I broke into the trailer they held their lunches. I prayed so hard id find either money or pills, and I did. I took this man’s entire prescription and I got caught. A federal offense to which I agreed to a lifetime ban rather than prison. These are the same men I looked up to, I learned from. This was the same place I became someone, and now I walk away with shame and a pain Percocet could no longer manage, my money was down to nothing, I owed everyone. I found myself alone, my family had left me due to my addiction and a deep depression set in. I found myself in an empty home, a loaded needle and the willingness to die.


RJ Vied of Reliance Treatment Center I spent 13 years as a proud union member. I was taught how to be a man, how to work hard with honor and take care of my family. I was taught the true meaning of brotherhood. All this wasn’t enough for me to get clean and carry out my duties as a man, father, husband and son. I had to move 1200 miles away to escape the burning bridges long enough to get sober. I went to countless facilities in my surrounding states, only to face the damage I caused just weeks before. I needed to get away and focus on myself, I needed a fresh start. I am now approaching 3 years of continuous sobriety. The opportunity to go to Florida for treatment and the brotherhood distilled in my blood saved my life. Today i work in the field of addiction.

I have the opportunity to help as many people as I can who suffer just as I did. My union pride will forever be a part of my life and it is my mission to share a message of hope, to share my story to the men and women struggling so they don’t have to lose everything. I know the progression of this disease, the media will always be the first to educate on the epidemic, I am here to give hope and educate on the solution. We need our Unions, we need our members to be at their best. The deadliest path to take is no path at all. Today I am grateful for everything Carpenters Local 626 as well as International has given me and my family, courage, dignity and pride. This has forever changed my life. Today I want to open the doors to members across the nation. I want to give them the opportunity to discover themselves and return home a better employee, father, mother and spouse. Today I believe in two things, we are all born with a purpose and we are all capable of being extraordinary human beings.

No one should be embarrassed to say they need help, as union members we walk with our heads held high. Today my purpose is to carry hope. Yes my career was cut short after 13 years. I may not carry a hammer and belt anymore but I do carry the principles distilled in me through those years. Morals and ethics I could never put into place due to my disease of addiction. If you’re struggling or know someone that is please don’t stay silent, trust me when I say it only gets worse.

Thank you Rj

Retired Carpenters Local 626, 8 (Delaware, Philadelphia)




My Breath can’t fill your lungs By: RJ Vied

My Breath can't fill your lungs By: RJ Vied Click to Tweet

This is a story of how those who loved me the most were unknowingly contributing to my suicide. I want to make this very clear; my story is for anyone and everyone willing to hear it. For a very long time, I hid in church basements and was ashamed of who I was. I was ashamed to be addicted, and I was ashamed of what my life had ended up to be. Today I use my pain, my story to encourage hope and change the stigma of “The Addict!” Today my pain is power, and I am NOT ASHAMED!


In Recovery

I titled this article. My breath can’t fill your lungs for one simple fact. That no human power can relieve anyone from the obsession of a drink or a drug. No parent, wife, sister or child holds the authority to remove this disease from those affected.

I was a senior in high school, as we sat in history class watching the events unfold on that horrible day of September 11th, all I could think about was joining the Marine Corps. So that day my best friend and I did just that. Due to his previous surgeries, he was not able to enlist, but that did not stop him from pushing me through my PT training. At this point my life was set, I was going to be a Marine. Shortly after I found myself a father of a beautiful little girl, an 18-year-old husband, and homeowner. I bring this up because this was the beginning of my hell called addiction. After several blackouts and domestic issues, I found myself living in an empty home, accompanied by my new best friends, Percocet and Captain Morgan. This carried me through a divorce, custody, and many lost jobs.


Through all, myself medicated strides I am the survivor of a seven day coma, several guns to my face and knives poking me just enough to break the skin, seven overdoses (thank you Narcan btw, all 10 of you), two major accidents, a few one nighters and over 20 treatment centers. Skip over many painful years I found myself the father of 3 beautiful children. Somehow I manage to not only destroy one child’s life; but I also found a way to hurt 3, along with the mothers and grandparents of each. It seems the guilt of each warped relationship was increased with every attempt to make up for the last.

I had several primary enablers in my life while in active addiction. One being my daughter’s mother. See there are talents we developed while in active addiction one being manipulative, convincing, and resourceful. I want to leave you with an example of each so you may be able to relate to me. Manipulation; My grandmother, walked into her son’s house, said hello to the kids and walked down the hall. She opened her son’s door to see him lying there dead. He had overdosed on pain medication. This flipped her world upside down in so many ways. Some ten years later, I was going through a withdrawal so bad I was going to do anything I had to get “high.” I manipulated my family by telling them I was going to go into detox, but to do that, I had to be high. I had my grandmother buy the same drug that killed her son and hand it to me. My only thought was the relief as I sniffed this blue powder in front of my daughter’s mother to whom was in recovery. I convinced my parents I was ok on a daily basis. One day as I laid the barrel of a 12 gauge on my bottom lip my father just happen to call me.

I’ll never forget that day; that day was the first time I admitted I was not ok and I begged him to let me come home. Finally, let me tell you how resourceful we can be while using and craving for the pain to go away. Hurricane Katrina has hit, we were working doubles at the local oil refinery. I had no money, only obsession, and suffering. Knowing the factory employed several men from Louisiana I started a Katrina relief fund. I must have collected well over $2000 and not a penny went to anyone but me. I was no longer to be found at work but in the city shooting heroin into my arms. Listen I don’t tell these stories with ease; everyday I do my absolute best to make amends and be a better person. Before I get long-winded here, I want to get to what’s important.


Loving your child or loved one to death. Yes, I know this sounds harsh and many tell me how cruel it is. I’m not here to sugar coat anything because these are the facts and this is what saved my life. My father, my best friend, and hero, never gave up on me. My mother, always there for us growing up and still is an amazing woman. I’ll never forget sitting in a treatment center and for the first time telling them I was using heroin.

The immediate tears streamed down my mother’s face; my father yelled out the word “f*#k” as if he was kicked in the chest. The first words out of my mother’s mouth were “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, this is our fault, what could we have done differently?” First and foremost there is nothing they could have done different, I was raised right. My brother and I were loved and taken care of. It’s like saying “If I only did something else, little Johnny wouldn’t have brain cancer!” I was an addict, and no human power could have changed that.


For many years I got what I needed and lied into and out of every situation I found myself in. Let me tell you what it felt like hearing the word NO for the first time, let me tell you how to verbally kick an addict in the chest. I even remember the day, time and location. I was in my truck, very sick. I called my daughters mother and asked for $40, at this point I was no longer allowed to hold any credit cards or cash. I was at a red light; Kirkwood highway was slow with traffic, and I was about to share another lie, knowing I was going to get what I needed. This is how it went….

Me: “Hey, I need $40 for gas.”

Her: “No!”

Me: “what do you mean no, I have to get gas to pick our daughter up from daycare!”

Her: ” No Dave, imp am not giving you anything, no more dude.”

Me: (screaming voice) ” I need $40 f@*king dollars, don’t fu#king tell me no!!!! I f#*king hate you, you F#@king b*#ch!!!!!!”

Her: “NO!”

Me: “Please don’t do this to me, I’m begging you!”

Her: ” Please stop doing this to us, we are begging you!”


I’ve been handed several beat downs but nothing as painful as this. The same time my father looked at me and said “no More, I love you, son, more than anything in the world but your mother and I cannot handle this anymore. We are watching our son die, and we aren’t helping by letting you stay here and rob us.” This day, in particular, was a painful day. But this was the last day I ever used a drink nor drug!

Every day I see how this disease affects not just the addict but the families. Some moms are buying heroin for their kids so they can monitor their use, others are believing lie after lie after lie, knowing inside that it’s not truth. The hardest part about this whole process is explaining to family members how to detach with love. How to understand that one, this is not their fault, that there is nothing they could have done to prevent this. You must understand this disease doesn’t discriminate, I have been to more white collar memorials than homeless. As much as we would LOVE to save those suffering we cannot. What we can do is this.

Next time your loved one asks for something, use the most powerful word on earth, NO! Mean it, feel it and let it sink in. Tell them, ” I love you, but I hate your disease, you have an option here. You decide to get help, treatment, meetings or I have no choice but to detach completely.” “Your drug use has affected this family, and we can no longer be a part of it, we know you did not choose to become addicted, but we also know YOU, and only YOU can decide to get help. If you so choose, we will then be here to support you.” I’m telling you now this is not easy, it’s probably the hardest thing anyone will ever have to do. My God, never in my life did I think I would have to tell someone to detach from their child to whom is already dying from a disease. Never did I think I would ever tell a mother that her son is better off on the street than in the comfort of their home.

This whole thing is a process. Just as the addict is living an unmanageable life so is the family. I hear all the time “My life is good I’m not the one with the problem, his addiction is not affecting me, I need to be here for him.” Ok, so let’s call a spade a spade and break this down. So you’re telling me you’re sleeping great at night, that your marriage is beautiful and your son doesn’t steal from you? If you have answered yes to any of these then its very safe to say you are not the parent of an addict. It is tough to see how this disease affects you. Most times than not because we don’t want to see it. Or we try to cover it up, so our family and friends don’t find out you have an addict for a son/daughter/husband or wife. Now just breathe. I’m not trying to attack you I am only telling you what I have known to be true. If you are losing sleep or any of these things I just listed then yes, your life too has become unmanageable and its safe to say that your loved one IS your drug.

So let’s end with this so you can let it all sink in.


The next thing to do is contact someone you know has dealt with the same struggle, someone you know has successfully made it through. There are so many active and educational support groups on social media as well as in your town. Naranon, Alanon, Alateen, ACOA, etc… You can access all this info from your Google search. If you are interested in joining a Facebook group that holds zero judgment, only support than I ask you, please message me directly. Type in @rjvied and send me a message, I will respond with the names as well as admins of those pages. Look we are in this together, this is not easy for anyone, but know that it is possible and you can get through. By you saying “NO” will not only piss off their disease, but it will also take away a lifeline that is feeding it. For the rest of this article, please follow me on Facebook @rjvied, you can also go to @rjviedlive and see more videos like this. I want to thank all of you for listening to me share today, and I ask you please share this with someone to whom may need to hear this.

RJ Vied





Relapse is not part of recovery

Relapse is not part of recovery. Let me say it one more time, relapse is not part of recovery. Even though it happens quite often to not only the newcomer, but to those who’s been in the process for years as well, it still is not part of recovery..
Raymond Kyle

Founder Warrior Foundation.

To consider relapse as part of recovery, takes validation away from your process of recovery. Recovery is about bettering yourself,and pushing forward. It teaches dedication, hard work, focus, determination and courage. If a relapse occurs

it’s not cause it’s good for us, and that it’s making us better. It’s not cause it’s part of our process. It’s simply cause you lost focus, you had a weak moment in your process, and you allowed the disease that you battle to win.

Relapse is not part of recovery Click to Tweet

But my friends, it does happen, and as sad as it may be it happens quite often. But don’t come into your process with the mindset that relapse is part of recovery. With that mindset it’s only a matter if time til it does happen. Instead, you stay focused on your progress, you keep the mindset that by any means necessary you will not relapse. The mindset that you will not give up. The mindset of a warrior; born to fight and fight to win.

Click image below and learn more



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:


10 Tips For Staying Sober New Years Eve Click to Tweet
  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.






This is an email that I sent to my mother. Joanne Miller Not My Fault

I need you to understand that my addiction is not your fault. Parents are so hard on themselves. It doesn’t matter if you are the picture perfect parent, I know none of those. No one does, but the best ones I do know are hard on themselves. The people that think they are perfect, usually are not.
Joann Miller

SFYB Desk Senior Editor

Here right now I am releasing my parents of any thoughts that they are the reason. I am an adult, and my choices are my own. There are things I need help with that are overdue; that is all. In no way does that mean I blame you for the present, and the past is the past. We as parents all do the best we can with what we have and know. Believing that you love me is no issue. The issues I have now are my own.

Mom My Addiction Is Not Your Fault Click to Tweet

Please stop beating yourself up…I love you. There are some things that I have to look at about the person I am, not the parent that you were. When I talk about needing mental help, please don’t hear that as a mark of you or your parenting. You are my Mom, and you love me. My Dad loves me; that is not the problem. The problem lays within me. Loving myself in any way healthy has been an issue that I have always had.

It’s my shortcomings, something within my mind that tells me you are bad. You have always been bad and always will. I am trying to silence that voice in my head. It is something only I can do. I am lucky to have the support I have; I don’t even deserve it. Mom, don’t beat yourself up, I have done enough of that to you. I don’t blame anyone for my mistakes. They are my own, and that is what I am trying figure out.


Nothing that happened before I became an adult matter. I chose to do what I do, and I take full responsibility. When you hear me say I need help and need to work through things in my past, it is not an attack on anyone. It is simply the truth. Please don’t take my issues upon yourself.

I love you; I forgive anything you are worried about or may think I blame you for. I don’t, it’s old news and has no bearing on the present. You did the best you could; I do the best I can with my children it is with myself that I fall short. I am so sorry for all the pain I have caused, how I wish I could take it away. All I can do now is work on the voice in my head that works so hard to destroy anything good in my life. That voice is not yours; it is mine. I love you.

*Art by Aaron Griffin

I sent this apology to my Mother in March.  I hope you enjoyed it.


Click Image Below

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Beth Burgess

SFYB Staff Writer

Crack, Smack, and Crystal: The Deadliest Drugs?

By: Beth Burgess

Crack cocaine, heroin (or smack, to go by one of its many street names), and methamphetamine (crystal meth) are the drugs that we are most often warned to stay away from. But does that make them the deadliest drugs? Well their’s more to the story.


Actually the reason why police, politicians, and educators make a big fuss about these three drugs is not because they cause the most deaths. You might be surprised to learn that alcohol is responsible for many more fatalities than any of this trio of chemicals.

The reason crack, smack, and crystal are so reviled is that they are considered to have extremely high addiction potential and can cause irreparable damage to users’ lives and minds.

Crack, Smack, and Crystal: The Deadliest Drugs? Click to Tweet


Crack, Smack, and Crystal: The Deadliest Drugs?

It’s important to point out that although these are considered very addictive drugs, anything can be addictive if you have a certain type of brain. Although fewer people get addicted to alcohol, compared to people who are able to drink normally, if you’re one of those people who is susceptible to alcoholism, booze can wreck your life just as much as illicit drugs.

In fact, alcohol withdrawal can kill someone who is alcohol-dependent, whereas quitting any of these three drugs may be excruciatingly unpleasant, but going cold turkey can’t kill you, even if you’re a serious addict.

But there is something very sad about people who are causalities of crack, heroin, or crystal meth. If you have become a user, and have been doing any of these drugs for a long time, they sort of kill your body and soul in a way that is very difficult to recover from. That’s because these sorts of drugs actually make certain parts of your brain and nervous system die.

Ex-heroin users often report feeling like ‘normal’ buzzes lose their thrill compared to smack, while crack users can have psychotic symptoms even after stopping use. Cleaned-up methamphetamine users have an inability to experience pleasure, which may actually be permanent in people who have used heavily.

Crystal is probably the worst of the lot, because of the deep and irreparable brain damage it can cause. Meth is often made with toxic ingredients like battery acid, paint thinner, drain cleaner – never good things to feed your body or your brain. Now you know why the anti-drug campaigns say “Not even once.”


But whatever illegal drugs we are talking about, in the end it’s infinitely better never to try any of them, and to watch yourself carefully if you’re going to drink or take prescription drugs. Many people’s lives are ruined by pills and potions you can buy legally – and you never know if you’re going to be one who gets addicted.

Stop Frying Your Brain song kept rattling around in my head after visiting their website. It was worse than it’s a small world at Disneyland. Eventually… I would hook up with those guys and it’s all because of that one stupid song.

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Lisa Laughnan Addict In Recovery…


 I am a recovering alcoholic & addict. I was given a second chance at life by the grace of God… below is my story.


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I am a recovering alcoholic & addict. I was given a second chance at life by the grace of… Click to Tweet








I am literally speechless as I sit here tonight. I am reading messages that people are sending me from across the country and I am at a loss for words. I am touched by the outpouring of support and by so many who are sharing their stories of addiction.

As I am typing this I have tears rolling down my cheeks and I am so amazed by the reactions I am receiving. As I stated in my video with Choose Freedom I feel in my heart that it is my obligation and my duty to spread the word on addiction and to educate myself as well as others on this disease. That is all I want to do, help others struggling and spread the word.

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith SFYB Staff Author

After reading your messages I am also still blown away by the number of **CHILDREN** suffering from addiction. These stories break my heart. I can not tell you how many *kids* have messaged me saying they buy and use prescription drugs like Xanax, OxyContin, Adderall and many others. Many have also tried Heroin and not one single kid who has messaged me has used a needle to inject this DEADLY drug.

They are snorting and smoking it. They told me their parents are unaware and “oblivious” they are using drugs. They have told me they use these substances to “boost their confidence” and to relieve anxiety and to be able to play their sport with no pain!!



We need to wake up!!!! As parents you have an obligation to educate yourselves on these drugs that can be found in medicine cabinets and are available to our children with little to no cost.

If you think for one minute this is not happening right here in central Illinois you are blind and you need to stop and understand this is occurring and I promise you your kids are aware it is happening! So please please just speak to your kids.

Are you a parent who won’t listen until a child in your community dies…is that what it is going to take for you to wake up?

You may not like me or respect me and that is perfectly fine but damn it, wake up!!!!




These pills can lead to heroin use and open the doors for other drugs! It is in our communities and in our local highschools and if you don’t think it’s happening then you are blind!

It’s right here in SJO!!!! Prove me wrong, I dare you and I encourage you to prove me wrong!


ASK YOUR KIDS start this conversation now!

I took my story public for this exact reason and now my inbox is flooded with messages from children asking me how to stop popping pills, begging me to not tell their parents or the school asking me what they can do!

Messages telling me that when they try to stop taking these pills that they get sick and feel like they have the “stomach flu” this is called withdraw and while you might not know what this means your kids do!

I have messages from kids saying they have tried heroin (most are snorting) not one said they use needles they are smoking or sorting. Most told me they snort it because then there is no smell and no needle! (No evidence)


While heroin might be a foreign language to you it’s not to your children. They can buy a bag for as cheap as $20.00 which is enough to kill them!!


Don’t let your kids become a statistic!

My heart is breaking tonight as I am reading these messages! This confirms everything I stated in my personal testimony and confirms it is happening right here, right here in our little small towns. The towns we move to thinking these towns will be a safer place to raise our children, towns where we all know each other and towns we never think this will happen in.

Well wake up, it’s happening.

Now what in the hell are we going to do about it???
Are you going to continue to ignore it?
Are you going to continue to think it won’t happen to your kids?
or that your kids know better…?

If that is your mentality you are naïve and need to open your eyes.

I have messages saying they take pills at school and exchange pills at school and they told me their teachers think it’s Tylenol they are taking and exchanging.

We are uneducated on this new epidemic!

Research it, ask your kids, speak to other kids you owe this to your children.

So again I ask and beg you to educate yourselves! Please just educate yourselves and your kids!!

Kids as young as 12 right here in our small towns in central Illinois are popping Xanax before taking tests at school. They know about these drugs and they are getting their hands on them. (12 years old)

We warn our kids about strangers and people dressing like clowns but why are we not warning them about pills or talking about heroin??

WHY? Do we need to lose a child before we wake up!?

What in the hell is it going to take?

I will keep blasting and sharing until we start realizing this is a problem.

Please just have the conversation I promise you that you will be shocked by the information your children share with you.

Tonight I pray we don’t have to lose more children to a drug overdose. Just because your town has not YET buried a child from a drug OD doesn’t mean it won’t happen or won’t strike your town!

This breaks my heart that our kids are doing these deadly drugs. I know first hand what these drugs do to us and how quickly we become addicted!
I can’t imagine being a child dealing with the hell and torture of withdraw or a child who is “speedballing” it literally breaks my heart and this is why I won’t stop spreading the word and educating myself and others.

Learn the warning signs that are very hard to identify, learn about the side effects and just talk to your kids!


That is all I just pray you listen!

Click Image Below For Jamie’s Story


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Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation (Patient Intake)

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation (Patient Intake) Click to Tweet
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation (Patient Intake)




The Demon In My Head…


A demon (from Koine Greek δαιμόνιον daimonion) is a supernatural, often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology and folklore.

The original Greek word daimon does not carry the negative connotation initially understood by implementation of the Koine δαιμόνιον (daimonion),[1] and later ascribed to any cognate words sharing the root.

Robert Henslee

SFYB Founder

In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an unclean spirit, a fallen angel, or a spirit of unknown type which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology,[2] a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.

The Demon In My Head... Click to Tweet

Take the time to watch Jamie’s incredible story below. Will blow your mind.  Speaks to the challenges of addiction.
Jamie thanks for sharing with me. I am so freaking proud of you and your courage is an inspiration to all. Everyone here can learn something from Jamie.
Personally Jamie, I am so lucky to have you as a friend. You are so dam awesome. I doubt few would have the courage you do girl. That makes you a very special woman.
I have been inspired by so many industry leaders, subject authorities and facility operators to build something to help everyone. Then Jamie and all the others came into my life to put this together. God’s great!
Many thanks to Katie Donovan, Brittany Sherfield, RJ, Guy, Fred King, Lyle, Chris, Ian, Steven, Donna, Raymond, Jim, Cali, Dani, Dr Lukens, Matie and the list goes on and on. I am truly blessed to have so many good people in my life.
On behalf of the many lives the people above have saved, it is from the bottom of my heart I thank you all. Let go let God… He’s truly awesome and will enable you in ways you couldn’t possible imagine.  Tks@R
P.S. Share with all your friends by using the buttons at the bottom.
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Make the darkness go away…


I’m the mom of a very much loved addict son, I made it my business to learn and try to understand why he does what he does and drugs do what they do. I just cant get over the hump of that call back by the devil.
Make the darkness go away Click to Tweet

For 14 years I have watched my son deteriorate as a person and struggle to be as close to normal as he knows hoping no one will notice how high he is as he nods off while standing in the kitchen. Oh my God how I hated that….I cant even begin to explain how that feels. There are no words…

Donna HART
I always tried to keep the door open so when he was ready he would know I would be there to help him. What I actually did was enable him….Coming to the realization of what I was doing was critical to me and heartbreaking. How could I have allowed myself to be so blind all the while I was searching and researching for help and answers.


Love is blind and no matter how much you strive to help your child , your baby, your loved one…enabling them is actually helping them to die. Drugs have no love for you or their victim.
Parents have got to get involved with helping their loved ones to get help. Help is getting them in a position where they can go to treatment. The solution is getting your kids insurance. Its a way to get them away and out of their drug element… a way to change people, places and things. Without making changes they will absolutely fall back into the dark hole.

I have the ability to help guide you to where your child or loved one needs to be in order to save their life.
I’m the mom of an addict, I know what the parents and family’s go through…There is help and there is hope.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/OhioCanHR4UClosed/ Lets Talk Addiction support group

Donna HART Carmosino Founder of HART Foundation Inc. 513-580-4278 (HART)

I Can Help!




Erinkberndt Author


Loving Mom

My name is Erin Berndt & im 46 yrs old I am married to my soul mate, Fedor. I have 2 children Dacia & Anthony from my ex husband who I spent 22 yrs of misery. He was an evil drunk who developed a love for pills-any pills. Our son left home at 15 because his uncle & father got him into drugs & drinking. Below is my story.

My Nightmare Turned Miracle Click to Tweet
Chapter 1 – My Nightmare Turned Miracle


Chapter 2 – Huge fight with my Mom


Chapter 3 – Time of the sexual awakening


Chapter 4 – 1st abusive relationship in 8th grade



Chapter #5 Hell


Chapter #6  I thought my father was Evil…

Evil Dadfounder



American Society of Addiction Medicine Facts and Figures


American Society of Addiction Medicine Facts and Figures Click to Tweet
prescriptionistock_000017804799small_cropped-640x250Opioid Addiction

• Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.1

Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Founder/CEO

• Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain. 1

• Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.2

• Of the 21.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 586,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.3 •

It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.4

workers-comp_slideshow_01National Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014.5

• From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in 2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance use disorder treatment admission rate in 2009 was six times the 1999 rate. 6

• In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.7

• Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers. 8 • 94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use

shutterstock_186441221Adolescents (12 to 17 years old)

• In 2014, 467,000 adolescents were current nonmedical users of pain reliever, with 168,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers. 3

• In 2014, an estimated 28,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 16,000 were current heroin users. Additionally, an estimated 18,000 adolescents had heroin a heroin use disorder in 2014.3

• People often share their unused pain relievers, unaware of the dangers of nonmedical opioid use. Most adolescents who misuse prescription pain relievers are given them for free by a friend or relative.10

• The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007. 11


• Women are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed prescription pain relievers, be given higher doses, and use them for longer time periods than men. Women may become dependent on prescription pain relievers more quickly than men.12

• 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010. 12

• Prescription pain reliever overdose deaths among women increased more than 400% from 1999 to 2010, compared to 237% among men. 12

• Heroin overdose deaths among women have tripled in the last few years. From 2010 through 2013, female heroin overdoses increased from 0.4 to 1.2 per 100,000. 13



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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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The Scripps Research Institute – Special Recognition and Thanks


By: Robert Henslee CEO/Founder Stop Frying Your Brain

Sometimes it’s easy to forget who also is at the forefront of fighting addiction. It’s easy to spot the counselor in the trenches, the activists or the celebrity speaking in front of the country but let us not forget the men and women who fight this brain disease.
Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Ceo/Founder

They are the scientists and researchers who each day link this disease to the science world. The Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research at The Scripps Institute in La Jolla (San Diego) was established in 2003 through the generosity of a multi-million dollar gift and is supported each year through multiple private donors and organizations.

It combines the latest biomedical research with new clinical treatment studies to fight the devastating, costly, and deadly disease of alcohol and drug addiction. May God Bless us all as we fight this disease in our own special way….. Thank everyone there for all your hard work saving lives.

The Scripps Research Institute - Special Recognition and Thanks Click to Tweet

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Stop Frying Your Brain song kept rattling around in my head after visiting their website. It was worse than it’s a small world at Disneyland. Eventually… I would hook up with those guys and it’s all because of that one stupid song.

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Cindy Ouellette

Cindy Charles Ouellette SFYB Staff Editor & Author

Holiday Survival at Toxic Family & Office Festivities

StopFryingYourBrain.com becoming most viewed Substance Abuse sites in the nation click here and learn more.

If you are serious about making it through the holidays still clean and sober, then you are probably feeling a bit reluctant about being with family and so-workers at holiday get-togethers!  “To Thine own Self Be True”.

Holiday Survival at Toxic Family & Office Festivities Click to Tweet

If you are forced (emotionally blackmailed) into going to a family celebration where there will be drinking and using:

  • Take your sponsor or a sponcee of your sponsor.
  • Many people in recovery do not have a place to go for the holidays.  Invite them.  Go together and turn it into a recovery fun time!
  • Know prior to the party where the 24 hour alkathons ***are or where regular recovery meetings are.  Regular meetings to not close for the holiday.  This way you have a safety zone to run to if your nerves, moods and anger buttons get triggered.  Family can be a very toxic trigger (and worse if all of them are together).  Protect yourself with a game plan of refuge if needed.
  • NEVER put your drink down.  Guard it!
  • Pour your own refreshment.  Play it safe.  One practical joke can end in jail, institutions or death.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in a safe parking place so you can escape fast.  Be sure your car can’t get boxed in.
  • “No” is a complete sentence.  Practice it in the mirror.
  • Have sober numbers to call (get someone to program your cell with speed dial if you do not know how to do it.)  When a craving comes you will not be remembering the good phone numbers.)
  • Be careful of punches and eggnogs!  They are usually spiked.
  • Be careful with deserts made with alcohol, too.
  • If non cooked deserts have vanilla extract in them, say ‘No thank-you”. (Most flavor extracts have high alcohol content.)
  • Find out what time the meal is to be served prior to party day. And go just before the meal and leave just after the meal.  Our families really know our triggers and do push buttons.
  • Know: It’s just one day.  Get to a meeting that night and share your success of the day!  Yeh! You!
  • If you have a cell phone microchip, portable mp3 player, or CDs with recovery leads or the Big Book in audio or podcast, listen to them.
  • Remember to use the Serenity Prayer.
  • Say ‘Help” that morning and “thank-you” that night.

*** Alkathons are meetings around the clock plus refreshment and snack breaks.  They are help in AA and NA home groups during the holidays. Great support and stress release and sobriety insurance.
We do not get clean and sober alone and we cannot stay clean and sober alone. The mentality of (“I’ve got this.  What do they know?  I am different.  I can just use my will power.) is a relapse waiting to happen.  You have a support team and recovery tool box.  Use them). With the use of the tools and your support team, You DO have this!

Please keep in touch with us.  And do tell others about us so they can enjoy the wisdom that life has to share. Click on Pic for more info….




Just Click Mechristmas_nights-1920x1200

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Allie Holbrook

SFYB Staff Writer

Beware of “Blackout Wednesday”

By: Allie Holbrook
Thanksgiving.  A day for gratitude, but also a time of excess.  Tables groan with turkey and pumpkin pie, wine flows freely, and there’s a sense that nothing bad can happen on a night of such goodwill.
In fact, Thanksgiving is bad news for people trying to stay sober. Not to mention the people who are unfortunate enough to share the roads with drunks.

This Wednesday evening heralds the beginning of the long weekend, a night the bar industry and law enforcement call “Blackout Wednesday.” Alcohol consumption will begin to spike tonight and with it the inevitable consequences.

Year after year, road fatalities are higher on Thanksgiving than at any other time of year, and that includes New Year’s Day. Revelers heading home in the wee hours after a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne are less likely to be driving under the influence than people who have taken advantage of a Thanksgiving cornucopia of booze.  In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported almost half of the motorist fatalities over the Thanksgiving weekend involved a drunk driver.

College students heading home for the last break before finals contribute to the toll.  But they’re not the only ones.  Alcohol Monitoring reported last Thanksgiving that drinking violations among people monitored for alcohol consumption go up by half over the Thanksgiving weekend.  These are people who have already sustained alcohol-related convictions and are under court orders. Yet they consistently drink and drive on Thanksgiving, knowing they’re being monitored.

Beware of "Blackout Wednesday"

Drunk driving isn’t the only spike over Thanksgiving. Alcohol-related injuries and assaults also rise.  ER staffs around the country brace for the usual flood of patients injured in drunken family brawls, as well as those suffering heart attacks from over-indulgence.  Nothing says “I’m grateful for my blessings” like having your stomach pumped, right?

Beware of "Blackout Wednesday"

If you’re struggling to moderate your alcohol intake, Thanksgiving is a dangerous time to drink.  Why not show your gratitude for friends and family by staying sober? Then they won’t have to pour you into a cab at the end of the night.

For those of you in recovery, congratulations.  Give thanks for your sobriety at the Thanksgiving table by celebrating with a big slice of pumpkin pie. You deserve it!

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Hope Without Handcuffs @StopFryingBrain


By: Robert Henslee SFYB Founder

Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Founder

To all my brothers and sisters I would like to introduce you to Hope Without Handcuffs.

Working with law enforcement across the nation, great organizations like Families Against Narcotics and my good friend Katie Donovation I’m asking you to watch the brief clip below and learn what we’re up to.
If you have a twitter account please share by clicking on the button below. Help us get the message out.
Hope Without Handcuffs @StopFryingBrain #StopFryingBrain #AddictionMatters Click to Tweet

We need your help to get our message out. If you know of a first responder organization please share our message with them.  Use any of the share buttons on the bottom of this page below. We’re hoping to make your community a better place to live, help protect your children and save a few lives. Can you help me?
Watch the clip above from our friend Ken @ MCSO. If you’re a first responder or know of an organization and would like to get in touch with us about Hope Without Handcuffs to help, please reach out to my friend Kittie Donovan by clicking on her picture below. She’s the executive vice president of FAM and she can better tell you about our new program to help everyone with a challenge of addiction in your community. If you need to reach me my cell is 772.206.6676 Tks@R


Click here to learn more about my friend Katie


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Thank You Mom, For Never Giving Up On Me


Katie Donovan

BY:Katie Donovan

For so long, I never understood how my mom stuck by my side. After all of the harm I’ve done, the lies I’ve told, things I’ve stolen…how did she still love and support me?

Once I got sober, I slowly began to understand.

April 2016, I was about 13 months sober and I received a call from my mom. A worried mother in North Carolina had contacted her. Her daughter was homeless in south florida and was on a crazy run. She knew where her daughter was and I wasn’t too far from the area. I never hesitate to help someone and I certainly didn’t this time either.

Thank You Mom, For Never Giving Up On Me Click to Tweet



My mom sent me a picture of her and ten minutes later I found the girl. When I pulled up, my heart sank. She was beautiful..gorgeous blonde hair, bright green and blue eyes. When she got into my car, no words were spoken. I didn’t even know this girl and we instantly hugged each other and started sobbing. I could feel her pain, I could feel how broken she was and I could remember what that was like for me.

A little over 2 years ago, I remember sitting in my room when my mom came in and found me using. I have a younger sister who was 10 at the time and my mom could not have this in her home. At this point, I had been a full blown heroin addict for over 5 years and I knew all of the damage I had caused..so I left. I roamed the streets of Detroit for 3 days. I didn’t talk to my parents and I didn’t have any friends left.. I was alone and terrified. I used everything I could find and destroyed anything attempting to stop me. I stole someone’s car and ran around the city like I owned the place. 3 days..3 long, lonely, terrifying, destructive days. My runs kept getting shorter and shorter. And each time they got worse. 

teen-using-cell-phoneI finally called my mom. I had made it back to the suburbs and was sitting in a Chase bank parking lot, sobbing. I wanted help and she instantly set everything up for me to go to treatment. Not even 20 minutes later I called her back..”I can’t do it mom. Tell Brooke I love her.” My life had spiraled out of control in the darkest ways and I didn’t know a way out of it. I was done. I didn’t want to try anymore..my addiction created an obsession of drugs and alcohol so profound that I could not control it. I had contemplated suicide for so long and now I was ready.

As I cooked up the shot that was going to put me out of my misery, I cried uncontrollably..thoughts and memories of what life used to be like came racing through my mind like a tornado. Even though so many memories were happy ones, it put me in a dark depression. The only thing that truly made me happy at that moment was knowing I wasn’t going to be alive anymore. I laid back and let the drugs take over my body. When I woke up in the hospital, the only way I can describe the way I felt was hopeless. Even the drugs wouldn’t kill me.


I remember praying for God to please just curse me with any disease, a car accident, anything that would kill me since the drugs wouldn’t. Toward the end, the only reason I used was to die. Even after being so ungrateful for everything my mother had done for me, after not caring about how SHE felt through all of this..she still loved me. She might have been mad, disappointed, angry, hurt..but she loved me nonetheless. She saw how broken I was laying in that hospital bed. She took me into her arms and told me it was going to be okay. And I finally realized she was right..it WAS going to be okay.


Over the last few months that girl and I became very good friends..she is like my soul sister. Her story is my story and vice versa. Everything she does in her addiction, I did. The way she is when she is sober – it is beautiful. So full of life, as I am now. But she can’t seem to stay sober and it breaks my heart. I have tried everything from keeping her at my house, taking her to meetings, getting her to treatment 4 times, searching all over south Florida for her..it consumed me for awhile. All I want is to save this girl. But even after all of the rehab attempts, the arguments, her cussing me out, the continuous lies – I love her. No matter what, she will always be family. Something that helped me in my addiction is when my mom cut me off. All communication ended unless it was for help. No money, nothing. This is something I have had to do with the girl. I have had to tell her to not contact me even though I want to say so much more. I have had to hold myself back, literally, from jumping in the car and going to find her on the streets. I have had to tell her mother and family things that I couldn’t imagine my mother hearing about me.


Yet, all of these things – families, loved ones – you do this DAILY. We don’t realize in active addiction how much you all truly do for us. We don’t understand how blessed we are to have people that love us despite all of the torture we put them through. Thank you for being strong when we aren’t. Thank you for being there when we had no one else.

Thank you for loving us when we could not love ourselves.

Katie Donovan, National Director of Family Advocacy, Reliance Treatment Center




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Big Pharma Wants To Shut You Down… @StopFryingBrain

Help us spread the word about the liberty movement, we’re reaching millions help us reach millions more. Don’t let corporate America dictate your freedom of speech on the internet!
Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Founder/Author

The list of so-called “fake news websites” created by a biased extreme leftist social justice warrior professor has now been removed from where it was hosted on Google Docs.

The author of the list, Melissa Zimdars, claims that it is being “transferred to and expanded on in a more permanent, dynamic, and collaborative home.” This claim is false. The list has been wiped due to the overwhelming number of complaints received from people pointing out that she had included completely legitimate news sources (the vast majority conservative) on the blacklist.

The fact that the mainstream media, which has proven itself to be the experts at “fake news,” from fake predictions showing Hillary had a 98% chance of winning the presidency, to fake rape campus rape hoaxes, to fake narratives about Trump being responsible for DNC-sponsored violence at his own rallies, is now lecturing everyone else about what constitutes “fake news” is deliciously ironic.

Twitter and other social media websites are now being saturated with the counter-narrative that the main purveyor of “fake news” is the mainstream media itself. Regardless of what business your in this will strip you of your right of free speech on the internet. If the mainstream doesn’t like your opinion.. your companies website can be listed as fake news and you’re done.

With trust in mainstream media (fake news) continuing to hover at record lows, the corrupt corporate press has once again failed to dictate the terms of reality and only succeeded in making itself look deceptive, underhanded and idiotic once again.

Alex makes a good case how corporate media is trying to brainwash you

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You’re too Stupid To Figure Out What’s Fake News and What’s Not….

Robert Henslee

Robert Henslee SFYB Founder/Author

Alex Jones breaks down the vast web of lies the media continues to spin in order to discredit Donald Trump, after he has proven time and time again that he will potentially be one of the greatest leaders this country has ever seen. Regardless how you feel about Donald they are coming after our freedom of speech now!
Help us spread the word about the liberty movement, we’re reaching millions help us reach millions more.



Globalists, watch out. As tech companies and lamestream media outlets combat the scourge of fake news blinding the electorate to a complex international psyop.
Why is this important. What if you disagree with Big Pharma and they tag you as a fake news site rendering you companies website completely useless?  What ya going to do then? Where does it end and who BESIDES you decides? LOSS OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH !




No Matter how many women on the job…


It still takes 9 months to have a baby….

Robert Henslee

SFYB Founder/Author

Hello, my name is Robert Henslee. For those you that don’t know me, I am an avid Internet marketer that is focused specifically on the addiction vertical. I service both large brands and small startups. During the last five years I have worked with over 100’s clients. I have built some of the best and largest pay per click models in the industry and I have authored some of the largest and most effective organic marketing models in the addiction industry like this one. Click here for services.


It absolutely amazes me, after all these years the number of concerns that call me and tell me they’ve got a $3000 month budget and a 40 bed facility and a need admissions right away. What can I do? My answer to you is very simple. A good marketing strategy is like having a baby.

It takes time to do it right and there is no such thing as McDonald’s in this industry. Usually in these cases what happens, they previously met a number of marketing wannabes who have assured them that it is possible, they take their money never achieving any real tangible results. Gun shy.

Then they want me to stand on my head explaining to them how we do what we do… so they don’t get burned again. Did I mention they want me to do it on my dime? Let me just say I don’t care how many women you have on the job it takes nine months to have a baby..

Addiction marketing isn’t Mcdonalds. You’ll need a real professional like myself who’s active in addiction marketing, familiar with the landscape and knows all the players. This is a very unique vertical, extremely competitive and you better know your way around it or its going to cost you to learn. Education in this verticale is more than expensive. This industry is full of pot holes and shady characters. All here to take your money. Serious money.

Their is no such thing as instant gratification in this verticale. Anyone that tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about and will take your money. It takes a lot of hard work and a good marketing strategy to get traction in this verticale. There is serious competition in this industry and it takes a lot to stand out in the noise. Especially with a limited marketing budget.

FILE - In this file photo released by McDonald's Corp., a familiar Ronald McDonald in his trademark yellow jumpsuit is shown. Some branding experts think the McDonald’s Corp. clowns’ floppy red shoes and flaming-red hair are too hackneyed for iPod-savvy kids. (AP Photo/McDonald's Corp., file)

The other thing I want to tell you is there is no such thing as a magic bullet. No single methodology is the answer. It takes the proper mix of marketing methodologies to achieve REAL sustainable results. Click here

So if you hire a carpenter to “FIX” your marketing challenge everything starts looking like a nail. It takes a consistent marketing efforts over time. An effort that builds on each campaign to establish a brand strategy. Dripsfunnelstracking and email marketing for example. Recency and frequency are keys.

magic-bulletSo what works best you ask? I have no single answer for you as each concern is different. Different sizes, different budgets, differ mix of products. You need someone like myself that understands how  to scale your resources. Who can build you a good foundation that grows over time as your business grows. Overview

Someone who can help you set realistic expectations, truly help you and who won’t simply just take your money. I promise you I won’t waste your time and I would appreciate it if you don’t waste mine. I will tell you that social media marketing is here to stay and delivers the best CPL (cost per lead) and CPA (cost per acquisition) numbers in the industry.

You Can Be a Winner Too !

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I am looking for operators, CMO’s, CEO’s and investors seeking a long term relationship with a producer. If this is you reach out. I’m not a one time flash in the pan.  I want to get to know you… and learn about your operation. I promise you I can make it great.  Hire the best.



You want REAL results?call-me

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 StopfryingYourBrain.com becoming one of the most viewed Substance Abuse sites in the nation. Learn why below we are a content marketing model 2nd to none in the addiction marketing vertical.

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We are a community of 32,000+ users and 83,000+ service providers growing like crazy. We have a market reach in the millions.
We drip (emarketing) great products, offers and services to our user community of 30,000+ building brand awareness second to none. We drip market to our 80,000 service providers too.

Need market reach we’ve got it. Be a part of our community marketing effort!

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If your new to Adwords click here.
To learn more about our other marketing services click here.


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Need Social Media Content Marketing?

We built Stop Frying your brain specifically to help our network providers gain market share using the above methodologies. Won’t you join us?

If you don’t you will lose market share to those that do without question. Be a part the Stop Frying Your Brain community marketing effort today. You’ll be glad you did.banner-low-cost-high-value
We are a low cost ORGANIC (paid is optional) social media community content model featuring a high quality low volume lead gen solution for facility operators who are struggling with the high cost of Adwords advertising platforms and/or have limited budget for market entry.
Startups are our specialty. If you’re a startup comunity is the place to be. Largest bang for your marketing dollar with out question.
Get in touch for details. 1st come 1st serve. We built this 500,000 dollar model over 3 years specifically for your use.
This is a 5 year COMMUNITY marketing effort/plan and the best is still to come. Early adopters will get best results.
We-can-change-the-worldWatch the video below to learn more about us. Be sure to become part of our community marketing model today. It works and the price is right!


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Put your business or service in front of 31,000 registered users in our new review section.
Early adopters will get best placement. With our premium listings. Get Leads sent straight to your inbox.
Auto responder support complete with drip campaign capability and social media marketing.
Includes mailing to our 80,000+ a supplier list. And more… Click get listed button below and will be glad to tell you more.
StopFryingYourBrain.com bcoming most viewed Substance Abuse sites in the nation click here and learn more.


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5 Signs of Addiction for Seniors

Senior Drug Abuse

Other relevant articles you may be interested in;

1) Opiate Dependence among the Elderly
2) Elderly Addicted to Opiates
3) 5 Signs of Addiction for Seniors
4) Things Are Looking up for Elderly Drug Users
5) Substance Abuse on the Rise Among Elderly

Substance abuse and addiction are not limited to younger generations or adults; addiction rates among seniors are higher than you may think: more than one third of outpatient rehabilitation programs for substance use disorders are dedicated to senior citizens, despite their population encompassing only 13 percent of the entire population of the USA. Identifying substance use disorders among senior citizens (or adults over the age of 65) is imperative to prevent the development, or exacerbation, of multiple types of cancer, health conditions, and psychological disorders.


Medical care professionals can be hasty to glean over typical signs of substance use disorders in senior citizens, because of perceived attributes of older people: confusion, loss of memory, or unexplained mood swings; whereas these red flags would help diagnose a younger person with a substance use disorder, the medical field is apt to brand many older adults with “dementia” or similar conditions.

5 Signs of Addiction for Seniors Click to Tweet


Preventing the tragedy of overdose and swift treatment of an untreated substance use disorder can be avoided if you and your loved ones learn how to aptly identify instances of addiction- the more you know, the easier it will be to help your loved one’s medical professional make a proper diagnosis. Look out for these top five signs of addiction among senior citizens:

    1. Wildly Changing Mood Swings
      Akin to others with substance use disorders, wild mood swings are one of the easily identifiable symptoms of drug addiction among older adults. What may be glazed over by many as “Grandma is just being Grandma,” may actually be a legitimate cause of concern. Because addictive substances over time change one’s brain chemistry, ultimately their moods, behaviors, and entire personalities will also be adversely affected.
    2. Increases to Medication Prescriptions
      Even though senior citizens are commonly prescribed medications to treat health conditions ascribed to the coming of age, some medications are the source causing instances of substance use disorders. Abuse of prescription medications is commonplace, and should be closely monitored by medical professionals and loved ones. A spike in medication dosage may not be the cause of an increased medical need for the medication- but a response to a developed tolerance from abuse.

      The only way to accurately measure which one is responsible for the increase is to keep an open and honest relationship with your loved one. You may also monitor their prescription intake if you deem it necessary. Enlisting the help for your medical professional is always a good idea.
  • Doctor Shopping
    Doctor shopping is the search for multiple health practitioners who will prescribe medications one already has a prescription for. If you notice your loved one on the hunt for multiple practitioners, specifically with the intent of yet another prescription, this may be a legitimate cause for concern. Changing medical professionals frequently may be another indication of doctor shopping.
  • Bumps & Bruises
    Although seniors are more prone to bruising, multiple falls within a short period of time may be indicative of substance abuse. As one’s senses are robbed of their normal functioning, staying upright becomes more of a challenge than it ought to be. Not every instance of a bruise or falling is a red flag of addiction, but if you notice a pattern of falling, bruising, and accidents, talking to your loved one about the possibility of abuse may be in order.
  • Grandma’s Just Being Grandma: Confusion
    Perhaps one of the symptoms missed most often by medical professionals and loved ones alike are periods of confusion for senior citizens. While stints of confusion and paranoia may be ascribed to one getting “up in age,” these symptoms are red flags for potential substance use disorders, and should be monitored carefully- as opposed to being heavily medicated to cover up the symptoms of what may be an underlying problem.
doctor holding in his hand a shopping cart with a stethoscope inside, depicting the health care industry concept

doctor holding in his hand a shopping cart with a stethoscope inside, depicting the health care industry concept

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SFYB Contributing Author “FUBAR” Best stuff in the hood brother

Addiction a Disease? Or Learned Behavior?

StopFryingYourBrain.com becoming most viewed Substance Abuse sites in the nation click here and learn more.
Yo big dogs listen up. My name is “FUBAR”. If you don’t know what that means click here. I am a crackhead, a drug dealer servicing dozens of crack houses in the hood. My drug of choice is crack cocaine of course and let me tell you, I am a subject authority.
It took me a while to get the publishers to approve me. My intent is to write a number of articles from a drug dealer and crackhead point of view. Let me thank those in charge who gave me this opportunity. Mainly the head dude there…. Rob (Thank God he’s a biker)
Addiction a Disease? Or Learned Behavior? Click to Tweet
Came across this website one afternoon when I was visiting customers. Crackheads were sitting around discussing addiction watching on their smart phone. I thought it might be interesting to share their perspective.
Of great debate in the crackhead community, the Russell Brand piece this website did. Click here.

Crackheads don’t share the perspective of the doctors, therapists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists etc. As a group, we advocate addiction is a learned behavior and not a disease.
By that I mean, most of my new customers use crack cocaine to escape  some other problem which is bigger than them. Many of these people are lawyers, doctors, real estate agents, bankers, grocery store owners etc. Their world in some way has been totally obliterated and these people are lost souls.
The pain of losing everything you worked for your entire life and then not knowing how to recover is what drove them to use crack cocaine to get relief.
Just as an observation, crack houses are very unique place. It doesn’t matter if you sold your mother into slavery, slayed your father or barbecued the firstborn for dinner. Your accepted unconditionally within the group. No person will make any judgment of you.
So I submit to all here that crackheads are socially dysfunctional. This is their attraction to the house in the first place.

Yes people you’ve got problems at Rat Park… Sales are good!



I know in my case this is true. Looking at my picture you can see that I am a handsome dude and I shouldn’t have any problem with women socially speaking that is. I was doing it wrong all my life going to bars with fancy cars and spending all my money. Imagine how surprised I was when I discovered I could have any woman in the house for a $20 rock. I was truly enabled and addicted for life. Think about that!

A Great Friend – Click Play – With All His Heart

I find that once crackheads put their life back together, smoking crack and hanging out becomes very unimportant to them. Please share your thoughts.

YES I’m A White Guy !

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Muscle-bound millionaire of addiction treatment under scrutiny

By Christine Stapleton – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Expensive cars. Flashy watches. Strip clubs. Casinos. Tattoos. Selfies of ripped biceps and b-boy stances.

This is the lifestyle of Eric Snyder, one of a breed of 20-something addicts who came to Florida to get clean and ended up making fortunes by housing and treating fellow addicts and testing their urine.

Armed with little more than GEDs, a year or two of sobriety and no formal training in substance abuse, they assume responsibility for housing and treating other millennials with addiction — the No. 1 killer of their generation.

Two years ago, Snyder, 29,  caught the attention of a federal task force investigating hundreds of millions of dollars worth of insurance fraud, kickbacks and patient brokering in Palm Beach County’s drug treatment industry. Snyder landed in headlines when his businesses were raided by the FBI in December 2014 — the second of two high-profile raids by the task force.

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What is Addiction Really, and How do We Fix it?

MD Lukens, PhD  © May, 2016

The Disease Model is Not Well Constructed
Michael Lukens

Dr. Michael Lukens SFYB Addiction Expert

To start this discussion off I need to repeat what I’ve been saying for some time: addiction is NOT a disease.  To be more precise and appropriately humble about it I would say addiction is not best defined as a disease.

In almost every way conceivable, I see the equating of addiction with disease as very unfortunate; it has always been unfortunate, and it will continue to be unfortunate if we don’t move past it.  I assume the disease idea was created with the same good intentions I’m bringing to the job of defining addiction.  Trying to be helpful.  But I don’t want to simply critique it.  I want to do away with it permanently and completely, except as a historical reference.

What is Addiction Really, and How do We Fix it? Click to Tweet

disease model

I look at definitions somewhat differently than almost everyone else, being a radical constructivist.  Constructivists are outnumbered by a large margin — our counterparts, the naive realists, constitute the vast majority of people, scientists included.

 As a constructivist I make the epistemological assumption that we don’t come to know the world by simply making copies of what already exists independently outside us; our definitions of things are not handed to us by the outside, like preformed data is handed to a computer.  Meaning and relevance are created by each person in the actual process of living.  The world we “think” we live in is one which we have been busy constructing, creating inside models of forms and substance in order to create order within our minds.


Like you, I share my meanings with everyone I come into contact with, on some level.  We then gather in schools and specialized groups to share our meanings and form “collectives” of shared meanings.

Science and religions are clubs that have rules governing how and what meanings are shared among “insiders” who belong to the club, or aspire to belong to the club.  

Addicts form social clubs too, especially if using substances starts out in adolescence.  This is an allusion to the proverbial “bad influences” everyone’s parents warn their children about when choosing to affiliate with one’s peers.  Addicts tend to exit certain clubs and join others in the process of recovering — maybe more mature clubs with something unifying them meaningfully besides their getting high.  

Therapists, theoreticians and service providers of all kinds are together inside the club we could call the addiction field or the addiction world. Among the sub-communities within this arena there can be lots of friction and conflicts between people with differing “meaning allegiances.”    Meanings are being exchanged and boundaries are created as sub-clubs form and idea sets are shown rule bound recognition and validation — separating them from one another.  Members have codes of “meaning conduct” to observe in order to remain in “good standing” within any particular “school” of thought.


Our coming to know the outer world is an inside job.  The so-called objective facts do not actually exist in the absolute sense that we’ve always assumed to be the case.

The naive realist believes there is an objective universe waiting for us to identify, catalogue, and see the natural, already given order between things as all this “separate” and objective material of the universe is unfolding  for us.  And this universe would be doing its unfolding exactly the same with or without our perception or understandings because it really is independent of us.

The constructivist knows the world we make up is reflective of who we are, what we are all about, and our identifying it is actually a process of our defining it and not just discovering it as it “really is” unto itself.  We tell the world what IT is, the world doesn’t tell us who or what IT is.  Our biases make us see what we see “out there” and our mind is making sense of what we see in a way that is keeping with the mandate: “in the service of the self” in some way.  When we are curious without much sense of a bias, we have biases already nonetheless, just of the more subtle kind.  We don’t just come to know what we know based on what our biases will allow — we only bother to look where our biases make us bother.

We don’t come to know what is out there independent of us.  That’s an idea we have . . . that there is such a thing as independent and out there.  Or objective. Or neutral.  Or purely intellectual or rational for that matter………..


I’m not the only constructivist — really there are hundreds if not thousands of us — but I may be one of a handful who are trying to define addiction.

Coming from an assumption that we make up the worlds we find ourselves living in I don’t have to figure out what things “really” mean;  I look instead for what things “truly” mean to the person or the groups of people who share a way of seeing and defining things.  Theists live in a world in which the proof of God’s existence is not required, since their faith tells them they have all the proof they need.

That is their truth and so that informs how they live and what they “know.”  People who like soccer don’t have to justify why they see it as the world’s #1 sport.  Scientists appreciate the use of the scientific method and tend to be more ok than most with not being able to fully explain almost anything.  Since science is not all that coherent, well articulated, or all that advanced in the addiction domain, we currently have to devise our definitions and solutions with little support from that pool of knowledge.

Perhaps this is why the spiritual take on addiction is still so popular, and why passionate advocates of all the approaches for defining and treating addiction speak so loudly once they “emotionally conclude” the path they themselves walked to recover from their addiction could or should work for everyone.

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As a constructivist I’m left with a utilitarian sort of take on definitional “value.”   Ultimate “rightness” or ultimate “wrongness” are discarded as possibilities from the outset. There are no objective absolutes, so that can’t factor into the value of a definition.  

A definition that moves us in better directions is preferred over one that does not.  Defining homosexuality as a disease was, so clearly, seen now in hindsight, quite damaging and limiting. There was a point in time that “refrigerator mothers” were blamed for autism.  

Bloodletting and the use of leeches were standard medical practice;  and trepanning — the drilling of a hole into the skull to let out the toxic “vapors” or “evil spirits” — was viewed as a cure for mental illness.  I’m suggesting history is repeating itself now with this addiction-is-a-disease definitional commitment.  

To the utilitarian it is the usefulness of a definition that counts; it is the goodness of fit it demonstrates between what needs to be explained and its ability to get that job done; it’s how workable a definition might be for specific purposes;  in addition, the fact that people “like it” also tends to matter a whole lot, especially since consensus is so often mistaken for correctness.  

I like definitional schemes that fit the observations, and offer compelling and helpful perspectives on taking effective action and/or generating sufficient motivation for making substantive changes.  The disease concept does none of this well, if at all.  Except for its being well liked.  

Disease and Reductionism Don’t Add Up

When that stuff we’re trying to define is meaning and experience it is NOT something we can boil down to neurochemical reactions per se.  Reductionism is always a problem if it’s misused or over-stretched.  Occam’s Razor stipulates that the least complicated framework for “comprehensively” explaining things is always preferred in science.  

Not just the least complicated definition per se, but one that comprehensively “covers” the conceptual territory.   Of course this “rule” is not always followed by “lay people” (or journalists who write about science)  who are not so into science as a methodology or a philosophical stance per se.  Our overriding preference for reductionistic explanations is a second problem, and it’s one that makes the first problem of having such definitions so much more likely.

The bottom line for me (perhaps making a short story longer than it needed to be), conceptually speaking — as a constructivist AND therefore also a utilitarian — I don’t think it works well for us to define addiction as a disease.

I vigorously reject all the claims of facticity on any front in this discussion, or from any proponent of a single model, or the apparent certainty of the various conclusions drawn by so many involved in these definitional debates. The overnight pill, the sure thing, the final answer . . . these have not been discovered.

The gene that accounts for addiction has not yet been discovered. The brain processes have not, the psychological dynamics haven’t either, etc.


If we were truly preferring honesty over some other bias we would all say we don’t know enough about any of it to be so certain we’ve found the key.

We are all still conjecturing about addiction, somewhat feebly at this point still, regrettably . . .  and the assumptions I have about the future, based on my constructivist perspective hold no promise of our ever getting past conjecturing completely.  Our endless definitional debate is how it is for us, and it is how it is going to be.  The debate may go through quiet periods, and it may go through more tumultuous periods.   But the debate will continue, regardless.

This is true and is embodied in the inevitable projections stemming from my framework, since there can’t be any endpoint to the perspective driven nature of “reality” since more perspectives are always “possible” or potentially “coming soon.”   We should avoid being lulled into the conclusion that just because we have widely held or even universal perspectives on something means we have some indisputable facts about the nature of existence.  Widely shared opinion (or point of view) is nothing more than widely shared opinion.


As we approach ‘TOTAL’ consensus, or we are convinced this consensus is real and is happening as a validation of facticity we are vulnerable to the hypnotic pull of the easy way out, the path of least resistance, or a way of relating to reality that “blindly refuses’ the real nature of our own realities.

We find that our species is especially vulnerable and riddled with fear when it comes to our being “mental sheep” when we just totally buy into ‘available’ definitions of things we have not yet truly considered on our own.  The passing of the bias baton between generations is an effortless, seamless and almost inevitable outcome if there is no status quo challenging self observation “applied.”


The constructivist realizes there will always be debate about this phenomenon and everything else we think we know.  

Thomas Kuhn’s conclusions about the way science actually changes over time seem to hold on a universal level even as we witness the “competition” for theoretical supremacy in the physical sciences.  Kuhn talked about scientific revolutions, and these kinds of patterns of connection between old paradigms and new “replacement” paradigms; he was discussing on a macro level what George Kelly was arguing happens for individuals on a more micro level, as they construct their own unique meaningful worlds.  We make changes when what we know doesn’t work for us, and we often have to try “not knowing” for awhile in order to let go of what is known to be, what our shared and our individual science’ is telling us.  


Psychological, medical and even physical science will never stop being a product of ever-evolving and perpetually ongoing debate.  Just when we think all has been said and done there will be more to say and do.  Ideas and edifices of understanding rise and fall just as buildings and skyscrapers, as well as cultures and civilizations.

According to Kuhn, normal science is disrupted gradually and increasingly over time by the discovery of anomalies.  These are pieces of data or observations that don’t fit well within the existing “normal” framework.  The gathering of anomalies leads to the creative generation of “new boxes” for understanding (new frameworks) and these alternative explanations for the anomalies  begin “stacking up” and eventually undermine the existing paradigm.

In the addiction field new perspectives are being generated and considered.  Normal “knowing” is now being perceived by many to be failing us.  So we are now doing “unusual knowing being submitted as legitimate alternative for consideration.” This is where we are in addiction as far as I can tell.  Lots of anomalies that cannot be explained by the existing paradigm . . . that’s what makes them anomalies in the first place.  

The next paradigm explains them “better” and so it is considered as a possible replacement.  The anomaly ridden nature of the science at this point is “Begging” for a new platform to replace the anomaly ridden one.  It’s time for a new paradigm, starting with a consideration of the most popular “suggested” alternatives.  Sooner or later one will be “born” into prominence (agreed upon significance) and become the set of abstractions to guide the next phase of normal science. .  

When Teammates Disagree

My commitment to this way of understanding how we come to understand things runs deep, and so I argue that it would be more appropriate for everyone (me included) to speak in relative and tentative terms.  The way I see it, despite our disagreements and definitional conflicts connected to so many central notions for defining addiction and its causes — disease, choice, genetics, habit, character defects, mood disorders,  moral shortcomings, etc., — we’re all on the same team trying to figure out and find the best remedy(s) for this quite complex and inarguably harmful “thing” called addiction.  

I’d like to suggest that the fact that we have varying opinions is only indicative of our being in an early-to-mid stage discovery process, that is at the same time a process that will have no final end point.  But it is a process of moving the process of paradigmatic revolution along and that is something that I want to take part in.  

All that calling for more humility notwithstanding, I am still pretty passionate about my own definitional conclusions. As a constructivist I argue for my perspective just because.  How could I truly do otherwise?


Beyond the semantic elements that are making disagreement inevitable, one of the main reasons I don’t prefer this disease definition at all is that as a causal conclusion it tends to hijack and stop short the inquiry process, channeling our collective and individual resources into what I consider pretty much an unfruitful conceptual cul de sac –

it offers so little that is actionable in terms of solutions or furthering the discovery of avenues for action.  I recently worked with a client who was abusing his antidepressant medication because he fully believed depression was “corrected” by having better feelings.  

His therapist and psychiatrist may not have said this directly, but this was his takeaway from their discussions.  So taking extra large doses made perfect sense, since more meds should mean better feelings and better feelings meant no more depression.  This rather primitive idea that seeking better feelings is the path to happiness IS the operating principle that gives rise to addiction — it’s anti-remedy.  But it is still a rather pervasive understanding held by most people and the majority of addicts.  

The disease model would direct all scientific traffic down this dead end street and similarly it directs people’s recovery efforts down a limiting and unnecessarily challenging path.  There is so little benefit to the individual or the afflicted family members that results from their settling on this pseudo-scientific conclusion at this point.

In its place I offer what I think of as a set of definitions that has so much more going for it.  People relate to it — it ties in well with their experience of being an addict.  And it has a better platform for creative and compelling problem solving efforts compared to this go nowhere and offer so little idea that is the disease “model.”  And it is being empirically tested, albeit in piecemeal fashion currently,  so it can eventually be pitted head to head against other definitional frameworks and treatment models, where I am fairly certain it will prove its relative superiority — it’s usefulness will be established by virtue of its ability to help people more and to help more people.

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Mind Issues Over Matter

Addiction involves a set of “mind issues,” not a collection of “brain problems”.  “Addiction is something we do, it’s not something we have.”  It involves volitional behaviors — our actions that have varying degrees of ‘intention’ behind them — that represent what the will “had in mind” at the time the behaviors occurred.   And the behaviors can and do occur at different levels of awareness.  

This means the mind may appear to have more to do with making the behaviors happen — at higher levels of awareness;  or the mind may appear to have very little to do with the behaviors, such as when a person is in a trance, semi conscious, or totally unconscious state. We may not “feel” like our mind is in charge when we are dreaming, but it is.   It is from a clearer understanding of the levels of awareness idea that we can effectively re-construe dependency, cravings, and compulsivity.  


The intentioned activity of the living being cannot be directly mapped onto brain impulses.  Even though we seem so committed to trying, we simply can’t identify willful activity occurring in meaningful space as being directly determined by brain activity occurring in physical space.   

My feeling a need to get clean mixed with some desire to relax that moves me to take a bath cannot be found in my amygdala.

My memory of my late mother’s face is not a matter of specific neurons or inner chemistry doing a specific bio-driven dance.  It is my mother, and she is more than an idea, let alone the physical machinery that is perhaps “necessary” for there to be volitional action but yet is SO FAR from “sufficient” to explain it.

My feelings associated with my memories, and my feelings that occurred in relation to her over the course of my life were far more determined by the meanings that I held in relation to her and they can’t be reduced to the levels of dopamine and serotonin or the relative regional brain activity or the particulars of some  pattern of cortical inter-stimulation.  Mothers don’t exist for us as a set of physical inner  activities.

They take up a large amount of space in our meaningful worlds; they’re pretty damn important to us, and there is no such “thing” as important that we can find inside the hardware of the brain.  Only the mind can “do” important in this complex and nuanced way.

Model brain isolated on a white background

Instead of looking for the brain basis of what we do, we are better off trying to figure out the mind’s role in making addiction happen in the first place and in getting past it in recovering.

A disease process is not the “force” that drives the mind processes and the behaviors that constitute an addiction.  Drugs and alcohol may make people sick — a set of disease processes can show up in the middle of a person “doing” their addiction —  but some underlying physical-mental sickness does not make people get addicted no matter how much the diseasing of the brain ends up being conducive to their staying addicted.

Drugs, addictive activities, and soothing behaviors (the binkie for child or adult) are the downfall of some people.  For all humans Desire and frustration are linked meaningfully, and the dynamics involved in these sorts of links are what serve as the motivational forces for becoming and staying addicted.

Fuck you and fuck me and fuck the world — as stances we might take in relation to having more frustration rather than satisfaction of our deepest desires don’t lead to healthy outcomes . . . they are breeding ground for long term addiction.

The chip on one’s shoulder stemming from major losses, or for another person experiencing horrible damage to his or her self esteem  . . . this is what makes addiction “happen.”


The argument that the brain changes over time with extended or chronic use I think is indisputable.  People definitely can and do screw up their brains by frying them with toxic material.  However, the argument that the brain changes that occur with exposure to toxins are evidence of an incipient physiological condition that “pre-existed” or is awakened by substance use, is specious.

It’s bullshit, to put it less technically.  Overly simplistic, medical-model based, reductionistic bullshit.  It’s limiting and it inappropriately misdirects people’s’ efforts, as I suggested above.

The disease “propensity” or physiological predisposition is not a disease at work in this case.  The parallel would be cancer existing as a pre-existing “potential future disease manifestation” that makes people smoke in order to have the disease that is cancer have a better than chance chance of more fully developing in the future.  If “future cancers” could make you smoke in the past or present, then the disease model of addiction could fit.  Or, imagine that pre-existing type ll diabetes could make people eat and be couch potatoes in order to eventually produce the full blown syndrome. Seems pretty silly actually.  We should not continue with this mistake of confusing what are clear ‘effects’ for putative causes.

What the ACE Study is Telling Us

Your learning history is what predisposes you to addiction — this is one primary conclusion to draw from the ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences study, Felitti and Anda, 1995).  In case you haven’t heard of it, the ACE study was a large epidemiological study that originated in the 90s (and is still ongoing)  that showed a very strong connection between number and degree of emotional/psychological wounds in childhood and the development of a whole host of problems in living AND physical diseases later in life, and this includes addiction.  Traumatic and wounding experiences in childhood lead to manifestations of Mind and Body negatively valenced reactions throughout the lifespan.  

You might argue such experiences change the brain, and you’d probably be right.  But it is the emotional and “Meaningful” fallout that motivates the various self destructive and self defeating behavioral tendencies people develop.  

What most therapists intuitively understand is there is some hard to clearly delineate but nevertheless very real and impactful link between your experiences in life, especially the more traumatic ones, and  your emotional reactions to life.  There is clearly a link of some kind between human being’s emotional reactions and their defensive responses.

There is clearly some connection between our emotional reactions, or defensive response patterns and our way of dealing with our emotional challenges in the course of our lives.  Aside from traumas and the fallout from them, who you are in this sense is largely influenced by your developmental struggles and the interpersonal dynamics of your family of origin.  Discussions about disease and brain function are not compatible with an exploration of causal contributions from learning histories or interpersonal relationships.

The Challenge of the Complexity

If we are going to claim that we truly understand addiction we have to be able to explain psychological or emotional dependency, compulsivity, cravings, moral decay, developmental arrest, obsession, interpersonal dynamics, individual differences, social conditions, and all the volitional behaviors and their ramifications involved in each person’s “doing” their addiction.  That’s a tall order.

Unless you wholly buy the idea that the nature of the diseased brain is responsible for all the above, you don’t end up with a concept that is comprehensive enough or sufficiently coherent in terms of explaining cause-effect relationships.

The fact that we find PET scans and fMRI images that show changes occurring after a person begins excessive substance use does not prove anything about causation. It merely shows correlational correspondence.  In my first year of grad school at UConn in my Statistics and Research Methodology course we all learned correlation is NOT to be confused with causation.  It was like the “Newton’s first law” of statistics.


Legitimate neuro-scientists don’t just throw terms like nucleus accumbens around carelessly as if this ability to discern location and relevant activity meant they found the holy grail of causation.

 What shows up in the aggregate revelations gleaned from the pictures of brain activity may suggest the existence of some legitimate cause-effect relationships, but our current library of validated neuroscience findings does not come close to legitimizing our taking that explanatory leap.  

I assume the researchers do actually see relative changes in activity (like X-Ray techs they can read the rads or their equivalent on films or their equivalent) and they argue the meanings of these findings to the limits of their ability to validly draw scientific conclusions: in other words, they responsibly speculate about a particular region and pertinent structures playing some sort of role in a larger process. Read that summary article or some other articles referred to in that article and observe how many times their conclusions are appropriately couched in tentative terms, e.g.,  saying “May” have an impact, or “May” be relevant.  

They know they have not proven anything, at least not yet, or so far. They’ve observed some potential patterns that suggest the possibility of cause-effect linkages.  We could instead end up concluding we are looking at effect-effect links, or coincidental occurrences, and more research (as usual) is required to further clarify the findings and the potential conclusions we could or would draw provided said findings are replicated.   

Will and Compulsion

The hijacking of the pleasure center at the expense of sound judgment is not due to a disease per se.  Our will does not stop driving the volitional behavior bus before the brain deteriorates, and just because the brain changes or deteriorates, the will doesn’t stop being “responsible” for the living system’s taking action.  Judgment is clearly impaired by inebriation, so I’m not saying that there is no potential for there being causal influences stemming from the brain change elements; but our will does not suddenly become a slave to the brain.  If there ends up being some slave/master relationship between the will and the substance, it is because the will has “abdicated” control. It has not been kidnapped.

This is a classic category mistake being made in terms of the effects being conflated or confused with cause.  In the werewolf legends the will is taken over “against the person’s will.”   Addicts are not werewolfs in terms of the addictive process.   It is my will that “makes me” pick up the drink, or the cigarette, or the food, and it is the ongoing picking up that changes the brain, and while the  brain “effects” recursively affect the structure of the will, it does not “take it over.”  

On some meta-level it is inappropriate for us to think that the mind-body conundrum has been ultimately resolved.  The “lazy” adoption of the disease concept does a disservice to the theorists and philosophers who to this day find themselves still trying to “solve”  this very large puzzle of human existence.   As a psychologist I am partial to leaning in the mind direction, while those from the medical camp tend to lean toward body-based explanations.

This split is reflective in all debates about addiction causation and it is well represented in the differences between psychology and psychiatry.  We have not conceptually determined the “final answer” to this ongoing debate, and it is plausible that we never will.

Walkers - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Addicts are not zombies no matter how much they can end up looking or acting that way.  The human has not become a robot to the point that he/she robotically would say: “My motivation and reward centers have been taken over by some foreign forces and I am now an automaton that has no power and no autonomy or accountability.”  Again, if a person willfully did make such a statement it would be inherently contradictory.

Surely, some addicts end up feeling this way and will say so, but that doesn’t make it operationally factual. The person with Alzheimer’s still wills water drinking behavior when thirsty, and speech behaviors when interacting with others, even while the brain deterioration associated with this disease is making those activities a lot less “functional” and appropriate relative to history or expectations.  The disease is not the will no matter how much it messes up the functioning of the will.

The discussion about compulsivity is a discussion of weak willed states, the origins of which are not caused by a brain process even though they could be presumed to be so.  If my love of heroin makes my will go weak, so I can’t say “no” to it even after I’ve been verbalizing lots of “Nos” about it, is that my disease weakening my will, or my will BEING the problem directly?   Surrendering of this “addict’s will” and submitting to a higher power is a starting point in the 12 step model.

This is an effective will/body re-clarification that helps a lot of people.  To do this I have to take ownership of my history of failures to take ownership.  Yes, it is paradoxical.  It has to be since my will has to do the surrendering.  Interestingly, when I’ve gone on roller coasters I willfully get on, then I fail to surrender as the riders who seem to enjoy the ride tend to do.  I keep trying to control the action and it makes it no fun and even troubling for my body.   Reclaiming all previously disclaimed action helps to re-orient me to my being in charge despite my feeling I have no ability to control anything important.

The addict is no more “diseased” in his or her compulsivity and dependency than the human infant is in its “overpowering need” for the pacifier or the security blanket.  Do those babies that have an unusually difficult time giving up their “binkie” or “blankie” have a diseased brain?  Are adult addicts really responding and relating to the “substance” and their worlds in general all that differently from the “resistant-dependent” baby?

Only Fools Rush In . . . Explanatorily

The penchant “lay” people (and journalists) have to draw hard and fast conclusions based on scientific “findings” that they don’t truly understand brings to my mind the implications of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  Wikipedia sums up this phenomenon nicely:

“The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.[1]

It should also be pointed out there is a lot of money at stake and an assortment of other significant vested interests in “buying and selling” the disease model and its implications to the masses.  It’s big business, even if it’s so routinely bad business or “dirty” business.

From my perspective addiction is a mind problem first and foremost; it is a mind “dysfunction” that causes brain functioning problems, not the other way around.  This mind problem leads to volitional behavior that eventually takes a toll on the body, including the brain.  The ‘disordered’ mind can kill the body this way;  and the ‘diseased’ body that results from lengthy addiction or severe addiction can “kill off” the mind, in turn and the body along with it.  We can just as readily conclude that addiction is the mind trying to eventually kill the body, not the other way around.    

Dr. Lukens has shared this excerpt from his upcoming book on addiction, which he has not yet “titled” but which will more fully explain his view of the Physics of Emotioning as these ideas are applied to the problem of addiction.  




The Art Of Enabling…And I Was The Master!

Katie Donovan

 Katie Donovan Non-Profit Staff Reporter Staff Author

Ok, I know what you’re thinking….Oh LAWD, another article on enabling! And well, yes, I guess it is….but I’m not going to tell you what to do, I’m certainly not a professional in the medical field, but I was definitely an EXPERT at enabling! Oh yes. I fully admit it, hands down, IKILLED It at enabling. It took me YEARS to realize that’s actually what I was doing. I thought I was just being a parent, a mom, loving my sick child and helping her. I wanted to FIX it all! Mom to the rescue!

The Art Of Enabling…And I Was The Master! #StopFryingYourBrain #AddictionMatters Click to Tweet


During one of the rehabs that Brittany was in, I attended a mandatory family session. There was a group of about 20 parents in there, all quiet, all consumed in our own thoughts and personal messes. The topic was on enabling and codependency. I’m pretty sure I internally rolled my eyes. Whatever. I really don’t need to be here. I’m not the problem. If she would just LISTEN to me and DO WHAT I said, we wouldn’t even be here in the first place. Sheesh!


Then they passed out a questionnaire….

”Have you given your child money without truly knowing how it’s being spent?”.   Well, yes, but she said she needed it so….

“Have you looked for a job or applied for a job on behalf of my child?”.   UH OH…totally did that.

“Have you paid their legal fees?”. Oh SNAP.

“Do you think that you can fix the addict?”. I feel like they are reading my mind now. And I’m getting super irritated.

“Have you covered up for your child’s behavior to family and friends?” SHIT

Yes, I did all of that AND MORE. I would print out pretty little lists of AA/NA meetings she could go to. I would send her articles on “how to pick a good sponsor” and “relapse prevention”. I would make her doctor appointments, do her laundry, clean her room when it got so disgusting, bought her a car when she said “I can’t get to meetings”. I would wake her up for work when she lived at home…and when she lived out of state, I would call her to make sure she was up.

I was CONSUMED with saving her.

Every day was a new drama in her life. She would call me crying for help with some sort of issue. “Mom, OMG someone in halfway stole my blow dryer and curling iron”. “Mom, I spilled red kool aid all over my white shoes.” “Mom, I dropped my phone in the water”.



Until one day, I thought “Wow, I’m working harder on her recovery than she is”.

My husband said to me, “Katie, if anything ever happened to you, there’s no way Brittany could survive. She would have no clue how to live”. And he was right. I did EVERYTHING for her.

finally realized that I needed to stop. I really wasn’t helping her. AT ALL. In fact, I made it WAYYYY easier for her in her addiction. As parents, its natural for us to want to help our kids. We feel the need to protect them from harm, afraid to upset them, do things for them because we think they aren’t capable.


I started attending support groups and I really engaged with them. I listened, learned and applied the suggestions. I dove head first into finding online closed groups on Facebook. I was amazed at the support. Clearly, my way wasn’t working….so why not try another?


And you know what happened? I got strong. REALLY strong. Her life wasn’t consuming me anymore. I stopped giving in to her demands and manipulation. I stopped bailing her out of every single situation. I needed to back the hell off of her recovery!

Now, was it hard for me to stop? OMG YES! And she got MAD! “Mom, get off of those support groups, they don’t know what they are talking about. I’m not like their kids!”. Hmmm, really?

Ironically, when I became stronger, SHE became stronger. She also came to her own realization that mom wasn’t going to save her all the time. Crazy how that works.

After 7 years of active addiction, Brittany is now 19 months clean. I still have to practice working on my own recovery daily, just like she does.

A few weeks ago, her car window was smashed and someone stole the radio out. When she called to tell me, the first thought in my head was “I need to help her”. But then, I took a deep breath, and said “Shit, that sucks, are you ok?”


She said “Mom, I’ve been thru worse. I got this”.
And I knew she really did.

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First Responders having Addiction Training

Cali Estes

 Cali Estes, Ph.D SFYB Staff Addiction Author

My name is TJ McWain and I am a police officer in Southern New Jersey.  As a police officer, I come into contact with substance abusers on a daily basis – and things that often go along with substance abuse, such as homelessness, chronic unemployment, and crimes against property.


Traditionally, law enforcement was limited in how we can handle these situations…we could give them phone numbers to call, drop them off at hospitals or shelters, or put them in jail.  Early in my career, I recognized that these methods weren’t working and that I would continuously come into contact with the same people over and over again.  Often times, I would arrest someone and have conversations with them while they were being booked.  While they all came from different races, genders, backgrounds, and economic status, their stories were all pretty much the same.  Some tried to get help and couldn’t navigate the confusing treatment system.  Some were uninsured or under-insured and couldn’t get into treatment.  Some didn’t want treatment.  Some pleaded with me to help them.  Drug addiction in New Jersey and across the country is out of control and I felt like there had to be something else out there.

While researching a way to actually help find a solution to this problem, I found The Addictions Academy and Dr. Cali Estes.  Dr. Estes was immediately drawn to my plight and, after several long conversations about what would be the most beneficial, it was decided that I would sign up for several of her courses.

I completed the training to obtain my National Certification as an Intervention Professional.  The class was absolutely perfect for my purposes and opened my eyes to the psychology of addiction.  The class was invaluable and provided me with insight on how to recognize when someone may be ready for treatment (or how to make them ready) and what resources to have ready for when that time comes.

I also completed training to obtain National Certification as a Family Recovery Coach, Relapse Prevention, and Individual Recovery Coach.  These courses reinforced some of the information I learned during the Intervention course and offered additional education on specifics related to the course titles.  Furthermore, I was able to use this training to obtain a further understanding of addiction and how to help both the substance abuser and their family work together prior to and during recovery.

I would absolutely recommend this training to all first responders and every individual who feels that they want to do more for their family, friends, community, or anyone going through struggles related to an addiction.  The courses allow you to learn from home in a comfortable setting and the instructors engage you in role-playing and other scenarios that bring the textbook to life.  At the end of your course, you will have exponentially increased your knowledge and ability to help those that need your help and, in that sense, the training is absolutely priceless.

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Fort Lauderdale and Atlantic Shores Hospitals would like to extend our hand

Maite Soria

Maite Soria SFYB Trusted Facility Provider Resource

We at Fort Lauderdale and Atlantic Shores Hospitals would like to extend our hand in helping you and your patients receive the best service possible in the event that one of your clients need a higher level of care. We provide: 24/7 Free Psychosocial Assessments for: PHP/IOP Acute Psychiatric Stabilization Detox Rehab (straight Medicare only) Hope unit- 55+ Pride Unit- LGBT Specific Adolescent Acute and Residential Although, we are a for profit we receive DCF funding for both adults, children and adolescents. If you have a referrals or any questions, please contact me by using the icon’s in my BIO below. Tks

Florida Hospital

Fort Lauderdale Hospital is a fully licensed, 100-bed, private hospital that specializes in the treatment of drug addiction, mental health issues and co-occurring disorders for adolescents (11-17), adults (18+), and seniors (55+).

Located in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas neighborhood, Fort Lauderdale Hospital’s highly trained medical staff has been turning people’s lives around for more than 30 years by providing world-class drug rehab and mental health treatment in a safe and comfortable setting.

Fort Lauderdale Hospital’s mission is to provide compassionate, comprehensive behavioral health care services. This commitment extends to the family and community of our patients as a whole. Our overall goal is to deliver the highest quality treatment for drug abuse and mental health issues possible to help our patients achieve long-term sobriety.

Fort Lauderdale Hospital is licensed and accredited by the following:

  • State of Florida
  • Certified by Broward County
  • “The Joint Commission” or TJC
  • National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention


Atlantic Shores Hospital is a private substance abuse and behavioral health treatment facility for adolescents and adults, providing both acute inpatient and residential (long-term) care. Our curriculum-based program is designed to address elements and behaviors common to those challenged by chemical dependency and/or mental health issues.

Our 72-bed facility dedicates 42 beds to adult acute inpatient treatment, while 30 beds are reserved for our adolescent patients requiring
residential treatment.

Located on two acres in Fort Lauderdale, Atlantic Shores’ semi-private living units are located just minutes away from the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

A provider for behavioral health and substance abuse services, Atlantic Shores Hospitalhas a full understanding of each factor that contributes to the hardships a person faces when dealing with chemical dependency or mental health issues including emotional, developmental, psychological, familial, social and cultural factors, and we are here to help.

If you have a referrals or any questions, please contact me by using the email icon in my BIO below or visit our website. Tks



Treating Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Cali Estes

 Cali Estes, Ph.D SFYB Staff Addiction Author

Dr. Cali Estes, of The Addictions Academy, has teamed up with Dr. Kenneth Blum, creator of Synaptamine to provide a new class that focuses on Reward Deficiency Syndrome and Post Acute Withdrawal Symptomatology in recovering addicts, specifically opiate addicts.

The course will teach Recovery Coaches and Interventionists how to use the amino acids in conjunction with coaching and addiction services to provide additional resources to clients that have been unavailable to date.

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“I have wanted to offer a training on Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms and how to lessen the symptoms for opiate addicts in detox since the detox is longer than other drugs,” Dr. Cali Estes said.  “Most addicts getting sober from opiates have a long recovery road ahead of them and have symptoms that are not reduced by traditional medicines and traditional therapies, hence the perfect timing for the class to help    educate our professionals.”

The Post-Acute Withdrawal Certification class will teach the addiction professional how the amino acids interact with the body and how they lessen the symptoms of detox and create a sense of wellbeing in the Reward Pleasure center of the brain. Synaptamine™ uses a patented KB220z Neuroadaptagen technology that is nano sized providing greatly accelerated absorption by the body for optimal brain health, enhanced energy, reduced stress as well as helping nutritional maintenance of overall mood health and a sense of well-being.

“Synaptamine promotes a regulation or balance of the regions in the brain that ae impaired by opiates, Lance Manses, Vice President of Sales said. “Dopamine is released and you get a sense of pleasure and reduced stress.”

Dr. Kenneth Blum is a researcher on neuropsychopharmacology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuropsychopharmacology) and genetics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetics). He is known from his study on the genetics of alcoholism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholism) published in theJournal of the American Medical Association in 1990. He works in the fields of neuropsychiatry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuropsychiatry) and genetics, nutritional genetics, and pharmacogenetics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmacogenetics). Blum’s research has been recognized through numerous awards.

The Addictions Academy offers 37 classes and has over 20 teachers all over the United States. they offer counseling education, Recovery Coaching classes, Intervention training, family coach training, relapse prevention, anger management, recovery coach supervisor training, even the coveted International Master Addictions Coach training certification.


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CBD Oil Now Legal In All 50 States

Cali Estes

 Cali Estes, Ph.D SFYB Staff Addiction Author

Strains of Marijuana that are Most Effective to Detox a Client from Opiates

Strains of Marijuana that are most effective to detox a client from Opiates and also to reduce Post Acute withdrawal Symptoms. At The Addictions Coach we  have been helping clients fights Acute and Post Acute Withdrawal symptoms for years using the following products.
All of these strains have been selected for their unique cannabinoid profiles involving a higher amount of CBD (Cannabidiol) and a lower amount of THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. CBD, in many preliminary trials, has been found to have a spectrum of beneficial properties including anti-seizure, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, analgesic, neuroprotective, and many other therapeutic uses. It may help many patients recover from highly addictive substances and it’s possible that a strong dose over time can reduce the size of a tumor or even be the cure to cancer.  We have only been allowed to study CBD for a short amount of time and I believe it will be revolutionary to our modern view of medicine.

 Charlotte’s Web
  • Charlotte’s Web was created by the Colorado breeders, the Stanley Brothers, specifically for a young girl named Charlotte diagnosed with epilepsy. This strain has a well-balanced variety of cannabinoids that can aid in the regulation of the body’s central nervous system. The low THC , high CBD content is a key reason this strain is used for treating many patients with a variety of ailments.
  • Harlequin is a sativa-dominant strain renowned for its high CBD content and almost invariable 5:2 ratio of CBD:THC making it a great choice for anyone looking for a soothing effect without being uncomfortably anxious or sleepy. I believe that CBD is an excellent medicine alone, but some believe that mixing CBD with a reasonable amount of THC will amplify the medical benefits. Others believe that THC is a crucial component and equally as important as CBD to the healing process.
Cherry Wine
  • Cherry Wine is an excellent cross of Charlotte’s Cherries x The wife. The wife is becoming more well-known for its abnormally high ratio of CBD:THC. Some growers have shown test results as high as 25% CBD and will be extremely potent even at lower doses. Charlotte’s Cherries is a cross of the famous Charlotte’s Web x Colorado Cherries bringing very sweet tones of Cherry flavor that cannot be missed.  Putting these two excellent strains together is a blessing to have such high amounts of CBD and an excellent taste of cherry. The effects are very powerful and can have an uplifting feeling of happiness.
  • ACDC is another very potent CBD-rich strain usually producing no psychoactive effects. It is very medicinal and can have a sedative effect without any negative side effects of paranoia or anxiety. This strain calms the body down in such a magnificent manner without much of an effect on brain function. It’s pain relief is very similar to being on an analgesic pharmaceutical drug, perfect for rehabing off of many dangerous pills.
  • Cannatonic is another strain with the common factor of a higher CBD content that has a calming effect and provides a sufficient amount of pain relief to the user. It is an excellent detox strain to smooth the effects of migraines, muscle spasms, and a wide variety of psychological/physiological symptoms. This indica-dominant strain has an uplifting vibe yet will bring the user a deep relaxed feeling without being stuck on the couch or feeling tired.

CBD is on the verge of becoming a very useful multi-purpose medicine that has a promising future. I highly recommend anyone detoxing from more dangerous drugs to give CBD a try. I believe many Ex-users will have significant relief of symptoms and feel much better in a matter of days. There may just be a monetary reason why big pharma, big tobacco, our prison system has helped outlaw such a tremendous plant, one that you can grow in your own backyard for free. Who would have thought such a small cannabidiol molecule could have such a large impact on society?




– https://www.leafly.com/

– http://treeoflifeseeds.com/

– https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol

– http://www.cwhemp.com/

– http://norml.org/

– http://www.leafscience.com/2014/02/23/5-must-know-facts-cannabidiol-cbd/


Stop Patient Brokering In Your Facility Cold

The Addictions Academy announced that they are offering a class to combat the rampant patient brokering going on in the addiction treatment industry.
Stop Patient Brokering In Your Facility Cold Click to Tweet
Cali Estes

 Cali Estes, Ph.D SFYB Staff Addiction Author

Dr. Cali Estes, of The Addictions Academy, has announced the addition of a Certified Business and Marketing Outreach Representative Training, designed by Jameel McCline, that will teach Outreach Reps and Coordinators how to market, fill their pipelines and help treatment centers get the clients they are seeking.

Don’t Monkey Around With This


“Treatment Centers hire marketers and Outreach Business Reps with zero training ad pay them upwards of $10,000 per month to fill their centers,” Estes said. “What happens is they stress to make quota and end up going to AA and NA meetings or coffee shops to find potential clients. Not only is this unethical it is not the proper way to market. We have the only class on the market that will teach you how to do it.”

The Certified Business and Marketing Outreach Representative Training is a 2-day intensive course with a 100 plus page manual that will train a person in how to market, use social media, gather contacts, create and fill a pipeline and ultimately make monthly quota, all without patient brokering.   One on One Private Business Mentor Coaching is available by one of the top Business Coaches at The Addictions Academy.

It’s Easy To Get Arrested


“The patient brokering has to stop and it is the responsibility of treatment center owners to pay their people and train their people accordingly,” Cali Estes, CEO said.  “The community demanded a new way of standardization and product definition and we stepped up to meet that demand. We can end patient brokering and unethical placement of clients, but all treatment centers need to certify their staff and train them properly and up until we created this class there has been no such training.”


This class will standardize the business side and acquisition of clients at treatment centers, ensuring that all clients are treated properly, ethically and fairly. Once the Business Marketer Developer or Outreach Coordinator has been trained and certified, they will be held accountable to a higher ethical standard when it comes to marketing and filling treatment center beds.

The Addictions Academy has trained over 2500 coaches, interventionists and addiction professionals in under three years. They boast 30 plus classes including counseling training, coaching, relapse prevention and more. You can learn a new skill, get a certification in your discipline and expand your clientele base.

Watch More About This Problem Below. Get in touch use the email ICON in the BIO below to make contact with Cali right away.

Man In Jail 2
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Who Is YOUR Therapist?

Dani La Barrie,LCSW,QS,CAP

SFYB Senior Author Dani LaBarrie 

One of the reasons I made the decision to become a consultant was my desire to properly inform treatment center owners and CEOs after witnessing several being misled.

I recently had a conversation with a Clinician who stated that  “a CAP (Certified Addictions Professional) is a higher licensure than any Licensed Clinician.” While all people who work in this field are valuable and helpful to those in need, there are some major differences between each certification/licensure and how DCF and insurance companies view them.


So I thought why not do the research and inform others of the facts, straight from the Organizations that create the rules? I believe this will help treatment center owners, CEOs, and families make better informed decisions. I encourage you to look into the qualifications and credentials of who you or your loved ones are meeting with regularly for therapy sessions.

Here’s a list of the differences:

Let’s start with the difference between a “CAC” and a “CAP”:

Both of these certifications are provided by the Florida Certification Board (FCB).

Who is the FCB?

The FCB began as a grassroots movement in human services professions. The FCB establishes, administers, and monitors certification programs in addictions, mental health, behavioral health, child welfare, and prevention. The Florida Certification Board is led by a team of nationally recognized experts with vast expertise in certification program development, implementation, and administration. (source:http://flcertificationboard.org)

A person with a CAC holds a certification as an addictions counselor, The CAC requires a minimum of a high school diploma or general equivalency degree and completion of a specified number of Continuing Education Unit (CEU) hours in addiction treatment.

Who Is YOUR Therapist? Click to Tweet

A CAP is a person who holds a certification as an addictions professional. The CAP requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and completion of a lesser number of CEU hours due to the completion of the Bachelor’s Degree. (source:http://flcertificationboard.org)

What does all this mean? A person possessing either holds credentials for assessing, developing, and providing substance abuse treatment services. These two certifications are similar and vary mostly in the education and CEU hours required.

What is a “Licensed Clinician/Therapist”?

This is a person who is  a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). To attain licensure, one must have a minimum of a master’s degree, years of supervision under a qualified supervisor (I say “years” because the amount of supervision time varies between licenses) and sit for a State of Florida Department of Health exam.

What does all this mean? If someone is licensed they’re holding, at minimum, a master’s degree and have studied a variety of approaches, styles, theories, and behaviors. Licensed clinicians are strongly familiar with mental health disorders; this is significant because as most of us know, there are usually underlying mental health issues that result in drug use (depression, anxiety, anger, sexual abuse, traumatic events, death, grief, loss, etc). A licensed clinician can address these issues and addiction concurrently.

Now, why have I explained all of this?
  • For those of you who plan on opening a treatment center: you must have a licensed clinician to receive payment on insurance authorizations. If for some reason, a client or patient is having suicidal or homicidal ideations, a licensed clinician is able to carry out a Baker Act. If you decide you want to hire an unlicensed clinician, you will end up having to hire a licensed clinician to “sign off” on the unlicensed clinician’s documentation.
  • For loved ones of, and those suffering from addiction: Know your rights! I want to empower clients and families to ask questions; learn about your therapist or counselor. Become familiar with their clinical approaches and style. See if this is in line with what you’re looking for. It is important to have a counselor or therapist you feel you can trust and relate to.  
At the end of the day regardless of what certification or license a person holds, it all comes down to helping the still sick and suffering.

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Addiction specialist Cali Estes joins Dr. Drew

Cali Estes

 Cali Estes, Ph.D SFYB Staff Addiction Author

Addiction specialist Cali Estes joins Dr. Drew to talk about her work with high profile people in managing and overcoming their addictions. Dr. Estes tell’s Drew about the personal one on one style of treatment she employs as well as opening up about her own past with food addiction. They also talk about addiction in the professional sports world and how the various organizations have differing levels of assistance for their players.



All conversation and information exchanged during participation in the Dr. Drew Podcast is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. Do not confuse this with treatment or medical advice or direction. Nothing on these podcasts supplement or supersede the relationship and direction of your medical caretakers. Although Dr. Drew is a licensed physician with specialty board certifications by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Addiction Medicine, he is not functioning as a physician in this environment. The same applies to any professionals who may appear on the podcast or DrDrew.com.



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Addiction NOT a disease…

MD Lukens, Ph.D.   © 2016 

Michael Lukens

Dr. Michael Lukens SFYB Addiction Expert

Not a Disease

The way I see it, addiction is NOT a disease.  It’s something else entirely.  

However, as is the case with alcohol addiction, it can and it often does result in secondary disease processes like wet brain and cirrhosis of the liver.  Obviously addiction can be a “progressive process” and lead to death, but these facts, even taken together, do not make it a disease.  The key is to explain what happens to the mind without having to resort to presuming something is diseased inside the brain.  I think that can be done.


Addiction is something we do.

It’s not something we have.  An organic disease, which is something we ‘have,’ cannot start in the mind, lead to behavior, and then go on to produce the original disease in the body.  In other words, you can’t have the disease happen after the behavior and after the mind has gotten the ball rolling and say it was the disease that caused the the ball to get rolling;  The disease process is not the “force” that drove the mind and the behavior.

We have to be able to explain dependency, compulsivity, cravings, moral decay, developmental arrest, obsession, and volitional behavior if we are to adequately explain addiction.  Unless you buy the idea that the nature of the diseased brain changes are responsible for all the above, you don’t have a concept that is comprehensive enough or sufficiently coherent in terms of explaining cause-effect relationships.


The hijacking of the pleasure center at the expense of sound judgment is not due to a disease.  It is due to an explainable motivational dynamic, that once understood, helps addicts and helpers orient themselves to the right kind of work to be done.

What have been called Mental Illnesses are, for the most part, better defined as behavioral problems that do not stem from a faulty body or body part..

 Thomas Szasz argued that “the term ‘mental illness’ is only an inappropriate metaphor and there are no true illnesses of the mind. By way of contrast, Alzheimer’s is an actual disease that starts in the body and then destroys the mind.  When there is brain deterioration we have a body problem that often kills off the mind first, sometimes long before dying.   

376480_416705511705191_818146540_nAddiction is a mind problem first, not a brain problem.  

This mind problem leads to volitional behavior that eventually takes a toll on the body, including the brain.  The ‘disordered’ mind can kill the body this way;  and the ‘diseased’ body that results from lengthy addiction or severe addiction can kill the mind and the body.  We can conclude that addiction is the mind eventually killing the body, not the other way around.  Suicide is factored in as most addicted people have only a partial love of life, or no love of life at all.  They start out depressed, use addictive behaviors to relieve depression and eventually due to the vicious circle end up far more depressed as a result.  


Not a Moral Failing

Addiction is not a moral failing either

As it was traditionally defined in the early 20th century.  Nevertheless, despite the fact it does not ‘begin’ as a moral failing, in most cases of addiction some significant moral slippage does occur.  So we can’t be too surprised that people have historically defined it as such.  It sort of is, isn’t it?  Don’t you think addicts have a lot of guilt in addition to their shame and self loathing?   Severe addicts tend to hurt lots of people.  Or sometimes they hurt only a small handful, but they hurt them really bad.

Bad-ThingsBut addicts aren’t bad people who have a “natural” predisposition to doing bad things.

They are people, period.  They start doing things to self medicate psychic and emotional wounds and in the process of doing so they eventually come to do some bad things so they can keep their self-medicating going.  They feel the need to keep it going so that the emotional pain can continue to be fully or partially controlled. Unfortunately, addiction is painful and demoralizing itself, causing additional emotional and interpersonal damage, so this would-be solution to their pain backfires on them.

It is only after a de-evolution of character occurs in support of the ongoing priority to control emotional pain that the average addict becomes “amoral” or sociopathic.  Some addicts start out somewhat sociopathic — they were already folks who had chips on their shoulders — and get worse after they develop an addiction; but for most, the decay in their character is a side effect of their living “on behalf of” their addiction.

Addiction doesn’t start out as a brain/body problem,

but as it progresses it does become a problem for the body, and as the process progresses it almost inevitably also becomes a moral problem as well.  But it’s beginning — the genesis of addiction — comes from some other place.  There is some other source from which every addiction develops.


Addiction isn’t a Choice Either?   

I say it’s not a choice because according to my philosophy of science and my view of the design of the human being as a living system.  I assume that all volitional behavior is determined.   Thoughts are determined, even as they are volitional.   Feeling states are determined as they are clearly volitional even if they don’t ‘feel like’ they are.  Perception of reality is likewise determined, as it is our structure at any given moment that ‘permits’ us to perceive what we do.  

So what we tend to call “choice” or we experience as having a “choice” is merely an epiphenomenal artifact or contrivance of our languaging.  We made up the idea that there is choice because it “feels” like there is, much like we made up the idea of ghosts and spirits and supernatural meanings to things, because it feels like there is such stuff.  The rationale for these ideas is more fully developed in “The Physics of Emotioning” book.


Then What is It?


I’ve been treating people with various addictions for quite a while (25+ years) and I have to say I’ve never met a single addict who has not experienced some form of demoralization prior to the beginning of their addiction.  Addicts start from a state of low or ‘lowered’ morale.  Some of the them have been “swimming” in a pool of damaged morale their whole lives, and some “tipping point” event sends them down the addiction rabbit hole.  They get a serious or sudden case of the “Fuckits” and down they go.  

Even if it’s a prescription drug addiction we’re talking about that began with “appropriate” opioid treatment for legitimate physical pain there is demoralization that moves them from a place of diligent physical pain management into the more reckless addictive mode involving the additional agenda of emotional pain (feeling states) management.

Physical pain doesn’t just hurt, especially when it’s chronic it can thoroughly trash one’s morale.


It’s been clear to me for quite some time that there is this cause-and-effect link between morale deflation and addiction.  I don’t see diseases per se as involving this kind of pattern.

I myself have Type 1 Diabetes, and it’s been demoralizing to me at times.  But despite there being some speculation that stress may contribute to its development, it was not a “mind based” problem initially.  I “have” diabetes, I don’t “do” diabetes.

Of course I have lots of diabetic self-care I need to do, but my volitional behavior was not involved in my “contracting” diabetes.  Addictive behavior IS volitional.  It has to be willed by the living system (rat or human).  Without the Will there is no addiction that can happen.

diabetes-sugarcubesI have diabetes, and I do have to handle it, as a person must do with addiction, but I didn’t give it to myself due to my behavior.  On the other hand, in some cases of Type 2 diabetes the emotional acting out that causes the person to over eat and/or to neglect self-care does start in the mind and produces the diabetes secondarily, assuming some genetic or heritable predisposing influence factor that makes inadequate self care and diabetes cooperate in constituting the disease.

My demoralization response is a side effect of my having diabetes; on the other hand, the Type 2 diabetic may, in fact, start with a mind problem that “triggers” the disease process.  But diabetes did not cause the instigating behaviors or patterns that led to teh deterioration of the person’s fitness or self care.  The disease may have resulted from it, but it has no power to make the person act out with food or decline to exercise.

So if you feel a need to retain the idea of addiction as a disease and you’re willing to stretch the disease metaphor more than a bit, then this kind of “hybrid” problem with mind – behavior – disease interwoven as it is in the case of Type 2 diabetes, then feel free.

Addiction does at least resemble one common disease.

As far as I’m concerned this is the only parallel I can find in the organic disease category that could possible apply and it still is not a full parallel since the addiction disease is said to give rise to the behavior and thoughts and feeling states and motives and “choices” that led to its genesis.  The reasoning goes this way:  I’m Irish Catholic by birth, so my alcoholism is lying in wait as a predisposition inside my DNA just waiting for a triggering event.   I say Poppycock.

But even still, if we concede to the wish of other ‘experts’ to stretch the metaphor in order to keep the concept and label, I still must object to the concept and the label.  What does the disease based definition really add to our ability to understand and treat addiction?  Very little that I can see, and, in fact, I think our settling on this notion has stalled the inquiry into cause and effect prematurely. Are we looking to fix brains in order to have people behave without the disease “getting the last word?”

Should addicts wait for science and medicine to produce a cure in liquid or pill form?

It’s not a useful way to promote useful understanding.  In the end I consider our settling for this idea to be a mistake, and a mistake that causes some significant problems.


The brain and its processes don’t account for one’s addictive behavior.

If we adopt this disease premise based on this kind of reductionistic view of brain-behavior relationships, then all forms of acting out will potentially end up being defined as a disease:  the 4 year old’s tantrums, adult criminal behavior, conflicts in relationship, general unhappiness, job dissatisfaction, racial prejudice, underachievement, etc.  What will prevent us from recognizing all of these behavior based problems as diseases.  You see, it’s a bit of a slippery slope to start characterizing volitional behavior as disease based.

It is not a matter of the brain determining what’s going on for the addict; it’s a matter of the mind determining what’s going on with behavior relative to the addicted person’s felt need to alter unwanted or overwhelming negative (emotional) experience.  I repeat:

Addiction is something we DO, it is not something we HAVE

Addiction is the whole set of behaviors people engage in that make the “need to control’ feeling states almost biologically obligatory.  If a person “feels” highly anxious it may seem that feeling safer/better is the only priority.   Some itches are just too itchy so we feel very strongly motivated to do some scratching.

But this strong need and “compulsive tendency” to DO addictive behaviors and GET addictive payoffs (and costs) is not some diseased change in our wiring, it is a change in our wiring based on meaningful interactions, it is a change based on how we are defining the world and relating to it.  It is a matter of our motivational “template” — the entire array of motivational forces acting on us or “through us” at any given point in time.


Addicts are people who changed along their way in life, making addiction take place as an expression of volitional behavior and “willful” engagement in the world.

The changes that preceded “allowing” addiction to happen are morale changes.  People are ambivalent about living an addiction-centered existence.  Addiction doesn’t happen to them because of chemical interactions; when people do addiction they’ve already changed ahead of time so addiction is “permitted” to take place according to the set of motivations they bring to the table.  There’s already in place at least enough wanting or desiring some dissociated change of state, or there would be no payoff from being “high.”

Addiction takes shape for them in a way that fits “well enough” inside their relationship to the self and the world.  When it stops fitting so well, they begin to talk about and experience some motivation to change “back” or change “forward.”  Don’t  be too sold on their early stage promises and declarations, or by the initial talk of change no matter how loud they speak.  Talk is very cheap at this level.

Wishingg I wanted something else, or wishing I didn’t still want something that was “bad” for me . . . well I’m still wanting it.  Why can’t addicts  just stop doing the addictive behaviors?  Actually, some do just stop.  But most of the people who spontaneously give up a drug or stop drinking find themselves substituting some other symptom for the one they gave up.  So long as there’s the sense of demoralization there is the drive to dissociate, to disclaim feeling states and meanings.  Some do achieve the “home run” recovery where they stay straight and pretty much love life on their own.  Those people’s’ stories should be more closely examined for the “secret.”

The addict does not have some random mood disorder generated by faulty internal chemistry that then “hijacks the will” and “makes him” use drugs or engage in addictive behaviors. That’s not how it works.

It’s clear when you interact with addicts and have them speak about their process that they don’t experience their addiction this way.  They “know” the addiction is something they are doing.  They may be puzzled as to why, but they’re pretty sure about the “who” and the “what.”  Of course, they also talk about times when they are in a kind of trance, where use is taking place on auto pilot, without much awareness.

This is still volitional activity.  It is engaged in, in response to the unwanted experience by “checking out” and going “semi conscious” so the deeds could get done without the more fully aware alter ego interfering.   If you’re living a conflict in which something you want to do that is also something you really don’t want to do, you might subconsciously help one of the “two  halves” of you, one of the sides of the 2 sided coin, come out.  If the “prohibiting” side of you is put to sleep, the “hungry’ side can take over.  Disinhibition supported by dissociation.  Awareness manipulations to have the dark side temporarily win sort of thing.

It is true that anxiety and depression often accompany or precede addiction, but these are concomitant or co-occurring conditions that are themselves also just further signs of a demoralization process taking place.  I don’t see these mood disorders as diseases in the conventional sense either . . . but that discussion will have to wait for a future paper.

In letting your guard down or shrinking your connection so you can cloud awareness you have “permitted” a dark side visit, a la Jekyll and Hyde, and you’ve done this in reaction to the underlying “need” to disconnect from awareness of a meaningful agenda.  It may be that you feel fully justified in going down this path, fuzzy as it is, perhaps not believing things can improve, or there is any way to uplift your own morale.  Something is being disclaimed or avoided, and perhaps the right hand does not want to know what the left one is doing.  Demoralization, by definition, is giving us reason to avoid, even if acting out is required to support the dissociation efforts.

In addition to concluding that the origin of addiction has something to do with demoralization, it’s also been apparent to me that there’s always a notable drop in morale at junctures in addicted individuals’ lives when their use or dysfunctional behavior pattern escalates or spirals significantly further out of control.  There’s always this identifiable deflation of morale that occurs as a triggering “event” prior to the adoption of addictive patterns of behavior in the first place, and it can similarly be discovered in retrospective review occurring prior to the escalation of the pattern over the course of time.

DSC8172The addicted person’s public conversation about their problem and their desire for change are much like New Year’s resolutions.  The percentage of people who keep their word, or who know themselves well enough so when they say they’re going to do something, they do it, is not that high.  People are spin doctors of their own processes; they are not very good informants on any thorny issue of substance, their predictions about the future are heavily biased, and the strong and common face-saving commitment influences self report especially in relation to topics that are very sensitive or that threaten them with face loss.

The fact that addicts who are “trying” to recover fail so often is not a sign of the power of  the disease.  It’s a testament to the underexamined power of under acknowledged ambivalence.

If we divided the addict in two, and had the two commitments talk to each other (a therapeutic exercise often done in treatment with eye opening results) they would argue until the cows come home.  As long as there is some sliver of motivation to keep dissociating to ward off pain there will be “cravings.”  They are not impossible to resist.  They have no magic power.  They have regular power . . . but that’s still powerful enough to have a say in the middle of someone’s living.  It’s still enough to tilt the playing field.  If you disclaim parts of your ambivalence hard enough you can turn yourself into someone with multiple personality disorder.  When  that happens no single part can speak for the whole anymore.

pinochioWe lie.  We lie to ourselves, and others.  We just do a whole lot more of it when we are operating in addiction mode.  We don’t invent lying just for the sake of keeping an addiction process secret from particular persons in our lives, we’ve been doing some lying all of our lives.  But it comes in handy in the throes of an addiction process that we are committed to continuing.  Sometimes we do the lying knowing we are lying . . . and sometimes we have fooled even our selves.

The moral decay that accompanies addiction is, as I’ve said, a side effect of the willful commitment to “DO” addiction.

Lying and the increasing need to do more and more of it sits at the center of the character erosion.  Think of the challenge in reconciling the conflicted ambivalence linking demoralization and the felt need to continue to live honorably.  Stealing and other sociopathic actions are a byproduct of some combination of the following:  (1) pre-morbid sociopathy, (2) the expense of some addictions, and (3) the illegality of some drugs of choice.

Defining and Understanding Morale

Webster defines morale as the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future.”

When the eight-year-old doesn’t get picked for the little league team and he becomes very upset (that is, demoralized), his is an obvious situation-based emotional reaction that negatively influences his mood.  His morale is damaged.  His positive feeling about baseball and his interest in fitting in with the team are abruptly and “rudely” removed from him, and so important expectations for his future are trashed.

His reaction to this set of circumstances is obviously not just a matter of randomly fluctuating mood or feeling states.  His failure to make the cut for the baseball team means something to him such that he experiences a significant diminishment in his sense of well-being relative to his investment in and his “hope” for this image of the future.  He is demoralized.  This is why and how he develops a mood problem.  It could be such a severe case of demoralization that he finds himself hoping his team loses, plays badly, or a star player gets hurt.

sammy-e1387309007296If as an eight-year-old he finds that junk food or videogames help to distract him from feeling lousy about not making the team, or to ease the “pain” of his negative mood, we then have enough of the beginning dynamics that we could label this an incipient addictive process.  If the same eight-year-old gets bullied on the playground later that same week, he comes home and feels more compelled to use food or video games and feels an even stronger need to take the edge off of those hurts, then we have an actual addiction beginning to take hold.  Since he’s only 8 he may not have drugs or alcohol available to “use” but he does have access to food or video games instead.

This is what has led me to refer to food as the “original gateway drug” — it’s a matter of limited access for the child; but the dynamics are the same for adolescents and adults who find drugs or alcohol or sex or gambling or work or exercising or shopping are “needed” to combat demoralization.


The behavioral response to the initial demoralization provides some soothing, some comfort, perhaps a distraction, or a kind of numbing — this sets the stage for a pattern of negative reinforcement to become habitual.  Negative reinforcement is defined as a situation in which a behavior is learned and becomes more of a habit over time when it reliably (subjectively determined) leads to escape from pain.  The willful engaging in these behaviors becomes adopted as a perceived viable life strategy to intentionally self medicate in response to demoralization.

Nicholas Cummings, a noted psychologist and former APA president, was speaking about this idea a long time ago (1979) in his article published in the journal American Psychologist titled  “Turning bread into stones: Our modern antimiracle.”  In his article he argued that it is just this sort of demoralization reaction that occurs when the addict’s dream or important life goal doesn’t turn out; how instead of life cooperating by fulfilling those very important dreams we may have, life kicks us in the teeth and our dreams get squashed.  His theory was that this was the underlying, but often overlooked source of the motivation for addiction.  Nick was a really smart and insightful guy and I believe he was onto something even back then. Too bad we didn’t take his ideas more seriously at the time; instead, we got sidetracked into other speculative conversations about the causes of addiction, including the medical model’s reductionistic notion of chemical causation.


As Johann Hari has pointed out recently, this latter unfortunate idea led to the utterly misguided “war on drugs.”  Vincent Felitti, the lead researcher on the ACE study project, has concluded that the chemical “pull” of addictive substances relates to the “mechanism” of addiction but not its “cause.”  He and Dr. Anda, his co-investigator on the ACE study, have presented convincing evidence that adverse childhood experiences have a causal influence on the development of a host of problems, addiction included, later in life.  These “ACEs” are obviously sources of high levels of demoralization, beginning in childhood, and in lieu of healing, having negative “after-effects” potentially lasting a lifetime.

In the end it appears that the Medicalization of addiction treatment and addiction definition has been most unfortunate.

The  brain is not the source of the problem:  The chemicals inside the brain are not the source of the problem.  The chemistry of the substances are not the source of addiction.  Instead, it is the “demoralized mind” that is the cause of addiction.

The broken spirit, the disillusioned soul, the disenfranchised human being – – this is where the action is, this is where addiction begins.  This is the “demand” side of the “supply-demand” equation, that is, the source of the need for the drugs in the first place.



Demoralization: How is it Remedied?

Ask any dog owner what they think would be most helpful in the effort to heal a rescue dog that had been abused and they’ll tell you:  a warm, loving, safe setting where the doggie’s well being is now a top priority, being provided by someone who knows how to “love well enough” to get the job done.  In other words, substantive re-moralizing for the dog that needs it, served up in a way that works, by someone who can do whatever it takes.  It is this same set of ingredients that are required for the addict to fully return to life and heal from an addiction.

Some of the major implications for treatment stemming from the demoralization premise should be readily apparent.  First of all, we have the prevention efforts to address demoralization ahead of time — helping to fortify our children and ourselves to be more resilient or prepared for these inevitable negative experiences.  Secondly, we can strive to immediately and effectively respond after it happens so the eight-year-old (or his older equivalent) comes home after being bullied and instead of keeping it to himself and doing some self-medicating, mom and dad take note of the emotional and behavioral signals and signs and find out what went on.

Then if they are aware enough, educated enough, and psychologically savvy enough they know how to provide sufficient comfort and support to their son.  If they don’t know how this could be done, they should ask some expert professionals.  This might then also mean the parents may try to take some corrective action in relation to the school environment.  These last steps may have the added benefit of helping other children in the school.  All of this could potentially obviate the “need” for the video game or food addiction treatment that would come later on, long after the addictive problems have been given time to flourish.

Treatment for addiction must involve some form of re-moralization, finding some way to substantially improve morale.  Healing the wounded psyche, the diminished spirit, and undoing the emotional damage – – this is what effective treatment consists of, so this is what needs to be addressed.  The person who remains in a demoralized state is very unlikely to “recover” fully from addiction.  For me, this explains why the relapse rates are so high and treatment outcome studies continue to show dismal results.  The wrong problem is being worked on, while the real problem goes virtually unidentified and largely unaddressed.

primary_treatmentTreatment is not simply a matter of working on sobriety directly, and certainly it should not be about working on “staying sober” exclusively.   Addiction is a kind of “side effect” of demoralization, a symptom of a larger problem.  Why do you think addiction is more rampant in the impoverished and disenfranchised segments of the population?  How come adolescence is a time that is so “ripe” for the development of drug and alcohol addiction?  Why would it be so prevalent among the elderly?  Why are relapse rates so high?  Why is treatment so often only marginally effective, if at all?  And how can we explain the fact that so many people recover on their own?

Certainly it helps treatment to be successful if a person brings a strong commitment to sobriety or abstinence; but the real important changes don’t come from a focus on the side effects of the problem alone.  What is required if there is to be a full recovery, in the larger and more longer term sense, is a restoration of morale.  Or, in the case of people who have been demoralized since early childhood, the initial achievement of sufficient morale.

I’ve seen this again and again as a treatment provider over the years:  the people who have truly been successful and fully recovered are those who achieve this critical mass of morale repair or what we might call a high level of morale rejuvenation.  
They don’t just get sober, they come back to life completely.  They change a ton.  They get their lives back, and in many cases they end up with better lives than they ever had before.   


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Great FB Groups @ Pages For Addiction

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Great FB Groups For Addiction Click to Tweet
I’ve been working with the best support people/groups in the addiction vertical on Facebook for a number of years now. All the groups (below) are some of the greatest support groups I’ve encountered.
If you’re looking for good support, information or just want to meet the coolest people in addiction… here are some groups I personally recommend. They ALL are awesome people.

Oh and please join Thanks@R





























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Say You Want To Help People With Addiction?

Cali Estes

SFYB Contributing Author and Certified Addiction Trainer

The Addictions Academy was founded to increase education in the areas of addiction that have been previously unavailable to the general public. We offer on site training, live virtual classroom experiences (webinar) or on demand classes (learn at your leisure)in an array of subjects that fit your practice or services. With our extensive availability of certifications, college accreditation and continuing education units we are able to assist you in obtaining new cash pay clients, increasing your client base, or starting a new practice. We even offer job placement and referrals.

Help PPL with Addiction

We operate with a Standard of Excellence for Addiction Coaching and Intervention Training with an Accreditation Component for International Certification and State Licensure Preparation. The Addictions Academy is fully dedicated to helping addiction therapists,  mental health practitioners, drug and alcohol treatment centers, students and other professionals learn about the facets of addiction. We specialize in: Recovery Coaching, Intervention, Food Addiction, Gambling Addiction, Ethics, Business and Marketing. Our in depth courses are designed to provide the learning tools necessary to handle real life situations with evidenced based practices.

We provide both national and international certifications and if you want to sit for specific state exams to receive additional credentials, we can assist you. Our courses are offered LIVE (in person), Live Virtual Classroom Webinars or on demand pre recorded to learn at your leisure!

We want you to succeed! ALL of our Faculty are Master or PHD level instructors, all with successful private practices. All have been featured on various TV, news media and most are successful best selling authors. We are dedicated, educated and can teach you how to create a successful practice.

chicagoCali Estes, CEO of The Addictions Coach and founder of The Addictions Academy, shows how she was able to use her psychology degree to pursue her passion in helping those to battle addiction. For those considering psychology in terms of obtaining a future career, Cali offers some insight on how her education has helped to achieve success.

cbs-sacramentoSacramento Addiction Therapist Uses Her Education To Help Others In Need. For people trying to quit an addiction, enrolling in programs with a “sponsor” is common. But often leaving addiction behind isn’t the only step to moving forward. Just as college students have counselors and life coaches as they make their transitions, so to do people battling addiction.

logo-smallUse of illicit drugs becomes part of Silicon Valley’s work culture. For Google executive Forrest Timothy Hayes, heroin was the killer app.
From the way the Santa Cruz cops talk about it, the security camera video that captured a reputed high-price call girl injecting the 51-year-old tech veteran with a fatal dose of the drug aboard his yacht in Santa Cruz was surely horrific. But it was particularly chilling for another reason:

She KnowsCali Estes is an addictions coach and therapist who has worked for over 18 years with clients battling drug, alcohol and food addictions. We asked Estes if she has noticed a recent increase in LGBT teens battling addiction. “Yes,” she shares. “A lot of teens that have not discussed their LGBT status — have not declared it in the open — will self-medicate in fear of being abandoned or shunned by their parents, teachers and fellow students.”

la_timesNoted addictions coach Cali Estes, who runs offices in L.A., New York and Miami, suggests being as proactive as possible in seeking out a game fix, and that waiting till the last minute to find a televised Dodgers game will only add to fans’ frustrations.

philly_cbsContinuing education can be the key to staying up to date in your field. The fields of psychology and social sciences are constantly changing. Doctors and scientists come up with new theories every day, not to mention the benefits of medications, cognitive therapy and alternative approaches. Read More.

The Entrepreneur4 Strategies for Maintaining a Strong Marriage From the Road
Musician and electrician Tim Estes runs a spit-and-polish home. But that changes when his wife, Cali, founder of The Addictions Coach, a mobile counseling program, returns from one of her frequent road trips. “He says, ‘Hurricane Cali came through here; the house is a disaster,’” she reports with a laugh.

Executive StreetA Hard Pill to Swallow
An invisible infection is crawling through our workplaces. It’s not the white-walkers from Game of Thrones, nor the zombies from the Walking Dead. It’s a different kind of infection and according to a recent survey by Employers Holdings Inc., one in ten small businesses have had employees dealing with it. And this is just those who have been recorded showing up for work under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the last year. The survey, which polled 502 small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, found that alcohol was the most commonly abused substance (5.3%) with marijuana and prescription painkillers following close behind (5.1%).

The Trading PulseThe Addictions Academy has announced inhabitant mandate and state mandate for Interventionists, Recovery Coaches and Addiction Coaches, debunking a parable of wanting to register with a ‘board’ or organisation in a United States.

“For years a open has been misled that there are play or general groups that oversee Interventionists and Recovery Coaches,” Cali Estes, Founder said. “That is not a case. Each state is commencement to order a possess set of state regulations and manners finish with a state hearing to register for state credentialing. There is no need to join an eccentric organisation to determine your credentials, unless we simply wish to join a club.”

Web Talk RadioCali Estes, Interviewed on “Addicted to Addicts: Survival 101- The Addictions Coach

This week’s show is all about choices and possibilities. How do you think rehab should go? Would being able to stay in your own environment be good or bad? How about going about your work, school, social responsibilities and being able to “bounce off” situations with a therapist/counselor when “stuff” happens, to get immediate tools to use? What about someone being by your side when you relapse or to help you help yourself not to relapse? Denise speaks with Cali Estes, founder of the Addictions Academy and The Addictions Coach, about the different, creative modes of treatment she is discovering to work well with a different “twist”.

Call to action reachout_hands (1)You can find Cali at her websites by clicking on the icon’s in her BIO below. If you wish to email her just click n the email ICO. Learn how YOU can save a life today.


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Do’s and Dont’s When Opening A Treatment Center

Dani La Barrie,LCSW,QS,CAP

SFYB Senior Author Dani LaBarrie 

Though I am eager to help those interested in opening a treatment center/facility, there are some important things I tell my investors and CEOs to consider before leaping into a venture that they haven’t quite thought all the way through. I’ve compiled a short list of some do’s and don’ts for those of you who are interested in taking this leap as well 🙂


Do's and Dont's When Opening A Treatment Center Click to Tweet
  1. DO plan and budget on no cash flow through your treatment center for at least six months, nine months to be safe. Most insurance companies take from thirty to ninety days to process insurance authorizations. In other words, it can be a very long time before you receive payments for the services you are providing leaving you to carry the overhead. Lately, with industry politics and the prevalence of insurance fraud, it’s taking even longer for those authorizations to process. To err on the side of caution, it’s best to prepare (mentally and financially) to operate your company with no money coming in for at least six months.licensedvsunlicensed
  2. DON’T hire an unlicensed clinician as your clinical director. Keep in mind that the Department of Children and Families, Insurance companies, and Joint Commission have varying needs/criteria that must be met (Joint Commission isn’t currently required but may likely be required soon, I’ll get to that later). Just because one requirement is met for one entity, doesn’t necessarily mean it will meet the requirements of the next. A clinician with a certification in addiction is great for DCF, however, insurance companies are requiring documentation to be signed off by a Licensed clinician (LCSW, LMHC, or LMFT) otherwise they will not authorize payment. So make sure you’re “good for all,” and not just one.teaserbox_11813837
  3. DO have competent staff and employees hired prior to opening day. You’ll want to have structure already in place; having employees and a program schedule already developed will help to reduce chaos. Your team members should be strong and capable of wearing many hats. Hiring the bare minimum may keep costs down but can compromise care and morale/confidence of new clients.a14ec1b439613a1122fd01ce598aab93
  4. DON’T hire family members and/or close friends unless maybe, and this is a BIG MAYBE, they have exceptional boundaries. I am aware of and have worked with some treatment centers who have hired family members and/or very close friends anyway and have witnessed what happens in the unfortunate circumstance of that family member or close friend “slacking off,” or “not meeting job description requirements.” Not to mention, since they’re your family member or close friend they may feel a sense of entitlement — ‘I don’t really have to do this because I’m so and so.’ The difference between this and a disgruntled employee is losing your friend or damaging your familial relationship too. Also, it can be extremely uncomfortable when meeting with them and discussing their job performance; it muddles business and pleasure.hero_accreditation
  5. DO prepare yourself for audits and accreditation processes. As I mentioned earlier about meeting different needs/criteria: DCF will audit your clinical charts and Human Resources files after 90 days of your opening date and once yearly from that point forward. Meaning, your ‘i’s need to be dotted and t’s crossed’…consistently. There was a time when Joint Commission accreditation was a “preferred thing.” Because of the prevalence of fraudulent treatment centers, insurance companies are pulling back more and more, and many insurance agencies REQUIRE a treatment center to have Joint Commission Accreditation in order to pay for a client. I have sincere respect for Joint Commission (once referred to as “JACHO”); not only do they audit charts, they also interview staff, interview clients, and do random site visits AFTER you’ve acquired your certification from them.mislead-1764x700
  6. DON’T get misled! There are many people who call themselves ‘professionals,’ ‘therapists,’ ‘counselors,’ etc. Know your facts, laws, and Florida Statutes! Whether hiring a consultant (such as myself) or an attorney who specializes in substance abuse treatment, make sure you are following the correct information. Operating an ethical treatment center can be a stressful juggling act, the last thing you need is the FBI and/or IRS knocking on your door. And let’s just say, if it ever got to that point, they wouldn’t be knocking…ScholarshipsSearch
  7. DO accept scholarships. (Scholarship means a client who is admitted to your program at no cost.) When developing your business plan and creating your budget, keep in mind at some point you will need to scholarship a client (or a few). Not every client is going to have health insurance, despite federal requirements to. You may come across a client ready for treatment who has hit “rock bottom” and has no health insurance or any means to pay for your treatment.AAEAAQAAAAAAAAUAAAAAJDc4OTQ1OTc1LTJlM2ItNGViYS04MDYzLWZmMGJjOGZiZGMwNg
  8. And last, but most definitely not least, DON’T open a treatment center just for the money. I will acknowledge it is a lucrative business, but these are people’s lives. Addiction and substance abuse is an epidemic in our country. Kids are using drugs younger and younger, families are broken, and people are dying every single day.   


So, if your business plan is developed and you’re seeking an investor, or if you already have the capital and looking to open a treatment center, before contacting me or any other consultant, make sure you sit for a minute and really ask yourself a few questions: What are my intentions? What’s going to make me different from all of the treatment centers who already exist? And why do I really want to open a treatment facility?

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United Health Law Suit vs. Sky Toxicology – Patient Brokering


SFYB Legal Consultant

Breaking Down the United Health Law Suit vs. Sky Toxicology, Frontier Toxicology, numerous other labs, treatment centers and individual owners AND DOES 1-150.
Case Number: 9:16-cv-80649-RLR,
United States District Court – Southern District of Florida

By M. David (Mick) Meagher, Esq.

Over the past several years many treatment centers have been enticed into buying “memberships” in Limited Liability Partnerships set up by drug testing laboratories. These arrangements have returned large sums of money to investors. In some instances the amounts returned would make Bernie Madoff and J. David Dominelli look like rank amateurs in the world of financial schemes.

bad news

The basics of this law suit by United Health are that various laboratories, treatment centers, individuals and Sober Living centers have defrauded the insurance company by excessive billing, and by either paying or being paid kick-backs for referring drug tests to the labs. In the lawsuit, United claims they were defrauded out of more than $50,000,000.00 by these actions.


The way the scheme works is simple. An “investor” buys a membership. The investor then refers urine samples to the lab for analysis. By way of example, the lawsuit alleges Elements Behavioral Health, Inc. (owners of Promises in the Los Angeles area), bought an investment of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00), and refer their UA’s to Sky Toxicology. In return, they received Six Hundred Thousand Dollars ($600,000.00) per month. The suit alleges that Solid Landings of Costa Mesa, CA, actually forged doctors signatures to have a medical referral for the UA’s. The suit names the facility as well as two of its owners as defendants. Another California individual named in the suit is Kory Avarell, owner/operator of Above it All.

Other relevant posts and news articles on this topic click image below and learn more about this


A significant red-flag as to the impropriety of these actions is the fact that if an “investor,” whether a treatment program or owner of a program, did not refer a sufficient number of specimens for testing, the Lab would remove them from the Partnership. If you did not have referrals to make, you could not buy in to the partnership.

In response to these acts, United has sued claiming the participants have committed fraud, deception, unfair business practices, negligent misrepresentations, interference with the contract between United and its insured, as well as unjust enrichment. The fraud comes in the form of excessive billing; lab tests that are not medically necessary; and violations of the various State laws that prohibit self-referrals and kick-backs for referrals.

In addition, it alleges the waiver of co-insurance and/or deductible costs that should be paid by the patient constitutes fraud and therefore is an unfair practice, interferes with the relationship between the insurance company and its clients, and unjustly enriched the defendants.

A review of the list of defendants in this law suit is long. The current defendants include Sky Toxicology, Ltd., Sky Toxicology Lab Management, LLC, Frontier Toxicology, Ltd., Ft Lab Management, LLC, Hill Country Toxicology, Ltd., Eclipse Toxicology, Ltd., Eclipse Lab Management, LLC, Axis Diagnostics, Inc., Dr. William “Wade” White, Lance Hupfeld, Bradley West, Elements Behavioral Health, Inc., South Florida Recovery Center, LLC, Solid Landings, LLC, Kory Avarell, Stephen Fennelly, Elizabeth Perry, Ferriel Consulting Group, Inc., Jeffrey L. Cohen, LLJ Consultants, Inc.

Importance_of_TDOf critical importance is the fact that the law suit also names “Does 1 – 150.” This means that United does not yet know all of the companies and individuals involved, but intends to find out who they are and add them to the law suit. United’s attorneys will use “Discovery,” a legal device to search the records of the labs and other defendants to see who else bought in and was paid for their referrals. This legal device then allows United to go back to court and say “through discovery, we have identified XYZ center, or individual who also received these kickback payments.” As discovery takes place, new defendants will likely be added to the suit.

damages-640x480The damages, the money and the retraining orders being sought by United, if they prevail at trial has the potential to be massive. United is seeking an award that would include the return of all of the money they paid out; statutory treble damages (three times the amount of money paid out, in addition to the money they paid out); an award of punitive and exemplary damages, which cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy; a court order for Declaratory and injunctive relief that would prevent them from these acts again. In addition they are asking for reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees; the costs of court; and prejudgment and post-judgment interest.

The risk exposure if the defendants lose is a monetary judgment against them that could easily run into hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and millions of dollars in legal fees to be paid to United. For corporate defendants this could mean the closing of the business after all of the assets are sold off to pay the judgment. For individual defendants, this could mean a loss of virtually all of their assets to satisfy a punitive damages award. Secondary risks include both State and Federal criminal investigations and potential prosecution for these acts as well as the loss of the professional licenses for the doctors that are involved.

Even if some of the defendants were to avoid a finding against them, the likely costs of their defense is well over $1,000,000.00. If they were to prevail, they would not be able to recovery the legal fees they paid for their defense.

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Katie Donovan

 Katie Donovan Non-Profit Staff Reporter & Author

Katie Donovan Named Executive Vice President of Families Against Narcotics

 Other relevant posts:
(1) My Daughter the Addict-A Suburban Mom’s Nightmare
(2) Families Against Narcotics Announces Run Drugs out of Town Event
(3) No One Brings you Casseroles when you Child is an Addict
(4) Katie Donovan Named Executive Vice President of Families Against Narcotics
FAN-Families Against Narcotics, a non-profit based in Macomb County, MI, is pleased to announce the selection of Katie Donovan, as Executive Vice President of their Executive Board.

fan 2

Katie has spent over the last 20 years in the marketing, events and communications industry. After experiencing the addiction journey with her daughter, Katie left her marketing career, in order to focus on family recovery. She has now dedicated her life to guiding others through the overwhelming process of finding quality treatment for substance abuse, coaching families through their own recovery, and a consultant for the treatment industry.

Katie is a public speaker on addiction, a featured author/blogger for national advocacy groups such as The Addicts Mom, Magnolia New Beginnings, Stop Frying Your Brain, and the publication The Sober World. Katie and her daughter Brittany also blog about their journey at www.amothersaddictionjourney.com, which reached over a million views within 30 days of its inception.

“I am beyond honored to have been selected. I believe in FAN’s mission with all of my heart and I’m so excited to begin this new journey”, Donovan said.


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Founded in 2007, Families Against Narcotics (FAN) is a grass roots 501c(3) organization based in Macomb County, MI with almost 20 Chapters located throughout Michigan, and is currently expanding out of state.

FAN’s membership includes parents affected by addiction, concerned citizens, law enforcement, judges, leaders in education, business, and religion, medical professionals, and recovering addicts. Members work together to raise awareness of the Nation’s fastest-growing drug problem — the prescription drug abuse epidemic. They educate communities on the specific dangers of using and abusing prescription painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin and Percocet, and its potential to lead some to heroin use. They provide support to families affected by addiction and those in recovery. Learn more at www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org.



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Katie Donovan

 Katie Donovan Non-Profit Staff Reporter Staff Author

My Daughter the Addict – A Suburban Mom’s Nightmare @StopFryingBrain

By: Katie Donovan

I was the PTO mom, the carpool mom, the Brownie leader. We ate family dinners at the table, taught our children manners and took family vacations. My husband and I were blessed to have very good jobs. My daughter, Brittany, the beautiful girl in the photo, was the honor roll student, the volunteer at the city parks and recreation department and loved playing sports.

 Other relevant posts by this author:
(1) My Daughter the Addict-A Suburban Mom’s Nightmare
(2) Families Against Narcotics Announces Run Drugs out of Town Event
(3) No One Brings you Casseroles when you Child is an Addict
(4) Katie Donovan Named Executive Vice President of Families Against Narcotics


My Daughter the Addict-A Suburban Mom’s Nightmare Click to Tweet

Growing up, I had skewed images of what a heroin addict looked like. I envisioned them sitting in an ally, or a gangster or a criminal. The stereotypical hippie from the 60’s and 70’s that grew up in a bad home. I had preconceived notions that you had to stay away from them…that they were


 I am very ashamed of my thoughts now. I never really had a “real” exposure to addiction. What I saw was what was pictured in the movies, or on TV. We lived in the suburbs where “that just didn’t happen around here”.


 Now, addiction has a multitude of faces. It’s the high school quarterback who became injured in a game, was prescribed Vicodin and became addicted.

It’s the mom down the street from you, driving her minivan to CVS to pick up more pills, even though she just finished a 30-day supply in 10 days.

It’s the babysitter who went to a party and didn’t drink, as mom and dad properly told her the dangers of it. So she took a few pills instead.

It’s the heroic marine who fought in the Gulf War, who is now fighting PTSD.

It’s the corporate executive who was prescribed Xanax for stress.

It’s the senior citizen who had hip surgery and within weeks, unknowingly was now dependent on prescription narcotics.



This is happening in our homes, our communities, our schools!! No one is immune. It affects all classes, races, ages and professions.


If you feel like “it would never happen to you or anyone in your circle”, take a look around. It’s happening. You may not even know it. Most become isolated in fear and lost in their addiction, finding it hard to reach out.


Recently, as I was walking to my car, I noticed a homeless man hunched over. Instead of walking by him, I stopped and asked him if I could sit down next to him. We talked for a good hour. Turns out he was a marine, who was injured, became addicted to Vicodin and didn’t know how to stop, but wanted to so bad. Swore, he would NEVER do heroin…that’s what junkies do. But then his pills got too expensive and now his body was physically getting sick. He ended up turning to heroin, just to feel normal again. My heart broke for him. I gave him my card and said to call me if he was ever ready for help. He called 2 days later. He is currently at a 6-month treatment facility, fighting for recovery and has renewed hope in life.

As a community, it’s time to come together. These are not “junkies in the corner” …these are our friends, our neighbors, your grandfather, men who fought for our country.


Please, don’t’ make assumptions on people. The next time you are walking and see someone homeless, don’t walk past and avert your eyes. Stop and reach out your hand. It was my daughter sitting there once, lost in her addiction and feeling hopeless.


Katie Donovan, Recovery Advocate

Executive Vice President, Families Against Narcotics

Author of www.amothersaddictionjourney.com



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Prince. It’s a name that everyone knows, whether you liked him or not. He made an unforgettable name for himself with his signature eclectic fashion, wild dance moves, & flashy hair & makeup.


Chelsearae SFYB Contributing Author

While some artists hide behind glitz and glamour to hide a lack of talent, Prince also had an impressive vocal range and musical talents. His fans are still trying to recover from the shocking news of this super star’s recent death and what may have led to it. He wasn’t exactly young anymore, but we all expected him to have quite a few years left. Although there’s been no official cause of death released yet, many believe that his addiction to painkillers is what did him in. There are a few clues as to why this is a possible scenario, but first let’s look at the life of this legendary singer.



This unique songwriter, vocalist, and creative musician was born with the name Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 7th, 1958. He grew up with creative and musical parents, so perhaps it’s no surprise that he went on to be so intrigued and enamored by that lifestyle. His father, John Nelson, was a musical artist who performed under the name Prince Rogers. His mother, Mattie Shaw, was a jazz singer and performer who performed regularly with her husband’s band.

Prince noticed his interest in music as a young boy and soon picked up the drums, guitar, and piano. Quite impressively, the young man taught himself these instruments. When his parents split up when he was around age 10, he and his sibling divided their weeks between each parent’s house. Unhappy with this arrangement, young Prince ran away to move in with a neighboring family named the Andersons. Once he reached his teenage years, Prince joined his very first band, “Grand Central”. Many successful artists have a rough childhood and channel their frustration into some type of passion, which seems to be the case with Prince, as well.

It was 1978 when Prince got a record deal with Warner Bros. In later interviews, the singer admitted that was a kid he has epilepsy which manifested in seizures, causing him to be made fun of at school. When he first came onto the music scene, he tried to make up for this bullying by being as loud and flashy as possible. This became a signature style of the legend and one of the many unique things he became known for.

People close to Prince have said that he’s struggled with serious pain, especially in more recent times. Those of us who know anything about drugs are immediately wondering, upon hearing this, about the connection between this pain and his recent death. Many years of performance, much of which was enthusiastic moving and jumping around up on stages, had led to issues with his ankles and hips. These issues persisted for so long, he started to get really down about them, which he revealed in an interview with Kevin Frazier from Entertainment Tonight.

Another source has claimed the same thing. Sheila E., who has been friend with the man for years and was even engaged to him at one point, said in an interview with Good Morning America that the singer was in pain constantly. All those jumps from high surfaces in fancy boots eventually started to wear on him. But performing was his life, and he wasn’t about to let that stop him. He was dedicated to his art, regardless of the toll it took on his body. Every musician who becomes a legend has this same philosophy.

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Less than a week before he died, a private plane that the celebrity was on had to perform an emergency landing to rush him to a hospital in a small city in Illinois. Official spokespersons for Prince have said that he had the flu, but still other sources claim that the artist had overdosed on OxyCodone and needed an injection to be kept alive. Crew members of the artist told the medical professionals that Prince had needed the pill he took for his serious pain in the hip. He had had replacement surgery about six years ago.

Once you read about this information as a whole, the puzzle pieces seem to start fitting together as to what killed the legend, Prince. There is another clue that points to addiction, which is a comment made by a man who claims to have sold drugs to Prince in the past. The man, who goes by “Doctor D” (to remain anonymous, which is probably a smart move), said that the star had a major addiction to hydromorphone. This mysterious Doctor D says he was the celebrity’s drug dealer starting in 1984 all the way up to 2008. The “Doctor” worked alongside Prince on a movie set for Purple Rain and claims that the star was already hooked when he began selling him drugs. Perhaps not wanting to get any of the blame for what became of the singer, Doctor D was insistent about the fact that he didn’t start Prince out on opiates.

The dealer revealed that Prince was addicted to Dilaudid and was also no stranger to the junkie’s best friend, fentanyl patches. These hardcore opiates are nothing to mess around with and can cause serious addiction and health problems. Dedicating yourself to your art form means that pain is not an option, and the singer did everything he could to maintain his abilities to move around in his signature ways and live up to his great name.

Another clue that points to his cause of death is the fact that in his last days, Prince made multiple journeys to a nearby Walgreens. Paparazzi photos depict the singer outside of the pharmacy a mere hours before someone found him passed out in the elevator of his $10 million home.

An autopsy was performed and the celebrity was cremated. The autopsy results will take at least a month, with fans anxiously awaiting the news of what could have ended such an enthusiastic and passionate life.

SNL Thinks its FUNNY (What do YOU THINK?)

Cast to your big screen TV over 150 top addiction songs. Click link in description below. Parents watch and LEARN which artists are helping your kids. Over 46 million views folks.

Lastly we wish to thank this talented artist for his submission to our social media contest. It’s with the greatest of pleasure we recommend him to others. Please share his work and help us get the message out.


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