Milestones in Recovery by Kyczy Hawk

I just wanted to get sober and stop using drugs. I wanted the craziness to stop. I wanted the constant stream of internal invective to stop, to quit yelling at myself, and to get away from all of the abuse. I wanted to be a REAL mom, not just a mom who was “on her way”, “just about there” and who would feed you, care for you, read to you “in a minute”; a minute that would never come. I wanted the pain to stop. It was clear I couldn’t overdose or drink myself to death. I would have to quit.

So, one day, I hit bottom. I wanted my soul back. I wanted to live. I hurt enough to call a friend. I went to my first meeting. And from that very bleary evening to this I have not had a drink. The drugs would tempt me from time to time for another year and a half. I have been able to accrue quite some full on clean and sober time since then. April 29th is my anniversary/birthday. It is this time of year that I look back; consider, appreciate and find grace in what I have been given in my recovery. Not all of it was planned, most was unexpected. Here are six things that surprised me.

1. My first milestone was letting go of the “I have to do it myself” illusion. I learned to become a student in the rooms. I had to develop a bit of trust, a little mental clearing in order to understand what was being said. It took a little while for me to be able to comprehend what I was reading and to concentrate through a whole meeting; but eventually I settled down. I had grown up thinking that I had to know everything before I was taught—to  jump right into any task and master without a lot of instruction. I discovered in recovery that pausing to listen and to learn was not only permitted, but preferable. I learned to follow suggestions and to do homework. Later this skill of becoming a student helped me gain the degrees and certifications required in my professions.

2. Along with meeting recovery a day at a time my next milestone was giving up immediate gratification. I learned the long game. We do recovery a day at a time, and at the same time you learn to defer rewards and results. This didn’t happen right away. (I didn’t get the wisdom of multiple years’ sobriety until that number of years had passed.) I stayed clean and sober when life was hard; one day at a time, at the same time remaining clean for the long haul. Illness, death, issues with children and with finances, car trouble and heart trouble; I stuck to my recovery process one day at a time. I learned the art of sticking to it—whatever it is. Even waiting. Even silence.

3. I thought I was useless and a drag on society when I came into recovery. I recall the exact day, where I was standing in my alano club amid the smoke and laughter when I thought to myself; “I get to be here”, “I am accepted”. I was called on to share. People looked toward me and laughed when I was funny, and held that deep abiding silence when I was sad. I learned that I have something to offer; in recovery and in life. Each day I go to or participate in a meeting I get to reach deep into myself and find the best of myself in that moment. When I share one on one I am looking for my best and highest good. An amazing milestone in my deep abiding recovery was to discover that I have something to share.

4. I learned that I could dance sober. Now that might seem like a small thing, but it was a big thing to me. I have felt all angles and kinks when I got on the dance floor. It was as if each part of my body had its own rhythm section and nothing was in sync. There was a lot of enthusiasm but very little grace. Early in sobriety I was invited to the celebration of A.A. in Santa Clara Valley—a big dinner dance in a hotel. I was overwhelmed; it was fancy, I was not. Special dress and semi formal attire; I was sure I wouldn’t fit in, that I wouldn’t know how to behave and I couldn’t possibly dance. I was a wreck. But I went. It was amazing—it was as if all the ragged edges in the joints of my body had been smoothed out. I wasn’t the best dancer by far but I didn’t look like a ragged marionette with a shaky person as the puppet master. I now enjoy dancing—of any style—as a fully sober woman.

5. One hurdle I return to from time to time is self acceptance. The miracle milestone is that I am able to enjoy self acceptance at all. My life had been driven toward fun and forgetfulness (of feelings, circumstances, despair) until it became overwhelmed with fear guilt and shame. Those last three were the only ones I could identify in early recovery; those and rage. I was always the backward magnet repelling and being repelled by others. I repelled myself. Building on the unconditional love in the rooms, the safe and loving care from my sponsor, and the eventual purging of the pain from the past through the steps allowed me to establish a sense of self that was kinder. I “did esteemable acts” to develop self esteem, and have eventually come to like myself. I have come to accept myself, good and bad, for who I am. This has given me a firm and reasonable foundation for considered change; a good person who is evolving.

6. Active addiction is such a baby way to be; days filled with self indulgence and skirting responsibilities. Even when I was doing for others I secretly doused myself with chemicals to make that giving bearable. I really was “her majesty the baby”. In early recovery I learned how to start acting like a grown-up. It was a huge milestone to practice “adulting”. I started with the basics of self care; regular meals, regular bed time, doing laundry each week, cleaning up after myself and my family, paying bills on time, and not buying things I couldn’t afford. I took care of my health as well as the health of my kids, I got a job and got there on time each day. These small steps grew and I went back to school, became qualified for other, better paying jobs. I took care of my kids AND learned to let them go. I was able to practice principles of honorable behavior in my relationships and started standing up for myself in healthy ways. The result is that I am able to act my age in a respectful way.

Milestones for me have not just been the days, the months or the years—the milestones are what I have done with those units of time. These are six ways that I have grown into the woman I had always wanted to be; the person I have wanted to be. These aren’t the only significant experiences but with others have helped me create a life that is truly “Happy, Joyous and Free”.

About the Author

War Cries by Shelly Marshall

Traditionally, armies used rallying cries and military mottos to mobilize troops and overcome the often paralyzing fear of the enemy. These war whoops usually had religious overtones and were designed to capture their troop’s commitment, not unlike encouraging a newcomer’s commitment to recovery. Today, those battle cries survive in what we call slogans, which originate from the Gaelic word sluagh-ghairm, translated as war cry.

Getting clean and sober can feel like war. War against a disease. Although we eventually learn to cease fighting anyone or anything, in the beginning we battle a ferocious enemy: the compulsion, obsession, and jonesing to pick up just one more time. To confront this fierce enemy, the old-timers gave us a very powerful tool in slogans, which often goes unrecognized. Most members, if we are honest, have grumbled at one time or another about the constant repetition of “mindless” sayings. Yet slogans, even if irksome, are a powerful way to reach the suffering alcoholic.

Slogans and Service Go Hand in Hand

Even if the twelve-step war cries don’t get the respect they deserve, slogans and service go hand in hand. We hear slogans are “simplistic” and “bumper sticker recovery.” All the same, old-timers and newcomers alike walk into meetings and Alano clubs everyday, walls bedecked in the classics: First Things First; Live and Let Live; Easy Does It.

Our slogan’s convey messages. They are brief, memorable and usually seize the attention of the person they are meant to influence. Whether begrudgingly or gleefully, we repeat a handful of these sayings meeting after meeting hoping to penetrate the resistant skull of the newcomer.

Practice for our Brains

Brain research tells us repetition is the most basic technique for learning. You know, the “practice makes perfect” kind of thing. So while it may be frustrating to hear, Keep coming back; it works if you work it after every meeting, that simple phrase is burning its way into the consciousness of the newcomer, slipper, depressed and forgetful. That war cry means that some alkie will get up in the morning and hear the enemy’s cry of “Just one won’t hurt,” and they’ll use their counter cry, “Keep coming back.”

Because you chanted the war whoop with them at the meeting yesterday, you are more likely to see them back in the room today, despite the presence of the enemy.

As I approach half a century drug and alcohol free, my brain circuits have healed, where once they were fried. When people shared around the tables, my mind dawdled between fleeting thoughts. How would the rent get paid; could I take those pain meds after getting my wisdom teeth pulled; should I tell the group I dreamed about taking speed last night? Hmm, what did that guy say? Focus. Focus. Finally, something actually made it into my head, Learn to listen and listen to learn. Wow. I knew I wasn’t listening and also knew I wanted to. I could learn to listen and would listen to learn. That war cry gave me the strength to try harder.

In early recovery, my mother and I attended a meeting in San Pedro down by the docks. (Mom brought me to my first meeting and at this time we only had a few weeks each.) A huge display rack showcased hundreds of little cards with various slogans on them—free for the taking. Selecting which one we wanted to represent our innermost self was serious business back then. I chose several that had meaning for me while Mom deliberated a bit longer. Finally, she picked her perfect message: Be Humble and You Will Not Stumble. In later sobriety, we often remembered that slogan and laughed heartily, finding it all the funnier because at the time it seemed so profound.

Slogans Save Lives

Slogans are our method of capturing clean and sober insights in a compressed form. They are our weapons against the inner addict/alcoholic, the little itty bitty shitty committee upstairs, and the ever present disease doing push-ups in the parking lot while we attend a meeting. For alcoholics and addicts who have a rough time focusing in early recovery, slogans save lives, literally. They are the Swiss army knives of the Twelve Steps. Give slogans their due respect when working with others for they remain the War Cries in the battle for recovery.

Milestones Against Meth by Angela Goldberg

Stories of meth use and abuse permeate the news, leaving a string of tragic milestones, murders, domestic violence, and officer-involved shootings where a suspect’s meth use provoked the response. As disturbing as those stories are, there are also positive milestones. The County of San Diego Meth Strike Force has worked diligently to reduce meth problems through prevention, enforcement and treatment.

The following story is just one news-making incident of a meth-afflicted life gone wrong. In 1995, Army veteran Shawn Timothy Nelson, his life in a downward spiral due to meth use, slipped into a San Diego National Guard Armory. Nelson pried open the hatch of an M-60 Patton tank and went on a demolition mission along San Diego streets. He flattened cars and bulldozed fire hydrants before getting stuck on a median on Highway 163. Nelson’s life ended when he attempted to dislodge the tank and drive it into oncoming traffic. He was shot to death by a police officer. This story received a great deal of attention, but it only scratches the surface of the destruction that can be attributed to meth use.

In 1996, in response to growing meth problems, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob established the Meth Strike Force (MSF); a multi-agency partnership charged with addressing meth-related issues in the region. It was the first, in what has become a long list, of milestones in the fight against meth in San Diego County. The following are several other positive milestones:

In 1998, San Diego County was one of the first to establish local limits on the sale of precursor chemicals used to manufacture meth. This became a State Law in 2001 and a national standard in 2005.

The Vista Partners Project began in 1999; a multi-pronged, intensive, local community effort to reduce meth problems in partnership with MSF and the City of Vista.

Supervisor Jacob convened a Board of Supervisor study session on women and meth, laying the groundwork for gender appropriate services in 2004.

Also in 2004, the MSF held the first of several large conferences at Marine Corp Air Station Miramar to ensure a common understanding and knowledge base regarding meth and meth-related issues.

In 2005, the Stop Meth Associated Crimes, or SMAC, campaign targeted meth-fueled identity theft, helping to enact a State standard blocking key credit card information printed on sales receipts.

Meth quotePrevention specialists and law enforcement teamed to eliminate drug paraphernalia sales in 2006.

In 2007, the documentary Crystal Darkness aired in San Diego, resulting in numerous calls to the Meth Hotline.

MSF began Operation Tip the Scale in 2009, a first-of-its-kind project linking law enforcement with drug treatment counselors for the purpose of providing treatment options to offenders in lieu of jail. The operation continues today, including “tip to treatment” where arrestees are taken directly to treatment.

In 2010, the county adopted a crime-free multi-housing ordinance that requires managers of problem apartment and condominium complexes to get training in recognizing and preventing drug-related problems through lease conditions and environmental design.

The Tip the Scale campaign won an award from the National Association of Counties in 2011 for innovation in addressing meth abuse issues.

These milestones give hope that soon the tide will turn in the meth epidemic. Yet, meth use continues to be a problem locally and nationwide. Readers can help by using treatment and recovery resources, reporting meth-related crime and encouraging people with meth use histories to seek help. For more information, visit

Angela Goldberg is the Facilitator, of the San Diego County Methamphetamine Strike Force (MSF) and also the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force (PDTF).

The Crucial Interplay between Addiction and Nutrition

by Dr. Keerthy Sunder and Jeffrey Bohnen BSc

When defining addiction, it is imperative to understand that this disease involves devastating biochemical disruptions, as opposed to being merely psychological in nature. Given that nutrition also plays a vital role in biochemical functions, the line between addiction and nutrition often blurs for those in recovery.

“Okay, but drugs seem much more powerful than food. How can what I eat have a significant impact on my recovery? Shouldn’t I focus on just staying sober and worry about my diet later?”

A study conducted at the University of Texas compared alcoholics in a typical AA treatment program (28 days in treatment) with alcoholics undergoing the same program with an added nutritional component, which consisted of dietary changes, vitamin and mineral supplementation, and nutrition education. Six months after discharge, 81% of the subjects who received nutritional training were sober, in comparison to 38% of the control group.

“Wow… so proper nutrition more than doubled recovery rates. How can something as simple as eating right have such dramatic effects?”

Rather than overload you with a bunch of dense explanations, we’re going to be covering this topic in a series of five articles. Our goal is to keep each segment short and simple, giving you the tools you need to transform your body and mind in as little time as possible. After providing you with a concise overview of key facts pertaining to the interplay between addiction and nutrition, we’ll explain the science behind four life-changing supplements: Vitamin D, Fish Oil, Turmeric, and Ashwagandha.

“Sounds interesting… I’m ready for the crash course.”

Great! Let’s start by addressing three common misconceptions regarding addiction and nutrition.

Myth #1: Addiction may cause poor nutrition, but the opposite–that poor nutrition may cause addiction–is not true.

The causal arrow between addiction and poor nutrition actually points both ways. Addiction promotes poor nutrition by reducing the body’s capacity to absorb and process nutrients. In turn, this can create a vicious cycle as poor nutrition can ignite cravings and reduce willpower. Research showed that vitamin-deficient rats were more likely to choose alcohol over water. However, these rats returned to preferring water upon receiving vitamin supplementation.

Myth #2: “Mind over matter” is all that matters. As long as your head is in the right place, there’s no need to worry about what you eat.

It’s important to remember that our mind is a product of the brain (biological matter), which is a product of what we eat. Moreover, our brain’s messengers, known as neurotransmitters, are derived from our diet. Make sure to give your brain the support it needs by including lean sources of protein (such as organic chicken breast or wild-caught fish) and healthy sources of essential fatty acids (such as high-quality fish oil or cold-pressed olive oil) in your diet. These nutrients are vital for the synthesis of our brain’s mood regulators.

Myth #3: Addiction and nutrition are separate issues and should be treated as such.

Our experiences in treating addiction and preventing relapse have taught us that addiction and nutrition are rarely, if ever, isolated issues. Addiction often coincides with nutritional issues, including hypoglycemia, adrenal fatigue, and leaky gut syndrome. Remember, however, that the causal arrow points both ways! Research has shown that treating the nutritional issues related to addiction dramatically improves the likelihood of recovery.

“So what can I do today to get started?”

All of this information may seem overwhelming. Let’s start with one simple shift. This month, focus on keeping your blood sugar at a steady level. This means that you should eat plenty of vegetables, organic meat or eggs, raw nuts, and healthy fats (such as cold-pressed olive oil or non-hydrogenated coconut oil), while avoiding simple carbohydrates (such as white bread, sweets, and processed foods). Your new food pyramid should look something like this:

Although this may be challenging at first, take note of how you feel as the month progresses. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on In the next issue, we’ll dive into a series of four life-changing supplements!

About the Author

The Student’s Perspective by Judy Redman, Phd

I still love my recovery and I am grateful that I haven’t for a moment forgotten that I owe my life to it! I am convinced that had I not learned the importance of being of service early in recovery that I would not have been able to stay clean and sober.  After eighteen years of recovery I am so blessed to be able to work at a job where I truly feel as if I am being of service to the Addiction Community. My job allows me the privilege to teach amazing people to become professionals in the field of addiction. Not only do I get to watch their transformation from student to professional, but I get to see and hear the stories of what they do once they graduate and become Substance Use Disorder Counselors. Having taught for fourteen years at InterCoast Colleges, you can imagine the accumulation of stories I’ve been blessed to hear on the topic of “Being of Service.”

I wish everyone had the opportunity to witness the faces of those students who come to me from their clinical sites ecstatic because they were able to effectively intervene and block an ATA or AMA (a patient leaving against treatment or medical advice). I look at their eyes, bright with excitement, as they tell the story of how they were able to say just the right thing, at the right time, to keep a patient from leaving treatment. The excitement that they display because they were able to “be of service” to another human being is joyful to watch.

Substance Use Disorder Counselors do what they do because they want to be of service. Many times students will come into the profession with the ideology that they want to give back because of what someone has done to help them.  They want to help, and help they do. This week, one of my students wrote about their experience on a detox ward of the hospital. The compassion that this student was able to provide literally kept a patient from leaving. The patient was miserable, but my student remained kind and showed the patient compassion. To me working on the detox ward is analogous to working on a burn unit; the difference is the burns of the addict are on the inside. It takes a great level of compassion to be there.

So I ask my beautiful bright young students to help me write this article for Step 12 Magazine because I wanted to see what “service” looked like from their perspective. Of course their incredible collective minds once again delighted me. Service said one is “The Sun shining on the Earth never asking for anything in return.” Several of them said if they could just help one person their education would have been worth it. It was in collective agreement that their educational endeavors and goals were because they wanted to help people.

The picture attached to this article was drawn by Marco, a student at the West Covina Campus. This was his contribution to the article and his way of being of service. I include it here because there are many ways to be of service. Sometimes creating something and presenting it to an attended audience is a great service. Other times the simple act of listening to someone who needs to be heard is the greatest gift of service that anyone can give.  Being of service has many definitions and an extraordinary amount of intended goals.

Some of the agreed upon definitions of “Being of Service” from the student’s perspective included:

Being of service is a shortcut to happiness.
A life of service is a life filled with purpose.
No effort to make conditions better for any form of life goes without reward.
Acts of compassion are acts of being of service.
Being of service understands that there is no piece of trash too small that it cannot be picked up and placed in the proper receptacle.

I would like to thank the InterCoast College AOD Counseling Studies Students at the West Covina Campus for the collaborative effort, and for being of service writing this article. A special thank you goes to Marco for his heartfelt artwork.

About the Author

The Truth about Service by Jim Anders

Philosophers speak about several different theories of truth. However there are three very common ways of looking at the idea of truth. First, the Correspondence Theory of truth states that something is true if it corresponds to reality. Second the Coherence Theory claims a system is true if it holds together rationally. Finally the Pragmatic Theory states that a thing is true if and only if it works.

Without engaging in the esoteric debates of philosophy, it is important for those of us in recovery to note that AA founder Bill Wilson was a thoroughgoing pragmatist. We can be sure of this since Wilson wrote, “First of all, we had to quit playing God” and then he gives the reason because “It didn’t work.” (Big Book p62). He did not claim that it was not true (of course it is not) and he did not claim that it was incoherent (of course it is) instead he focused on utility. Was it useful to play God? No. Then that is reason enough to stop doing so!

Sobriety becomes far simpler when it is looked at in utilitarian terms. If something works for us use it and if not discard it. There is no need to over complicate things. Do not waste precious time and opportunity trying to force utility on an unworkable strategy when there is already a proven practice.

Of all the practices Twelve Step communities teach among the most useful is that service toward others will not only benefit the served but it also strengthens the sobriety of servers. As early as page 15 of The Big Book, Wilson writes how “waves of self pity and resentment” nearly sent him back to his addiction. However, when in the grip of those recalcitrant emotions he “soon found that when all other measures failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day.” He was focused on service for his own well being as well as for more altruistic reasons.

In my early sobriety, my sponsor insisted I make a commitment in the Twelve Step communities. So I made coffee for a few months at a meeting. Then I began to offer rides to and from meetings for addicts who had no means of transportation. Next, I began to be featured at speaker meetings which led some newly sober men to ask me to sponsor them.

It was then that I encountered an unpleasant truth in recovery that subsequently gave rise to a small but real crisis of faith in both recovery and in myself. Not everyone who asked for my help succeeded in staying sober.

So, with a sense of failure, I turned to my sponsor with the complaint that many of my sponsees were not succeeding. It was then he taught me several truths about service. The first truth is that a simple kindness such as emptying the trash or making coffee is never really lost. Someone will notice, someone will be touched and someone will be inspired to take up an act of service. The next truth about service is that once something is learned it cannot be unlearned. Those men who faltered on the way might have a shorter road back to sobriety because of the time I spent with them. However, he asserted that the most important truth about service is that I had stayed sober the entire time that I was working with others; and in large measure because I was working with others.

Of course, he was right. Kindness never fails to uplift and encourage someone, somewhere. Marking a trail for others to follow insures that they know the way when they are ready. Perhaps most importantly, caring about others expands our understanding and strengthens our own sobriety. So let us get out and serve others not only for the greater good but for ourselves as well.

Using our Voice as a Tool – by Denise Krochta

Gold Guy With MegaphoneStatistics show that overdose deaths from prescription drugs and other opiates have surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of accidental death in most US states. America comprises 5% of the World population but uses 80% of its prescription drugs. 2014 had the highest levels of opioid overdose deaths ever. Which begs the question: Is there a prescription drug/opioid epidemic in this country?

Most of the US population seems to be (or chooses to be) unconcerned by the rampant use and misuse of prescription drugs in this country.

So, is Washington aware of the situation? Do they care?

Michael Botticelli, our newest Drug Czar, seems to be concerned and is trying to be proactive. He is the first Drug Czar who openly speaks about his own past history with drugs and alcohol and about being in long term recovery. He is sensitive to the stigma that Substance Abuse carries with it and the problems surrounding the families and loved ones. He is often out in communities listening.

Over the past six months I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some activities related to this “epidemic” where I found Mr. Botticelli quite engaged. In October there was a rally and march from the Washington Monument to the White House to address the issue of over prescribing drugs and drug education for doctors, as well as concern for FDA approval of so many different opiates developed by the drug companies. The majority of the crowd who rallied and marched were families and loved ones who had lost someone to an overdose or suicide attributed to prescription drugs. The White House was very aware of this show of “protest” and addressed the issue the next day at the Washington Monument during the Rally for Recovery, a celebration of the thousands of citizens in recovery today, like the drug czar, who are valuable members of our communities.

Just a few weeks ago Mr. Botticelli met via telephone conference with a group of moms of addicts to address their concerns and listen to our questions and requests. He says that he believes that parents/families are changing the conversation on drug use. He sees the conversation is more open and honest and less secret, and sees this as a good beginning to change the stigma.

Here are just some of the actions taken recently by Washington to change the direction of this tragic epidemic:

Health and Human Services released $94 million in new funding to 271 Community Health Centers towards treatment.

SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is releasing $11 million to some states to increase Medically Assisted Treatment for opiate abuse.

They are working to make evidence based residential treatment available to those in jails and prisons and access to good re-entry services.

They have allocated $100 million in new funding to address the epidemic with more access to syringe service programs, supporting prevention, as well as more access for law enforcement to get drugs off the street and also to make Nalaxone, the overdose reversal drug, more available.

They are working on ways to make records for drug offenders less used as a screening tool.

Rehabilitation instead of Incarceration is a goal.

Many believe this is not enough. I guess we need to start somewhere. Are they listening and “hearing”? Time will tell. In the meantime, life goes on for some and others will continue to die.

About the Author

The Neurobiology of Cannabis Abuse — by Dr. Keerthy Sunder

marijuanausersMarijuana continues to be one of the most widely used substances throughout the United States and Europe. Marijuana dependence is marked by continued usage despite ensuing social, psychological, and physical deficiencies. Additional deleterious impacts of marijuana dependence can include family and relationship issues, financial difficulties, depleted energy, reduced self-esteem, cycles of unproductivity, sleep disturbances, memory problems and a general dissatisfaction with life. Those suffering from this form of addiction perceive themselves as unable to stop, and most experience a period of withdrawal symptoms upon cessation.

An increasing body of clinical evidence suggests that cannabis may compromise the prefrontal cortex of the brain, thereby inducing impairment in an array of complex cognitive functions. The younger the user, the greater the propensity for abnormal changes in brain structures. This is particularly notable in the memory centers of the brain. A poor working memory is often a catalyst for poor academic and professional outcomes and an overall decrease in quality of life. These induced brain anomalies have been often witnessed up to two years after cessation of marijuana use, indicating possible extended term damage from chronic cannabis exposure. The respective damage to these memory-related brain structures may result in shrinkage and inward collapsing of the neurons. Marijuana related structural damages strongly resemble the brain abnormalities associated with Schizophrenia. Research has shown that structural brain changes can vastly impact the organ’s functionality.

Chronic marijuana usage in young adults is additionally associated with exposure-dependent alterations of the Nucleus Accumbens and the Amygdala (the core neural reward structures) which affect motivation, decision making and emotions. Effective strategies for marijuana cessation must address these types of underlying brain dysregulation. EEG neurofeedback is an appropriate therapeutic avenue for achieving better brain regulation. As the brain begins to self-regulate from neurofeedback entrainment, marijuana utilization becomes superfluous. Users feel far less compelled to “get high” when their brains are performing optimally with decreased levels of anxiety, tension, pain and stress.

As the movement to decriminalize marijuana increases momentum, it is important for individuals to understand the way that accessible substances may interact with their brain. These findings are critical for teens and young adults who are at increased risk for developing structural brain damage from protracted marijuana use.

For further information about addiction, please visit our websites; and or contact us at

About the author

Healing begins with the first call

A Better Today – Kristin

Kristin made the choice to go to rehab after several attempts at trying to stop on her own.  She was drinking daily to take away the shakes, taking amphetamines to stay in motion, and Xanax to relieve her anxiety.  She couldn’t function any other way.  Her body was shutting down mentally and physically.

Hidden alcohol and drugs in her purse, closet, drawers, and car were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the depth of Kristin’s disease.  After years of being able to control and enjoy her drinking socially as a way to fit in and find acceptance in high-standard, upscale Orange County California, her more pressing problem appeared to be an eating disorder which found her hospitalized twice.  The drug and alcohol abuse were shadowed by the condition that more visibly threatened her life.

Her drinking and drugging progressed.  With her LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) position pulled out from under her, Kristin moved back into her parents’ home with much trepidation.  Jobless, living at home, and living off unemployment this young beautiful woman found the floodgates of “freedom to party” open with a vengeance.  Friends and family members were expressing concern and frustration — unable to understand how a smart, beautiful, capable woman would continue to choose such a path of self-destruction.  Kristin was drinking herself to death.

Kristin’s second DUI was violent and thankfully not deadly.  She found herself in jail for 3 days with bruises, aches, pains, and no hospital attention after totaling her car in a ditch off an Orange County tollroad.  She was extracted from her upside down car and taken directly to jail.  The pain was horrible.  The withdrawal was worse.  That was three days of hell that would not end upon her release.

At the direction of the court, Kristin attended 12-Step meetings where the seed of recovery was planted.  While her attitude and ego said she didn’t belong, and that she wasn’t like the members there, she also wasn’t able to remain sober on her own.  She tried.

Like so many people in recovery, the pain of staying the same had become unbearable.  She’d seen jails and institutions and felt hopeless about saving her life and truly wanted to die.  There would be pain involved in changing — she’d tried it before and she failed.  At some level she knew that suicide was a terrible option and yet she was killing herself slowly — she know it.

Drunk and on Google, she searched for treatment programs outside of Southern California.  Arizona was her first instinctual choice.  No insurance, no money, no hope, and a ton of fear, she stumbled upon A Better Today.

During her time at ABT, Kristin found safety and comfort.  The staff is also in recovery and could identify with Kristin’s shame and guilt.  The experience and compassion of the counselors and therapists provided Kristin with a sense of hope and a roadmap for success.  A foundation of recovery had been laid.

Today, Kristin stays close to her ABT family.  She uses her experience strength and hope to help others find their way out of the darkness of addiction and into treatment working as an intake coordinator in the Scottsdale AZ. office.  She knows from her personal experience that ABT knows how to love the person and treat the disease.  By practicing a living amends she offsets her guilt and shame with accountability, kindness, honesty and selflessness.  By practicing the principles of recovery, Kristin has re-established lost relationships with family and friends, regained her self-respect and independence, and fully enjoys a life free from the bondage of addiction.