Hope & Recovery

How Do I Feel Better? Recovery After Complex Traumatic Stress, Violence & AbusePresented by Julie Colpitts, LCSW. 6 Contact Hours

Clients come to us to heal from complex traumatic stress and the associated health, substance, mental health and social problems...

PortlandFri, March 1, 2019 from 8:30am – 4:00pm
Italian Heritage Center
40 Westland Ave
Portland, ME
Register
LewistonTue, April 9, 2019 from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Franco Center
46 Cedar Street
Lewiston, ME
Register
OronoMon, April 15, 2019 from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Black Bear Inn
4 Godfrey Drive
Orono, ME
Register

About the Program

Clients come to us to heal from complex traumatic stress and the associated health, substance, mental health and social problems. Emerging treatment models have improved our response to complex trauma. However, these models need accommodations when exposure to interpersonal violence and abuse is a factor.

This workshop views healing from traumatic stress through the lens of an integrated body-mind response, with strategies for physiological healing, improved emotional regulation and structural cognitive change. We will review violence-informed accommodations recommended for our usual treatment models, such as CBT. We will also expand our focus to share a mindful exploration of pathways toward calm and joy.

Exposure to violence and abuse also has implications for the healers including safety concerns and compassion fatigue. We will consider personal and systemic support for professional resiliency.

At the end of the day, participants will have strategies to address these questions:

  • Mind: What accommodations are recommended for cognitive treatment models for complex trauma when exposure to interpersonal violence exists?
  • Body: How do we integrate physiological healing into our work, using options other than meditation to build a mindful awareness of trauma-driven response patterns and promote a joyful presence in the moment?
  • Self care: How do we create trauma-informed self care: not what we do after work, but how we do the work itself?
  • Systems and safety: How do we move toward a trauma informed, safe, healing system that emphasizes strength and resilience for client and caregiver?

This workshop is appropriate for clinicians who have a basic understanding of the dynamics of intimate partner violence and are interested in deepening their clinical skills.This workshop has content relevant for clinicians who are preparing to meet Maine licensing requirements for family and intimate partner violence education.

Format: The presenter will use video, presentations, small group sessions, with questions and answer discussion embedded through this 6-hour workshop.

About the Presenter

Julie Colpitts, LCSW

Julie provides trainings nationally on responses to domestic violence, on healing for traumatized organizations and individuals, and is on faculty at Simmons University Graduate School of Social Work. She has been a deputy director at the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the Executive Director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. She chaired the Maine Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse, sat on the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel and the Justice Advisory Council, the national IPV Prevention Council and the White House Task force for Open Data Policing. Prior to her anti-violence work, Julie developed behavioral health systems of care for adolescents, children and families experiencing traumatic stress.

Agenda

8:00 – 8:30 Continental Breakfast and Registration
8:30 – 10:30 Setting the Frame: Dynamics and ethical, effective responses to complex trauma when violence and abuse are present (activities 1-3)
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 12:00 Mind: Accommodations to cognitive behavioral treatment models when treating complex trauma, abuse and ambiguous loss.
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch and networking discussions.
1:00 – 1:30 Defining the scope of practice: Risk Assessment and safety strategies.
1:30 – 2:45 Body: Integrating physiological healing into our work (activity 5)
3:00 – 3:45 Self Care: Moving toward a trauma informed, safe, healing system that emphasizes strength and resilience for client and caregiver.
3:45 – 4:00 Conference Summary and Certificate Distribution.

PortlandFri, March 1, 2019 from 8:30am – 4:00pm
Italian Heritage Center
40 Westland Ave
Portland, ME
Register
LewistonTue, April 9, 2019 from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Franco Center
46 Cedar Street
Lewiston, ME
Register
OronoMon, April 15, 2019 from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Black Bear Inn
4 Godfrey Drive
Orono, ME
Register

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Hi again! I am back with another blog. I was re-reading my first one “Shame: Managing Stormy Days” the other day and thought it was, “to my surprise” not bad.

I say this not with an ego. I say it as “An Adult Child Of An Alcoholic” who can still slip back to that spot of low self-esteem. Not for long and for sure not as often BUT the feelings don’t change. In that spot, I was quite nervous about my first writings here.

The thought or the fear was…..

“Will I write something worth reading? A thought not new to me. I shared those same feelings with my wife Linda when she first asked me to write our book “Weathering Shame”. Remember when I talked in that first blog about the Lack Of Awareness Around How I Grew Up? I also noted that Growing awareness during the beginning of my “Journey Toward Wellness” helped build successes and to make better choices. All true!

However the biggest change along the way is a growing confidence in myself and that has helped me feel more positive about ME!

I got there by being very aware of both my Strengths & Weaknesses and accepting both. 

 

  • Re-reading my first blog has me feeling that I made several good points that I am really proud of.
  • I have heard and taken in positive feedback from you the public and the folks at “Health Affiliates Maine”.
  • A new habit, replacing the old habit of discounting kind words. That was around how I felt about myself.
  • I am  growing and learning of being able to acknowledge small successes.
  • Being less concerned about what other people think of me including not going to a negative place with it.

The most important change happening is a True Feeling of Self-Worth!

Not being in such a rush to finish tasks. Being a better listener and offering support not solutions and the most important realization..“DON’T BE INVESTED IN THE OUTCOME!” If you have read our book “Weathering Shame” you know how much of a problem I had around these issues. Has it gone away completely? Of course not! But I do feel a strong shift in feelings and my behavior.

So at this point in my journey, I do believe that what I am saying around the issues of Shame and stigma is helping those who hear or read my words to maybe begin sharing their own stories and struggles with someone they trust.

In closing, MY THANKS to those who have thanked me for my role in Health affiliates Maine TV and Radio campaign. The recovery stories being shared by others are amazing and powerful.

ACCEPTANCE IS ONE IMPORTANT STEP ON THE JOURNEY TOWARDS WELLNESS

AuthorKevin Mannix, Weather Forecaster,WCSH 6, NEWS CENTERS and co-author of “Weathering Shame”

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If you’ve read my blog on What Is Mental Health Anyway? then you will know that everyone has mental health concerns at time’s throughout their life.  Truly this includes every person, every family, relatives, everyone in school or college, at work and in their home. Everyone! 

Mental Health issues could be due to:

  • a life change
  • losing a job, a home, or not having enough money
  • a death in the family
  • a pet dying
  • being abused
  • having some kind of trauma – including physical injury
  • being diagnosed with a physical illness or mental illness
  • genetics
  • or a host of other reasons.

Why is there a stigma attached to mental health issues and seeking mental health treatment? 

What we learned and incorporated into our “social thinking” from history.

Historical accounts and treatment of mental health, show that people labeled as mentally disturbed were locked up, treated poorly and many even died as a result.

How we were brought up and what our parents or relatives thoughts were on mental health.

Did your family demonstrate understanding, saying “she/he is going through a rough time in their life” or did they use negative labels like “crazy”, “dangerous”, someone to stay away from?

What the community, church or others felt and acted when mental health issues were discussed.

Did people talk about how they were getting help and hoped they would be back soon or was there a silent disapproval, with a “don’t talk about it or that person” implied?

How television, movies and other media portray those with mental illness.

Do the actors portray people with mental health as strong and working through “tough times” or experiencing a “bump in life’s rocky road”? Or does the script show them as sad, someone to feel pity for, angry and abusive, or showing no emotion and doing terrible or horrifying things to others?

Do talk-shows discuss and help those that they interview or do they play “media circus”, putting people with mental health difficulties on stage to entertain the viewers?

The notoriety that is focused on for those, that while a small part of society, do horrific acts.

For instance, school shootings, the “made-famous” psychopaths (ie. Hannibal Lector), mothers who kill their children. Reality is, the vast majority of people with mental health issues are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.

How do we end the Stigma?  How do we change our thoughts about mental illness?

  • Be aware and share positive and helpful stories that counter the negative. Luckily, social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others) has allowed people who are struggling, recovered, or have gotten support to share their information with others. 
  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) advocates for changes to be made that assist rather that stigmatize mental health. Get more information or get involved.  
  • Be a friend. If you know of someone who is experiencing a mental health concern, check in with them, say “hi”, compliment them on something they said or how they look. If possible, be sociable, invite that person out, share a meal, or have a conversation with them.
  • Counter negative comments that you hear. Substitute words or phrases like “we all go through tough times now and then”, “anyone would have a difficult time if …”, “he/she is still a wonderful…” or “I hope I am that strong if ever I get into a similar situation.”
  • Consider writing an editorial with the local paper urging others to be aware of their neighbors needs and help each other during tough times.
  • Overcome your fears and anxieties, know when you need additional help, and make an appointment with a mental health therapist.

Here at Health Affiliates Maine, we truly are concerned for your welfare and the welfare of your family.  We are knowledgeable, highly trained, and really do know a lot about how to help you and your loved ones cope with your emotions and to get the skills to help yourself!

Everyone needs help now and then…Don’t wait. Call today for services. 

 

 

Author: Cynthia Booker-Bingler, LCSW, Health Affiliates Maine

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“The oak fought the wind and was broken,
the willow bent when it must and survived.” 

― Robert JordanThe Fires of Heaven

 

Resilience can be described as the process of returning to normal daily functioning or the ability to adapt after being faced with stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy.   Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have.  Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.  There is a, however, a road to resilience that most likely involves much emotional pain and sadness.

Stressful life events can have a substantial impact on brain function and structure. 

Just  hours before my 22nd birthday and being 5 months pregnant, my mother’s heart surgeon presents himself to say “your mother will not make it through her open heart surgery”.  My heart fell to the floor as no doctor had ever predicted this outcome.   My mother was just 44 years old.  “My mother will never see my unborn child”.  This was the thought that remained with me and caused so much emotional pain at that moment and for years to come. It is sometimes insurmountable obstacles that unleash the very best of ourselves.

Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on. 

They are able to rise from the ashes and become stronger than ever.

My first child was born in April of the next year.  My son was born with a very rare condition called CHARGE Syndrome.  CHARGE is a recognizable pattern of birth defects.  My son is deaf, legally blind, intellectually impaired with many sensory deficits.  My dedication to him spans 27 years and has given me a lifetime of resiliency stories.

Throughout my life, I often have had people say to me “how do you do it?”­­­ 

“What makes you get up in the morning?”  So here I present my own thoughts after pondering that very same question, “why do I continue to feel fulfilled and happy when my life has been interwoven with tragedy many times?”

My husband and I went on to have two healthy daughters and also adopted a deaf child, a son from Hangzhou, China in the year 2000.   In 2002, my husband, father to my four children, died in a tragic car accident.  The pain of losing a husband and father, so young, just 42 years old, was another traumatic event to test all of us in resilience.  I remember my youngest daughter, Emily, much more stoic than her older sister, “mommy, why don’t I cry like Charlotte, I miss daddy but I can’t cry like her”.  It is important to remember we all grieve and reveal emotion differently.  I was able to explain this to her in a very simple way, “your emotions are very much like your dads, he liked to work through his problems in his mind and by doing activities that kept him healthy.  Charlotte, she is just like your mom, we cry and show our emotions very easily, this is just the way we were put together on the inside”.

Individual  characteristics…

…such as optimism – along with behaviors;  active coping, and cognitive reappraisal, can build on one’s ability to weather storms of unpredictability.

Optimism is the expectation for good outcomes and has been consistently associated with the employment of active coping strategies, subjective well-being, physical health and larger and more fulfilling social networks and connections. Relationships that provide care and support, create love and trust, and offer encouragement, both within and outside the family.  Optimists report less hopelessness and helplessness and are less likely to use avoidance as a coping mechanism when under duress.

When raising my children, there were many times that tears represented sadness.  What I remember, is how those tears were short lived.  I always invited others to understand what I was going through and share in my pain.  Due to this vulnerability, I opened myself up to many people who could provide comfort and a message of hope and optimism that could get me through the distressing moment.

When my youngest son was 16, we had endured years of his emotional turmoil.  This unrest – possibly a result of being deaf, abandoned at such a young age and a minority.  I remember a talk from a psychiatrist in an emergency room, he was firm with me “You do not give up on him, he needs you to believe in him now more than ever”.  He went on to say that this is the time that many parents throw in the towel with kids who are behaviorally disruptive.  This doctor was telling me “you’re not done yet” he gave me the confidence to fight the good fight for many more years to come.  He wanted me to stand firmly in optimism.

Active coping using behavioral or psychological techniques utilized to reduce or overcome stress has been linked to resilience in the individual.  Strategies that help us actively process the physical and emotional stress that is part of life.  Talking with friends and family, writing in a journal, shooting hoops, engaging in yoga, joining an art class, these are all considered active coping skills.  Active coping involves thinking, even if it is not about the problem at hand.  Active coping helps one refresh the mind.

I have always been active to maintain my physical health.  I have always tried to reach out and help others in many different capacities, serving on boards, volunteering,  joining committees, taking up legislative issues. It has been important to me to be a good mother, daughter, and friend.  It has helped for me to always be aware that I am more than a person who has much adversity in her life, I am also a person who is blessed with much love in her life.

Cognitive reappraisal is also strongly associated with resilience.  This is the ability to monitor and assess negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.  Changing the way one may view events or situations, finding the silver lining in the dark cloud.

I remember friends asking how I reacted when I knew my child was profoundly deaf.  It was such a strange question to me as I was just happy that he was alive and the idea that he would not hear to this day has never been a source of sorrow for me.  It was my ability to see beyond and not become stuck in a labeled disability.  I was able to look at the larger context, how will he communicate with us, researching and educating my own self to the possibilities.

Building resilience does not always come easy. 

Having your own personal experience with hardship is what builds your strength and confidence to conquer what comes your way.  The process of resiliency can also be helped along by good families, schools, communities and social policies that make resilience more likely to occur.  It is important to remember that everyone can develop resilience and the ability to “bounce back” from hardship.

My oldest son is now 27 years old and lives independently with in-home supports.  All of my adult children are now facing their own challenges and building their own strength toward resilience.  My family offers each other encouragement and support as we discover life’s unexpectancies.

“Fall down seven times… get up eight”  
-The happiness institute

 

Author: Terri Thompson, LCPC

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This fact could not have been made clearer than in a conversation with Theresa Russell*, who agreed to talk about how heroin has touched her life.

Theresa began by handing over a list of six people’s names, their ages, and the dates of their overdoses and deaths.  She reports she is very angry right now, as the most recent death was one of her very best friends from high school.  He was 32 years old and overdosed on Nov. 1, 2015.

She explains that her anger and disbelief stem from the very first overdose in 2002.  This was the father of a high school friend.  Theresa, along with a close circle of friends, attended the funeral in 2002, and in her mind, this was the moment she knew she would never pick up opiates and heroin.  She believed her peers all felt the same.  Sadly, this was not the case.

Until society finds a way to manage the heroin issue, friends and family will continue to ask themselves, “What more could I have done?” or “Why didn’t I see that?”

The list of six people who died of drug overdoses are all connected, in some way.  Her very best female friend from high school “Jane”, has struggled with opiate addiction.  Jane’s husband was the third one on the list to die in the fall 2008.  Jane also attended the funeral in 2002.  Theresa is puzzled that after attending a funeral of someone who overdosed and died of drugs, why anyone would ever choose to use drugs?  She also wonders what makes a person walk into a room and decide that they will jab a needle into their body to get high.  What is going through their minds the first time they try heroin?  It is no secret that after the first time, people can get hooked.  

Theresa had another friend that died in the spring of 2008 from a drug overdose, who was also at the funeral in 2002…they were all there to support their friend whose father lied in the casket. 

Theresa is angry and sad about what this drug is doing to our society.  She is also angry that her dearest friend from middle school and high school years have succumbed to the lure of heavy drugs. Theresa tried to intervene early on in her friend’s addiction, but the family and her friend were in denial.  Eventually, the family saw that Theresa was correct, and that their daughter needed help. Yet this friend still struggles today with relapses. 

When we hear about people dying from drug overdoses, it is important to also remember the friends and family left suffering.  Trying to make sense of death by heroin and of the addiction itself, is often terribly difficult.  Until society finds a way to manage the heroin issue, friends and family will continue to ask themselves, “What more could I have done?” or “Why didn’t I see that?”

Like Theresa’s loved ones, addiction can take hold of anyone and everyone. Addiction does not discriminate; whether wealthy, successful, or have a family, it can disrupt the lives of anyone. If you have someone in your life who is suffering from addiction, overdose is a real possibility. Here are some steps for dealing with a loved one you believe has overdosed:

Action Plan  **

  1. Call for help. The sooner emergency medical help arrives, the sooner professional treatment for the overdose can begin.
  2. Provide first aid. Becoming familiar with first aid techniques, such as CPR, can be helpful should the situation arise.
  3. Collect important information from the scene. Are there empty pill bottles or drug paraphernalia lying around? Take them with you to the hospital or provide them to first responders so the medical staff will know exactly what they are dealing with. This will help them render the proper treatment more quickly – a process that can mean the difference between life and death in some cases.
  4. Don’t judge. An overdose crisis is not the time to make judgments or accusations concerning your loved one’s addiction. While you should attempt to gain information concerning what drugs were taken and in what quantity, save your emotional commentary until after the crisis has passed.
  5. Be cautious and aware. Some drugs, especially in larger doses that can cause an overdose, can cause violence and anger. Some drugs can increase the user’s strength and tolerance for pain so drastically that they become almost super-human. Do not place yourself in physical danger to treat an overdose.

Author:  Lorrie Roberts, LADC, CCS

* Names have been changed for confidentiality reasons.
**Action plan courtesy of Alta Mira Recovery Programs

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Hi, everybody! I am attempting my first blog for Health Affiliates Maine. They say it simply. ”Everyone needs help now and then” and in my experience, that has certainly been true.  What I like is that they offer help statewide – just as I forecast the weather statewide, when I fill in at NEWS CENTER. In this space, from time to time, I will share some thoughts and feelings around my journey of recovery.

I talk a lot about reaching out for help. In the beginning, I was not even sure that I needed any help. I did not have any awareness that, how I grew up – living with an alcoholic Dad and a depressed Mom – affected so much of my life.

Two things I remember when I first reached out for help.

  • One was the shame I felt around the thinking that I should be able to figure this out on my own. To me, it felt like a sign of weakness. I have come to see now that asking for help is really a sign of strength.
  • Two was the feeling I was betraying the family. My Dad and Mom’s problems were not talked about inside the home and FOR SURE not outside the home! It was a secret and I felt a lot of guilt about letting “the cat out of the bag”.

Today, I am aware that everyone owns their own bag of stuff.

In order for me to start feeling better, I had to start speaking my truth. The truth about how I WAS affected by what I grew up with around me. Not to blame but to accept this truth and figure out what I own in order to start a true recovery for me.  This was a lesson that was tough for me for a long time but over the last 5 years my wife Linda has shown me, by example, and I am learning for myself, how to weave this into my life. It takes practice to change old habits but I keep at it and I do see change. No shame in that!!

In the beginning, I was not even sure that I needed any help.

That said, shame can creep in so effortlessly.

It came up for me at a ‘Weathering Shame” book talk recently – this feeling of shame – for wanting to come to a talk. Being seen in the crowd can feel shameful because it might carry the stigma of a problem – personal or in a family. This shows the work we still need to do around making it more comfortable and acceptable to reach out for help.

This is why I am so happy and proud to be a part of the Health Affiliates Maine TV and Radio public service campaign around shame and stigma, where more stories of recovery are being shared.  

Talking and sharing is an important part of the journey towards Mental Wellness.

 

Author: Kevin Mannix, Weather Forecaster,WCSH 6, NEWS CENTERS and co-author of “Weathering Shame”

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In Maine, over the last 10-15 years, the rising tide of prescription painkillers abuse and other opiates based drugs (legal and illegal) has reached epidemic proportions. The abuse of alcohol and other addictive drugs like marijuana/synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine/crack, benzodiazepines, and methamphetamine also remain widespread.

As our families come together over the holiday season and we transition into the new year, it is important for us to all be aware that the devasting disease of addiction can impact all areas of an individual’s life, causing problems with family, friendships, work, school, finances, legal issues, along with physical and psychological health.

Addiction and its ripples effect cause destruction not only in the individual who abuses substances but in the lives of loved ones as well. These loved ones often experience unhealthy stress, anxiety, depression, physical sickness, and an overall diminished ability to do their best work or enjoy activities.

Warning Signs of Drug Abuse/Addiction:

  • Intense cravings or urges for the drug (mental and physical)
  • Compulsion to use the drug frequently (several times a day to several times a week)
  • Increased tolerance to the drug
  • Irresponsible spending of money
  • Failing to meet obligations and responsibilities, and/or cutting back on social/recreational activities
  • Violating historic morals and values to hide use or by doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do (stealing, cheating, manipulating)
  • Increased risk taking behaviors
  • Continuing to use despite wanting and trying to stop
  • Experiencing psychological and/or physical withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

Recognizing drug Abuse/Addiction in family members, friends, and co-workers:

  • Problems at work or home – frequently missing work, increased isolation, increased irritability
  • Physical health issues – lack of energy and motivation
  • Neglected appearance – lack of interest in clothing, grooming
  • Changes in behavior – exaggerated/argumentative efforts to hide or minimize use from family members, being secretive, distancing from family and friends
  • Changes in relationship with money – irresponsible spending of money, requests for money without a reasonable explanation, stealing money and valuables from others.

Help is Available:

If you or someone you know, needs assistance with addiction:

 

Author: Brian Dineen, LCPC, LADC, CCS, Outpatient Therapy Program Supervisor, Health Affiliates Maine

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For those in early recovery, it is probably not a good idea to go to a New Year’s party where there is going to be alcohol. Even those who are well established in their sobriety can find such events a challenge. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to avoid such events, and there may be a situation where you might feel as though you cannot get out of going.

For example, it may be expected as part of a job commitment. If you feel that you are at high risk of relapse then you should avoid this party no matter what the consequences.

Here are a few ideas for creating a plan to survive a New Year’s party with your sobriety intact:

Practice saying NO.

It may sound a bit odd but it can actually help to practice saying no to alcoholic drinks before the party. This can be better done with the help of somebody else in the form of role play. Some partygoers can be particularly persistent when it comes to getting other people to drink, often because they have their own alcohol demons pulling the strings. It is best to be prepared for such doggedness. In most instances, a firm no will be enough to end such questioning. Giving a longwinded answer can just lead to further questioning.

Bring a friend.

One of the best ways to survive these gatherings is to bring along another friend who is not going to be drinking alcohol. If this individual is also in recovery, then it is vital that their sobriety is well-established. Otherwise, both of these attendees could be at risk of relapse.

Take along some additional support.

It can also be helpful to take along some addiction recovery material. These days this can be discreetly done using Smartphone such as the iPhone. There are many apps available that are designed for people recovering from addiction. These include written, audio and video material.

Check ahead for drink alternatives. 

It is crucial to check ahead to make sure that there will be suitable non-alcoholic drinks available. If they are not then you will want to bring along your own favorite soft drink.

Don’t leave your drink alone. 

It is not a good idea for people in recovery to ever leave their drink unattended. There are some individuals who enjoy spiking the drinks of other people by adding alcohol to them. The person who engages in such behavior may think that they are livening up the party, but it can be devastating for people in recovery to find out that their drink has been spiked.

It’s ok to leave.

If you feel overwhelmed by the occasion, you should leave right away. You should then seek assistance and support from a sober friend or recovery group. It is best to plan an escape route before you attend.

 

Content courtesy of alcoholrehab.com

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Each January, millions of people attempt to improve something in their lives by committing to a New Year’s Resolution – a promise to themselves that, this year, things will be different.  By February, many of those resolutions are forgotten or discarded. 

What happens to our resolve?

We set a goal that is too large.

Smaller steps toward a larger goal help you to experience success along the way and evaluate what to do next (or whether you want to continue).

We catch a bad case of the “shoulds.” 

We think we should lose weight, should be more organized, should stop smoking.  When we try to do something we think we “should” do, we can feel resentful and uninvested.

We try to go it alone. 

Change is hard.  When we try to do it all by ourselves, it can be easy to get exhausted and discouraged.

When we don’t follow through on our resolutions, we can feel like we’ve failed.

What can we do?

Focus on what you want, phrased in positive language. 

When we phrase our goals in positive language, in present tense, we train our minds to look for the positive.  So, instead of “I will stop smoking,” try “I breathe clean, fresh air,” or instead of “I will stop spending money,” try “I use my money to buy the necessities in life” or “I use my money for things that bring meaning and joy to my life.”

Evaluate why you want to make this resolution. 

Are you making this resolution to please others? Because you feel obligated?  Because you should?  Consider your investment in and motivation for the resolution.  Doing it for others rarely works.

Get support. 

Having others cheer you on (or doing it with you) can make the difference between sticking with it or not.  We feel accountable to those others. 

Remember, we can resolve to change any time we want.  Positive mental, physical, and spiritual health are lifelong resolutions – promises to ourselves that are worthy of keeping! 

 

Author: Mary Gagnon, LMFT, Training and Clinical Development Specialist & Outpatient Therapy Supervisor, Health Affiliates Maine

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According to Maine’s Attorney General’s Office, the evident opiate epidemic in Maine has resulted in 50 more deaths in 2014 from just 4 years ago.

In response to WMTW’s series on Maine’s Heroin Epidemic this month, Outpatient Therapy Director Luanne Starr Rhoades of Health Affiliates Maine comments, “There are a lot of reasons Maine is struggling with this epidemic.  In the not too distant past, physicians felt freer to treat their patient’s pain with opiates. In many cases, it was too much, for too long; and some people became addicted.”

Rhoades elaborates, “Now, with increased scrutiny of prescribing practices, physicians are hesitant to prescribe opiates for pain.  Left to their own devices, some people in pain have turned to Heroin and opiate medications sold on the street.  Criminal activity of stealing and diverting prescribed medications also happens.  Street drugs, and especially heroin, are abundant and relatively inexpensive. The supply of opiates and other drugs come into Maine right up the 95 corridor from Boston and New York.   As a result, we are now seeing our neighbors, co-workers and friends impacted by these drugs like never before”.

According to the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, in 2014, nearly seven out of ten overdose deaths involved an opiate. And since 2012, the numbers of deaths involving heroin and or morphine have more than doubled.

Getting help.

These are very alarming statistics, and many are wondering what we can do to combat this.  For those families who want to know how to help their loved one overcome this, there are some options they can consider.  For instance, doing an online search of Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) is a likely first step towards getting clean.

There are also Medication Assisted Treatment options for opiate addiction which are available in Maine in the form of Methodone and Saboxone prescribed by a physician.  Nevertheless, even after moving beyond the physical dependency and the cravings the reasons behind the abuse often are still there.  Seeking therapy from a substance abuse counselor can help individuals work through all of the struggles that lead them to using.

What to watch for.

Some signs and signals we can all watch for, that might mean someone is struggling with an opiate addiction:

  • Social withdrawal from family & loved ones
  • Extreme alterations in mood
  • Weight loss, nausea, diarrhea & vomiting
  • Continued use of the opiate, even after pain has subsided

You can get a complete list of warning signs and other useful information on opiate addiction at:  http://www.addictionhope.com/opiates

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