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10th Annual Experience, Strength & Hope Awards

The Giving Tree Treatment Center is a proud sponsor of the 10th Annual Experience, Strength & Hope Awards. This year's honoree is Actress and TV Personality, Jodie Sweetin. Most recognizeable for her role in the television series Full House, Jodie is in recovery with over ten years of sobriety.  She will be honored for sharing her story of recovery in her book titled, UnSweetined, a Memoir.

ESHA10thAnnivAdJodieSweetin2-787x1024
credit: http://www.writersintreatment.org/2019-sponsorship-opportunities-esha/

The Giving Tree is so happy to be sharing this beautiful moment of life and laughter with such a strong woman. Join us for an evening of collectively inspiring people, at the Skirball Cultural Center, on February 28, 2019.  See the link below for tickets:

10th Annual Experience, Strength, & Hope Awards, with guests Jodie Sweetin and Ed Begley, Jr.

Utilizing Tools in Recovery to Let Go and Move On. An Excerpt from “How to Make Peace with Your Past? (18 Powerful Tips)”

The Owner and Executive Director of The Giving Tree continues to dedicate her life to those afflicted with addiction to harmful substances. One of the key components to freedom from addiction lies within letting go and moving on. Below is an excerpt from the article, "How to Make Peace with Your (18 Powerful Tips)," featuring some words from our owner.

Sabrina Acatrinei

Sabrina Acatrinei B.S.W., CADC-I

Executive Director and Owner of The Giving Tree Treatment Center

"Working in the treatment industry for some time now, I get asked quite often by my clients “how can I let go of the past“?

How can they make peace with the damage they have done and lives they have hurt and actually move on? We start by discussing the 12 Steps of AA and NA which have a specific method of doing this. However, there are 8 steps before the actual step where you go to make amends with people that you would have hurt in your past.

I fully believe one cannot make peace with their past unless they change the person they are today. Everything we have done in our past has contributed to making us who we are. Whether good or bad, we learned and we grew. In recovery, we talk a lot about personal growth and how necessary it is. We tell clients we have to fix the person they became in their addiction so they do not continue to make false promises.

As a “Normie” which is what I’m called because I am not in the program, I learn with my clients on a day to day basis. The Big Book of AA or NA is like the Bible. This piece of literature has been around for a while and tells a story. The story teaches addicts how to begin to live again. Not just to live but to be happy, to be humble, to give. All of which contributes to making peace with their past. It teaches people how not to beat themselves up anymore and how to simply acknowledge their mistakes.

I feel forgiveness is probably one of the most important things that need to happen in recovery. I tell my clients when they are admitted into my facility that “today is a new day“…”Forget about what happened yesterday“…”You are safe, you are alive.

Being safe and alive are two important things when it comes to recovery. I hear it all the time, “I can’ t believe I’m still here after that OD… I really should be dead.”

This is where the therapy kicks in, the introduction to the 12 steps and the constant affirmations begin. People need to know they are loved and that in life, things happen. If we continue to beat up people emotionally and mentally they will never begin to forgive themselves and start living again. Once one can forgive himself, he/she can begin to rise and conquer.

As we learn to forgive ourselves, we can begin to make peace with our past.

And so begins time to humble ourselves and take direction from others. AA and NA meetings are a MUST, obtaining a sponsor, working the steps and reaching out to peers in recovery. This will help to learn not to resent oneself or others for past issues. This is also where spiritual action must occur to shift one’s mindset when it comes to forgiveness. The work becomes a commitment and commitment has a lot to do with responsibility. We have to push through our demons and our discomfort to gain personal change. Only then will one be able to move beyond a past that has haunted us.

Recovery lets us rediscover ourselves. The problem is that we don’t have the map to get there. In order to find the path to personal growth, the addict or alcoholic must take direction from an outside source. Our own ideas always fail us or lead us back to our drug of choice. And so the beginning of our journey in recovery has to start with surrender. We have to learn how to get out of our own way, to truly let go, if we want to move forward.

So, how do we make peace with our past? Whether you are an addict or a “normie”, it all starts from within where we surrender and accept the things we cannot change."

 

To read the full length article follow the link below: 

How to Make Peace with Your Past? (18 Powerful Tips)

 

Recovery That Fits Like a Glove

Addiction has no proven cure, but it can be managed. Maybe you have tried a multitude of ways to stay clean and sober. Maybe you are just starting out. Maybe you have tried 12 Steps. Maybe you haven't. Maybe your belief system does not align with the other community resources you have attended. That's okay. Recovery does not have a one-size-fits-all solution.

The best way to find out what works for you is to test the waters. It doesn't hurt to spend the same amount of time you would if you were using, in a meeting hall with fellow sober addicts and/or alcoholics. Showing up is the hardest part, but can be the most meaningful.

Below you will find links to various types of  recovery-based organizations, set to the meeting finder page so you can find a meeting near you asap.

Here are some alternative resources for those who are friends or family of  those suffering from substance abuse disorder :

7 Reasons Why I Thought AA Wasn’t for “Someone Like Me” By Sam Dylan Finch

7 Reasons Why I Thought AA Wasn't for "Someone Like Me"

By Sam Dylan Finch 10/10/18

By the end, as we stood in a circle holding hands, I thought: “This is a cult, right? This has to be a cult.”

Woman looking skeptical with hand at mouth.

I hadn’t racked up any DUIs and I wasn’t drinking vodka every morning, so what did I need AA for?  Image: © Kiosea39 | Dreamstime.com

I remember the first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that I ever attended, about three years ago. I’ll be honest — I wasn’t the friendliest face at that meeting. I had a ready criticism for just about everything that anyone said.

By the end, as we stood in a circle holding hands, I thought: “This is a cult, right? This has to be a cult.”

One thing she said in particular stood out: “Sometimes you aren’t ready, you know? Some folks go and do more ‘research’ and then a couple years later we see them in the rooms again.”

In hindsight, I have to chuckle. Of all of the advice she gave me, the only part I seem to have listened to was the part that justified drinking more. (I’d later learn that this is the exact kind of “selective hearing” that alcoholics are known for.)

I didn’t know it at the time, but her comment would foreshadow my journey to the letter. A few years later, after another catastrophic relapse, I remembered her words: If it was meant to be, I would be back.

“Sam, you could’ve died,” my therapist told me when I described my latest binge. That’s when I knew my “research” was over. It was time to go back.

I sat in the back row (another typical newbie move, I’d later learn), and just as the Serenity Prayer was being read, I saw the same woman from before — the one who predicted, whether intentionally or not, that I would be in those rooms again.

“I know you, right?” she said to me after the meeting.

“Yeah,” I replied, smiling. “And you’re a big reason why I came back. Because I knew I could.”

I didn’t know what to expect, but that didn’t matter; I was just grateful to have a place to go where I didn’t feel so crazy.

As time went on, I quickly realized that the reasons I believed that AA wasn’t for me weren’t just misguided, they were completely wrong. While I wish I’d had these realizations sooner, I’m grateful now for the fellowship I found when I was finally able to open my heart and mind.

So what, exactly, held me back the first time around? These are seven of the big reasons why I thought AA wasn’t for me — and what ultimately changed my mind.

1. I’m not Christian (or even religious).

Despite being told that your higher power in AA could be virtually anything, the “God” language was so off-putting that I couldn’t get past it at first. What I didn’t know was that AA is home to people with all sorts of beliefs, including atheists and agnostics (for whom a whole chapter in the Big Book is actually written).

But why would someone who wasn’t religious opt for a program that talks about a higher power?

The short answer? To get outside of ourselves. Part of what makes addiction so tricky is that we often get stuck in our own heads, leading us to miss the forest for the trees. A focus on some compassionate, loving force outside of ourselves allows us to take a step back from the addictive obsessing and see the big picture at work.

That “God” can be your own inner wisdom or spirit (you know, the tiny voice or gut feeling that says: “I shouldn’t be doing this”). It can refer to your fellowship (e.g. Group Of Drunks) and community, or it can even be the stars or your ancestors.

Whatever your higher power is, it exists to anchor you in the present moment, when your own thoughts are derailing you (part of what fuels cravings, I’ve found, is the mental obsession that goes along with them). Projecting your focus outside yourself can be a powerful tool in recovery.

2. Alcohol wasn’t my biggest problem.

I always thought of my alcohol abuse as a symptom of a problem rather than an issue in its own right. As someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and a trauma history (C-PTSD), I figured that if I got my mental illness under control, my drinking would somehow become normal again; that it would, in essence, “work itself out.”

As irrational as it sounds, I really believed that if I just “stayed mentally healthy” for the rest of my life, alcohol wouldn’t be a problem.

It should be a lot easier to sober up than to be perfectly happy and healthy 100% of the time, but the alcoholic mind doesn’t care about what’s actually possible — it just cares about drinking again.

I’ve learned with time that my alcoholism is very much a compulsive behavior. And once compulsions are activated, they’re only made worse when you engage with them. As a person with OCD, and therefore lots of compulsions, I know this better than anyone.

A lot of alcoholics look at every other issue in their lives as The Real Problem, while their drinking isn’t much more than an inconvenient and temporary side effect. But more often than not, the only “phase” we’re really talking about here is denial.

3. I figured I could manage on my own.

Here’s the thing: Whether or not you can manage sobriety on your own, why should you? If there’s an entire community of people, ready and able to support you, why deprive yourself of that resource?

These days, I ignore the voice in my head that says, “You don’t need this.” It’s irrelevant either way; I don’t need to muscle through this and there’s no good reason to.

This fellowship is a gift I can give to myself — the gift of unconditional acceptance, and an opportunity for continued personal growth in a supportive community.

4. I thought I was too young and "inexperienced."

My drinking didn’t really take off until I was 21 years old. Yet by the time I was 24, I was at my first AA meeting. Was it possible to become an alcoholic in three years? I didn’t think so. I hadn’t racked up any DUIs and I wasn’t drinking vodka every morning, so what did I need AA for?

But my definition of alcoholism has evolved a lot since then.  Alcoholism, to me, is a spectrum of experiences defined by two things: (1) psychological dependence on alcohol and (2) strong urges to drink (which we call “cravings”).

Drinking had become a coping strategy (one that often failed me) to deal with issues in my life. And rather than choosing to drink and choosing to stop — which is usually, on some level, premeditated and deliberate — I had the urge to drink, and that urge often had me behaving in ways that ran counter to what I planned or wanted, assuming I had a plan at all.

Sometimes I drank only to resolve the urge itself — an urge which could involve unbearable levels of anxiety, agitation, obsessing, and impulsiveness.

It took just a few years for my drinking to reach this level of unmanageability. And when it led me to be hospitalized twice in my early twenties, I realized that if I continued I would die before I ever considered myself “experienced” or “old enough.”

You are never too young or inexperienced to get sober. If there are signs that your drinking has become dangerous, you don’t need to wait to get support — and you shouldn’t.

5. I’m queer and transgender.

One of the biggest reasons why I rejected AA was because I felt, as someone who was both transgender and gay, that I would feel like an outsider. And while I can’t speak for every meeting in existence, I’ve been fortunate to find meetings where I could show up as my authentic self.

Living in the Bay Area, I’m privileged to now have access to meetings that are specifically for the LGBTQ+ community, though I regularly attend all kinds of meetings and have found them to be fulfilling in their own way. My sponsor is queer, too, which is incredibly empowering.

Many people I’ve known in other parts of the country have been able to connect with their local LGBTQ+ community center (either city or statewide) to get recommendations on which recovery spaces would be best for them.

Some LGBTQ+ centers even have AA meetings specifically on-site for the community.

The best way to find out is to call around. You don’t know what’s out there, and recovery is always worth the effort.

6. I take psychiatric medications.

As someone who takes medication for my mental health conditions, I was scared that people in AA would look down on me or believe I wasn’t really sober.

In particular, I rely on Adderall to manage my ADHD. I take it exactly as prescribed without any trouble. If I don’t take it, it’s difficult for me to keep up at my job because my concentration issues make my life incredibly unmanageable.

But Adderall is a stimulant and has a reputation as a drug of abuse. I worried that I would be pressured to stop taking it.

Instead, I’ve been given the exact opposite advice in AA. I’ve been told repeatedly that if my psychiatric medications contribute to my mental wellness, they are an essential and indispensable part of my recovery.

With mental health conditions frequently co-occurring with substance abuse, you’re likely to find a lot of people in AA who rely on these medications to maintain balance in their lives. So don’t be discouraged: you aren’t alone.

7. My history didn’t seem "bad enough."

Sometimes I’d listen to a speaker talk about getting drunk at age 12, growing up in the foster system, or getting their second DUI, and I’d think to myself, “Why am I even here? My story is nothing like theirs.”

But as I attended more and more meetings, I began to see the similarities, rather than focusing so much on the differences. I realized that even the most extraordinary stories had some kind of wisdom to offer me, as long as I gave myself permission to be fully present.

As I heard a speaker say last month, “Bottom is when you stop digging.” Recovery begins when you’re open to it, not when you’ve passed some magical threshold of having “suffered enough.”

Your story is enough, exactly as it is in this moment. You don’t need to have the most tragic backstory, the biggest relapse, or the most catastrophic “bottom” moment.

You don’t have to earn a seat at the table. As I learned this last year, that seat will be there for you when you’re ready, no matter how many times you fall down or slip up.

This article was published by a contributing author of thefix.com and is in no way related to or endorses Rebos Detox. You can find the original article at: https://www.thefix.com/7-reasons-why-i-thought-aa-wasnt-someone-me

“Trump Just Signed a Bipartisan Bill to Confront the Opioid Epidemic,” according to and Article on Vox.com

 

Trump just signed a bipartisan bill to confront the opioid epidemic

The law takes positive steps, but experts say it’s not enough.

Ron Sachs/Pool via Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a package of bills to confront the nation’s opioid epidemic, following bipartisan approval for the measures in the House and Senate.

If you hear lawmakers describe it, the legislation, dubbed the Support for Patients and Communities Act, is a big breakthrough that will boost access to addiction treatment and many other interventions to mitigate the opioid epidemic, from law enforcement efforts against illicit drugs to combating the overprescription of opioids.

“This bill is a major victory for Ohio and for the country because it will strengthen the federal government’s response to the opioid crisis,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who actively worked on the legislation, said in a statement after the Senate vote. “Importantly, this bill will increase access to long-term treatment and recovery while also helping stop the flow of deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the United States through our own Postal Service.”

Experts and activists are more tepid. It’s not that the legislation does anything outwardly bad. In fact, the changes are mostly positive, according to the experts and activists I spoke with. But Dr. Leana Wen, the former health commissioner of Baltimore (and soon-to-be president of Planned Parenthood), said that the legislation “is simply tinkering around the edges,” and that a far more comprehensive, ambitious response is needed to really deal with the crisis.

The big issue seems to come down to money. The legislation makes a lot of legal and regulatory tweaks that will attempt to make addiction treatment more accessible, try to make it more difficult for illicit synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil to slip through the border, and boost research on non-opioid pain treatments. But it doesn’t pay for a wide and sustained expansion of addiction treatment, which is the policy approach that many experts argue is necessary.

In fact, the law would not provide a significant increase in spending for the opioid crisis at all. Even though it authorizes some relatively small grant programs, the actual funding for those will be decided later on by Congress’s appropriations process.

Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University who worked with Senate and House staff on the law, said that “there are many ‘small sanities’ in the Senate and House opioid bills that will make a positive difference.” But the response is far from what America undertook for, say, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when it enacted sweeping programs like the Ryan White Act and PEPFAR that dedicated serious money and resources to fight HIV/AIDS in the US and around the world.

“This reflects a fundamental disagreement between the parties over whether the government should appropriate the large sums a massive response would require,” Humphreys said. “Lacking that, Congress did the next best thing — which is to find agreement on as many second-tier issues as they could.”

The fact that Congress, despite all the political conflicts of the day, is actually taking action is reflective of how bad the opioid epidemic has gotten. In 2017, more than 72,000 people in the US died of drug overdoses, at least two-thirds of which were linked to opioids, based on preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the highest number of Americans who ever died of drug overdoses in a single year — and more than were ever killed by guns, car crashes, or HIV/AIDS in a single year in the US.

The new law will almost certainly mitigate some of the crisis and save some lives. But it probably won’t be enough.

What the Support for Patients and Communities Act does

For a full breakdown of the Support for Patients and Communities Act, you can read the full text or a section-by-section summary. But here are some of the major policy changes in the law:

  • Reauthorizes funding from the Cures Act, which put $500 million a year toward the opioid crisis, and makes tweaks to hopefully give states more flexibility in using the funding.
  • Creates a grant program for “Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers,” which will attempt to serve the addiction treatment and recovery needs of their communities (in part by using what’s known as an ECHO model).
  • Lifts restrictions on medications for opioid addiction, allowing more types of health care practitioners to prescribe the drugs.
  • Expands an existing program that attempts to get more first responders, such as police and firefighters, to carry and use naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses.
  • Allows federal agencies to pursue more research projects related to addiction and pain.
  • Makes several changes to Medicare and Medicaid to attempt to limit the overprescription of opioid painkillers within the programs and expand access to addiction treatment, including lifting some of the current restrictions that make it harder for Medicare and Medicaid to pay for addiction treatment.
  • Advances new initiatives to educate and raise awareness about proper pain treatment among health care providers.
  • Attempts to improve coordination between different federal agencies to stop illicit drugs like fentanyl at the border, and gives agencies more tools to improve detection and testing at border checks.
  • Increases penalties for drug manufacturers and distributors related to the overprescribing of opioids.

There’s a lot more in the law, but these examples give a rough idea of the wide approach Congress is taking, from treatment to prevention to law enforcement to better pain care (to stop the excessive proliferation of opioids for pain treatment).

The measure has wide bipartisan support, with both Democrats and Republicans working extensively on it. In the current political climate (and with midterm elections looming), this is remarkable — both parties coming together to work on a major issue and taking a fairly broad approach in the subsequent legislation.

But the legislation fails to do one thing: Despite reauthorizing and creating some small grant programs, it won’t result in much more money and resources going to the opioid crisis.

And while Congress has allocated a few billion dollars here and there to address the crisis in recent years, the sum total falls short of the tens of billions experts say is needed to quickly reverse the opioid epidemic.

That gets to why experts are a bit down on Congress’s actions.

Congress could go much bolder

The opioid epidemic is a truly massive drug overdose and addiction crisis. Since the 1990s, more than 700,000 people in the US have died of drug overdoses, mostly driven by the rise in opioid-related deaths. That’s more people than live in big US cities like Denver and Washington, DC. Some estimates predict that at the current rate, hundreds of thousands more could die in the next decade of opioid overdoses alone.

When experts talk about the current epidemic, they compare it to previous public health crises like HIV/AIDS, which also killed tens of thousands of Americans each year.

“We hear a lot of talk about how addiction is a medical condition that needs to be addressed similarly to other chronic illnesses, yet the existing treatment system is largely separate from the medical mainstream and offers interventions that bear little resemblance to how we care for people with other health conditions,” Sarah Wakeman, an addiction medicine doctor and medical director at the Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative, told me. “To actually stem the tide of overdose deaths, we need funding and innovation that is on par with our response to HIV/AIDS.”

That, she explained, will require “a massive infusion of funding and a fundamental restructuring of how we treat addiction in this country.”

To put this in context, the New York Times this year asked 30 experts how they would spend $100 billion over five years to address the opioid epidemic — a number comparable to how much the US spends domestically on HIV/AIDS. That may sound like a lot, but some experts cautioned that even that amount of cash may not be enough.

That’s in large part because a lot of America’s addiction treatment infrastructure is in a very bad spot. Consider: Medications like methadone and buprenorphine are widely considered the gold standard of opioid addiction care, with studies showing that they reduce all-cause mortality among opioid addiction patients by half or more and do a far better job keeping people in treatment than non-medication approaches.

Yet federal data suggests that only one in 10 people with any substance use disorder and one in five people with an opioid use disorder seek specialty treatment. And even when an addiction treatment clinic is available, fewer than half of facilities offer any of the opioid addiction medications as an option. In other words, treatment is inaccessible enough that most people who need it don’t get it, and even when treatment is available, it doesn’t meet the best standards of care.

To change this, Congress will simply need to invest much more in addiction treatment — and in the long term, not just in the one-off laws Congress has done so far. In response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, for example, Congress set up the Ryan White program to provide long-term, sustained resources to deal with HIV/AIDS, particularly in the worst-hit communities.

Some lawmakers have called for similar actions in response to the opioid crisis, like the CARE Act proposed by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). But the proposals have not moved forward in Congress, largely due to Republican concerns about the extra spending they require.

Even beyond money, experts argue that a truly effective bill will have to systemically reform how America approaches addiction.

Wen previously drew a comparison to past disease scares, such as Ebola and Zika. These crises led hospitals and doctors, with government support, to retrain and restructure so they were properly built to handle any patients that came in with potential problems related to these diseases. “We are now dealing with an epidemic of opioid overdose and addiction,” Wen said. “Why shouldn’t we require all doctors and all hospital systems to treat the disease of addiction?”

Some states have provided a model for this systemic reform. Vermont, for one, set up a hub and spoke system that not only expanded addiction treatment but integrated it into health care settings, from traditional doctors’ offices to hospitals. Perhaps as a result, the state also defied the national trend with a slight decrease in overdose deaths in 2017 — while maintaining the lowest drug overdose death rate in New England, a region hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis.

As experts have long told me, there is no silver bullet that will solve the opioid epidemic overnight, but there’s a mix of policies that would help: more treatment (particularly medications like methadone and buprenorphine), more harm reduction (such as better access to naloxone), fewer painkiller prescriptions (while ensuring the drugs are available to those who really need them), and policies that can help address the root cause of addiction (like mental health issues and socioeconomic despair).

A recent study by Stanford researchers found that a mix of these options could save at least tens of thousands of lives in the next decade.

But the congressional proposals, despite some positive moves, don’t do nearly enough on any of these fronts, experts warned.

“Although if one wanted to be more upbeat,” Humphreys of Stanford said, “given how incredibly dysfunctional Congress is at this historical moment, this is an achievement — there are dozens of other important issues upon which they are making no progress at all.”

 

This article was published by a contributing author of vox.com and is in no way related to or endorses Rebos Detox. You can find the original article at https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/9/28/17913938/trump-opioid-epidemic-congress-support-act-bill-law.