Friday, April 18, 2014

Last Chance to Win "Beyond Addiction"

When the Center for Motivation and Change sent me four copies of their fabulous book Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change, my initial plan was to give away one copy each week in April.

I've given away two copies already, and this week I'll draw a name at random for copy number three. But I have decided not to give away the fourth copy on my blog. Instead, I am going do what my friend Ron Grover--a fellow Partnership at Drugfree.org National Parent Partner and author of the terrific blog "An Addict in Our Son's Bedroom"--did with his extra copy of the book: I am going to donate it to my local library.

I live in a community that, for the most part, likes to pretend it doesn't have a drug problem. Unfortunately, I know differently. My son was a part of this community and walked just a few blocks from our house, across the Detroit border, to buy his heroin. He bought pot from someone in our community. And when he first started using drugs he told my wife and me that he could buy any drug he wanted from kids at school.

Just because people in my community don't want to acknowledge or talk about our drug problem doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So maybe my last copy of Beyond Addiction will be able to help a parent who is experiencing something they feel they have no one to talk to about. Maybe someone who has a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol abuse will go to the library looking for help and actually be able to find some.

In any case, this week's drawing--which will take place on Sunday evening--will be the last chance you have to win a copy of Beyond Addiction on my blog. If you want to put your name in the hat, send me an email through my blog using the "Contact Form" that appears in the column on the right-hand side of my blog (between the "Most Popular Posts" and "Blogs I Follow" sections). If you entered any of the previous drawings, you are already entered for the final drawing; but you can get a "bonus" entry by emailing me again.

Thanks to everyone who has participated; to the Center for Motivation and Change for donating the books; and to Ron Grover for the idea of giving a copy of the book to my local library.

I will wrap up this blog post with a couple of lists from Beyond Addiction. Both of these appear in the book's introduction, which is entitled "Hope in Hell."

Ten Evidence-Based Reasons to Have Hope

1. You can help.

2. Helping yourself helps.

3. Your loved one isn't crazy.

4. The world isn't black-and-white.

5. Labels do more harm than good.

6. Different people need different options.

7. Treatment isn't the be-all and end-all.

8. Ambivalence is normal.

9. People can be helped at anytime.

10. Life is a series of experiments.

And, finally, what I consider to be a great list for anyone, whether you have a loved one with a substance abuse problem or not. In fact, I printed out a copy of this list and stuck it in my wallet:

Things You Can Change

How comfortable you are right now
How optimistic you are in general
What behaviors you encourage
How much you argue
How often you smile
How much you sleep
How strong you feel
Your habitual reactions
Your tone of voice
What you pay attention to
Your point of view
The atmosphere in your home
How isolated you feel
How you deal with stress
How much you worry
Your heart rate
How you spend your money
How you express concern
What substances you use
How you help
How you get help
What kind of help you get
The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning
Whether anything good happens today
How much you enjoy life

That last one is a doozy. I suggest we all remember it.

Peace.

"We're optimistic because the evidence supports many ways to help, and we're optimistic because there's plenty of evidence that optimism helps. People don't try what they don't think they can do. This book is about what you can do." --From the introduction of Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Can Help People Change

(Note: Excerpts from Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change are Copyright © 2014 by Psychological Motivation and Change Group, PLLC. All rights reserved.)



Monday, April 14, 2014

My Wife Shares Her Story with Heroes in Recovery

Just a quick post to let you know that my amazing wife has shared her story--actually a "Top 10" list--on the Heroes in Recovery website.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that my wife is my rock. I couldn't have navigated through our son's addiction without her help. It was a team effort, but she was definitely the team captain. I'll never be able to thank her enough.

To read her story, just click on this link:

Read my wife's story of recovery here.

Also, if you have a story of recovery to share--either your own or a loved one's; or how you recovered from a loved one's addiction--please contact me through my blog. I can walk you through the process of getting your story published in the "Heroic Stories" section of the Heroes in Recovery site. I will even do a phone interview with you and write your story for you if you'd like.

Real recovery begins with real stories from real people. Let your story help someone who needs it.

Peace.

"The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. A mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending portion of love and grace." --Fawn Weaver

My beautiful wife (hiding under a cool hat she made for my nephew, who loves fishing). 

"Beyond Addiction" Book Giveaway: #3 of 4

This is the third of four chances to win your very own copy of the Center for Motivation and Change's fabulous new book, Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change.

While reading this book, I wondered how my situation with my son might've been different if I had even a few of the tools outlined in its pages available to me at the time. Hindsight is 20/20, but I think things in our family--especially early on--would've been much calmer if Beyond Addiction was around seven or eight years ago.

To get in on this week's drawing, send me an email via the "Contact Form" that appears in the column on the right-hand side of my blog (between the "Most Popular Posts" and "Blogs I Follow" sections). Simply tell me you want to be in the drawing. At the end of the week (Sunday evening), I will put the names of all the entrants into a bowl and choose a winner at random.

One more thing: If you entered a previous drawing and didn't win, I will leave your name in the bowl for the next two drawings. But you can also email me again and get an extra entry in the next drawing. It's a little "loyalty bonus."

(Note: I understand that some of you may be reluctant to share your name and email address with me, but it's the only way I can get in touch with you to let you know if you've won. I assure you that I will not share your information with any individuals or organizations.)

Now, on to this week's excerpts from Beyond Addiction.

Today I want to share excerpts from two chapters of the book: Chapter 10--entitled "Reinforcement: The Driver of Change"; and chapter 11--entitled "Consequences." Believe me, there is so much thought-provoking information in this book that it's very difficult to choose what to share. So I'm really just pulling out highlights that I think will give you a taste of what Beyond Addiction is all about. The book goes into way more detail on these topics.

That said, here's some content from the "Reinforcement" chapter:

"Reinforcing constructive, non-substance-related behavior is the core strategy of CRAFT [Community Reinforcement and Family Training]. You can choose to respond to your loved one's positive, nonusing behaviors in a way that will increase the likelihood of these behaviors reoccurring. At the same time, you can choose how to respond to his negative behaviors, including but not limited to substance use, in a way that reinforces it or not.

"The two most powerful things you can do to help promote change are:
  1. Reward your loved one for positive behavior.
  2. Ignore or withdraw a reward for negative behavior."
"Reinforcement is happening between people every second, consciously or unconsciously, planned or unplanned, with more and less positive results. We are social creatures and we influence each other in every interaction we have, whether we mean to or not, and whether or not we succeed in the ways we meant to. . . .If reinforcement is happening all the time anyway, why not harness it to change things for the better?

"Currently, you may find yourself in a cycle of punishment, nagging your loved one to stop using, giving him the silent treatment, slamming things around, yelling, and so on. Unfortunately, these (understandable) responses create a negative reinforcement loop. As you carry your distress around with you and fixate on the problem, you naturally end up nagging, withdrawing, and otherwise punishing . . . even during the times when he is not using. Still mad about the last time he was high, you’re punishing him two days later. The situation often deteriorates to the point where people with substance problems get the same punishing reaction from those who are worried about them whether they are intoxicated or sober, using or not.

"Not only does this pattern not work to decrease the substance use, it can indirectly influence your loved one’s decision to continue using. Seeing that he gets yelled at when he uses and yelled at when he doesn’t use, he may decide to go and use because 'it doesn’t make a difference anyway.' Meanwhile, the substance itself continues to have a powerful reinforcing effect on your loved one and his choice to use. Reinforcement got you into this loop--and it can get you out."

And from the "Consequences" chapter:

"Reinforcement is the currency of behavior change. On one side of the coin is positive reinforcement: rewarding your loved one’s healthy, connected, constructive, and sober behavior--the strategy of the previous chapter. In this chapter we look at the other side, or what to do with the behavior you don’t want. What can you do when there seems to be nothing to reward--when he comes home high, or she sleeps through her alarm, or he turns loud and belligerent after too many drinks at a family dinner?

"You can apply the same principles of reinforcement, but in reverse. That is, just as you paired positive behavior with positive consequences to encourage it, negative behavior paired with negative consequences will discourage it. The combination of these strategies is more powerful than either alone. Negative behaviors don’t simply vanish by themselves; they tend to come up even during the process of positive change. It takes time to learn to stay sober instead of using, to work out instead of stressing out, to go home instead of going all night. Given a mix of behavior that you don’t want and behavior that you do, it helps to learn to work with both to effect change."

"Families that we work with usually fall into one of two camps. Some are reluctant to let their loved one have any negative experience, while others think their loved one is 'getting away' with too much, or 'has it too easy,' and isn’t experiencing negative consequences enough. While both of these perspectives are understandable, neither is particularly accurate or helpful. People learn from negative consequences, and it’s helpful to let them do so (within reason). On the other hand, even if you and others have been insulating your loved one from the negative effects of his behavior, swinging the opposite way to punishment isn’t the best strategy either. You can suppress behavior with punishment, but this doesn’t eliminate it; it usually just goes underground."

Allowing Natural Consequences

"With this strategy for dealing with behavior you don't want, you don't do anything, but just step out of the way and allow it to happen. . . .Allowing natural consequences channels, or rather avoids diverting, any negative consequences to maximize their naturally deterring effects. Even more than withdrawing rewards, allowing consequences helps your loved one understand his behavior as his choice. He learns that changing his behavior is his choice, as opposed to something you are pushing on him all the time.

"Natural consequences are the direct outcomes of your loved one’s substance use that he would experience if no one interfered. They’re the costs he naturally incurs by using. They can be emotional costs, such as depression, anger, shame, or feeling out of control; physical costs such as sleep disruptions, agitation, or injuries; and what we call structural costs: loss of relationships, financial problems, legal problems, and so forth. The costs of using may range in severity from mild headaches or embarrassments to deep shame and major deprivations like getting fired or losing custody of a child.

"For most people, using or overusing substances results in negative consequences that pretty quickly convince them to limit use to moderation or no use at all. For most people, the costs just don't seem worth it. For others, the benefits of using are greater and/or more numerous, and the negative consequences are fewer and/or less--because their brains are more rewarded by a substance, or life feels more painful to them in one way or another that a substance relieves, or their social group uses more heavily, or any of the other reasons people use. But you would not be reading this book if there were not also significant negative consequences to your loved one's use, and the goal here is to let those consequences speak for themselves. In cost-benefit terms, you aim to not get in the way of or prevent the costs from occurring."

Definitely food for thought, right? I wish someone had fed this information to me years ago!

Thanks again to the Center for Motivation and Change for sending me books to give away. If you're interested in winning your own copy, shoot me an email. Good luck!

(Note: Excerpts from Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change are Copyright © 2014 by Psychological Motivation and Change Group, PLLC. All rights reserved.)


Sunday, April 13, 2014

This Week's "Beyond Addiction" Book Winner

Congrats to Jessica V., whose name was randomly selected as this week's winner of a copy of Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change

Check back here on Monday for another excerpt from the book and another chance to win a copy. I have two more copies to give away!

Peace.

Cooking Dinner for Men in Recovery

Today I am cooking dinner for 15 or so men who live in a local sober living house. The house is supported by a great organization called Families Against Narcotics (FAN) and was started one of the group's founding members. It's a safe place for men seeking recovery in a 12-step program.

This sober living house isn't one my son lived in, but that doesn't matter to me. Cooking dinner for a bunch of guys who are working the program is no big deal to me. I am grateful that my son is in long-term recovery and will do anything I can to help--not enable--others who have chosen to go down the recovery path. Sober living played such a key role in my son getting clean and sober. This is my way of giving back.

So I'm about to throw 12 seasoned chicken breasts on the grill, and when they're done I will proceed with making chicken enchiladas and Mexican style rice and beans. Throw in some chips and salsa and some cookies for dessert and the guys will be all set.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” --Muhammad Ali

Phase one, underway.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Latest Blog Post for Heroes in Recovery

I feel like it's been raining cats and blogs lately.

My latest blog post for the Heroes in Recovery website went live today. It's called "Getting 'Stuck' as a Result of Addiction," and in it I discuss my son's addiction and how I think it negatively impacted his maturation.

To my knowledge, there isn't any scientific proof that young people get "stuck" emotionally at the age they are when they start using drugs. But many experts subscribe to the theory. And from what I've experienced with my son, I believe it to be true.

If you get a chance, go check out my blog at Heroes in Recovery--this is the direct link--and let me know your thoughts on the subject by leaving a comment over there. You can also give the post a rating by clicking on the little stars at the bottom of the blog. (The star you click on is the rating you give it.)

Finally, if you'd like to share your story of recovery on the Heroes in Recovery website, please get in touch with me and I will help you through the process. Or you can share your story directly through the website. If you go that route, please mention at the start of your story that Dean referred you.

Peace.

"Beyond Addiction" Book Giveaway: #2 of 4

Welcome to the second of four chances to win your very own copy of the Center for Motivation and Change's fabulous new book, Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change.

I truly love this book and encourage you to read it, whether you win a copy through my blog or not. Beyond Addiction is based on CRAFT--Community Reinforcement and Family Training--the research-supported, evidence-based, clinically proven approach to helping families of substance abusers. Is there a good chance that you'll find the CRAFT approach radically different than everything you've heard before? Yes. But when you read about it and give it a chance to sink it, it starts to make a lot of sense.

To get in on this week's drawing, send me an email via the "Contact Form" that appears in the column on the right-hand side of my blog (between the "Most Popular Posts" and "Blogs I Follow" sections). Simply tell me you want to be in the drawing. At the end of the week (Sunday evening), I will put the names of all the entrants into a hat--actually, it's a mixing bowl from IKEA--and choose a winner at random.

Oh, one more thing. Here's a new little twist I decided to add to the rules: If you entered a previous drawing and didn't win, I will leave your name in the IKEA mixing bowl for upcoming drawings. But you can also email me again and get an extra entry in the next drawing. It's a little "loyalty bonus."

(Note: I understand that some of you may be reluctant to share your name and email address with me, but it's the only way I can get in touch with you to let you know if you've won. I assure you that I will not share your information with any individuals or organizations.)

Now, on to this week's excerpt from Beyond Addiction.

This excerpt comes from the "Start Where They Are" chapter in the "How to Help" section of the book. It talks about why staying calm is better than yelling when communicating with your loved one.

Setting the Stage

(An Invitation to) Stop Yelling

"The tone you take with your loved one has an impact, often more than the words you use. Our number-one recommendation: Stop yelling. It is our version of the Hippocratic Oath--'First, do no harm'--a deceptively simple instruction but one that our clients often say is the hardest thing to change even when they understand why they should.

"You may find yourself yelling with the hope of discouraging your partner from coming home late and intoxicated, or any number of other reasons. What may not be so obvious is that yelling may undercut his motivation to come home sober, if to him it means 'This is what I come home to.' Similarly, yelling may be your desperate effort to communicate your despair and pain ('You always do this; you never change') but what you may be inadvertently communicating is that you don’t believe your partner is capable of change, which he may take as a reason not to bother. While yelling may sometimes achieve your goals, it almost always makes you the bad guy, the one with the yelling problem. The takeaway of an interaction in which you yelled will most likely be how mean and out of control you are rather than what your loved one could do differently.

"In a fascinating study, researchers discovered that a single act of confrontation by a therapist resulted in increased alcohol consumption by patients twelve months later. You are not a therapist, but the reasons harsh words don’t work are the same at home."

And some more:

"It is a lot to ask of you to be nice, flexible, and collaborative at times like this. It may seem like too much, until you see how it works. We’re not asking you to stuff your real feelings about your loved one’s substance use. We want you to express your feelings--your true feelings, and your whole feelings. But we want to teach you to express your feelings in ways and places that will be constructive for you. Ask yourself if yelling (or cold-shouldering, belittling, hectoring, and any other expression of hostility) has worked in the past--to change anything or to make you feel better beyond that moment. If you’ve run that experiment and seen the results, it might be time to try something different.

"We don’t expect that you’ll never yell again. We present this as an absolute because we hope that having a clear, simple intention will help anchor you when the water gets choppy. The chapter on positive communication to come will show you in detail what you can do instead of yell. The point here is that positive communication depends on your trying not to yell, and on being able to stop once you’ve started. Yelling less is better than yelling more. We invite you to approach each interaction as a fresh opportunity to not yell, regardless of what came before it."

Amen. While dealing with my son's addiction over the years, I finally came to realize that yelling is definitely not the right approach. If you're a "yeller"--and believe me, it's an easy trap to fall into--you might want to consider a fresh approach.

Words of wisdom, for sure. Having a loved one who is suffering from addiction is not easy. Beyond Addiction, I believe, can make it easier.

Thanks again to the Center for Motivation and Change for sending me books to give away. If you're interested in winning your own copy, shoot me an email. Good luck!

(Note: Excerpts from Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change are Copyright © 2014 by Psychological Motivation and Change Group, PLLC. All rights reserved.)


"First, do no harm."