How to Avoid Relapse During the Holidays

Avoid RelapseThe winter holidays, Christmas and New Year’s, and all the festivities (and chaos) they bring can present a serious obstacle for anyone who is carefully and diligently trying to stay sober. How do I make it over the hump and into January without relapsing? That’s a good question. But just by asking it, you are taking the first step. Here is a guide for staying sober and drug-free during the craziness we call the holiday season:

1. Know your triggers.

If you’ve been through any sort of rehab process, chances are you know what some of your major triggers are. For some, being lonely is a trigger. While others feel compelled to use in social settings. The holidays are especially tricky because they set you up for both. If you are alone and not participating, you may feel cravings set in. But if you’re at a party and everyone is drinking and having a great time, you may want to participate, i.e. drink. Either scene invites a relapse. The thing to do is know what your individual triggers are and come up with a strategy. It could be having sober friends and family over who know that you’re in recovery. It could be knowing when to leave a party or not going at all. The point is that you have a real plan and stick to it.

2. Depression is common over the holidays.

A lot of people get depressed over the holidays. It can come on unexpectedly, even for no apparent reason. If others are spending time with family and friends are you aren’t, depression could set in. If others are partying and you aren’t, you could feel very down indeed. Even the weather and the fact that it gets dark sooner can play a role. Isolate what sober activities make you happy during the season and do those things. It could be sledding, skiing, ice skating, or just watching a movie with a hot (non-alcoholic) drink. But when you find yourself alone and feeling depressed, you must have someone in your support network you can contact. The holiday season is a time for your supportive friends and family to be especially on the ball. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

3. Boredom is your enemy.

You get time off from work or school and you have nothing to do. It’s a recipe for relapse. Put together a plan on how you’ll stay busy. There are usually Christmas events happening around town. Pick out which ones will keep you interested (and sober), mark your calendar and go to them. Likewise at home, pack your days and evenings with stuff to do. It doesn’t even have to be holiday-related. Use the free time to do some projects around the house. Volunteering at an orphanage, school, church or shelter is a great way to stay occupied and focused on things that really matter. Do some pre-holiday preparations and stick to your plan.

4. Don’t stress so much.

People get really stressed out over the holidays. They get into a state of anxiety because of all the money they spend, the planning and parties, seeing relatives they may not be particularly fond of, traveling expenses and so on. If you’re in recovery, it may be fitting for you to simply take it easy. You don’t have to do everything that everyone else does for Christmas. You can even tell people you are in recovery and will be chilling-out for the season. They are certain to understand and if they don’t that’s really their problem. You can give a few gifts and cards and hang out with people who support your sobriety. If stress is a trigger, skip it. And if you do relapse, don’t sit on it. Rather, tell someone in your support network whom you trust so you can get it sorted out.

5. Traveling can lead to relapse.

If you must travel, understand that it poses unique situations which can lead to relapse. If you have a good recovery routine at home, being thrust into airports, airplanes and unfamiliar surroundings can act as triggers. Being physically tired and mentally stressed plays a role, as does going back to your old neighborhood. Visiting old haunts and former friends who still drink and use can be risky business. Airplanes serve alcohol as do airports and hotels. When you make your travel itinerary, lay out your travel sobriety strategy. Make it into a game where you challenge yourself. How can you have a great time while staying sober and drug-free? Enlist others, including those you’ll be visiting, in your plan. Another option is to simply not go. But if you are going, approach it analytically.

6. Go to meetings & stay connected.

Even if you never did AA or NA, you can still show up to meetings if you think it might help. Wherever you are, there are likely to be meetings, either in your hometown or wherever you’re visiting. There are also online forums where you can talk to people in the same boat. The underlying principles of staying connected are communication and common agreement. This can take place in a meeting or through healthy two-way communication with a person who understands your situation. Stay connected with your sobriety network. If you’re all alone or at a party and feel like you might drink or use, step outside and call someone, take a walk, get into an environment more conducive to sobriety.

7. Partner with sober people.

Team up with a family member or friend and get through the season together. Look out for each other and have one another’s back. Go to alcohol-free and drug-free parties. Visit friends who are also staying clean and sober. If you have friends who’ll be partying and don’t seem to “get it” (what you’re trying to do), don’t even go there. You can also look up and attend parties and events specifically labeled booze-free and drug-free, as long as they are what they say they are. If you have kids, nieces or nephews, or have friends with kids, there are always tons of activities for kids where you can help out. These are usually drink-free because, well, they’re for kids! Keep your sober and supportive family and friends close at hand.

8. Get some dopamine and adrenaline.

There are plenty of ways to get a rush or a buzz that do not involve booze or drugs. While in the kitchen preparing a meal, a coffee and piece of fudge could do the trick for that immediate dopamine buzz. Staying healthy over the holidays is an even better alternative. Get your sleep in and get up in the morning and exercise. Go to the gym for a work-out and a sauna. Do some outdoor sports. If you have snow, go snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling or whatever appeals to you. The point is to get some excitement into your life that isn’t hazardous to your health. Staying well-rested, keeping a healthy routine, and not overdoing it on the holiday foods and sweets could be just the thing to keep you fit and in a sober state of mind.

9. Stay alert.

Constant alertness is a requirement if you wish to stay free from the grip of alcohol and drug abuse. Be mindful of who you’re associating with. Usually, when you find yourself in a potential relapse situation, you know exactly where you slipped up just a little earlier. Staying alert means envisioning yourself in the future. Muhammad Ali put it eloquently and succinctly when he said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.” But you need not even suffer. You just need to stay alert and employ some self-discipline. Look into the future and see yourself still sober and on top of your game. Know when to walk away. Know when to call or text a trusted friend. And know that ultimately, it will be up to you.

10. Keep the faith.

Remember what the holidays are about in the first place. They’re about things like giving, family, friends (real ones), charity, goodwill, spirituality and faith. They’re not about door buster deals, 50% off when you buy two, Black Friday madness, Cyber Monday insanity, crowded malls, getting stressed and getting wasted.

So if all else fails, just remember what you’re supposed to be celebrating in the first place. The winter holidays go back to pre-Christian celebrations of the winter solstice. While the winter solstice hardly represents the end of winter, it is the shortest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere in late December) signifying a new beginning of longer days and shorter nights. For Christians, the holiday is of course the celebration of the birth of Christ, known as the Light of the World. And the Jewish faith celebrates Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.

It is the time of year we recognize the grip of darkness getting less and less and the outward and inner light getting stronger and stronger. So remember that and put it into the context of your sobriety and your future success and prosperity. And have a happy, safe and sober 2015!

 

 

 

 

10 Things People Always Ask About My Success

SuccessI take pride in having built Best Drug Rehabilitation and A Forever Recovery and the work we do to forward effective detoxification and recovery. I consider it my life’s mission to help people overcome the heavy burden of drug addiction. But the victory is equally great when we can intercept the harmful effects of drugs before they even take hold. And this is most important with our youth. By empowering young people with knowledge and self-confidence, we help them rise above negative peer pressure and make sensible decisions. Our youth are our future.

Along with community leaders, I work with professional athletes and within sports in general (football, baseball, boxing) in order to popularize the idea of a healthy and goal-oriented lifestyle. And I also work with artists who promote creativity without the insidious effects of drugs. While I measure success solely on the basis of happy people and saved lives, people ask questions all the time about how we have accomplished certain things. I say “we” because it’s always a team effort. Here are a few of the answers:

1. How do you maintain an ethical workplace?

I screen my applicants for sure. But I also get applicants who are former drug users that want to help others overcome drugs, and many of them have had a lot of drama in their lives. So I look for people who have a driving purpose to help others – and this is not everyone. Hard-working and a strong sense of personal integrity are traits I look for. But beyond that there is quite a bit that goes into maintaining honesty and ethics in the workplace.

I use the technology of ethics as developed by author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard. People are amazed to discover that there is a workable technology relating to ethics and integrity. While I could not begin to describe this system in full, one fundamental is that ethics is a personal thing. While there is a thing called justice as practiced by states and governments, ethics in its purest sense relates to the individual and the decisions he or she makes in order to make life better for oneself and others.

Another fundamental is that, as you get a bit bigger, you must assign someone as the officer in charge of workplace ethics. This isn’t a “cop” in the sense you might imagine. He’s really there to help people with their jobs and his responsibilities extend to establishing a smooth-running workplace and making sure people know how to do their jobs in the first place.

Another basic point is to make sure people know the rules. Having vague or unpublished rules collecting dust in a desk does nothing. The rules must be clear and people have to read and understand them.

Most importantly, people are expected to maintain a high level of productivity. A lot of problems simply disappear when you are production-oriented. And we don’t tolerate people spreading nasty little rumors about a co-worker. If someone has a problem with an associate, they take it up with them directly.

2. How does one maintain fairness when life is so unfair?

Many years ago, before I found my calling so to speak, I was in a competitive sales environment. I was good at it and was the top salesman for General Motors. Detroit had a vibrant economy based largely on the automotive industry. But it eventually got out-competed by foreign markets in the cutthroat world that is big business. Life is competitive and you’ve got to be tough to survive. Sports are great because they teach healthy competition. Despite how rough life can get, the code I live by states that you should always treat others the way you’d like to be treated. This is the “Golden Rule” taught in societies and religions all over the world.

Part of the curriculum at Best Drug Rehabilitation is a book called The Way To Happiness. It is a non-religious moral code based on common sense. It contains 21 precepts (rules of conduct) that anyone can relate to. It transcends all religious, racial and cultural boundaries because it is based on fundamentals common to everyone. A basic tenet of the book is that you treat others as you’d like to be treated and refrain from doing things you wouldn’t want done to you.

About 100 million copies of the The Way To Happiness have been distributed in 97 languages and 170 countries around the world. In Colombia, where hundreds of thousands of copies of the booklet were handed out, authorities recorded a 90% drop in kidnappings, a 40% drop in violent crime, and a 50% drop in homicides.

The statement “what goes around comes around” is a pretty basic concept that most people innately understand. There’s nothing wrong with competition in the spirit of fair play and goodwill. Life is often unfair, but when you live by a code of fairness and equity, combined with ingenuity and hard work, you can’t help but prosper. I try to exemplify this in all I do.

3. How do you maintain a level of high productivity?

Here’s a comparison: Drugs are classed into two main categories: Stimulants & Depressants. A person using stimulants (cocaine, meth, etc.) is seeking, to one degree or another, energy and clarity. A person using depressants (opiates, Xanax, etc.) is looking for calmness and serenity. In using these drugs they may achieve a chemically-induced version of these states. But it is temporary and they also get the opposite of what they sought. They get unbearable bouts of anxiety, paranoia, lethargy and depression. It doesn’t quite work out in the long run.

In life we seek these things: Energy. Clarity. Calmness. Serenity. People drink a lot of coffee, knock down energy drinks, use “brain training” websites, drink herbal teas, spend a day at the spa, get up early and watch the sunrise – and a zillion other things in an attempt to achieve a better state of mind and body. Some of these approaches work and are natural and healthy. I push for the natural and healthy versions both professionally and personally.

PRODUCTIVITY means producing a PRODUCT at a high level of quantity and quality. The Hubbard administrative technology contains a wealth of practical knowledge on the subject of productivity. For example, a product does not only mean a commodity. Any position in any organization is responsible for a specific product that forwards the overall purpose of the organization. A product is to be C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E-D. It is not something half-done or left for someone else to complete. This principle is unbelievably basic, yet is continually violated in countless organizations.

That was one example but there are a vast number of administrative principles we apply, from the structure of the organization and strategic planning to workplace ethics and statistical management.

4. How do you handle goals and planning?

Anyone with good business sense knows that setting goals and making plans is essential for success. But this is even more of a science than you may think. We do strategic planning and formulate detailed plans for expansion with very clearly delineated steps. The planning is broken down into specific projects for each department. These are further broken down into “targets” for each staff member. Each staff member in turn draws up a weekly and daily list of what they intend to do that accomplishes their personal targets and forwards the overall strategy.

Staff meetings and briefings are essential to make all this work smoothly. When all these components align, we get a uniformity of action and everyone working in the same direction. But along with this, individual initiative and judgment are vital to the equation. Factually, this type of planning and cooperative action is what is enabling us to expand and help more people. It’s truly widening the playing field.

5. How do you make sure people know how to do their jobs?

We do a lot of training. Each person wears a “hat” and they must know how to “wear the hat”. They must know the purpose of the position, its specialized technology and how it integrates with other hats and the entire group. When people know how to do their jobs, they feel much more secure and confident. We also have a lot less needless disputes and disagreements because people know what they’re doing. A lot of organizations hire people based on their previous schooling and experience, but I have found this to have limited application.

There are some areas like IT or telecommunications where I’d tend to want someone already trained and skilled. But with many positions we look instead for core qualities such as a strong work ethic, the willingness to learn, and a drive for helping others. A certain percentage of people are simply “trained wrong” to begin with. A degree does not always translate into the real world the way you think it should. Even the people at Google realize this. We provide training and materials so people know what to do and can do it.

6. How important is money?

Money is a means to an end and that’s about it. There’s nothing wrong with making money and providing a high standard of living for yourself and your family. I consider it an American responsibility in fact. But if all you’re after is money you’ll wind up with a hollow life. I donate a lot to charities, non-profit initiatives and community projects. I also believe the know-how of prosperity should be available to anyone, so I provide training to clients and staff in the administrative tools and principles that we use at Best Drug Rehabilitation and A Forever Recovery. Too many people don’t make enough money because they simply don’t know how, so I’ve been putting out a lot of articles on entrepreneurship in an effort to point people in the right direction.

Most people’s immediate concern is for themselves and their family, and that makes total sense. But as you expand your awareness, you may begin to notice things in society that need fixing. You can ignore the storm for only so long. Sooner or later it’s going to knock down your door or blow out your windows. The heavy weather out there takes many forms, such as a rigged economic system and rampant drug abuse.

I’ve observed two major types of constructive purposes when it comes to the world at large: The first is to remove something negative from society – such as crime, war, and the “normality” of psychotropic drugging of children in the name of “making them better”. The second is to create something positive within society – such as education, art, and the elevation of wisdom in a cynical and technological age. Either of these – removing something negative and creating something positive – are far higher than the purpose to merely “make money”.

7. How important is a good home life?

Most of the people who walk through our doors for rehabilitation have friends and family that really care about them. The family is the building block of society. Anything that strengthens the family will strengthen society itself. When a home is broken, those within it have the responsibility to work to repair it if at all possible. Unfortunately, some relationships are too toxic to reassemble, but I have found these to be in the minority. The family unit can be put back together for the mutual benefit and survival of all concerned.

In my personal life, I make a point to create a stable and supportive home environment. My wife makes me a better person and this fuels all the work I do. I still live in the Midwest where I was born and raised. The phrase “family values” has perhaps been overused, but I like to think it still means something, and I know a lot of great people around here who exemplify what that’s all about. Support from family and friends is a crucial element not just in recovery but in anything one is doing to make a better life.

8. How useful is “fun”?

If it’s not fun, why even bother? Want to know what the enemy of fun is? It’s “seriousness”. When you are too serious, you get more and more “solid” – like a brick or a rock. People who are too serious communicate with solid objects instead of words and ideas. They communicate with fists, bricks, bullets and bombs. The world we live in can be extremely serious, no doubt about it. But that does not mean we must be endlessly serious along with it.

When work is fun, it ceases to be work and guess what? You get more done! Fun, productivity and accomplishment all go together. In our work environment, we keep things moving at a brisk pace, we try not to be too serious, we get tons of stuff done AND we have a lot of fun in the process! If you’re doing what you love, what you’re meant to do, you can’t help but have fun.

9. What role does religion play in your work?

That is an interesting question. I don’t try to convert anyone to any religion. I openly encourage people to follow the faith of their choosing. A philosophic system I hold in great esteem, called Scientology (which can be defined as “study of knowing” or “science of knowledge”) teaches to respect the religious beliefs of others. Fighting about religion is one of the worst ideas I could possibly think of. All religions have the goal of increased spiritual awareness and the achievement of one’s full potential. There is truth in all religions, so when someone is pursuing their faith, they are pursuing truth.

We apply technologies developed by Mr. Hubbard in a secular (non-religious) context. Some people find that difficult to grasp, so here’s a comparison: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” – The Bible (Mark: 12:31). Anyone on earth of any affiliation, religious or not, could benefit from that statement. It’s pretty basic and echoes the Golden Rule I mentioned earlier. It’s also phrased in The Way To Happiness, which was written by Mr. Hubbard as a non-religious code of conduct. We provide education and training in how to get along better in life, but no one has to “believe” anything. It’s all in the spirit of practical knowledge.

10. Can people really take control of their lives?

“I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

Those are the last two lines from a poem entitled “Invictus” (Latin for “undefeated” or “unconquered”) written by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). The poem has reportedly been an inspiration to leaders, freedom fighters and even sports team captains throughout the last century – an attestation to the power of words and ideas. You can lose a battle, lose a game, lose a job, even lose a person but the only time you have really lost is when you have given up. I believe I can speak from experience when I say something like that.

I’ve seen thousands of people regain hope and purpose when those words meant absolutely nothing to them. People who lost friends or family to overdose or suicide, who alienated their families and got kicked out on the street, who were reduced to stealing, hustling and worse, all to get a fix – all these people, young and old, recovered and found renewed strength and purpose for living. Even when someone relapses, there is always something that can be done to repair the situation.

The more knowledge, the more skill, the more compassion, and the more wisdom we obtain and exemplify, the more it becomes clear that each of us are the masters of our own fate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rehabilitation of the Artist

 “Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
― Langston Hughes

Rehabilitating a Culture

The Rehabilitation of the Artist

Rehabilitation of the Artist

Imagine a world without the artist, without music, without storytelling, without painting, without photography, without design and creativity. The artist looks to the future and builds a new society with each note, each rhyme, each line of verse and prose, and every brushstroke of brilliance. Without the work of artists we’d be forced to live in a wasteland. We’d be lost to all creation. It’s hard to imagine such a place. The artist plays a fundamental role in a culture. The artist rehabilitates society. But who will rehabilitate the artist? Anyone, from any walk of life, who is struggling with addiction, should be helped to kick the habit. Through a program of detoxification and rehabilitation, we facilitate recovery and point the way to a drug-free and successful life. We do this one person at time. Concurrently, we work to educate youth on the truth about drugs so they make informed and intelligent decisions. The more momentum, he more we’ll see the positive results in our communities and society at large. It is a substantial undertaking, consisting of several major components. One utterly essential part is the rehabilitation of the artist.

Losing Artists to Drugs

The entertainment industry is no stranger to casualties. It’s a rough business. But I personally am sick and tired of hearing about another artist succumbing to drug abuse, being found dead in a hotel room. We’ve lost some of our great artists to illicit and prescription drug use. Heath Ledger was on a “cocktail” of opioids and benzodiazepines. Called polypharmacy, it’s blatant chemical abuse with a Rx slip to make it legal. Amy Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning. And recently we lost one of our great actors to heroin. There are artists throughout society, some of them famous, some not, some of whom you may be close to, some of whom may even be in your family – and too many of them are up against drug abuse and addiction. When the artist suffers, our culture suffers. That’s just the way it is. When artists flourish, the society can’t help but benefit.

Art as Catalyst for Change

The diverse ways in which art affects the forward motion of a culture are incalculable. In the wake of the Middle Ages and its superstitions, the Renaissance period, which began in Italy around the 14th century, signified a cultural shift led by painters, sculptors, writers and free thinkers, as well as technological developments like the invention of metal moveable type which hastened the dissemination of more progressive ways of viewing the world. Legendary figures included Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and an impressive list of artists, composers, architects, mathematicians, philosophers, explorers and navigators. The 1920’s in New York City saw the rise of a literary and cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, led by African-American intellectuals, writers, artists and musicians. The movement established a black cultural identity and helped set the stage for civil rights in America. Notable figures included W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Augusta Savage, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. The 1960’s and the Civil Rights Movement brought seismic shifts in our culture, led by courageous leaders and principled people all over the country and in the South in particular. But the movement was preceded and augmented by an undercurrent of change: Music! Black artists, notably Ray Charles, Little Richard and Chuck Berry, were introducing millions of white kids to music rooted in gospel and rhythm and blues. Later called Rock & Roll, it brought people together as only music could. But as always, the new clashed with the old. The cultural shift was dramatic and the tension palpable, as Little Richard remarked: “We played places where they told us not to come back, because the kids got so wild. They were tearing up the streets and throwing bottles and jumping off the theater balconies at shows. At that time, the white kids had to be up in the balcony — they were ‘white spectators.’ But then they’d leap over the balcony to get downstairs where the black kids were.” The prevailing theme is that, ultimately, artists bring people together! They break down cultural barriers and get people to realize just how alike they are. They manage the trick, as only an artist can, of fusing people together while recognizing each person’s uniqueness and celebrating our differences and diversity.

Art and Society

There is no doubt that art has a profoundly positive effect on our culture. But in certain ways it can also have a negative effect. Some would seek to emphasize this. They take their aim at artists for the type of art they create. The late 1960’s saw a heavy influx of psychedelic drugs into America. And not surprisingly, drug use in the culture was reflected in much of the music. While that was unfortunate, if you’re a pop or rock music buff, you know that the 60’s saw some of the best music ever made: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones – the list goes on and on. If you lived the 60’s, or if you’ve listened to Sergeant Pepper or seen the Woodstock film, you know that LSD and drug use were woven throughout the decade. But do we target the artist? While one could argue that Grand Theft Auto (the video game) serves no redeeming social value, it was nonetheless created by some proficient artists and programmers. While one could complain that Miley Cyrus has not been setting a stellar example for young girls, she is undoubtedly a gifted performer. She’s also a great example of shrewd marketing and rebranding. Regardless of your stance, putting the artist in the crosshairs is pointless and violates the purpose of art in society. Art is art. It reflects life. Help an artist with their life and it will tend to reflect positively in their art.

Art and the Economy

Artists also have a profound effect on economics. Artists, who devote their lives to art and may not make much money, move into low income areas, including old warehouse districts. Gradually they attract more and more artists and raise the overall aesthetic level of the area. You start seeing more local shops and galleries opening and even a reduction in crime. Business people and investors take notice and thus the advent of more upscale apartments, restaurants, etc. It’s called gentrification and it has both positive and negative connotations. Rent, property values and taxes go up which has the effect of pushing some long-term residents out of the area. But it can also be done with sensitivity to the neighborhood’s history and inhabitants, especially where locals are involved in the process. Gentrification takes place at various levels all over the country. Brooklyn, New York is a well-known example. And it’s starting to happen in my hometown, Detroit. In a section downtown, once shuttered buildings are getting fixed up and new businesses are opening. Overall, these changes are good and Detroit needs people investing in its future while remaining loyal to its history.

Peaceful Revolution

The artist is a peaceful revolutionary against the status quo. When people are stuck in their old prejudices and superstitions, it’s the writers, the poets and the painters that snap them out of it, that get people thinking in new ways, that offer a new look at the world. Often their efforts are co-opted by those only interested in making a buck or forwarding an ideology. But no matter what, the artist will remain a free thinker. I’ve seen too many young and gifted people burn out from drugs. Some are under the impression that they have to use drugs to be creative. They think differently when drugs have thoroughly messed up their lives. On the other hand, I’ve seen what happens when they are freed from the chemical and emotional stranglehold of drugs. I’ve witnessed the resurgence of creative thought and action, where they reboot their art and it takes on new depth.

The Creative Spark

I consider it a strong part of our purpose to rehabilitate artists and help them succeed. I also know that in anyone there can be a hidden artist trying to get out. Anyone can have that creative spark to make music or write or paint. But creativity can take on many forms. Anyone can be an artist in some respect. Whether it’s being a skilled craftsman, a reliable mother or father, a neighborhood revitalizer or a voice of reason – anyone can make being alive into an art! At Best Drug Rehabilitation and A Forever Recovery, our aim is to help people live up to their true potential and help rid the world of the scourge of drugs and addiction. We certainly can’t do it alone. Artists play a vital role. They dream the dreams. They create a new reality. Let’s help them out, shall we?

Sources:

  1. http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/harlem-renaissance
  2. http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/36910.Langston_Hughes
  3. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-artists-of-all-time-19691231/little-richard-20110420
  4. http://archive.freep.com/article/20140821/OPINION05/308210050/gentrification-Detroit

The Importance of Ethics in Our Lives

Good vs. Evil

Importance of EthicsEveryone knows you’re supposed to be a good person, be honest and treat people as you wish to be treated. That’s why we always root for the good guys in the movies and want the bad guys to get blown up or go to jail. But in the real world it’s not black and white anymore. The picture we see is a very different color indeed. We keep hearing news stories about corporate treachery, government corruption, injustice in the courts, the good guys losing and the bad guys getting away scot-free. People get cynical and start to think that good cannot possibly triumph over evil because evil keeps winning. But I’m here to tell you that things like honesty, dignity, justice, integrity and ethics are not dead. They are in fact absolutely necessary for your continued survival.

Justice vs. Injustice

Justice gets a bad name because of something called injustice. It’s bad enough when a crime is committed, but seeing the culprit get away is worse, and seeing an innocent person go to jail instead is unbearable. People get the idea that all justice is injustice and so anything even resembling justice is not trusted. Here is an example:

A Brief History of Hate

Shortly after the Civil War and the abolition of state-sanctioned slavery in America, a few Confederate veterans formed a little club called the Ku Klux Klan, KKK for short. It quickly evolved into a vigilante hate group that used intimidation, arson, beatings, whippings, lynching and murder of black citizens in an effort to forward white supremacy.

In the decades that followed, the KKK went through several incarnations in the South and elsewhere, continuing to preach hate under the guise of being God-fearing and honorable Americans. When the Klan’s white-cloaked murderers ever happened to go to trial, which was not often, they would avoid conviction. Why? Not just because of culturally entrenched racism, but because the law enforcement officers involved, jurors, and even the judge were often members of the KKK! This made any justice impossible.

By the 1960’s, the primary focus of the Klan’s most violent members was to crush the Civil Rights Movement through terrorism. A number of bombings and killings and a corrupted legal system made for an atmosphere of outrage.

The 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church resulted in the deaths of four black girls. Despite the heinous nature of the crime, no one was initially convicted. The case was reopened years later with previously suppressed evidence, and the perpetrator was convicted and sent to prison in 1977. A second suspect died in 1994. The remaining two co-conspirators were sentenced to prison nearly 40 years after the crime.

Despite the opposition, despite the hate that had been engrained for centuries, those fighting for basic human rights never gave up their cause. They succeeded in changing the whole landscape in America. I’ve spoken to a number of men and women who were part of that movement and I’m always impressed and inspired by the example they set.

Injustice in Your Life

While that was a high-profile example and history runs red with unimaginable cruelty and injustice, I am sure you can think of examples more close to home. You got penalized for raiding the cookie jar when you weren’t anywhere near the scene of the crime. A narrow-minded teacher sent you to the principal’s office for speaking your mind. Your friends disowned you because you expressed an independent thought. Someone else got the scholarship by cheating. Your house was foreclosed on because of forces utterly beyond your control. You got fired for no reason whatsoever.

All these injustices pile up and you can feel as though it is pointless to be honest and ethical. In truth, it is even more important to be ethical in moments of adversity. When times are tough, consider it a test of your resolve to remain true to your innate sense of ethics. Consider those that have endured far far worse and kept their integrity intact. Think of those who are attacked for speaking the truth because they live in places where their rights are denied. Then look at your situation and decide what is right.

A Code of Conduct

What is missing from many people’s lives is a code of conduct. Certain professions, such as medicine, law, and journalism are supposed to abide by a very specific code of conduct. But in our day-to-day lives, how are we supposed to conduct ourselves? What is our code? Religions provide codes of conduct, but it is difficult, not to mention unwise, to try and push the tenets of one religion onto someone of another religion (or no religion). People have gone to war over such things for millennia.

But what if there was a non-religious moral code that anyone could understand and follow and do better in life as a result? One does in fact exist, called The Way To Happiness. Here’s the link: www.thewaytohappiness.org.

It’s Personal

If you decide to conduct yourself in an ethical fashion, it will be because you decided to. No one can do it for you. If someone is considered a threat to others, like a thief or someone giving drugs to school kids, the “system” may attempt to correct or remove that person. But throughout your life and every day, you are faced with decisions, big and small, that affect your well-being and that of others. Your ethics, your integrity, is entirely yours. It’s a personal thing. You answer to you. You look you in the mirror. You call yourself on the carpet to coin a phrase. Get the idea?

Otherness

People who are so self-serving that they neglect or victimize others have a problem called “otherness”. Otherness, in this sense, means that one considers others as being different or “other” than oneself. It is at the root of racism in fact. A man sees another man with a different shade of skin or with different customs and he is unable to make a connection. He hears about a bomb being dropped on the other man’s house, and because he conceives the man as different or separate he feels no emotion about it. As the condition deteriorates, he conceives the other man as some kind of threat and actively seeks his destruction. This mindset of ignorance and hate gets passed on from generation to generation.

Such a mindset is more prevalent than you may imagine and exists in subtle forms all around us. We are blasted with the “news” and how “bad” it all is. The millions watching do so in a detached sort of way, like it’s all “over there” and “they” will take care of it anyway. When you change your way of thinking, you come to realize that there is no miraculous “them” that will take care of it. It’s down to you and it’s down to me, to take on some of the responsibility, to help make this a better place to live.

The myth of otherness drops away when you fully realize the role of responsibility in your life. We are all in this together – you, me, those who live down the street and the people half a world away. If you felt a pain in your shoulder every time you hit someone else in the shoulder, you’d get the idea. We are all interconnected and we rely on one another for mutual support and survival. So the next time you are faced with a decision, which will likely be today, keep that in mind.

Responsibility & Understanding

When people are in mystery about something, when they do not understand it, they will tend to lash out against it. It has only been in the last few hundred years that mankind has been looking to science and reason for practical answers rather than letting superstition and prejudice dominate their lives. But we’ve obviously still got a long way to go. When someone doesn’t know how to solve a problem or deal with a situation, he may resort to unusual “solutions”. He may use drugs to escape it. He may attack it with irrational accusations. He may detach from it and pretend it is “over there”.

But if he really understood the problem, the chances are far higher he’ll approach it rationally and effectively. That’s why we provide communication training, life skills training, literacy and educational resources as part of rehabilitation. Right along with ethics and integrity training, we help our clients develop the skillset to confront the challenges posed by life. Anyone, not just a rehab client, can greatly benefit from developing this skillset. Responsibility and understanding work together in all strata of life.

Mutual Trust

One of the fundamentals of ethics and responsibility is TRUST. If we cannot trust one another, we undermine the building blocks of human relations. In a business or commerce setting, we expect people to keep their word and deliver what was promised. Anything you agree to do, you should live up to your word and do it.

I’m not trying to preach from the pulpit or even the soapbox, but I am emphasizing the importance of trust. If you tell your kid, your spouse, your business partner or anyone else that you’ll take care of something, by all means take care of it. You can then expect the same from others and you’ll be more prosperous and happier as a result. More than a building block, it’s more like the bedrock.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

“What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em!” is a false statement. It is used by those who hurt people and do not wish to be found out. What you don’t know could hurt you most of all.

If you didn’t know that multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical corporations teamed up with global marketing firms to market mental “illnesses” direct to the consumer and to doctors through media and professional channels, and if you didn’t know that these same companies marketed the drugs to “treat” these illnesses, and if you didn’t know that they spent millions of dollars on greasing the FDA to fast track their drugs onto the market and more millions to settle and hush up lawsuits when their drugs are found to cause more harm than good – if you didn’t know all these things you might be amongst the millions of Americans paying their hard-earned dollars (or using their insurance) for mind-altering drugs and putting their children on mind-altering drugs.

Around 50 million Americans are using psychiatric drugs. Global sales of antidepressants, psycho-stimulants, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic drugs exceed $76 billion a year – more than double what the US government spends per year to fight the war on illicit drugs.

You’d like more understanding so you can take more responsibility for the situation, right? Here’s a site with real facts and real answers: www.cchr.org.

So, yeah, what you don’t know can hurt you. But if that’s true, the reverse is true: The truth will set you free!

Summary

We live in a society where ethics and integrity have largely fallen out of people’s consciousness. They are misunderstood subjects. In reality they are very simple subjects, but they’ve been made complicated and frightening by individuals and groups that specialize in complicating things and instilling fear. You may think it is slightly odd that I mentioned the KKK and pharmaceutical companies in the same article. Well I can assure you it was on purpose. There is one difference between the two however: Big Pharma has better stock options. But no matter how big, they will sooner or later fall because they are based on lies.

The strength within us is immeasurable. I for one have faith in people because I see how they can rise from the ashes. Want to change the world? We can do it, but it starts with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Recognize the Warning Signs of Substance Abuse?

Drugs, Lies and Truth

Substance AbuseIf you suspect a friend or loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, the first thing to do is ask them outright. In countless cases, they will not tell you the truth right off the bat. People using drugs, and in fact people in general, have various “automatic” responses they use in order to deflect others’ questioning or investigation. So they’ll lie and make up a story that seems believable.

They’ll say they mixed liquor with beer but neglect to mention the handful of pills they took. They’ll tell you on the phone that they’re no longer connected to a drug dealer when they’re on the way to that very dealer’s house.

A young woman – an ex-drug user with an alcoholic, gang-affiliated husband who is in jail because he beat her and totaled her car – will tell you how she’s filing for divorce as soon as she gets the money to do so, yet it turns out she smoked pot yesterday and suddenly misses her husband.

That last one is a real example I just heard about from some friends in another city. My point is that you can be gullible and believe what the drug user says and you’ll sincerely regret it later. It is not that anyone is a “bad” person. It’s just that the problem is wrapped up in lies and deception. There are ways to break it down and get someone to tell the truth. It starts by making sure they know it is safe for them to tell you anything, and I do mean anything.

Warning Signs

You should also be able to spot the warning signs of substance abuse. Here is a list of some of the major ones. Not every one of these means the person is using drugs, but they constitute things to be watchful for, especially when several are present. Also included is information on signs and effects associated with specific drugs:

General Signs of Drug Use:

  • Bloodshot, glassy eyes
  • Dilated (widened) pupils
  • Constricted (narrowed) pupils
  • Eyes dart about; inability to focus
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors; impaired motor skills
  • Odd smells on person, clothing or breath
  • Sinus congestion; runny nose
  • Erratic behavior or attitude; euphoric high to dismal low
  • Disinterest and withdrawal from friends or family
  • Continued association with drug users
  • Secretive behavior; hiding drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • Lack of personal grooming and hygiene
  • Changes in sleeping patterns; up at night, sleeps in day
  • Loss of interest in goals or the future
  • A “nothing really matters” attitude
  • Neglect of work or school
  • Relationship problems; neglect of spouse or children
  • Promiscuity, careless sexual behavior; uses sex for money or drugs
  • Stealing; criminal activity

Marijuana:

  • Compulsive eating; “the munchies”
  • Red, glazed over or squinted eyes; inability to keep eyes open
  • Dry mouth
  • Sickly sweet smell on person or clothing
  • Uncontrolled laughter; laughs at virtually anything
  • Cognitive impairment, stupidity; short-term memory loss
  • Lethargy, laziness
  • Impaired motor skills and coordination
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • General disinterest or lack of motivation

Heroin & Other Opiates (codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc.):

  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Constricted pupils
  • Euphoria
  • Slowed breathing and motor skills
  • Heavy, dopey feeling; nodding off
  • Itching, scratching
  • Nausea, vomiting; constipation
  • Sexual dysfunction; impotence in men
  • Spontaneous abortion in pregnant women
  • Infections; lowered immunity
  • Arms covered with long sleeves due to injection; users may inject anywhere on  the body
  • Abscesses and infections
  • Withdrawal symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, flu-like symptoms
  • Overdose of heroin and other opiates can cause respiratory depression (loss of breathing), coma and death, as well as asphyxiation on one’s one vomit

Ecstasy (MDMA):

  • Dilated pupils
  • Distorted perception: sight, sound, tactile
  • Heightened energy level (associated with stimulants)
  • Euphoric perception of music, light, color
  • Abnormally friendly
  • Teeth clenching
  • Muscle cramping
  • Nausea
  • Chills; sweating
  • Anxiety; depression; confusion; paranoia
  • Overheating which can be fatal

Cocaine:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose; nosebleeds
  • Burned or cracked lips or fingers (from smoking crack cocaine)
  • Excessively talkative or nonsensical
  • Euphoria
  • Cognitive impairment; delusion
  • Confusion; anxiety; paranoia
  • Aggressive, violent behavior
  • Accelerated heart rate; cardiac arrest
  • Depression; apathy; suicidal behavior
  • Intense cravings; psychological addiction

Methamphetamine:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating; shaking
  • Confusion; paranoia
  • Lack of appetite; extreme weight loss
  • Tooth decay, oral sores (“meth mouth”)
  • Extreme excitement; delusional sense of power
  • Awake for extended periods, followed by a crash of excessive sleep and depression
  • Loss of self-control
  • Aggression; anxiety
  • Delusion; vivid hallucinations
  • Violent behavior
  • Extreme itching and feeling as though bugs are crawling under the skin
  • Self-mutilation
  • Dependence, addiction
  • Psychosis

Drugs as “Solutions”

Drug use ranges from the “recreational” user to the addict. Dependence and addiction are also increasingly the result of medical and psychiatric prescriptions. The more someone uses drugs to “solve” their problems, the more the lines blur between the user and the addict. A drug user may claim they’re not addicted, but can they stop? And do they stop?

When an addict does manage to quit, do not automatically assume they will no longer use again. Why? If they are still associated with drug users and dealers they could easily relapse. But it can be much more subtle than that. If they were using drugs to escape problems and pain in their lives (which is certain), and if the problems and pain return (which is likely), and they have no other solutions at their disposal, they are more than likely to use again.

Half Measures Won’t Do

A family can attempt to treat the drug user in their own home, and it will take more time, more effort and more resources than they might have imagined, and with uncertain results. The ideal solution is to remove the individual from the environment that exacerbates substance abuse. Inpatient recovery is usually the optimum solution, as it effectuates an all-immersive environment – one in which the addict is helped to reconcile the causes and the results of their drug problem. As a note, the underlying issues can run very deep: child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual abuse, broken homes – anything in the range of human experience could be a contributing factor to the multi-faceted reality of substance abuse.

A recovering addict needs understanding and patience, as well as a clearly delineated and structured environment. And perhaps most importantly, he or she must be prepared for post-rehab life, enabled and empowered to solve life’s myriad difficulties on their own steam.

 

 

Don’t Be a Pawn in The Game

Someone Else’s Game

Pawn in the GameFar too many people are pawns in someone else’s game without realizing it or caring about it. You, on the other hand, may feel you are not living up to your full potential and wish to change it. Observing the truth, whatever that may be, good or bad, is the first step. Feeling like a pawn on a chess board or a cog in an unthinking machine can take many forms. Being chemically addicted is a devastating form of slavery and those caught in that thrall need some help to break out.

Forms of Slavery

But there are other forms of servitude – economic slavery being one of the most omnipresent. Relying on a fixed income with no immediate prospects for improvement, unable to pay the bills or just squeaking by, is all too common – and it just won’t do when you have a family to support.

Some simply feel trapped in a treadmill of tedium, boredom, apathy and other negative emotions. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, I’ve been dealing with some of the more dramatic aspects of “being human” for the better part of two decades, working to help people out of deadly traps – many of which they laid themselves! Here is some insight for jumping off the chess board and into the driver’s seat:

The Impracticality of Dreams

You may have had a dream a while back but abandoned it due to its impracticality. Well, who said it was impractical? Maybe you’re caught up in paying the bills now and can’t afford to chase your dreams. I say you can’t afford NOT to chase them – impracticality be damned! You’ve still got to pay the bills and all that, but I have found that if you pick your dream back up, your energy level increases and you get more done in less time. No matter the outcome, what lights the fire in your eyes? Do that!

Bound by Money

Are you bound by money? If so, making more will bust you out. Cutting costs and knocking out waste is important but only goes so far. The answer is always to make more money. I’ve found the entrepreneurial spirit to be a potent force in society. Too many people think that if they can just “get hired for the right job” they’ll be in the clear. While that works for some, relying on that system is fatally flawed. You’re putting your fate in someone else’s hands. To break free, rethink your role: How can you generate more money? What are you able to produce and deliver? What do people need? What do they want? What problems can you help solve? Make a list of some potential ideas, pick a field and start working on it.

Sense of Integrity

You are the one chaining yourself down when you violate your own sense of personal integrity. You have an innate sense of right and wrong. When you look in the mirror, you know if you’ve stayed true to that or not. We all make mistakes – big ones! Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying. The cool part of it is that ultimately you don’t really answer to others. You answer to yourself! You answer to your own inner voice of logic, responsibility and reason. You do the right thing on your own determination.

When you’re in doubt, talk it out with someone you trust. But in the end it’s your decision that you’ll have to live with. It’s a sobering process that yields greater happiness when you stay true to your own integrity. And if you mess up, you can still fix it. It’s never too late to make a change.

Rising Above the Game

There are three ways of operating. The first is based upon what OTHERS direct and decide. The second is oriented around what YOU decide. But there is a third level which is above both of those: It’s when you are ABOVE the game, you see BOTH sides, you act not just for your own benefit but for the good of ALL concerned.

Look at some of the great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. They were fighting injustice and inequality, but they did so without stooping to the level of their enemies. Instead of being a piece on a chess board, and instead of being a one-sided opponent or combatant, see how you can rise above and pervade both sides. Can you see both sides in the game? Can you exert influence and efficacy over multiple points of view? The great generals could see from the viewpoint of their enemy. In a constructive sense, can you see from the eyes of another? Practice this and you may be surprised at how enlightening it can be.

Build Your Strengths

Those inclined to wage war conceive that compassion is the same as weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Compassion is strength. Competence and determination are also strengths. The “universe” and forces within in it will attempt to exploit any weakness you may have. However, concentrating too much on weaknesses brings more weakness. Concentrating on strengths yields more strength. Work on your strengths and you’ll notice your weaknesses falling away. Life is tough but you are tougher.

Everyone Has Problems

Was the man on the bus obnoxious to you? Was your boss in a bad mood today? Was your spouse or your kids particularly ornery? Recognize that everyone has problems. A lot of people have trouble just getting through the day without elaborate mental gymnastics and a few shots of whisky. And they take it out on other people! They take it out on you! Perhaps you’ve done the same? I’m not saying it’s correct or rational – far from it! But just knowing that the people around you are experiencing the full gamut of human travail and drama helps put it all in perspective. You’re not alone.

Selling Conflict & Fear

I don’t usually get into politics, but I will say this: You’re not ONE thing. You don’t have to be left or right, democrat or republican. The media tells you that you should be one or the other. Why not just be YOU? Want to know why the media does this? To keep conflict going – this side vs. that side, us vs. them. It’s an intentional distraction to keep your mind off the things that really matter.

But it goes way beyond the false science of politics. The mass media and marketing machine tells you you’re sick and depressed, you have OCD, you’re bipolar, your kids have ADHD, and you’re solution is to “manage” this with psychotropic drugs. Why does the “media” back this up? Because they wouldn’t dare betray their sponsors – those that support them through paid advertising for those very drugs. They sell the disease along with its drug. They sell you fear and conflict. Open your eyes to these facts and you’ll feel less shackled and more YOU!

Striking a Balance

When you’re feeling overburdened, look at the PARTS of your life – and if they align and balance one with another. Specifically: you as an individual, your health, your family, your job and groups to which you belong, your neighborhood, your country, and even the human race. This extends even further to such sweeping things as our ecosystem, the planet, spirituality and God. All these are PARTS of LIFE. When they are out of balance, you get disharmony. When they do not align, you can feel considerably weighed down.

An example:

You spend a lot of extra time at work and not enough time with the family; your spouse is then upset and there’s a lot of tension; you feel pressured and on edge. So you discuss the matter and go over the fact that you’ve got to support the household. And you work out some ways to spend some quality family time; meanwhile you start a new family project for upping the income. You strike some balance so you and yours are moving in the same direction.

Another example:

A man is a devoted husband and father, but he can’t stop drinking. He’s sick and his problem wreaks havoc on his body, mind, family, career and his overall spirit. He’s got to tackle the problem for the sake of himself and all the constituents of his life. He should get help.

The Creative Impulse

The desire to create something beautiful, to communicate at a higher level, to make others’ lives better, to build something that will last, to effect positive change – all fall within the creative impulse. It so happens that artists and creative people are the most targeted by individuals who seek to keep others down. Such people (known as “haters”) see a threat in creative minds and efforts.

Perhaps you had the desire to create or build something of value and you were cut down dramatically or subtly. These incidents have a depressive effect upon you. It’s time to recognize that your intentions are legitimate, stoke the fires of creativity and let your unique voice be heard. Only the haters with their questionable intentions will complain. And their dishonorable words will disappear like dirt in a rainstorm.

Attitude & Approach

How you approach things does matter. If you’ve already decided that you’ll fail, don’t be surprised what happens. Believe it or not, one of your biggest enemies is “seriousness”. Too many people are so solid and serious that they get in their own way. The world can be a serious place and you can be involved in something highly critical – but that doesn’t mean you must be serious all the time. It’s OK to fluctuate emotionally; just be sure to rise up after having fallen. Your attitude and approach are more important than you may think.

The Power of Productivity

For a better state of mind, increase your output. Put in some overtime. Get double the work done. You’ll feel better. In business and managing an organization, productivity and morale are closely linked. The same goes for life in general. If you think that the more leisure you have, the happier you’ll be, you are mistaken. The harder you work and the more you accomplish, the more you’ll enjoy your free time.

Give & Take

A great leader is also a great follower. Being good at “positive control” means you have no problem being positively controlled. To command others means you are serving those whom you command. This is the give and take of life. If you feel overly stressed, something could be awry in this arena.

Give and take, aka exchange, is also the foundation of commerce. Whatever you’re doing, you’re giving or taking something. Exchange with others, interchange of commodities or ideas, are all closely intertwined with integrity and responsibility. For your own prosperity, it is vital to develop and maintain balance with these forces.

Rise from the Ashes

A friend of mine, a former meth addict, now operates an expanding online sales and distribution business, makes 300K a year, is married and has a perfectly healthy young son. And he’s currently on vacation in Florida. He met his wife in rehab. They rose from the ashes. I love stories like these because they prove the resilience of the human spirit. You need not be bound by your circumstances or your past. It takes hard work. It takes getting back up after you fall. Anyone can rise from the ashes.

 

 

How You Can Create Your Own Road Map to Success

Mapping the Future

Road Map to SuccessLook at some ancient maps or even those that are a few hundred years old and you’ll notice their startling inaccuracy. They are out of proportion and do not mark the terrain and coastlines properly. Plus they fade out when approaching unexplored territory. Early European maps included images of sea serpents on the way to the void that would later be discovered as the Americas. They also thought the world was flat and you’d fall off the edge if you ventured too far.

In our modern age we have cartography down to the micrometer. We’ve got global positioning and any citizen can punch their GPS icon and plan their trip anywhere in the world in an instant. The early explorers did their best with the technology and tools they had. We’ve come a long way since then.

It’s not too dissimilar when it comes to forging personal prosperity. We now have an unprecedented tool kit for mapping our way to security and success. Nonetheless, it is in the spirit of an old time explorer that we forge ahead and seek to stake our claim of the American Dream, the Global Village or whatever we’re calling it these days.

Whether we’re talking about your career, entrepreneurship or “life” itself, it is necessary to have a destination and a road map. We call the destination the GOAL and the road map we call the PLAN. Here’s a guide for navigating and maneuvering the terrain:

Watch the Signs

Do things happen unexpectedly and utterly out of the blue? Sure. But for a vast number of supposedly “unexpected” events, there were signs. There was something earlier – known or not – that precipitated the event. For every effect there is a cause. And there are signs. Just as you watch the road signs for speed limits and directions, be alert for signs both obvious and subtle.

One crucial sign is a sudden or gradual lack of communication. No one is reporting anything. No news – good, bad or indifferent – is coming in from a certain sector. Only radio silence! The phrase “no news is good news” is not correct! Believe me, “no communication” is a sign to look into. Signs can be little or big but they point to something. The numbers “just don’t add up” no matter how many times you crosscheck. You shrug it off or you treat it as a sign and really dig in. Many a catastrophe can be averted by paying attention to the signs and signals.

Detours

Suppose you have a destination and a road map. There are inevitably going to be some detours along the way. Road repair = Detour. Downed power line = Detour. Medical issue and requisite bills = Detour. You discover that someone else thought up your brilliant idea before you = Detour. The way you deal with a detour is to make sure you get back on track. Don’t let your momentum get slowed down or stopped. Modify the route as needed and keep pushing. When something pushes back, push harder.

No Road At All

For the early explorer, there was no map because he’s the first one there. He’s making it up as it goes along. If you’re like me, you like going where others haven’t gone before. I’m always on the lookout for pre-existing workable knowledge, but there are many things we had to figure out in the process. We had to hack our way through the jungle, hopefully get to a clearing where we could see ahead and keep going despite dense and tangled terrain. This is true for any endeavor. There’s a certain percentage that no one has done before and it falls upon you to come up with new modus operandi (“way of doing something”). The road is not always paved and often there is no road at all.

Rules of the Road

You’ve got to know the rules of the road. Ever watch Shark Tank? It’s a cool show where entrepreneurs pitch their business plan to a panel of seasoned and critical potential investors, including billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban. Those pitching their ideas had better do their homework, crunch the numbers and know what they’re talking about if they hope to get anyone’s attention. And of course their product must be good to begin with or all the pitching in the world won’t save them from the sharks.

One should know the lingo and the rules for any given field. To this I would add these words from Pablo Picasso: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Some “rules” don’t make any sense and your judgment and brilliance are integral to the equation. Like when your map states you’ll fall off the edge of the earth – time to change the rules!

Stop Signs

Don't QuitYou always stop at a STOP sign, right? Well, yeah, obviously. But let’s take that analogy: Who put up the STOP sign? Some people are dedicated to STOPPING. They put up stop signs at every turn. They aren’t always easy to spot because they’re “honest” and tell you how you “might not be cut out for this” and “everyone knows there’s no future in it.” Just look at what they’re doing: They’re trying to STOP you! Those signs need not be heeded. Take their commands to STOP as a signal to ACCELERATE! There will always be people holding up the STOP signs for no reason – except that they feel they have something to gain from you failing or quitting! Pass them by.

Fuel

A car runs on gasoline or electricity and there’s even some that run on water nowadays. What is your fuel? Your fuel is your sense of purpose, your burning desire, your motivation to make it. But you run out of that motivational fuel. How do you fill the tank? First recognize that – believe it or not – YOU are the one who generates your own energy. Motivation comes from within! So you’ve got to invest in yourself. You do this by building up your knowledge, wisdom, integrity, certainty, sense of duty and purpose, and even your physical health and well-being. You can also have “gas stations” – places you go for peace and rejuvenation, your home, your church, the outdoors, even the gym, what works for you. All this is fuel to stoke the fires of creativity and prosperity and get you where you want to go.

Practice Makes Perfect

Actually, perfection is unobtainable – but it is approachable. How do you know how to drive? You read the driver’s manual (we hope), and you practiced, practiced, practiced. Your father, an instructor or someone took you to an empty parking lot or remote spot and had you practice accelerating, stopping, turning, avoiding lampposts, etc. Then you drove on a secluded street, a busier street, a major highway and finally the interstate. You built certainty and ability through knowledge (the manual) and practice (driving). Whether you’re in school or you opted for the on-the-job approach, you’re going through this process of learning, practicing, building your abilities and expanding your skillset.

Heed the Weather

What’s the climate like? Is it the winter of 2008? If so, you might be wary of real estate. Watch the sky for dark clouds and pay attention to the reports. The climate does have an effect upon how you drive and what roads you take. A rough economic climate doesn’t mean you are forced to fail. All it means is that you’ve got to adapt and modify your plan as needed. Hail and sleet? Do you slow down? Maybe, but put chains on your tires and you can still plow ahead. Analogies aside, recognize that you must be in the frame of mind of a problem solver, not one who complains all the time about how bad it all is – that gets you nowhere! Be aware of the climate so you can take effective action.

Get a Co-Driver

You get tired. You don’t always want to be in the driver’s seat. Get a co-driver. Partner up! That way you can trade driving duties. One can sleep or gaze out the window while the other is driving. Or better yet, one is in charge of navigation while the other drives. On a road trip I have the passenger call out the speed limits so I don’t get ticketed when I drive through small towns that have 25 mph speed limits. Any brilliant leader has other brilliant people on the team to carry the load. Life itself is a team effort. It can be hard to find trustworthy team members, but when you do your journey gets easier and more productive.

Fix the Machine

When you’re on a road trip, you may have to pull over for maintenance and repairs, change the oil, change a flat, etc. On your journey in business and life, you must maintain and repair the machine. Your machine breaks down sometimes: Marketing isn’t working. People aren’t working. A competitor shows up, necessitating a change in the game plan. Some friends of mine invented and manufactured a unique sawhorse for carpenters. It was American made and they did quite well…until someone in China decided to make a similar one for half the cost. They had to adapt. One of them invented a brand new carpenters’ tool and is awaiting an international patent. The other is now working on a combination automobile/airplane vehicle. No joke. Fixing the machine means never giving up and outside-the-box thinking.

Fix the Driver

If you’re driving the 3,000+ miles from Seattle to Miami, you’d better take care of the driver. Stop for sustenance, rest, stretch your legs and take in the scenery. You’re the driver in your quest for success. I stated earlier: Invest in yourself! And I talked about signs. You can see signs in yourself. You’re the first to know when things are starting to slide downhill in your personal or professional life. You look in the mirror each day and in the end you answer to yourself. We work to impart this to our clients recovering from substance abuse. No matter what anyone else says, it’s YOU who answers to YOU. Ultimately we are only helping people help themselves. If you perceive that something needs fixing, by all means fix it. Can’t fix it? Seek assistance. But see to it that it gets fixed.

Don’t Forget the Destination

When you’re wandering on a back road at nightfall surrounded by towering trees, you can lose sight of your destination. The present time environment can feel menacing. The environment can also be so pleasant that you don’t want to go anywhere – that’s called your comfort zone! In either case – threatening or comfortable – that’s where you ask yourself how bad do you want it?!

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and havoc of life, so you need to constantly remind yourself where you’re going and why you’re doing all this in the first place. Why did you even set out on this journey? Was it to stop midway because it’s too tough or oh so comfortable? No!

That sense of purpose and direction is what gets you through dark and challenging times. It’s your unbreakable resolve that sets you apart from those content to stay in one place or go backwards. Your infallible inner compass is what gets you through the woods and back on the superhighway!

 

 

 

 

What Are Some Key Tips for Keeping Employees Motivated?

Motivation = Energy

Keep Employees MotivatedTry driving an automobile without any gasoline, or lighting up a skyscraper with no electricity, or getting your body through the day with zero food or sleep. Anything designed to accomplish something – a vehicle, a structure, a body – needs energy. Science has even proven that solid objects contain massive amounts of energy. An atom, when split into parts under specific circumstances, will release a cosmic amount of energy and force. The energy of any business is its employees, its people, and the energy of its people is summed up in the word motivation.

Your Energy Source: People

The motivation, the drive, each person’s desire to exceed will make or break a business. When that motivation is accompanied by knowledge, competence and teamwork, we have the essentials for lasting success. Positive motivation is by far the preferred method, and in the long run it is the only method. How do you light the fire under employees without burning anyone? How to you instill motivation, passion and ardor within each individual and your team as a whole? Here are some tips:

The Power of Potential

First consider that anyone has a well of motivation and energy within them waiting to be tapped. It may or may not be evident, but it is there. It then becomes your task to unleash it. But you can’t really spend all your time doing that. Thus some companies large and small hire motivational “experts” as part of their productivity efforts. I am sure some of these are effective, but you may not wish to go that route and you may not be able to afford it.

When you approach an individual, assume they have this potential from the get-go. Don’t look on them with an air of negativity. Your expectations go a long way. Many people – far more than you may realize – simply don’t perform because no one expects them to. But the reverse is true. When you expect that someone will do a great job, a lot of the time they’ll do just that. But it is essential that you do not hold any preconceived notions about anyone. Accept them for who they are and expect and assume they have every intention of doing an excellent job.

Sure there will be a handful who are dedicated to covertly or overtly messing up anything they touch, but these are in the vast minority and hopefully you intercepted them in the hiring process. Most people not only want to succeed but want to see others succeed as well. When you talk to people, make it clear what is expected and that you have no doubt they will do a bang-up job.

Knowledge

The next thing you should do is make sure they know how to do it. You may hire people who are previously trained and have experience, or you may do the training yourself so they do it your way – or some combination of both. Regardless of your approach, check to see if someone knows how to do something. A lot of unacceptable results come about from simply not knowing what to do. Ignorance and uncertainty leads to hesitation and inaction. Some people are convinced they know it all when in fact they do not, so it’s OK to challenge people. Have them show you how they’d go about something, and if it is off you can correct them. When you remain positive, even when correcting someone, the vast majority will respond well.

Goals & Planning

Any business should have clear goals and a sound plan for getting there. Not every business makes it, and one reason is a lack of motivation. People get discouraged; they slow down and quit. Primary causes of this are a lack of finite goals and a lack of well-thought-out strategic planning. Owners and managers don’t always keep their employees properly informed as to progress toward company goals. When people know where the team is going and know the plan for getting there, they are often more motivated to act as a team player.

One missing element in many businesses is that individual employees do not equate their small actions with the larger objective. They do not realize that what they do really matters, that the overall plans of the company are entirely composed of what they do on a day-to-day basis. So making sure people really understand this is essential.

Task Completion

Another component that can be lacking is so obvious that it is often overlooked. And that is that individual tasks must be COMPLETED. You’d think that goes without saying, but it needs to be said. When someone starts something, they should know they are supposed to finish it. When people complete things, they feel good about it and are motivated to move onto the next task. When they have a few incomplete projects lying about, their attention gets dispersed and they lose sight of any clear direction. Encourage your people to complete each task they start. Their morale will be higher and they’ll have more energy and motivation.

The Commodity of Fun

Fun is a valuable commodity. What good is anything if it isn’t fun or at least leads to more fun? Make your workplace a fun place to work. You can get very creative in this arena, but the type of business you’re in will have some say in how you go about it. Some of the most successful businesses around make fun an integral part of their operation. Being productive and achieving high levels of quantity and quality make for more fun. Making anything you’re doing into a game leads to more fun. Creativity and the spark of imagination in any sphere leads to more fun. Splurge on fun.

Approachability

You can motivate people when you are approachable. If people are afraid to knock on your door or talk to you, you are missing something important in your business. I am extremely busy and I travel and meet with a lot of people in order to forward the cause of holistic drug rehabilitation. But when I’m back in the office I keep my door open and people know they can talk to me. For any manager, your staff should be able to come to you and voice their opinions. A lot of things can be sorted out through good two-way communication, but you’ve got to have an open communication channel in the first place. Through communication you can achieve better harmony, motivation and productivity.

A Game of Numbers

There are many modern ways to keep track of statistics, metrics and analytics. We don’t live for numbers, but we can use them to monitor and improve what we’re doing. Any department or employee should be able to measure their actions and equate them with the bigger picture. When they see the final results, they become motivated to do more. When they are duly rewarded, they become even more motivated.

Marketing, for example, can get extremely sophisticated in terms of the monitoring and codification of data. Retail sales outfits make a massive effort to understand who their shoppers are, where they go, why they go there, and what compels them to buy – all the way down to what colors, textures and smells to use. Supermarkets utilize heat sensors so they know which aisles you’ve been frequenting and which you haven’t. They also do things like make the shopping carts bigger so you fill them up more. And that’s just for starters. My point: No matter what business you’re in, the more usable data you have, the better you can use it to motivate and get your team to focus on the right targets.

Segments of Responsibility

Make people responsible for things. Once you are confident they know what to do, trust them with it. Let them run with it. People get motivated when they feel valuable and trusted. And they seek to earn that trust even more. You have the concepts of cause and effect. People like to cause things rather than be the effect of them. You can help your employees be more “causative” by making sure they understand exactly what constitutes their spheres of responsibility and how these integrate with everyone else in the organization.

Example: In a store, a driver gets deliveries from point A to point B, keeps a published schedule and is responsible for the maintenance and repair of a vehicle. The shelf stocker is responsible for keeping the shelves neatly stocked per label and marking the prices. A cashier is responsible for quick and accurate handling of money and the delivery of purchased items into the hands of the consumer. All these people rely on one another to do their jobs and thus achieve the overall aims of the store. They get more motivated when they know their jobs are essential and others cannot do their job unless they do theirs. And so it goes in any business and any group anywhere in the world.

Communication & PR

Strike up a conversation with an employee and get them talking. Ask questions about their job and what they like and what they don’t like. Make sure you get real answers, not perfunctory “what the boss wants to hear” answers. Observe the person’s reactions and attitudes. From this you can get some idea as to what motivates that person. You can also conduct surveys in order to ascertain what makes your people tick and what doesn’t. From these results you formulate a project or campaign.

Any company has (or should have) public relations with its customers, other businesses, entities, etc. But PR also has an internal function. PR is NOT dishonesty. PR correctly done equates to real communication and understanding people – what motivates them and what they consider vital in their lives. Internal PR actions need not be complicated. In a small business, they can be as simple as sorting out schedules, holding weekly staff meetings that are productive and fun, turning work into a game, effective mentorship, fueling creativity, and when things are going well, taking everyone out to dinner on Friday. Remember however that a reward is what someone wants, not necessarily what you think they want. So you have to ask.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is exactly what it sounds like. You are positive in your dealings with people and you use positivity to reinforce what is good and valuable. You do not reinforce what is “bad” or not valuable. You deal with the bad, but you don’t make it more influential, i.e. you do not reinforce it. If an employee is messing up, you point that out and make sure he knows how to fix it; then you focus on what he’s doing right and acknowledge that rightness. Using “force” is limited and will backfire eventually. A far more effective policy is positive reinforcement.

10 Must-Know Tips: What You Can Do to Make Your Business Thrive

Here are 10 things you must know and do in order to make your business thrive:

1. Clearly state your purpose.

Make Your Business Thrive

Make Your Business Thrive

Write down what you intend to do and why you intend to do it. You want to build a thriving business in order to provide in abundance for yourself and your family. You intend to be a multimillionaire and have fun doing it. Whatever it is, write it down. Put it up on your wall and say it to yourself often. Make sure it’s really what you want. If you are wishy-washy and uncertain about it, this step will not have sufficient impact. You’ve really got to mean it.

2. Make the decision.

Stating the purpose is one thing. Making the decision to do it is quite another. But, you may argue, the purpose may be too far-fetched and far-flung: “Economic climates shift. There are so many factors that are beyond my control. In the future it may no longer be feasible.” But all those things, however sensible they may seem, all add up to not making the decision to do it. Believe me, your chances for doing it are next to zero if you didn’t make the decision. When you’ve really made the decision, you can be the unstoppable force that moves mountains.

3. Abundance is your only solution.

The “just enough to get by” mentality does not work. When you only plan and act for just enough, it is never enough. In order to thrive, to flourish and to prosper, you’ve got to expand your mindset into the realm of abundance. Be prepared to work twice as hard and twice as long. Whatever you set your sites on, double it. Whatever you’ve been expecting from yourself, double it, triple it. In business and in life, there are too many variables. The ground on which we stand is shaky enough as it is. You can only plan for multiple contingencies by thinking and operating on a much larger scale than you may be accustomed to. Expand your mind and your actions.

4. Promote. Promote. Promote.

“Promote” = “give publicity to (a product, organization, or venture) so as to increase sales or public awareness.”

You never stop promoting and marketing. Promote on your website, on social media, through multiple channels. Know your clientele and always promote to them. Carry your business card everywhere. Network. Talk to people. Do some public speaking. If you’re afraid of that, take a little course or speak in front of your family and edit the words “like” and “um” from your vocabulary. You’ve got to project yourself out there. How you dress, how you present yourself, what you say and how you say it are all promotional actions. It’s a continuous activity. Never stop and constantly refine it.

5. Set up multiple channels of income.

Some dream of “residual income” that just keeps rolling in without them having to do anything. That’s great, but if that is your goal, I suggest you reconsider. In order to survive and prosper, you really need to build multiple sources of income, and maintain and expand them. In investing, they call it diversification. But in an entrepreneurial sense, you must be extremely proactive and hands-on.

See if you can think of three different ways to make income and make a plan for each. It takes some clever time management and out-of-box thinking – and it takes DOING! Some people start businesses that have nothing to do with each other and do quite well at it. Others specialize but come up with smart ways to tap into larger markets.

6. Do things you don’t like doing.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”

― Muhammad Ali

Get over the idea that you’ve got to do only what you are willing to do or are comfortable doing. Forget about comfort altogether. Work diligently now, work long and hard hours now – but do it with a clear idea where you’re going. Have fun along the way, but don’t dismiss something because it’s hard. Keep the image of yourself on the other side. Repeat that message – your purpose and your decision – to yourself over and over. I realize I’m starting to sound like a motivational speaker – but really, you are vastly more capable than what you’ve been led to believe. Start believing and investing in yourself.

7. Generate leads, follow up and close.

Too many businesses not only fail to generate leads, they fail to follow up on them. Some people are terrified of the telephone or going to see someone. Don’t be one of those people. Your new and existing leads are your goldmine. So are your existing customers. Even if you only deliver a product or service to someone once or twice in their lifetime, if you did a good job, they can become goodwill ambassadors for you.

A certain percentage of people will get annoyed when you follow up. So what? So they hang up the phone, big deal! When you are working on leads and sales, remember your purpose and your decision. Oh yes, and you’ll have to close. Closing sales is not a mysterious impossibility. It’s a matter of communication and insight. There are a few good books on it out there and it’s something you can practice and get good at.

8. Pay others to do things.

Your time is valuable. Why tie it up doing something you can pay someone else to do? By delegating, you keep yourself in forward-thinking mode. Team-building is essential for your prosperity. Even though I’m called the “boss” now, I wasn’t always, and I learned a lot from working for skilled managers. You always answer to someone anyway, like your clients. Ask yourself, “What’s tying up most of my time?” Then see how you can delegate it.

9. Repeat & duplicate.

Ever notice how every restaurant or store in a chain is virtually or exactly the same as every other one you ever walked into anywhere in the nation? That is because these big chains have mastered the arts of repetition and duplication. What they serve you isn’t always particularly good, but there are even exceptions to that, like Whole Foods. Whole Foods decided to put the neighborhood produce stand, health food store, co-op, bakery, butcher, deli and a number of other things under one roof and do it all over the country. That’s duplication with exponential attention to detail on a grand scale.

What do I mean by repetition? I mean doing something the right way the first time, and then doing that over and over again. Fine tune what you are doing so it is smooth and efficient, and so it results in an exceptional quality product or service – and then work out how to do that over and over again in location after location. That is successful repetition and duplication, and how many businesses manage to thrive.

10. Connect up.

Get to know others who run successful businesses. If you want to be a multimillionaire, meet some multimillionaires and ask them some questions. Most of them will be glad to share their knowledge. Go to networking events and connect up with like-minded individuals. It goes in reverse too. Someone telling you how you really can’t do it is not worth your time. The world is tough enough already. Why burden yourself with negativity. Surround yourself with positivity, knowledge and wisdom. Survive! Thrive!

 

Why is Prescription Drug Abuse More Prevalent Today?

The statistics on prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are startling to say the least. For instance, the number of Americans who misused prescription medications in 2012 Prescription Drugsexceeded 12 million. To cite just one state, more Tennessee residents die from overdose of prescription medication than from automobile crashes. Drug deaths across the U.S. have passed up fatal auto accidents in sheer numbers. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that painkiller overdoses are taking more lives today than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.

How did this problem take root? Why is it that Americans took 80 percent of the world’s painkillers in 2011?

The Epidemic’s Origins

In 1997, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and American Pain Society issued separate reports suggesting that doctors in the U.S. should prescribe pain medications more frequently. Other newly-formed pain management organizations released similar proposals in subsequent years.

Clearly, many doctors took those recommendations to heart. The number of painkiller prescriptions in the U.S. began to surge during the late 1990s; since then, painkiller addiction rates have risen in roughly proportionate numbers. Doctors in this country are now prescribing almost three times as many painkillers to their patients as they did 20 years ago. According to the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit policy organization, four times as many people died in 2010 as a result of painkillers than in 1999.

Addiction and Medical Ignorance

For years, the vast majority of patients who took painkillers believed that their medications were completely safe. After all, their doctors had approved those treatments. However, prescription opioids are addictive in the same way that heroin is. That is, opioids make people feel high and crave more. At the same time, opioid overdoses often lead to fatal respiratory failure. Therefore, the truth is that many doctors failed to recognize the powerfully addictive nature of certain prescription drugs. Indeed, to this day, primary care physicians often lack training in the area of addiction and pain medicine.

Those points are especially salient in the case of OxyContin, a brand name for extended-release oxycodone manufactured by Purdue Pharma. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved OxyContin in 1995. In its initial years on the market, Purdue Pharma marketed the drug as non-addictive due to its time-release nature. Many doctors in the U.S. trusted that selling point and proceeded to prescribe it widely. However, many consumers and addicts soon discovered that they could simply crush their OxyContin tablets and then snort, smoke or inject it.

In the years since its introduction to the marketplace, OxyContin abuse became an epidemic, one that struck rural areas such as southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky particularly hard – earning it the nickname “Hillbilly Heroin”. In August 2010, after nearly fifteen years on the market, Purdue came out with its tamper-resistant OxyContin. So while Oxy abuse has dropped, there are still plenty of opiates – legal and illegal – available to users and addicts across America. The new pure hydrocodone drug, Zohydro, is notably NOT tamper-resistant yet was inexplicably approved by the FDA.

Shifting Attitudes

Another issue relevant to the rise of prescription drug addiction is a general acceptance of prescription drugs among the population. While prescription drug use is nothing new, such as the use of valium, the “Mother’s Little Helper” in the 1960s, by the 1990s many people started to feel more comfortable with the idea of taking pills to cure their ills; there no longer seemed to be any stigma attached to those drugs. The emergence of online pharmacies and the fact that there are now 67,000 brick-and-mortar pharmacies in the U.S. have also contributed to the prevalence of pills.

Another cause of these changing perceptions is that advertisements for antidepressants and other drugs started becoming commonplace on television and in magazines. In the year 2000 alone, drug manufacturers spent a combined sum of $2.5 billion to promote their products. In the process, they helped to normalize such concepts as giving addictive psycho-stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall to children to make them “perform better”, “pay attention” and do as they’re told. This has been combined with programs in schools wherein teachers and counselors essentially give parents “no choice” but to drug their kids, violating the parents’ and child’s rights.

Pill Mills

Pain management clinics have played a role in this epidemic as well. Many people in law enforcement refer colloquially to those establishments as “pill mills”. The typical pill mill functions as follows: A person enters the building and claims to suffer from pain. One of its medical staff members will then prescribe a painkiller in exchange for cash or a money order; the typical charge is between $100 and $400 per visit. No formal medical tests take place, and as you might imagine, no insurance company would ever cover such a visit. Furthermore, customers can keep returning in order to have their prescriptions renewed.

Some of the first of these clinics opened in Florida. When that state took measures to outlaw them, they started appearing in various other states. In many parts of the country, they’re still legal.

Face of AddictionThe Face of Medication Addiction Today

Nowadays, the majority of prescription drug abusers are employed and married; in addition, more women than men are addicted to prescription medication. In many cases, addicts get their drugs from friends and family. Approximately 17 percent of them have prescriptions from their doctors, and about 16 percent steal medications from people they know or obtain them from drug dealers. Notably, a large percentage of drugs are now obtained online.

Can This Plague Be Curbed?

Many people and agencies have offered ideas on how to fight prescription drug abuse. For example, Richard Segerblom, a state senator in Nevada, introduced legislation in February 2013 that would allow patients with painkiller addictions to sue their doctors as well as drug manufacturers. That bill, however, failed to pass.

Another corrective measure would be for the FDA to tighten the regulations that govern prescription drugs – both in what gets approved for the market and how their prescription is regulated. Some progress has been made in this area. The FDA has finally agreed with the DEA and hydrocodone drugs like Vicodin will now be classified under Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act. Other authorities maintain that opioid painkillers should only be available to patients with severe pain, not moderate pain. But in the case of the FDA, it seems a lot like one step forward and two steps back; so we can’t sit back and wait and assume the government will take care of it.

A Human Problem

This is a problem amongst American citizens and human beings in general. No matter the regulations or lack thereof, until drug education, detoxification and rehabilitation significantly surpass the supply and demand, the problem can appear overwhelming. Witness the fact that cocaine, heroin and meth are illegal yet those drugs are still very much a problem.

The answer is to educate our youth and adults alike on the pitfalls inherent in controlled and illicit substances. At the same time, effective treatment is needed in every major city, state and rural zone in our nation. That is why I have dedicated my life to this cause. The more people wake up, the faster we can turn the tide.