10 Questions to Help Determine if You Are an Alcoholic

Are You an Alcoholic?According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 17 million people in the United States over the age of 18 had an alcohol use disorder in 2012. About 1.4 million adults received treatment for this disorder. Treatment can work to restore the lives of those who suffer from alcoholism. The first step is recognizing when your drinking has become more than just occasional use of alcohol. Helping people realize the extent of their drinking problem is crucial  for avoiding permanent health problems or unnecessary death.

Taking an Honest Look at Your Drinking Habits

Here is a list of questions that might help you determine if you or a loved one has a drinking problem.  No one ever intends to become an alcoholic, but ignoring these warning signs could lead to serious problems if the alcohol abuse continues.  Ask yourself the following:

1. Do you frequently drink before noon?  If you have to start your day with a drink to function, it is likely that you have a problem with alcohol. Many alcoholics begin drinking early in the day just to stabilize themselves for work or everyday tasks.

2. Do you have a family history of alcoholism?  If you have a close family member that has struggled with alcohol use or has been in treatment, you are at increased risk for developing alcoholism yourself.

3. Do you frequently use alcohol to alter your mood or to feel better?  If you don’t feel “right” until you drink, this is a clear indication of alcohol dependence. Treatment at an inpatient treatment center can offer counseling to explore the underlying issues that may be keeping you dependent on alcohol.

4. Do you drink before events or occasions where alcohol is served?  Drinking before occasions that will involve drinking indicates a need to cover the amount of alcohol you need to consume.

5. Do you suffer blackouts or memory loss when drinking?  If you have developed these issues, alcohol is beginning to cause physical damage to your body.

6. Can you consume a large amount of alcohol without feeling intoxicated? Increased tolerance is a common sign of addiction. A treatment facility can help you to regain control over your life and health.

7. Do you hide alcohol or sneak drinks during the day?  Hiding your drinking not only increases the damage done to your body; it also damages your relationships.

8. Have you lost a job because of drinking?  If drinking has impacted on your career, it’s an indication that your alcohol consumption is out of control. An inpatient rehab facility can provide compassionate help for your problem, to help you get back on your chosen career path.

9. Have you been arrested because of your drinking?  Legal problems because of fighting, unruly behavior or driving under the influence mean that alcohol use has taken over your life and you need professional treatment to prevent further problems.

10. Have lost friends or a spouse because of your drinking?  Lying, deception, job loss and legal problems associated with alcoholism can wreak havoc on your relationships and can make emotional issues worse.

If you have experienced these symptoms of alcohol abuse, call a treatment center for help. With proper alcoholism treatment, you can restore your life to sobriety and sanity again and enjoy life, as it should be.


 

NOTE: April 2015 is National Alcohol Awareness Month sponsored by NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.) Also, the weekend of April 3rd – 5th is National Alcohol Free Weekend, both designed to raise awareness of the serious effects of alcohol abuse on a person’s mind and body, and the consequences suffered by friends and loved ones of the alcoholic. Learn more about this effort and find out how you can participate.

 

Signs That Your Teen is Abusing Alcohol

Teens Abusing AlcoholDrinking alcohol is something that is sometimes attractive to young individuals. However, young people do not always realize the damaging effects that can come from drinking alcohol. Besides the fact that underage drinking is illegal, a variety of risks are posed because of underage drinking.

Risks Associated with Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is something that is widespread. It was estimated that over 10 million teenagers in the United States consumed alcohol in the year 2009. When teenagers drink alcohol, they often consume more than adults. Young people usually drink at least five alcoholic beverages on a single occasion. This can be considered binge drinking.

Some of the risks that are associated with underage drinking include:

  • Brain Development Problems. Alcohol can affect the development of the brain, and it can cause a wide range of physical, behavior, and mental health issues. Researchers say that the brain is continuing to develop until a person is in their 20’s.
  • Injuries and Impaired Judgment. Drinking and abusing alcohol can cause teenagers to make poor decisions which can result in risky behavior and serious injury. In fact, over 190,000 teenagers visited emergency rooms because of alcohol related injuries in the year 2008.
  • Death. More than 5,000 teenagers die every year from alcohol related suicides, homicides, car crashes, and injuries.

Look for Warning Signs

The abuse of alcohol is a serious issue. It should not be minimized or ignored. Parents and other concerned individuals should not just sit back and hope that it goes away. If this problem is left untreated, the abuser can develop a dependence on alcohol. Here are some of the signs to look for:

Physical Warning Signs

  • Bloodshot eyes and pupils that are larger or smaller than normal
  • A change in sleep pattern or appetite, including unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Lack of personal grooming, or the deterioration of physical appearance
  • Shaking, tremors, and seizures
  • Impaired coordination

Psychological Warning Signs

  • Sudden mood changes, outbursts of anger, irritability, and uncontrolled laughing
  • Lack of motivation or the ability to focus
  • A confusing change in attitude or personality
  • Seems withdrawn, anxious, paranoid, or fearful

Behavioral Warning Signs

  • Complaints from teachers or classmates
  • Skipping class, getting in trouble at school, declining grades
  • Avoiding eye contact and demanding more privacy
  • Using air freshener, perfume, or other things to hide the smell of alcohol
  • Use of eye drops to hide physical symptoms of alcohol abuse
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • A change in relationship with friends and family

Get Help From Professionals

If you suspect that your teen is abusing alcohol, it is time for you to approach the subject and talk with your teen. Speak with them in a non-threatening manner. Remember that the end goal of the conversation is to get them to communicate with you and to find a solution to the problem.

Individuals who abuse alcohol, no matter their age, benefit from inpatient care. Overcoming an addiction alone is something that is usually not possible. If you suspect that your teenager is abusing alcohol, there are professionals working with inpatient treatment centers that are eager to help your teenager. They will use their years of experience to help your teenager on the road to recovery.


NOTE: April 2015 is National Alcohol Awareness Month sponsored by NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.) Also, the weekend of April 3rd – 5th is National Alcohol Free Weekend, both designed to raise awareness of the serious effects of alcohol abuse on a person’s mind and body, and the consequences suffered by friends and loved ones of the alcoholic. Learn more about this effort and find out how you can participate.

Understanding “Enablers” and How to Avoid Being One

Understanding EnablersA fine line exists between helping a drug or alcohol addicted person get through the day as opposed to making it easier (enabling) for them to continue in their destructive behavior.

Oftentimes, when friends and/or family members try to help an addict by making excuses for them or taking responsibility for their actions or behavior, it becomes easier for them to remain an addict. Regardless, if the addict is addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating or sex, each time someone takes the blame for the addict’s behavior they are,  in essence,  telling the addict it is okay to continue this type of behavior.

Are You an Enabler?

For example, if a spouse allows an alcoholic to avoid the consequences of their actions, this sends a clear message to the alcoholic that it is okay to continue their drinking ways, knowing no matter what happens someone will be there to rescue them. This behavior is called “enabling” and the enabler is a person in a relationship with an addict that suffers for their behavior.

If you can answer yes to any of these statements you may be an enabler:

  • Have you ever called in sick for the addict, because they were too drunk or hungover to get to work/school?
  • Do you find yourself making excuses for the addict’s behavior?
  • Have you ever had to pay for the addict’s legal fees, or bail them out of jail?
  • Do you ever lie to cover for the addict?
  • Do you avoid confrontation with the alcoholic/addict about their behavior, because you’re worried they’ll get mad?
  • Do you ever pay the addict’s bills or loan them money? Do you find yourself giving the addict ”one last chance” multiple times?
  • Have you ever done work for an addict that they were responsible for?
  • Do you ever feel manipulated by the addict, but ignore those feelings because they “need” you?

Some may say, “I was only trying to help.” However, the problem with this lies in the fact that the non-addicted partner continues to take on more and more responsibility. So what is the real difference between helping and enabling? Essentially, helping is assisting someone who cannot do for themselves. In the end, this kind of behavior creates resentment by all parties involved. The addict expects the sober partner to continue to make things right and take on more and more responsibilities. The addict will come to resent the sober partner when they make the addict take responsibility for their actions.

How Can I Stop It?

A person may wonder “How do I stop it?” It is not an easy process to put a halt to. For the enabler, they fear retaliation if they do not continue to assist or they fear the consequences of not doing anything. For example, a wife may fear an alcoholic husband will lose his job if she does not cover for him. However, she is taking away his incentive for seeking sobriety. The sober partner may fear they will die, have an auto accident or worse, kill an innocent victim while driving intoxicated, or may fear they will commit suicide. If they get arrested for drunk driving, the sober spouse will not need to worry about them getting into an accident, killing someone else because they are hopefully being watched by law enforcement and are safe.

One of the hardest things for an enabler is admitting a loved one has a problem. This is one of the toughest aspects of the enabling relationship to stop. While it may seem easier to ignore the addict’s behavior, in the long run they are becoming more and more at risk both mentally and physically. Experts recommend leaving the evidence of their actions intact so they can see how their behavior affects their lives and the lives of those around them.

  • Don’t clean up their vomit.
  • Don’t wash their soiled linens.
  • Don’t help them into bed.

This may sound cruel; however, it is the addict that is causing the problems. Because of the influence of the addiction, there is no use in nagging or blaming. The addict will not care until they have been removed from the hold of the addiction. It is important to remember addicts are great liars and manipulators. They force loved ones to go to great lengths to conceal their addiction for them. We all want to believe the best in our loved ones, but continuing to lie for them will prolong the suffering for everyone involved.

Stop Listening to the Lies

The first step is admitting your loved one has a problem. You can seek the advice of a counselor or rehabilitation center to plan an intervention for your loved one. Next, stop accepting their lies, don’t give them money and don’t make excuses for them; allow them to take responsibility. The non-addicted partner needs to realize they need to put their personal health and safety first. If you ever feel unsafe, remove yourself from the situation. Studies show 70% of drug addicts get their drugs from friends and family. They are not stolen or bought, they are given as gifts to an addict along with the permission to use them. Think about that.

 

Some Advice for Staying Calm & Focused in a Chaotic World

Anxiety in America

Staying Calm & FocusedIf you Google “How many people suffer from anxiety?” you will most likely get the following front and center in your search:

“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.”

The quote is from a group called the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). It seems harmless enough until you realize that this group is subsidized by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, and others. The purpose of the propaganda is to instill in our minds that we are mentally ill and must have our brain chemistry adjusted in order to be “normal” or to “manage the illness”.

The statement from ADAA translates to “You are far better off when you are a drug customer!” or “We are far better off when you are buying drugs from us!” More information on the marketing of mental illness for profit can be found in these documentaries:

The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane?
American Addict

Unproven Disorders

The more people that think they’re ill, the more drugs are purchased and the more billions are added to the revenue of pharmaceutical companies. The alleged “disorders” of which I speak are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under headings such as Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Unspecified Anxiety Disorder – to name but a few. None of these alleged “disorders” can be proven by any medical test of any kind – a fact which runs contrary to medical science.

Nonetheless, the pharmaceutical marketing apparatus will do their best to convince you that you need mind-altering benzodiazepines like Xanax, Klonopin and Valium, or some other psychotropic drug with dangerous side-effects and addictive properties.

Real Medical Science

If you’re going to be prescribed an antibiotic, it is only after tests have proven the presence of bacteria, such as streptococcal pharyngitis (aka strep throat). Standard medical tests include blood tests, urine tests, asthma and allergy tests, CAT scan, MRI, blood pressure reading, respiratory reading, oxygen reading, EKG, and many others. None of these tests apply to mental illness since no mental illness can be proven by medical tests. It is observable that physical conditions can result in mental distress. Someone with the flu can feel very depressed indeed. A person who is physically fatigued or has shortness of breath due to asthma or allergies can simultaneously feel acute anxiety.

Anxiety is Real!

But whenever this point is made, someone will argue “How dare you claim that no one has a mental illness or serious problem with anxiety or depression?!!” The answer is that no one said mental illness wasn’t real. Mental distress is very real indeed. It could be argued that everyone has a mental problem of some kind or other. Maybe we’re all “mentally ill!” But is the solution more and more drugs? Is the magic pill or holy shot in the arm approach really working? Are the men in white smocks or the lab technicians at Pfizer and Merck the saviors of mankind because they really know what it’s all about and can tweak our brain chemistry so we feel elated all the time? Common sense tells us that is not the answer.

No One is Immune

There are many good reasons to feel anxiety: You watch beheadings on CNN; you get stuck in traffic; you’re late for work and threatened with being fired; your kids may or may not be using drugs; your mailbox is full of unpaid bills and little else; your marriage is strained. Feelings of anxiety and depression are part of being human. No one is immune. But what if you feel anxiety most of the time or all of the time? What if you feel acute anxiety with little provocation or for no reason at all? Fortunately, there are things that can be done even for that.

A Checklist

Make a ChecklistThe first thing I would recommend for dealing with anxiety, depression and other unwanted emotions would be something like a checklist, a process of elimination. You may find that something is contributing to the condition that can be remedied rather easily, while other situations may require more work. But the first step is to take a look! This is by no means a set-in-stone checklist, but it is based on common sense and logic. In fact, you could come up with a similar list yourself. All I’m doing is pointing out things that are so obvious that they get overlooked:

Are You Physically Ill?

Untreated physical conditions can appear to be mental illness if you don’t look any further than symptoms. Hormonal problems (such as those related to the thyroid gland), asthma, allergies, a heart condition, diabetes, menopause, and many other conditions can exist that trigger mental reactions in a person. If you feel that such a situation could exist, visit a qualified physician. And if you don’t feel any condition is present, there is nothing wrong with a checkup. The routine physical is kind of a dying art these days, but if you run diagnostics and regular maintenance on your car, why not your body? It’s infinitely more valuable than your car. Don’t overlook underlying physical causes for mental distress.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

People who are not well-rested can act rather neurotic and even psychotic. Maybe you drink too much coffee after dinner and this affects your sleep. Perhaps a schedule adjustment is in order so you get more sleep. Many people are light sleepers or suffer from sleep apnea (temporary cessation of breathing, especially during sleep). Fortunately, there are remedies for apnea that do not involve any drugs whatsoever. In fact, adding drugs to apnea is potentially dangerous. There is a wealth of non-drug remedies for sleep: Turning off machines that make noise, a mattress and pillow that conform to your body, herbal remedies, peaceful sounds and music, and many others. Get enough sleep and see how you feel.

Are You Eating Properly?

A malnourished body will result in an uneasy mind. Eat only junk food, skip a lot of meals and you’ll feel mentally distressed. Eating foods high in saturated fats, sugar, preservatives, pesticides, chemicals, and additives is not a wise diet. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are increasingly suspect, so much so that foods that do NOT contain GMOs are now often given a special label. Concerned officials and citizens in Vermont, Oregon, and other states are attempting to get food labeled as to what ingredients are GMO, but it has been an uphill fight. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are bad enough, but certain artificial sweeteners, aspartame in particular, have been linked with depression, fatigue and other symptoms.

I always tell people that eating lean meats, plant proteins, superfoods, fruits and vegetables – all preferably organic – is a good start. You need not be diet-obsessed. Just eat better and see if your physical and mental state improves.

Do You Take Any Vitamin or Mineral Supplements?

The whole idea of vitamins and minerals is that the foods you eat may not provide all the nutrients you need. Vitamins and minerals are FOOD, not drugs. Just as with diets, there are a lot of fads out there when it comes to supplements, and not all supplements are created equal. Some are great. Some are just OK. And some are virtually useless. Finding a good multivitamin is a good start, but you may want to do a little research as to what supplements to choose.

It is a known fact that specific deficiencies can results in depression, anxiety and fatigue. The B vitamin group, in particular vitamin B1, along with vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium should also be part of your routine. These things do cost money, but you need not go overboard.

Do You Exercise?

The body needs exercise. Apart from purely physical reasons such as your health and longevity, exercise and state of mind are intimately related. Skip exercise and you’re likely to get moody, fatigued and irritated, not to mention more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Exercise daily, or at least regularly, and you can markedly improve your overall outlook on life. You need not push yourself past the limit. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start in on low impact cardio (walking, running) for 20-30 minutes per day or every other day, then work it up from there. Any exercise is better than none, but when you do it daily you’ll probably notice a significant improvement in your mood and calmness of mind.

A friend of mine would get out of breath even when she walked a few blocks. When she tried exercising, she could only go a few minutes. She’d also be up at night with breathing problems. Finally she went to the doctor and found out she wasn’t getting enough oxygen and had asthma and allergies; she had just been ignoring the signs. After remedying some of the symptoms, she felt MUCH better and was able to work out at the gym. And she felt much better mentally and physically.

Are You Using Drugs or Alcohol?

The ads that tell you to “ask your doctor” would have you believe that being on drugs is a positive move. Truthfully, many drugs that are now illegal were once fully legal and contained in tonics, elixirs, Coca-Cola, children’s cough syrups, and many other products. These once legal drugs include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Alcohol is of course a legal drug and countless people drink occasionally or socially without much drama, but its abuse has been the source of endless pain and misery for centuries. If you have a drug or alcohol problem, legal or otherwise, you should get help. Drugs are one of the chief problems, NOT the solution!

Are You Watching the News?

I’ve stated before that watching too much media can cause you considerable stress and anxiety. You want to know what’s happening in the world, and that is fine. But it is VERY easy to overdo it. Do you know what a “Merchant of Chaos” is? It’s a person who makes a profit in direct proportion to the amount of chaos in the environment. The press and media in general simply LOVE chaos, confusion, death and destruction. The more of it there is, the more issues they sell, the more webpage hits, the more viewers, the more money from advertisers, etc.

I put pharmaceutical companies that sell psychotropic drugs in the same category. Why? Because the more anxiety and depression you feel (or think you feel), the more you perceive that you’re sick, the more money they make. And if you get prescribed two, three, four, ten more drugs to offset the side effects of other drugs, the more their coffers are filled and the better their dividends.

Get home after work, sit down and get an earful and eyeful of the latest beheadings, disasters, murders, missing persons, disease outbreaks, and so on – and observe how it affects you. If you aren’t going to do anything immediately about it, why inundate your mind and your home with disturbing news? Plus they don’t tell you once; they tell you over and over and over again until it rings in your ears. Not only that, their “news” is slanted and pushes an agenda, as well as often being completely made up.

Turn off the television and devices and enjoy the silence. Talk with your loved ones and friends. Play a board game. Play soccer. Do a family project. Do this for days or weeks and see if your anxiety subsides.

Is Your Conscience Weighing You Down?

This is a touchy issue because it can make someone sound like a puritan or a moralist. But that is not the version of which I speak. The angle I’m describing is the one where you have trouble looking yourself in the mirror. It’s all about YOU and your relationship with yourself and others. If you’re cheating on your spouse or embezzling funds from your office, don’t be surprised when you experience several forms of anxiety – anxiety of crushing guilt, anxiety of getting caught, anxiety about the future, etc. If you don’t get caught first, you may decide to “fess up” or make it good – but it will be your personal decision to do so.

The conscience is a powerful force, so much so that you become your own worst enemy. Walk down the street or into any bar in America and know that many of the people you are looking at are constantly getting in their own way. They are creating barriers for themselves and if they just straightened it out, they’d feel immense relief. I speak from experience. It’s not puritanism or moralism. It’s just YOU being true to your innate values.

Is Someone Being a Negative Influence?

There is another side to the coin. You can certainly get in your own way and countless people do. But others can do so as well. Let’s be clear: I’m not saying to be hypercritical of others and go around finger-pointing. There is WAY too much of that going around. “YOU did this to me!” and “See what YOU did that has made me miserable!” – on and on without end.

But if someone is constantly telling you how you CAN’T do this and you will NEVER succeed and you are just NOT cut out for this, you know that you’re dealing with a decidedly NEGATIVE personality. Their comments can be couched in the language of constructive criticism, such as “Don’t quit your day job” or “Maybe it’s just not for you and you should do something else” and the like. Realize that such comments are not really constructive criticism; they’re simply criticism. Is that person trying to push you forward or are they trying STOP you? That is a question to ask.

The aforementioned Merchant of Chaos is a great example of this. They’re trying to tell you that you’ll be hit by Ebola or an asteroid or some such thing if you walk out your front door, or that you must be all drugged up on Xanax in order to feel remotely “normal”. The “friend” who pushes drugs on you (peer pressure) is another type of negative influence. Personality types, human behavior, and related subjects obviously comprise a broad field, and I’m only giving you the tip of the iceberg, scratching the surface, but hopefully you get the basic idea.

Do You Finish What You Start?

If you really want to generate feelings of anxiety for yourself, never complete anything you start. Start mowing the lawn and don’t finish it. Start fixing up the house but leave it a mess and don’t clean it up. Start a course of study, get really interested in it and then abandon it. You’ll build up one anxiety upon another.

A great thing to do is to list out all your incomplete projects. Once you’ve put down everything you can think of, start getting them done. You may decide on a sequence in which to do them, but this is a secondary concern. The most important thing is to COMPLETE one at a time. Just pick one and do it, then the next, the next and so on.

You can even take it a step further and jot down the projects you’ve WANTED to start but never did. I would recommend, however, completing the ones you started first. Just make sure that when you start a new project, keep working on it and complete it. Some projects are longer and are broken down into smaller sections which are completed one at a time. You’re likely to feel much better when you’re completing what you start.

Do You Have a Trust Network?

Have a Trust NetworkWhen you feel all alone, realize that you are not. At the very least, you’re not alone in feeling alone. In truth, no one makes it alone. People need each other just like we need the plants and trees to breathe and vice versa. You hopefully have family and friends that you trust and who trust you. But if there is some trouble in that department, there are places you can turn. Your church can be a great place to find help and guidance. You can go online and find legitimate support groups and programs.

Locating groups of people with similar interests can be of great benefit. There are groups for everything: Hiking, biking, climbing, running, sports, art, crafts, music, cars, motorcycles – anything you can think of. Walk into any coffee shop and there are probably several little meetings happening of people with some sort of highly specialized interest. I was in a coffee shop a little while ago and next to me was a meeting of thirtysomething-year-old men who wanted to revitalize skateboarding as a method of transportation – pretty specific!

Your family, friends, church, group, etc. should comprise what could be called your “trust network” – those with whom you’ve established mutual trust and respect. This trust is established through the course of life and it is furthered and reinforced through healthy two-way communication. You should have people you can talk with, who will listen, who won’t heavy-handedly judge you but will tell you the bare-bones truth.

Sometimes, trust is betrayed. You were betrayed or you did the betraying. Regardless, such things can be repaired one way or another. That’s the next thing to understand: The situation is never without hope. Something can always be done to fix it. Life is challenging to say the least, and it is a team effort. In the end we must work together, and working together is a continuous process.

Closing

Alright, that was more than a checklist.

No one said life would be neat and tidy and eternally joyful. Our unpleasant emotions, such as anxiety, depression, fear, anger, etc. may simply be stepping stones on the way to enthusiasm, joy, a sense of camaraderie and the feeling of a job well done.

Always remember to look ahead and know that you create your own destiny. From the famous poem, “Invictus”:

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

Sources:

http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

http://www.cchr.org/videos/marketing-of-madness.html

http://www.cchrint.org/2011/08/29/cchr-exposes-front-groups/

http://www.cchrint.org/issues/psycho-pharmaceutical-front-groups/adaa/#_edn3

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2002/07/disorders-made-order

10 Tips for Preventing Underage Alcohol Use

Underage Alcohol UseThe most popular drug among teenagers is alcohol, and if you were young once, you probably know why. If you’re like millions of others, you drank as a youth before it was legal to do so. So talking to your kids about it may make you nervous. You did it, so why can’t they – or at least that’s the reasoning a lot of teens fall back on. But you still probably don’t want them drinking and you certainly don’t want them drinking and driving. Here are 10 tips for helping your kids steer clear of the pitfalls of underage drinking:

1. Build Rapport

An adult attempting to build rapport with a teenage son or daughter can appear strained or even futile, but it need not be if it is real and honest communication. If you drank as a youth, be honest about it. Tell your kids that you don’t want them to make the same mistakes you did. Whatever your approach, establish two-way communication, and try not to make it a boring lecture. Relate the discussion to their real-life situation. Find out what they’re running into and go over solutions. And realize that one conversation isn’t enough. The discourse should be on-going as new situations present themselves.

2. Educate

Most kids who got into drinking and drugs simply didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. That is where drug and alcohol education is indispensable. A number of programs and websites have tackled the subject quite well. They provide an insightful look into the truth about drugs and alcohol without being boring or overly preachy. They include:

The best approach is to give kids the facts. When they are educated, they are far more likely to make rational choices. The PERCEPTION OF RISK is a key element to discuss, since kids assume alcohol and even prescription drugs are “safe” since they’re “legal” when nothing could be further from the truth.

3. Set Priorities

Your primary concern is the safety of your child. It is up to you and your child to work out boundaries and protocol. If your #1 concern is about drunk driving, tell them. Let him or her know that you CAN and WILL pick them up any time night or day, no questions asked. Talk about binge drinking and date rape, the prevalence of sexual assault amongst high school and college age kids. If you don’t know about all that, take it upon yourself to find out, because as a parent you need to know. Lay the ground rules and go over various scenarios with your kids. Make sure you get their understanding and honest agreement.

4. Discus Teenage Drinking Habits

Alcohol affects the teenage brain and body differently than adults. When kids drink, it is usually in the form of binge drinking. Most kids don’t like the taste, but they knock down a number of drinks in a short period of time and get intoxicated VERY fast. They lose control and the next morning they often don’t remember everything that happened the night before. They make bad decisions, get into fights and have accidents; they have unprotected sex and risk STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Teens and college kids have all kinds of drinking rituals, many of which are unhealthy and some are quite dangerous. You should talk about these facts with your son or daughter, not to scare them, but to help them understand the pitfalls of underage drinking.

5. Address the Prevalence of Mixing Drugs & Alcohol

Mixing drugs and alcohol is one of the most dangerous things that kids do. A punch bowl party or pharm party is one where kids collect up massive amounts of pills, put them in a bowl and everyone reaches in and swallows a handful, or they get handed out like candy. Then they wash it all down with alcohol and the results can be catastrophic. They don’t even know what they’re taking yet the pills include heavy narcotic and psychotropic drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Ritalin, Adderall, Xanax, Valium, and so on. Any mixing of drugs and alcohol can be dangerous or fatal.

6. Talk About Peer Pressure

If your teen is going to parties, you can be pretty much certain there is alcohol there. They get a lot of pressure to drink and use drugs. Talk with your kids about whether it’s worth it or not to go to these parties. This is a very real problem for teens because popularity is a big issue – at least to them. Peer pressure, ridicule and bullying are serious obstacles for kids. They also have to contend with online peer pressure and bullying, something their parents never had to deal with. Understanding what kids are up against in the 21st century is vital to the conversation.

Another angle is to go over things that are “cool” that do not require drugs or alcohol. Being on the football team or cheerleading squad, taking up the guitar or drums, and other pursuits could successfully supplant the superficial “cool” mentality with something genuinely cool. But even the so-called “uncool” pursuits like science and math are in fact cool. Hopefully your kid’s school supports diverse interests.

7. Discuss Media Influence

Unlike cigarettes, alcohol is advertised on television. So are prescription drugs oddly enough. On television, YouTube, in movies, in print ads and on billboards, we see slick, stylish, well-dressed, affluent, endlessly cool and beautiful people drinking and having the time of their lives. You’d think they just found the key to happiness in a bottle. For some reason, virtually every Seth Rogen/James Franco/Jonah Hill movie has the obligatory slow-motion drunken debauchery scene – to cite one bewildering and ridiculous example.

Media, advertising and propaganda are precise “sciences” and one of the key tools in the arsenal is REPETITON. The “public” gets hit with specific imagery over and over and over again, so much so that we don’t even notice it. Children and teens are especially impressionable and alcohol advertising is intended to make young consumers into loyal customers. Practice media awareness with your kids in order to get them cognizant of the messages and images they are viewing.

8. Establish Goals

Kids drink and use drugs because they’re bored and can’t think of anything better to do. Help your child or teen establish some direction in life. They could get a head start on their peers by taking up a worthwhile goal and working industriously towards it. Many of your great artists, innovators and entrepreneurs started in their youth. They knew what they wanted and went for it, and they couldn’t be bothered with the partying and boozing mentality. There is nothing wrong with having a good time, but when young people have a strong sense of purpose, they also learn and practice things like hard work and self-discipline. They learn that real accomplishment doesn’t come for free.

9. Establish Positive Role Models

Kids emulate their role models. Unfortunately, there are some less-than-stellar role models out there. Talk about role models with your kids. Who are they? Why did they pick them? Perhaps they could elect some positive ones. Maybe they never even thought about it. But the best role model you could aspire to is the best version of YOU. You can’t really force that on anyone – they must realize it for themselves. They can look at others and decide they’d like to adopt some of their positive qualities, but in the end you want them becoming more and more who they truly are. “Be yourself!” has become a bit of a slogan, but the idea is a good one. Be YOU, not someone else.

10. Build Family Support

I certainly can’t tell you how to run your family, but I can say that the family is the primary building block of a civilization. Your family should be the rock for your kids. Certainly the parents should act as positive role models, so if you have a drug problem or a drinking problem, get help. Many kids who get into trouble with drugs and alcohol do so out of frustrations that started in the home. The more stable, supportive and nurturing the family environment, the better. That takes work, as does anything worthwhile.

Our youth face daunting challenges these days, as well as unique opportunities. The support they need starts in the home.

10 Addictive Drugs Being Marketed Today

More Drug Marketing = More Drug Use

Addictive DrugsAmerican television viewers see up to 16 hours of advertisements for prescription medications every single year, and that doesn’t count all the print and internet ads.

A survey done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of consumers viewing ads for drugs, revealed that 58% felt that the ads made the drugs sound much better than they actually were. 75% of physicians agreed with consumers, stating that the drugs do not work as well as the ads would have consumers believe.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that many of these ads are completely inapplicable to the health of the consumer watching it. However, the advertisements encourage “telling your doctor” and general alarm about possibly non-existent health problems.

What is not generally known is that many drugs are marketed directly to doctors by pharmaceutical companies, further slanting health care away from medical science and more toward popular opinion and propaganda. A patient “telling her doctor” about an issue she saw on television is seen by a doctor whose attitude could very have been influenced by clever marketing and sales ploys aimed at his profession.

With so much advertising telling people how great prescription medications are, it can be difficult to discover the dangers of specific drugs. Here is a list of 10 addictive drugs which are likely being marketed to you directly or to your doctor:

1. Zohydro ER (hydrocodone)

This painkiller is an extended release capsule of the opioid hydrocodone and is prescribed to treat severe pain. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes hydrocodone products as Schedule II in their “Schedules of Controlled Substances.” This category is for drugs that have “a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

One Zohydro ER pill releases hydrocodone over a period of 12 hours. It has no “anti-abuse” failsafe built in. This means an individual can crush the pill and consume a full 12 hour dose in one swallow, snort, etc. OxyContin ER had the same problem until the drug company producing it was required to create a pill that turns to a mushy paste when it is crushed. This prevents users from snorting, smoking or injecting the drug. For some reason, Zohydro ER has not been produced in a tamper-resistant form.

2. OxyContin (oxycodone extended-release)

OxyContin is an extended release opioid painkiller which is made of oxycodone. It has long been known as a highly addictive opioid pain reliever and is listed as a Schedule II drug by the DEA.

Sold on the street under names like oxy, OC, O, hillbilly heroin, oxycotton, and kickers, there has been a thriving black market going on around this pill for years. The U.S. government has taken steps to end the illegal sale and abuse of this drug by insuring manufacturers produce a tamper-resistant pill.

3. Methadone

Methadone is an opioid medication which is prescribed to treat pain and to treat addiction to other opiates like heroin and oxycodone. While methadone has been prescribed to treat addiction since the 1960’s, this drug is extremely addictive and is listed under Schedule II by the DEA.

The use of methadone has been to transfer heroin and opiate addicts onto methadone as a legal substitute and then slowly reduce the dosage. The idea is to reduce the withdrawal symptoms one might experience going “cold turkey.” However, methadone is often used for years after the individual has moved onto it. Many are unable to take that final step and get off opiates.

Withdrawal from opiates, such as heroin, will cause the user to get sick and experience other physical and psychological symptoms, but is not usually life-threatening. Methadone on the other hand can cause death if the addict attempts to withdraw cold turkey when the drug has been used for an extended period of time. Medically supervised detoxification should in fact be done for any opiate withdrawal situation.

4. Vicodin (hydrocodone & acetaminophen)

Vicodin is a mix of the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen (aka Tylenol). It has recently been added to the list of Schedule II drugs by the DEA and FDA. This is due to the number of people abusing hydrocodone combination drugs, its addictive nature, and the high rates of overdose hospitalizations and deaths. Abuse of oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids has led to a spike in heroin abuse throughout the country, partly due to the availability and appealing street prices for heroin. Heroin, morphine and prescription painkillers share chemical similarities and users often alternate and use whatever they can get their hands on.

5. Methamphetamine

Few may know it, but methamphetamine is a legal drug sold under the name Desoxyn which is prescribed to treat ADHD, obesity, and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to control when one falls asleep. This drug is very addictive and is listed as a Schedule II narcotic by the DEA. Not only is methamphetamine extremely psychologically and physically addictive, it can change a person’s physical appearance and cause mental breakdowns and psychosis.

6. Ritalin (methylphenidate)

This is a well-known stimulant prescribed to treat perceived mental disorders as well as narcolepsy. It is given to children, ages 6 and up, who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Ritalin and other methylphenidate drugs like Concerta, Quillivant XR, Metadate, and Methylin are addictive, Schedule II narcotics, chemically similar to amphetamines and even cocaine.

Giving methylphenidate and other stimulants to young children often produces a depressive effect and sends their small bodies into a sort of shock. Also described as “zombielike”, this is perceived as an improvement in the child’s behavior because they are less inclined to exercise their freewill, are more docile, and are easier to control.

These drugs are linked to a long list of known stimulant side-effects including insomnia and heart problems. They are also documented as causing sudden death in children by bringing about an enlarged heart and other complications associated with stimulants.

More and more children and adults are being diagnosed with ADHD, which means this drug is in vast circulation in the United States. Over three million units of methylphenidate were sold in the United States in 2013 alone. That’s about 1 pill for every 100 Americans. The majority of those taking the drug are children between the ages of 4 and 17 – and most of these are boys.

Whether one is using methylphenidate drugs according to prescription or they’re abusing the drugs (crushing, snorting, smoking, injecting, overdosing, etc.), there is a high potential for addiction – a fact well-documented by the DEA.

7. Adderall and other amphetamines

Adderall contains dextroamphetamine and amphetamine and is commonly prescribed to treat ADHD symptoms. Other amphetamines prescribed to treat ADHD which were not covered above include Dexedrine (amphetamine), Dextrostat (dextroamphetamine), and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine). All of these drugs are categorized as Schedule II narcotics by the DEA for their potential for abuse and physical and psychological dependence and addiction. Adderall and Dexedrine are FDA “approved” for children 3 years of age and older while Vyvanse is approved for use by children 6 years and older.

8. Xanax (alprazolam)

Xanax (generically known as alprazolam) is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety. It “works” by depressing the function of the central nervous system. The Drug Abuse Warning System (DAWN) reported in 2009 that 363,000 emergency room visits involved central nervous system depressants.

Xanax falls into a category of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs were introduced to replace barbiturates as sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications. Long-term use of benzodiazepines has been linked to a number of health conditions including Alzheimer’s disease as well as dependence and addiction. If a long-term user of benzodiazepines decides to stop taking the drugs cold turkey, he or she may experience severe withdrawal symptoms, including a potentially fatal cluster of symptoms called benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Therefore, withdrawal from benzodiazepines like Xanax should be done under the care of medically trained addiction specialists.

9. Valium (diazepam)

Valium (generically known as diazepam) is another benzodiazepine drug. This medication is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, and is also used by some facilities during alcohol withdrawal. Because Valium is a benzodiazepine, anyone seeking to stop using it must seek medical assistance. Suddenly stopping benzodiazepine use is dangerous and can be fatal as mentioned above.

10. Cough syrup with codeine

Prescription cough syrup with codeine is a commonly abused drug. Codeine is in the opiate class and repeated use can bring about drug dependence and addictive behavior. Too much codeine can kill someone. A concoction called Purple Drank, also known as lean, sizzurp, syrup, drank, and other names is a mixture of codeine cough syrup, promethazine (allergy medication), as well as other ingredients like soda, ice, colored candy, and alcohol. The drink originated out of the Hip Hop community in Houston, Texas and has since spread through the South and the rest of the country, getting an added boost from a few rappers and their songs which glorified the drink. Rapper Lil Wayne admitted to his addiction to it, while DJ Screw and others died from it.

Alternatives to Drugs

When you or your child are prescribed a drug, particularly for a “mental disorder”, do your homework and find out what the side effects are and how addictive the drug may be. I have written a number of other articles detailing such drugs and the marketing ploys that have gotten 50 million Americans using them. You can always get a second opinion from a physician versed in non-drug treatments.

For physical pain, particularly severe pain, drugs are often necessary, but continued painkiller use does lead to dependence and addiction, so precautions should be taken.

Tobacco was once advertised on television and even endorsed by doctors as a “healthy” practice. Then it became clear that millions of people were dying of cancer and it was decided that the TV ads probably weren’t such a great idea. Millions have already perished from prescription drug use yet TV ads and stealth marketing continues unabated. Perhaps one day enough people will take notice and greater reforms will be instituted.

You can live a drug-free life. If you or someone close to you suffers from addiction to any of the above drugs, or any drug, contact one of our addiction specialists. You have a right to know your options.
Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17261859

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143562.htm

http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/

http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/methadone.asp

http://www.rxlist.com/zohydro-er-drug/side-effects-interactions.htm

http://www.zogenix.com/content/products/zohydro.htm

http://www.rxlist.com/oxycontin-side-effects-drug-center.htm

http://www.rxlist.com/vicodin-drug/patient-images-side-effects.htm

http://www.rxlist.com/desoxyn-drug/side-effects-interactions.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/narcolepsy

How Can I Inspire a Group of Unmotivated People?

The Unmotivated

Inspire Unmotivated PeopleHave you ever had to get a child out of bed who JUST DOES NOT WANT to get out of bed? It’s a very tough thing to do. You gently jostle him. Nothing. You offer a number of perfectly rational reasons for him to get up. No response, just a surly growl and a roll over. You even get confrontational with “if you don’t, then…” No interest whatsoever. You go back to the positive reinforcement in the hopes of hitting the one motivational item that gets him to spring up in a state of unbridled enthusiasm. Silence. Finally, you carry him to the car.

Two Ends of the Spectrum

What about an office full of people who just aren’t as motivated as they used to be? Do you just fire everyone and replace them with new blood? Not entirely practical, especially if these are people that know what they’re doing and just need the motivation to do it. Some executives and managers are obsessed with being “tough” and “uncompromising” while others are compelled to be “understanding” and “nice”.

You can place any manager somewhere on a scale – with totalitarian dictator at one end and pushover schmuck at the other. Both extremes are counter-productive.

When you are so stern that you are unfair and people are afraid to talk to you, you shoot yourself in the foot. When you are so amicable that no one takes you seriously, you send the message that you are easily fooled and tolerate a slack atmosphere. Somewhere in between you’ll find competent leadership. I won’t say that there is an ideal point, because people have different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. With a little soul-searching you can see where you are and what you’d like to improve.

The Words You Use

Look up “Coffee’s for Closers” on YouTube and you’ll find Alec Baldwin’s infamous “motivational” speech from the film Glengarry Glen Ross. The character and his speech lean toward the antisocial, but at least he gives a bit of know-how to the group of beaten-down salesmen when he points to the blackboard that reads: ABC = Always Be Closing, AIDA = Attention Interest Decision Action. The mistake he makes, in my opinion, is in calling them all “losers” and other expletives, and basically being a jerk (a charismatic jerk).

When you seek to correct someone, avoid labels that tell them who or what they are. Calling someone a “failure” or a “loser” is very different than pointing out something they failed to do or a deal they lost. The difference is that one statement directs their attention INWARD and onto themselves and the other directs their attention OUTWARD onto what they did or did not do. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards and demanding high productivity, but when you do so, be SPECIFIC and focus on ACTION, while avoiding words and phrases that lower people’s self-esteem.

If someone is supposed to be a salesman but isn’t being one, do something counterintuitive by looking them dead in the eye and saying YOU ARE A SALESMAN. Inspire them to be one. If your secretary is not acting like one, tell her (or him) YOU ARE A SECRETARY. If you say it and really mean it, they could turn around right there.

The Value of Necessity

To motivate people, it is necessary to raise their level of NECESSITY. This can be done in many ways. In a football or basketball game, the prospect of winning or losing of course affects the level of necessity on both teams. The factor of TIME plays a large role in it as well; scoring points within a specific framework of TIME determines the outcome. The RULES also determine play and outcome. The same principles can be applied to an office, a factory, or in any situation where you’re trying to motivate people.

Raising necessity by proclaiming “You’ll be fired if you don’t…!!!!” is a very narrow approach. Agreeing on short and long-term goals to be met within specific time frames is a more productive approach. When these goals are set and communicated, when you do it right, you get uniformity of action, more vigor and more life. “To be the best branch in our region”, “To be the industry leader in volume and quality of service” are examples of goals you can set and which you’d break down into finite, quantifiable sections, all placed within the framework of time.

By all means offer rewards and incentives. Talk to people and find out what gets them excited and on fire to do more and do better. Incentives can be big or small. You can even break it down hourly. You make the morning or afternoon target and it’s doughnuts. You make the weekly target and it’s an office outing on Friday night. People like being part of a team, part of something meaningful. They appreciate a company culture where members take pride in what they do and have fun doing it.

A Team or Not a Team

You’ll always have turnaround. It’s inevitable. People quit; they move; they have to be let go. You’ll find that that there are only a small number of people who cannot get behind a team effort, who remain permanently malcontent, and who seek to foster dissention even when the purpose of the team is perfectly rational and conducive to the prosperity of all concerned. Such individuals aren’t likely to be very helpful on your team.

You can and should listen to others’ opinions, disagreements and suggestions, but you should be able to tell when a person is actively working in the opposite direction. This is an important point because such an individual is bringing the rest of the team down. You owe it to the team players to allow them to work beside other team players.

Productivity = Morale

Want to know how to kill morale? Allow low productivity, that’s how. The basis of morale is PRODUCTION. Ever get the holiday blues? One reason for that is you just haven’t been doing anything, and you are probably relieved when you get back to work! When people are not working and are not producing much that is worthwhile, they feel down in the doldrums.

It’s a bit of a Catch-22 because they need to be fired up in order to work but of course they aren’t fired up because they haven’t been working! It becomes your job to get them fired up enough to START getting some work done. You’re the kick starter, the spark that ignites the fire. The more work they get done, the better they’ll feel. With high productivity comes high morale, high motivation, and happier people.

Take a Real Interest

Talk to people. Take an interest in their personal lives – within professional boundaries of course. Your team – and I emphasize TEAM – is spending most of their day at work. They are relying on you for their livelihood and vice versa. They can show up grumpy, bummed out, with troubles from home wrapped around their heads. You’d be surprised how far it goes just getting someone to talk about something for a few minutes, just letting them bounce their troubles off someone else. Once they’ve downloaded, hopefully they’ll be more “in the moment”. Offer a suggestion if you are able to. Maybe you’ll even want to counsel people over break or after work – that will be up to you.

Obviously they have the responsibility of doing their jobs; that’s what they’re paid for. But when you have people physically at work, it helps a great deal when they’re there mentally and spiritually as well. They are people and life can be rough. You may think this is too much of a burden for you. Well, welcome to the life of a boss!

Knowing How

The nameless man played by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, who’s “from downtown” and was sent by the management of the real estate firm, gives the group of salesman the ABC, AIDA lesson I mentioned earlier, but that’s about it. These are all presumably good salesmen who are in a slump (all but one). They SHOULD have gotten some drilling and coaching, some re-familiarization with the basics of their craft.

What about a bunch of newbies – green personnel who may have some training but little practical experience? Any job has a RIGHT WAY of doing things. There is a right way to drive a school bus, fly a plane, answer a phone or type a letter. Something called JUDGMENT is also essential. And if the technique or technology for something does not genuinely exist, it eventually gets developed, discovered or invented.

What may seem like a motivational problem could in fact be a lack of understanding and know-how. The person just doesn’t know what to do. They have the job description; they may think they know; they may say they understand. But can they DO? Only by DOING will anyone really prove that they know and understand. So as a boss, watch what people are doing and how they do it. Maybe they are slow and uncertain because they really aren’t sure what is expected of them. Help people with their jobs. Write up sound and practical company policy that relates to the real world.

You can also hire someone whose job is to make sure others know their jobs and are doing them – that person would need to be very sharp indeed. I know because I have such people in my organizations, whose job is to see that others get well-established in their respective positions, know what they’re doing and do it. When people really KNOW their jobs and DO their jobs, motivation and morale basically take care of themselves.

Stoking the Fires

In the first example of the child who does NOT WANT to get out of bed, you keep mentioning things he might want to do that day and suddenly, BOING!!!! He’s wide awake! You said, “Show your toy airplane to your friends!” and that was the go button! The same is true of grown-ups. Talk with your people. Find out what makes them tick, what gets their fires burning and their hearts racing. What does it take to inspire them?  And see how you can work that into your overall strategy. Over to you!

How to Make 2015 Your Most Productive Year Ever!

Productive New YearI know. You’ve heard it all before: “This year will be your best yet! All you need to do is…” Others tell you and you tell it to yourself, but it doesn’t happen. The last year was only slightly better, was about the same, or was worse than the one before. Why should the next one be any better?

Of course you know WHY the last year wasn’t a banner year: “It was because…” Well that is part of the problem. You’ve got it all figured out. You’ve made all your excuses and they’re neatly lined up. When you need an excuse you just reach for one. With an excuse, you have a reason to fail or at least a reason to hover around the status quo.

Discard the Excuses

I’m not talking worst case scenario like your house blew up or you live in a police state where you get thrown in jail for littering. I’m talking you had a year (or quarter or month) that was more or less average or mediocre. I’m not even trying to give you a hard time – quite the opposite. I’m just pointing out the fact that it’s really easy to write off a failure with an excuse and a reason WHY. If you know WHY, you can do SOMETHING about it.

Get To the Source

If the roof leaks and you know the exact point where the water is getting in from the outside or from a pipe, you can fix it. If you seal up the point where water is leaking into the living room, only to discover later that water is coming in from a different location, you have failed to locate the source of the leak. There could also be more than one leak or the entire roof needs replacing. Knowing the source of the leak(s), you can do something effective about it. The more you trace back to the SOURCE, the better off you’ll be.

My point? Excuses are only valuable if they are the RIGHT ones and if you DO SOMETHING about them. Simple.

In your new year, and I stress YOUR new year, work on that. Only use “excuses” when you are determined to act on them. Raise your expectations of yourself. Because you are far more capable than others have let on. So what you thought was a negative rant about not making excuses is in fact a letter of high praise.

Unclutter Your Space. Unclutter Your Mind

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”

-Proverb, Attributed to Benjamin Franklin and others

The above saying can be taken to heart not just in your office but in your own home. If you had a place for everything and when you were done you put it back, you’d find not just your space less cluttered but your mind as well. If you set aside some time every day for paperwork, and you had a good filing system and you used it, you would avoid the “piles and piles of papers” phenomenon. When you work on it piece by piece, you don’t wind up with a mountain range of insurmountable stacks of bills, letters, etc. The same goes for your electronic mail.

Visualize yourself in a clutter-free space that allows you to think and do clearly, directly, emphatically and effectively. Then work daily to make that space a reality. Another word for uncluttering is ORGANIZING.

Maximize Your Priorities

There is however a proviso to organizing. If you aren’t doing anything, if you aren’t producing anything, all the organizing serves no ultimate purpose. You get an organized room, which is great, but you organize for PRODUCTIVITY. And that means setting priorities. You can probably whittle down all you do to a short list of utterly indispensable actions. Get those done or rolling ahead and then jump to the next items on your to-do list. It’s easy to run off in all directions at once. Focus on what MUST be done.

What must be doesn’t just mean in the next day or two. It’s what must be done for the long haul. If you have a leaky roof, by all means get it fixed, but do not cease productivity. Don’t let a few leaks stop you from doing what really matters.

Prepare the Night Before

When you have an early morning flight, chances are you pack and have everything ready the night before so you are not late. You’ve probably even laid out the clothes you’ll be wearing for maximum efficiency. Practice setting up the next day the night before. Write your daily plan (your to-do list) the night before and get any preparatory actions out of the way ahead of time. See if this doesn’t help kick-start you into productivity mode first thing the next morning.

Get Up Early

If you aren’t an early riser, experiment with being one. Get up an hour or two earlier than you normally would. Many creative and successful people find the early morning, with its peace and quiet, ideal for getting the most done. Use the morning hours for planning, reading, or getting work done without interruption.

Stay Up Late

Perhaps you’re more the night owl type who gets the most done in the dark and silent hours when everyone else is snoring. If this is you, then use that time to the hilt. The “I will not sleep until this is done” mentality does have its uses. It enforces some self-discipline and shows that you mean business – but it can be grossly overdone. When you deprive yourself of sleep, you end up being overtired and less alert, and you get less done anyway. You can stay up, burn the midnight oil and burn both candles and both ends, but know when to get some rest and go at it the next day.

Listen to Music

I know a lot of people who listen to music while they work. You can probably name artists and songs that get you revved up and into serious a** kicking mode. Some prefer music that is driving and rhythmic. For others, it’s cool and soothing sounds that put them in the right frame of mind. Of course, policies at your place of work will influence what you can and cannot play (if you can play anything). Music is also great when you have a bunch of people working on a repetitive activity; it gets everyone into a rhythm but reduces the tedium.

Music has infinite applicability anywhere in life. When you get home, instead of switching on the television for more mind-numbing programs and commercials, put on the stereo and get your creativity and imagination brewing.

Read “Real” Books

Books that you hold in your hand have a distinct advantage to reading online: When you are reading them, there is nothing else in front of you to distract you – no banner ads, no pop-up ads, no “Top 10 Disrobed Celebrities”, no “This Weird Trick Will Make You Age Backwards”, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Plus a real book is normally going to be much more informativly annotated than the zillions of derivative opinions you’ll read online. When you read a book, it’s just you and the book.

Choose subjects that interest YOU, whether fiction or non-fiction. Pick some titles that relate to what YOU want to get done in 2015. And when you read, connect what you’re reading to your life and your career. Take this article for example: If you can use it, great! If not, discard it and move on. Look to others for wisdom, seek knowledge – but ultimately, be your own mentor.

Know Your Enemies

In drug rehabilitation, we talk about “triggers” – environmental and internal contributors to drug and alcohol abuse. They are different for everyone and they provoke people to use. In life and in your career, your triggers can also be described as your “enemies”. These are things that make you second-guess yourself, slow down, feel like a failure and quit. You fail at one thing and automatically assume you fail at everything. You didn’t get the job or the raise and you tell yourself that you’re just not good enough and so have a reason to quit.

Some people act as enemies when they whisper in your ear, and for your own “benefit” tell you that you “can’t” do something. You don’t have to combat these people – just don’t listen to them. Your greatest strengths are your dreams, your courage, determination, resilience and your ability to re-focus on your desired objective. When you know your triggers and enemies, you can formulate a strategy where you use your strengths and re-affirm your sense of purpose.

Use “Time” to Your Advantage

Many believe they are at the mercy of time. They are too young, too old, or they could accomplish what they wanted if only they had enough of this mysterious commodity called TIME. Factually, you can exert control over time. For example: If it takes you two hours to do a task, keep working on it, keep repeating the action, and you may find that it now takes you one hour. Right there you’ve doubled TIME. You can apply this anywhere in life. In the words of The Governator:

“I’ve always figured out that there [are] 24 hours a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.”

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

While you may not be able to apply that literally – many people really need eight hours – you can certainly apply the concept. It means making each day, each hour, each minute COUNT.

Finish What You Start

To maximize productivity, always finish what you start. If it’s not worth finishing, why even start it in the first place? Make each action decisive, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. When you do a task, make sure by the end it is DONE and does not need to be re-done by you or anyone else. The other side of the coin is the person who keeps working on something ad infinitum (forever) because they never “feel done”. Are you a perfectionist? That’s not a bad thing, taken in the right perspective. There is a quote I often use from the great Vince Lombardi:

“Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”

– Vince Lombardi

Chase perfection and make a habit of completing each task you start. You’ll wind up with a significantly uncluttered mind, a sense of accomplishment, and with your eyes keenly focused on the future.

Hit the Ground Running

Make a point to get your most pressing business done in the early part of the day and at the beginning of the week. Don’t leave the vital matters to the end of the day or at week’s end. That is known as “too little, too late”. When you’ve spiked productivity, your attention will be freed up for expansion, adding more creative elements to the mix and building a future. It takes some self-discipline to do this and we’ve all failed miserably at it countless times. But when we do it, we feel better and more energized.

Remember that you can always begin again – the next morning or the next moment. Decide that 2015 will be your best year ever. Break it down into smaller and smaller increments. Make the next day and the next hour your most productive ever. And have a spectacularly prosperous year! Over to you!

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.