How to Find Hope in the Hopelessness of Addiction


The Depths of Despair

shutterstock_195990011 (1)I for one can speak from personal experience on the subject of hopelessness. I was addicted to alcohol and cocaine for years. I had started using these substances at a young age and for a while thought I was invincible. But gradually things got worse and worse. I hit several points that I thought were “rock bottom” only to find I could sink even lower than that. I tried four different rehab programs but relapsed every time. I was without hope. Later on, I started upon a new program yet again. But something was different this time: It seemed to be working! It helped me come to terms with who I was, versus this “other personality”. It turned out this “other me” wasn’t me at all. It was a personality brought on by drug and alcohol abuse. That was one realization I had.

As I progressed I had many more startling realizations. This was all in addition to full detoxification from the devastating effects of chemical abuse. By the time I was done, I felt like a new person. Only I wasn’t really a new person. I was simply me, but this time I was more than happy with that. A “new me” wasn’t the end of it. I decided my purpose was to help others by using the same principles that had pulled me out of my own personal hell of hopelessness and despair. It became my driving purpose to help others free themselves from the chains of addiction.

Biochemical Causes

Addiction can appear utterly hopeless, and there are many reasons for this. A primary one is the effect drugs have on the biochemistry of the individual. “Biochemistry” refers to the complex interaction of chemicals (substances, fluids) within a living organism, in this case the human body. The body breaks down food, vitamins and nutrients into chemicals which it uses to function properly. Drugs and other toxins are foreign to the body and disrupt its natural biochemistry, in particular the nervous system and the intricate system of over 100 neurotransmitters (chemicals produced and used within the nervous system and the brain).

One profound way that a drug interferes with biochemistry is that it will trigger the release excessive amounts of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and endorphins. These chemicals are released in small quantities by everyday actions such as eating an apple or going for a jog. Drugs trigger a flood of these chemicals, which accounts – at least in part – for the “high” the user feels. But as any drug user will tell you, the high is commonly followed by intense depression as the body goes back to its normal (or lower) level of neurotransmitter flow.

The upshot of this is that the body is “fooled” into perceiving it needs more of the drug to “feel good” again. This vicious cycle gets progressively worse and worse as the individual uses more and more of a drug – to the point of severe dependence and addiction. As we all know, some drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and methamphetamine are known for producing such a level of addiction that the addict will act extremely irrational – even psychotic – depending on the length and severity of the addiction. As if that weren’t enough, drugs deplete the body of vital nutrients and vitamins, making addiction even harder to overcome.

The Value of Detoxification

The addicted individual’s body has been drained of its natural nutrients while at the same time it craves a drug or drugs in order to obtain a chemical high. The person experiences dramatic highs followed by abysmal – even suicidal – lows. It is a roller coaster ride that is – to put it mildly – simply not fun anymore.

The addict who feels hopeless must recognize that they are putting the body through an arduous series of ups and downs and the immediate answer is DETOXIFICATION. Detox is the action of letting the drugs exit the bloodstream. A thorough detox process results in drug residuals leaving the tissues of the body. Detox should be done in a supervised setting for the comfort and safety of the recovering addict. Attempting detox without help is not advisable nor is it safe.

Rehabilitation and Trust

Once the person is off drugs, the process of rehabilitation begins. There are always underlying issues at the root of addiction. In other words, physical addiction is very real indeed, but it is never solely a physical problem. Rehab works to deal with these fundamental problems.

Many people who have fallen into addiction have trust issues. They instinctively do not trust anyone who claims they can “help” them. Establishing a degree of trust, even a little at a time, is essential for the rehab process. That is one reason former addicts do so well with recovering addicts. An addict will often feel that anyone who has never been addicted could not possibly understand what they are going through, and they are in many ways correct. But a former addict understands all too well. No matter the setting, the value of someone who really listens and understands is immeasurable.

Drugs Change Personality

How to Find Hope in the Hopelessness of Addiction

Drugs change personality. A once bright and cheerful person can change into one who is depressed, angry at the world, without a sense of hope, without purpose. Anyone struggling with addiction must recognize the fact that the addiction is rigged to perpetuate itself. In other words, addiction is wired to bring about continued addiction. By its very nature, it is difficult to escape. Simply understanding these facts is a good first step. Then comes the recognition that something can be done about it. This is immediately followed by the willingness to at least try.

Change of Environment

An inpatient setting for recovery is usually the best approach. This is because of the value of the CHANGE OF ENVIRONMENT. In the person’s current environment, he or she continued drug abuse, thus there is probably something wrong with the environment. So we change the environment and provide a safe space in which to recover. From there we look at what environmental factors have been causing or exacerbating the addiction and take effective remedial action.

The Spiritual Element

Quite in addition to addressing the physical and mental influences of addiction, one must not neglect the spiritual side of existence. Faith, religion and spirituality are of course unique to each individual. No one should force anyone to believe anything. But if a person feels they should be looking at the spiritual aspects of their addiction and their life in general, they should be encouraged and helped in doing so. Countless people have found renewed hope when they have fallen back on faith and sought spiritual guidance. It can make all the difference.

New Friends

An addict often needs to make new friends. Plain and simple, they need to hang out with people who are not drug users. This takes some getting used to, and it is often in rehab where this occurs. They are in there pitching with others in the same boat. Everyone there is bailing water, so to speak, in order to stay afloat. They are part of a group with a worthwhile objective and this makes a huge difference.

A miracle I have witnessed countless times is the addict or alcoholic who starts taking responsibility for other people. They look beyond their own personal problems and see that others have had it just as bad or worse. They start to lead by example. This can mark the beginning of a new life for the individual, one where they care for themselves, their friends and their family. The idea of “hopelessness” doesn’t even exist after that. There is an abundance of hope.

Finding a Purpose

After emerging from the hell that was my addiction, I found a purpose: TO HELP OTHERS WHO HAD FALLEN INTO ADDICTION. This was two decades ago and I have not looked back. Anyone can find a purpose for their life, a higher calling, the thing that gets them up in the morning and motivates them to do better each day. Without a destination, without a strong sense of purpose, we are just drifting with the tide – we are not in control. To take control, it is necessary to decide upon a constructive goal.

The first goal of an addict is to “get more drugs” or “stay high”. Given some insight, they hopefully change that to “conquering the addiction”. When the addiction no longer has a firm grip, it is vital to formulate new purposes or rekindle the old ones that were abandoned. Adopting new objectives, new interests, and a new level of self-discipline in order to pursue those objectives and interests are all part of restoring hope and faith in oneself. There is indeed hope after the hopelessness of addiction. More hope than you could possibly imagine.

Debunking the Stigma About Rehab: How and Why It Works

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said, ‘No, no, no.’

Yes, I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know, know, know.”

 “I don’t ever wanna drink againAlcoholism

I just…I just need a friend

I’m not gonna spend ten weeks

Have everyone think I’m on the mend.”

 “It’s not just my pride

It’s just ’til these tears have dried.”

 -Amy Winehouse (1983-2011) from “Rehab”

Tragic Consequences

British singer Amy Winehouse was a revelation in the music world with her diverse blend of musical styles that included soul, jazz, reggae, and pop, all accented with a soul-drenched voice which at once evoked the best of Motown while sounding altogether modern. Amy Jade Winehouse was found dead in her London home on July 23, 2014. The cause of death, ruled in October 2011 and again in December 2012, was “accidental alcohol poisoning.” Amy’s struggle with drug and alcohol abuse was a favorite topic for the cold and twisted glare of the tabloids both in the US and in Britain.

Her award-wining song “Rehab” was autobiographical. On the influence for the song, Amy stated, “I asked my dad if he thought I needed to go. He said no, but I should give it a try. So I did, for just 15 minutes. I went in said ‘hello’ and explained that I drink because I am in love and have screwed up the relationship. Then I walked out.”

Why the “Stigma”?

Why do some perceive there is a stigma about “going to rehab”? Why do people refuse to go to rehab when it could obviously do them a great deal of good and could even save their life? What does “rehab” even mean?

Rehab is short for rehabilitation. To rehabilitate is “to promote or restore happiness, success, health and vitality to an individual by training and therapy after addiction, illness, or imprisonment.” It means “restore to a previous condition,” “bring ability back,” or “return what was missing or lost.”

Some attach a stigma or negative connotation to drug and alcohol rehab because a person who is addicted is often slapped with one or more labels from the get-go. Their “behavior” is deemed unacceptable to society at large and they are already made to feel like an outcast or outsider in various ways.

Let’s get something clear, when “rehab” is in the “behavior business,” when it seeks to judge and label people, it is prone to failure. On the other hand, rehabilitation geared toward helping people to be more themselves, which helps bring out the inherent goodness in people, is prone to success. Rehab should NOT have the purpose of “making someone normal.” Its focus should be on assisting and positively guiding an individual in raising their level of survival, happiness, health and vitality.

Untreated Addiction

In a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 23 million Americans, from age 12 on up, need treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse. However, only about 2.4 million receive that treatment. Thus almost 21 million individuals go untreated. Those numbers are conservative at best as they do not take into account the 49 million Americans that take prescription psychotropic drugs on a regular basis. A large percentage of these individuals, though they may or may not abuse these drugs, suffer from what could be termed Rx addiction.

The First Step: Detoxification

While the government’s “War on Drugs” seeks to slow or stop the illicit drug trade, only effective rehabilitation will help the drug addict with the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make life a living hell. The first step of rehab is detoxification. “Going it alone” or “cold turkey” is dangerous and highly inadvisable. Modern and effective detox systems employ medical and holistic approaches to help an addict or alcoholic through withdrawal in safety and relative comfort. It doesn’t do much good to talk to a heroin addict about their “relationship problems” while they are experiencing the pain, sickness and nausea of opiate withdrawal. The combination of medical and holistic methodologies makes withdrawal comparatively painless, but only after detoxification is accomplished and the person is reasonably comfortable do we even attempt the next steps of rehabilitation.

Causes and Results

Rehab confronts the CAUSES and the RESULTS. It looks at what caused or motivated Rehabilitationa person’s drug or alcohol abuse. And it looks at the results and ramifications of that substance abuse. This should not be done by telling someone who or what they are or how they should think and act. One of the most effective tools for use in rehab is EDUCATION. In countless cases, a person started into drug use because they didn’t know how to handle something and sought an escape, an “out,” through drugs. They sought to numb or suppress an emotion, pain, problem or dilemma. The drug use then overshadowed the original problem. But what if they knew how to treat the original problem? What if they were educated in how to solve problems and trained in skills to effectively deal with their lives? Such education and applied knowledge becomes a primary focus of holistic and evidence-based rehabilitation.

Getting Back Self-Respect

A recovering addict or alcoholic will benefit from looking at the results of their substance abuse, in regards to themselves and others around them. This is not always easy as it requires one look at any wreckage they may have personally caused. Again, this is not accomplished by labeling someone or telling them they’re a bad person. In most cases they are willing to look, which is an excellent start. True, others did things to them which must be significantly addressed, but ignoring what one did to others is a fatal mistake. Why? Because it denies the person the opportunity to restore their sense of integrity, responsibility and self-respect! Recovery of self-respect and self-esteem is integral to the rehab process.

The Whole Approach

Holistic implies addressing the WHOLE person, their BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT. That’s not a catchphrase. It breaks down to providing a number of paths for individual recovery. These include: Dealing with underlying medical issues, physical fitness, healing practices such as acupuncture and nutritional development, cognitive therapy, group workshops, training on personal responsibility and morals, as well as faith-based and spiritual recovery. All these and more combine to form what we term the holistic approach. It is the polar opposite of pigeon-holing people, telling them how they should think, how they should act or what they should be. You will find that when rehab adopts a guiding, helping, individualized, and educational approach, the vast majority respond with heightened responsibility, love for others, and a desire to build a better life for themselves, their family, their friends, and the world at large.

Self-Imposed Exile

The “stigma” of rehab is often self-imposed. A person feels their pride may be shattered if they admit they have a problem or if they admit they are unequipped to deal with the problem alone. But their pride could spell their hospitalization or their death. The primary tool used to get through this first barrier is COMMUNICATION. Sometimes an organized intervention is necessary. Ideally, an intervention is NOT a surprise attack or a bait and switch. A person can be told they are requested at a family meeting or can even be told it is an intervention ahead of time. The approach used depends on the individual and the circumstances involved. But regardless, the purpose of intervention is still communication. If done right, the result is realization.

Freedom from Drug Abuse

Is there a stigma to rehab? Only a false one! Anyone attaching a stigma to it is at the very least not helping and at the worst actively trying to prevent recovery. As far as the self-imposed stigma is concerned, one could ask the question, what is more stigmatizing: “I did rehab and I am living happily drug-free” or “Found dead by overdose”?

Effective rehab techniques have put full recovery squarely on the map. A drug addict or alcoholic can recover and live successfully without the devastating burden of a chemical straitjacket. And no one needs to sacrifice their individuality. Quite the contrary, such things as individuality and creativity are augmented through effective, holistic techniques. A rehabilitated existence is marked by health, vitality, knowledge, and a renewed sense of meaning and accomplishment.


Amy Winehouse “Rehab”

Wikipedia: Amy Winehouse

NIDA: Drug Facts


Music and Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

There are many benefits that music and art therapy add to an addiction treatment program. This is why we include them in our program at Best Drug Rehabilitation. At BDR, we have Dan as one of our instructors of music therapy. He’s also putting a concert together for some of the MoTown Greats Against Addiction coming up probably this fall. Our instructors, like Dan, make participating in music and art therapy fun and beneficial.

The Benefits of Music and Art Therapy

Music and art therapy

Music and Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

One of the major reasons that you get success with art and music therapy is that it helps people extrovert. That means they are able to take their focus off of themselves and look out into the environment. When you extrovert, you expand your goals and purposes. It is like an expansion process of a drug addict raising their tone level, heightening their activities, cleaning away the barriers, getting rid of distractions, and finding a purpose. This all leads to the addict kicking the opposition (which is drugs) to the curb, because he or she makes the decision to be more alive. They become more alive as a group, more alive as a husband or wife, and more alive as a child or parent. This is extrovert.

The person is not being an introvert and thinking, “poor me” or “I’m depressed.” The person is not loathing around because they were fired or their spouse left them. If you look at all that stuff, anyone would be depressed. Things like that are depressing, but when one extroverts and expands oneself, it is probably one of the best ways for therapy.

Music builds emotion, creativity, and allows the individual to extrovert. Art works in the same way. I don’t care if you are a bad painter, just go paint something or do something different. Engaging in music and arts tends to relieve the system of addiction. An individual can use music and art therapy to relieve pressures of life and become more extroverted. This will enable them to look around in their environment and look at the world around them. An extrovert will be able to look at their family, work, and outside situations and handle and control those things. Once you are able to handle and control those things, you minimize on your problems. I like to say, if you confront a problem, and I mean really confront it, is it really a problem? If you confront that addiction with the right guidance, you can look at that problem and make it vanish. That is successful treatment. Music and art help that vision.

Best Drug Rehabilitation and Music With a Mission

At Best Drug Rehabilitation, we recently paired with Music With a Mission for a concert raising funds for the Unity Schools of Mendon, Illinois. The motivation was that I have very good friends from that area and I wanted to help. I also wanted to let the people of Mendon get some extroversion and be able to do some different things. I went out and met the kids and worked on a popular program. My goal is to be a good leader and issue a positive order that I enforce. I genuinely care about what happens to the kids, along with my team from Best Drug Rehabilitation. We want them to be prosperous. We want their school to be well-funded and have money for things such as a baseball team. Those kids came out and helped to set things up. It was a great service for everyone involved. It was a very well scheduled and positive show that got to address addiction. We obtained what is called the “ideal scene,” which was young kids having clean fun and listening to good music.

We are going to do this for four other schools. Our goal is to bring and execute a story against addiction. We hope to see continued success in promoting a great cause for young men and women.

How Entrepreneurs Become and Remain Successful

In my business, I have connections to quite a bit of different people at drug rehabilitation centers. I also know people who run online marketing companies, movie theaters, people that run golf courses and baseball teams. I know a variety of people, because addiction does not discriminate. It takes rich people, poor people, whether they are black, white, Asian, male, or female. Addiction affects every religion, every walk of life, and stabs individuals right in the heart. Now the sum of the people I deal with while combating addiction are in the rehabilitation industry, but a lot of them are just in various fields of business.

Successful Entrepreneurs

How Entrepreneurs Become and Remain Successful

Here are some great examples of how entrepreneurs become and remain successful:

No Quitting

Some of the basic values of being an entrepreneur is that you don’t quit. That is by far number one. There is a word that is not in the vocabulary of successful entrepreneurs, and that word is “CAN’T.” Now you might say, “I won’t,” but never, “I can’t.” If you say that you can’t do something, then you take away the challenge and limit yourself. Suddenly, you are not going to be able to do it, because you have determined that it isn’t possible.

Leading by Example

As entrepreneurs, there is a certain trait you share in common with the people you work with and the people that you affect everyday. This trait is leading by example. For example, if you come into a lot of contact with addicts, it is important to lead by example to encourage them. You lead by being happy and by having dreams and pursuing those dreams.


Entrepreneurs must know how to motivate. You have to be able to motivate those around you, a motivator of everyone that you come into contact with.


Another great trait of entrepreneurs is that they are creators. This is not just in business. In a recent conversation with a young man in my office, we began talking about life and being married. You have to create to be successful and in marriage, this might be how many times you hold your loved one’s hand or how many times you tell them that you love them each day and thank them for sharing their life with you. This is creating. Unfortunately, life gets busy and we forget how lucky we are and then we don’t remember until we lose that individual. If you stop creating with your loved one, you will think the grass is greener somewhere else and you will leave. It does not matter what the reason is, if you don’t continuously create in a relationship, you will lose it. The same is true with business. You must continue to be innovative in business operations and creating relationships.


Successful entrepreneurs are great mentors and they love to inspire. While you are inspiring, you are teaching. When you are teaching, you must point to the individual and try to bring out his or her own vision. It cannot be your vision, it has to be their vision. You have to have vision, but you have to ask them what are their visions, what they want to do in life, and how they want to change the world.

Knowing the Importance of Teamwork

Entrepreneurs know the importance of teamwork. When it comes to the ones working for you, it comes down to asking the individual you are teaching if they want to join the team. There is no ‘I’ in team. Everyone needs to know what the other teammates are doing and thinking. The definition of a team is people who are cooperative together for a common purpose. The problem with a team is the downfall you can have when someone who is not assisting, not bonding together as a group with a common cause, purpose, and goal. In addiction, we play the game of life. Things don’t always go right, and unfortunately, people get sick, people go back to addiction, and people die in this game. We lose great individuals. Get on Google and research individuals who lost their life to addiction. There are thousands of them. You can probably think of a few at the top of your mind. Maybe people who were famous. Maybe even people who were family. For me, creating an effective team is a matter of saving lives. A great entrepreneur knows the importance of creating a team with a common purpose and goal.

In Conclusion

I’d like to end with a quote from a man who knew a lot about team building, Vince Lombardi. What Lombardi thought as being an entrepreneurship is that the entrepreneur’s final grade is: Was he winner? Lombardi famously said, “Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.” Winning is a habit, unfortunately, so is losing. You have to learn that when you go home at night and put your head on that pillow that you did everything in your power to accomplish whatever your purpose is to do. Whether it is getting people off drugs, selling cars, painting pictures or making music, you can rest at ease knowing you worked as hard as you could that day to forward your common goal with your teammates and yourself. That’s winning.

In my world, there is no room for second place. There is only one place in my business, because second place is death. I’ve never finished second in addiction, because I’d be dead. I’ve had times when I wished I was dead. I’ve had times when I thought about being dead, and I think every addict will relate to that. There is no “Almost Superbowl” or “Loserbowl.” There is only a Superbowl. Successful people think about winning. It’s always been an American zeal to win. Every inch of an individual from the bottom of their feet to the top of their head, they have to be smart in life and business. Don’t get discouraged and depressed. What is depression? Depression is not feeling worth your salt. Depression is not appreciating the work or discipline you had. There is something inside of us that yearns to have discipline and the harsh reality is that when men and women don’t have discipline, they don’t feel fulfilled. It’s that purpose that the individual has. The finest hour of an individual is when that person has put a goal out there to achieve and worked hard for that goal, when they get done with the day and they get that call they have been waiting to get. Maybe the advertising agency approved the ad that they have worked on for 3 weeks. Maybe the attorney goes into work and wins a not guilty plea. Maybe the stockbroker recommended a certain stock and it went up. Or just maybe the doctor dug his hands in a person’s heart and by massaging it slowly, got it to start beating again and saved that person’s life. A premature heroin-addicted baby was born and they put him or her in an incubator and they nursed him back to health. The attorney, doctor, stockbroker, and salesperson all went home and laid their heads on the pillow with relief, because they were entrepreneurs that day and they won. It is a great feeling. We can agree and disagree on a lot of things, but when you are sweaty and tired after doing what you have achieved to do, there is no more self-satisfaction than that.

Holistic Alternatives for Chronic Pain Management

Hazards of Pain Medication

Chronic pain can be a crippling problem. It can send you reaching for pain pills more than you would like, and leave you with the dullness many associate with those pills.

Prolonged exposure to prescription or over-the-counter medications to combat chronic pain may heighten your risk of addiction to those pills. An unfortunate fact is that opioid overdoses from abuse, intentional overdose, or accidental overdose now kills more people than overdoses of cocaine or heroin. Opioid addiction has also tripled over a ten year period.

These statistics and many others have chronic pain patients looking for drug-free methods of dealing with their pain. Pain management is a difficult and constant fight, but trying different actions may help you come up with the most effective solution for your pain.

Holistic Pain Treatment

Holistic Alternatives for Chronic Pain Management

Symptoms vs. Causes

Pain comes from somewhere. If the source of your chronic pain is unknown, you should consult with a doctor, chiropractor, naturopath, nutritionist, or any other specialist in order to locate the underlying cause (or causes) of the pain.

Top sources of chronic pain include bodily injury, nerve damage, infection, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and many autoimmune diseases. There are treatments available for these conditions that do not solely involve painkillers.

When it is fully known what is causing the pain, a treatment program can be worked out. Rather than just treating symptoms, a truly holistic approach will tend to utilize more than one methodology with a focus on remedying the root causes of a condition. Consulting with a physician who is versed in both conventional and holistic medicine is a good way to address chronic pain or any number of other physical conditions. Some medical centers employ practitioners who specialize in different disciplines in order to attain a balanced and holistic approach.


I am not a medical practitioner, so do not take any of this as “medical advice,” but I have looked into some holistic alternatives to pain medications due to the addictive nature of these drugs. None of this information should be used in place of a visit to a doctor, but I thought it would be useful to outline some of the more holistic approaches to pain:

Nutrition & Supplements

Drugs deplete the human body of essential vitamins and minerals. Even when drug-free, the “normal” American diet is seriously lacking in nutrition. In addition to a nutrient-rich diet, it is highly advisable to use vitamin and mineral supplements. Calcium and magnesium for example have been found to help alleviate joint and muscle pain. Physical ailments themselves, in addition to their own symptoms, can deplete the body of these nutrients thereby exacerbating an already difficult situation.

An easy-to-digest diet can alleviate the inflammation that causes many chronic pain conditions. Such foods are simple and unprocessed and include leafy greens, asparagus, low sugar fruits, and anything high in omega-3 fatty acids.

When adjusting your diet to nutritious foods and supplements and cutting out foods loaded with chemicals, additives, preservatives and sugar, you may find that your pain subsides. No need to get fanatical about it; common sense when it comes to nutrition is often what people are lacking. It is also advisable to discuss diet and nutrition from a holistic standpoint with a qualified physician, naturopath or nutritionist.

People can suffer from a deficiency in a specific nutrient. You can get blood tests to determine what you are low in and remedy it with vitamin and mineral supplements. Common deficiencies associated with chronic pain include: Vitamins D, A, E, C, B7, B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Allergies can also be a factor in pain, discomfort and even mental outlook. Extensive testing can be done to isolate and treat allergies.


Lack of sleep and chronic pain are linked. It can be difficult to discover if it’s the pain that is causing the poor sleep, or the poor sleep that is causing the pain – or some combination of the two.

A key step to chronic pain management would be to ensure consistent, restful sleep. But adding addictive sleeping pills to the mix can cause other complications. Fortunately, there are many holistic solutions to help you in your journey to great rest. Here are just a few:

  • Calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin B1: Calcium and magnesium work to relax the body, while vitamin B1 helps the brain calm down.
  • Develop a healthy sleep schedule. Set aside the same time every night to prepare for bed, go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time. Your body will eventually find rhythm in the routine.
  • Cut out smoking, caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, etc.), and drinking alcohol before bed.
  • Get the right bed and mattress for you. Too soft or too stiff a mattress can cause further discomfort, and you don’t need that when you’re in chronic pain already.
  • Discuss sleep-boosting herbs and supplements with your doctor, nutritionist, etc. Some that have been found to help: valerian, California poppy, passion flower, tryptophan, melatonin, and hops.


You may know the fun fact that around 60% of the human body is water. This is one reason that proper hydration is so important. Studies show that dehydration contributes to chronic pain, such as headaches and backaches. The only way to really hydrate is to drink plenty of water. If you drink coffee or alcohol, you must drink even more water.


There are many herbs and spices on the market which work to fight inflammation, alleviate pain or simply help you relax. Many are taken in the form of a hot tea and some can be added to food. Here are some which have known pain-fighting characteristics:

  • Turmeric
  • Willow Bark
  • Kava (also called Kava-Kava)
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian (often blended with Skullcap)
  • Devil’s Claw
  • SAM-e
  • Arnica Montana
  • Angelica (also called Dong Quai)
  • California Poppy
  • Boswellia
  • • Ginger
  • • Green Tea
  • • Aloe Vera or Eucalyptus Oil used topically

NOTE: Certain herbs are also associated with specific side effects and some should not be taken by pregnant women or given to children. Consult with a qualified specialist regarding use of herbs in alleviating pain.

Treatment Methods

You have likely heard of at least one “alternative” method which may have the ability to ease your pain. Some of these are relatively new and some have been around for thousands of years. You can try them and discover what works for you:

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Chiropractic
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Reiki (Japanese spiritual massage)
  • Physical Therapy (conventional or alternative)

Such actions may not cure your chronic pain, but they can potentially alleviate the stress you are feeling, make your body healthier, and provide greater energy. You will likely need to give your chosen method some time, just as you would with medication for an illness.


Perhaps the last thing you want to do when you are in pain is workout. But dragging yourself out of bed and going for a light walk, a low-impact swim, doing some yoga, etc. have proven benefits for individuals with chronic pain.

In general, routine exercise is vital for our overall health and longevity. The action of exercise also releases your body’s natural analgesic neurotransmitters known as endorphins. Exercise is especially vital for anyone working at a desk for eight hours a day. So get outside and run, walk, do sports, get to the gym, workout, etc. You’ll thank yourself later.


Any of these tips should only be followed under the guidance of your doctor or health consultant. Do some research to zero in on which method or methods might work best for you. Good luck and here’s to a pain-free and drug-free life!


10 Ways to be Creative Without Drugs or Alcohol

Kurt Cobain Quote

The Search for Creativity

There have been schools of thought over the ages that taught that an artist or any creative person had to be neurotic or insane to produce meaningful art. Right alongside that has been the belief that a person had to be chemically induced in order to be creative, that drugs or alcohol were necessary for creative thought. This idea has held sway in countless circles of artists and people who attach themselves to artists. I suppose the idea has been that the mind is too narrow and needs psychoactive substances in order to expand. Or perhaps it is a marketing ploy by drug pushers and others seeking to make money and subvert and kill artists and musicians. Some creative individuals have even been under the impression that it is necessary to die from a drug overdose in order to have been truly creative – the only thing proven however, was that a drug overdose makes one truly dead.

The Infinite Canvas

Ways to be Creative Without Drugs or Alcohol

Ways to be Creative Without Drugs or Alcohol

Any skilled artist, musician, painter, novelist, etc. uses the entirety of human existence as a canvas, any strata of life is open, no color is off limits when it comes to illustrating and communicating the pain, joy, love, hate, sadness and elation that is life. But that doesn’t mean the artist has to experience every bad emotion and everything painful in order to create lasting and meaningful art. Taken to the extreme, one isn’t going to be particularly creative while lying in a hospital bed or a coffin. Many artists that were once addicted managed to quit and have chosen to enlighten others on the pitfalls of substance abuse. Whether one is a musician, an entrepreneur or anything that requires creativity, it is useful to know some lasting ways to be increasingly creative whilst remaining sober:

10 Ways to be Creative

1. Put order into your life.

Not an easy task, I know. “In order” is a relative term. It is a constant and continuous activity and is a means to an end. You can get your affairs reasonably straightened out and thus, free yourself up to pursue your creative interests. But sometimes there is something so insurmountable in the way that it overshadows everything else – like drug or alcohol addiction. A problem like that can cast a shadow so wide and dark that one sees only blackness and fails to see the problem at all. In such a scenario, getting real and honest help is the answer.

2. Look to positive examples.

Red Hot Chili Peppers QuoteAnthony Kiedis wrote about his recovery from years of drug addiction and has gone on to superstardom with his band mates. Musical legend Johnny Cash spoke extensively about his battles and victories against substance abuse. Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and many others have recounted their harrowing stories, their brushes with death, and how they kicked the habits that were eating away at their creative souls. Many an artist has been misled into drug use in order to “get creative” and found only fleeting pleasure followed by depression and pain. Look to people you admire who remain fully creative without a chemical crutch or hindrance.

3. Build a culture of creativity.

Construct a culture of creativity in your immediate vicinity. Start with your own room or home. Surround yourself with what inspires you. How you do this depends on your pursuits and what would constitute a creative environment for you personally. Ever meet someone with a LOT of guitars? Or someone who is really into cars (or motorcycles or woodworking) and what their garage looks like? You don’t have to stop with your own home. Taking into account obvious financial concerns, find what inspires you. It’s out there. It could be reading books or the experience of music or nature or places you visit.

4. Know your triggers.

Being aware of negative forces is also vital. We all have triggers of some kind or another. When it comes to substance abuse, certain situations, people, places, stresses, etc. can and do act as triggers of a highly negative nature. It is an action-reaction mechanism and it is not particularly rational. Instead of ignoring our emotions, we can recognize and understand them. And we can do something about them. It may be as simple as leaving the room, or calling a friend, or taking a walk. It is important to have a strategy.

5. Collaborate.

Some of the best art and music was created by collaboration. A prosperous business is the result of teamwork. Network with others who are creative AND clean and sober – THAT is a winning combination. If you don’t know anyone in that category, you can look online for like-minded people or groups, or seek them out in your area. Collaborate and team up with others who are committed to creativity without chemical interference.

6. Help others.

Just helping others in any number of capacities is a therapy in itself. There is no shortage of groups dedicated to selflessly helping others, and they are usually more than grateful for your assistance. It is a good way to balance out whatever else you may be doing in life. It certainly helps to put things in perspective and makes you more appreciative of what you do have. And it can also be a source of inspiration.

7. Self-Discipline.

I think you’ll find that the most creative minds don’t spend much time sitting around watching television. Getting really good at something requires hard work and practice, it requires dedication, and it requires that one spend time honing one’s skills while others may be goofing off. I guarantee that if you employ some self-discipline, you’ll enjoy your off time way more – i.e. work hard and play hard. Self-discipline is a valuable skill. And make no mistake, it is a skill which can be learned and developed. Maintaining sufficient self-discipline to stay focused on creative interests and goals is a continuous process.

8. Truth.

You probably know that it’s a good idea to be honest with yourself and others. I’m no philosopher but I’d say that truth and love and beauty all go together. Truth however isn’t always pretty. We’ve all told lies – some little white ones and some big ones. I have found that it is highly beneficial to sooner or later come to terms with the lies. One may find that some of the “little white” ones were in fact pretty major and some of the big ones were not as bad as one thought.

One can get rather snarled up in life when you have to constantly cover your tracks in an elaborate web of deceit, and it is often the little things stacking up that gnaw away at your soul. When one does come to terms with untruth and injects truth into one’s life, a result can be a surge in creativity. I have seen it over and over again in drug rehab, but the principle applies to anyone.

9. Always be learning.

Salespeople are told “ABC”: Always Be Closing. For anyone I say “Always Be Learning.” As soon as you think you know everything, you have given up on adventure. There are always lessons to be learned and some are learned the hard way. Being continuously open to knowledge, having a mind that is free, means you are giving yourself room to grow. The closed mind that thinks it “knows all” is stuck in its ways and will not progress.

In the 1960s people used psychedelic drugs in order to “expand their consciousness”. Unfortunately what they succeeded in doing was killing their brain cells. But their intention at the outset was rather noble in many cases – they were seeking to further their understanding. There is knowledge and wisdom and creativity to be found in infinite quantity. And you need not wander in a chemically-induced haze in order to find it. Always be learning.

10. Create!

“ABC” also means “Always Be Creating.” If you are a writer, write! If you are a painter, paint! If you are a musician, play! If you are an entrepreneur, prosper! Just keep creating no matter what. If you do this and keep learning in the process, you’ll get better at what you do. One of the best ways to get through a creative block is to simply start creating something. You don’t have to pop pills or drink booze. Have some faith in yourself. Create!

The True Cost of Addiction

One individual’s addiction has the power to potentially affect the lives of everyone who cares about that person. It is perhaps one of the few conditions that continue to have negative consequences even after it is under control. It is also a unique condition in that once a person develops an addiction, he or she will never stop being an addict. Managing an addiction is a process that can only progress one day at a time. This is a limitation of the model of addiction; no other condition informs a person’s identity the way addiction does.

What Challenges Does a Recovering Addict Face?


The True Cost of Addiction

Perhaps the most devastating effect of addiction is the loss of time. People lose years to drugs and alcohol. In addition to repairing the physical damage that drugs cause, an addict has to invest years in the work of regaining the trust of his or her loved ones. An illness like cancer does not cause people to steal from and lie to their friends and families. The fear of having to face others without the fog of drugs makes addicts reluctant to seek treatment. They are scared to face people that they have knowingly wronged.

A Group Effort

The truth is that overcoming an addiction is not a solo endeavor. It depends on other people’s willingness to be forgiving. An addict without a solid support system is almost always going to relapse. Paradoxically, the support system will not be there if the addict has not already done some work to win people back into his life. The addict has to be strong enough to start mending fences before any of the real work toward recovery has begun.

Overcoming Hurdles

Over 23 million Americans are addicted to at least one substance. Roughly 15 million people are alcoholics, while 4 million are dependent on illegal drugs. The remaining 4 million people are addicted to both drugs and alcohol. Less than 2 million of these 23 million people have ever sought serious treatment for their addictions, which is worrisome. Addicts are over 10 times more likely than non-addicts to commit suicide, which makes these statistics even more ominous.

It is easy to see why so many addicts would rather find a way out than work to put their lives back together; it is unlikely that their lives will ever be exactly as they were before. Most immediately, addicts struggle with finances. They would have sold most of their possessions of value while in the throes of addiction, and they may have stolen from their families, making it that much harder for them to figure out post-treatment living situations. It can take years to pay off old debts and regain one’s footing in his career field. Significant others might be lost forever, and relationships with children might bear some permanent scars. These are just a few of the obstacles that addicts need to be prepared to face.

It is easy to see why so many addicts relapse. Though the realities of physical addictions should not be taken lightly, it is important to understand the uphill battle that addicts face. If they feel that they will never make any headway toward fixing the damage they have inflicted upon themselves and others, they might decide to give up and stop trying. This is why it is so important for an addict to have a support system. The first step toward recovery is inpatient treatment, but the second step is a collaborative effort between the addict and the people who still have faith in him. A little forgiveness goes a long way toward setting the stage for long-term sobriety.

Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment

Substance abuse and addiction dangers

The Dangers of Substance Abuse and Addiction

No matter the type of substance abuse issue a person is suffering from, it will bring about a high cost. Not only will the expense of the addiction be costly to the person abusing the drug but also to his or her family and loved ones. When talking about the expense of an addiction, this does not mean the actual monetary value of the issue; however, money is often wasted when a person abuses drugs and/or alcohol. Overall, the expense of the addiction includes health problems, damaged relationships, loss of employment, legal problems and much more.

Worse Case Scenario

At the worst, substance abuse and addiction can lead to death. Death can be endured by either the person abusing drugs and/or alcohol, or by those who are hurt by the addiction. Sometimes, both loved ones and the addict will suffer death due to the substance abuse issue.

Treating Substance Abuse and Addiction

To treat addiction, it is of the utmost importance for an addict to take part in an inpatient rehab program. If inpatient treatment cannot be obtained, outpatient treatment should be acquired at the very least. It is through treatment that an addict can learn about the disease of addiction, followed then by picking up intellectual tools to overcome substance abuse problems.

Benefits of Addiction Treatment

When a person begins inpatient treatment for an addiction, he or she will be sheltered from the world. He or she will be residing in a comfortable and peaceful environment, apart from the stresses of everyday life. This helps increase the success of the patient’s detox process and increases their chances significantly of avoiding relapse.

Addiction Treatment

The Benefits of Addiction Treatment

Another benefit gained from treatment is detox care. Detoxing from drugs and/or alcohol is extremely important during the early parts of recovery because it helps to eliminate the substances being abused from a person’s body. In doing this, the person is less likely to endure cravings, which will help treatment to reach its full level of effectiveness.

When in treatment, a person will have the advantage of participating in many types of treatment methods. Most treatment facilities offer the following types of services:

  • One-on-one therapy
  • Leisure activities
  • Exercise training
  • Nutritional education
  • Group counseling
  • Family support sessions

Lastly, substance abuse and addiction treatment will provide patients with an abundance of aftercare services. It is through such services that a person can receive the ongoing support he or she needs to remain sober throughout recovery.

Types of Treatment Facilities

There are a wide range of treatment facilities available for addicts to obtain treatment through. For the most part, the facilities fall into one of the four following categories:

Inpatient: Also referred to as residential treatment, inpatient facilities provide living space for patients to stay in while they obtain treatment services. Inpatient treatment can last anywhere from 15 days to six months or more. Much of the time, after a person completes a certain portion of inpatient treatment, before graduating from the program, the patient will be transitioned into an outpatient program. For example, the patient may take part in a six month program, but only spend three months as an inpatient resident. The other three months he or she will be considered an outpatient resident; thus, being allowed to travel back and forth to the treatment facility from his or her nearby place of residence.

Outpatient: Outpatient treatment is much like inpatient treatment in the services provided are very similar; however, through outpatient care, a patient does not have to live on the premises of the treatment facility. He or she also does not have to acquire treatment services on a daily basis. Instead, services are usually obtained two to four times a week. This is usually best for those with less severe cases.

Dual Diagnosis: When a person suffers from a mental health illness in addition to a substance abuse issue, he or she may benefit from taking part in a treatment program that provides dual diagnosis services. Professionals employed through a dual diagnosis facility are specially trained to provide services that treat both a substance abuse issue as well as a wide variety of mental health conditions. Not all treatment centers provide these types of services, so when this type of treatment is needed, it is of the utmost importance to search for a treatment center that specializes in dual diagnosis methods.

How to Help a Former Addict Stay Clean

Asking someone to face the world and everything in it with no help whatsoever is a bit of a tall order. It is impossible in fact. We rely on each other for survival. Mutual trust, cooperation, and communication are what makes or breaks a society, a community, a group, a family. People need and deserve assistance when struggling with addiction. The former addict or alcoholic still needs help maintaining sobriety. Support, compassion, communication, understanding, forgiveness, knowledge, and expertise all add up to a better life and a successful, drug-free post-graduation existence.

Vital Ways to Help a Former Addict Stay Clean and Sober

These are some vital ways one can help a former addict stay clean and sober:

Keep it Positive

Helping a Fromer Addict Stay Clean and Sober

How to Help a Former Addict Stay Clean

If you’re the least bit cynical (and we all are from time to time), you may scoff at “keeping things positive” but it actually works in the long run. Certainly things that are wrong and negative need to be confronted and fixed. But we need not dwell on them. Help the addict focus on the positive things in his or her life.

Recognize Negative Influences

We need not concentrate on the negative, but we do need to see it for what it is. And it isn’t always so obvious. If things are getting rough, talk to the former addict and see if the two of you can spot what may be negatively influencing them. It could be the person who “as a friend” advises that they give up on their dreams or some other insidious below-the-radar influence. Then the two of you can work out what to do about it. Sometimes just recognizing it is enough.

Maintain a Supportive Environment

Sometimes the former addict or alcoholic must move to a different neighborhood or even a different city in order to facilitate full recovery. It is very helpful when friends and relatives work with the aftercare department and the recovering addict to build and maintain as supportive an environment as possible. The environment includes the people we hang out with, the places we frequent, and the things we do. It is very helpful to reinforce sobriety by looking out for these factors and influences.

Stay Productive

You don’t have to be frantically “busy” all the time while accomplishing very little, but you can stay productive. Just plain boredom can act as a real enemy for many people. Help the former addict to fill those idle hours with work or the pursuit of what interests them. There is nothing wrong with working two or three jobs. I think I do at least twenty! But aside from that, you can help guide the recovering addict to channel energies into hobbies, the arts, constructive actions, goals, dreams, and ambitions.

Keep Family & Friends Close

As much as possible, keep the person’s family and friends close by. This isn’t always doable and it’s not that you want to cloister someone from “real life,” but do recognize the importance of close family and true friends. They are often the rock upon which we build our worlds. Don’t let them forget they have people around them that really care.

Keep the Faith

If the former addict has a faith, help them keep it. It is often their belief in God or a higher power that pulls them through the roughest times. Encourage the pursuit of spirituality. In the holistic approach, we address the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of addiction.

Be Cognizant of Medical Drugs

A former addict can find themselves in a doctor’s office or hospital with a Rx for Vicodin or Percocet. And just like that they are using again. There may be a valid need to prescribe a drug for pain relief, but for the former addict we are in a delicate area. In this example – opioid painkillers – the drugs are often prescribed “just in case” or prescribed unnecessarily; so for a recovering addict, they should not be prescribed or used unless absolutely necessary. Any medical drug usage must be closely monitored and ceased as soon as it is safe to do so.

Don’t be Careless Regarding Alcohol

For a recovered alcoholic, it may be part of their post-graduation plan to avoid social drinking situations altogether. This will be at the discretion of the individual and the addiction specialists he or she is consulting with. But for any former addict, it is not advisable to leave alcohol lying about or allow heavy drinking around them. Respect their space and what they have to contend with.

Encourage Communication & Honesty

When someone slips up, their immediate impulse is usually to clam up and not tell anyone about it. But the opposite should be encouraged. The person will feel guilty about it; at the same time, they don’t wish to be scrutinized or judged. But if they know they have one or more persons around them who are safe to talk to, we stand a much better chance of catching the situation before it gets any worse. Communication and honesty is the stuff of life itself. Encourage it.

Maintain a Strong Support Network

The support network consists of the aftercare department of the rehab facility as well as friends and family. But it goes further than that; specifically designated people – people who AGREE to do it – have certain responsibilities. One of the most important responsibilities is to be on call in an emergency. Ideally you’d have one or two others on call just in case someone isn’t available. If a former addict or alcoholic finds themselves in a potentially hazardous situation, like stuck at a New Year’s Eve party with lots of booze and/or drugs, or being alone just after an upsetting experience, they should have a fail-safe. That fail-safe may be you.

What are the Advantages of Personalizing Addiction Treatment?

The Prevalence of Addiction

Addiction Treatment

What are the Advantages of Personalizing Addiction Treatment

I have stated many times that addiction is unique for each individual. Treatment must likewise be individualized for each person. The one size fits all approach is not enough for many of the people seeking help for addiction and alcoholism. Estimates are that over 23 million Americans have a substance abuse problem, but only 1 in 10 (approximately 10%) actually receives treatment. That number (23 million) is considerably higher when you factor in the numbers who have been prescribed opioids or psychotropic drugs and exhibit dependency or addictive behavior.

Drugs with addictive properties include oxycodone, hydrocodone, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, hypnotics, psycho-stimulants, and antidepressants. Add to this the fact that a large number of people have become dependent upon multiple psychoactive substances (poly-drug dependency and abuse) and you begin to see that one size certainly does not fit all.

Twelve Step System

There are several treatment systems which have gained widespread use, but have limited workability. The Twelve Step system has been in use for the better part of a century. There is nothing wrong with it, but it simply doesn’t work for everyone. I, myself, did several versions of the Twelve Step program and it didn’t work out for me. I found another system and have been drug-free for the better part of two decades. For some, the line in the Twelve Steps about being powerless doesn’t really pan out. Other segments could be applicable to anyone, particularly the steps where the individual works to make good with those whom he or she has wronged.

Opiate Treatment

In treatment of opiate abuse, methadone treatment has been in use for quite some time. Methadone ends up really being the lesser of two evils when it comes to the heroin addict. Methadone, while it is an addictive opiate, is administered in a controlled environment. A daily oral draft of methadone is considered less risky than scoring heroin on the street (or online), injecting it, and possibly overdosing. Recent heroin overdose deaths have uncovered a new development: heroin laced with fentanyl. This deadly concoction is called “killer heroin“. A powerful synthetic opiate analgesic administered to hospital patients in chronic and severe pain, such as a patient dying of cancer or in post-surgery, fentanyl is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Methadone is itself an addictive opiate and is placed in the Schedule II category under the Controlled Substances Act.

For opiate detoxification, Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) has proven a better choice than the more addictive methadone. What some programs miss however is that Suboxone, etc. can be used in the initial detox process but the patient should be gradually brought off that drug as well. The drug-free individual is the end result of detox. That is what the addict is seeking as well – to be free of chemical dependency.

Personalized Treatment

Personalized treatment is becoming more and more the go-to answer for addiction due to the wide range of factors present in any addict’s life. People want results and are looking to evidence-based practice and modalities with proven workability. But addiction treatment isn’t all numbers. What do I mean by this? A system could work on 9 out of 10 addicts, but what about the one it didn’t work on? To that person and his or her family, the success is 0%. Another system could work on 1 out of 10 and for that one person the success was 100%. Addiction is unique. The system that works is the one that works for the individual.

Holistic Methodologies

One answer to this problem is the holistic center that offers multiple methodologies under one roof. A family cannot necessarily afford to send their loved one to one treatment facility after the next in the hopes that one will work – although many families do this as nothing is more important to them than the well-being of their loved one. A better answer however is the holistic center.

For a holistic approach, there can be a core program with a number of optional systems and steps. No one can guarantee 100% results; to do so would be unrealistic. But with a multi-pronged and comprehensive approach, chances for lasting sobriety are greatly increased. One fundamental component in the holistic system is that it should be open-ended, i.e. the time it takes is not set and varies person to person. To promise someone they will get clean and sober and remain that way after a week or two stint in rehab is unrealistic and fallacious.


Anyone worth their salt in the field of addiction treatment knows full well that getting to the root of addiction is essential to the overall process. I am always on the lookout for new treatment approaches, even those that may not have yet established a permanent foothold in medical circles. I look to standard accepted Western medical practice, and I also look at ancient techniques that Western medicine may have not caught onto yet. Forms of cognitive therapy have proven very effective treatment, as have physical therapies involving nutrition, exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as systems wherein the recovering addict/alcoholic can re-focus addictive inclinations into constructive and creative pursuits. Treatment is a beginning, not an end. Organized aftercare and a strong and stable support network are vital.

Influence & Assessment

Before treatment is commenced, an assessment must be done to isolate any factors that could potentially sabotage the recovery process. These could include familial or other connections that have undue influence upon the individual. Specific types of relationships, often referred to as codependency, must be sorted out in order to make sufficient headway. Another factor that must be assessed is any reliance on prescription medication – justified or not. Help, guidance, and treatment for family members is likewise vital for dealing with the whole picture of addiction and its heavy toll.


The cookie-cutter approach has not proven workable. Addiction has however gotten increasingly complex. Personalized treatment is the answer to the ever-changing face of substance abuse. The human spirit is unique – a beautiful and formidable entity that must be treated with care and respect. The path of drug addiction is a wrong turn someone took in their quest for happiness. Through knowledge and skilled application of workable techniques, we point the way toward a brighter future – one person at a time.