How Does Rehab Work? A Typical Day in a Drug Rehab Center

While 25 million people in the US are victims of drug abuse, only about 11% seek outside help.

Deciding to go to rehab is not an easy decision to make, for either party involved. But overall, it’s one of the most prominent steps you can take to get well. 

If you’re wondering how does rehab work, read on to find out what a day is like in rehab.

What Is Rehab?

Rehab is short for rehabilitation, a treatment center where those who struggle with addiction. Here, the patient receives the hands-on help they need through a variety of elements. Group therapies, doctors, and different activities like art, music, or meditation could be included here. 

There are two types of rehabs: outpatient and inpatient. Outpatient therapy is where you visit for a specific time and then go home the same day. Comparatively, inpatient rehab is when you stay for an extended period and receive treatment there.

How Does Rehab Work?

Many different factors are included in rehab, and each person will receive individualized treatment to help them progress. Part of that process is learning new and healthy habits to replace negative ones that led to addiction. Generally speaking, rehabs adhere to schedules and routines, so patients stay focused on their treatments. 

What’s a Typical Day like in Rehab?

While each facility’s schedule may differ in some respect, there’s typically a basic outline you’ll be expected to follow. 


In inpatient rehab, mornings consist of rising early for a healthy breakfast and eating together as a community to foster relationships. Occasionally, yoga or meditation might be included to encourage relaxation at the beginning of the day. After breakfast, there could be some form of therapy that lasts about an hour or more, where you focus on the 12-step program.


Before lunch, you may engage in some free time. Then, the afternoon is usually dedicated to therapy after lunch. For some, this could be group therapy or one-on-one therapy sessions, but it’s often much more intense than morning therapy sessions. 

These sessions will differ for everyone. Individual sessions are likely to include cognitive behavioral therapy or (CBT).

CBT is a form of therapy that’s designed to change your thinking and develop more positive behaviors. During these times, you’ll meet with a counselor where you will (hopefully) feel comfortable sharing deep-seated fears or problems. CBT provides your therapist with information, methods, and practices, to overcome these issues and cultivate a healthy mindset. 

Some people may be involved in family therapy. This type of treatment is where members of your family come and join you in a session so you can begin to work through some issues and build trust. 


Later afternoon is reserved for free times and other types of therapy. Activities like a variety of sports, art, music, being outdoors, and even horseback riding are available at some facilities.

Evening time is reserved for dinner and one-on-one time with a therapist or counselor to discuss your progress. After this, there may be a meeting or a speaker. Free time and lights out are usually around 9 pm but will often be flexible, as it allows the patient to decide when they should turn in. 

How Long is A Rehab Stay?

The duration of a patient’s stay in rehab depends on several different factors. For one, the severity of their struggles and how well they apply themselves to progressing towards sobriety. It also depends on if it’s outpatient or inpatient and if you’ve been there before.

Ideally, they would stay however long they want, but that’s rarely the case. Other circumstances could include their insurance coverage, work obligations, finances, and the type of treatment you need. 

Despite all these facets, an average rehab stay is about three months or 90 days. During this time frame is where the patient’s progress is likely to improve the most. 

Are There Rules in Rehab?

Most likely, yes. Rehab primary objective is to teach the patient healthy habits while working on CBT. Each facility will have its own rules and regulations, but here’s a list of what may be expected from you in rehab:

1. Zero Drugs or Alcohol

Any illegal substance is likely to be banned from the premises as patient work on becoming sober. 

2. Come to Therapies

Even if you don’t participate in any group or individual therapies, it’s expected of you to show up.

3. Stick to The Schedule

Schedules might not be your thing, but in rehab, these are enforced to maintain accountability. 

4. No Media

Not all rehabs are the same, so this rule may fluctuate slightly. However, reducing or restricting the presence of media is to avoid triggers so that the individual can focus on their recovery without concern. 

5. No to Romance

At first, the thought of not pursuing a romantic relationship seems silly, but realistically, romantic relationships can sometimes consume us. When this happens, a co-dependency develops which is unhealthy during a precarious time in a person’s life. Excluding relationships at this time is best for the patient.

Rehab is not a free pass for three months. It’s intentional and focused on the patient’s good and freedom from addiction. These rules may seem restrictive, but they’re in place to produce positive effects.

Rehab Recap

Going to rehab is never an easy decision for anyone, and it will be a significant shift in the environment for the patient. Everything that happens in rehab is to develop and grow people so they can overcome their addiction. Hopefully, this article has given you more insight into how does rehab work.

Are you looking for more information on addiction and the benefits of rehab? Contact us today to get all your questions answered

The Noticeable Signs of Self-Harm from Addiction: A Treatment Guide

In the United States, self-harm and addiction are two big issues with devastating effects. Unfortunately, the problem usually starts early.

Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self-injury, with an estimated 90% of them beginning in adolescent years.

People who are struggling with addiction are far more likely to engage in this self-destructive behavior, and it needs to be addressed.

If you believe a loved one is engaging in self-harm, it is important to find out for sure and address the problem. Let’s find out how.

Self-Harm and Addiction

Unfortunately, it seems as if self-harm and addiction go hand-in-hand too often. Depression is likely to lead to addiction as well as the other way around.

Why do people self-harm? Well, it is never intended as an antidote, but simply an outlet for temporary relief.

Sadly, self-harm can be as addictive as the substance they are abusing. This is because temporary relief is never enough to solve a chronic problem, and the person suffering may feel the need to do it more.

While self-harm is widely associated with cutting, that is far from the only method that people in pain will use.

While cutting and burning are the most common methods, many people choose unique outlets (that we won’t discuss) to relieve their emotional pain.

Some people are more likely to harm themselves than others, but that is not always relevant. While an estimated 4% of adults are believed to self-harm, high school and college students are believed to self-harm at a rate between 15% and 35%.

While self-harm is not intended to be lethal, mixing the process with drugs or alcohol, in this case, is certainly a dangerous combination that needs to be addressed. So how do we find out?

The Noticeable Signs of Self-Harm

When somebody is struggling with addiction, they will likely try to hide it or deny it. The problem here is that when somebody is already in the mindset of hiding the truth, they are likely to do what they can to keep their self-harming habits to themselves.

Luckily, there are a few indicators that we can use to determine if somebody is harming themselves, or if they are at risk for such a dangerous habit.

Behavioral Signs

Behavioral clues can be very helpful in determining self-harm. These behaviors should be monitored if you believe your loved one is hurting themselves. Here are just a few examples.

If your loved one is constantly wearing long-sleeve shirts or sweatshirts even in warm weather, this should be looked into. If you are in a warm environment, try asking them if they want to take off their sweatshirt or change into something more weather-appropriate to gauge their response.

If your loved one is buying or using their bandage supply frequently or keeping antibiotic ointment with them, asking why they carry it can give you the answers you need.

Isolation and portraying fear of being around people at certain times is a possible indicator. Try encouraging them to join you in a social activity to see their response and hopefully get them out of the problematic environment.

Having razor blades or any burning materials stored in their personal spaces are key indicators, but we can’t advise you to look into their belongings as this may affect their trust and even make the situation worse. Noticing these materials naturally is a big indicator.

Physical Signs

Self-harm is not always as obvious as visible scars on somebody’s wrist. Many people will try to hide any marks in any way necessary, and there are many ways to hide it.

Some people will try to harm themselves on body parts that can be covered by a bathing suit. For both men and women, scars are more likely to appear on their upper thighs or hips.

Other methods could be using techniques that don’t leave scars, but we won’t get into details on those methods.

So, unless you are able to look for scars when they are not visible with shorts and a t-shirt, it can be tricky to notice physical signs.

If somebody fits the behavioral criteria, look for any physical signs that you can, such as walking strangely while under the influence as if they have just been injured.

What To Do

If a loved one is harming themselves, it is time to step in—in a loving manner, of course. These are very delicate situations that need to be handled appropriately.

An intervention is appropriate for the gravity of such a situation, but they need to be proper interventions. Remember that addiction and self-harm are two of the most dangerous problems for somebody’s personal safety, so intervening needs to be done correctly.

Offer the person as much support as possible, but be sure to give direct solutions to their issues in the form of treatment.

Self-harm is not a side effect of addiction; it is a behavior associated with depression and a lack of self-worth. Because of this, dual diagnosis treatment may be the best help that your loved one can receive.

Dual diagnosis treatment is specially designed for people who are struggling with addiction as well as a mental health disorder. No matter the addiction, self-medication often follows with PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

This may be the best way to get your loved one the help they need.

Next Steps

It is very clear that self-harm and addiction are both serious issues that need to be addressed, and it is extremely overwhelming when the two collide.

However, even if it is scarier, it becomes more important to solve the issue as quickly as possible before any serious damage has been done.

If you believe it is time to seek treatment for somebody you care about, look into our treatment options and get started today. To speak with someone immediately, please contact us.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning: A Guide for Those Wanting to Help

Drinking alcohol can be fun, but if not done in moderation it can quickly turn deadly. Alcohol poisoning is no joke and there is definitely a point in time when being too drunk becomes dangerous.

Many people don’t realize how easy it is to get alcohol poisoning since it’s not always easy to recognize the signs. This may seem shocking but on average six people die per day from this cause, with the majority of them being between the ages of 35-64.

Many adults believe they know the proper way to handle alcohol poisoning if it happens to someone around them but many incorrect methods can actually make the situation worse.

If you or someone you know has crossed the line on safe drinking there are things you can do to help. Keep reading to learn the in’s and out’s about alcohol poisoning and what steps you can take.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose is a serious condition that is the result of consuming too much alcohol in a short period of time. The signs of this condition can vary from person to person. And depending on how much alcohol was consumed it can also vary in severity with symptoms ranging from disorientation to death.

Alcohol poisoning is often caused by binge drinking or drinking more than four drinks in two hours. If you drink too much too quickly, your liver won’t be able to process your drinks at the rate you are putting them in your body. Which can make you think you are less drunk than you actually are since all the alcohol hasn’t yet entered your bloodstream.

This can lead to drinking to the point that the alcohol reaches toxic levels in your body thus poisoning you. The amount of alcohol needed to cause this toxic reaction will vary from person to person depending on factors like age and weight. But on average it takes the liver a whole hour to metabolize a single ounce of alcohol.

Once you consume more alcohol than this your blood alcohol concentration rises and can reach the point where your body can no longer metabolize it. After this occurs the liver shuts down along with many other systems in the body.

Recognizing Alcohol Poisoning

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if someone is experiencing an overdose of alcohol. We don’t always know exactly how much the people around us are consuming or how quickly they are doing it.

These symptoms of alcohol poisoning include things you’ve probably experienced yourself while drinking. Just because you may have experienced some of these things doesn’t mean that these symptoms aren’t serious and can’t be fatal.  

The basic signs of being drunk such as stumbling and slurred speech indicate that a person is already at risk and should stop drinking. However many people ignore these cues and will continue to drink or even encourage friends to keep drinking when they are visibly intoxicated.

This is extremely dangerous to an individual’s health and even his or her life. Pay attention to these signs as they are something to take seriously.

1. Confusion Or Disorientation

Alcohol poisoning slows down your brains’ ability to function. This is what causes symptoms like slurred speech, slow reaction times, and lack of coordination.

If someone has consumed enough alcohol that they are having difficulty speaking or walking they are at risk of an overdose.

2. Trouble Staying Conscious

This is one of the most easily recognizable signs of alcohol poisoning. If you see someone who is having a hard time staying awake or is completely unconscious and won’t wake up they probably need to be treated by a medical practitioner.

Do not leave someone unattended in this state as it is a clear indication they have alcohol poisoning

3. Changes In Breathing

Alcohol poisoning can make it difficult for a person to breathe. If you notice that someone’s breathing is becoming shallow or slow, you need to call 911.

Slow breathing is marked as eight or fewer breaths per minute. This is especially something to pay attention to if the person experiencing symptoms is unconscious.

4. Vomiting

Vomiting is your body’s self-defense reaction to being poisoned by alcohol. This can be extremely dangerous if the person is passed out because it can lead to them choking on their own vomit.

5. Change In Body Temperature

Another common sign of alcohol poisoning is clammy or pale skin. If you see that someone’s skin is blotchy and it feels cold this can also indicate that they have consumed too much.

Low body temperature can lead to issues with your heart and other organs that if left untreated can lead to death.

How You Can Help

If you notice that someone is experiencing these symptoms it’s important to immediately call 911. Even if the person is conscious, there is a likely chance that there is more alcohol in their stomach waiting to be processed, which will only increase the alcohol poisoning.

Stay with this person to make sure that they don’t accidentally harm themselves. After you call 911 you can continue to help by keeping the person awake and sitting.

If they are able and corporative, try to get them to slowly drink water. Grabbing a blanket for them can also help if they are experiencing feeling cold.

Common things that people mistake as being helpful are putting the individual in a cold shower or trying to just let them “sleep it off”. Cold showers may increase the risk for hypothermia if their body temperature is already dropping. And simply telling them to sleep it off doesn’t take into account they may have more alcohol still left in their stomach.

Prevention Is the Best Cure

We’ve all heard the old adage that ‘prevention is the best cure’ and in this case, it couldn’t be truer. Alcohol poisoning is not fun to experience or to watch some go through. And the only real way to avoid this is by drinking responsibly.

Pace yourself and don’t give in to peer pressure if others are encouraging you to drink. If you think that you or someone you love may have a binge drinking problem, contact us today to get some help.  

Synthetic Drugs Ravaging Today’s Youth

Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Drugs Ravaging Today’s Youth. Earlier this year, many young people went to Montefiore Medical Center acting extremely violent and confused.  Many of them tested positive for drugs. The degree of violence and confusion was much higher than what the medical professionals at Montefiore could have anticipated.  After being sedated for a few days, the stories they told had a striking recurring theme.  They all had used synthetic marijuana.

The harmful effects of synthetic marijuana were responsible for over 150 people going to hospitals across New York.  100 people in Alabama were admitted to hospitals for the same reason during this same timeframe.

These were just some of the names that were used on the streets for amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, LSD, marijuana, MDMA, mescaline, meth-amphetamines, and PCP.   If these names mean nothing to you, you’re fortunate.  Fortunate, but not out of the woods.

In addition to these cannabinoids, depressants, hallucinogenic or psychedelic substances, opioids, opium derivatives, and stimulants, today’s youth are faced a variety of other synthetic drugs.

What Are Synthetic Drugs?

Synthetic drugs are are designed, developed and made in chemical laboratories. instead of being extracted from plants, animals or bacteria.  They are created to be at least identical in effect and properties, if not stronger, to their “traditional, naturally-based” illegal drugs.  They are also known as analogue drugs.

Synthetic drugs are labeled as “not for human consumption.” They contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives resulting in their mind-altering effects.  These labels have no impact on the applicability of local, state or federal laws that limit or prohibit the sale of synthetic drugs. These labels do, however, fluster enforcement efforts as law enforcement and health officials may not be able to identify the products being used as drugs, therefore creating public health problems.

What do they look like?

Products are found in small, square, packets, neatly arranged on a display rack. The packaging is attractive and colorful and describes their herbal scents and aromas. Samples can even be openly, although deceptively, demonstrated.  Moreover, synthetic drugs are sold as “herbal incense” or “potpourri” or “bath salts” or “jewelry cleaner,” at low prices in paraphernalia shops, convenience stores, smoke shops, or other legal retail outlets, and on the internet, all as legal substances, to pretty much anyone.

Are They Legal?

This is not to say that synthetic drugs are all legal.  They are not.  All 50 states have, since 2011, banned two types of synthetic drugs: cannabinoids (such as “synthetic marijuana”, “Spice” or “K2”) and cathinones (such as “bath salts”).  Laws are specific, therefore states generally targeted specific versions of these drugs with individual bans.  Producers of the drugs, in an attempt to avoid the law, simply made minor changes to the chemical composition of the banned substances to create new, but similar, drugs not previously covered by law.  In order to keep up with imaginative manufacturers, legislation in subsequent years has been more general in nature, targeting entire classes of substances or using broad language to describe the prohibited drugs.

The intent of general bans is to prevent new forms of synthetic drugs from remaining unregulated, while still allowing use for approved medical and research purposes.  In addition, many states have empowered state agencies, such as a State Board of Pharmacy or Board of Health, to utilize an expedited rule-making process to temporarily ban newly identified substances that would fall into this general category, subject to later review by the State’s legislature.

Additional legal actions

In July 2012, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 into law.  This new law makes the use, possession or distribution of certain synthetic drugs illegal.  This Act adds fifteen synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as “Spice” and eleven synthetic cathinones, commonly referred to as “bath salts,” to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.[1]

Another addition to the Federal Controlled Substances Act is the Federal Analogue Act,[2]  otherwise known as the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986.  This amendment bans drugs which are not classified as a controlled substance, although they are very similar to ones that are illegal.  These laws require that the analogue drug be substantially similar in chemical structure and pharmacological effects as a scheduled controlled substance.

According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, 34 states have similar analogue laws, and a number of states have amended their analogue laws to specifically address emerging synthetic substances.  States have also targeted drug manufacturers and sellers through product labeling and branding laws.  Illinois is one example of a State that created criminal penalties for false advertising or misbranding “synthetic drug products.”[3] Other states have created civil penalties or are utilizing business licensing and other regulations to sanction businesses that illegally sell these substances.

What Are Their Effects?

Nobody knows for sure what the effects of any synthetic drug are.  Because manufacturers are constantly trying to stay ahead of the laws that ban or criminalize the production, marketing, sales and use of synthetic drugs, they are continuously changing the chemical make-up of these substances.  A simple tweak of the molecular compound, the illegal drug and its effects can become legal again.   “Head shops are knowingly distributing a dangerous, potentially deadly product.”[4]  With a constantly changing formulation of these drugs, it is virtually impossible to conduct any truly meaningful long-term studies of their effects.

Anecdotal information on the effects of synthetic marijuana, for example, reveals that, compared to marijuana, its adverse effects are often much more severe.

Some effects include:

  • agitation and anxiety
  • nausea
  • hallucinations
  • psychoses
  • seizures, convulsions
  • panic attacks
  • accelerated heartbeat
  • high blood pressure
  • blurred vision
  • heart attacks
  • suicidal

and other harmful thoughts or actions, and death.

In addition to the adverse effects of cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine, synthetic versions is associated with:

  • elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • chest pain
  • extreme paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • violent behavior

These side effects may cause users to harm themselves or others.

Synthetic Drugs in the Media

A recent CNN Special Report,  “Deadly High: How Synthetic Drugs Are Killing Kids,” covered the deaths of two teenagers. Christian Bjerk and Elijah Stai both died from taking the synthetic drug 25I-NBOMBe (also known as 2C-I-NBOMe).[5]

Eighteen-year-old Christian Bjerk was a popular high school football player looking forward to starting at North Dakota State College in the fall of 2012.  He had plans to join the college’s football team.  Christian was found dead lying face down on the sidewalk.  Not far from Christian’s body, the police found two disoriented teenagers.  One was naked on a bench, the other screaming at parked car.  The police suspected drugs involved.  A police investigation of the house where Christian had attended a party turned up a white powder. Consequently, police couldn’t determine what it was.

Days later, Elijah and his foster brother Justin traveled to Grand Forks from Minnesota. They went to celebrate Elijah’s upcoming 18th birthday and visit his cousin. Elijah and Justin were hanging out with their cousin’s boyfriend. According to Justin, he offered them a special treat.

Justin said that Adam told them the powder was an extract from psychedelic mushrooms. Elijah was nervous because he had never tried psychedelic mushrooms before. Soon after they consumed the bag of laced chocolate, the hallucinations began. “The trees looked like cauliflowers like dancing around,” Justin recalled. “The sidewalks were swooping up and down like a roller coaster, and the grass was shooting up to the sky.” Elijah started having a violent reaction to the drug. He was convulsing uncontrollably, foaming at the mouth and hitting his head.  When the ambulance arrived, Elijah had passed away.

The aftermath.

At the hospital, the doctor reported that Elijah was suffering from multiple organ failure and had also gone into cardiac arrest.  Elijah was brain dead. On June 15, 2012, after three days in the hospital, his family decided to disconnect his life support.

The report went on to trace how this drug wound up in North Dakota.  The investigation found the online seller.  Therefore he was prosecuted, pled guilty and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

What can we do?

As parents or other influencers of young people, we must be clear about the dangers of these drugs.

Therefore, a clear message for young people is to avoid putting anything in their bodies that would change their feelings or emotions. Whether it is something they smoke, drink, take in pill form or shoot with a needle. The human brain is an incredible and fragile machine.  A teenage brain requires even more care because it is a developing work in progress.  Additionally, stress that it is impossible to know what these drugs contain, who made them or what you are going to get; getting high – no matter how – carries risks of making unsafe or unhealthy decisions.

In conclusion, just because a drug is legal does not mean that it is safe; we don’t know the long-term effects of synthetic drugs because the drugs are constantly changing in order to stay “legal.”


[1] The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the statute prescribing federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated.  The act was passed by the 91st United States Congress as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

[2] 21 U.S.C. § 813, is a section of the United States Controlled Substances Act, passed in 1986. This allows any chemical “substantially similar” to a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II to be treated as it is also listed in those schedules intended for human consumption.

[3] Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.  410 ILCS 620 (2012).

[4] Synthetic drugs sold using sly, deceptive marketing.  (2014, May 20).  KXAN.  Retrieved from

[5] Deadly High: How synthetic drugs are killing kids.  (2014, December 2).  CNN.  Retrieved from

Sober Coaching Fundamentals in Los Angeles

You’ve completed, or maybe you’re still going through, treatment for alcoholism or some other form of addiction.  How are you going to maintain your sobriety out in the “real world?”  If you’re being honest with yourself, you have probably decided that it’s too much to be able to handle on your own.  You’re still going to need some help.  So, what do you do?  Who do you turn to?

A sponsor is someone you choose, who has been sober longer than you, someone you can rely on, and someone who can inspire you.  He or she is generally a volunteer from a Twelve-Step Program, whichever one deals with your particular addiction, who chooses to be a sponsor because it helps them to maintain their sobriety by helping you to maintain yours.  Your sponsor understands your situation, will model sober behavior, will encourage you to go to meetings and become involved, and can help you to make sure you’re getting everything possible out of your program.

In addition to a sponsor, a sober coach is another resource that you can rely on to help you maintain your sobriety.  What is a sober coach?  What does a sober coach do?  The main job of a sober coach is to make sure that you don’t relapse.

A sober coach is an ally who genuinely cares, listens, and can be trusted with confidences.  They are tough; a consistent source of honest feedback regarding self-destructive patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.  They can help to identify and resolve personal or environmental obstacles to maintaining your sobriety.  They’re advocates who can assist you in obtaining social services, suitable employment and protection of your rights.  They’re your cheerleader and your friend.  Intrinsically, they are a source of motivation, encouragement, support, organization, praise, consultation, advocacy and strength.  It is said that the role of a sober coach is most crucial during the first 90 days of an addict’s recovery.

Sober coaches have backgrounds in addiction, nursing, social work and psychology.  Most have at least five continuous years of sobriety.  Before retaining a sober coach, you should check their background; inquire about their training, their association with private or public treatment programs and their references.  Ask the candidate about his or her successes and failures, their years in the field and experience with similar cases.  You may also wish to pursue their knowledge about the “science of addiction.”

In popular culture, you probably have already encountered sober coaches.  Television actors portray sober coaches.  For example, Dean Stavros of “Pretty Little Liars,” played by Nathaniel Buzolic on ABC Family, was a sober coach for Spencer Hastings, who was struggling with addiction.  Dr. Joan Watson, played by Lucy Liu on the CBS series, “Elementary,” acts as a sober coach for the modern day Sherlock Holmes.   Lindsay Lohan, when she left treatment, hired a sober coach.  Zac Efron has hired a sober coach.  Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has had a sober coach.  And Kim Richards, of the Bravo TV series “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” also had a sober coach.

According to Doug Caine, the founder and president of Sober Champion, a sober coaching company with offices across the United States and in London, tough love is a central theme in sober coaching.  “We don’t do hand-holding or babysitting jobs,” Caine says. “Coaches and clients develop an intense, bonded relationship. If you’re not willing to do some work, if you won’t go to any lengths to stay clean, you’re going to have a tough time benefitting.”[1]

If you’re willing to do whatever it takes to reach and maintain your sobriety, a sober coach can help you reach your goal.




[1] Is a Sober Coach Necessary to Overcome Addiction?  (2013, August 27).  U.S. News & World Report.  Retrieved from

Recovery and Community Isolation Isn’t The Answer

If you have taken the plunge into your recovery from addiction, whatever your addiction may be, you are certainly aware of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,[1] written by Bill W. and Dr. Bob S., who founded Alcoholics Anonymous.  The Twelve Steps embody the spirit, philosophy and foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous.  They are its guiding principles and method for recovery.  Moreover, they have been adapted and adopted for use by other self-help organizations such as Marijuana Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and a host of others.

One of the Steps, Step Five, states “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  What does this mean?  What does this do?

First we must look at the social and behavioral pattern of an alcoholic.  The pattern was described, best, by Bill W. and Dr. Bob S.:

Almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by loneliness. Even before our drinking got bad and people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling that we didn’t quite belong. Either we were shy, and dared not draw near others, or we were noisy good fellows constantly craving attention and companionship, but rarely getting it. There was always that mysterious barrier we could neither surmount nor understand.[2]

In other words, alcoholics, as well as other addicts, are lonely, withdrawn, separated, or isolated.

The first four Steps in recovery are (1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable, (2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, (3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him, and (4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  All of these lead to Step Five and its implicit direction to engage in fellowship.

You’ve been an addict of some sort.  Whether your isolation was a cause of your addiction or your addiction was a cause of your isolation, you have set yourself apart from relationships with anyone or anything except the substance or activity to which you were addicted.  The Steps, in their entirety, are the basis for a reconfiguration of your life, which includes healthy relationships.  Maybe you’ve had one bad relationship, or maybe you’ve never had a good relationship, or maybe you’ve been in one-sided relationships.  Whichever it is, the Twelve Steps teach a healthy way to recover.

You go to meetings, sometimes more than once a day.  You encounter people just like you.  They’ve been where you are, done what you’ve done, and are learning to live in sobriety.  Understandably, you will feel reluctant to go in.  But you must.  The people in those meetings have struggled, just as you have.  They’ve battled and are battling addiction, just as you are.  They will befriend you.  People may offer you their contact information so you can reach out to them, compare experiences, and share in the process of recovery.  They will ask you for your contact information as well.  They are willing to help you, if for no other reason, helping you helps them.  In one of those meetings you will encounter a person who you will choose to become your sponsor, who will help you handle your new life.  You will no longer be alone.

Back to the meaning and function of Step Five:  “Admitted… to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  This is something you have to do in order to complete your Twelve Step program.  You have to relate to somebody else.  If you can relate to one person, you will find it easier to relate to more people.  Recovery means you cannot be alone.  “Life takes on new meaning in A.A. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss.”[3]   Ridding yourself of isolation is the key to your recovery.

You cannot do it alone or in a vacuum.  Nor should you try.  Step Five is the answer.  Go to a meeting.

[1] Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (New York, N.Y.: The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. and Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.), 1952, 1953, 1981).

[2] Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 57.

[3] Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 89

Discretion in Recovery

To be in a recovery program means that you will adhere to and work the Twelve Steps.  Intrinsic to your program is the idea that it is anonymous.  Indeed, the final letter of the abbreviation of most, if not all, fellowships that follow the Twelve Steps as a formula to help people recover from various forms of addictive, compulsive, or other behavioral problems is “A.”   That letter, of course, stands for “Anonymous.”   But what does that mean in the context of recovery?

As support for the name and purpose of the organization, the Twelve Traditions incorporate the concept of anonymity:

Tradition Eleven — Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.[1]

Tradition Twelve — Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.[2]

Confidentiality is a necessary element in the process of recovery, both inside the organization and outside.  Recovery, by its very nature, is an intensely personal task.[3]  People who are going through the recovery process generally experience feelings of hope for their future, optimism and a firm belief in themselves and their ability to persevere,  as well as fear, stigma, embarrassment or shame for what they’ve done.  The anonymity of the group allows them to openly express, without fear of unwanted exposure or public judgment, anything they wish to disclose and seek help for.  Members regularly go to meetings with other members who share their form of addiction.  They identify themselves to the other members, preserving anonymity, in this manner: “Hi, I’m Ignatz and I’m an alcoholic.”  Anonymity protects the members’ privacy in their pursuit of sobriety and ensures that everyone in the meeting is treated as being of equal value.  It also affords the individual the personal opportunity and choice to reveal his or her addiction to whomever they wish at the time of their choosing.

Key to the public’s ongoing trust in Twelve Step groups is the knowledge and faith in their commitment to the principles of discretion and anonymity.   There are those who would disagree.  Generally their opinion is that the concept of anonymity is archaic.  In “Challenging the Second ‘A’ in A.A.,” writer David Colman starts by saying, “I’M David Colman, and I’m an alcoholic.”[4]  In his article, he quotes a professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri at Kansas City who revealed his own experience getting sober with A.A., who said, “I think it’s extremely healthy that anonymity is fading.”  He cites examples of people who posted pictures taken at A.A. meetings on their Facebook pages thereby involuntarily outing other attendees, other writers of memoirs detailing their experiences in recovery, and even politicians who have traded on their sobriety:

Still, others have embraced the path of full disclosure and been rewarded. Since becoming sober in 2006, Patrick J. Kennedy, the former Rhode Island congressman and a son of the late Edward M. Kennedy, has acknowledged that he attends A.A. meetings while also actively campaigning for legislation to make addiction be held to the same standard of insurance coverage as other mental health issues. (The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, included as a rider on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was signed into law in October 2008.)

“The personal identification that Jim and I brought to this issue as recovering alcoholics gave us a place from which to speak about this,” Mr. Kennedy said, referring to former Representative Jim Ramstad, Republican of Minnesota, his co-sponsor of the bill (and for a time, his sponsor in A.A.). “Stigma here is our biggest barrier, and knowledge and understanding are the antidote to stigma.”[5]

What he ignores, and what is central to an addict who is trying to recover is that the decision to reveal oneself as an addict or as a recovering addict is a personal one.  Nobody has the right to expose another person’s personal issues.  The founders of A.A. understood this.  They incorporated this concept into the program they created.  Clearly, it works.

[1] Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (New York, N.Y.: The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. and Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.), 1952, 1953, 1981), p. 180.

[2] Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 184.

[3] Repper, Julie, and Rachel Perkins. Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice. Edinburgh: Baillière Tindall, 2003.

[4] Colman, D.  (2011, May 6). Challenging the Second ‘A’ in A.A. The New York Times. Retrieved from

[5] Colman, D.

A Way Out

She was only ten years old when her drug use began.  Both of her parents were active addicts.  She smoked marijuana, drank a lot and took, among other things, Percocet and Vicodin, and she became anorexic, bulimic, and she began to cut herself.  She found herself living in a shelter, at age thirteen, with her mother and younger sister.  After police intervention, she went to live with her dad.  His drugs of choice were uppers.  They became hers too.  Eventually she ran away from her dad and wound up with her grandparents.  Her plunge into addiction continued.  She entered the criminal justice system and was placed in a treatment facility.  There she encountered a treatment counselor who refused to give up on her.  After a while, she had an epiphany:

I finally got on my knees and prayed.  I don’t think I actually said anything, and if I did I don’t remember it.  But I got this overwhelming sense that even though my lawyer, my PO, Rudy, my friends, and my family could all give up on me… God wouldn’t.  So I wasn’t going to give up on myself.[1]

It paid off.  She said that “nothing’s been easy, but recovery is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  There wasn’t a specific event that saved my life; it was my own spirituality and surrender that did it. I know without a doubt in my heart that if I’d continued using I’d be dead. Not in trouble, not in jail—dead.

He was well into his Ph.D. in respiratory medicine at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, having already earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters in Health Science.  He was a prolific writer.  And he suffered from migraines.  For those, he went to see the medical school’s doctor.  In eight months, he was prescribed over 6,000 controlled substance pills, to help him stay awake and study, to help him sleep, for anxiety, and for pain. He believed his intellect would protect him from addiction.  It didn’t.  As a result, he was forced to drop out of his Ph.D. program after 15 years of work.  He was trapped in life due to the severity of his addiction.  He was caught forging a prescription for Demerol, for which he lost his job.  He went doctor shopping to acquire drugs.  Ultimately he realized that, if he wanted a way out of his addiction, he would require a year in a long term residential program where he could work on his addiction issues every day.  The program worked.[2]

Door… Egress… Escape… Exit… Loophole… Opening… Outlet… Vent… Window.  All of these are ways out of what might otherwise be considered an impenetrable situation.  Think of these items in the context of addiction.  They all fit.

As the two examples above reveal, addiction can be considered a prison cell.  It provides little or no freedom, although anyone who is in it may misperceive it as a sustainable way of life.  Anybody who reaches the point where they realize they are prisoners of addiction would want to get out.  They would recognize that have missed out on important, as well as every day, life events.  Conversely, those who live in the illusion of their addiction actually live in denial of the limitations on their lives and of themselves.  So, what to do?  Where to turn?

The subjects above each took a different path.  One found a counselor who wouldn’t let go and the other, after much prompting, realized that his life and his life’s work had been forsaken in the name of his addiction.  Finding the resolve, the internal fortitude, to seek a way out is hard.  Once that is complete, the next hard step in pursuit of a way out is to find, commit to and stay in a treatment program.  Work your Twelve Steps.  Find a sponsor.  Stick with it.



[1] “True Story: Savannah.” Savannah: A True Story of Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery. 2 Oct. 2012. Web. <>.

[2] Loffert, David. “From Hopkins to Homeless: My True Story of Prescription Drug Addiction – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. 5 Dec. 2014. Web. <>.