Monthly Archives: October 2017

Staying Sober this Halloween and Beyond

Every year Halloween kicks off the holiday season, and we cannot forget that this could very well the start of the hardest time of the year for recovering individuals who are coping with past wounds and current obstacles. Staying sober and staying disciplined can be a very difficult task as opportunities to use drugs or drink are much higher during this time of the year.

If you are in recovery, the most important thing to remember is that you can do it. You can continue on the path to recovery as you have been doing all along. Having fun and enjoying life with family and friends is not synonymous with drinking or using drugs. Most people who succeed in recovery can tell you that having a strong plan beforehand can go a long way to ensure not only a festive Halloween celebration but a happy and sober holiday season. If you haven’t done it yet, this is the time to make the traditions to hosting your own sober Halloween party.

The safe sober tips below are just a reminder as sometimes we can forget what we have learned in relapse prevention treatment sessions.

  • Stay close to family and friends allowing you to choose to be around those whom you trust to have your best in mind
  • Avoid the unnecessary stress by perhaps not putting yourself in a position to have to argue why even one drink is not OK
  • Remember the triggers and stay away from settings that lead to relapse
  • Create an enjoyable and safe environment not only for yourself but for your friends in recovery by inviting them to your own sober party
  • Be always ready and prepared by taking a sober friend with you to party that you are not sure if is a sober safe one and have a response ready for unsolicited drink offers. Also, have your own transportation in case you feel you are jeopardizing your recovery, and wish to leave the party.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help and advice whenever you feel the possibility of a relapse. It helps to know that you are not the problem, but the solution
  • Finally, don’t forget the joy of giving back to your community  by volunteering at your local shelter or nursing home

Despite perfect planning, sometimes things can go wrong. So, do your best to not put yourself in a “sticky” situation. If you can’t get out there, don’t do it yet.

From all of us at Florida Center for Recovery, have a sober and fun Halloween and a fabulous Holiday Season Kick-off.

Red Ribbon Week

The National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign. NFP provides drug awareness by sponsoring the annual National Red Ribbon Campaign™. Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America.

Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985. When he decided to join the US Drug Enforcement Administration, his mother tried to talk him out of it. “I’m only one person”, he told her, “but I want to make a difference.”

On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent’s side and shoved him in a car. One month later, Camarena’s body was found. He had been tortured to death.

In honor of Camarena’s memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin. Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs, had begun forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the red ribbon.

In 1988, NFP sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Celebration. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. Since that time, the campaign has reached millions of U.S. children and families. The National Family Partnership (NFP) and its network of individuals and organizations continue to deliver his message of hope to millions of people every year, through the National Red Ribbon Campaign™.

Success is Good, but Failure in Many Cases Might be Better

“By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.” 
Those are the words of a woman who, on the verge of poverty and depression, struggled to write a 3 chapter manuscript that was rejected 12 times by 12 different publishers. In a later interview, she describes those days as dark and filled with fear as she had a small child to provide for and a dream she couldn’t deny. But she didn’t give up. And millions of people are happy she didn’t because this woman, J.K. Rowling, wrote the Harry Potter series which went on to make over 400 million dollars in sales, ultimately making her one of the richest women in the world. 
In today’s society, we are run by the concept of success and failure. Even as children we were taught to believe that no matter what we do we will either fail or succeed and failing means you’re not good enough. These beliefs can cause fear of failure and fear is what prevents so many people from trying in the first place or giving up when they hear “no”. As the great Albert Einstein famously said, “You don’t fail until you stop trying.” And so many people stop trying as soon as they hit a wall or fail to get the end result they expected. But giving up will ensure that it’s over for good and isn’t that the ultimate failure?
More often than not, failure serves as a wake-up call and is actually very beneficial to your ultimate success. It’s showing you that redirection is needed. Failure also opens up the door to other possible opportunities that you didn’t notice before. And finally, failure gives you a chance to reevaluate your situation and go back to the drawing board. Quitting takes away these valuable opportunities for you. It is said that you learn more in a single failure than a lifetime of success. Because failing is like a pause between takes. You have this golden opportunity to take a breath and decide how to do it differently. Failing is actually just another chance to get it right. Here are some guidelines on how you can use failure to your advantage:
* Write down what you would do differently if you had a second then give yourself another chance to do it.  Take some time to discuss this with friends or family to get feedback.
* Use the feedback and do your own research as well to see what others who have succeeded in this have done. 
* Write out another plan of action and reach out to those you think might be able to help you in your path. They might say no, reach out anyway.  
Failure doesn’t mean your goal wasn’t valid or that your dreams aren’t good enough. You might need to change direction but it’s essential you stay on course to your ultimate destination, whatever that may be for you. A failed relationship might lead you to finding your soulmate, getting fired from one job might set you on the path to your dream career. When recovering from an addiction you might not be able to do it the first time. You might make it out of rehab and fall back into old habits as soon as “real-life” sets in again and the bills are piling up.  Your goal is not just sobriety but a major change in lifestyle and you might not be able to get it right the first time and that’s okay. It’s important to forgive yourself, to trust your counselors, and know that no matter what your end goal is you will succeed ONLY if you don’t give up! 
Failure may delay your chances of success but quitting will ruin them for good. In failing you will gain insight that you wouldn’t have had access to in immediate success. So fail and fail often. And the next time you start doubting yourself, remember Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he was told he “lacked creativity”. 

What You See is What You Get: The Power of Visualization

Did you know that Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for ten million dollars YEARS BEFORE his breakthrough movie career? He kept the check with him as motivation throughout his stand-up comedy career, believing one day that he could bring it into reality. Finally, in 1994, after lead performances in now-famous movies like Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura Pet Detective and The Mask, Jim Carrey became one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. The power of visualization has been a key tool for many people in manifesting their dreams not just famous actors. Seeing events happen in the mind’s eye is the key catalyst for bringing dreams into realities.

Science has shown that the brain cannot decipher between real and false events. If you mentally put yourself in a particular state your body will physically respond. Many people who suffer from anxiety know this concept all too well as they often find their bodies reacting anxiously to their fear-based thoughts putting them in a fight or flight situation, sometimes even when the individual is doing something as simple as taking a shower. Our minds are powerful so why not use it to our advantage? There are many ways we can use creative thinking in a way that benefits us. Any person capable of daydreaming can use positive visualization for their betterment. While daydreaming itself can lead to feelings of guilt, it is more productive when used for the benefit of your life.

For successful visualization, it is said that the key is to visualize what it is you want and to feel as though you already have it. Many people recovering from drug addiction can trace back the steps to before they became dependent on their drug of choice and remember a life of lack and unhappiness. It’s important to acknowledge those thoughts and feelings during recovery, so as to not fall in the same destructive thought patterns. The path to sobriety includes rebuilding your life so the more useful tools you have the higher your chances of success are. Creating a vision board can be an effective tool in creating a positive life after rehab. Take the time to dream about what you’ve always wanted and use your creativity to show it on your vision board. Never focus on the lack of but on what it would feel like if you had it. What does it look, feel, and even smell like? Using all of your senses can really help put you in a mindset of having what your visualizing. You can continuously add to the board or just revisit it for encouragement and a reminder of what you’re fighting for.

Taking the time to visualize what you want for your life has many benefits. It changes your “lack of” mindset and allows you to feel what it could be like to actually have a life that brings you joy. The time you put towards your visualization even if it’s just working on your vision board can be like a meditation, creating a peaceful and healthy space for you both mentally and physically. There are no limits to the imagination except for what you create yourself. To be successful in recovery requires you to break through the old patterns of negative thinking to create a life you want to have once you leave rehab. One step at a time you can start envisioning not just sobriety into a reality but an overall positive lifestyle change.  

Mental Health Awareness Week

This year, Oct. 1–7 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, a time to shine a light on mental illness and replace stigma with hope. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for equal care. You can get involved at

One in five adults experiences a mental illness in any given year. Those problems can contribute to the onset of more serious long-term conditions such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Approximately one-half of chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14. Unfortunately, long delays—sometimes decades—often occur between the time symptoms first appear and when people get help.

It is critical to learn to recognize early symptoms of mental illness and talk with a doctor about any concerns. Early identification and treatment can make a big difference for the successful management of a condition.

For example, major depression is a mood disorder that is more serious than “feeling blue” or temporary sadness. Be alert to any combination of the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood (sadness)
  • Poor concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbance of appetite
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide

Bipolar disorder involves cycles of both depression and mania. It is different from normal “ups and downs” that many people experience. It involves dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. Symptoms are not the same in everyone; some people may experience intense “highs,” while others primarily experience depression. Mania involves combinations of the following symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Surges of energy
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Grandiosity
  • Talkativeness
  • Extreme irritability
  • Agitation
  • Pleasure-seeking
  • Increased risk-taking behavior

Schizophrenia is a different type of mental illness but can include features of mood disorders. It affects a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to other people. Untreated, it also may include psychosis—a loss of contact with reality. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty in organizing thoughts
  • Lack of content in speech
  • Emotional flatness
  • Inability to start or follow through with activities
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Other types of mental illness include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders (including posttraumatic stress disorder), and borderline personality disorder. Mental Illness Awareness Week is a time to learn about them all.

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, there will be many opportunities to learn more and provide support. In addition, as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, National Depression Screening Day will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5. Organizations around the world are encouraged to offer free, anonymous questionnaires that can help individuals identify potential signs of depression. Learn more at

Anyone who experiences symptoms of mental illness should see a doctor to discuss and to be checked for possibly related physical conditions. The next step might be a referral to a mental health specialist. Many treatment options exist.

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, please take the first step by taking the #StigmaFree pledge at Help yourself, your family, your friends, and your community. Help make a difference by saving lives and supporting recovery.