When I worked in a residential treatment center, it was all too common for clients to band together around their frustrations around the perceived restrictions and rules. After spending many precious hours of group therapy time attempting to redirect engagements centered around these complaints, I challenged the clients to use their negative emotions as opportunities to engage in the process of learning to feel their feelings, slow things down, and consciously choose how to respond. In residential treatment, it’s easy for clients to feel disenfranchised, thus searching for aspects of their reality over which they may exert power - a [...]
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Addiction began being conceptualized as an attachment-related disorder as early as 2001. Research in this area gave additional credibility to the community model of treating addictions and has fostered further efforts to be devoted to cultivating effective group therapy and community-based models of care for people with addictions. In short, attachment is an emotional and biological process of being able to connect meaningfully and effectively with other humans that begins in infancy. Every person experiences ruptures to their attachment process which when appropriately repaired provide foundations for trust, resilience, and strengthened connection. Through using, we are treating our attachment wounds [...]
Alpha 180’s owner, Bob Ferguson, often asserts that “people get sober in treatment, but find recovery in community.” This powerful statement serves as the foundation of Alpha 180’s philosophy on young adult recovery. While abstinence in treatment is no small feat, we believe that long-term recovery must involve the realization and pursuit of our dreams. Our goal at Alpha 180 is to inspire transformation in young adult men by engaging them in a voluntary and vibrant recovery community. As often as possible, we avoid mandates and requirements, believing that with appropriate guidance and accountability, young men in recovery will inherently [...]
In developing the Alpha 180 program, we wanted to incorporate effective aspects of various modalities. With a background in traditional residential addiction treatment, I sought to expand my horizons by learning about the methods of wilderness therapy programs that I respect, such as Legacy Outdoor Adventures, Wilderness Treatment Center, and Red Oak Recovery. The latter, an innovative hybrid of residential and wilderness therapy models. Touchstones of a wilderness experience include total immersion in the natural landscape, separation from technology, and use of ritual in facilitating internal transformation. As an aftercare provider based in downtown Austin, Texas, we needed to get [...]
For young adults in recovery, I have noticed an unfortunate, but relatively common pattern: they seek treatment, they begin their recovery journey, they become employed, and then they relapse. I have witnessed this cycle on countless occasions. It is a discouraging and frustrating experience for not only the person in recovery, but also for their loved ones. However, I believe the pattern can change. In my career working as a Case Manager in Higher Education, I have witnessed over and over again how academia has a positive influence on sustained recovery—specifically how it seems to disrupt the aforementioned cycle. When [...]
Trauma is an unavoidable aspect of human life. Lately, its role in the emotional experience, particularly in how it relates to addiction, is becoming increasingly recognized in the collective awareness. Since trauma is not limited to sexual abuse or violence, but rather any experience that overwhelms the emotional system to the point where it cannot reset appropriately, it is not surprising that our culture’s struggles with addiction are spiraling out of control. Effective addiction treatment necessitates the integration of trauma-sensitive approaches. Treatment modalities such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), somatic experiencing, and psychodrama address the adverse effect trauma [...]
Popularized by Joseph Campbell, the Hero’s Journey is a framework said to encapsulate the sequence of a self-discovery. Campbell believed that this cycle was inherent to the human experience and, thus, spanned across time and culture. His system involves aspects such as the “Call to Adventure”, “Arrival of the Helper”, and “Transformation”. At Alpha 180, the students are the hero of their own story of self-discovery. We utilize The Hero’s Journey framework as a model for the recovery process as our students navigate the challenges and temptations of early recovery. Campbell espoused that the human experience involves both “Known” and [...]
When I wake up in the morning, which happens around 6 o’clock a.m. these days, I am rarely thankful that I am not sick or hung over. It is not something that crosses my mind, it is just the way things are. All too often, I take for granted that I have so much to be proud of and to work to keep. My journey has not always been an easy one. I am in recovery, which means that I have had a period when substances ruled my life. I do not intend to go into details about it, but [...]
The support of family and friends often plays a large role in addiction recovery. Everyone in the family will need to go through their own recovery process, and nobody should do it alone. Below are some ways that the family, spouses and friends can help a loved one in their recovery: Stay Involved & Supportive Our students are trying to figure out that balance between recovery life, old and new relationships, academics and work life. Having the support and understanding from close friends and family can really benefit their success in sobriety. Staying involved and supportive does not mean knowing [...]
The faculty or state of being able to see. The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom. This is the definition of vision. What does the process of getting sober mean to you? Personally, I did not get sober to strictly maintain the ability to keep mind altering substances out of my body. I got sober to utilize the tool of abstinence and catapult my life into a reality that I previously could not see. In essence, I was blinded by drugs and alcohol only to have the veil lifted from my eyes revealing a [...]