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 [...]
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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 [...]
Among the many consequences of active addiction, one of the greatest tolls is the loss of relationships. Many who enter recovery have become severed from those they are closest to. The nature of the disease of addiction and the destruction that ensues makes it impossible for us to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family. Throughout the journey of recovery, repairing such relationships and creating new ones represents a cornerstone of a successful and fulfilling program. My own journey with recovery began with a departure from a university I had been attending for several years. After much consultation, I agreed [...]
I attended several treatment facilities from the age of 16 to 22. Each time I admitted into another program I truly was desperate for help. The pain and suffering I experienced when dependent on drugs and alcohol left me out of options. A few weeks into treatment, I had gotten the substances out of my system and was beginning to feel much better. This allowed me to believe that I had overcome the pain and suffering that I had spent my entire addiction diligently trying to escape. This created a delusion within me: that I would never let myself endure [...]
One of the foundations upon which Alpha 180 was built is the idea that if we create space for inspired students in recovery then those students will show up. We have found this to be the case. Through our journey at Alpha, as well as through my own as a clinician and a person in recovery, we have seen that the most important thing we can do for our clients is to create the space for them to heal and recover. I believe that every human has a natural inclination to move towards his or her fullest potential. We are [...]