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 [...]
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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 [...]
I came into recovery with preconceived ideas about religion and spirituality; ideas that I kept close to heart, and identified with. Growing up, I felt surrounded by people who insisted on impressing their religious and philosophical views on me, and it made me unreceptive to spirituality. During my addiction, I cultivated a protective shell that repelled ideas that were not strictly in line with my using activities and ideas, and spirituality was buried far underneath the misery that I was experiencing. I could scarcely even imagine myself feeling supported by a connection with a power greater than myself. Even in [...]
Is change possible? Of course! Is sustained change possible? That’s a different story. With relapse rates hovering around 60-70%, the outlook for sustained change is bleak (McClellan et. al., 2000). A more astute question might be: are we as treatment providers facilitating sustained change or focusing on clients’ compliance with set rules? It’s relatively easy to change while in treatment. A little motivation coupled with consequences for negative behavior often yields considerable change in the first 30-90 days of recovery. This type of change is called First-Order Change. First-Order Change is defined as “incremental change that is largely dependent on [...]
In my addiction, I was forced to betray my values on a daily basis as an act of survival. I never felt comfortable as the kid who was getting arrested, tearing his family apart, and stealing from friends. Those were some of my actions, but that is not who I felt I was in my heart. The truth was that I wanted love, acceptance, and to be okay with who I was. I was trying my best to get these fundamental needs met the best way I knew at that time. Living in this contradiction may have been the most [...]
Alpha 180 was always about realizing a vision. We believe that through sobriety, community, and purpose, young adults in recovery are capable of achieving anything. We are not about containing the damage of active addiction; instead increasing the upside of inspired recovery. But one short year ago the vision was just that: a vision. Surrounded by our current community of inspired Alpha 180 pioneers, I forget about opening our doors for the Fall semester wondering if the world would buy in to this lofty idea. Faith, fastidiousness, and fortitude were called on as we ploddingly enrolled a small, but [...]
There is an illusion that once our loved ones get sober, things will be perfect. This is generally not the case. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that the work has just begun. In the chapter, “The Family Afterward” it says, “The family of an alcoholic longs for the return of happiness and security… It will take time to clear away the wreck. Though old buildings will eventually be replaced by finer ones, the new structures will take years to complete.” It will take time to adjust to the changes in a family after sobriety. Sometimes, when [...]
At Alpha 180 we eat meals as a community. Five nights a week dinner is a shared experience with members, staff, and the neighboring community. Universally and generationally, coming together over a shared meal builds fellowship. From Paleolithic hunter-gatherers to the dinner bell ringing at the home on the range–food brings groups together. Before tv, Facebook, and snapchat entered the picture to interrupt this time, simply bringing groups together for a meal would foster interaction. Much of the community-building time of the shared meal has been lost to busy schedules and poor prioritizing. It can be difficult to put [...]