Alpha 180 Blog
3112, 2020

The Promises of Recovery: A Student’s Perspective

By |December 31st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Ninth Step Promises in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous proclaim that if I am steadfast in the work of recovery, I will harvest emotional fruits such as a “feeling of usefulness” and the ability to “handle situations which used to baffle me”. In fact, it claims, “my whole attitude and outlook on life will change”. These may sound like extravagant promises, but in my experience, they do come [...]

3012, 2020

Family Testimonial | Laureen

By |December 30th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

My name is Laureen and my son, Max, is an addict. When I think back to the beginning of our recovery journey, the feelings and emotions around that time were very challenging. What I’ve learned is that sharing is healing. There’s nothing unique about our story and I have learned so much through listening to other family’s stories (in rehab and at Family Weekends at Alpha). I ‘ve heard and [...]

112, 2020

Why Family Therapy? I’m Not the Problem!

By |December 1st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Who has been with us from the very beginning? Who knows us better than most people in the world? Who can get on our nerves better than anyone else? Our families. You may look at the title of this post and think, “I’ll just skim this one. I am not the problem; my son, the addict, is the problem.” I am going to explain what family therapy is in relation [...]

112, 2020

Alumni Story | Andrew W

By |December 1st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

I arrived at Alpha 180 on a cold December day in 2017. This was to be an important stop on my journey, but I did not quite know it at that time. For years previous I went around and around on the treatment carousel, occasionally stopping for food and water, but never finding the enriching recovery experience I was seeking. As I took my seat in the Monday night recovery [...]

211, 2020

Alumni Story | Joe M

By |November 2nd, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

My name is Joseph and I am a born-and-raised Austinite. My struggles with drug and alcohol began at age twelve. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I believe I was just trying to find a place to fit in and feel okay, something that didn’t come easily due to being adopted. At the age of seventeen, I was sent to a residential treatment center in Louisiana, followed by [...]

3010, 2020

Vaping | Is This The Answer To Quitting Smoking?

By |October 30th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

When a person starts their recovery journey, they typically look for different ways to live healthier lifestyles. Everything from a person’s diet to their exercise routine and even a change in what over the counter medications someone is taking are all affected by newfound sobriety. Nicotine alternatives and quitting aids come in many forms and varieties and people experience various trial and error until they find the correct path for [...]

810, 2020

First Things First – The Real Priorities in Early Recovery

By |October 8th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

The goal for every parent is to see their child grow into a confident, capable, content adult. Setting addiction and mental health issues aside, the transition into young adulthood is tumultuous to say the least. Navigating independence, developing functional life skills, establishing one’s identity, and determining an academic or career path are just a few of the items on the to do list. For young adults in early recovery, you can [...]

2309, 2020

Alumni Story | Max W.

By |September 23rd, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

My name is Max and I was in Alpha 180 for a little over a year and it was quite a journey. I was forced into residential treatment in Mississippi when I was 17 years old and it was there I found out that I would be going to aftercare. I was anything but thrilled, but my parents gave me an ultimatum, so I quickly realized I would need to [...]

1709, 2020

Why is trauma such a buzzword?

By |September 17th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Everywhere I look I hear the word “trauma”, whether I am with my colleagues, browsing social media, or perusing the latest specials on Netflix. Why is it so important that we understand trauma, not just as clinicians, but as parents, friends, teachers, coworkers, etc.? Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. It can also be thought of as the pasts’ ability to affect the present. No matter what our background is, most [...]

1407, 2020

Applying Recovery in a Virtual Classroom

By |July 14th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

As a student in long term recovery, the transition to a virtual learning environment has been frustrating and at times scary. Succeeding in school and in recovery has been the result of finding routine and balance, and online classes for the foreseeable future has presented a need to rapidly adapt my daily disciplines. Students in recovery are resilient, uniquely equipped to face adversity head on, and willing to go to [...]

106, 2020

Alpha 180 Expands Academic Services

By |June 1st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Each student arrives at Alpha 180 with a unique academic history, trajectory, and needed approach for their success. It’s our job to walk alongside them as they navigate back into the classroom safely and sober. In an effort to provide the highest level of individualized academic specialization, Alpha 180 has partnered with Boutique Educational Services in Austin. Boutique Educational Services are a group of highly experienced Educational Specialists offering one-on-one [...]

2104, 2020

Maintaining Connection While Social Distancing

By |April 21st, 2020|Categories: News|

One of my favorite things we do at Alpha is our Rite of Passage experience. It is a 4-day trauma intensive that takes place at a Bed and Breakfast in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, right on the Medina River. The grounds are lush and green, and the river is bordered by massive Cypress trees that create a spacious, cathedral like effect over the river. It is a fantastic site [...]

2902, 2020

How a Student Identity Makes the Difference

By |February 29th, 2020|Categories: News|

An often-overlooked struggle for young adults embarking on the journey of recovery is identity formation. The developmental task of identity formation is crucial for any young adult, but for those in recovery there is additional complexity. Substance use directly impacts relationship development, socialization, and long-term planning, all of which affecting how we will ultimately see ourselves in the world. Psychologist Erik Erikson developed a multi-stage model outlining the most [...]

2902, 2020

Why the Pain?

By |February 29th, 2020|Categories: News|

Dr. Gabor Mate, renowned addiction and trauma expert, says the most important question when treating addiction is, “not why the addiction, but why the pain?”. I have heard countless people tell their recovery stories and the first chapter of almost every story is how they felt different before they ever picked up a substance. I remember one speaker saying, “If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they felt different growing up, I would be a millionaire.” The room [...]

1202, 2020

Don’t Look for Your Passion – Cultivate It!

By |February 12th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

The million-dollar question: “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?” I had no idea because who truly does with a fixed mindset? According to Carol Dweck (2016), “a fixed mindset is believing that your qualities are carved in stone and having a growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, [...]

1301, 2020

Putting Recovery First

By |January 13th, 2020|Categories: News|

My therapist looked at me with kind eyes and said “you are a relational person. There is no need to beat yourself up over that. You are here to learn how to balance the person you are with the person you want to be. That’s all we are doing here.” These words washed over me and provided me with a sense of relief. I knew I was on the [...]

1301, 2020

Learning by Observing

By |January 13th, 2020|Categories: News|

On a trip to Kenya, I was blown away to find that our interpreter, a man who had lived nearly all his life in China, spoke not only exquisite Swahili, but also perfect English. I asked him how he had gotten so good at both, and he told me that he had decided to spend time where only these languages were spoken, where nobody spoke Chinese, and that it [...]

3012, 2019

Communication in Recovery

By |December 30th, 2019|Categories: News|

Spending time with family around the holidays has reminded me of how much my idea of healthy communication has changed over the years. Dishonesty and manipulation were such a substantial part of my addiction, as I imagine it is with most, and that certainly made most of my relationships toxic. Getting sober didn’t all of a sudden make it simple to communicate in a healthy manner though. Telling people [...]

1112, 2019

All Part of the Process

By |December 11th, 2019|Categories: News|

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, [...]

411, 2019

Addiction, Attachment, and the Messiness of Early Recovery

By |November 4th, 2019|Categories: News|

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 [...]

810, 2019

How an “Open Community” Supports Long-term Recovery

By |October 8th, 2019|Categories: News|

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 [...]

1609, 2019

Incorporating Wilderness Therapy in Aftercare

By |September 16th, 2019|Categories: News|

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 [...]

409, 2019

Bridging The Gap

By |September 4th, 2019|Categories: News|

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 [...]

2208, 2019

Healing Trauma is the Key

By |August 22nd, 2019|Categories: News|

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 [...]

1208, 2019

The Hero’s Journey

By |August 12th, 2019|Categories: News|

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 [...]

2507, 2019

The Purpose of Purpose

By |July 25th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

307, 2019

Family and Friends Play a Role in Addiction Recovery

By |July 3rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

1406, 2019

Big. Vision. Moves.

By |June 14th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

306, 2019

Rebuilding Relationships

By |June 3rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

1705, 2019

Long-term Aftercare Made the Difference

By |May 17th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

3004, 2019

Creating Space for Recovery

By |April 30th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

1204, 2019

Developing Spirituality Through Taking Action

By |April 12th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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, [...]

2203, 2019

Transformation Vs. Compliance: Facilitating Second-Order Change

By |March 22nd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

803, 2019

Heart of Alpha 180

By |March 8th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

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 [...]

2602, 2019

Alpha 180’s Academic Recovery Support Program

By |February 26th, 2019|Categories: News|

Balancing school and recovery can be tough... Resiliency is not easy as a college student in recovery. Dr. Donald Misch states, “Recovering students feel virtually alone in confronting this college environment awash in alcohol or other drugs. Their sense of alienation from the general campus community is heightened by a conflict of priorities – recovery versus academics – faced by few of their classmates1” (2009). As a result, academic [...]

502, 2019

Learning to Parent When Everything is Okay

By |February 5th, 2019|Categories: News|

This past week, Alpha 180 hosted its first immersive Family Workshop. From all over the country, family members joined their young adult sons for the purpose of stepping into their new roles as recovering individuals. Some tears and many laughs were shared as these parents witnessed their sons, perhaps for the first time, as young men in recovery. At Alpha 180, we seek to restore the developmental trajectory of [...]

201, 2019

Doing Away with New Year’s Resolutions

By |January 2nd, 2019|Categories: News|

Those less familiar with recovery may be surprised to find out how commonly self-deprecation and addiction coexist. Addiction creates a cycle in which we behave in ways that cause us shame and then use to cover up that shame. Over and over we resolve to do better, but repeatedly fall short. Perhaps to a lesser extreme, everyone can relate to this cycle. New Year’s rolls around and the talk [...]

911, 2018

Alpha 180 and Jaywalker join in Houston, TX to serve victims of Hurricane Harvey

By |November 9th, 2018|Categories: News|

By: Michael M. This past weekend, the Alpha 180 brotherhood made a memorable trip to Houston, TX. The trip was comprised of three main events: touring the Museum of Fine Arts, hanging out with the guys from Jaywalker, and volunteering with a disaster relief organization called the St. Bernard Project. The museum was a fantastic chance for the community to walk around together and get to know one another amongst [...]

410, 2018

Alpha 180 on the radio!

By |October 4th, 2018|Categories: News|

Alpha 180's Executive Director, Nico Doorn and our Clinical Director, Will Crosswell share about how we incorporate a healthy balance of physical, mental and spiritual health into our program. Thank you to Peoples RX Austin's Favorite Pharmacy for hosting us on their "Let's Get Healthy" podcast!

2408, 2018

Alpha 180 In The News!

By |August 24th, 2018|Categories: News|

Nico Doorn, Alpha 180 Executive Director, shares about how Alpha 180 is more than just a sober fraternity on Austin's KVUE News. We are a sober social center, offering clinical services, housing, academic support, and sober fellowship events. Entering our second year, we are looking to expand our reach to more aspiring students in recovery! Alpha 180 also held our one year anniversary celebration and it was awesome! One hundred [...]

308, 2018

Aligning My Life With My Values

By |August 3rd, 2018|Categories: News|

While I was using substances, there was an inability to live up to the values that I held true to myself. All the damage that I caused in my life was painful, but I believe that the inability to live up to my values was the most painful part of my drug use. I was always this loving kid with a big heart, but my hurt made me gravitate [...]

1707, 2018

Alpha 180 at the Association of Recovery in Higher Education’s 9th Annual Collegiate Recovery Conference

By |July 17th, 2018|Categories: News|

Dozens of the nations’ Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRPs) and their supporters convened in Houston, Texas for the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) annual conference. The conference brings together thought-leaders in the collegiate recovery space to share and collaborate. The conference hosted many key professionals with career-long dedication to addiction and recovery advancement, including addictions researcher Dr. John Kelly of Harvard Medical School and Tom Hill, who formerly [...]

1505, 2018

Not Freshmen Any More: The First Two Semesters of Alpha 180

By |May 15th, 2018|Categories: News|

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 [...]

1503, 2018

The Family Afterward: Transformation

By |March 15th, 2018|Categories: News|

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 [...]

1202, 2018

Food For Thought: The Importance of Meals and Fellowship

By |February 12th, 2018|Categories: News|

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 [...]

2401, 2018

Get In Trouble, Safely

By |January 24th, 2018|Categories: News|

To many young adults, the prospect of staying sober sounds like being sentenced to boredom and missing out. Addiction treatment, justifiably so, removes people from their current environments and focuses on stabilizing crises. Residential programs require focusing solely on establishing a foundation of recovery and educating individuals about the dangers of addiction. However, lasting recovery is about finding ourselves; integrating rather than denying aspects of our true self. [...]

1101, 2018

Moving to a New City in Recovery

By |January 11th, 2018|Categories: News|

Recovery has given me opportunities and the ability to follow dreams that I never thought were possible. In the pursuit of these dreams, I have had to relocate to different cities and states to attain them. The first time I moved was when I had around two years of recovery and I was moving from where I grew up and where I got sober. I was extremely rooted [...]

911, 2017

How To Successfully Navigate The Holidays In Recovery

By |November 9th, 2017|Categories: News|

The holidays can be a stressful time for people in recovery; though with proper preparation and support, they can be profound times of healing, connection, and fellowship. Early recovery is a tumultuous period for most people. It contains many stressful events and episodes of growth and learning. Adding the stress of the holidays to the fragile nature of early recovery can be a dangerous situation. Emotions can run [...]

811, 2017

Making the Holidays a Sober Success for Families

By |November 8th, 2017|Categories: News|

Before we start, remember that the holidays have a way of creating higher emotional responses than the average day. For this reason, I encourage you to allow greater compassion for yourself and more empathy for your loved ones. As you begin to think about the upcoming holidays, likely your mind will wander to memories of previous years–years that were less than jolly, possibly even horrific. My intention in spurring your thoughts [...]

411, 2017

Keeping Recovery First

By |November 4th, 2017|Categories: News|

It’s quite often said that what you put in front of your recovery, you will lose. In my experience, I have found this to be true. I have seen friends deprioritize recovery and qsedput school, relationships, work, and various other things in front of their recovery. From my experience, I have seen this play out in two different ways. Either it leads to a relapse or the individual [...]

211, 2017

Dream Big: Thriving in Recovery Beyond Abstinence

By |November 2nd, 2017|Categories: News|

Finding freedom from my addiction to substances has been one of the most important successes of my life. I am proud of every new day that takes me further from the last time I used. In the rooms, success if most prominently measured by recognizing how long members have been clean. And believe me, earning a new chip or keytag was a (and still is) a huge motivator [...]

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