Maintaining Connection While Social Distancing


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 for healing and deep inner work. As COVID-19 has exploded across the globe, recovery networks have had to swiftly adapt to maintaining connection while having to shelter-in-place. The incredibly resourceful and [...]

Maintaining Connection While Social Distancing2020-04-22T19:59:53+00:00

How a Student Identity Makes the Difference


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 important psychological tasks an individual faces during their lifetime. In Stage 8, Identity vs. Role Confusion, adolescents moving to young adulthood seek to answer the question, “Who Am I?” Drugs and [...]

How a Student Identity Makes the Difference2020-03-02T13:13:59+00:00

Why the Pain?


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 nodded their head in agreement, but I was always left with the question, why did they feel different? If one has had experiences in life where seeking connection from others resulted in pain, they may learn to [...]

Why the Pain?2020-02-29T05:22:41+00:00

Putting Recovery First


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 right path and now just needed to gain the tools to overcome some of the hurdles. For the majority of my life, I have worked and lived my life for others. [...]

Putting Recovery First2020-01-13T23:09:01+00:00

Learning by Observing


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 forced him to adapt, to learn and that when he gave himself no choice but to make these changes, they became his focus and his passion, and that he viewed it [...]

Learning by Observing2020-01-13T23:05:32+00:00

Communication in Recovery


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 how I felt and what I was thinking did not come naturally. However, I did realize that holding back from telling people what I was experiencing was a detriment. Living in [...]

Communication in Recovery2019-12-30T18:10:29+00:00

All Part of the Process


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 [...]

All Part of the Process2019-12-11T04:58:21+00:00

Addiction, Attachment, and the Messiness of Early Recovery


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 [...]

Addiction, Attachment, and the Messiness of Early Recovery2019-11-04T21:45:32+00:00

How an “Open Community” Supports Long-term Recovery


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 [...]

How an “Open Community” Supports Long-term Recovery2019-10-08T19:33:46+00:00

Incorporating Wilderness Therapy in Aftercare


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 [...]

Incorporating Wilderness Therapy in Aftercare2019-09-16T14:34:31+00:00
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