Pirate Springs

Recovery from Addiction or Abuse – Finding the Buried Treasure Within Yourself

Please Help and Forward


She Needed Help

  The last woman we brought into our home, Jolene, wound up leaving after our attempt to buy a property for women hit a snag.



That mother of a 9 year old boy will never see another chance at recovery. She relapsed and is now deceased.


  We now have another woman staying in our home, while others, many others, look for a place to go.


Tara, mother to a 7 year old boy, had 7 years clean, but lived isolated from others in recovery, and relapsed.


She wound up on Life Support with a heart infection and complications causing a series of mini strokes and requiring open heart surgery for a valve replacement.


  She needs longs term recovery and continued fellowship to stay clean while she finds a new way to live.

Brody needs his mom.


Pirate Springs Ranch

A property that we have had our eyes on for over a year is still available and the terms have changed to make going forward a reachable goal.

The owners are willing to rent this property to us so we can start providing service, and acquire licensing, which is what will enable us to purchase the property with very affordable terms.

This property can house 10 women immediately.
  This is the Western side of a 4 room  detached bunkhouse with two twin beds in each room.


  This home is laid out perfectly for recovery.


3Bd 2 Ba on the main level with two living rooms and community sized Kitchen and Laundry rooms.


A 2,400 square foot unfinished basement is crying out for 4 more bedrooms.



36 acres, cross fenced, with large pastures and two Barns for Equine Therapy horses, and several building spots, enables Pirate Springs to fulfill the Vision we believe is our purpose, to provide long term recovery in a serene environment while encouraging a productive work therapy routine.


$15,000 is our goal This initial amount insures 4 months of operational safety.

Our partners (Treatment Centers, Recovery Court, etc.) need us and ensure that they can provide clients to keep us full.

50% occupancy covers the costs before we bill any insurance or the State.


Click through the link below to Donate Now!


Please help.  This will be the gift that keeps on giving as we grow this facility to help dozens at any given time.

There is no shortage of clients, and there is a high demand for more recovery beds.

 Pirate Springs is a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization and all donations are Tax Deductible.


National Recovery Month

I have gone a long time without an addition to the current running series “Addiction is a Global Problem”, but there is a reason; I have been pouring myself into this years’ National Recovery Month series of events, and primarily the Treasure Hunt and Celebration at Camp Jordan in Chattanooga.

This year for National Recovery Month we are attempting to change from just celebration to celebration, education, and outreach. With multiple events related to addiction and recovery, we want to keep this subject, and solutions, in the forefront of the public attention in a way other than just articles bemoaning overdoses and the rise of addiction.

We want to reach the community and help bring an understanding that may be unfamiliar to them, we want to reach the families that suffer from a loved ones addiction, and we want to reach those still using and show them there is a way out, and life after the struggle.

The best way to overshadow defeat is to shout out success and the best way to achieve success is with a unified community.  Our goal is to begin this year with something new, something fun, and something that works; and grow it into next year so the celebration swells and means more to more people and families.

This year we have brought together two Counties, Hamilton and Bradley, and their health departments;  treatment facilities, and other interested parties to create the biggest event possible and attract as many to it as possible. September 1 was the starting day of the two County Treasure hunt.  Each map location visited earns an entry in the drawing box, and each event attended earns 3 entries in the drawing box.  Many prizes will be awarded.  For those who haven’t heard about this yet you can read about at the following link.

Treasure Hunt – How it works!

There are other events happening during the month which can all be seen on the events calendar at www.piratesprings.org. They include:

Bridging the Gap for a Stronger Community – Suicide Prevention Coalition 9/15

Recovery Works! 5K and Silent Auction – CADAS  9/16

Generation Found Film Screening – Pirate Springs 9/19

Yoga for Recovery – The Trini Foundation 9/23

Attendance at each of these events earns 3 entries in the drawing box.

The Recovery Month Events are capped with a free concert, free comedy show, exhibitors, and more, in  a family atmosphere, including face painting and a bounce house, designed to give hope to those who are hurting either directly or indirectly from addiction.

Our goal is bring at least 800 to 1,000 people together and show that recovery is borne out of hope and the belief that there are people who care, and there is a reason to recover.

The Camp Jordan Event is free and runs on September 23rd from 4:00pm to 9:00pm and promises to be fun, informative, and rewarding. We will be drawing for prizes from the Treasure Chest throughout the day. Entertainment is top notch and did I say FREE.

Bring a lawn chair and weather suitable clothing, pack a meal or buy food from the vendor, and bring everyone you can get in your vehicle!







If you have any questions please call or write paul@piratesprings.org 423-476-4860

Recovery Community Organization

In the last segment, back in December, I talked a lot about the Certified Recovery Community and what that could look like. I want to step back for a minute and reinforce an understanding of the need.

I  was able to watch the film Generation Found a couple of weeks ago. This film captures the need for, and the obvious success of, Recovery High Schools. While there are only 54 of them in the United States, according to the film, this is something that should be available to every student that finds themselves involved in a drug and/or alcohol problem that cannot escape without help, and chooses the path of recovery.

Listening to the teens in the film discuss the inability to stay clean after being returned from rehab to the same school environment they were in before rehab, makes it all too clear that changing friends, places, and things related to using includes school. The fact is, the students all said that not only were they around other kids high there, but that is where they got their drugs.

It is the drug free and recovery based environment provided by the Recovery High School, a non-judging, caring, understanding environment that not only allowed the teens to succeed in class work, but empowered them to excel beyond what many believed they could.

It is the community aspect, the closeness of identification, and empathy, that enables these addicts to experience recovery and maintain recovery for the long term.

I believe that adults need that sense of community and identification as much as teens and young adults.  In virtually all of the fellowships (AA, NA, CR, etc.) those with longer sustained recovery have closed their social circle to include only those they know in their fellowship.  This is part of the key to their success.

In one study known as “Rat Park” a rat was given access to drugs while in a solitary social environment in its cage and used the drugs over and over, but when moved into a social setting of several rats, no longer used the drugs.

This may be an over simplification of the experiment, but then Rats are over simple compared to humans and the human life experience, but it makes a point.  Community makes a difference.

That may lead to the question, “Why, then, do people start using at school or elsewhere when they are in a social setting of a community of peers?”

The answer is in the individual.  One of the big recurring statements you will hear from almost all recovering addicts is that prior to their beginning of active addiction, they felt different, alone in a room full of people, not good enough.

This understanding points us to a few of potential conclusions:

  1. Early identification of salient personality traits can offer a pathway to more effective prevention efforts.
  2. Helping those stuck in the grips of active addition feel that they may not be as alone as they feel can attract more addicts into recovery.
  3. Creating environments for those in recovery to gather and maintain a sense of community and belonging can promote more successful long term recovery for those who utilize the resource.

Early Identification

I referred to an article in my newsletter of October 26, 2016.

In a New York Times article, written September 29, 2016, Maia Szalavitz discusses Preventure, a new approach to identifying youth that are at risk of addiction, which has not only resulted in dramatic reductions in addiction and substance abuse, but lowered the incidence of depression and reported anxiety in schools in Europe, Australia, and Canada.

That article, “The 4 Traits That Put Kids at Risk for Addiction” is a worthwhile read and gives a deeper insight into this discussion. This is a project with proven results and we need to take out lead from it.

Those in Active Addiction

One the sayings heard often in the rooms of 12 step programs is, “We will love you until you can love yourself”.  This is an important fact.  It is love that ultimately draws those in addiction to a successful attempt at recovery.  Love doesn’t judge, but welcomes, gives hope, and helps break down the barrier of isolation that keeps most addicts stuck in a cycle they don’t understand.  Hearing success stories from people who have had the same feeling they have (Identification), is the beginning.

Creating Environments of Community

Like the Recovery High Schools that are now finding success, maintaining a Recovery Community Center, could have a huge impact on those who begin a journey of recovery and have to change “people, places, and things” in their life.

It is one of our goals, to open one or more of these in our region.  An old motel, defunct school, or abandoned factory that could be revitalized and repurposed with a large TV room, a game room with pool tables, ping pong, card tables; a meeting room or two that could rented to the various fellowships for 12 step meetings, counselling offices for peer recovery support specialists to meet people in, an outdoor barbeque area.  You get the idea by now I’m sure.  There could even be a coffee counter, literature sales area, and a recovery activities planner.  A computer room for study, job application filing, and more would be helpful too.

Our Efforts

While there is still much that can be added to the discussion of a Recovery Community (the community at large being supportive to an environment of recovery), and definitions of what it should all look like and how it could all function, we can only do our share and hope that we touch enough with our ideas, our message, and our goals to gain the help we need to make it all happen.

We do already have many willing partnerships; organizations and agencies willing to roll up their sleeves and lift along with us.

Today we are working with Health Departments, Rehab facilities, State and Local Agencies, Coalitions, and other Non-Profit organizations to change from a running dialogue to running a race.  The missing ingredient is community involvement and community action.

My next installment will be my presentation of a plan that could help turn the tide, along with a description of a current effort that supports this plan.

Today I will leave you with another article I just read written by a County Sheriff, that runs parallel to my position.

I’m the Chesterfield County Sheriff And I’m Done Talking About Drug Addiction. It’s Time To Act.

Please take the time to read this one, and I will remain excited to present some steps that can make a difference in my next installment.

As always, feel free to email me with your comments or concerns.




Pirate Springs Update

I closed my last newsletter saying “We will continue next week with a discussion furthering the idea of what the community can do and what the effect should bring.”  That was on December 7th.  The following week I had surgery and it has taken this long to get back to full speed.

I will be picking up where I left off with another installment of Addiction: A Global Problem that Needs a Community Solution, very soon.

We are in planning stages for this years National Recovery Month blowout in September and hope to keep recovery and recovery community needs at the forefront of the public sight and hearing as we start media coverage around the events of September.  This is going to be big.  Keep your eyes and ears open, and if you want to be involved, contact me.

When it comes down to the final solution around drug abuse, and addiction, the only two possibilities are prevention and recovery.  I believe that holding recovery out in the public view is an important part of prevention.  This we plan to do this year.

Our involvement with Tennessee’s Faith Based Coalition movement, is really picking up steam.  Our next meeting here in Bradley County will be on May 25th with the location to be announced next week and a planning meeting to be scheduled during the first week of May.  If you are interested in participation with this movement, again, contact me.  You do not have to be a church or even a faith based organization to be involved.

Finally, we have added an event calendar to our website to help keep our visitors informed of important events.  It can be found under the Events link on the main menu from any page.

You can also see it here.

We are looking forward to this year as we believe that the impact we have in combatting addiction, and supporting recovery, will multiply.    Stay tuned for what is to come from Pirate Springs, and those we work with in this endeavor.


Faith Based Coalition

The next meeting of this group will be on May 25th. Watch for updates for time and location!

If you want to be involved in the planning and/or the meeting itself, contact me ASAP!  We will be scheduling the planning meeting this upcoming week.

This is our joint work with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, other non-profits, providers, community leaders, and churches, to empower the community with understanding and familiarity with resources to help those who suffer from addiction.

Although still nascent, this movement is growing and having a substantial impact in communities all across the State of Tennessee.

Pleas join us in our efforts to stem the tide of destruction the disease of addiction leaves in it’s wake.  If you don’t have the time or ability to help personally, please consider helping financially with a fully tax deductible contribution.


Become one the crew!

Generation Found Showing

If you are concerned about addiction in our communities and want to be involved in solutions, joins for this event!

Mark your calendar for APRIL 13th from 7-9pm to join a group of us who are passionate about the upcoming documentary and discussion about addiction and the incredible communities developing in the U.S. to provide vital support for young people in recovery, GENERATION FOUND by the creators of the groundbreaking film, THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE. Check out this exciting film trailer here:http://generationfoundfilm.com . If you can come, join us in the UTC University Center Signal Mtn. Room located on East 5th Street (directionshttp://www.utc.edu/university-center/directions-to-the-uc.php) . Are you in? If so, spread the word to your friends and make an event out of it!

About the film:
From the creators of the groundbreaking film, THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE, comes GENERATION FOUND, a powerful story about one community coming together to ignite a youth addiction recovery revolution in their hometown. Devastated by an epidemic of addiction, Houston faced the reality of burying and locking up its young people at an alarming rate. And so in one of the largest cities in America, visionary counselors, law school dropouts, aspiring rock musicians, retired football players, oil industry executives, and church leaders came together to build the world’s largest peer-driven youth and family recovery community.
Independently filmed over the course of two years, GENERATION FOUND takes an unprecedented and intimate look at how a system of treatment centers, sober high schools, alternative peer groups, and collegiate recovery programs can exist in concert to intervene early and provide a real and tested long-term alternative to the “War on Drugs.” It is not only a deeply personal story, but one with real-world utility for communities struggling with addiction worldwide.

Register and get your free tickets here (click on this link).

Putting the Concept into Practice

In the series, I have discussed a paradigm shift that is necessary to start making an impact in the war on substance abuse and helping people recover from the ravages of their disease.

This entry is not really an addition to the series, but more of an announcement that what we preach we are trying to put into practice and an invitation for you to attend a meeting on this topic.

Here in my home state, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse is backing an initiative to create community centered Faith Based Coalitions.  While there are many organizations, groups, and individuals that address the problem of substance abuse on their own level, there is strength in numbers and we believe that in order to truly create a community solution, those who are involved or even just concerned will accomplish more if a unified strategy is created and followed.

To that end, there is a meeting on Thursday, January 19th, 2017 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm to begin organizing such a coalition in Bradley County.

It is not necessary that you live in Bradley County to attend, feel free to come and see what we are trying to accomplish with the thought that the same concept might work in your community.

We could use your input, your help, and your care for the community and those who live in it.

Please click on this link for information and to register.

PS – The break in the Newsletter series is due to a surgery and I am only now getting to where I can type again.  I will resume the series in the next week or two.

Paul G. Hook
Pirate Springs

CDC says opioid-related deaths at all-time high

The Washington Post (12/8, Ingraham) reports data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday revealed that “opioid deaths continued to surge in 2015, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in recent history.” The data shows “an increase of nearly 5,000 deaths from 2014.” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, said in a statement, “The epidemic of deaths involving opioids continues to worsen.” He added, “Prescription opioid misuse and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are intertwined and deeply troubling problems.”

        The AP (12/8, Stobbe) reports that according to the data, overdose deaths rose “11 percent last year, to 52,404.” The AP specifies that “heroin deaths rose 23 percent in one year,” deaths “from synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 73 percent,” and abuse “of drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin” increased 4 percent. Robert Anderson, “who oversees death statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said, “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times.” The amount of deaths from overdose was greater than that of car crashes and gun violence.

A Community Solution

The name of this series, “Addiction is a Global Problem”, is no joke or laughing matter.  Although the problem exists all over the world, we are going to focus on our country, the United States.

I have a philosophy regarding Substance Abuse, and Addiction, and I have been espousing it for years.  Yes, it has matured, but the foundation hasn’t been replaced.  What I can tell you is that we are in dire circumstances, but all is not lost and the situation is far from hopeless.  I see the potential dawn on the horizon and I see it in recovery movements and in realizations in the medical community at the highest levels.

I believe that education is the key to a fundamental shift in the statistics.  The paradigm has to move away from the stigmatic assumptions that exist today for not only the active substance abuser but also for those in recovery.

What is amazing is that if you do the follow through thinking about what I am about to present, you begin to see that those in the Recovery community could be a large part of the hope of the nation and our future as a fully functional, charitable, and economically secure society.  In order to make it work Society has to get invested.

Think about it:

“Alcohol misuse, illicit drug use, misuse of medications, and substance use disorders are estimated to cost the United States more than $400 billion in lost workplace productivity (in part, due to premature mortality), health care expenses, law enforcement and other criminal justice costs (e.g., drug-related crimes), and losses from motor vehicle crashes.”(Facing Addiction in America:  The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)


$400 billion.  What if we could halve that number over the next ten years?  That is a combined savings/productive output of Two Trillion dollars.  That doesn’t even speak to the changes in society, the increase in tax revenue, etc.

There will be a large number of people back out in the work force working, creating jobs, paying taxes and giving back to the society that has now welcomed them back from the land of lost with open arms, if we adopt a new way of thinking about the community being part of the solution.

“Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders.”(Executive Summary of the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)

I mentioned this briefly in an earlier volume, but when an addict recovers, and re-integrates successfully with society, the majority of us are so grateful for the new life that we become very service oriented.  We are some the most kind, loving, and charitable people there are.  After all, when you make it out of what seems like hell and find a way to live a life of peace and joy, it is difficult to not be grateful and want to share your joy.  Many of us do this by serving the community and society at large.

21 million people.  So if we again halve that number over ten years and only half of that number are the charitable community driven people I describe, we have 5.75 million people willing to get behind needs, and give to the community that helped save their lives.  And all of these estimates are assuming a static 21 million people costing $400 billion annually.  That does not take into account the future addicts added to the situation, although that number should decline dramatically if we are successful in our paradigm shift.

So where does this shift begin and what does it look like?  Let’s begin by acknowledging the problem.  We as a society are first, scared. We are scared to be near an addict, they might hurt us or our family, or take what is ours.  Second, we have a predefined picture of what an addict is; a dirty, immoral, probably disease ridden, most likely homeless, depraved, and disgusting individual.

The truth of the matter is, there are so many people in recovery today that have gone on the become professionals, educators, entertainers, politicians, you never know who around you is, in fact, an addict.  It is highly possible that your Doctor, or your lawyer, or your congressman is an addict.

I have been clean and recovering from my addiction since 1987 and in the time since I have pastored a church for seven years, founded and built a multi-million dollar software company that managed financial transactions for banks in our network operating center; I have sponsored doctors, and other professionals and have met politicians in recovery.

Most people have also assumed that addicts were addicts by choice and that they just made, and keep making, bad decisions.  The medical community, however, and now the Surgeon General, have discovered that there are precursors and risk factors associated with addiction, and that it is not a moral failing but a disease.  That does remove a great deal, if not all, of the responsibility from the addict for being one.

So you see, the old stereotype doesn’t fit.   Maybe it’s time to shift the thinking.

A New Attitude

If we, as a society, can look upon the addict as someone that is sick and needs treatment, our internal understanding will result in a change in our external reaction to the addict and being around them.  We can become loving and accepting of the situation and hold out a hand of help that the addict so needs rather than holding up a judgmental hand of self-defense which further crushes the spirit of the addict that still suffers.

Understanding and compassion go a long way toward bringing an addict to their day of decision, their bottom, their moment of desperation which triggers the string of reactions that result in recovery.

I am not saying that addicts aren’t potentially problematic and that we should welcome them into our homes to show we care.  That is not a good idea.  They may rob you blind if they are still actively using.  I am saying that changing our understanding helps us be kind.  And if the community wants to change the direction of this problem that it needs to be kind and it also needs to be invested in the solution.

In my home state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse started a project a few years back called the Faith Based Coalition Initiative.  This project is designed to access the deep reach of the churches into the community to bring awareness and understanding, as well as certify churches as Recovery Churches if they will send one or more members, staff members, etc., to a training that empowers the church through the trained member to properly evaluate and provide resource guidance to anyone that may come to the church asking for help with substance abuse issues.

This is a concept that could be extended to communities, creating Certified Recovery Communities with an expanded set of certification criteria beyond what the Faith Based Initiative applies to the churches.

A Certified Recovery Community should have several outlets (Health Department, Medical Clinics, Fire Department, EMS Services, Police Department, community organizations, schools) that all understand substance abuse issues and the local resources available to those seeking help.

Local law enforcement would be trained in and follow a policy of treatment first, rather than arrest, for certain circumstances.  This would include “Safe Haven” for anyone coming forward voluntarily for help.  The concept of Safe Haven is one that should become pervasive throughout the community.  This should be part of the discussion.

A Certified Recovery Community should have events.  These events could be sponsored by:

  • Civic Groups
  • Churches
  • Businesses
  • Business Networking Groups
  • Charitable Organizations
  • Municipal Government
  • others

These events could have many forms;

  • Concerts
  • Picnics
  • Fairs or street fairs
  • Expositions
  • Symposiums

These events could be promoted on the radio, billboards, flyers, etc.  And they should all have a theme that says something to the effect that “We Care”, “We Will Help”, and “You Are Safe”.  Letting those that are sick know there is a way out and letting them see those who have done it (recovering addicts and alcoholics) is the biggest attraction.  Planting the seed may not have immediate results for many, but planting the seeds will bear fruit.

These events could be held as frequently as the community sees fit but should be put on at least annually.

A Certified Recovery Community needs to have a Recovery High School available to its youth.  This is a place that is safe for youth in recovery and also has recovery related meetings, coursework, and places to meet and talk about recovery issues.  There are Recovery Schools today that are thriving and offering youth the optimum opportunity to not only graduate, but to excel.

“The staff of recovery high schools most often includes administrative staff, teachers, substance abuse counselors, and mental health professionals that each play a critical role in supporting their students. Additionally, recovery schools provide support for families learning to how to live with, and provide support for, their teens entering into the recovery Lifestyle.” (https://recoveryschools.org/what-is-a-recovery-high-school/)

A Certified Recovery Community should have a Recovery Center.  When I was growing up communities always had a community center, where kids could go and play games like ping-pong, checkers, etc., usually run by the Parks and recreation department.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the community either through Parks and Rec, or some other group, could offer a facility like that, with meeting rooms that could be rented by the various 12 step groups for their meetings?  This center could also have computers for research and job applications, a refreshment counter, a TV room; just a place for people in recovery to hang out together.

A Certified Recovery Community should also have available resources.  It won’t do much good calling addicts and alcoholics out of the darkness if there no place for them to go.

One of the biggest problems in the world of addiction and treatment today is the availability of treatment space.

“Although 20.8 million people (7.8 percent of the population) met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder in 2015, only 2.2 million individuals (10.4 percent) received any type of treatment. Of those treated, 63.7 percent received treatment in specialty substance use disorder treatment programs.” (Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)

This is not all from lack of treatment facilities, but a large percentage of it is.

There are probably other features a Recovery Community could have, but these are ideas that could help a community make a huge dent in the problem and investing in the solutions would wind up saving lives, saving money and making the community a nicer place to live.

It will not happen unless civic leaders, business owners, church leaders, the local government, and others put some skin in the game.  This is not an issue of throwing money at a problem that will continue indefinitely, at least not on the current order of magnitude.  It is an investment in people that can impact the community in a very positive way and contribute further to combatting the problem at the individual level, face to face, until it is scarcely seen.

We will continue next week with a discussion furthering the idea of what the community can do and what the effect should bring.

Please join me again next week and feel free to let me know if you have received anything of value so far, or in the volumes ahead.  My email address is on the website.

Also, it is near the end of the year and getting donation made for tax savings this year is running short on time.  Please consider a donation to our program, however small or large it might be.

Please Share if you enjoyed this article. If you received it as a forward from a friend you can subscribe and/or donate at www.piratesprings.org and you can read earlier newsletters at www.piratesprings.org/news.


Supporting Your Loved One in Recovery

During the time your family member was in active use of their substance or substances, chances are you suffered….a lot.  You might feel and believe that it’s your turn, that your family member owes you, and that you should get a break.  You think back to the insanity of it all…. Crazy behavior, missing money, they were gone for days on end sometimes, calls from jail, perhaps calls from the hospital.  You endured sleepless nights, developed ulcers from worry, suffered financial disasters.  You were ashamed, humiliated, and hurt.

Please get the support you need, because the journey is only beginning.

Most of the things mentioned above should be over if your loved one has detoxed and is serious about their recovery, but they are still the primary sick one.  It is their disease that drives the illness throughout the family so it only seems logical that their treatment should come first.

Let me focus on that statement for a minute because this is key.  It is their disease that drives

You must be solid in your conviction that this is not a moral failure or bad choices, this is a disease.

In a landmark report from the Surgeon General, for the first time ever “dedicated to substance misuse and related disorders” (Dr. V. Murthy, 2016), it is succinctly stated that:

“It’s time to change how we view addiction,” said Dr. Murthy. “Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”(Dr. V Murthy, 2016)

This understanding should help us become equipped mentally and emotionally to bear with the further changes in our lives by being supportive in recovery rather than requiring recompense which will ultimately just send your family member helter skelter back to the life of numbing the senses and throwing you back into the ravages of having a family member active in their addiction.

If your family member had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and came home from the hospital would you begrudge that they had to return several times for chemotherapy or radiation treatments?  Would you insist that now that they are home they need to resume their duties, whatever they might be?

I am only making a point by comparison, not stating that someone in recovery cannot do chores.  It is the shift in the way we think about the continuing recovery that the addict must be involved in that is important.  It is imperative, if we are to hope for any kind of success in recovery, that we also consider their continuing treatment as well as our own.

I touched briefly, in the last volume, on the mental condition of someone new to recovery and a short time from using substances to alter their feelings.

The Surgeon General’s report supports that fact:

The report shows that substance use disorders typically develop over time following repeated episodes of misuse that result in changes to the brain circuitry.” (Dr. V Murthy, 2016)

These changes in brain chemistry may never get to be 100% back to the way they were before substance abuse began, but we can have hope that your loved one will recover to become a caring, thoughtful, and loving person, if we invest a little bit of ourselves into understanding the disease and allowing the addict to do what they need to do in order to progress.

Carte Blanche?  Hardly.  You developed some boundaries before and they need to stay in place.  There may be some you can relax over time and some you may not.  You may create some new ones.  It is all situationally dependent.

For example, if you took away the ability to borrow your car, you may want to keep that in place for a while and let them prove responsibility.  If one of your boundaries was based on following through on commitments, keep it.  There needs to be responsibilities attached to every privilege and once again, defined consequences for violating a boundary.

An example of this would be, if you let them have car privileges back and they are gone longer than agreed they lose the car for 3 days again, or something along those lines, but something predefined.

Staying involved in your own recovery will help you know what limits are going to work and what is unrealistic.  It will also help you understand that you should not take things personally when there is a problem or disagreement.  Remember there is altered brain circuits in play here.   When your family member was using you were the enemy even though you were loved.

How does that work you ask?  Anything that could stand between your loved one and the acquisition of the substance of choice, the opportunity to use, the place to use, or any activities of using, is the enemy.  During active addition, the addict will put their use above family, friends, work, everything.   The disease is in full control.  Understanding this is part of understanding how things could have gotten so bad before they finally decided to get help.

We will talk more about that in another volume, but just knowing it to be true will help us work through situations during recovery.  That old mindset will show its ugly head from time to time.  If and when that happens it is best to take the high ground and not engage.

So what are the main things we need to know to support someone in recovery?

  • Do not hinder their meeting attendance
  • When needed and if possible, assist in getting them to meetings
  • Attend a few open meetings and listen
  • Don’t probe into their recovery with questions that start conflict
  • Don’t dig up the past
  • Allow them private time for step work, writing assignments, etc.
  • Attend a support group and share about what you’re going through
  • Hold your boundaries, but pick your battles wisely
  • Let them make their own choices
  • Be prepared to let them suffer the consequences of their choices

One of the most important things we need to learn, and the most difficult, is how to love them enough to make tough choices.   This is not a lesson I can teach, as the complexity of the principal is beyond simple teaching.  Everyone is different, every situation is different.  What I can say about it is this:

Love is the power that conquers all manner of evil, of negative energy, of indifference, of intolerance, and so much more.  But love also puts the good of another above their wants; and in doing so, eventually is felt as love.

Your loved one may reject your statements of love for quite some time.  If not verbally, perhaps still internally and privately.  This is one of the spiritual awakenings that hits us during recovery, that many of the things we took as attacks were acts of love.

In the order of step work, if the program of choice is a 12 step program, these things don’t start coming out until steps 6 and 7, and amends come in step 9.  I have seen people get to step 9 in under a year but rarely, and it can be years, literally.  Above all things remember that your family member is sick, not morally deficient, intentionally causing trouble.

Treat them as such and let the improvement you see, whether it comes quickly or seems to take forever, be your hope, your satisfaction, and your joy, because this disease can easily be fatal, and that is last thing you want for your loved one.

In our next Volume, I am going to talk about the fact that substance abuse needs a, “Community Solution”, and what that means.  So far we have skimmed across the surface of some of the aspects of addiction and recovery, the next volume will begin to get into the meat of the topic.

Please join me and feel free to let me know if you have received anything of value so far, or in the volumes ahead.  My email address is on the website.

Please Share if you enjoyed this article. If you received it as a forward from a friend you can subscribe at www.piratesprings.org and you can read earlier newsletters at www.piratesprings.org/news.


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