Living Intentionally, Living Haphazardly

Most people spend their entire lives living thoughtlessly and without aim. Your emotional and mental health problems may have caused you to be discouraged and feeling hopeless. Perhaps you have had difficulty starting tasks or following through. Dreams and aspirations fall by the wayside. Time spent planning and pursuing life…

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Developing Hope and Emotional Healing

Chronic emotional problems and the need for treatment can often leave one discouraged. Difficult situations, failures, and past disappointments can be emotionally overwhelming and often become the reason to seek help. Challenges from the recent past often affect the present moment, and previous hospitalization or counseling and returning symptoms can…

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Overcoming Learned Helplessness

People struggling with substance use disorders, anxiety, and depression frequently complain about feelings of helplessness. They can point to a series of past life circumstances they had no control over. These experiences often include job loss, marital conflict, death of a loved one, infidelity, divorce, a serious accident, illness, or…

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Getting Stronger

Refusing an offer to drink or use takes courage, inner strength, and self-confidence. The ability to refuse can be expanded by developing the related skills listed below.  Assertiveness — Developing assertiveness skills will allow you to stand up for yourself, stick to your own opinions, protect yourself, and communicate honestly…

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Happy 4th of July!

From all of us here at Journey to Recovery & NorthStar Regional, have a happy & safe 4th of July!

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Happy Memorial Day!

To all the honorable military personnel, we thank you for your service.  Have a safe & happy Memorial day, everyone!

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Pull Off and Refuel

When people are overwhelmed and frustrated, friends and family are often understanding and supportive, at least at first. Soon after, as some recovery progress is made, support turns into encouragement to do more and get more done. Family members may want the client to go back to a previous level…

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Do the Thing You Need to Do or…

“You hit home runs not by chance but by preparation.” – Roger Maris | Do the thing you need to do or get yourself ready to do the thing you need to do. If you need to go to treatment, then go to treatment. If you need to finish school...

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Living in an Unsure World

“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” – Clint Eastwood | This evening we’re celebrating my granddaughter’s seventh birthday. It will be a small family gathering at an outdoor amphitheater performance of...

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Normal Will Reset – Eventually

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Commonly Attributed to Winston Churchill | When the decision to enter recovery is made, the addiction is often out of control. Something has to change or nothing...

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Creating Half-Time Strategies for Recovery

“Don’t give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half.” – Paul Bryant | In the sport of football, each game has four quarters with a 12 minute break between the two halves. This break has the not-so-clever, intuitively obvious...

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Don’t Cast Your Pearls Before Swine

There is an old proverb that says: “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” I grew up on a small family farm in Minnesota in the 1960’s. We had the usual assortment of amusing farm animals including cows, chickens, horses, cats, dogs, and of course...

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Recovery is Not the Goal

I’ve spent the better part of my 30+ year career helping people recover from substance use and mental health disorders, so my saying that recovery is not the goal likely comes as a bit of a surprise. The goal for people is as varied and different as...

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Resolving Old Wounds

I gave a presentation on Codependency to a small group last Saturday. The event was held in an elegantly appointed retreat house hidden away. From the back of the room, leaning across a granite countertop, eyes shining and fixed attentively, a...

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Three Critical Areas to Establish Margin

My simple definition of burnout is doing too much, with too little, for too long. And burnout is not just a scheduling problem. Stress and burnout are often made significantly worse by bitterness and resentment. “I’m the only one who works...

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The Ten Core Principles of Recovery
High Resolution Success Concept

The Ten Core Principles of Recovery

In order to help your clients navigate successful, long-term recovery, we’ve developed ten core principles of recovery. Like using a map, these principles help set good goals, avoid some mistakes, and dodge unnecessary problems. And of course...

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Five Keys to Managing Doubt

It is not always easy to be self-assured and confident. Many people move through life with numerous doubts and insecurities. You may doubt yourself, others, or the world around you. Perhaps you look at certain situations and certain people with...

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Understanding Euphoric Recall

Euphoric recall is a term used to describe the tendency to remember only the positive parts of past experiences while forgetting or minimizing the negative aspects, consequences, or difficulties associated with the same event. The incredible...

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When One Size Doesn’t Fit

When recently giving gifts to family and friends, I noticed that “one size fits all” rarely fits at all. In finding resources for your treatment center, one size, one shape, and one dimension to manage one disorder, I’ve discovered doesn’t fit either. The...

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Ever Grateful

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and other countries, a day set aside to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. President George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789 “as a day of...

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Trading Your Addiction

It seems as though whenever you defeat one addiction, another vice, addiction, or bad habit is just around the corner. In recovery, cross addiction refers to trading one addiction for another. In cross addiction, a new addiction takes the place of a...

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Rewriting Your Script

If you were acting in a play, your behavior and lines would be directed by the script. In life, too, you are acting and speaking according to pre-written scripts. We often feel and act in strict accordance with how we see ourselves. If you see yourself...

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Living Responsibly in the Moment

Today, October 10, 2017 is World Mental Health Day. People in our country and around the world are acknowledging the stark reality that almost everyone is directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues. One in every five people in...

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Good Programming Requires Good Resources

Co-occurring disorders (COD) are extraordinarily complex. To be effective, treatment programs and interventions must specifically target and treat both substance use and mental health disorders at the same time. The most effective treatment is...

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Three Lies that Kill Recovery

Substance use disorders are filled with denial, rationalizations, minimizations, and justifications. These are employed to reduce shame, suspiciousness, self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy. The addict tells lies or minimizes to maintain and perpetuate the addiction. The First Lie: I don’t need to change.  Confrontations or suggestions that someone needs help,…

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Let it Go Already

We live in a world that is easily and often offended. This is a hard concept because we have been trained to exaggerate our concerns, work up our distress and assertively communicate each and every trivial fault that comes our way. We are not told that these things are small;…

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Essential Elements of Successful Recovery (Part 2)

This is the second of a two-part series discussing the top ten elements of successful recovery. Each of these principles is an important aspect that will help you achieve the maximum benefit from your efforts and the treatment program of your choice. We have already discussed: Make treatment a choice,…

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Essential Elements of Successful Recovery (Part 1)

Substance abuse treatment is often a monumental decision that can make an enormous difference in the length and quality of your life. Once this life-changing decision has been made it is important to get the most out of your treatment experiences and your diligent efforts. Most people come to treatment…

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The Ten Principles of Self-Change

I have spent my whole life helping people change. Many people in recovery have become mired down in their own negative thinking. Likely your thoughts and resulting actions have taken on a hopeless and despairing outlook. Many people regularly rehearse self-deprecating statements, which are reinforced by repetition. Transforming Your Life The selected…

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Get A White Dog

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War, referred to his level of periodic and hard biting depression as the “black dog.”  As a metaphor, the black dog could refer to the vicious addiction present in your life.  The dog owner may be consumed in thought…

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Staying Motivated

Most people in recovery are extremely motivated to do whatever it takes to get sober, be healthier, get their life back, and feel better – at least at first. As treatment professionals, we desire to help you sustain or regain that strong desire to change your life. Sticking with something,…

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Understanding Relapse

Chemically dependent individuals can demonstrate relapse behaviors at any time throughout their recovery process, but are especially prone during the early stages of recovery. The relapse process starts when a person falls into old patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Self-pity Complacent with partial efforts Decreased self-care Increased denial, rationalizations,…

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Now Hear This!

Making gains in co-occurring disorder treatment, as with most goals, requires sustained focus, enormous perseverance, and resolute determination. These precious attributes however, are often in short supply as you emerge from addiction, and can be complicated by a mood disorder or other mental health malady. Staying focused suddenly becomes a…

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Living Your Life Intentionally

Most people live aimlessly and without thought as to how they are living. When someone becomes drug or alcohol addicted, they spend more time and attention diligently pursuing anything supporting their addiction and ignore other endeavors. Dreams and aspirations from the past fall by the wayside. Spending time planning and…

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Overcoming Resentment and Bitterness

The word resentment is best understood as having bitter indignation at being treated unfairly or unkindly. Resentment can come when you are misunderstood, neglected, rejected, slighted, and mistreated. This treatment is followed by bitterness, discontentment, and dissatisfaction. It can bring about ill will, animosity toward others, and feelings of envy…

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What Are You Bringing?

When people enter a relationship it is common to ask “What is in it for me?” or “What will I get out of it?” Potential employees perhaps are considering how the job may affect personal or family life. Employers have their own set of questions that are also variations on…

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A Few Weeds in the Garden

It is the wise person who, in spite of weeds, ants, and bitter cold, harvests the bounty of the garden, enjoys the picnic, and learns to ice skate in winter. It is the content person who has learned to tolerate frustration and endure life’s plentiful array of inconveniences.

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Developing Refusal Skills

Abstaining from alcohol and drugs is challenging for a large variety of reasons. Temptations often come from the inside and include things such as a longing to escape, a need to relax, physiological craving, and a desire to comfort yourself. Additionally, cues, urges, and temptations come from the outside. Certain situations…

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