By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Do you have a family member in recovery from addiction? Maybe drugs, maybe alcohol, maybe both? If so, then you know all about the pain, the stress, and the fears that are part of your family culture.

I also know all about the pain, stress and fears–you see I write this post not only as a counselor who deals with families affected by addiction on a daily basis, but also as a person whose family has been impacted by addiction for several generations.

There are a lot of metaphors used to describe what it’s like to have a family member who is an addict:
it’s like living in the eye of a storm.
it’s like always having to walk on eggshells.

While the sayings give a glimpse into what it’s like to have an addict in the family, they really don’t express the depth of the pain and anguish that family members–parents, children, siblings–go through when their loved one is afflicted by addiction.

Here are 5 tips to help families to move in the direction of healing.

But first, a very important question: Are you a family with someone in recovery, or are you a family in recovery? 

Families who see themselves as simply having someone in recovery are much less likely to have healing than families who see themselves as a family in recovery.

Addiction is a family disease. It’s not just the problem of the addict, it’s the whole family’s problem! The best possible scenario is when the whole family works on getting healthier. Be a family in recovery!

5 Tips for Families in Recovery

These tips are designed to give families a big picture outlook on what to expect on the recovery journey and how to best move the family from unhealthy to healthy.

1. Be Aware–the members of the addicts family will still have about the same level of stress and anxiety during the first 4-12 months of their loved one’s sobriety. They may still be dealing with financial or legal fallout from when the addict was using. Or they may be expecting a relapse and dreading every phone call.

2. Be Awarethings might actually get worse during the first 4-12 months of the loved one’s sobriety. They may discover serious health issues or have to serve jail time. Family members may be frustrated with huge bills from treatment.

3. Be Aware–intense family or marriage therapy is counterproductive during the first 4-12 months. Instead focus on getting the family structure back in place, work on individual issues, and work on parenting and family operations.

4. Be Aware–during the first 4-12 months abandonment may be added to the family experience. Either the addict feels abandoned by the family, or the family feels abandoned by the addict. An addict working a healthy recovery program will often go to many meetings and start hanging out with a new crowd. This may make their family feel abandoned at first. It’s OK. Let go and focus on your personal growth and healing.

5. Be wise–I highly recommend all family members get connected with appropriate groups such as Al-Anon, CoDa, Lifelines, AA, NA or other support group. This will help bring healing to all the individual members of the family and help prevent the family from falling back into old, unhealthy patterns.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Comment below or email me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Visit my website www.randymoraitis.com for info on counseling or coaching, and our nonprofit foundation CarePossible at www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)

Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Hardly a day goes by that I am not approached by someone–either an addict in recovery who is struggling to stay clean, or the loved one of an addict concerned about their loved one relapsing and overdosing.

These are people from all walks of life, yet they usually ask the same question—a question truly born out of desperation, and that question is: “What should I do?”

To help answer that question I offer these 8 Tools for Relapse Prevention. If an addict in recovery sincerely works in these eight areas they will greatly reduce the likelihood of a potential fatal relapse. This is important for both the addict and the family to know.

8 Tools for Relapse Prevention

1. Meetings—addicts need to go to recovery meetings such as AA, NA, CA, Celebrate Recovery, or Lifelines.Meetings are where you learn new things to help the brain heal from the damage caused by the addictive behaviors, and where you can find encouragement from hearing the experience, strength and hope of others staying clean. There is great wisdom in attending 90 meetings in 90 days for those trying to get and stay clean.

2. Counseling—addicts often have some deep down issues that, if never addressed, will continue to
rear their ugly heads and possibly trigger relapse. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma can be processed with a good counselor or therapist and the addict can be given tools to grow in healthy ways. The counselor may also recommend a medical exam for a complete assessment and treatment plan.

3. 12 Steps—the 12 steps are an amazing tool for healing and spiritual growth. I highly recommend everyone work through the steps as they are even beneficial to those not in recovery from addiction. Here is a great site with info on the 12 steps: http://12step.org/

4. Sponsor—addicts need a sponsor to guide them through the 12 steps. I recommend a sponsor be of
the same sex, have one year or more of sobriety, and have worked through the steps with their own sponsor. The addict should find a sponsor they trust who meets these guidelines, then take direction from the sponsor.

5. Health and Wellness—this includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, stretching, and relaxation/meditation. I highly recommend those in recovery find a healthy activity that they enjoy such as crossfit, martial arts, running, surfing, or yoga. This will give them some good clean fun, get those endorphins flowing, and often lead to making new, healthy friends.

6. Family Support—addiction is a family disease. If you have a family member or loved one impacted by addiction, guess what? You are impacted by addiction! Family members of addicts will help the addict, and themselves, by attending Al-Anon or CoDa meetings. Seeking counseling to learn healthy ways to support the addict
without enabling, as well as how to have healthy self-care is also recommended.

7. Recovery Coach—a good recovery coach will give the addict numerous tools to stay clean and sober and hold them accountable in their growth and sobriety. Additionally, a recovery coach will guide the addict to find purpose in life. Once a person has purpose and they are passionate about it, they are more likely to stay focused on achieving their purpose and less likely to relapse.

8. God—the 12 steps were designed to take people on a spiritual journey and trust in a higher power. Many addicts fresh in their recovery have no idea who their higher power is. That’s normal and to be expected. My personal experience is that I have seen thousands of addicts over the years have great success choosing God as their higher power. Having a spiritual foundation gives one much needed strength during times of temptation and triggers. The Life Recovery Bible is a great resource to learn more about the intersection of faith and recovery, and prayer can be a powerful tool for healing.

I would love to hear if you have any tools you recommend for relapse prevention. You can email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or visit my website for more info on counseling and recovery coaching www.randymoraitis.com, or visit our nonprofit foundation CarePossible at www.carepossible.org for info and resources for those in need.

By Randy Moraaitis

If you have never been to a 12 step meeting, then you probably have no idea what the 12 steps are all about, other than perhaps associating the steps with addicts. Following is a very brief overview of the 12 steps to help spread awareness.

The 12 steps are a set of guiding or spiritual principles originally designed to help those struggling with alcoholism. The steps have proven to be a very effective tool for many people struggling with, not only alcoholism, but addictions and compulsions of many varieties including drugs, food and pornography.

The following are the original twelve steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:

1.  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3.  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4.  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7.  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.  Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

A great benefit of the steps is that those who sincerely work through the 12 steps can live healthier and more honest lives than those who do not. There are numerous types of 12 step groups and meetings where one can find the steps being put into practice including:

  • AA—Alcoholics Anonymous
  • NA—Narcotics Anonymous
  • CA—Cocaine Anonymous
  • MA—Marijuana Anonymous
  • SA—Sexaholics Anonymous
  • OA—Overeaters Anonymous
  • CoDa—Codependents Anonymous
  • Al-Anon—for friends and family of addicts

12 step groups are a great source of free therapy. If someone cannot afford traditional therapy or counseling, they just might find a lot of healing in a 12 step group related to their struggles.

There are many variances between 12 step groups, so if you try one that is not a good fit, don’t give up—try another one. A simple Google search will lead to meeting schedules and descriptions.

Bottom line—the 12 steps are a great tool for healing, so if you’re new to the steps read through them a few times and see how they could grow you—even if you’re not an addict.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. For more info, or for help finding a meeting, please contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com.

Websites: www.carepossible.org and www.randymoraitis.com.

Here are the Top 5 Wisdom on the Way Blog Posts of 2014

What was your favorite blog post of 2014?  I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at randy@carepossible.org.

Websites:
www.carepossible.org
www.thecrossing.com
www.randymoraitis.com

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

K2, Spice, and bath salts are designer drugs that frequently make the news because of their link to overdose deaths and abnormal behavior. In fact, just this past March there were several teen deaths in Washington State caused by designer drugs.

Designer drugs problems are not isolated to America. Europe has seen a huge influx of designer drugs, and earlier this month New Zealand actually banned all designer drugs making them illegal. (Something I believe all countries must do!)

I learned the truth about these substances at a seminar taught by a leading physician/scientist in the field of addiction and designer drugs. Here are the important highlights that everyone needs to know:

  1. K2 and Spice are often considered a marijuana replacement because they resemble marijuana and are smoked.
  2. K2 and Spice are actually nothing like marijuana in their chemical composition.
  3. K2 and Spice are chemically similar to a combination of methamphetamine and LSD.
  4. K2, Spice, and Bath Salts are very dangerous. The original inventor said that these substances were not for human consumption.
  5. Designer drugs can be very addictive.
  6. K2, Spice, and bath salts can cause permanent brain damage or psychosis, including schizophrenia, after one use.
  7. Designer drugs kill brain cells.
  8. Spice causes delirium, a sudden severe confusion.
  9. People can have flashbacks from Spice and bath salts.
  10. Chemists frequently change the molecular composition of designer drugs to stay one step ahead of drug tests, so designer drugs often go undetected.

I urge every parent and care giver of children and teens to learn the facts about designer drugs and then share them with your kids. Kids think that designer drugs are harmless because they can buy them in stores or online. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to educate our families and our communities about the serious dangers of designer drugs!

Please share this post with others to save lives and prevent overdoses.

I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at randy@carepossible.org.

Websites: www.carepossible.orgwww.randymoraitis.com

Intervention

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction–to drugs, alcohol, food, gambling or other behavior, then you are probably stressed, worried, frustrated and angry.

You’re probably wondering what you can do to help your loved one, or if there even is anything you can do to help your loved one. There is a myth that we must wait for an addict to bottom out. The truth is that for many addicts their bottom is death.

Addiction is a disease, and caring people do not wait for someone with a disease to die. Caring people do all they can to get the person with the disease into proper treatment.

For those afflicted with the disease of addiction, a proven way to get them into treatment is to do an intervention. Now, we have all seen interventions done on TV shows or in movies, so we all have an idea of what an intervention is like.

But the truth is that the method of doing interventions has greatly evolved over the years. No longer do we need to surprise our loved one and simply read letters to them (without even making eye contact!).

There is now a more effective (and more user friendly) method of intervention developed and refined by nationally known interventionist Brad Lamm who is the interventionist for The Today Show, Dr. Phil and The Dr. Oz Show.

This method is known as an invitational intervention and has as it’s ultimate goal to get your loved one to say yes to a change plan moving them towards healthier behaviors. With the support of the loved one’s family and friends, along with the guidance and pre-planning of the trained interventionist, the loved one will be set up for success and given an opportunity that may save their life as well as bring healing to the entire family.

If you do have a loved one struggling with addiction, you have options. As a Certified Intervention Professional I am happy to answer any questions you have and guide you towards the best help for your particular set of circumstances. Please feel free to contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com.

Websites: www.carepossible.comwww.randymoraitis.com

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

Mindfulness is a hot topic today in both psychology and medicine. According to Psychology Today, mindfulness “is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

I first became mindful of mindfulness (sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad pun) several years ago while spending time with a friend who is a double board certified physician (family medicine and addictionology).

My friend was passionately extoling the virtues of mindfulness meditation in treating addiction, anxiety, depression, and more. As a pastor I was leery of the eastern mysticism baggage attached to my idea of mindfulness, but intrigued by the potential for healing. So I decided to do some research.

What I learned was both surprising and interesting. After Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin included a mindfulness treatment protocol (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts for chronic pain, research on mindfulness meditation exploded and today most major medical schools have a mindfulness center as part of their school or hospital.

As my physician friend told me, mindfulness as part of one’s treatment, has indeed helped many patients with addiction, anxiety, depression, attention disorders, and pain management.

And regarding my concerns as a pastor—I found the work of Mark J. Myers, Ph.D. to be reassuring. Dr. Myers conducted a study at Liberty University in 2012 that showed that not only does mindfulness meditation successfully treat anxiety, depression, chronic pain and more, but mindfulness may also improve one’s ability to be present with God. I love a good win-win!

If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, anxiety, depression, attention deficit issues, or chronic pain, give mindfulness meditation a try.

Click here for a meditation you can do right now.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites: www.thecrossing.comwww.randymoraitis.com, www.carepossible.com

meditation
By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

In my last blog post (Meditation–Is It Worth My Time?), I shared the many benefits of meditation. As promised, here is a brief introduction on how to meditate.

Harvard, Yale, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and many other reputable organizations have produced research that meditation is a very effective treatment for anxiety, depression, addiction, smoking cessation and weight loss.

If you’d like to reap the benefits of meditation, then simply follow the steps below and you will be on your way.

Please keep in mind that it is a process. We don’t get fit the first time we work out at a gym. We have to work out regularly. In the same way, meditation should be done daily or several times per week to see results. So don’t get frustrated if you do not feel much different after the first few attempts!

Meditating

  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted for ten minutes.
  • Sit in a chair with your back straight and your hands resting on your knees or lap.
  • Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Let your eyes unfocus and simply gaze into the middle distance.
  • Take 5 deep breaths–in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Close your eyes on the last exhale.
  • Start to notice your body–your posture, the sensations where your body touches the chair and feet touch the ground.
  • Become mindful of your senses–notice all that you can hear, taste or smell. Don’t worry about noises that you may hear.
  • Now scan your body from head to toe and notice any tension or discomfort.
  • Scan again this time noticing which body parts feel relaxed.
  • Become aware of your thoughts–simply notice them–you can’t turn them off, so don’t worry about them–just be aware.
  • Notice your breathing–are the breaths shallow or deep? Strive for deeper, relaxed breathing for about 5 minutes.
  • Become aware of your physical sensations–the chair, feet on the floor, hands in your lap, anything your senses can observe.
  • Open your eyes slowly and calmly continue with your day. Try to keep this awareness (mindfulness) with you in all you do.

Over time, you will find yourself being present more with family, friends, work, and other moments throughout the day.

Modification–you may find it very helpful and uplifting to meditate on a particular verse, proverb, phrase or quote that encourages or inspires you. Meditate on the phrase during the 5 minute focused breathing section above.

The key to successful meditation is to take it slow and be consistent!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites: www.randymoraitis.com, www.carepossible.com

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

Do you ever feel stressed out? Has anyone ever told you to “chill out”? If so, then it’s time you considered meditation as part of your daily routine.

Numerous highly regarded studies have shown that just 10 minutes of daily meditation can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, fight autoimmune diseases, and improve your attitude towards, and quality of, life.

Dr. Herbert Benson, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says, “You should be meditating every day.” That is quite a call to action from one of our nation’s leading physicians!

This is because our every day stressors from work, family, and society evoke a fight-or-flight response which increases our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. But because we are not actually always running and fighting our body doesn’t use the hormones produced from the stress.

Dr. Benson states that these unused hormones put us at risk for a variety of diseases and conditions including anxiety, depression, insomnia, infertility, heart attacks, strokes, and more.

Dr. Benson claims that we can negate the fight-or-flight response by developing our “relaxation response”, which he claims can be done through repetitive prayer, Yoga, and of course meditation.

Meditation is great for you mental health, your spiritual health, even your physical health–but did you know that meditation can also be great for your financial health? According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension patients who regularly practiced meditation had a 28% decrease in physician fees.

It’s your health and your wallet, but the facts are clear–spending 10 minutes a day meditating may be the best investment you ever make!

Don’t know how to meditate? No worries! In my next blog post I will teach the basics and get you started. It’s easier than you think. In the meantime, click here for a relaxation technique that will definitely help you chill out.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Has meditation helped you?
Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites: www.thecrossing.com, www.randymoraitis.com, www.carepossible.com

 

According to new data published in the world’s leading general medical journal The Lancet, mental and substance use disorders were the leading causes of illness worldwide in 2010.

Harvey A. Whiteford, MD, of the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues wrote, “These disorders were responsible for more of the global burden than were HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, diabetes, or transport injuries.”

Overall, mental and substance use disorders were the fifth leading cause of premature death and disease worldwide, and accounted for 22.9% of all nonfatal illness — more than any other disease!This is an alarming trend and in a press release Dr. Whiteford said, “barriers to mental health care must be addressed to reduce the global prevalence of mental and substance use disorders.”

A second study published alongside Dr. Whiteford’s stated that opioid dependence was responsible for the greatest burden of disease among all illicit drugs, accounting for 55% of the 78,000 deaths linked to drug use in 2010. The study also showed that more than two-thirds of individuals dependent on drugs were male — 64% each for cannabis and amphetamines and 70% each for opioids and cocaine, and the proportion of drug dependence increased in the highest-income countries.

What can you do to address the barriers to mental health and addiction treatment?

  • Get educated. We cannot fix what we do not understand.
  • Early intervention. If you or someone you know needs treatment for mental health or substance abuse issues, do all you can to encourage immediate treatment and research the treatment options.
  • Remove the stigma. Mental health and addiction issues should be looked at as disease, not personal failing. Surround these issues with support, not stigma or negativity.

To learn more or to help break through the barrier to treatment that so many face, visit www.carepossible.org. CarePossible is a nonprofit focused on making mental health care and addiction treatment possible for everyone.

I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Websites: www.thecrossing.com and www.randymoraitis.com.