If you have a loved one or employee struggling with substance use disorder or other dysfunctional behavior, then the information in this blog post could literally save their life.

You have probably heard that someone with a substance use disorder needs to hit a rock bottom before they will be open to help. There is truth to that. But the part you may not be aware of is that we do not have to helplessly wait around for our loved one to hit that bottom.

In fact, doing so could lead to their suffering a fatal overdose. Harvard University, in conjunction with the Boston Police Department, did a study where they sent undercover officers to multiple locations in the Boston area to purchase illegal drugs on the street. The drugs were then taken back to a lab for analysis.

The findings were very scary–most of the drugs purchased by the undercover officers tested positive for substances other than what the dealers claimed they were. For example, what was sold as heroin was often a synthetic opioid or some other combination of substances which often included the very deadly drug fentanyl.

These findings show that loved ones with a substance use disorder may just be one use away from a fatal overdose. And with 160 fatal overdoses daily in our country, simply waiting around for our loved ones to hit rock bottom may prove to be a fatal decision. All too frequently these days, rock bottom can be death.

Ken Seeley, interventionist on the long running, multi Emmy Award winning TV show A&E’s INTERVENTION has developed the HELPS model to guide interventionists and families to work together in raising the bottom, or creating a rock bottom, to help save a loved one’s life and move them into recovery. The HELPS model looks at five areas where the consequences of addiction take their toll.


Health–Addiction is a physical disease affecting the user’s body from the inside out. Consequences range from liver disease, skin abscesses, premature aging, psychiatric disorders, memory loss, central nervous system damage, and eventually death. Sometimes it is a health issue that motivates the loved one to move towards recovery.

Environmental–It has been proven that environmental factors strongly influences or arrests the development and subsequent behaviors of someone with substance use disorder. Are you supporting the recovery of the loved one, or enabling their addictive behavior?

Legal–Addiction frequently involves legal consequences such as DUI’s, arrests, marital separation, divorce, loss of child custody, and exclusion from wills. Often times the loved one will engage in illegal activities in order to support or maintain their habit.

Personal finances–Addiction creates financial crisis including job termination, eviction, foreclosure, and even bankruptcy. Supporting a loved one by giving them money, paying their bills or employing them can enable their addiction.

Spiritual–Has your loved one lost faith, hope and peace in their life? Addiction is also a spiritual affliction that robs the loved one of their spirituality leaving them to feel hopeless and alone.

By identifying which of the five areas above are affecting your loved one, then determining how to leverage that area and set healthy boundaries and consequences in a respectful and family-unified manner, HELPS manually raises the rock bottom instead of playing the deadly game of waiting for the loved one to hit rock bottom on their own–which could mean a fatal overdose.

The disease of addiction is taking too many lives and we have to find smarter, more effective ways to save our loved one’s lives. Using the HELPS model is a smart way to go.

If you think you or a loved one may have an addiction, please feel free to call or email me for a free consultation. Addiction is serious, but intervention and treatment can save lives.

Call me at 949-303-8264 or email me at
Twitter:     @rmoraitis

About Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CIP

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 and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues through counseling, coaching and interventions. 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 leading groups, individuals and families to mental, physical and spiritual healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

In my last blog post entitled “10 Facts About Opioids” I shared that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the United States is in the midst of a prescription painkiller overdose epidemic and discussed important facts about opioids such as heroin, vicodin, etc.

This post will follow up on our look at opioids with a discussion of treatment options for opioid abuse and addiction.

Treating Opioid Overdose
Currently there are some very effective drugs for opioid overdose. If someone overdoses on opioids and is barely breathing and close to death, an opioid antagonist such as naloxone, can be administered. This can provide immediate relief because it blocks the opioids from binding to the receptors in the brain.

Thankfully, more and more first responders, as well as citizens, have been trained in the use of naloxone and this has led to saving many lives.

Treating Opioid Addiction 
The first step to treating opioid addiction is detoxification (detox). Detox is extremely challenging because opioid users experience such intense withdrawal symptoms when they quit taking the drug.

I have seen this first hand numerous times while helping addicts get clean. I even once had an individual do their entire detox in my home without medication as they had no other treatment options. It can get messy and ugly!

Users encounter severe withdrawal symptoms that mirror the opposite effects of the drug. Instead of feeling euphoric, the user is extremely depressed. Instead of pain relief, users experience many aches and pains. Instead of constipation, users have diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms.

It is common to treat opioid addiction by administering a slower, longer acting opioid, such as methadone instead. Methadone maintenance is the most common treatment for heroin addiction and it has had significant success. One study showed that 80 percent of people who stick with a methadone maintenance program for one year end up abstinent from heroin for one to three years afterwards. By contrast, only 12 percent of people who drop out of methadone maintenance stay abstinent that long.

Other opioids are also regularly used in the treatment of heroin addiction. In fact, heroin itself is used in the treatment of heroin addiction in a number of countries. The idea is to give users a lower, but stable, prescription dose of heroin without all the risks associated with obtaining and using heroin on the street. Not surprisingly, heroin addicts are more likely to stick with a heroin maintenance program compared with a methadone maintenance program, and perhaps as a result, they’re less likely to use illegal drugs.

Other opioid drugs are frequently used in treating opioid addiction. Of course, this is very controversial as this is simply substituting one addiction for another.

Another common approach to treatment is to remove any reward associated with relapse. This is done by having the patient take an opioid antagonist such as naltrexone which blocks the rewarding effects of the opioids. This treatment works well with individuals highly motivated to quit who continue taking the naltrexone, but a problem arises when an individual gets very strong cravings and stops using the naltrexone.

In addition to pharmacological treatments, it can be most helpful if opioid addicts also receive cognitive behavioral therapy where they are trained to recognize and avoid their triggers for drug use.

It is also very helpful for the addict to receive counseling and coaching to move forward with a healthier life, and to be in a healthy supportive community which may include 12 step groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Lifelines.

Finding freedom from opioid addiction is very difficult, but it can be done with effective treatment, as well as healthy community and support in the life of the addict. If you have a loved one struggling with an opioid addiction, do not give up on them. Do all you can to get them into treatment, perhaps even an intervention, as it just may save their life!

For more information or to take the first step in getting a loved one help call 949-303-8264 or email

Websites: and

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the United States is in the midst of a prescription painkiller overdose epidemic. The most commonly abused opioids are:

  • Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin)
  • Oxymorphone (e.g., Opana)
  • Methadone (especially when prescribed for pain)

Frequently, when an individual no longer has access to prescription opioids, they turn to heroin which is both affordable and easy to acquire.

Presented here, with the goal of increasing awareness, are some basic facts about opioids.

1. Opium is the latex secreted from the seedpod of an opium poppy. Raw opium contains about 10 percent morphine and about 2 percent codeine. These are the opiate drugs, which just means that they’re natural products of the opium poppy. A number of other drugs, including heroin, are not contained in opium itself but are made from natural opiates or have very similar effects. These are sometimes called opioids.

2. The opiate drug morphine is among the most effective painkillers available today. Codeine has similar effects but is weaker than morphine. It’s often used to treat minor pain and as a cough suppressant. Of course, opium and drugs derived from opium are also often used recreationally, because they can produce a dreamlike, euphoric state.

3. People have known about those effects for a very long time. In fact, there’s evidence that the Sumerians knew about the psychoactive properties of the opium poppy plant as early as 3400 B.C. The Ancient Egyptians used opium medicinally. In the 1700s and 1800s, a mixture of alcohol and opium called laudanum became very popular and was widely used as a pain reliever, as a sleep aid, and to treat a variety of ailments. In the mid-1800s opium trade became a big business and even led to two wars, known as the opium wars, between the British and the Chinese.

4. In 1804, a German pharmacist isolated a pure alkaloid from opium and gave it the name morphine, after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Morphine was more potent than opium or laudanum, and it became an invaluable tool to doctors in the treatment of pain. Morphine was administered to injured soldiers during the American Civil War.

5. In 1898, Bayer pharmaceutical company began selling a synthesized opioid that was one-and-a-half to two times more powerful than morphine, and it was marketed as a nonaddictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant—heroin. Bayer sold heroin for more than 10 years before its harmful effects were recognized and it was removed from the market. Heroin is now recognized to be among the most addictive drugs in the world.

6. Opioids are narcotic analgesics, which reduce pain without eliminating sensation. They’re distinguished from anesthetics, which reduce all sensation and often produce unconsciousness. Opioids also produce a dreamlike, euphoric state, which is what makes them attractive to recreational drug users, at least initially.

7. At higher doses, opioids produce a rush of euphoria. But the nauseating effects can become more severe, and some people also experience anxiety and restlessness. The most dangerous effect is a significant suppression of breathing. In fact, in an opioid overdose breathing can be suppressed enough to lead to death.

8. About 45 people in the United States die every day from overdosing on a prescription painkiller—that’s more than the number of overdose deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.

9. Similar to other drugs, opioids overstimulate the brain’s reward circuit and trigger a large release of dopamine. The brain interprets that dopamine as a reward prediction error, or an indication that taking the drug was better than expected. That reward prediction error in turn backs up to environmental cues that are associated with drug taking, so when the user encounters those cues in the future, he or she experiences a very strong craving to use the drug.

10. There are some very effective treatments for opioid overdose. If a drug user overdoses on opioids, is barely breathing, and is close to death, if someone administers an opioid antagonist drug, such as naloxone, the drug user will recover almost immediately, because the opioid will be blocked from binding to the opioid receptors.
If you have any prescription opioids in your home, be sure to keep them stored securely so any guests or visitors to your home will not be able to access them as these meds are frequently stolen.
In my next blog post we will look at treatment for opioid addiction. Special thanks to Professor Thad Polk of the University of Michigan for contributions to this blog.

If you or a loved one are affected by an opioid addiction, please contact me at or 949-303-8264 to discuss options for healing.

You can visit my websites at and

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

What’s your superpower? No, really, what is it? Your first thought may be that you don’t have one–that real people don’t have superpowers!

But I encourage you to give the idea of a superpower a little more thought.

My theory is that many of us have superpowers without even realizing it.

But probably not the kind of superpower you think. I’m not talking about the ability to fly, super human strength, or x-ray vision. Although having those powers would be fun!

I am talking about superpowers that can enable us to accomplish impressive feats that, on first glance, may not seem like a superpower at all.

You see, there is great power in overcoming adversity. And there are many examples of folks who have overcome adversity and used that experience as a superpower to achieve success.

For example, did you know that Richard Branson, the billionaire founder and chairman of The Virgin Group, credits dyslexia for his success. Branson says he used dyslexia to his advantage and learned to delegate tasks to others so he could focus on the big picture.

Brandon’s not alone. Tom Cruise, Jay Leno, and Cher, just to name a few others, also had dyslexia. These superstars have all overcome their learning disability and have been empowered by the experience.

Another example of someone tapping into their superpower is renowned psychiatrist Paul Meier, MD. Dr. Meier was diagnosed with ADHD. But he never let that stop him from achieving his goals. On the contrary, Dr. Meier actually credits much of his success to his ADHD as he claims to have leveraged the ADHD to increase his accomplishments–which are many (co-founder of clinics, author of numerous books, multiple masters degrees in addition to his medical degree).

How about you? What have you overcome?

  • Addiction
  • Grief
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Learning Disability

If you have overcome any of the above, then I truly believe that you have a superpower! Perhaps your have the superpower of compassion, or focus, or patience, or tenacity.

You don’t have to be a celebrity to have a superpower. In my roles working with those impacted by mental health and addiction issues I encounter folks with amazing superpowers everyday. True everyday heroes!

I encourage you–take a moment right now to look inside and tap into your superpower–your inner-superhero. Then consider how you may use it for your success, and like a true superhero–for helping others.

About Randy Moraitis: I am a pastor, counselor, lifecoach, interventionist and consultant living in Orange County. I am also the president of the nonprofit foundation CarePossible which provides mental health and addiction care to low income and military families. My wife Kim and I have a blended family of five and have the superpowers to prove it! Contact me at Websites: and

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:

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 or visit my website for more info on counseling and recovery coaching, or visit our nonprofit foundation CarePossible at 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

Websites: and

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



Do you ever wish you were better at spotting a liar?  Do you have trouble trusting your teen, spouse, or employee? Here’s some info that will help you be a better lie detector!

It takes a lot more mental effort to lie than it does to tell the truth because it’s hard work to remember all the details of the lies. This fact can help us catch a lie if we know what to look for.

Psychologist Jacqueline Evans of the University of Texas and her colleagues developed a set of lie-detecting guidelines that anyone can use.  Here are six cues that, when combined, signal a lie.

  1. Missing Details–A person honestly recounting an event might mention the kind of music playing in the background or the color of the flowers on the table. A liar skips many little details because they are difficult to reconstruct or remember in later renditions.
  2. Claims of Faulty Memory–Liars may claim to have a poor memory, when the truth is that they can’t remember their own lies!
  3. Corrections or Contradictions–Liars often heavily edit their stories as they are retelling them. So pay attention–if this happens frequently enough, you may be hearing a lie.
  4. Effortful Thinking–If it appears the person is putting a lot of effort into coming up with their story, then that is a good indication that you may be hearing a lie.
  5. Nerves or Tension–It takes a great liar, or a psychopath, to pull off a string of falsehoods without looking at least somewhat anxious.
  6. Unusually Slow Speed–Liars often need to take quite a bit longer to tell their stories because they need to self-edit and try to be consistent.

What’s your favorite way to spot a liar?  I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at


Special thanks to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PH.D., and Psychology Today 12/14 for this info.

I was fortunate enough to attend a great seminar taught by psychologist, author, and leadership guru Dr. John Townsend. The focus was on how to be a leader that others would want to follow. Here are the five keys taught by Dr. Townsend.

A.  You can’t really get to know the feelings of those you lead.
B.  Sincere warmth will draw people to you so have empathy.
C.  Take the initiative to move inside the world of other people.
D.  Have a balance of grace and truth in your relationships.
E.  Take the time to be a good 7-minute counselor to folks in need. To do this: Listen  well, Empathize, Offer a brief solution, and then Refer the person to resources beyond you.

A.  Leaders must guard the vision!
B.  Ensure that every part of the org chart has a person that knows the vision and how they contribute to it through their specific duties.
C.  Over-communicate vision all the time!
D.  Begin every team meeting with, “Here’s what we’re all about”, then share the vision.


A.  People are drawn to vulnerable leaders who show both their needs and their failures.
B.  People are more likely to identify with a leader who is vulnerable than one that appears “bullet proof”.
C.  When sharing needs and failures, it is best to share examples from one’s professional life, not one’s personal life.

A.  People need to see a leader leading, so leaders must create dedicated time to be visible.
B.  Leaders need to do rounds into other people’s spaces.
C.  An “open door” policy is a passive position and not good enough. Leaders must take initiative for substantive conversations and interactions.

A.  This is the truth you give people to help them perform better. Remember to offer both grace and truth.
B.  Do not be afraid of feedback from candor.
C.  Do not “fragilize” people, which is making someone fragile who is not really fragile. This disrespects people and fails to treat them as adults.
D.  Do not be a “conflict avoidant leader”! Adults are resilient and adaptive, and can handle candor!

I learned a lot from Dr. Townsend’s insights and I hope you do, too!

I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at


Temper Tantrum

I’ve noticed that adults rarely think in terms of maturity with each other. In fact, we grown ups tend to expect maturity from other grown ups, right? And that often leads to disappointment.

Here are 7 Signs of Emotional Maturity. Take a moment to honestly assess how you are doing in each of these areas.

1. The ability to deal constructively with reality.

2. The capacity to adapt to change.

3. A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tensions and anxieties.

4. The capacity to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving.

5. The ability to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness.

6. The capacity to direct one’s instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets.

7. The capacity to love.

If you find yourself lacking in one or more of the above criteria, you are not alone. Many of us grew up in homes where these traits were not modeled or taught. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to grow up! Ask a trusted friend or mentor to help you grow in the areas needed, or seek a coach or counselor for expert guidance.

I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at