Category Archives: addiction

You Win Some and ……

I lost a client today. She wasn’t the first and I’m pretty sure because of my chosen career, she’s not going to be the last. But I can tell you, they are all hard losses. When your in school or in supervision meetings for your license, they tell you excellent skills and techniques like…leave it at the door when you leave work or you know that you’ve done all you could have done. And also, they made the choices, you can’t save them all, it’s the nature of this beast called addiction and yada yada yada.

warrior woman praying

They mean well. They often speak from their own experiences of the one who got too close to their heart, hit to close to home, reminded them of ole so and so or such and such’s daughter, son, uncle , mother…Here’s my personal favorite. I came up with it myself. I believe it with every ounce of my being and every fiber of my spirit! Some of us plant the seed, some water, some weed but only God can cause the growth. Truth I say! Truth! Dear friend it is the truth.

But when everyone left work today and I was by myself in my office, I cried. I cried for the fiesty woman that I met just 60 short days ago. I cried for the dreams she had, for the help she wanted, for the relationship she was trapped in that had killed her long before the cancers in her lungs and stomach every ate her insides away.  He was a cancer that sucked the life out of her and refused to allow her to get the medical attention she  needed a long time ago.

That speaks to his own issues. And quite frankly, she let him do it. That’s a WHOLE different subject that we can look at later. Cause this is about her!

Finally, some of the other clients got together and literally CARRIED her to the hospital and left her. THEY MADE HIM LEAVE HER. And I thank GOD above for those people. Otherwise, she would have died in a rented room, in excruciating pain, not being cared for properly, weighing all of 60 pounds soaking wet. Thank you for stepping in for her! I pushed hospice, I begged to get a release to talk to her doctor, but I was always told smoke and mirrors. Sticks and tricks. Things that in the scheme of things didn’t even matter.

Being the brawler that I am, I stopped allowing him to come into my office after meeting with her for the first time. My Spirit just said something IS NOT RIGHT HERE. If she really wanted him in there, she could have said, “Let him in”. Funny though, she didn’t. I saw her two times after that. Then things went downhill so fast my head was literally spinning.

Within 30 days of our first meeting, she had dropped a good 30 pounds (she wasn’t a big girl to begin with). I remember someone saying, “Hey, she’s in the lobby, come and see her”. I jumped up and ran out, afraid I would miss her. I didn’t really need to worry about that: She could hardly move.  My girl sat there all hunched over, hooked up to an oxygen tank. I smiled and told her how glad I was to see her. I really was. Oh, how I hugged her. Gently of course, because she was so very frail. I knew then, it was the last time I would see her on this side of life. My sweet firecracker, fizzled to a remnant of her former self. An empty shell of a woman sitting in the lobby of my clinic.

Thanks to Deviant art~~ caption

I was told that her daughter didn’t even know she was dying. I tried to find her on FB and other places and couldn’t.  One of the brave clients that made sure she was safe at the end of her life said that her son made it in, but that she did not get a chance to hear his voice before she passed. I think of how tragic it all is. How heroin tears up a life and then other lives attached to that life and then other lives attached to the other lives until there is nothing but a dank and rotten hole in the universe. I wonder how her daughter feels not being able to hold her mommy or stroke her hair at the end because she is hung up in her own addictions and was off to the races. Her sugar daddy couldn’t find her or refused to pass on the message that my lady lay dying. She was animate about finding her daughter but I couldn’t find her. She couldn’t find her. No one could find her.

Tears run down my cheeks. Theirs is not the only story that will end like this. I cry for every one that has been lost in this ongoing war. I cry for the babies of the parents that are dead, in jail, strung out, tricking, treating, what the heck ever. I cry for the families that are perpetuating this sickening play to the 3rd and 4th generation.  I cry for the army of men and women that report to the triage centers every day to patch up the walking dead, weary wounded soldiers that have fought one more day on the battlefield of addiction.


I pray and cry over their lives. That the trauma would not grow to be too much. That they would practice self-care for themselves. That they would take time out of their days, weeks, and years to love their children, families and friends. That they would stop and smell the preverbal roses. I pray that the workers would learn to reach out to each other and stop killing their units with friendly fire.

I pray for a lot. I know. God knows, and He really don’t mind. Didn’t He say, “Ask for the Nations”.

Well Lord. I ask for everyone in my clinic and the other six that are affiliated with mine. Then for all the staff and clients of all the centers I’ve ever worked in. And while I’m at it, how about all of Baltimore City, and Baltimore County and hell, why not Maryland as a whole State.

Wait, while I’m asking, I cover their families, their children and grandchildren, and all the staff, I pray for answers to this opiate epidemic. I pray for the key to unlock all addictions, and the human brain, and your pretty big , I pray for the meth problem in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND the opioid and cocaine, and pill and weed and cigarette and alcohol and everything else.

jesus prayers for the world

Cover it Lord. Cause we can’t!!! It’s too big for us! Even all of us together. For this one little Lady that I pray is being feisty and fiery up in heaven with you tonight Jesus! For her and her daughter when this hits her like a ton of bricks that she wasn’t there.






How the seasons can impact recovery

Here’s an interesting article on how the changing of the seasons can effect us.

Click here to read the post from “The Addictions Help Center”


Remember to celebrate the little tiny things that make each day a gift to be opened and enjoyed


What is a support network? Well, in recovery, it’s a group of people that you incorporate into your day to day to help you remain abstinent. Every person you include can help you deactivate your triggering events, be a person to vent to, cry to, laugh with or whatever.

Remember, who you add is up to you. Sometimes you need to watch and listen before you add ANYONE to your network. Keep this in mind, everyone in treatment or in the rooms may not be serious about recovery!  That’s why you have to watch, listen, screen, ask questions of the person you choose to include.  YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON ADDING WORTHY INDIVIDUALS. And this could include people that you would like to work 12 steps with, to mentor you, spiritual leaders or friends, therapists. . . Any person that you think will add value to your group.

Again, before making these choices, complete a pros and cons list for the people. Act like you are hiring these people. Ask serious questions about their lives and their recovery. Ask how long they have been clean, who is their sponsor or mentor, how are they staying abstinent.

Here is a hand out that you can print and use for building your own group.chart-for-support

And yet again, you can use this one as a guide to create your own flow


Hope this helps…drop me a line!



Coping Skills

We’ve talked about a lot of things…now it’s time to look at triggers and coping skills.  A trigger or triggering event is anything that starts you down the path to a relapse.  The rooms stress changing people, places and things. While that is a good start, it’s not the only things that can trigger an addict in recovery. Smells, objects, a song, a neighborhood, a needle on the ground, a lighter, and the list goes on and on. Don’t forget times of the year, payday, Friday, Christmas, New Year, hell any day really, depending on your mood.

Here are a few lists that you can read through that can help you deactivate your triggers once they go off in your head.

This first sheet is from boys’ town and was pinned on Pinterest (My favorite place)

coping skills from boystown

Hope this helps. Please let me know what you would like to talk about.


Trust and the recovery process.

It took my oldest daughter years to forgive me for my heroin addiction.  When she was between 6 and 7, I started using morphine (in Baltimore, we call it raw dope). Everything was okay for the first 5 years. Then I started losing jobs and going to jail. As I slipped farther and farther into my addiction, my mother and step-father had to take over the parental role as her guardians’.

While I am thankful for all they did for her, it actually allowed me to slide farther down the rabbit hole. They were my main enablers. They took over the responsibility for her allowing me to run the street and do what I wanted to do.  I knew she was well provided for and I took advantage of their love for her as I steadily got worse.

I didn’t realize the impact that my addiction had on that precious little girl. She was so beautiful and bright! JENNY 4 YEARS OLDI thought that I had done the right thing by letting my parents step in. But in the end, she wanted her mom so desperately and I was unavailable to her. I was dead to all but the call of my lover, the one who numbed all of my pain; heroin.

When we get our lives back, one thing that we cannot do is make up for all those years of hurt and pain. We can only ask for forgiveness. Sometimes it is given freely and sometimes it takes years of hard work to earn back some semblance of trust. Between my daughter and me, well, it took years.  Now, it’s 16 years later and I can say that we have a good relationship.

But, hon, the first 5 years was hell on earth for me. Every time she felt hurt or slighted in any way, she would lash out with the fury of a woman scorned. Her words were weapons, and she was a master at arms. I would try to remain calm, but we all know that sooner or later, when we are reminded of the heinous acts and lack of action, we snap. While we can start at the point of our recovery and try to build from there, don’t expect to earn their trust over night.


 We were both raw, sensitive and when the dust cleared, we were both broken and bleeding. The good news is that eventually, we came to an understanding. The knock out, drag out fights happened less and less and a truce arose.  One thing that we both learned was that we were a lot alike. We feel things deeply and powerfully. We know that we can’t talk about things that we disagree on, because that opens the door for war.

She learned over time, that I had really changed. I could be motherly, a shoulder to cry on, a cheerleader, an advocate and someone she could finally trust. I learned that if I needed an ear, she would listen….mostly. She still aggravates me when I call and think she is listening only to find out she’s not. I get mad and hang up. But should she need me, I come a running.

So, yeah, it took years and years of me showing up in our relationship. It took me walking out my recovery before her eyes, in word and deed. I had to put the work in. I had to prove to her that I was worthy of her. Eventually that mother daughter thing took root and began to grow into a beautiful and living thing.hard work from

But make no mistake, I had to earn that trust. Was it easy? Hell to the no it wasn’t easy. Was it worth it? Yes!!! Every argument, every derogatory remark, every knock down drag out, every tear, every “I’m so sorry” all of it. I wouldn’t change one thing about it, because it has made us stronger, better mothers and women in general.

If someone she knows is struggling with addiction, she is confident in my ability to counsel, give advice and just listen. I love that too! I look at it as her ultimate stamp of approval of what I have evolved into…that drill sergeant that can whip a recruit into a lean mean recovery machine. So….this is for my miracle baby that allowed me to gain the trust of those wretched years! This is a tribute to my Jennifer Marie.

my beautiful Jenn

Because of my kids, I fight on! I show up every day 24/7/365! It’s a lifestyle not a profession. And I fight on for your kids, your moms and dads, husbands and wives as well as your brothers and sisters. I take a stand in the trenches so that one day, you will have the opportunity to gain the trust of all those that prayed and cried over you as you did your dirt.

As always, press in, hang tough and just do it! Until next time.

Let me know what you think!





Life on Life’s Terms

What does that mean when you are in recovery?

Think about it…

I know that, today, I can handle some pretty difficult circumstances without running to the liquor store, refrigerator or shooting a bag of heroin. Today, I don’t want to numb myself.

Why? That’s a good question for me to contemplate…Why? Because I want to experience everything that my life hands me, throws at me and craps on me.  I want…no I need to be an active participant in the day to day living and dying of my life.

You see, today, my mom has basically lost the battle she was fighting with dementia. I’m about to go and get her from the hospital, where she has been for 5 days, and bring her home. My mom has sooooo many illnesses that she is trying to live peaceably with. It’s not working. Her lungs are shot (COPD). Her heart, well that old thing is tired, worn out and struggles to keep the blood flowing through AFIB, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and Type 2 Sugar.

This is my mom at Christmas in 2011-with her first great grandbaby

This old gal stood up to the courts of heaven and cried, screamed and plead during the throws of my addiction.  She lived it all as I numbed myself to escape the pain, she lived it.  So now it is my honor and privilege to enter the courts of heaven myself and cry, scream and plead. I want to be sober and vigilant. I want to be in my right mind as I battle this battle for her.

Oh Hon, don’t get me wrong, IT IS VERY HARD. I am a drama queen, a loud mouth piece, arguer, fighter- I am THAT WARROR who doesn’t know the meaning of stop or surrender. But through all that, through the anger that we may throw around, through the mean words spoken by both of us, I love that old girl.

I REMEMBER the days that I came home to try and hustle some money with my latest lies and schemes only to have her hand me a bag of food and send me on my way. She told me that she would cry for hours after she sent me on my way. I didn’t know that at the time. I do now. All the anguish and pain she was experiencing as I numbed myself every day for years.

Now I am the night watchman on the wall. When she cries out at night in fear, I quiet those fears and then I bombard heaven until I fall asleep again.

When she is confused and doesn’t know what is reality and what is not, I am here trying to be vigilant; trying to be the keeper of her memories.

I sometimes go along for the ride when she doesn’t know fact from fiction. I’ve been told that this will help her quiet her agitation. After all, when we are in the throes of our addiction, don’t we live in a fantasy world that we created so we don’t lose our sanity?

So that is why I live my life on the terms that the good Lord sees fit to send my way. I trust HIM enough to go along with the trials and triumphs that we call life. He is after all THE GOOD LORD.

So as you read this, look honestly at your trials AND YOUR TRIUMPHS! Look at how far you’ve come. Even with the mistakes you’ve made, you are STILL better off now than you were in your addiction

What’s in a Name

Basic Training! That’s what every person who enters into treatment for an addiction is in need of. They need to learn how to think, feel, act and live without their addiction to cloud their judgement. It seems that the very core of a person is changed so that they can seek, obtain and take their DOC (Drug of Choice).

After you have done this for any length of time, you have to retrain the brain to think, live and even feel again.

retrain the brain
thanks to for the picture

Say, for instance, a person is a heroin addict. Their whole existence revolves around getting the money so that they can cop and feel “normal” again. This cycle can be so vicious that even our loved ones mean nothing when it comes to the getting and obtain of the DOC.

I chose the name “Recovery Drill Sergeant” because of my approach to addiction and as an addictions counselor. I thoroughly believe that every person that I encounter needs to be training on how to live again (Thus the boot camp and basic training concept).  Just like any solider, the person in recovery needs to learn the skills that are needed to go back to their homes and stay alive without use.

I remember my own journey into the glorious world of recovery. Everything was new and fresh and exciting for me; but my friends and loved ones’ still remembered that a day, week, month and year ago, I was, in most cases, a hostile enemy. Laying down those old weapons of manipulation and deception, I had to “pick up” weapons of Forgiveness, understanding, hard work and the repetition of walking out my recovery on a daily basis.

photo by “

When you join the service, you push your mind, body and spirit to the extreme. You test the limits of your determination and your reserve. The same is true in the recovery process. You are basically reinventing your life and self to live life simply- every day, without ceasing for the rest of your life. Therefore, you need the basics of how to start doing that again.

We knew how to do that at one time in our lives. The Keys to unlocking a future of hope, sobriety and promise is pushing yourself to the limit, learning new way to think and eventually on how to feel. These are just the tip of the proverbial ice burg, but you got to start somewhere.

Welcome to my world. The battle gets bloody, dirty and downright stinky. I promise you though, that recovery is where it’s at. No matter what you have to do to get there, the fight is worth every single second. There is a freedom and a joy that I experience on the worst days of my life and I wouldn’t change one battle that I’ve fought to get here! It’s made me who and what I am.

Ready to join the struggle for your own personal freedom? Leave a comment, like this post and most of all share it with those that still struggle. Until next time…See you in basic training.

basic training
photo by

Put the work in

One of my biggest pet peeves with the Newbie to recovery is that they don’t want to put the work in. What does that mean??? It means that they often put themselves in harm’s way to get the money for the drug of choice, to find a place to use it and then to be high only to come into treatment and whine because they have to go to meetings or group!!!!

Are you kidding me??? Are you for REAL??!?!?!?! We sold our souls, stole from our families, our kids, we sold our bodies, we would do ANY THING that the corner boys told us to do to get a tester, a blast, out of the gate…BUT 2 weeks into recovery, we cry because getting up to go to a group or meeting is just TOO DANG BURN HARD.

hard work from

(Thanks to for the picture)

I am sure I felt the same way. But when I entered recovery, I had a group of women around me that pushed me, believed in my recovery and went out of their way to help me get to where I needed to go and do what I needed to do.  Also my mom was my biggest fan. She provided the free babysitting that helped me get back to work within 5 months.

One of my mentor’s quoted over and over, “No correction feels good (Click the link to see Hebrews 11:12 in several translations)  at the time you receive it, but in the end it is very profitable for your recovery (Growth, success, etc.). That one saying carried me through celebrating 16 years of recovery 7 days ago.

Everyone’s story is not the same. It’s as unique as the individual. One thing that is consistent throughout the recovery process is that there are people who are willing to help. Even with all of the mess we bring into recovery. Just like in anything else in life, you have to find your tribe-your path.

And let me tell you, it does get easier! Otherwise we could not or would not recover. Addicts do NOT like pain-Why else would we put ourselves and our people through all of that if we could just walk into recovery and feel no pain.  IT HURTS TO RECOVERbut buddy o’ pal I wouldn’t change the journey at ALL (except for the pain I caused to my loved ones). That struggle, the pain, the tears all of the blood and gut wrenching pain has made me who and what I am. That Recovery Drill Sergeant that will fight with you until it is settled and you are on the other side of that moment when you chose recovery.

We’ve all heard the phrases and slang in the rooms or in jail on the wall –

“This too shall pass” or “My worst days in recovery are better than my best days in addiction” and oh how about this one “Recovery is not for people who need it, it’s for people WHO WANT IT.”

I like that one. Basically when I started in recovery I could only do it 5 minutes at a time. Then it went up to 10 minutes, a group length, a day, a few days, then weeks, months and now years.

freedom next exit

But any time I start to whine about the work or the struggle or whaaa whaaa whaaa , I turn to My Higher Power, my King and His Spirit encourages me, and lifts me back to my feet and brushes me off so I can finish the race.

I tell my client’s all the time. “We are either working on recovery or we are working on a relapse. There is no sitting on the fence and taking a time out. Because your addiction has been sitting in the recovery groups with you so it can learn what you’re learning and can throw that monkey wrench in your workings. It is crafty, devious and DEADLY!”

My goal is always to encourage and to lift up those in the struggle. I do NOT do this by hand holding and paddy caking. That’s not what a drill sergeant does. They get ½ inch from your face and scream at you and put foot to butt so that when you leave treatment, you will not die as soon as you get home. Or in other words, you won’t go cop as soon as you hit the hood.

Stop whining!  Or if you have to whine, whine as you keep crawling forward. Whine as you pick yourself up. Whine and WIN this thing.  How about this; instead of whining how about thanking your Higher Power for waking you up ad giving you one more day on this glorious ride we call living!

Thankful and humble people make it until the end of the race!

Here’s one of my favorite C. S Lewis quotes…

cs lewis hardships

 If you would like, I would welcome your feedback. Until next time! Live long and prosper dude!




The beginning is…well…the beginning

What can we say about the beginning of our recovery process.  It’s raw, it hurts, we may be scared, we feel crappy in our spirit our soul and of course, our body. The good part of all this is that every day you will begin to feel better. You will start to walk free of the influence of the drug you were addicted too.

right now

The beginning of ANY journey starts with the first step. Based on the quote below, 23 million Americans have already taken their first step.

Over 23 million Americans are in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs according to a nationally representative survey from The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and The Partnership at conducted among 2,526 adults, ages 18 and older, living in the United States. **”Frequently Asked Questions.” Frequently Asked Questions. Web. 02 Apr. 2016

Just remember, because others have blazed the trail, you can too. You are not alone in this thing.  Don’t let your addiction lie to you.  It will try to isolate you. The truth is, all the work you did as an addict, if you can put 1/2 of that effort into your recovery YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.

I’ve lived it personally, but the kicker is, as an addictions counselor, I see people do it every single day. I see the struggle. BUT..people begin to recover simply by taking their first unsteady baby step. This step could be any of the following

  • entering a detox or treatment center
  • telling someone they have an addiction problem
  • throwing away your tools and paraphernalia
  • walking into a 12 step meeting
  • leaving the area you use in

These are just the most obvious. Your first step is as unique as you are. Everyone’s recovery process can be similar but totally different as we.

The key is…start!

The first step is the hardest…but it does get easier.

Reach out. Ask for help. Tell someone. here are some links that can help you take the first step. is a good place to start

Overcoming addiction

Narcotics Anonymous WORLD SERVICES

Alcoholics Anonymous

Feel free to reach out to me. Send me your questions or concerns. I will do the best I can to steer you in the right direction.

See you on the flip side


A Thousand yesterdays’…

I was in a place of contemplation, when this phrase dropped into my heart.

“A thousand yesterdays’ don’t have the power of your ‘right now’! Say this phrase out loud several times. Then say it a few times very slowly, annunciating each word. Think about the meaning of the words. Now say it again one more time

Are you beginning to sense the power of this statement? These simple 11 words when they are strung together in this particular order has more power for the addict that still suffers, the addict in recovery and those that have been stagnant in their recovery. This can be the statement that sets you free from your addiction, your mental blockade, your inability to break free and your key to leaving all of that behind.

life changes

So what! You’ve been an addict. What difference does it make how much you used, bought, slung, bagged, murdered, robbed or hurt. It’s in your PAST. Only you can let it ruin your right now and your future. We all did terrible things for our addictions. It has made us who we are. And I for one would not change the journey I took to become me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am very repentant for the pain I caused to my loved ones and friends. BUT and this is a big ole BUT—I wouldn’t be who I am today without that journey.

What am I. Well I’m passionate about recovery. Recovery from drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, work, exercise –I’m passionate about recovering FROM EVERYTHING THAT STOPS US FROM BEING THE BEST WE CAN BE. That’s why the power of my right now, of your right now, of our right now simply crushes addiction under our feet. That’s how powerful being in the now and living in the now is for us. If you are breathing-you CAN recover!

Right NOW I sit here tired as all get out. BUT I absolutely must tell you that you can make it. You can get out and in a few right nows, you will be tired on a Friday and you can write, share, sing, build, create anything that you want too to help those still in the prisons of their addictions.

Right now is your hope for a better later on, for a better tomorrow. Take heart and courage my dear friends. You do not struggle alone or in vain. Anything worth having is worth the price and struggle to obtain it. Don’t give up. Press into the now. Declare your freedom! Tell everyone you see that your right now is important.

Leave a comment, share a story, write a poem, sing a song. RAGE against the machinations of addictions everywhere in our world today. Fight on my friend! You are not alone.

Until next time. This is the Drill Sergeant saying live in the now! Fight on! LIVE.