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

Life on Life’s Terms

Hello Again Recruits! 

I am believing that this post finds everyone combat ready and eager to fight for recovery.


I wanted to talk today about living “Life on Life’s Terms”. We hear that a lot in the 12 step rooms, in our treatment episodes and by just about everyone in recovery. What does this term mean to you? After the post, leave us a comment. I am waiting to hear from you on this topic and any other that you would like to talk about.

Some housekeeping –I will be adding an email sign up list as well as a testimonials page for those that have a story that they wanted to tell about their recovery efforts and experiences.

 Ok, back to the point. Life on life’s terms.

I had a client this week that was talking about how she doesn’t agree with the treatment that she is receiving from her “addictions” doctor. She basically stated that she can’t relate to this provider on ANY level. WOW that throws down a “Flag on the Play”, as well as alotta other issues for me as a counselor.  My thought is that your doc is your biggest fan, they are in it with you so YOU can win it. More on that in another post.

But that’s not where I want to drive you today. this gave me a unique hand to hand combat training moment for this person. They aren’t new to recovery. They have overcome many, many obstacles in their recovery process. This particular event was very hard for her to not only understand but to relate to. 

I stated that she needed to look at this issue from another angle. This was a  ‘life on life’s terms’ moment. Life is rarely fair. This was an opportunity for her to practice allllll of the coping skills she’s learned, to analyze past battles and apply some knowledge on how to overcome this bump in her recovery road.

Does this make sense?  Life happens every day when we are in our recovery processes. It’s different, beautiful, bloody, smelly, joyous and just about every other descriptive word you could think of. The difference between now and our addictive days is that we are just that; in the NOW. Nothing is medicating what we feel, sense and deal with.

Most addicts medicated themselves with whatever. NOW it’s an everyday life living, in the moment adventure or nightmare. This is all relative to what’s happening or not happening in your life. And let’s be honest, for the newcomer and for ourselves. Every day is NOT a dream in the celestial realm of the wonderland home world. SOME DAYS JUST SUCK!!! But all of us, with a lil time, know that you put on your big girl/bigboy drawers -lace up the bootstraps and DEAL WITH IT THE BEST WAY YOU CAN.

That looks different every day for every different person. Some of us call our sponsor/mentor. Many may go to church/Mosque/Temple or other spiritual avenue. You can go to any of the many 12 step meetings that fit your circumstance. Some of us talk to our bff or significant other, some of us laugh manically (oh that’s probably just me sorry). Some of us cry, work out, garden, work overtime, some of us do____________  (Fill in the blank for what you use to cope).

What is my point.

Here it is…no matter what life throws our way—we don’t pick up. We don’t even look at this as an option. Let’s say that we draw our strength from any number of things in our arsenal. This is one of the 1st basic training lessons that we come to rely on. That no matter what happens– we deal, cope, shelf or work out the life issue.

No money for rent? Well at least you are paying rent-some of us lived under bridges or in abandaminiums. Hot dogs and beans for dinner for the next 3 days? At least you have something in your belly. Remember when YOU NEVER ATE because you didn’t want to be $2 short for the drug boys.  Teenage kids of yours driving you up the flipping wall? Some of us never got the custody of our children back from our stint in hell-at least you have yours.


We have to remain grateful and thankful no matter what. The old adage-when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Same principle. Whatever this life throws at you, at least your alive and you can FEEL IT. Remember when you were so numb that you couldn’t feel anything at all? I sure do. 

We are in this together: to live, to train and to share. Reach out. IT’s okay to ask for help. Just don’t get mad if the person doesn’t join the pity party.

Until next time. Let’s all have some lemonade. lemonaid


thanks to for the photo 



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