Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Chase

When this writer uses the word, chase, it's usually down hill from there! Clients who chase, are in trouble. Why? Well for starters, when you are chasing something, it's really a unmet need. That unmet need is substituted for addiction. Gambler's chase. They chase hard. Everything around them becomes secondary. The primary is the chase. Hence, the gambler develops this pathological behavior that becomes evident when the gambler is on a run. Pathological gamblers struggle with trying to keep the "high" going. That high creates the chase. Gamblers validate themselves on winning, or the big win! But, the gambling addiction soon takes over, and it's not even about winning, just chasing.  This chasing behavior creates insidious poor decisions that can result in voluminous ramifications for the gambler. Gamblers take more risks when they are in the chase mode. Impulsive behavior becomes the gamblers middle name. Compulsive and Pathological gamblers need to recognize when they are self-sabotaging their selves by implementing chase behavior. Addicts who suffer from chemical dependence can experience the same chase behavior while getting high. Similar to gambling addiction, the ability to risk chasing the "high" from drugs can result in dangerous behavior for the the addict. The addict is willing to do anything to keep the high going, including chasing the drug, and it's addictive destructive behavior. It is important to understand that the chase can be used in many addictions. This writer tells his clients that if chasing got you what you wanted then you would be happy, right? Self would not have problems. Financial problems, self-esteem problems, depression problems, and a litany of other mental health problems would not occur if chasing were healthy. Self has the ability to understand that chasing is not a helpful tool in building your life. The next time you have a gambling urge, or want to get high, look back to what chasing got you, nothing! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't lose the real you

One of the first things I like to tell my clients is don't lose the real you. I also share this same approach with my own peers and friends who may be struggling with something in their life at this moment. Change is positive. Change can give self inspiration, hope, and pride. Change does not mean to forget who you really are. You all have the tools to change for the better. I fervently believe that. Some of us need friendly reminders how to use each tool for each thought, while still being who we really are. Others may be changing into someone they really want to be. Which can be a healthy thing. But, you still need to be the real you. What doe that mean? When self learns how to like them selves again, and begin to love their self, the real you is present. Addiction changes self, how we feel, how we act, how we present to other people. Behind this wall of addiction, you are still you. Once those boundaries are let down, and self is staying in their health, staying in the moment, self begins to enjoy life again. Self learns how to slow down, and appreciate the little things. When you are clean, eating and feeling good about your self, not gambling, and accepting your own sexuality, the real you begins to surface. You become stronger, and are able to work through your feelings in a positive way. Remember we all struggle, but we have the power to struggle in a healthy way! The real you is precious, beautiful, and worth something. Take someones hand, together we stand. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

People do care

This story of how people do care happened today, April 25th, 2012. This writer was in the local grocery market, in our tiny little lake town. I was literally running through the isles getting stuff, already on the verge of being late to speak to 200 some high school seniors about addiction education. Any way, I'm flying out the door, and this elderly person was ahead of me pushing his cart with his wife right behind him. They had to be 80 plus something. This man was hunched over and could barely walk. I asked the couple if I could push his cart to their car and help unload their supplies. The woman turned to me, and said her husband had to use the cart as walker, which he does have a walker and cane to walk. The cart's wheels make it easy for him to move, she respectfully noted. Then she said you can still walk me to our car. I obliged. She reminded me of my late grandmother as I listened to her talk about her dislike of people in her coffee group at the market. I then was ready to wish them a good day, and she reached into her purse and pulled out a $10.00 bill. She proceeded to give it to me, I said I cant take this. She said you will. I said I cant, but I really appreciate the gesture. She then said as her husband looked at me, you take it, or I will give you more. I said I will use it for my morning group donuts up north with my Native American friends. She then looked at me and said, "can I give you more". I almost lost it right there, tears were in my eye. I asked if I could give her hug, she reached over instead and gave me one. She was 84, her husband 86. I don't know why this happened today, but I do know it happened on my mother's birthday! People do care. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Be Part of Something

Do you like to be alone? Sometimes having our own self time can be healthy, but too much time alone can be unhealthy. When we were kids, it seems that we always had some group to be part of. In school we had our friends, at home we had the neighborhood clan, there seemed to be many choices of groups that we belonged to. Some of us probably played some sort of sport, or were involved in music, arts, a church group, cub scouts, girl scouts, even a really cool summer camp. The bottom line is when we were kids we had groups that we took part in and enjoyed on some level. Fast forward to the present day, what are you a part of? The trick is to be a kid again. Find that fun again while being part of something. Support groups, book clubs, choir group, softball teams, bowling league, are some groups that you can enjoy. Self does not get pleasure from isolation, it turns quickly to depression and anxiety. Being part of your own depression and anxiety group is not fun, or healthy. Ask your self when you were the happiest? My hunch is that you did have some group or groups that you participated in on a weekly basis. Being active needs to be part of your daily routine. Going to school and work is positive. But, you still need to be part of something for your self. Now, if you are in a interpersonal relationship, that does not count as being part of something.  Self needs to have its own group apart from your relationship. When you do everything with your significant other, spouse, or best friend, you are becoming co-dependent. Most healthy relationships have both parties in some sort of individual group that is not with each other. That is healthy. I hear to often from clients and peers that I do not have any extra time to get involved with other groups. This writer respectfully understands how busy some of you may be. However, if you take the time and make a list of all of the groups you think you are involved in, you will see that many of these groups are not for your self but for your family. This is normal, and expected. This does not mean you are finding a group for your self. Be part of something for you and only you! Revise and modify your schedule. It works, try it! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Do you remember when things awhile go were getting out of control for your self? You may have went to inpatient treatment, or had to get some other mental health care for what ever reason. You completed your stay, and were ready for a fresh start. Your body was getting stronger, mind clearer, and motivation was second to none. Then all of sudden you started working your program again, and things were getting done! Hurrah! Life is good at this moment. But, boom, there you are, that feeling comes along, followed by a huge craving or urge. This time, it has nothing to do with your own mental health, or some depression cloud hanging over you. For the first time you are doing what you are capable of, living a clean/sober life, a non-gambling life, a healthy eating life, a safe sexual life for you. How can you be feeling like you want to self-sabotage when everything in your life is going ok, better yet, good, maybe even wonderful? Back in the day, we only self-sabotaged when we felt alone, angry, isolated, anxious, and were not completing our goals with daily affirmations. Self has to recognize the new you and be comfortable with achieving positive outcomes without rewarding self with old unhealthy behaviors. It is ok to be afraid of doing positive things and making strides. Tell your self you are deserving! Success is a earned goal. It takes hard work, balance, finding your higher power- what ever that may be, and rewarding self with healthy fun! The next time you get that uncomfortable feeling of self-sabotage, think it through, and control your thought. You have the ability not to make thoughts bigger, and move on the next positive thought. Stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Monday, April 23, 2012


What do you do when you have a relapse? Some of you begin the old habits of self-medicating daily, and continue your addiction spiral. You feel since you started the train again, might as well hit it hard, and choose to forget how happy you were when you are clean. Self begins to let things get bigger, when self already knows that when things get bigger, self goes back to the dysfunctional, chaotic, pathological behavior. Self then begins to beat self up for having the relapse and self-medicates, isolates, avoids, and gets stuck again. This pattern of relapse happens to a lot of people. However, if self can subscribe to the principals of staying in your health, staying in the moment, self can get back on track in one moment. You already have been utilizing how to control your thoughts, and got clean time when you do this. Therefore, if you do have a relapse, stick with the principals of what you learned, right? You have the power to get by this speed bump, and continue on the road. When client's do have a relapse, I have found most of them do the same things regardless of their different mental health diagnosis. First, they stop taking their medication, and are substituting their drug of choice, (DOC) with the prescribed medication. Next, they become so frustrated and angry with them self that they do not let their anger out in a positive manner. They feel guilty and shame. Finally, they will not utilize their support system, until the bender has run its course, or they go into the Detox, (DT'd) do to their body shutting down. All three of these examples are prevalent in addicts that have relapses at some time in their life. As a helper, the one thing that I try and emphasize with each client who has a relapse, is the ability for that client to let that experience of that relapse, go. When the client fixates or obsesses with what they just got done doing, the client seems to let the whole relapse feeling replay itself in their head, and then the urges and cravings appear to get out of control again.They remember their old using behaviors and experiences, and want to validate that experience with how they cope with their own mental health.  Positive reinforcement is needed for that client to focus on where they are right now, after relapse, not what they just did or what might happen in the future. Relapse prevention is when the client is able to understand that they have the power to be clean again, and use the tools that they have already acquired and implemented with that healthy routine before the relapse. Don't make the relapse thought bigger, let it go. You begin to deal with it when you are able to focus on you right now. Go back to your daily affirmations when you wake up. 1-10, express your mood level. Take your prescribed medication. Get some exercise. Go to a support meeting. Be active in your day. Journal your thoughts. Get back into the healthy routine that you did before your relapse. Eat three meals a day with healthy snacks in between.  Work your program. It starts with self, find your balance, use your higher power to guide you and do something fun for your self, while giving your self credit! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Every morning I get up and go over to the mirror, and check in with my self. I rate 1-10 where my mood level is, and say a positive affirmation for that day. Now, some days are lower then others, but, I learn to let the negative thoughts go, and focus on the positive. I have found that my mood level can change instantly if I control thoughts and do not obsess with the negative. This check in routine is a healthy way to keep self balanced through the day. You can start as 4, and by noon be up to a 7. I use this check in process with all my clients and peers. It works! Get your mood level feelings out, do not isolate and avoid. Self can get stuck when feelings do not get released. Depression can set in and the addiction cycle begins to move. 1-10 rate your self. Make this a daily routine. You will be amazed at how your energy level can increase through out your day. After you check in with your self, you can begin to accomplish your goals. Your higher power can help you stay on track with your daily check in's. A morning prayer may follow your check in. A exercise session is next. You begin to have fun with your daily 1-10, mood level check in. Give it a try, and keep track of your weekly numbers. Compare them if you like and see how you have the power to control your thoughts with your mood. Changing your mood from being negative energy to positive energy is something you can do! Where are you at 1-10? Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The small things

We always want to measure ourselves with the big things, right? We gauge our individual success with the bigger things, right? Our goals appear to be focused with what we need to do and how our needs will give us big things in life. Some of this may be true. However, in this writer's opinion, it's the small things that allow self to feel good about self, regardless of what big things may or may not happen. I tell my clients to appreciate these small things that we so often take for granted, and forget to give self credit for. For instance, getting out of bed and completing your daily hygiene, with a positive affirmation. Eating three healthy meals for that day is a healthy small thing.  Making it to work on time, and finishing the whole work shift is another small thing that we need to be proud of. Attending our mental health appointment or medication appointment with our mental health professional is a positive small thing. What about calling our sponsor or making to our weekly support group with 100% compliance. These small things need to be rewarded for self to appreciate the responsibility needed to follow through. When self was self-medicating, or purging, gambling, these small things never got done. Big things that self wanted to complete and accomplish would not happen do to self not having the discipline. Self would then go back to the addiction, and continue in it's spiral. Self has the power to recognize the small things that give self balance. When self is balanced, self is identifying the small things that lead to accomplishing daily goals and affirmations. The bigger things will only come, if self is able to develop a positive routine that incorporates the small things in daily life. Each healthy thought can help self accomplish goals that are small stepping stones that will lead to paved roads where new challenges and growth are prevalent. If you think about it, every big thing you did was do to the small thing that started it! The small things are thoughts that you control, put your energy into these small things and big things will happen for you! Stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Learn to like and love self again

Life can throw us a curve ball many times. Sometimes we strike out, but the game is never over for self. There will be new games, and you will be up to bat again. Sometimes self needs to re-energize, re-fuel, and be strong again. This is called practice. Self needs to take care of their own body. That image that you see every morning, is your own, and self needs to be ok with it. Notice, I did not say, love it right away, but be comfortable with where you are at now, not in the future. Self needs to practice giving self credit for making positive choices. Eating three meals a day, with some healthy snacks in between. Exercising each day and rewarding self with positive affirmations. Self needs to have healthy boundaries when sex and intimacy are present. Sex does not cure our problems with our own identity, our own sexuality, or co-dependence. We need to learn how to accept our self, before we can give our self to another. Self needs to be who ever self wants to be, and be ok with that person regardless of how other's may feel. Being ok, is the first step in realizing that ok is ok! Control your thoughts, and let ok be comfortable for you. In the past, ok, was usually a feeling that you associated with being depressed, and not liking your self, or hiding from who you really wanted to be. Self has the power to control his or her thoughts at any time. Right here, right now, self can feel ok, and ok can lead to feeling good about self. The past is what it is, we can't change it, or run from it. We only have to accept it on our term's and what we can handle at this moment. Self becomes stronger when self is able to take care of self, first. When self can understand that self is important right now, and that self can not control the future, self is learning how to like and love self again. Self will struggle, but it will be healthy struggle. Some of you are learning how to embrace the new you, whether that being the person you always wanted to be, but were afraid of showing the world who you really are. Other's are battling through a addiction and being honest with self, that you need to take care of self without self-medicating, and hoping the pain will go away. Some of you are alone, and for the first time do not have a significant other to rely on. Regardless of your situation, you are up at bat again, and this time you have been practicing on self, learning that ok can lead to feeling good about your self, which is why you will get a hit, and are on your way to loving your self again! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Need a friend?

We all need healthy friends to keep us in our health, right? It's nice to have someone to talk to, and listen, without passing judgement or emotions. What about having a pet as your friend? This writer can confirm how healthy it is to have a pet, or pets in my case! Often I get overwhelmed with my self and need someone to comfort me, without me having to explain my actions. Pets make wonderful companions that help self accomplish their daily goals. It's nice to go for a walk with your pet, and enjoy the elements of nature while getting some healthy exercise. Do you ever talk to your pet? I do all the time. Daily affirmations are a fun way of sharing your thoughts with your pet. Pet's give us love, and always come back for more. Self is able to feel good about self when the pet is being cared for and loved. Having a pet can allow self to be more active and work through our own mental health. We learn to treat our friends like we do our pet, and are able to build healthy interpersonal relationships. Pet's validate self, and we learn to accept validation from our pets. If you need a friend now, go get your self a pet and enjoy the wonderful outcomes! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Exodus 3:10

 "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? (Exodus 3:10)
That was Moses' question to God.  After all, he stuttered when he spoke.  Certainly God can't us me, he reasoned.  And Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, Noah got drunk, and David had an affair.  Jonah ran from God.  Gideon was insecure.  Miriam was a gossip.  Paul had ordered people killed.  Mary worried, Sarah got impatient.  Thomas doubted, Elijah got moody.  Zaccheus was short.  Abraham was old.  Lazarus was dead.

So,...What's your reason for thinking God couldn't possibly use you?

God what do you have for me today?

Reverend Dr. Michael A. Halleen, Interim Pastor, Bella Vista Community Church,
Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let drama go

Some of us are so wrapped up into our own or other's drama that we forget to live our own life. Do you ever look at the drama that self can create? Do you ever look at other people's drama and get in tangled in their dysfunction? When we let drama rule our life we become burnt out emotionally, and weak. Our thoughts and goals are not being  met and we become isolated. If drama helped self in any way, don't you think you would be happy? Well drama creates unhealthy struggle for your self. All of the energy that you need to function in a healthy manner is displaced into negative energy that you can not control when drama surrounds you. Self needs to understand how drama does not solve problems but creates more problems. You do not have the time, energy or patience to waste with drama that is not helping you in any capacity in your life. All drama does is manifest into depression, isolation, and unresolved grief which will not help you. Have the power to recognize drama warning signs, and allow self to let those drama thoughts go out of your head. Focus on how you need to be motivated with your own agenda, and bring real, tangible outcomes to your self. Fantasy thinking, or illusions on how your life will be better when you are involved in drama is a farce. Dreams and goals are not made from drama. Surround your self with positive people and healthy feedback on how you can become a better person. People who swarm to drama are usually the one's that create the drama in the first place. Let the thoughts of drama go, and concentrate on thoughts that can help you move on with your life. Avoid drama situations, environments, and other people's drama, it is not helpful for you. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Try, try, and try!

Many of us want to give up at the wrong times. Many of us have a fear of failure. Many of us forget that when we try something, it does not matter if we succeed or meet our goal. The fact that we are trying is enough! Think about that. You are trying, yes it is hard, and it may not be going the way you want. But, you are trying. Trying is positive. Trying to change your behavior, and stay in your health is worth the energy. Use your higher power to keep trying. Give self credit for making an attempt for a new thought, a new experience, trying to handle a difficult emotion or feeling that you may have. Try and talk about it, write about it or let that thought go. Don't tell your self that when you are ready to try something that it will always be bad. We set unrealistic expectations when we try something that we already are telling our self that we can't do it, or the outcome will be negative. Try telling self, that you want to try, and are going to try no matter what the out come will be. You will be amazed on how you can control your thought before you try something, and let it happen without trying to predict. The problem is that self trys to forecast what will happen when we try things that may or may not be something that is different, or scary. Sometimes different things that we try can be a blessing in disguise. But, you have to try, and be willing to have an open mind, no expectations is ok, slow your thoughts down! Thanks for trying, now you say it and believe it! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Families of addicts

Sometimes we forget that we are not the only person hurting from our addiction behavior. We want to assume that once we are clean, that all of our past mistakes will be forgiven. Self is starting over. However, our families may not be ready to start over on our terms. Families may still be struggling with what we have put them through, and may not be sure of our commitment to stay clean. Self can become angry, and upset with our families. This writer can respectfully confirm that a majority of clients relapse when self is unable to understand their families grief and anger. The addict will work very hard to make amends for their poor past decisions, but the family is not ready to accept the amends. This is not a unhealthy behavior for the family or the addict, but reality. Time is the important factor here. The addict will need to learn that he or she cannot predict the future for his or her family to come around and validate self. That validation will need to come from each family member on their own time table. This writer calls this process, acceptance. Sometimes, family members will not validate the addict in the way the addict would like to validated. At this time the addict will make a choice. How healthy is that relationship with that family member? The addict has to stay in their health, and stay in the moment for their own recovery. But, the family member also will need to stay in their health, and stay in their moment in order to begin a new relationship with the addict. Families of addicts may be struggling with their own feelings and their own self for that matter. Many times addicts will complete their addiction treatment in a residential treatment center and be ready to come home. Home may be living with a family member. The addict is not ready for the family member to unload their past and current feelings to the addict. This happens all the time. It is important that that the family member and addict work together in developing a new, trusting, positive relationship which will take time. Family counseling and therapy is a positive way to bridge this gap between addict and family. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ten Reasons to Pray

1. Let your thoughts out.
2. Connect with your Higher Power.
3. Find your faith.
4. Make amends for Self.
5. Family, friends, and strangers are heard.
6. New positive energy is created.
7. It's not all about you.
8. You put the part of healing that is out of your own hands into the right ones.
9. God's umbrella is up, rain or shine.
10. It's free.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stay in your heatlh, stay in the moment- (what does it really mean)

Followers, I have received many messages, texts and emails on what does the phrase, "Stay in your health, stay in the moment" mean? It means, exactly how it is written and spoken. These words are a reflection of the H/R (Health Realization Model). Health Realization is a common sense approach to help people realize their own inner health, by coming to understand that every human being has a healthy internal core that is accessible to them. H/R is based on the principle that we all have internal resiliency, when we gain perspective on what gets in the way. This ultimately results in community change, from the inside out. Essentially, when self understands that self  has the power to stay in your health, stay in the moment, self is learning to not make things bigger with self's thoughts. Self has the ability to let anxious, stressful, sometimes past negative thoughts go, and focus on positive thoughts right here, and now. Staying in your health allows self to control the urges and cravings with addiction and life. There will always be urges and cravings, as there will always be stress and anxiety. Using H/R self is able to realize change can happen for the better. Knowing I am worth something. Realizing my own thinking messes me up. It is not what happens to me, but how I think about what happens to me that matters. I don't have to take things personally. I always have a choice. Staying in your health, staying in the moment allows self to not beat your self up from your past poor decisions. Self learns that the future is unknown, but right now, self can control self's thoughts at this very  second. You have the mind set, to be creative in how you think and how you react. Understand that when I am calm and clear, I have access to wisdom and common sense. This common sense approach is a wonderful tool that you can use to maintain healthy balance, addict or not. Change allows you to like your self and love your self again. It all starts with self, then we need to balance self with controlling our thoughts. We can use a higher power to help our self stay in our health. We then learn to have fun again, while staying in the moment! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


One of my favorite words in life, is support. We all need support. Yes addiction support is implied, (stay in your health, stay in the moment) but we all need to feel alive again. Sometimes we get burnt out on all the mental health support, been there done it! This does not mean we have a pass to blow off our meetings for our addiction. We need to have other meetings for support that have nothing to do with addiction. Support is how self begins to put the pieces back in your life. After all it's your support for you and only you! We can get exasperated with everyone telling us where we need to go, how we need to do things, and why we need to do this. If we really be honest with our self, we already understand what we need to do for self. When I'm working with my private clients, I make sure each client has an outlet of support that is non-addiction related. For example, some of my clients seek more support in athletic functions like joining a volleyball team, basketball team, swim club, bike club, archery club, yoga, and racquetball league. Exercising with others can be alot of fun, and a positive way to get support, while meeting new healthy friends. Other clients join the YMCA, or local health club for that healthy support with others. Book clubs and early morning social breakfast groups can serve as a healthy banter for support for self  and meeting new people. Church is a wonderful tool to use for seeking  support and finding your higher power. Church groups can help self connect with others and their free people! Support is all around you. Open your self up to try new things, and meeting new people through exercise, book clubs, morning breakfast groups, and church groups. There are many other healthy support outlets that are out there. Go out and find them. Monday's and Wednesday's might be group for your addiction support, Tuesday's and Thursday's may be groups for fun and meeting new people! Create your own support network on self's terms. Stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Don't forget to breathe?

It's Monday, and you are crazy busy, swamped. Once you get home, you become a taxi service, carting kids to different events. Then you will need to make dinner for the family. After dinner you may try and take a breath, wrong! Take the breath, right when you get up, and once you made it to work, take another breath, breathe. Inhale, and then exhale, off to the next meeting. As you are walking from one meeting to the next, or driving across town from one event to the next, take a breath. Feel the oxygen coming into your body. Embrace the air. For some of you, putting that phone down after each call and breathing will help you. We become so wrapped up in the day's events, that we forget to breathe. Stress can come in all forms through your day. You have the ability to take a breath any time you want. Self can manage it's own stress by learning how to breathe in certain situations. Practice taking breaths during your day. Instead of always reacting to every comment, question, email, text, or phone call, breathe first, then take another breath, let it out, and then see how you want to answer. Self learns how to balance its thoughts with breaths. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.