Anger Management

anger management

Anger Management

by Claire Godden

“I don’t need anger management. I need everyone else to stop pissing me off”

The topic of Anger Management during recovery must not be overlooked. An addict may be using substances to control or mask anger or to numb feelings in general. But numbing and, therefore, avoiding the feeling means you will never break the cycle of anger, reactive outburst, negative consequence and subsequent fallout. Anger unchecked will destroy your relationships and your health. Handled constructively however, you can build your sense of self-worth and greatly improve relationships with others. Anger is a normal, healthy, human emotion and you absolutely can learn to manage it. The reality is that your reaction to events around you is yours and your alone.

Results of Anger

Why should you control your anger anyway? Shouldn’t you be free to express yourself?

Outbursts of anger will lead to others fearing and avoiding you. You could permanently lose important relationships or even your job. All of this in turn can lead to guilt and anxiety, both of which can lead to, or worsen, depression. Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, headaches, and fatigue can also occur. Anger weakens your immune system. Even worse, you are putting yourself at higher risk for a stroke and heart disease.


“He who angers you conquers you” – Elizabeth Kenny


So, where to start? First, learn what triggers your anger

Anger exists because of frustration, pain, or fear. You may also be turning anger at yourself outward and blaming everyone else for things that don’t go your way. You’re frustrated because you procrastinated about job-seeking or writing an essay for college. Someone is not listening to you or doing things the way you would like them to. Your computer won’t work properly and you can’t figure out why. You feel that someone has disrespected you. You are afraid someone is deserting you or cheating on you. You’re sick and tired of your co-worker’s attitude. Your parents are asking you to do things you don’t want to do. The list can go on and on. It may take you time to practice not reacting the way you always have to situations you don’t like, but it can be done.


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is about being aware of your own emotions and learning to regulate those emotions and your behavior. It is also about practicing helping others regulate their behavior and being able to read and interpret others’ emotions. EI also looks at awareness of how different social interactions affect you and how you affect the mood of any social interaction whether individual or group. You can build your emotional intelligence by paying close attention to people’s verbal responses, body language and mood when you are around them. Learn to really listen to the other person and don’t interrupt. Listen without judgement. Put yourself in their shoes and be empathetic by tuning into the other person’s feelings, thoughts and attitudes. Practice being humble. You don’t need to seek accolades for a job well done or brag about it to others. Practice being quietly confident in whatever you have achieved. The results will speak for themselves in time. Increasing your emotional intelligence will help you achieve a calmer, less frustrated existence.


Alternatives to anger and things you can do to be more calm in general

It is possible to deal with anger in a constructive way. You do not need to deny that people or situations make you angry. Acknowledging that they do so but quickly stopping that urge to react immediately is key to anger management.


*Replay an incident in your mind where your anger was out of control. Think about the effects of your emotions on the other person or people and think about how you could have handled it differently. If you re-write the script with constructive action or a calmer reaction on your part, how does it change the other person’s responses? How does it change the aftermath? Do this regularly later on in the day after an angry outburst and you will train yourself to react less aggressively and more logically.


*Take up a hobby that induces calm and that you can practice regularly. Art, writing, yoga, music, gardening, cooking, reading, You may find that you can go to this calm place in your mind when you feel angry outbursts coming on.


*Exercise. If you don’t currently exercise, start with something you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. Maybe just walking the dog at a good pace or jogging around the block. Exercise relieves stress and anything is better than nothing. If you make your goal unattainable, you will likely cause more frustration when you find that you cannot keep it up. Twenty minutes walking the dog is 20 minutes that you weren’t sitting watching TV or fuming over something that happened that day.


*Sleep. We all know that getting enough sleep is good for us. Make sure your room is dark with no distracting lights and no TV on all night. Trying reading before you sleep but not on electronic devices as the light promotes wakefulness making the brain think it’s daytime. Try to keep a regular bedtime, too.


*Avoid certain people if necessary. Avoidance doesn’t work for the long-term, of course, but you may find it helpful to avoid certain people while you are practicing managing your anger.


*Don’t expect things to change overnight. Just as it took you time to learn to react this way, it can take time to unlearn and re-learn.


*Thinking more positively in general. Try to be more aware of your thoughts in general. Do you find your self-talk to be on the negative side? Do you think the worst of people. Is everyone out to get you? Turning around those thoughts that don’t necessarily lead to angry outbursts can instill a steady sense of well-being and can help reduce your feelings of hostility to others in general.


As you reduce and eventually stop having angry outbursts, you will find that you earn more respect from others, develop a stronger sense of self-worth, and feel better physically. You will project calm, control, and confidence to those you interact with.


“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist” – Indira Gandhi

Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse

Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse is more common then you would expect.  Experiencing anxiety in life is inevitable. But it’s not all bad. Anxiety is a survival skill. In fact, anxiety played an important role in ancient humans. Thousands of years ago, when Homo Sapiens inhabited the earth, anxiety was used when taking action during immediate danger and problems. For example, a lion may appear in the plains and anxiety would be used to run and find safety.

Today, anxiety is still used as a tool. It can help motivate you to accomplish your assignments, to work hard, and to be cautious in various environments.

However, anxiety and anxiety disorder are different things. Anxiety disorder involves excessive worrying and fears that are intense, may last for long periods of time, and is impairing to areas of life.

Although there are different types of anxiety disorders with specific symptoms, they all have these same general symptoms, which include panic, fear or uneasiness, sleeping difficulties, difficulty staying still, cold, sweaty and numb extremities, trouble breathing, heart murmurs, stomach discomfort, muscle tension and dizziness.

There isn’t one initial cause for anxiety disorder. In reality, it’s more of a combination of biological dispositions/ genetic makeup and trauma/ environmental stress.

The five major types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social phobia. Although these mental illnesses are similar and all fall under the anxiety disorder umbrella, they do have differences in treatments and symptoms.

Although anxiety disorder can affect anyone, women and non-Hispanic whites are more likely to experience this mental illness.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. but less than 43% actually seek treatment. There are many reasons as to why people with anxiety disorder do not seek treatment. For example, mental health stigma can contribute to not seeking treatment out of shame or embarrassment. Another reason being that many people with anxiety disorder may lack insight, awareness or the tools to seek treatment.  People with anxiety disorder and substance abuse need to seek treatment.

anxiety disorder and substance abuse

It’s not uncommon for those with substance abuse problems to also suffer from one or more psychiatric disorders, like anxiety disorder. Many studies show that those diagnosed with either substance abuse or anxiety disorder are at an increased risk for developing the other. Both illnesses work together to exacerbate the illnesses symptoms.

Fortunately, anxiety disorder and substance abuse is treatable with psychotherapy, medication, mindfulness and overall health!

I’ve personally struggled with anxiety disorder and substance abuse since before I can remember. It wasn’t until I began treatment for an eating disorder ten years ago, that I realized how long I had been struggling and how I didn’t see it because it was my norm. This made me realize how possible it is for those with anxiety disorder to go their whole lives without seeking treatment, even if they experience impairments.

It was terrifying seeking treatment for many reasons. For one, I was young and not many people my age around me were openly struggling with addiction and mental illness. Two, my family and the culture I grew up in reinforced a mental health stigma, making it shameful for me to be vulnerable and ask for help. Three, treatment is expensive. By the time I was nineteen, I was working three jobs to help pay for individual therapy, eating disorder anonymous meetings, nutritionists, group therapy, etc. Although, I had barriers to recovery, I did have enough support and privilege to keep me going.

Along my recovery I was diagnosed with OCD, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Once I began taking medication, educating myself more on these illnesses, exercising, while still going to various forms of therapy, I felt my recovery reached a new level of redemption.

I still struggle and still have anxiety disorder symptoms and still have eating disorder tendencies, but my recovery is the most important thing to me and being on this path feels so much more cathartic and meaningful than being imprisoned by unhealthy habits.

Thrive Treatments Intensive Outpatient programs can make it possible for you to succeed, no matter what barriers may be present. They have a strong emphasis on affordable recovery because everyone deserves to recover and to receive the upmost care. At Thrive, staff work to empower individuals to become their own recovery advocates and give you the tools necessary build a successful and personalized road to recovery.  We treat those struggling with anxiety disorder and substance abuse.  The Last House offers a safe and stable environment for those struggling with addiction to get clean and sober.

road to recovery

ADHD in Recovery

Managing ADHD in Recovery

ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is one of the numerous psychiatric disorders I have encountered. Through these encounters I have seen the impact that this disorder has on someone’s mental well being and those around them.

Managing ADHD is hard enough on its own and throwing recovery into the mix can be a lot to handle.

Whether you have ADHD in recovery, struggle with ADHD alone or perhaps you know someone seeking sobriety with ADHD, it’s important to understand what this disorder is and how it impacts individuals and loved ones.

ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders and is described as difficulty with sitting still, trouble focusing, being messy and disorganized, being easily distracted or forgetful, and being impulsive.

The impacts alone of ADHD are significant in those diagnosed and those around them. ADHD can negatively affect education, employment, relationships, finances and quality of life. Likewise, addiction and substance abuse can negatively affect those same areas.

Many times those with addictions also struggle with mental disorders like ADHD and there is an additional risk for substance abuse in someone diagnosed with ADHD. There are various reasons that those with ADHD are more susceptible to addiction, one of them being that people with ADHD become hooked on other substances as a means of coping with the symptoms that ADHD present.

adhd in recovery


It can be hard to manage ADHD symptoms and recover at the same time. However, Thrive Treatment Center has expert staff that provide treatment for dual diagnoses. At Thrive, experts focus on treatment of both addiction and ADHD simultaneously. The treatment programs focus on modifying destructive thoughts and behaviors with therapies like DBT and CBT, building self esteem and motivation through trauma-focused therapy, controlling symptoms and identifying triggers with Mindfulness modalities and educating loved ones through family therapy.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and ADHD, please call Thrive for help and for additional resources.

It is also advised that those struggling with addiction consider a sober living environment.  The Last House Sober Living in Los Angeles is a highly structured sober living and is a great place for those struggling with ADHD to recover.


“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”– Nelson Mandela

Chronic Relapse

Chronic Relapsechronic relapse

Author: Claire Godden

Addiction in itself is a chronic brain disease and anyone who is attempting sobriety is at risk for relapse. But what makes some of us stay in recovery while others relapse over and over again? The cycle that is chronic relapse happens for a variety of reasons and can mean that the underlying causes of addiction have either not been fully addressed or treatment needs repeating in order to work properly.

Recovery is a lifelong commitment and relapse is a common and expected part of the process for some. It’s important to remember that chronic relapse does not mean that time in treatment has been wasted. It does not mean that the addict is a failure. It just means that treatments must be repeated or modified in some way to better focus on the triggers that keep leading to relapse.

Reasons for chronic relapse are often the same ones that led the person to addiction in the first place. Issues such as stress, anxiety, boredom, depression, traumatic experiences, and co-occurring mental health disorders must be addressed fully for the individual to have a solid chance at long-term recovery. Chronic relapse is also seen more often when there is a higher level of dependence on the drug and when withdrawal symptoms are worse.

Addiction treatment must also be a two-way street. The more you fully engage in the various therapies and work hard to follow your prescribed plan of action, the better chance you have of staying sober. Clients must stay in treatment as recommended by their team of therapists. Failure to stay in the program for the duration leads to a greatly increased risk of relapse. Also, if you are not honest with yourself or with your therapist, important factors that lead to the initial addiction and now the relapse, will be left untreated.

In order to brave the world without the use of drugs or alcohol, new life and coping skills should have been acquired during treatment. A good treatment program will help the individual gain valuable tools for dealing with the things that drugs previously allowed them to avoid. Patience, hope and belief that it can be done are key when you are learning how to live every hour of every day in a new way. Home and work life, social life, and relationships with family and friends must all be addressed and assessed. Reactive behaviors have to be recognized and managed and new, constructive, hobbies and pastimes may be introduced or reignited. Substance use and abuse has been part of your everyday life and to suddenly stop, means you must consistently replace the destructive activities with others that are positive and productive.

There are signs one can watch for that indicate relapse may be on the horizon. Some of these signs are feeling more depressed or anxious, having trouble sleeping, beginning to avoid people, and no longer actively working to stay healthy and engaged in life. If you feel you are heading for a relapse, reach out to your support system whether it’s a trusted family member, your sponsor or your therapist. If cravings are imminent, remove yourself from the people or from the place that is triggering the cravings and make yourself wait it out. Some say 10 – 15 minutes is enough for cravings to go away. Others will say it could take 1 – 2 hours for them to subside. When you begin to recognize that you may relapse, you must think about the behaviors that got you into treatment in the first place. You must look at everything you’ve gained while sober. If you “slip” – an unintended one-time use of a drug or alcohol – you can see it as disastrous and fall back into full-blown addiction because of the guilt and shame of it all or you can view it as a powerful learning opportunity.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be incredibly helpful throughout the entire recovery process and is used to combat negative and distorted thoughts. It can be particularly useful if you slip and begin, for example, thinking about how you “failed” and about what you should or shouldn’t have done to avoid it. This negative thinking will only keep you in that moment replaying your mistake in your mind. You cannot move forward and learn from what you did if you don’t change your thinking. You must look at and analyze what you did it to learn from it but then also look at all you have achieved so far during treatment and all the good things that have happened while you have been sober. Focusing on the positive and the gains you have made is far more beneficial to you than sinking into despair when you experience a slip in your sobriety.

Some key factors to sustaining sobriety and preventing chronic relapse are:

• Support – from your sponsor and other positive peers, family or friends – particularly in the early stages of recovery.
• Hope and belief – the brain can adapt and re-adapt but you have to allow plenty of time for it to do so.
• Learning and maintaining new strategies for everyday life.
• Learning and maintaining new strategies for what to do and how to cope when the unexpected happens.
• Staying motivated – again, support from another person or group may be particularly helpful here.
• Continuing therapy for the addiction and/or continuing other treatments for any
co-occurring disorders.
• Staying fit and healthy – looking and feeling good lifts our mood.
• Avoidance of certain people and situations/places.
• Getting organized and keeping busy – fill your life with healthy activities and hobbies.
• Not getting too comfortable with your recovery status – just like driving, stay alert to the dangers.
• Staying connected – stay in regular contact, including regular face-to-face contact where possible, with people who are committed to supporting you long-term and who are positive influences.

One of our primary therapists here at Thrive Treatment, Samantha Levy, says that connections and community are what keep us healthy and whole human beings. She says relapse happens when we slip away from ourselves, from our program, from our people. It happens when we stop talking about what’s not working and stop doing what is. Samantha says you cannot get and stay sober unless you have the will and the want. Fear gets in the way of us believing in ourselves, in something better. It’s easy to stay where we are and in what we know. It’s challenging to take a leap into something new and strange. It is 100% scary. If you stick through it, the bad stuff ends and you will find that there is light on the on the other side. You just have to keep going. She says that sometimes we don’t hold on long enough and that’s where relapse happens – before we’ve had the opportunity to see the light. Time can lead us into a false sense of security where we forget the bad things

Our Clinical Director, David Pavia, says this about chronic relapse:
I don’t think there are any shortcuts in life or sobriety. Confronting yourself is the key. Being willing to be accountable to others is also a big factor. Living in an environment that demands that is a great start. The hardest thing to figure out is whether you will be able to get that out of meetings and sponsor commitments alone or if you need more structure and peer accountability. Individual and group therapy is also a very good idea and all of these things work best together for many reasons. Twelve-step groups, sponsorship, psychotherapy, sober living. are all best done early on in sobriety if you want to give yourself the best chance at staying sober and reaching your best self.

Above all, stay optimistic and hopeful.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

dual diagnosis treatment

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

What is Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis, aka co-occurring disorders, is a term used for individuals who struggle with both a mental disorder and alcohol or drug abuse. With dual diagnosis, either disorder can begin to appear first. People who struggle with a mental health condition will sometimes turn to drugs and/or alcohol as a form of self-medication. In turn, people who have an alcohol or drug dependency can worsen the effects of an underlying mental health condition.

If somebody is diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, they need to treat both conditions with each illness requiring a treatment plan of its own. If a treatment is going to be effective, the person needs to quit using alcohol or drugs. Finding the kind of integrated care necessary to overcome dual diagnosis can be challenging due to the completely different cultures of the mental health and substance recovery fields.

Symptoms of dual diagnosis are unique

The signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis will vary based on the type of mental disorder that is diagnosed and the drug of choice that accompanies it. To help you better understand, let’s say you know somebody who is struggling with alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder, the symptoms here will be different than those of an individual who is struggling with a heroin addiction and depression. The one thing that most dual diagnosis patients have in common is that they find it incredibly difficult to cope with their disorders and function on a day-to-day basis. Most often people with dual diagnosis struggle with:

  • Unemployment or an inability to maintain a job
  • Poverty
  • Maintaining a functional relationship
  • Chronic health complications
  • Legal issues
  • Mood swings and uncontrollable emotions

If you didn’t already know, your loved one’s personal struggles will make it nearly impossible to depend on them. They may have episodes during family gatherings, be unable to take care of themselves and hinder their family’s ability to live a normal life. When the drug problems and emotional issues of your loved one begin to affect other people in the family, it is time to seek out treatment.

How to Treat Dual Diagnosis?

Integrated intervention is one of the best ways to treat dual diagnosis effectively. Integrated intervention is when an individual is treated for both their mental illness and drug addiction. In the 1990’s, patients were refused to be treated for their mental illness until they were able to conquer their drinking problem. This way of thinking is outdated to say the least, and doctors know that to cure a patient, effectively, both issues need to be addressed.

You and your treatment provider should work together so you both understand how each condition affects the other and how to make the treatment as effective as possible. Everyone will need their own unique treatment plan, but here are some common methods used today:

Detoxification – Detox is one of the first major hurdles for somebody with dual diagnosis. As you might expect, inpatient detox is typically more effective than outpatient as far as safety and sobriety. When a patient goes the route of inpatient detox, they are monitored at all times by a trained staff member; this can last for up to seven days. In some cases, the staff member will attempt to wean a person off the substance by administering tapering amounts to lessen the impact of withdrawal.

Inpatient Rehab – Inpatient rehabilitation is often the best treatment for somebody experiencing a mental disorder and showing patterns of drug dependency. With inpatient rehabilitation, they can receive medical and mental health care around the clock. A good treatment center will provide medication, support and therapy to help treat an individual suffering from dual diagnosis.  Intensive Outpatient Programs can also be a very effective treatment for addiction.  Thrive Treatment is a IOP program with great ratings.

Sober Living – Essentially the same thing as a group home or sober house, a residential treatment center whose main objective is to help the newly sober avoid relapse. Since these homes are often not run by a licensed professional, the level of quality care will vary. Many of these homes have been criticized, so do your research before you choose one.  The Last House is a great example of a highly reviewed sober living that works.

Psychotherapy – This can be a big part of treating a dual diagnosis patient effectively. More specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy teaches people how to cope with and alter ineffective thinking patterns.

Self-help & Support Groups – The feeling of dual diagnosis is one that is challenging and isolating. In support groups, members can share frustrations and celebrate achievements. People with dual diagnosis can find others with the same affliction and receive referrals for specialists as well as recovery tips from peers. In a support group, everybody has the same goal: to get better. This kind of setting will provide individuals with a clean space that can support the growth of healthy relationships.

Receiving the treatment you or your loved one needs to cope with dual diagnosis can be difficult. Most rehabilitation facilities work with a variety of addictive behaviors, but don’t usually provide the necessary treatment for the underlying mental disorders. Traditionally, substance abuse and mental disorders have always been treated separately. Recently, addiction experts noticed the importance of integrating the treatment of substance abuse and mental disorders to form a single recovery program. The treatment of dual diagnosis should be its own discipline, combining components of substance abuse treatment with the best practices in psychiatric care.

If one of the two dual diagnosis disorders is left untreated, both will usually get worse. The combination of two separate disorders can lead to a poor response to treatments and an increased risk of other serious medical complications.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dual diagnosis, they’re not alone. Based on a national survey on drug use and health, more than eight-million people in the U.S. alone suffer from mental disorder and substance abuse simultaneously. Admitting that there is a problem is the first and most important step towards recovery. The next step is to get you or your loved one the quality care they need to get better.

Los Angeles Sober Living

the last house los angeles sober living

The Last House – Los Angeles Sober Living

The Last House los angeles sober living is a structured sober living recovery home community located in the heart of West Los Angeles. The Last House mission is to provide a safe, fun, program-oriented

setting where residents can find purpose, progress, and build a foundation for a life that is not only free of drugs and alcohol, but flourishing in all aspects.  The Last House sober livings staff consist of active members of the Los Angeles recovery community and come with years of experience, professional backgrounds, counseling certifications and various expertise in health, wellness and employment services.

Through The Last House program, residents gain access to one of the largest recovery networks in North America; the L.A. recovery community.  The men that join our program receive the tools one needs to launch as a self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-motivated individual with a close peer group in the houses that they can rely on to go through a part of life that may be difficult, yet if committed to, a transformitive opportunity.

The Last House prides itself on the residents of past that have graduated the program, giving back to the community and our newest residents, and considering our program as a safe place to ground them. This image taken with many of our residents and graduates, represents what we stand for: unity, support and recreating a life worth living. This may not be the first place you’ve been, but it can be The Last House you need to go.

The Last House also runs an intensive outpatient drug treatment facility that provides a higher level of care, Thrive Treatment.

Thrive Treatment begins by creating outpatient drug treatment that is accessible and well-structured for clients to safely make mistakes and learn new skills. The treatment team has over 30 years of combined clinical expertise, models respect and integrity, while offering everyday tools to make better choices to stay clean and sober through evidenced-based clinical approaches like DBT, CBT, Trauma-focused and Mindfulness modalities. Thrive Treatment upholds the nuts and bolts of life like accountability, values, life skills, boundaries, trust and responsibility to help clients learn to manage sobriety and the anxiety that comes along with living life sober. Thrive helps to process and discard the self-defeating stories and behaviors that keep people stuck. Thrive has also built a community of people who are in it with the client’s families and loved ones for the long-haul. Thrive Treatment prides itself on keeping clients connected to their new community long after completion of treatment and are invested in helping them find purpose beyond sobriety.
The founder of Thrive Outpatient Treatment collected some of addiction treatment’s most respected and successful clinicians who authentically share a passion for helping others flourish and believe in the same key ingredients to long-term recovery success: values, accountability, life skills, and having fun in recovery.
Thrive is a close-knit treatment family and takes a compassionate, but no-fluff approach. The Thrive treatment team understands first-hand how hard it is for those who struggle with addiction. Integrity is most important to Thrive. It’s that simple at Thrive Treatment.
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A Place for Mindfulness


A Place for Mindfulness
by Claire Godden

When you eat your lunch, are you also on your phone scrolling through the news or social media? Do

you even remember what you eat each day? The simple practice of slowing down, savoring every bite and being aware of the taste, smell, and texture of our food, is a small and easy step toward becoming more mindful.

But what is the point of being mindful? Well, first, let’s look at the definition:

Mindfulness is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something while accepting, without judgment, whatever thoughts, sensations, and emotions arise

Examples of mindfulness techniques

To begin with, we can look at the example above. When you sit down to eat any meal or snack, put your phone away, turn off the TV, or take the meal outside of your office and away from your desk to somewhere quieter. Before you eat anything, take note of why you are eating. Are you really hungry or are you eating because you’re bored or trying to take your mind off of something else? Maybe you have to eat now as it’s your only chance, time-wise, to do so. As you begin to eat, notice the food’s color, smell, taste, and texture. Chew each bite fully before taking the next. Think about where the food came from and how it was made. Think about whether or not it is good for you. If you begin to think about the grocery shopping you need to do tomorrow, acknowledge the thought and then bring your focus back to the food and the present moment. As you get more practiced, you will not need to always move somewhere quiet and you will even be able to eat mindfully while at social gatherings.

So why should we bother?

The benefits of mindfulness are many and include improvements in mental and physical health and in overall well being. Also, as you practice mindfulness, you will begin to truly acknowledge the present and, in doing so, develop a sense of calm and control over your life. The best part is, it is not complicated and it doesn’t require a lot of time. It just requires a commitment to practice it daily to see the benefits.

How does this fit with addiction?

One of our clients graduated today and said at our community group meeting that part of his recovery was learning to not only appreciate, but also be ok with, the present moment. He spoke of how, before treatment, he tried to avoid and deny negative and uncomfortable feelings. Now, he says he is able to accept and face the not-so-positive feelings and sensations when they arise. Recovery requires honesty and doesn’t allow for running away from anything. It requires the ability to respond in a less reactive way to things that you don’t like. In this aspect, mindfulness is a wonderful tool and one that can be used for life.

Being completely conscious of what we are feeling in the present moment might not be calming at all at first and can be incredibly uncomfortable and disconcerting for some. With practice, however, mindfulness can bring us a sense of control over our emotions, our thoughts, and the sensations within our body. Bringing our focus to only the present means we are not avoiding anything but are, instead, fully able to address things. Mindfulness is honest and real.

As you become more practiced at being not only aware of but also comfortable in your present moment, you can find yourself more able to deal with cravings and the uncomfortable thoughts that accompany them. Instead of automatically reaching for your drug of choice, you can feel more armed and ready to address the sensations and thoughts that lead you to the drug use. Skillful and intentional responses can replace automatic and previously learned reactions.
To explore this further, you may want to look at Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP). MBRP is a relatively new treatment modeled on the already well-established Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. The difference is that MBRP focuses on negative emotions and cravings and on a person’s reactions and impulsive behavior. Mindfulness, remember, is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. MBRP helps the person have more confidence and strength when facing feelings of self-judgment and negativity. If you would like to read further, Carolyn Gregoire has written a very interesting and informative article on MBRP.

Dealing with negative thoughts

By practicing mindfulness regularly with something simple like eating your lunch or taking a shower, you can hone your concentration skills. As you get better at being calm and focused while performing these everyday tasks, you will be ready to practice mindfulness at other times, such as when things around you are more chaotic or negative. As you tune in to your inner thoughts, negative feelings, such as shame or guilt around your addiction, may arise. You don’t need to fight off unwanted thoughts or sensations but, instead, acknowledge them honestly in the here and now. Ask yourself if the content of the negative thought is really true. Question where it is coming from and try to replace it with something more positive. A good therapist can really help you in this area if you are having difficulty.

Anyone can do it!

Life is busy. Of course, we cannot spend our whole day in a state of intense concentration and acknowledgment. But that is precisely why we benefit so much from the minutes that we do spend being mindful. Mindfulness is a relaxed state where you will focus on current, inner thoughts and physical sensations completely free of self-judgment. You do not have to be wearing yoga pants and sitting cross-legged to practice mindfulness! Although, if you can spend 30 minutes each day being mindful in peace and quiet on a yoga mat, even better! Mindful minutes can be taken on a five-minute walk outside of the office. A few minutes spent practicing mindfulness in your car before you head home from work can provide a healthy transition between work and home. Even taking a few minutes before bed to sit and focus only on how you feel in the present, not your day at work, not tomorrow, but how you feel right now, can do wonders for your mental, emotional, and physical health.

Time For Change

Time For Change-

My story begins in Des Moines, IA. Just before freshman year in high school, I got high for the first time. Over the course of the next few years, it became something I did everyday. I began procrastinating on homework and started using during lunch break and even at school. I barely got my diploma and continued doing what I thought was normal for a teenager. I was struggling to attend classes in my first semester of college. I began using and drinking more heavily, which sequentially put me in handcuffs for the second time while back home for Thanksgiving break. I ended up dropping out before even completing the semester and put school on the back burner. I slowly started changing whom I surrounded myself with and began to see less of my family. I had a newfound priority, which surpassed all other relationships and ambitions I had.
For the next several years, I continued down this path of destruction. I started using harder drugs, which led to more arrests and eventually homelessness with no one to turn to. Drugs and alcohol had been the answer to all my problems for the last 5-10 years. I had gotten to a point in my life where I was so comfortable being an alcoholic, that I had accepted the notion of staying consumed by this appalling disease until I died. I lost sight of how much I was hurting not only myself but also those around me. I was working at a dead end job and living paycheck to paycheck, only to become broke the day I got paid. I had lost friends over time because they could no longer see me continue to ruin my life. Dishonesty, disrespect and manipulation were all apart of my day-to-day life. None of these consequences of my actions caused me to stop.
I was given an opportunity to go to California and try to get sober yet again. I didn’t know anything about The Last House but I am thankful today that I had just enough clarity to give it a shot. I came to The Last House on September 14, 2015. I was not a very social person. I had drank and used drugs in the past to boost my confidence and be able to interact with others. After being in the house for several months, I started feeling like something was working. This sober living was different than the last one I was in; there was a sense of community. I had been in a sober living 5 years ago in which I lied and manipulated my way into making it seem as though I was working a program, which inevitably put me right back where I was before. This time was divergent. I utilized willingness and surrendered to the program of hope being offered in the house. I bonded with the other people in the house and felt like I belonged. Throughout my stay, I not only met people who I now call friends today, but I also was able to amend relationships with family and friends that I had harmed in the past.
Today I am grateful for my life and wake up with a sense of ease and serenity. The house has given me people who I can reach out to at any point who will support me no matter what. I get the chance to be apart of my family once again and they no longer live in fear about whether or not I will die. But most importantly, I am able to love myself and have been blessed with freedom. No longer am I tied down by the disease of addiction. The structure and comradery that The Last House provided me was something necessary to my well-being. I needed to be given direction rather than suggestion. I am able to have fun without getting loaded. I regained my love and passion for sports, which I had omitted for years. Graduating The Last House was like getting a degree in sobriety. It is merely the inception of this new life I have found. It was the beginning and end of a crucial chapter in my life, which I can look back on and be appreciative for it for the rest of my life.

I am now a program manager at the Silicon Beach House and get to help people walk along this journey in the same shoes that I once did. I am able to continually see how this program impacts lives in such a profound way.

Proud Last House Mom

We tried it all. Rehab after rehab, in and out of programs, outpatients, sober livings and nothing stuck. We started over and over again, but never completed one. My son began an emotional and physical spiral down to the depths of addiction at the young age of 14. He hid his pain from the world and from me, his mother. I pushed him to get help for years, what felt like every day. Like I said, we tried, he tried, I tried, but he kept finding a way out and a way back to what felt safe, hiding in obscurity, pain and secrecy. It was years of the same, and for me a Groundhog Day nightmare. Then, one day, at the age of 27, he finally told me (not me telling him) he wanted to be sober. I had never heard those words come out of his mouth in my life. He wanted it for him. He picked up the phone and called out for help and off to Los Angeles he went. I was scared, to be away from him, to have him in this new place so far away, not close enough for me to save him if he chose to do what he’s done again and again, but I was waiting for the day he would want something different and now he knows what the difference feels like for the first time in his life. I couldn’t be a more proud mother. He completed rehab and was referred to attend an aftercare program at The Last House. Almost immediately I heard a change in my son’s voice during his time there. The peer support and understanding he felt not only from other guys that became his friends, but the staff as well. It changed his outlook on everything. Finding a new family to love and rely on, who were going through this thing called recovery with him thousands of miles away from me, just made me feel secure that he was in good hands. He began sounding like a man on the phone, open and real, acquiring tools to take care of himself. I watched him transform in that year at The Last House and become the man I always knew he could be. He felt such a connection to the place and people that helped him through his early stages of recovery that he began working at their facilities. He has now joined the staff at a great outpatient facility, Thrive Treatment, in Santa Monica, California.

Watching my son now be a mentor to other men in early treatment has brought me such pride and joy, knowing he has a purpose that is bringing him fulfillment in his life is all a mother can hope for. I will be forever grateful to the team at The Last House and everyone who has helped him on his journey of recovery.

Hiking Mt. Whitney Sober

Hiking has been a long time passion of mine. Ever since I have been sober I have developed a strong bond with nature and the outdoors. It is in nature where I have some of the deepest and most inspiring moments in my sobriety. The picture below is an example of one of the awe inspiring scenes that I was privileged to witness while hiking Mt. Whitney.  I love hiking sober.


My trip up Mt. Whitney was something which required much planning and careful consideration as it is, after all, a hike up the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. The hike was about 15 miles (counting the long walk in the parking lot, and the various detours that were required during the hike) and rises to a peak elevation of 14,505 feet above sea level.

This hike was a surreal experience. I had always talked about climbing Mt. Whitney with my friends but had never come close to actually following through. The Opportunity arose when a fellow Last House Graduate forced me to enter the lottery which grants Whitney climbing passes. It was by sheer luck that we managed to reserve three spots for the hike in early august- an ideal time to do the hike.

It was even more fortuitous that we were able to make it up to base camp the night before our hiking date because the road leading up to it had been shut down due to a fire. My two friends and I were one of the 20 cars which were escorted through the still smoldering embers during a low point in the fire before it picked up again.

The hike itself began at 10:45pm and ended at around 2:30pm the next day. The hike was grueling and tested my endurance and commitment on several occasions. The most difficult portion of the hike occurred at the summit where my head started to throb as a result of the altitude and I started to feel the onset of altitude sickness. It was through my throbbing eyes that I was able to witness the sunrise from the top of the U.S, one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever witnessed. The view was far greater than anything I had imagined. To my left I could see straight over Death Valley and to my right a stunning view of the high sierras presented itself. The breaking dawn shattered the small lakes and ponds sprinkled throughout the sierras, piercing the calm still waters with streaks of vibrant orange and yellow. I summited before my friends and spent 15 minutes in complete solitude observing the sunrise before snapping a few pictures and hurrying to check on my buddies who were resting below.

My Mt. Whitney experience was made possible through my stay in The Last House and my commitment to being sober. If it were not for my fellow housemate I would not have entered the lottery which got us passes to hike, I would have missed out on an experience I cherish dearly today.

–David S.