Grief- Recovery Word of the Week




This week at South Orange County Detox and Treatment (SOCD) we will be highlighting “GRIEF”, the focus of our ongoing Word of the Week series. As anyone who has experienced loss while in the pangs of addiction can tell you, the combination of grief and active use can be a detrimental, if not deadly, combination. The process of grieving in and of itself, even while in a solid state of recovery, can be a formidable process to endure. As individuals, we deal with grief in many ways, and often in accordance with Kubler-Ross’s conception of the 5 stages that are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Because everyone has different experiences throughout life, each person has learned different methods of coping; some which are advantageous to healing and personal growth, and some that just exacerbate the already existing disease that is steering the wheel that we ought to be at the helm of. Here at SOCD, we have experienced our fair share of loss of friends, family members, and unfortunately, people who we have met on their journey to recovery. When someone passes due to addiction, it serves a reminder to those still battling addiction, to not be complacent. The disease does not take breaks, nor do the dark forces that drive these addictions whereby their end goal is to destroy our will, energy, drive, independence, and ultimately our spirit. When working with clients who have experienced loss, our goal at SOCD is to process grief and loss in a healthy manner, with the goal of discovering ways of communicating, understanding, and dealing with loss in ways that promote nourishment, restoration, healing and sobriety. We believe that with the right perspective, knowledge, compassion, and respect, we can aid in the process of grieving in order to foster meaningful recovery that facilitates a rebirth of spirit and an enhancement of the individual’s quality of life. Please do not hesitate to call us here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment if you or someone you love is in need of help and/or is struggling with grief related to addiction.





Our Word of the Week series continues here at South Orange County Detox as we highlight “influence” as our featured word. Influence is an interesting word as it doesn’t necessarily denote a positive facilitator of change, but merely any tool by which the agent has been modified for the good or bad, one way or another. We’re going to work backwards today in our attempt to unravel how to best integrate positive influences into our lives while keeping negative ones at bay. We also want to take this examination one step further in order to stay mindful of how the negative influences throughout our impacted us in order to avoid these pitfalls in the future. As most of us are aware of by now, our initial and most impactful influences, positive and negative, come from our primary caretakers, or in most cases, our parents. While it would be comforting to believe that the parents we love and adore were only the harbingers of positive change, which can also be true, the devil lies in the details in that they have also likely helped to lay the foundation of dysfunction and even trauma as well. I won’t go into the advantages of psycho-therapeutic work  for brevity’s sake, but I do want to point out that while we are not at fault for our parents shortcomings vis a vis their parenting, we are responsible for how much care and energy we expend on the process of unpacking these emotionally-charged issues and dynamics so that we may live as liberated as we can be from the skeletons residing in our closets. Now that we’ve touched on the more difficult, time-consuming, and longitudinal-type work, let’s look at what how we can address issues of influence within the present. First and foremost, let’s stop running on the assumption that sobriety is the only litmus test that matters with respect to how we seek positive people as influences within the recovery culture. You wouldn’t evaluate a “Normie” who had overcome obesity as a generally “good person” simply by virtue of their weight loss so let’s not make the same mistake when it comes to addicts in recovery. Is it an incredible accomplishment? Yes; does it give an accurate depiction of the whole of the individual? Absolutely not. We need to be incorporating a holistic approach even when looking for new friends, sponsors, or sober friends in general. The old saying goes, “You’re can only be as successful as your least successful friend.” While this is probably overstated, the point remains that we are deeply influenced by our friend and peer groups and therefore we ought to be choosing people that will exemplify positivity, honesty, integrity, compassion, and loyalty. This all sounds pretty simple, and it certainly can be. One last tip I’d like to suggest while discussing influence is this: think back on someone who has influenced you in a negative way and try to get to the bottom of why you were attracted to that person. Did their confidence make you feel secure as it did with your father? Were they caring and compassionate as your mother was? Were they fiercely loyal as your big brother was growing up? What matters here isn’t how you reacted during this period where you allowed for negative influence to breach your consciousness, but rather to understand why you were attracted to this dynamic in the first place. Now that we have come back full circle, the realizations you have gathered may be a good place to start within the context of long-term work with a therapist, mentor, or sponsor. Finally, the least obvious yet potentially most impactful influence on any individual can be found in their relationship with a Higher Power. While necessary components of any influential system, humans can be fickle, compromising, and fallible, however, God always remains a constant source of love and connectedness within a world of ever-changing chaos and discord. Nikola Tesla stated this point beautifully when he said, “Every living being is an engine geared to the wheel work of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to infinite distance.” When we learn to embrace the divinity of the cosmos we can begin the work of sharing the sustenance of divine influence to those who are spiritually malnourished.


Captain of the Team- Leadership

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When most people think about the word “leadership” they may think of the leader of a political party or the leader of a Country or President. For me growing up playing sports most of my life, the role of leader was typically given to the Captain of the team or someone who communicated well with teammates. When I played sports I was usually that person, I was either Captain or Assistant Captain of most of the teams I played for and that position usually had more responsibility then other players. You were expected to be at practice and games earlier, working harder, and if something was going wrong within the team you were the first person the coach would talk to. As I got older and my addiction got worse, I became more selfish, cared less about my team and how we did and eventually stopped playing sports all together. I forgot how important it was to be a leader and to have a leader around you to help guide you to success. When I first entered rehab and the program of AA I was new to everything. I knew nothing about AA and what it took to get and stay sober and at first did not have any intention of learning or growing. Once I went to some AA meetings and people told me I needed to get a sponsor to help guide and lead me through the steps and help me get sober I was resistant to that at first. My pride got in the way and I was not able to see that I was not the leader that I once was and that I needed someone to help me get through this hard time so that I could lead and guide people through the steps and helping them get sober.

When I came to South Orange County Detox & Treatment (SOCD) and started helping people get clean, I felt that sense of leadership starting with Salina the Program Director. Being at SOCD, seeing Salina’s vision and knowledge, and seeing so many peoples lives transform has given me that confidence back to be a leader and to be able to help people get and stay sober. To me, a leader does not have to be powerful or better than anyone else, a leader just needs to be open and honest, willing to help people, compassionate, loving, and caring and that is what a true leader is to me.


Leadership & Love

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

As I evaluate the word of the week, Leadership, I try to incorporate many different aspects of what makes a great leader and the roles where leadership exists today.  I feel a responsibility to channel my passion into this blog as it is derived from a place of sadness over the current discord between leaders of this country and between the political polarizations in an effort to find a greater solution.  With that said, my first true evaluation (as it should be with everyone) is with my own leadership roles, as a Mother, Business owner, Christian, Social Worker, Woman, and fundamentally as a human.  While recognizing my own human frailty and acknowledging my own imperfection daily, I choose to fight to improve areas that need to be strengthened, to acknowledge mistakes, to seek guidance from other leaders, and to pray and share with those who I am leading, my understanding for each of them and their struggles.   

My utmost higher calling in life is my leadership role as a mother.  This leadership role should be given more praise and respect in our society, as parenting of today’s youth shapes the future leaders and citizens of tomorrow.  It is often a humble and sacrificial role where action is the key element of leadership in teaching our children how to treat others and how to live with integrity. This teaching role, to me, has been spiritually inspired and beneficial in my personal journey, as I am honored to see my boys grow into young and intelligent men of integrity, faith, compassion, and loyalty.   As I look at some of my friends who stay home as full-time mothers and educators, I am inspired by their creativity, love, care, and dedication to their families, which is often over-looked by many as there are no raises, promotions, or materiel rewards.  However, as I see it, each of them shines bright in beauty and inspiration for their roles as a mother.  Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, eloquently states, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

I have the pleasure of being the President and Owner of South Orange County Detox and Treatment.  I have the honor of leading the staff and clients in a much-needed field of addiction recovery. I never aspired to be a business owner and the more years I have been in the role of leadership, the more I empathize with the complexities of leadership that I never before considered.  I have always been flexible with following God’s path for my life, but I never saw it being in leadership.  Leadership is something I learned from both of my parents, and from having an independent spirit, that was often rebellious and eccentric in nature.  To me, a true leader needs to be independent, strong, creative, optimistic, invested, and this is often the outcome of individuals who are leaders long before given that role.  I never saw my own strength until this role was given to me, and I felt compelled to forge a path and make it my own.The opiate epidemic and the rising tide of those who suffer from addiction has become a war we are losing whereby people all over America are experiencing a horrific tragedy that is taking too many lives. Families of sufferers are in a state of perpetual post-traumatic stress with limited answers to quench their thirst for solution.  With passion, purpose, and love for saving lives, I found a place of leadership that I felt worth leading.  It has been a painful journey and I have sat with many parents and loved ones as they grieve the loss of their child, sibling, friends, and partners; brilliant and beautiful people lost in the depths of addiction too soon for all of us to understand. For the many who have been able to find themselves, their higher power, their passions and vocations, and their sobriety, the fight has been worth struggle and leadership has been natural as I have a passion for this divinely inspired path of trying to save as many people suffering from addiction.  The honor of this leadership role comes not from self-exaltation but from seeing people’s lives transform because they were willing to allow me to help them.

If more leaders, specifically political leaders, would take the time to remember why he or she first got into politics, rekindling the passion that led him or her to serve as leaders of the people, the self-driven and selfish desire to be powerful may dissipate and a greater vision emerge for America. Hate corrupts the heart, and never solves problems without war, death, and pain.  I have found myself having to discuss the honest truth about current politics with my sons where hypocrisy, hatred, and corruption seem to take precedence over the real issues that need to be discussed, debated, and resolved with intellect, understanding, and resolution.   If we stopped to listen to each other and stopped trying to prove points by attacking others, more of the problems may be solved with less solution sacrificed.  Too often, there are news stories of mass shootings and the aftermath of hateful debates on how to solve them, it seems like we are far from providing a solution.

 My daily efforts in practical and pragmatic solutions in my other leadership roles of life, often leaves me indifferent towards politics at times.  In that way, I myself haven’t been part of the solution.  The TV debates and criticisms of the left and right, leaves me so overwhelmed that I often find myself avoiding it at all costs.  Martin Luther King stated, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” Dr. King’s statement encourages all of us to start showing more love, justice, and strength that is necessary to create the change that needs to happen within America, despite the outcome of any election or any media event, so we can all be part of the solution and not part of the problem.   

Letting Go of Anger & Resentments in Recovery

Anger- Recovery Word of the Week- South Orange County Detox & Treatment

Anger- Recovery Word of the Week- South Orange County Detox & Treatment

Not only has anger been a huge part of my addiction, but it has also been something that I have had to work on throughout my recovery and will be something I will have to work on through the rest of my life. To me, my anger leads me to resentments, and resentments is typically what causes me to relapse in most cases. Usually, my anger starts within myself, for example if I do something wrong and someone calls me out on my negative behavior, I tend to get angry because I want to be stuck in that negative thinking and negative actions. This then leads to me blaming others for my actions and my wrong doings and also victimizing myself and getting down on myself. Usually when I do this, I want people to feel bad for me and like people say “misery loves company.” These patterns have come up while I’ve been using and also when I’ve been sober. This behavior can most certainly cause unjustified resentments. Another way I’ve shown anger both in active addiction and recovery is if somebody wrongs me or hurts me, this makes me feel not loved, unworthy, and not accepted. These feelings can defiantly bring me down and put me in a bad spot and cause me to become angry. I feel like there is so much anger and hate in the world today, so many horrible things happen each and every day and effect so many people in so many different ways. While in recovery, I’ve been taught to deal with my anger and resentments in a healthier way rather than dealing with them like I would in the past by using drugs and at times violence or fighting. When I get angry today, I try to think about both parts, my part and the other person’s part and try to realize that they are sick and pray for them and let go of my anger or resentment. I am by no means perfect and still have much work to do because at time’s I can still get caught up in my anger and resentments and blame other people for my wrong doings, make myself the victim and let the anger fester which is not good for me. I have come to realize that my anger affects no one except for myself which is why I need to be mindful daily to make sure I am conscious of my actions and my behaviors and show love to everyone.

Loyalty & Trust in Relationships

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Loyalty is the absence of selfishness. To be loyal one must instill their trust onto others. This process requires time and patience. It is just as important to gain one’s loyalty but to maintain it as well; for the slightest sense of rebellion in the relationship creates a sense of distrust. Once there is uncertainty the journey to gain one’s trust must start over. To avoid losing one’s trust and to remain loyal it is important to communicate honestly and effectively. Successful relationships are transparent.

From my experience through sports, athletes become loyal to their coaches once a rapport is built. An athlete becomes more receptive to a coaches training after there has been signs of loyalty on both ends of the relationship. The relationship is built upon a mutual goal and interest. Once there is a connection it is important to maintain trust to ensure loyalty. A coach cannot show favoritism between others because it creates a sense of division and will cause some to stray from being loyal. Vice versa for the athlete. One must put trust into the coaches training and be loyal to the process.

I have seen the differences in loyalty that produces different outcomes. When there was a bad relationship between my coach and I, I was unmotivated, there was no trust, and I ran poorly. Once I began to be loyal to my coach and trusted his training methods my mindset had shifted. I began to enjoy running and to be loyal to his training. These changes created a better relationship and ultimately I became a better runner. To me, this shows the importance of being loyal within a relationship. If there is mutual trust and loyalty a relationship is far more successful.

Shades of Character

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The concept of character is not something a person is born with. Character is shaped and molded by experiences throughout one’s life.  It is not enough to simply state characteristics that you believe you have, they must be defined by actions. Growing up playing basketball I witnessed various shades of character. There are many characteristics of athletes that are favorable: hardworking, courageous, bold, and determined; but, there are also characteristics that can derive from competition that demonstrates poor character. One of the most valuable lessons that helped shape my character was learning how to win and how to lose. However, this is not a literal step process to win or lose based on points but rather based on one’s poise and actions when winning or losing. How a person acts and treats others when winning or losing demonstrates what kind of character they hold. Being boastful, spiteful, angry, and harmfully aggressive are examples of negative characteristics. Witnessing these poor characteristics helped me to piece together what I want my own personal character to abide by. I also learned that character is not only what standards a person holds themselves accountable to in front of others, but what standards they hold for themselves when there is no one around. John Wooden quotes, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” Being true to your word when others are not around demonstrates strong characteristics. Nobody is perfect. I believe someone with good character continues to hold themselves accountable to higher standards and strives to better oneself. As long as someone is willing to continue to grow it shows good character.

Turning Your Dreams Into Reality through Failure, Hard-work & Determination

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To have a dream is to have a vision of achieving a goal. However, to some individuals, like myself, there is an emphasis that is focused on being secure. This sense of security halts a dream in order to avoid failure. Being afraid to fail fills individuals with self-doubt. Wishing to avoid failure is to avoid a dream altogether. To be successful failure is inevitable. Achieving a dream is not an easy path. The differentiating factor for those who are successful and those who are not successful is the willingness to continue to persevere after failure. To dream is to face failure with an open mind and to perceive failure as a learning experience. Being said, dreams are not impossible, but they do require hard work, determination, perseverance and courage. Dreamers are falsely identified as impractical; but what is impractical is the idea that one can achieve their dream merely by wishful thinking. Others might try to discourage you, or not believe in you, but as long as you believe in yourself achieving your dream is possible. One great example that recently came to my attention is the story of Andre Ingram. Ingram dreamed to play in the NBA but was not skilled enough. However, Ingram did not give up this dream. He continued to play in the G-league in hopes to pursue his dream of someday playing in the NBA. It was not until 10 years later, Ingram finally fulfilled his dream of playing in the NBA and was contracted to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. After 10 years of pursuing his dream it finally came true. Thomas Edison quoted “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” I believe this quote is true to many. In a fast pace society, we are so entitled and want instant gratification. If the instant gratification is not achieved people tend to lose interest and give up. This lack of perseverance makes achieving a dream impossible. I personally think the mind is our most powerful tool. Once sharpened there is no telling what we are capable of. But it is all dependent upon oneself.  If a dream is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse; so, how bad do you want it?       

Rebuilding Trust in Recovery

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When thinking of trust and someone struggling with substance abuse, your mind might automatically think about the damage and chaos created by the addict’s behaviors. “I don’t trust to leave my wallet around her”. “I don’t believe you are going to do what you say you will do”. If you are an addict, or know an addict, you are familiar with the lies, deception, and broken promises that shatter trust.  But, do we think about the broken trust the addict experienced? At South Orange County Detox & Treatment, clients are encouraged to share the situations they experienced that created their lack of trust. Often, a lack of trust arises from abuse, disloyalty, manipulation and fear. Learning to gain trust with the healthy people in a client’s life is an important part of recovery. Rebuilding trust in recovery requires courage to be honest about the pain we experienced, an open mind to explore the feelings this generated, and vulnerability to begin to trust again. Once trust is rebuilt and strengthened, relationships


The Joyous Aura of Music-Bringing People Together

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On the surface music is an image of entertainment, but when looked closer music has various meanings. For those who create music, it is freedom of expression. Music can be meaningful filled with memories or even a stress reliever. It holds the power to bring different groups of people together bonding in its perfect harmonies.

Music is art. Each person holds and envisions a masterpiece tailored to their creativity and feelings. With music there are now boundaries. One is allowed to create whatever they see fit. This freedom of expression allows a person to tap into their imagination composing their vision into sound and painted with words. Therefore allowing the artist’s feelings and emotions to be shared with others who embody the same sentimental value.           

The amazing thing about music is that it will bring back the fondest memories acting as an audio memory book. A memory could fade for months, even years, but as soon as a particular song is heard it is like reliving that very moment. With this memory come all the joyous emotions that are associated. Reminiscing the happy memories, as if they recently occurred, creates a joy that is dear to the heart.

The beauty of music is that it does not discriminate. There are various genres of music that has no restrictions. Each person is equally allowed to enjoy music no matter his or her age, sex, race, religion affiliation, or sexual orientation. Music is a peaceful experience. What I have learned from attending concerts is that there are people from various different backgrounds who want to enjoy the same emotions. Although we may not all look the same, music allows us to feel the same. Music creates a joyous aura that speaks to the soul.