Blog : Recovery

Being Right…in times of crisis

When faced with an unknown the first instinct is often fear. For many of us, with the recent pandemic, economic instability and the recent issues around race, it might appear that the world we have come to know is changing. And change isn’t always comfortable or welcoming. “A new normal” is the phrase of the year 2020. But what exactly is that new normal?

When looking at the last several months from a mental health perspective, we are definitely at some unique and trying times. When the pandemic first began to arrive, it had never happened in our lifetime and was something new that none of us were truly prepared for. One moment it was rumors, and the next…full lock downs of entire states. Familiar restaurants and stores shuttered their doors. Many people found themselves at home…with nowhere to go.

It seemed that with the pandemic there also came with it a strange conflict. With the news, internet and social media people took their sides. The first group felt, in their hearts, that it was (or perhaps is) an over-exaggerated news cycle. These folks just simply don’t accept nor believe that it is any more dangerous than the flu. To quote “the fear is more dangerous than the COVID”. Angry that the country had been shut down, they refuse to wear a mask and feel it’s their freedom and decision to guard their health and shouldn’t be decided by a government or “fake news”.

The second group was at the other end of the spectrum. Watching the daily reported numbers of cases across the world exponentially increase, the deaths in the United States alone crept up faster and faster, passing 200,000 dead in just a few short months. Left unchecked, eventually it would completely overwhelm the hospitals. Shutting down the country to save the country is not a small price to pay. And so, many of these people hunkered down, some refusing guests or even family members. Wearing a mask and only leaving the house when absolutely necessary, they felt not only a responsibility to their own health, but to others as well.

And then there is the third…somewhere in the middle. Feeling that the pandemic is dangerous and limiting their contact with strangers, but they are not necessarily so cautious among their own family or friends. Perhaps wearing a mask in a store, but not in other places. A family barbecue can be had, but avoid crowds. This group is the somewhat cautious group, but only in their own way.

And now we have it. Three distinct groups with three completely different belief systems. All three feel that they are right, and that the other two groups are being a bit “ridiculous” or in some cases, dangerous. All of this would be ok, from a mental health perspective, if these groups never encountered one another. But the world has many overlaps. And in some cases, all three types of people are now living, not only in the same world, but sometimes…in the same home.

Three completely different belief systems now under the same roof. How does one operate in such a place, especially when emotions are extreme? Perhaps Dad feels its all an overreaction. “I don’t care what the news says, I need to work. It’s all propaganda. And no one is going to make me wear a mask to go to the damn store.” A right to his own opinion. But maybe mom doesn’t agree. She feels that the pandemic is deadly and wants to protect herself, her family and her own children. And each day she watches him leave, without a mask, powerless to do anything about it. In some cases mom keeps quiet. In others, arguments occur. What does one do, when these situations arrive? Move out? Break up what was only a few months before, a happy family? Or just pray and trust. Add the stress of staying inside together for much longer than before and resentments build.

The mental health crises that we are seeing goes above and beyond the trauma of never before seen danger and change. It is happening in between each other as well. A nation becoming polarized in so many ways, opinions rage at one another on social media. Every so quick to point out who is right and who is wrong.

So, what to do?

It’s interesting what people who have never had counseling before think that marriage counseling really is. Often, when asked, they feel that you come together and talk about your disagreements, and perhaps the therapist might point out who is more right or more wrong. Maybe dad yells too much and the therapist will tell him that’s wrong. Or mom drinks to much, so that might be the topic.

In reality so much of therapy and counseling isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong. In marriage counseling it’s often about regaining (or in some cases, gaining for the first time) the ability to COMMUNICATE in a healthy way. Two “always right” individuals coming into therapy and learning that there is a better way. Oftentimes the first step is to learn to listen. To truly try and empathize and hear what someone that you might possible disagree with. To budge a little from the side of being “100% right” to becoming a “100% listener”. To be able to speak without anger. To be able to learn to compromise. To honor the differences and not always see a differing opinion as wrong or a threat.

Perhaps what the world needs most right now…is just one darn good marriage counselor. To sit down with all of the people with their “right” opinions and teach us that somewhere along the way, although we may have the greatest of intentions…we have just simply lost the ability to hear and honor the opinions of another.

Pandemics, economic instability, issues around race. Maybe the answers aren’t one side or another. Maybe the miracles will happen when two opposing viewpoints, in a home or on social media, can truly see the other person and say “I hear what your saying…and I can respect that.”

Perhaps the real pandemic isn’t a virus. Perhaps its that we have lost the ability to see and hear each other. I certainly hope that we get it back. For when working together, even with differing opinions, we can create magic.

Dealing with Shame in Recovery

For many people a life of addiction causes a huge amount of shame and it doesn’t automatically “go away” once we enter recovery. Perhaps it’s major shame based upon embarrassment at some of our behaviors while drinking or using. A family gathering that ended up in disaster. Wrecked cars, stolen money and judgment from those who were once closest to us. Entering into recovery we begin to deal with the shame of our addiction. Starting treatment or support groups we have fellow recovering people that also have disappointed themselves or their loved ones countless times in the past. We feel better and we begin to open up. In our groups we share some of the things we did and find support. In other cases, we end up with a bit of gallows humor. Some might be surprised that we laugh when talking about the time we ruined the wedding or the party or…just another Saturday. We’re not necessarily laughing out of spite or who we hurt. Its the laughter found when we realize that our situations weren’t that unique. We laugh at the ridiculousness of our addiction.

Finding a support group can help to diminish the shame, but that is often only the case in a support group bubble. Inside the bubble is one thing, but the world outside isn’t always a safe protective space. Whereas those of our recovering fellows might forgive our past, for those directly affected in our lives, that forgiveness isn’t often as quick. The boss who had to deal with us constantly calling off, or the spouse who had been let down time again, or the parent who’s money disappeared when they forget to hide the purse or the wallet…these aren’t so quick to believe us just because we now have a few weeks or months without a disaster. For some they just don’t believe that it won’t happen again. Whatever successes we might have, deep inside they just seem to feel that it’s only temporary. They’ve been let down too many times. And so, they bring it up, again and again, reminding us that no matter who we might be now, we’re still “that” person who did those terrible things. “Sure you’re sober now, but how long is this going to last. I’ve been let down too many times before.”

It is important to understand that for many of us, shame is often the driving force of our addictions, and often started long before we ever started abusing drugs or alcohol. Shame is a powerful thing. It doesn’t say “I am sorry for doing that bad thing.” Shame shouts loudly “I am sorry for who I am.” For many of us growing up shame took an early root. It could start in many different ways. Unhealthy or abusive upbringing, being poorer than others, social awkwardness, not fitting in, bullying in school, not doing well in school…there are a thousand ways the voice of shame has whispered to us “there is something wrong with you. You aren’t good enough compared to them.”

When shame takes root, recovering/addicted people have a natural tendency to deal with it in one or more of three distinct unhealthy ways:

  1. Avoiding anything that triggers the shame. In an attempt to avoid re-experiencing the painful emotions that come up with shame, it is not uncommon to simply avoid situations where the shame can be re triggered. For example, if one has experienced shame due to social awkwardness, just avoid social situations. Sitting quietly at the support group meeting, we pass instead of sharing because we don’t want to sound stupid. Avoidance takes so many different forms. Ironically, drugs and alcohol abuse can be examples of avoidance of shame. A common cycle that happens with people new in recovery is that they find when sobering up that not everyone is now free from judgment of their past life. And what happens is that they tend to seek out and go back to the one place free of shame: the local drug house, using friends, or bar scene. Not only do the drugs erase the shame, but the drug and alcohol culture is often the one place that won’t throw darts at their addiction past or present.
  2. Overcompensating to not trigger the shame. When we have experienced shame in the past, another unhealthy way of dealing with it is to overcompensate so that the particular shame doesn’t become re triggered. For example, if one grew up poor and was often bullied as result of it, then often times that same person will focus all their energies in buying expensive clothes, making more money, or having the nicest of homes. Rising “above” the shame trigger, isn’t actually dealing with it, it actually is just another symptom of it. A common thing that early recovering people can do, is to become “hyper-perfect sober” people. Overly committed to doing everything right, they can be the one who outwardly is doing “well” in treatment. Following all suggestions, and “making up for lost time” and becoming super responsible, super sober, high functioning individuals. Focusing all their energies on getting a job that makes a lot of money, a relationship and new clothes so that they can feel right on the outside. But that hyper-perfection often comes at a price. When the job, new relationship or anything doesn’t go perfectly…the feeling of failure is amplified, often derailing someone and driving them into relapse. When we are working so hard to convince ourselves and the world that we are “better” it becomes almost impossible to tell anyone that we’re not ok.
  3. Self punishing to validate the shame. The final unhealthy way of dealing with shame is when the person secretly believes that they “aren’t worthy” then they will often seeks out relationships, situations and behaviors that validate the low self-worth. If you feel deep inside that you really are a failure, then getting the promotion at work doesn’t feel authentic. So we self-sabotage. Seeking out sordid places or abusive relationships is common. Falling back into drugs because ironically, for many newly sober people, doing well…doesn’t feel like its deserved. We destroy the wonderful things we’ve built up in in recovery because it doesn’t feel authentic to us. When the outside doesn’t match the inside, we’ll change the outside to fit the inside.

All in all, shame is one of the hidden drivers for addictions and many different unhealthy or abusive behaviors. Sooner or later, the shame in our lives, whether from our addiction or before, has to be faced. Ideally this can happen organically with a support group or through slow and steady work. But if you are like many who struggles with maintaining sobriety for any length of time, then it’s probably shame driving the bus. Professional help in facing and looking at the deep work around shame can bring and end to so many cycles.

Until you can find that mentor, support group friend, sponsor or therapist to be able to open up and share our vulnerable shame then what usually happens is that we end up gravitating towards the one place where there there is no shame….our old addiction and lifestyle.

The magic of recovery is once you face and work through your shame it no longer owns you. It becomes an integrated part of who you were, but not necessarily who you are. And then, one day, you can find yourself sitting across from someone struggling in their addiction and say to them “I know exactly how you feel. Let me share a part of my story.” And the person who was once filled with shame can now begin to lower their guard, become vulnerable and share a piece of theirs. And their recovery goes to a whole new level.

6 Songs for People in Recovery

Therapy for people in recovery comes in many forms. Music is one of those tools that people use because it has many physical and mental health benefits. Research shows that music can do many things for us including anxiety relief, emotional healing, alter your mood, and other benefits. Society turns to musicians during times of distress and needs guidance while also offering a sense of ease. We do this because musicians write songs inspired by events and emotions that we can identify with. Artists have used substance abuse as a muse to shine a light on a tough subject. Take a look at these 6 songs for people in recovery.



Under the Bridge – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Under the Bridge was written about the lead singer, Anthony Kiedis, and the loneliness he’s felt since losing a friend from a heroin addiction and being sober from heroin himself. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner/Sometimes I feel like my only friend.” In the song, Kiedis also talks about how his only friend was the city he lived in, Los Angeles. At this point in time, Kiedis was the only sober member of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and this song reflects that. “I drive on her [Los Angeles’] streets cause she’s my companion/I walk through her [Los Angeles’] hills cause she knows who I am.” Kiedis sings about how he never wants to feel how he did when he was in the depths of his addiction but he wants to get away to a place he loves. This powerful message of staying strong even though you may be the only one is perfect for those who are struggling to remain sober.



Say It Ain’t So – Weezer

Just like Under the Bridge, Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo wrote this song about how his family was torn apart by alcoholism. Cuomo’s father struggled with alcoholism and ended up leaving his family of four behind when Cuomo was only four. This is shown in the first verse of the song, “Somebody’s cold one/Is giving me chills/Guess I’ll just close my eyes” and also further down in the chorus, “Say it ain’t so/Your drug is a heartbreaker.” In the song, Cuomo writes a letter to his father about how even now that he is in recovery, his addiction has still taken a toll on their lives. This song shows how addiction does not only affect that addict, it affects the entire family.



Breaking the Habit – Linkin Park

Breaking the Habit is a narrative about someone who continuously hurts themselves, physically and mentally, and no one seems to notice. The lines “You all assume/I’m safe here in my room/Unless I try to start again” can be taken as someone who is battling with substance abuse and no one is reaching out to help them. Sadly, in the song, the narrator seems to have fallen victim to their addiction as seen in the lines, “I know it’s not alright” and “Clutching my cure/I tightly lock the door/I try to catch my breath again/I hurt much more/Than any time before/I had no options left again.” The narrator may not have been able to beat their addiction; however, it’s still a powerful song to help others keep fighting in their recovery.



You Know You’re Right – Nirvana

You Know You’re Right was the last song Nirvana recorded together before Kurt Cobain’s death. This song was dedicated to his mental illness and how it affected his marriage with Courtney Love. The first few lines “I will never bother you/I will never promise to/I will never follow you/I will never bother you” is highlighting how his depression makes him feel. He does not feel like he belongs anywhere, and he does not want to be a burden to others. His answer to feeling like a burden is explained a few lines down, “Always knew it’d come to this/Things have never been so swell/I have never failed to fail.” The meaning for these lines can be taken into interpretation. Some people feel like Cobain was talking about suicide as his answer; however, it can also mean that the narrator turns to drug abuse. This song is able to connect with people who have struggled with substance abuse or mental health issues because they know what it’s like to feel like a burden and/or feel unwanted.


The Co-Dependent – Sia

Sia paints a narrative that about an alcoholic who is co-dependent; however, the narrative is from the significant other’s point of view. In the story, the narrator describes how much that they are there for the other person. “So many years I’ve carried you in my arms/Yet I stay, yet I stay, yet I stay/ And still I come a-running when I hear the telephone, telephone, telephone/And I ask for absolutely nothing in return, in return, in return.” No matter what they’ve done, the narrator has always stayed by their side. The narrator says that they love the other person no matter what. “My love for you allows me not to judge the way you live.” Even though there is a strong love connection between the two, the narrator hints that they may not be a support system much longer. “You’ll find me by your side/If you find me at all.” This is a narrative that is sung by many families and loved ones of addicts. They want to be there for their family member in need and they are, but constantly struggle on when to let go.



Fallen – Sarah McLachlan

Fallen is a song about someone who has realized their mistakes in life and realized how their mistakes have hurt themselves and others. Even though McLachlan never specified that the mistakes were drugs or alcohol, the tie to those in the song is very strong. The lines “I got caught up in all there was to offer/And the cost was so much more than I could bear” show that the mistakes could be substance abuse. The narrator also talks about they have understood their negative ways and now they are trying to stay sober, “Though I’ve tried I’ve fallen/I have sunk so low/I messed up/Better I should know.”  As the narrator stays sober, they are asking for hope and redemption, not shame. “Don’t come ’round here and/Tell me I told you so.” This is a scenario people in recovery see all the time. They go to the people they hurt, ask for forgiveness, and try to earn their trust back after all the mistakes they’ve made.


Due to the influx of illicit drug use in recent years, specifically opioids, teen substance abuse is a terrifying thought for parents across the country. Just like adults, teens can be exposed to drugs and alcohol on a near daily occurrence. As parents, it is our responsibility to help prepare them for possible situations that may come up – even if the situations include drugs and alcohol. Following these key points will allow you to help prepare your teen for real-world experiences.

1. Do Your Research

Before you talk to your teen about substance abuse and prevention, do some research. We are not made to have every single answer in the book. There are plenty of resources out there for parents to educate themselves on the matter. As a general resource for substance abuse and prevention, SAMHSA is a fantastic resource with answers to many questions you may have and many statistics for every state to keep you educated. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has plenty of resources for families who want to learn more about teen substance abuse as well as prevention. Also, the National Institute of Drug Abuse has resources and statistics about everything from addiction science to substance abuse in the LGBT community.

2. Set a Good Example

This point may seem like a no-brainer for people but it is the key to making sure the conversation sticks. If your teen sees you or other adults around them abuse substances, they may see your conversation as hypocritical. We are not perfect, but striving to be the ideal model you want your children to be will help them choose between using and not.

Also Read: National Recovery Month is Underway!

3. Create an Open Dialog

When you start talking to your teenager about substance abuse, make sure to create an environment where an open conversation can happen. Having more of a “guiding” tone will help keep the conversation open. If the conversation ends up becoming more of a lecture, your teen will most likely tune you out and not listen to what you have to say. This may seem difficult at first, but doing so will set the path for future dialog. Once the initial conversation is over, sprinkle the topic in general conversation. Doing this will make the topic less awkward for you both and will also allow your child to open up to you more.

4. Create Teachable Moments

From our families and communities to celebrities, teachable moments on substance abuse are all around us – use them to your advantage. Teach them that not “everyone is doing it,” make sure that they know about local incidents that involve drugs or alcohol, and most importantly, make sure you express your opinion on the matter. These teachable moments will also help make the topic easier to talk about.

Using these points and implementing them will help make the conversation with your teen seem less daunting. Talking to your teen about substance abuse should not be a scary and/or an intimidating scenario. Being a teen is an amazing time in your child’s life that is full of learning and creating new life experiences. Studies have shown that kids whose parents discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse with them are 50% less likely to use. Building an open line of communication and continue talking with your child about substance abuse prevention can help prevent them from using illegal drugs.

National Recovery Month is Underway!

National Recovery Month


This month is crowned National Recovery Month; which means during the entire month of September, families, recovering addicts, and treatment/recovery professionals celebrate in many ways to raise awareness for rehabilitation. National Recovery Month is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). National Recovery Month was brought to light because addicts throughout the country are not receiving the treatment they need or not receiving treatment at all.

In 2016, 21.7 million people (ages 12 and up) in the United States needed treatment for substance abuse; however, only 10.8% of them received the proper treatment they needed. Due to addicts not receiving proper, or any, treatment, overdose rates are at an all-time high. This past year alone, 47,055 people died due to drug overdose. With opioid use rising, that number is only getting worse. Since 2000, opioid use has nearly quadrupled. Out of the 47,055 overdose death that occurred last year, 28,647 of those deaths were due to opioids – nearly 60%.

National Recovery Month awareness is happening across the country. Heartland Recovery Center holds weekly support group meetings. At the end of the month, September 27th, Heartland will be hosting a workshop for families and loved ones called What Can I Say to Convince Them to Quit?. This workshop is held monthly and its intent to help families and loved ones of addicts as well as get them the resources they need. As well as the workshop, our founder, David Lee, will be speaking at the annual IN ARMS: Indiana Annual Recovery Month Symposium in Indianapolis on September 12th & 13th. His topic of discussion is why people struggle with traditional treatment approaches.

To discover more about National Recovery Month and more about what events are occurring this month near you, please visit their official site.

Heartland Recovery Center Announces Facility’s Accreditation From The Joint Commission

July 25, 2017 (Lowell, IN) – Heartland Recovery center, the Region’s new substance abuse outpatient treatment center, has recently received and is proud to announce that it has achieved Behavioral Health Care Accreditation from The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to is to certify healthcare organizations/programs and has accredited nearly 21,000 programs/organizations throughout the United States. The Joint Commission has created a high level of standards in which all facilities, that voluntarily undergo a thorough evaluation, must meet and keep in order to stay accredited. This gold-standard in healthcare means that said facility has created and maintained the best care possible, in every aspect, for their clients.

Also Read: Community Collaborators Who Care and Overdose Lifeline

“Receiving this prestigious accreditation by The Joint Commission only confirms that we are following the mission and vision created for our clients and their families. ” stated Heartland Recovery Center’s Program Director, Emily Kirk-Back,  “We pride ourselves in knowing that The Joint Commission recognizes that we are in fact providing the highest level of performance and services to our clients. The Heartland Recovery Center team is truly doing individualized care and every person entering our facility for treatment is guided to discover an authentic path to developing their own recovery.”

Becoming approved by The Joint Commission allows Heartland Recovery Center to stay up-to-date with the latest discoveries in behavioral health; which ensures clients and their loved ones that the help they receive is truly the best care possible.

Heartland Recovery Center specializes in new to recovery, high risk, chronic relapse, and failure to launch clients. Each client receives a unique treatment path that is tailored specifically to them. Call today for more information and/or to arrange an assessment, 219-690-7025.

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Heartland Expands Addiction Treatment Services

Heartland LobbyHeartland Recovery Center demonstrates their continued dedication in providing excellence in addiction treatment by announcing their new evening Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) & Outpatient (OP) services. Evening services begin immediately with no wait list and include free consultations being scheduled early January.

IOP sessions will include three hours of evening group and individual therapy, three days a week, for a period of five weeks and is a more intensive level of outpatient care. Heartland’s OP services will require clients to attend two evening sessions a week at three hour increments.

The new IOP meets a significant need for individuals, employers and families in the community. The Intensive Outpatient Program gives clients the opportunity to continue living at home and work in the community while attending treatment.

“Clients can begin implementing the recovery and life skills developed throughout the program and can process their experience in a safe and supportive environment,” explained Heartland’s Medical Director, Dr. Belinda Hubert. “By doing this, they begin to establish a foundation for an authentic path towards recovery in a real time, real world setting.”

Heartland Recovery Center continues to grow and expand its dedication to redesigning recovery by offering several unique and individualized services including: free consultations, assessments, interventions, PHP, IOP, individual counseling, treatment consulting, referral resources, workshops for families and support groups.

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