Dear Angels

 

Why having an organization like  H.E.A.L is important:

 

H.E.A.L provides a voice for people who feel like they don’t have one. With this ever growing epidemic at hand we need more organizations like H.E.A.L to fight and end the stigma. With the expressive therapy programs we hope to create in September, we will bring a new light to the traditional talk therapy by providing a creative outlet for addicts and their families. People need another way to cope with their issues and our expressive therapy programs will do just that. It’s important to realize that Addiction is never the answer and that together we heal.

Andrea is the Program Director of H.E.A.L

Contact her at andrea@helpeveryaddictlive.org

 

Two friends in less than a year and a half…I had enough. When Patrick came to me and asked for my help to kick-start our nonprofit, I pushed full-speed ahead. Sleepless nights filled with research and weighing the pros and cons. What could H.E.A.L do for our community that other organizations hadn’t already attempted? Andrea, Patrick, and I landed on the benefits of expressive therapies and went from there. Expressive therapies go beyond the 30-day treatment and talk-therapy. Activities like art and music delve into your subconscious, allowing you to channel even your deepest of emotions. The progress made from these classes might benefit members outside the limits of the space in which you are able to create. Expressive therapy pushes people to talk and work things out, not just within themselves, but with their loved ones as well. H.E.A.L is different compared to other organizations throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area because treatment is not just geared toward the recovering addict, but towards their families as well. Everyone around addiction is affected by it, however,

You were meant to live a life of wonder, free from the trappings of addiction.
You need to know your story is important, and there is something bigger than this.
You need to know your life matters, and that there are people who care. You are loved.

Our philosophy is that “together we heal”. No one should fight their battles alone. By bringing the community together, we make the change we wish to see in the world. We are just people healing people. No one is better than the other. We are equals. We know pain is very real, but hope is real, too. Help is real. Recovery is hard. Recovery is beautiful. Recovery is worth it.

Regina is the Development Director of H.E.A.L

Contact her at regina@helpeveryaddictlive.org

 

I’ve gained my drive to join this fight throughout many years of losing friends and family, and my own struggles with addiction. I’ve watched friends climb the ladder to recovery, only to fall. Some get to return to the climb, yet, so many do not. My hope is for H.E.A.L to become the rungs to make that ladder stronger, so that positive goals, recovery, and a joyous end to the climb can be achieved.

Kristen is the Outreach Director of H.E.A.L

Contact her at kristen@helpeveryaddictlive.org

(Join Kristen in next week’s edition, as she shares her story of addiction with Dear Angels!)

 

Addiction affects me because it’s affected my loved ones. It was difficult to deal with the struggle and loss, but it is also hard to accept that I am not the only one who has been hurt by these demons. The monster affects almost every single person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. H.E.A.L is important to me because it gives me a chance to make a difference and to help someone who needs help fighting their battle. We can win this, together.

Raul is the Rehabilitation Director of H.E.A.L

Contact him at raul@helpeveryaddictlive.org

 

What addiction means to me and how it has affected my life is not an easy one to answer. If you know me, you know addiction has run in my family through generations and even my immediate family has and still suffers from overcoming addiction. For me, it’s a process. It’s kind of like the good and bad Angel’s on my shoulders whispering to me to just let it be or help. Thankfully, I have had the courage and strength inside me to look at addiction as an obstacle that life throws at you and know every hurdle I surpass just gets me closer to satisfying what I want out of life. I take time to meditate my feelings, love myself and show love to others. I get up every morning optimistic of what the day holds. When something stressful happens like getting cut off in traffic or seeing my toddler have a melt down, I just smile and take a deep breathe. Listening to my thoughts before I react. Do I want to let the anger or frustration overcome my current happiness? Do I want to feel guilty for taking so many steps back when I’ve finally made it to the mile marker? No way! You can let addiction take over you if you LET it but you can also LET loving yourself take over. And that’s how I handle the addiction surrounding my life. Because seeing your loved ones in pain is not worth it and I know I am that glue that holds us together. We all hold the glue to make our lives better and as long as I remember that, I know addiction cannot affect me for the worse.

Mallory is an Art Therapist for H.E.A.L

Did you like this team blog? Want to see a topic we haven’t written about yet? Leave your opinions in the comments below!

 

Thank you for your continued support!

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Dear Angels

How Art Heals

 

Many years ago, I went to see a counselor for anxiety I was experiencing with everyday things. Be it floating the river in the summer to getting in my car driving down the same old street. My stress level and anxiety were taking over my emotions and I felt the only thing I could do to keep my sanity was to visit a counselor and talk about it.

 

When I arrived, the counselor asked me my problems and what hobbies I enjoyed to do with my time. I told her, “Well, I like to do art”. She then smiled and handed me a piece of paper and a coloring pencil and told me just draw something. I thought it was a joke and something silly that only in a counselor’s office would you be asked to “just draw something”, as if drawing was going to make my anxiety and stress away.

 

But as I began drawing a simple flower, a tree, the sun…my emotions and thoughts just poured out of me and I was speaking to her now as a friend who was just doodling sketches on a sunny afternoon. Before I knew it, I was telling her my childhood, my first car, my first love. I was reaching back to events long ago that I hadn’t remembered in years.

 

By the time our session was over, I had drawn over 11 pages of doodles and felt like a 1 million years of stress weighed down on me was lifted. That is when I knew, Art therapy is an incredible way to help heal.

 

As the years have gone by and I now use my Art as a way of living and helping others, I will never forget my first experience with art therapy. It wasn’t much, but it was a start to healing so that I could start to live a fulfilling life without fear. I have now used this same approach with friends, co-workers and family who struggle with addiction. They all give me the same attitude I gave that counselor and then they all do exactly as I did. They open up.

 

The thing about Art therapy is that it isn’t a new thing! Art therapy has been around for so long and was even one of the first forms of psychoanalytic between a Therapist and a Patient using  Art Psychotherapy. And the great thing about this method is you can use Art to form self expression from inside out.

 

It’s actually pretty amazing when you think about it! There are some things inside us that is hard to understand, hard to even speak about. If there are problems or no way out, as humans, we are wired to survive, to escape from our problems or fears. We cope in ways that are detrimental to our relationships and even our health. We do things we thought we would never do. We do it all to keep coping with whatever it is that we are trying to survive from.

 

The use of Art in therapy allows one to not really be distracted per se to ones truth and emotions, but really opens up what you REALLY do WANT.

 

Addiction stems from so many stresses in life and there is not one magic way you can take to make addiction go away. Addiction is a struggle millions of people suffer through and although there are different forms of self expression you can take to help heal, don’t sell Art therapy short.

 

Attending meetings and one on one therapy goes a long way too and I personally feel talking about things is a great way to feel listened to and acknowledged. But in some ways, just doodling on a piece of paper or heck a napkin! can give you just that ounce of hope you’ve been looking for.

 

And once you are done drawing or painting or whatever your art method of choice is, stand back and take a look at what you have created. Take pride in it. Examine what it is and what it means to you. How it made you feel creating it. Let Art Therapy help you heal.

 

Just remember the great thing about Art in general is, you are never wrong and everything you see tells a story to you and means something amazing to you. You think everyone looks at Starry Night the same way? Or see Jackson Pollock’s work the same? I have always imagine Mr. Pollock with all those dots and dashes of paint is him showing his wild and hidden dance skills! Just cutting lose!

 

If you are someone who is going through addiction, try this project with me:

 

Grab a pen and paper and draw. Draw however you feel. Start with something simple like a tree. Make the tree have branches and leaves. Give the branches and leaves detail, a small dot or line.

 

Now make the top of the tree have life and growth. Shade it in. Keep going. Don’t stop perfecting the fine details.

 

Do this for 20 mins everyday until you are satisfied with that tree. Then take a look at your tree.

 

This tree is you.

 

This tree is your thoughts and how you see yourself, how you see the world. Notice how you started with just one line to make and shape your tree? See how you kept adding more depth to your picture?

 

That’s what life is and what you are in this life.

 

No matter what your tree shape is, it’s tall or short and has many rings to count the years of its’ life. The wind and storms never stop stretching the tree out. Cuts and scrapes will appear on the trunk of the tree, but the tree never stops growing.

 

Think about that! That’s you!

 

If a tree can withstand a hundred storms and still continue to grow, never giving up blooming every year, DON’T ever think you can’t continue to bloom in life. Addiction is just a hundred storms that your strength can and will overcome, because….you are as strong as a tree.

 

 

Mallory Allen is an Art Therapist for H.E.A.L

How did you react to Mallory’s Challenge? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

 

Thank you for your continued support!

We have a Merch Shop:

https://helpeveryaddictlive.org/shop/#!/

 

Dear Angels

Safe Injection Sites

With more talk recently on safe injection sites, we wanted to get other peoples opinions on whether or not they thought safe injection sites were a good idea. We asked our followers on our Instagram page, @helpeveryaddictlive (*shameless plug* Follow Us!), what their thoughts were. 67% said yes and 33% said no to safe injection sites.

With this ever-growing epidemic still plaguing our community, it makes people question safe injection sites and whether or not they’re going to have a positive or negative effect on communities suffering from this disease. When taking a look at safe injection sites, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this scenario. Let’s first take a look at the pros of safe injection sites.


Pros

Safe injection sites would provide a safer place for Addicts who need it

Advanced treatment can be offered

Doctors on call can respond to overdoses

Many people believe that safe injection sites benefit the community by providing a much safer place for Addicts to get their fix. Clean needles, monitored injections, and drugs “unlaced” will be provided. With safe injections sites in place, doctors and other medical professionals can be on call when an overdose occurs. They will be able to treat the overdose right away. Advanced treatment can be offered at these sites that wouldn’t be offered on the streets. Addicts would thus feel more safe coming to safe injections sites whenever. However, along with the pros of these sites are a few cons.


Cons

May encourage drug use

May challenge federal control

Costs money to keep injection sites running

Although safe injections sites have their benefits, they can also be considered a problem within communities suffering from Addiction. Many people view injection sites as a bad thing because they think that these sites are only going to continue encouraging drug use instead of fixing the problem at hand. Safe injection sites may also challenge federal control. If many sites are put into place the government may lose control over the drug policies surrounding these sites. Another problem that might occur is the cost factor. It’s going to cost a lot of money to keep these safe injection sites running, and many feel as though it’s a waste of money and that the many used for these sites could be put toward projects that are bettering the community.    

What are your feelings on safe injection sites? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

 

Andrea is the Program Director for H.E.A.L
Contact her at andrea@helpeveryaddictlive.org 
 
Regina is the Development Director for H.E.A.L
Contact her at regina@helpeveryaddictlive.org

 

Thank you for your continued support!

We have a Merch Shop:

https://helpeveryaddictlive.org/shop/#!/

 

Dear Angels

What I gained (and what I lost) by Taking a Risk

May is Mental Health Month, and while I have written a previous post on the dual diagnosis of addiction and mental illness, I figured now is as good a time as any to share my mental health journey with you.

I know I should not have to place a disclaimer next to this post, but society has made it difficult not to: **I am in no way, shape, or form, unable to to my job (and do it well) because of my past. Everything is in the past, and though some days are harder to get through than others, that does not make me weak, but stronger than most.**

Because I have chosen to stay and fight my battle, I have found many ways of coping, both self-destructive and self-enriching. Anxiety and Depression have their moments, hours, days, and weeks. Some days it feels like I’m drowning, and other days it feels like I’m on top of the world.  For me, it is a constant clamor of highs and lows. However, knowing that there are things I can do for myself that are loving and healing vs. deprecating has been a game changer.

Daily journaling, just pouring out your thoughts and emotions, whether it’s in poetic fashion, bullet form, or in the style of gratitude, more times than not truly has its benefits. From stretching your I.Q. to evoking mindfulness, journaling can boost your self-confidence, improve your communication skills, and advance your memory and comprehension.

I tend to be more forgetful than most after a long day, so I do not journal as much as I want to. When I do find time to journal, though, my endorphins are heightened.

Practicing mindfulness, in any activity I engage in, has supported my recovery immensely. From accepting the things I cannot change, to focusing on what I do have control over, mindfulness has been a much better practice than how I initially rushed through life. My most treasured times of the day are spent walking outside (taking in the sights, smells, and sounds), to eating with a purpose. Eating and showering are two seemingly simple tasks that can be very hard for me to do; I continuously struggle with my body image and often find myself criticizing every inch of my anatomy instead of taking those moments of shame to thank my body for all it’s put up with.

Cultivating mindfulness has definitely had its benefits. Like meditation, it quiets my mind and allows me to focus my attention on my senses, while allowing me to open my heart to kind thoughts for the things that usually overwhelm me. Mindfulness has allowed me to accept the smallest of victories, because they are still victories, and push me one step closer to my recovery.

Throughout my mental health journey, I have identified and weeded out the people in my life who took away my self-respect. Believe me, there have been many people, and I do not deny that I have been the toxic friend in a few cases. I learned to forgive myself. I have learned to treat my mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures. Cutting people out of my life is not something to beat myself over, and being the reason someone has cut me out has given me a reason to better myself.

Setting boundaries for myself-for work, school, relationships, and other activities-that could deplete my energy or cause me physical, mental, or emotional distress, has given me a new outlook on life. I used to take on more than I could chew. Though I could usually do what was asked for me, I lost sleep, isolated myself, missed out on valuable outdoor time, and burned myself out from the laborious expectations placed upon me. Of course I still accept extra projects for work, and take on an activity or two, but this is on MY accord, not at the demand of someone else. Saying no is okay, and no one should feel guilty for saying it.

Social media and 24/7 access to the internet actually raised my mental struggle. Unplugging for a few hours a day to spend time outside, or with a loved one, even just to knit or read for a bit allows for me to focus on something that matters, rather than the pettiness of likes and shares. Many times, I use this time to clean my room and closet. There’s something about ridding my living space of excess clutter that declutters my mind in the process.

When I am having a particularly rough day, I try to focus on something I am good at, and I do it. Whether it’s making something nutritious for myself or sitting down in front of my mirror and doing my makeup in all of it’s full-glam glory. I go to my happy place, whether its ten in the morning or eleven at night.

I have taken a risk, putting a bit of my personal struggle out there. Of course, you did not read the full story,  but you did get to see what I do to show myself some love. I went years hating myself, waking up with a negative mindset, anxious in every single situation-but that’s not how I am choosing to live anymore. I reached out for help. I talk to people instead of shutting down like I did for so many years. I am doing the best I can every single day, and I no longer beat myself up for not meeting my expectations.

You are not powerless in asking for help. You are not foolish for needing a form of release to get yourself through the day. You are not weak because you need treatment in order to recover. Surround yourself with positivity. With helpers and healers. With people that lift you up, not ones who tear you down. Help is out there. There are people who care.

If you or a loved one feels as if they are in danger, or just needs someone to talk to, please call 1-800-273-8255 today.

 

Regina is the Development Director of H.E.A.L

Contact her at regina@helpeveryaddictlive.org

 

Thank you for your continued support!

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Dear Angels

The Question Series

 

Part Three – Who?

Although most of us learned the meaning of this word in grade school, there is a good chance that we could have figured out what it means on our own. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it means “what or which person or persons”.

You may be wondering, in this week’s edition of The Question Series, who will be talking about? Well, that depends; it could be you. It could be a parent or a sibling, a cousin or a friend.

“No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.” – Patrick J. Kennedy

Unfortunately, in today’s world, almost everyone knows someone who is struggling with addiction. However, addiction doesn’t just affect the user, the illness affects every one around the user. Addiction is a family disease.

Time is of the essence. Time can either be the savior or the bitter enemy.

“It is hard to understand addiction unless you have experienced it.” – Ken Hensley

Watching someone you love battle addiction is one of the hardest thing most people experience. Their struggle is your struggle as you root for them to succeed, cry with them to help themselves, and hope with them that they’ll stay alive through another fix.

One who becomes many who’s. It becomes everyone’s struggle. It then becomes a question of why, and how. Why did so many become addicted? Why have so many lost their fight? How can we put an end to addiction and the stigma around it?  We can end addiction by taking action. Talk about it. Educate yourself and others. Speak up. Most people go through the motions of addiction silent, and do not speak out until they lose someone. I was there. I was that person.

I lost a part of myself each time I lost a loved one to addiction. For some, I knew of their struggle. I hurt with them until the end. Others, I didn’t see the battle they were fighting, and I have regret. I regret not seeing their illness. I regret not asking if they were okay. I regret not reaching out to help them in any way I could.

Who. The most powerful question in this series, because it connects those most important in our lives.

 

Patrick is the Founder & Executive Director of H.E.A.L

Contact him at patrick@helpeveryaddictlive.org

 

Regina is the Development Director of H.E.A.L

Contact her at regina@helpeveryaddictlive.org

 

Thank you for your continued support!

We have a Merch Shop:

https://shop.spreadshirt.com/help-every-addict-live-heal