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Archive for the ‘Alumni Corner’ Category

HALT: Useful Acronym for Addiction Recovery

Monday, April 25th, 2016

HALT: Useful Acronym for Addiction Recovery

By TTC Alumni, Lindsay Plunkett

Now that we’ve committed to a lifestyle devoid of mind altering substances, we are more aware of the situations that cause us to feel the urge to regress into our old habits. Recovering from an addiction doesn’t occur simply by ceasing drug and alcohol use, but by creating a life that is more conducive to a lifestyle of recovery. Avoiding high-risk situations is an important and preventative way to avoid urges that can lead to relapse in early recovery. A handy way to discern if you are placing yourself in a high-risk situation is by referring to the acronym ‘HALT.’

• Hungry
• Angry
• Lonely
• Tired

These feelings can be symptoms warning you to pay more attention to your emotional and mental states. We all know drugs and alcohol can produce mind-altering affects, but so can these naturally occurring physical and emotional states. Before reading too much into the urge you are feeling to act out in an unhealthy way, reflect on what may be the cause. By making sure your basic needs are met, you can react more appropriately to stress.

When we are hungry, our blood glucose levels drop in order to signal our brains that we need to eat to supply our bodies with more energy. This drop in the blood glucose level causes us to feel irritable and sometimes lightheaded. Instead of reaching for something sugary for a quick fix, try something rich in protein. Foods high in protein have the highest satiety value and leave you feeling fuller longer.

If something or someone has caused you to feel angry, your decision-making skills become very impaired. We tend to want to act out in a way that would provide us with immediate relief from these unpleasant emotions. The same goes for when we feel lonely- we want to escape the negative emotions as soon as possible with little thought to the consequence later on. We have to remember that as addict and alcoholics, we tend to anticipate a small consequence accompanying a very large reward. The reality is always the opposite- giving in to the urge to relapse is over romanticized, and the consequence is far more complex than we anticipate.

Rather than acting on impulse, utilize your sponsor and talk to them about how you’re feeling. Chances are, they’ll be able to relate and guide you through it with help of their own experience. Having someone with a bit more insight than you do allows you to view the situation from a more enlightened perspective, while still receiving reassurance that what you’re feeling is completely normal.

Being tired also affects our judgement and stress levels in negative ways. According to Psychology Today, there are four easy and effective ways to combat fatigue:

1. Make fewer decisions: have a set routine in place that will allow you to rely on going with the flow of things while still managing to be productive.
2. Start seeing green: studies have shown that just by taking a moment to gaze outside and soak in the vibrant displays of nature encouraged increased productivity and concentration.
3. Get moving: 20 minutes of exercise increases performance, and blood flow to the brain, as well as promotes creativity, improves mood, and your memory.
4. Take a break: even if you can only spare 15 minutes, setting aside time to center yourself allows you to put things back into perspective and focus on your own needs.

By keeping that continuous connection with ourselves and our Higher Power, we are more likely to stay on track and continue moving forward. Don’t forget to put yourself first.

From Doubting Recovery to 2 Years Clean and Sober

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Doubting Recovery | Clean and Sober | Addiction


Angela found herself experimenting and abusing drugs in her early teens. She was involved in a horrible motorcycle accident that left her seriously injured. It wasn’t long before she began abusing opiates, which soon progressed into heroin and crack cocaine. Although she knew she had a problem, she couldn’t bring herself to quit and felt the drugs were more important to her than her family and friends.

One day she saw herself in the mirror and she had dropped to a mere 90 pounds. All she cared about was chasing the next high, not about her loved ones. It was then that she realized that she couldn’t continue living that way.

Before attending The Treatment Outpatient Services, Angela was lost and hopeless and felt she would need someone to push her to get addiction treatment. When Angela first started her journey in recovery, she didn’t think she’d be able to do it. She felt she needed encouragement and someone there to push her to complete her treatment.

Angela went from doubting recovery to 2 years clean and sober. The Treatment Center Outpatient Services gave her the foundation, understanding, and freedom from addiction that she hoped for. Find out how she’s doing today in the video below:


5 Common Questions in Early Recovery

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Common questions in early recovery

By alumni, Christian McLaughlin

As an alumni of The Treatment Center, I am asked a lot of questions on the best way to transition into early recovery after receiving inpatient treatment. Here are a few common questions about early recovery that may help you through the process:

1) What Do I Look for in a Sober Home?

It’s best to go to a single gender home that requires you to attend meetings and have a sponsor. Be sure to ask around about the home. Chances are others will know about them and be able to guide you in the right direction. Continuing care is a good resource for finding out about local sober homes that are accredited. All of us here in the alumni department went to sober homes so don’t hesitate to reach out to The Treatment Center as well.

When looking for a reputable and safe sober home, it’s best to do some research. Be sure to check into whether the home is accredited with state and local agencies, for instance the Florida Association of Recovery Residence (FARR) and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Ask around the sober community, chances are people will know of the good and bad sober homes and be able to guide you in the right direction. Find out the cost of the home and what the expectations are if you’re living there. Generally, a good sober home will require you to attend meetings, have a sponsor, a job, and pay rent.

2) What Are AA/NA Meetings?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings are gatherings of fellow individuals who have struggled with substance abuse. The common feelings and experience with substance abuse amongst the group is what allows us to relate with one another. The people within the meeting all have the shared experience of having overcome their substance abuse. They can help guide you through issues that may arise in living a sober life. It’s much easier to stay sober when you have support around you and people who can relate to you.

3) What Are “The Steps” and Why Do I Need a Sponsor?

“The Steps” as you will frequently hear are tools to help you live a sober life. They have been an effective approach in staying substance free for millions of people. Although they differ between AA and NA, the basic idea is the same. They are a resource to help you look at yourself and find root causes of your substance abuse. They further help you develop a new way of living a happy and sober life. The purpose of the sponsor is to guide you in doing these steps. You cannot take yourself through the steps, as you are the problem.

4) How Long Must I be Sober to Work at The Treatment Center?

We generally want alumni to have at least a year sober before working for The Treatment Center and the Teen Treatment Center. It’s best to stay involved with the alumni community and stay familiar with The Treatment Center, that way when a position opens, we’re able to let you know. We always love hiring alumni because they know our program the best and can help guide others on the same path.

5) What Can I Do for Fun When Sober?

There is plenty to do once sober. One big plus is that now you’ll have money to do many of the things you weren’t able to when you were using and drinking. If you’re an outdoors type, you’ll now be able to actually participate in sports, hiking, camping, golfing, and hunting without worrying about your next high or drink. Plus, you’ll be able to remember doing it. If you’re an indoors type, you can enjoy sporting events, museums, concerts, squash, reading, and dancing. These are just a few examples of sober activities.

If you’re an alumni of The Treatment Center, and want to know how to get more involved with the alumni community, contact us at (561) 876-8745 and follow our alumni page on Facebook for an alumni specific event or find out more information on our alumni page.

Hope Diaries: From Recklessness to Freedom | Addiction Recovery

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Jordan: From Recklessness to Freedom

Addiction Recovery

Jordan was drawn to drugs when she was just 13. Seeking fun and excitement with her friends, her life was in a constant state of chaos and quickly got out of control. After a while, her partying became excuses and empty promises that she would do better, but nothing changed until one fateful day.

Feeling depressed and helpless, Jordan’s sister recommended she attend rehab.  Her life began to change the moment she picked up the phone, called The Treatment Center, and spoke to an admissions counselor. She soon realized she wasn’t alone in her struggles and decided to take the leap of faith and seek treatment and begin addiction recovery.

She thought her legal issues would be a major setback to receiving treatment, but her hope was restored when she was able to speak to a helpful Court Liaison, receive legal help and still continue her treatment plan.

To hear how Jordan gained control of her life and freed herself from the chains of drug and alcohol addiction, watch her video below:

Dealing with Changes in Early Recovery

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013


One of the most feared topics in early recovery is change. Many alcoholics and addicts struggle with this because more times then not change can be uncomfortable and this is something we are not used too. In recovery, we must change or we are destined to go back to our old ways. Putting down the drugs and alcohol is the first step on the road to change but with that comes much more.

For many of us, it is difficult to change old habits. When we become willing to put down a substance, we have already begun to do this. After the detoxification process is complete and the drugs are no longer in our system, there is often a feeling of discomfort. From that day, we must start making necessary changes that are vital to staying sober in early recovery. In treatment and in other programs of recovery, they say we must change “people, places, and things.” These are the basic fundamentals of change. Starting to make new friends, hanging out in different places, and being a part of new hobbies or activities is a great place to start. This is a necessity and in return will change the way we think. It is a good way to slowly disconnect ourselves from the lives we once lived.

Change can be scary for anyone. When we become comfortable with something it is hard to let go of it, especially if it is something that had as much control over us as drugs did. In the end, it wasn’t just about the substance. We formed a whole lifestyle around it. It controlled our actions and the way that we thought. Change is necessary and must happen in order to achieve sobriety. When we are changing, we are growing and growth is what keeps us moving forward, further away from where we have been and who we used to be. Today we must remember to accept change and no longer fear it.

See Mark’s story here

The Alumni Resolution

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Happy new year everyone! The promise of a new year is a fresh start. Many people make new year’s resolutions to improve themselves and their lives. A resolution is a resolve to make a firm decision to do something. As addicts in recovery, we do this on a daily basis. We make a resolution everyday to make better choices and change our behavior in order to stay sober.

Speaking of changes and improvements, I am excited to announce new and bigger things for the Alumni department! Two new employees have joined the team. I am happy to welcome Alyssa Valentin and Jennie Driver, who are also Treatment Center alumnae. I am a firm believer that one should not treat this disease alone, so we are adding more support for our patients once they have discharged from inpatient treatment.

We always invite our alumni to come back on Wednesday evenings for the alumni meeting, but we recently added another meeting on Monday nights at The Healing Center. We are currently planning monthly sober fun activities such as bowling, movies, etc.

The disease of addiction can rear its ugly head at any given time. That is why we have created a 24 hour alumni support hotline, and that number is (877) 443-0342. Our alumni now have around the clock support, whether it’s through our hotline, Facebook or events.

We are excited about these changes and the opportunity to serve our alumni community. Support does not end once a patient leaves. This is why we strive to improve our programs and services year-round, that’s our resolution.

Here is to a great 2013!

Mark Burwell

Staying Sober Through The Holidays

Monday, December 17th, 2012

The holiday season is here and for some this can be a very difficult time. This is a time to gather with friends and family and we may be faced with some challenges.The holidays are important in sobriety because most of us weren’t exactly “present” for these celebrations during active addiction.

Regardless of which holiday traditions you celebrate, alcohol consumption may be involved. If you are spending the holidays with loved ones consuming alcohol, it’s important you remember why you are not partaking in these actions.

If this is your first time around family in this atmosphere, have plan of action. Understand that there may be alcohol present and you may feel uncomfortable. Here are some tips:

  • Tell your friends and family ahead of time that you may feel triggered and may need to remove yourself from the environment.
  • Call supports in the program.
  • Call your sponsor.
  • Talk to someone at gathering who may be supportive.
  • Attend a meeting.

If you are not able to make it home for the holidays, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The holidays can be very stressful and being in your old playground may not be what is best for your recovery.  If you aren’t going home it is important to come up with a plan of action as well.  Here are some tips:

  • Ask members of your support group what their plans are.
  • Set up your own safe and sober holiday celebration.
  • Local meeting club houses hold holiday events and have a heavy meeting schedule during holidays
  • Don’t isolate, reach out to supports and sponsor.

The holidays can be stressful but remember, being clean and sober is the best gift you can give your friends and family.


What Are You Grateful For?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

By Mark Burwell

Thanksgiving can be a difficult time of year. A lot of people (including myself) can’t make it home for this holiday to be with family. However I am still grateful that an invite home was on the table and that is only because I am clean and sober today. We asked our alumni to share what they are grateful for this holiday season and here is what they had to say.

“6 months.” -BA

“Being needed by my family still after being away for so long. And I’m a month shy of a year now. ” – SC

“God willing, I will have 90 days clean and sober on Thanksgiving! I am happy, despite the turmoil around me! Being emotionally stable for the first time in my life! Being physically sound, even after 28 years of addiction! Having new people in my life!” -MG

 “TTC!!!” -TW

“1yr + and awesome family.” -JS

“Mark, I am so grateful that ” I ” can do the inviting, and friends and family actually look forward to saying yes! Living this program, gives me so many wondrous gifts!! Thank you, friend, for always paying it forward!!!”  -AT

“17 Months tomorrow the 21st! Could never stay clean 17 minutes! Love it! God Bless and Thanks TTC and God!” -GS

“3 months sober here and enjoying life with my family again. So thankful for the time and friends that I made at TTC. I also have a new granddaughter that was born 2 days before my birthday and am ever so grateful to enjoy my time with her sober.” -SK

So, what are you grateful for?

Life After Treatment: Recovery Residences

Monday, November 19th, 2012

By Mark Burwell

When we enter treatment, a big part of our plan is what we are going to do after discharge. A good discharge plan is just as important as treatment itself, and it usually plays a big role in the addict’s success. If you have been in treatment before or you know someone who has, one of the most common recommendations is to go to a recovery residence.

A recovery residence, or halfway house is a sober living home or apartment complex which allows people to transition into society after treatment. A recovery residence provides support, structure and accountability to people in early recovery.

Most recovery residences have rules and guidelines that need to be followed. These guidelines have been set in place to make people accountable. Things like having a curfew may seem insignificant at first, but after months of following these rules a person learns discipline. This discipline enables individuals to apply these principles in other areas of their lives.

Here at The Treatment Center and in my own personal life, I recommend a recovery residence to anyone who is being discharged from rehab. When completing treatment, the discharge plan must be effective and executed immediately. This is the best way to slowly integrate into the real world and an important step in securing long term recovery.

Meet Mark Burwell

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012


Mark is an Alumni Counselor here at The Treatment Center. As a blog contributor, Mark will be sharing insight on life after treatment in a new series titled Alumni Corner. Not only is he one of the most popular staff members here, but he is also The Treatment Center’s first patient. Without further ado, meet Mark.

Who are you? Where are you from and what do you do?
My name is Mark Burwell. I am 24 years old and I am originally from Long Island, New York. I have been working at The Treatment Center for over 3 and a half years and I am currently an Alumni Counselor. My job allows me to reach out to people who have been discharged from The Treatment Center. I stay in touch with our alumni to discuss their progress and to counsel those who may be struggling. I have a passion for what I do because I am an alumnus of The Treatment Center, so this isn’t just a job to me, it’s who I am.

How long have you been clean and what brought you to recovery?
I am very proud to say that on February 5th 2013, I will have four years clean and sober. To even be able to say this out loud is nothing short of a miracle. Growing up as a young teen I experimented with pretty much everything I could get my hands on. The progression of my drug use was extremely quick, by 18 years old I was an IV heroin user. I dropped out of school, quit all sports, and could not hold a job. My life was constant misery and it had become so unmanageable that when I looked in the mirror I didn’t even know who I was anymore, or how I had gotten to this point. I had been at multiple detox facilities, but it never seemed to work. Before entering what would be my last stint in drug and alcohol treatment, I had hit such an emotional bottom that I became willing and open minded to change. I walked into the doors of The Treatment Center on February 5th 2009, and was their very first patient. The title of first patient really means a lot to me to this day. It has been amazing to watch this place grow into the facility that it is now. It has also been amazing to be share this story now as an employee.

What is life like for you now after so many years for you clean?
My life now is something I could have never imagined for myself. This has been an amazing journey for me and I am fortunate enough to give back to the facility that helped get me sober. Today, I am able to appreciate what I have because just a few short years prior, these things seemed so out of my reach. Having a car, paying a bill, or even holding a job were things that I was incapable of doing. I am happy to report that after my first year of sobriety I was able to afford a car, pay my bills on time, and hold down a job for almost three and half years. I have also gained the trust of my family and friends. It feels much better to know that my parents do not fear for my life everyday, they are not worried about me stealing from them, or getting a phone call that I am in jail. I have a better relationship with them now than I ever have before. The friends I have in my life actually care about me and are always willing to help me out anyway they can. I would not say The Treatment Center gave me my life back, I would say they gave me a brand new life. One that I could have never imagined.

What made you decide to start writing about your experiences in recovery?
I think one should take advantage of every opportunity to tell their story of recovery. Since working at The Treatment Center, I have shared my story many times. Whether it has been with a group of people, or on a one on one basis. This is my first experience sharing it on a blog, but I hope that it helps at least one person who reads it.

Tells us something about yourself most people don’t know.
I am obsessed with music and it has played an enormous role in my sobriety. When I got out of The Treatment Center, I promised myself that I would start playing guitar again. Since getting out almost four years ago, it is very rare that I don’t play for at least a minute, everyday.

Thanks Mark. We look forward to your posts and insight on life after treatment.

Mark also shared his story as part of the Hope Diaries Video Series. Watch his testimonial below.

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