Hello Friends of Recovery!
What a day at the Chemical Dependency Training of the Northwest! Paula Emerick, MFT, CADC1 QMHP and Betony Jacobs, LCSW, CADC1, QMHP did an excellent job engaging 40+ practitioners in providing an overview of Systems Theories’, how it applies to substance use, families, communities and the entire ecosystems! I was so fortunate to sit next to one of my favorite colleagues, Jolene who I look up to and toward for that wonderful feeling of belonging! The entire CDTCNW community is, for me a perfect example of professionals who genuinely care and hold a strong desire to impact the people they work with in such a positive way!!! At CDTCNW we practice what we believe. And one of our beliefs is that people have the ability to live lives in sustained recovery!!!
My lunch was shared hearing Lisa Westlund’s story regarding the 7 foster care homes she went through to get to where she is today! Going through this Lisa shared “has made me who I am today!” Betony spoke with me afterward and said thank you for interacting – I am usually very quiet in larger groups – one to one – no problem however the CDTCNW community has helped me find my voice and like Lisa it has helped me to become the person I am today!!! There is a sense of safety there where we are all safe to share our fears, concerns and passion for the people we come into contact every day!!!
Doing my favorite yoga stretch with Victoria from Central City Concern during break – Delicious!!! Getting to know Matt from Anchor Pointe and then there is the lady with a name that means FIRE!!! The energy!!! And Oxana – Please forgive me if I spelled your name wrong – Please know you are all so amazing!!! Reed who is always there in the morning even though he has to leave midway shows his level of commitment – I only wish he could remain throughout the day because his comments are witty!!! Deb – Student and Intern who had so many great comments and questions!!!
The genuine interest in the upcoming Mindful Smoking© presentation that is coming – The lady who has several people who might benefit from this harm reduction process!!! I hope to hear from you!!! Hearing another lady’s story – sorry I did not get your name but thank you for giving me permission to share your story – she was a 3 pack a day tobacco user – and one day she just woke up and said “no more.” Her husband’s story of going on Chantix – having vivid dreams of their neighbor cutting down all of their trees caused him to wake up and go measure his yard to build a high fence! His neighbor came over as he was taking measurements and asked him if he would like him to trim his trees!!! Loud laughter was shared as she shared how he hollered back and told his neighbor to stay the heck away from his trees!!! The neighbor response – so the fence is going up I see! The fence went up and her husband stopped smoking!!! More laughter was shared! So many stories shared!!! So fortunate to be a part of such an amazing community!!! And Betony sharing that she gave up smoking by “many failed attempts and writing a foo foo goodbye letter” to her cigarette.
Oh- what I learned – I learned so much – Family Sculpt – my role the work alcoholic sister who turned her back on her sister (Paula – the person with the substance use) touched very close to home as I in my real life -became a workaholic to avoid looking at myself or addressing raising three children as a single parent. The palpable discomfort led me to want to call my own children and apologize for choosing to escape realities that way. Honestly – I wasn’t brave enough to call and instead I totally picked the cop out method – I text it! Okay, so I am still a work in progress!!! The gentleman who played the Ex was so right on with his funny ways!!! The little sister, addicted to heroin that was out there lost in her use. And the lady who played the little brother who didn’t have a voice – I even felt bad because I didn’t remember her name to give her credit for her courage. And the lady Pauly? Who played the Mom who never once gave up on her daughter “the martyr so tired of holding her daughter up?” So the role play continued in the front of the room – Paula goes off to treatment and completes successfully – returns to a family where nothing has changed – as time goes by she is hearing the same messages – We don’t have time for this – How long is this going to last…it is inevitable that without support she will and does eventually relapse back into her role of addict.
It was very sad – so sad my instincts were to turn toward her and convey support to stay clean and sober because that is who she really is!!! Instead – this experience has left me understanding how very important it is to work with the whole family and not just the patient.
How about Presenter Betony who put herself out there by allowing her genogram to go up!!! That took some true courage and Paula who was able to keep up with the many details of drawing Betony’s Life including the negative feelings that served as coping mechanisms to get through the most difficult of times! It was beautiful to hear Betony no longer needs the anger to cope and she has been able to let it flow out of her!!! Truly – if you haven’t been to a CDTCNW training I strongly encourage you to be brave!!!
The other amazing learning for me is that – all behaviors can be explained if we get to know the system that the behaviors live in!!! This was especially groovy because it helped me to be less subjective – which means I will be less judgmental which will serve the client better!!!
I meant to ask however I’m pretty confident the CRAFT program Betony and Paula were referring to are from Get Your Loved One Sober Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading and Threatening by Meyers & Wolfe!!! It is an amazing read and it belongs on every counselors book shelf!!! Enablers are replaced with Protectors! This book is filled with practices a family can apply to create a lasting positive change for all!!!
See you at the next training!!!
Guadalupe Aragón, BA, CADC1
Certified Transformative Life Coach
President-elect Chemical Dependency Training Consortium of the Northwest
“My Grace-Filled Life after Addiction!”