Understanding Anxiety and My Experience with Addiction

At the age of 20, I learned what anxiety was. I did not understand what was wrong with me but, I knew that there was no way, that everyone else felt this way all the time. By gaining insight and with proper medication, anxiety did not rule me any longer.

In 2015, “I” decided to ask for help. I tried every way that I could think of to be, “like everyone else,” it took too long for me to realize that it was impossible for me. Today, I am similar to everyone else because most people do not drink the way that I did. I chose inpatient treatment, I am a, ‘Why,’ guy, and I found answers, knowledge, understanding, and tools for success. For myself, I believe that a “switch flipped,” also, there is some family history.

During treatment, the thought of becoming a counselor entered my mind. I had the desire to help other people with similarities. I thought very hard about how I could put a plan together to make this possible. I prayed about it and finally figured out a possibility. I even ran the idea by a few professionals to ensure that I was thinking correctly and that this was not my addicted brain thinking. This plan involved becoming a counselor where I received the help that I needed.

I am now a licensed LCDC-I and hold two substance abuse counseling certificates. By having personal and professional experience with co-occurring disorders, I appreciate helping other clients who face similar challenges, along with their journey towards recovery.

-Stacy Wallace, LCDC-I at Touchstone Ranch Recovery Center.

The Bucket or The Well – A Lesson In Sympathy Vs Empathy

I learned a hard lesson in my early years: not everyone is for me. Ouch!

It seems the popular belief is that all who encounter us in our hard times will understand our pain and anguish and be “in it” with us. They’ll join us in our blubbering and banter, and encourage our misery. Maybe it’s expectation. Maybe it’s what we learned to believe from loved ones who didn’t want to see us suffer. Or maybe, people just don’t know how to support us in our pain.

Whatever the case may be, I think most of us are very comfortable with sympathy, a form of enabling and empowering those negative emotions that we don’t want to feel, but seem to get us a lot of attention. I’ll be the first to admit, it feels right to expect those around me to FEEL what I feel and react the same way I react to whatever sparked those negative emotions. That’s what sympathy looks like. It sits with us in our anger, frustration, hurt, sadness…and feeds it. It empowers the very thing that put us in the emotional state we’re in. And then there’s not just me feeling anger, rejection, betrayal, etc., but two of us, and then maybe four or five. It goes on and on, like a disease spreading from person to person. Pretty soon, our emotional well is really packed with misery. But hey, misery loves company, right?

Here’s where the lesson came into play. I was beginning to notice that every time I reacted to a situation, with the expectation of someone else getting as riled up as I was…they did! And then the strangest thing happened…I began to not like the way they were acting. Pity: party of one? Oh geez! And then, Oh no! I realized I was portraying the very same behavior because I wanted that person to be in the same deep, dark well with me, and scream “somebody do something!”

Then, I encountered someone who didn’t coddle my emotions, but stuck out a hand and said, “I understand what you’re feeling, I’ve been there, but hey, let’s talk about it and let me help you!” In other words, they weren’t going to just sit in the dark with me. They heard me and saw me, and began to pull me up slowly, with love and support. And yes, tell me things I didn’t want to hear.

What is this thing? Empathy. It’s the rope to my bucket! This is where I began to understand the concept of sympathy vs empathy.

Wow! Talk about my belief system beginning to change! By expressing understanding and familiarity with my situation, instead of jumping in and cheering the pain, they began to help me with a perception shift. And, more importantly, I began to trust that this person was FOR ME! They didn’t bolster my victim mindset, or play the “one up” game. After all, everyone knows my dad can beat up your dad (that’s a joke).

It’s been a difficult thing to overcome. I, sometimes, still want someone to settle in with me and cry out from that deep well of pity, but I know better. I’ve experienced a different means of support and love. It’s made me more aware of how to better assist someone who may experience mental illness or emotional pain. I often ask individuals, what’s going to work better for you? Me, getting in that well with you, where it’s dark and cold and miserable, both of us stuck in the mess? Or do you want me to acknowledge your mess and give you a boost to a higher place? I’m not a rescuer. I don’t have a magic wand to extinguish flames of despair. What I do have are two ears that listen and a heart that desires to champion a person toward their best. I’ve cried with individuals (and I mean ugly cried!) I’ve been angered by the unjust events of their lives. I’ve whispered “it’s ok” when they’ve felt the shame and guilt of admitting past behaviors. I’ve given hugs and I’ve offered tissues. I’ve held hands and I’ve patted shoulders. In these moments, yes, I’m there with them, but I invite them to scoot over and let me in the bucket, not to sit and empower victimhood, but to pull them up into the light of trust and support and love.


– Jill E. Brown, LCDC-I at Touchstone Ranch Recovery Center.

Do You Suspect Your Child is Doing Drugs? Tips for Parents

1. Lock Your Liquor Cabinet

Brandon started on his course with alcohol and drugs at about the age of 13 when his parents went out of town and he decided to raid their liquor cabinet. He chose the clear liquor because it was the easiest to replace with water.

2. The Most Trusting Parents are Easiest to Take Advantage

Brandon lied to his parents a lot. He’d tell them he was going out to eat, bowling, or to a movie, when instead he was headed to a party to get drunk. When he came home late, some of his excuses were: he ran out of gas, he had to take some girl home who lived on the other side of town, there was a huge accident so the road was blocked, etc.

3. Double Check the Alarm System

Even though Brandon’s parents had an alarm system in their house, he was able to find a loophole to get out of the house past curfew time. Brandon often used his fire escape ladder to get out his bedroom window and to the ground.

4. Check Their Bedrooms

Good places to look for drugs: under mattresses, under dressers, under cabinets, or even attached to the back of the drawers. Brandon’s favorite place was in his closet, inside pockets of clothes and jeans he never wore.

5. Take a Close Look at Your Child

To cover up the physical signs that he was using drugs, Brandon would pull his hat down over his eyes, put gum in his mouth, and put Visine in his eyes to take away any redness. When he came home, he would avoid conversation by giving his parents short yes or no answers.

6. Don’t think your child is too young to be exposed to drugs and alcohol

The first time Brandon smoked marijuana, he was 16, and knew a lot of people who were already smoking it. By the time he was 18, he was smoking and drinking on a daily basis.

7. Know Your Child’s Friends

Brandon says if a kid won’t bring their friends over to the house to hang out with their parents and get to know them a little better, they most likely have something to hide.

8. Consider Where They are Getting Drugs

Brandon says kids usually start by getting their drugs through their friends, eventually building up a network of dealers whom they meet at a convenient location. Brandon often got his drugs in parking lots such as fast-food restaurants, superstores, gas stations, and movie theaters.

9. Check Your Child’s Attendance Record at School

Brandon used to skip school to go get high. He’d leave early, arrive late, and sometimes not show up at all. He’d forge notes from his mom, or steal passes from the school office.

10. Are You Paying for Your Child’s Drugs?

Brandon’s parents would give him money to buy clothes or eat out, and he’d save that money to spend on drugs.

11. Check Your Child’s Vehicle After a Friday or Saturday Night

If they were smoking in their vehicle, you can usually smell a strange odor coming out of it. Check for small pieces of joints — green leaf-like particles or seeds on the floorboards or seats. Look for white pasty substances on CDs, CD cases, dashboards, pictures, or mirrors, that they might be doing drugs off of.

12. Look Through Their Pockets, Purses, Wallets, Cellphones, and Backpacks

Ask for permission, but if they’re mad that you’re looking through their stuff, it may be because they have something to hide.

13. Give Your Kids a Random Drug Test

Make sure it’s after a weekend.

14. Look for Physical Signs

When drug use takes a toll, you may notice a rapid loss of weight, paleness of the skin, discoloration, dark circles under the eyes, shaky hands, dropping grades, more absences from school than you know about, sudden mood changes, a rise in anger at family members.

Develop an Open, strong and trusting relationship with your child, one without judgment.

Brandon says it’s the best fence a parent can put around their child. Don’t get angry with what your child comes to you and tells you, or the next time they won’t share with you what’s going on in their life. Give them advice and maybe they’ll make a better choice in the future.

What Is Dual Diagnosis And How Is It Treated?

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

If you’ve ever posed the question, “What is dual diagnosis”, you’re not alone. When it comes to rehabilitation, this area often causes confusion due to the conflicting nature of the disease at hand. Individuals with a drug addiction and coexisting mental illness are categorized as dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation generally requires intense therapy coupled with pharmacological treatment and continued post-rehabilitative care. When considering a treatment facility, it’s important to consider location, costs, and reputation to ensure a healthy and happy recovery.

The History Of Dual Diagnosis

“Dual diagnosis” is a term that came into popular use in 1984. This was in response to new research showing that the majority of patients diagnosed with mental illnesses were also struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.

Breaking Down Dual Diagnosis

Alternate Names – Dual Diagnosis is also referred to as “co-occurring” or “co-existing” disorder or diagnosis.
Mental Disorders – Some people develop mental disorders following a prolonged history of substance abuse. Others self-medicate existing mental disorders; resulting in addiction.
Detox – Treatment for dual diagnosis begins with detoxification. This process serves to eliminate toxins from the body to ensure a clean slate moving into mental illness treatment.
Common Illnesses – Common mental illnesses seen in dual diagnosis include, but are not limited to personality disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
Family – Family involvement is crucial to the recovery process. In addition to family counseling, loved ones must cater to the special needs of patients following discharge.
Theories Of The Causes Of Dual Diagnosis
Many specialists have suggested nerve deficiencies to be indicative of an existing dual disorder. Dual diagnosis has also been linked to patients with a history of inner city living, self-medication, physical or sexual abuse, parental neglect, and poverty.

Treatment For Dual Diagnosis

Treatment through a provider like Touchstone Ranch Recovery Center, who specializes in personalized therapy for both alcohol and drug dependency and mental illness, is the most effective means of achieving health and recovery.

If you or your loved one is struggling with dual diagnosis, Touchstone Ranch Recovery Center is the place to turn. Pick up the phone today and call 888-988-5402, and let our team of specialists guide you in the freedom of recovery!

Marijuana Awareness: Breaking Cannabis Down

Marijuana is the subject of a passionate and long-standing debate, with many false or exaggerated claims made by individuals on both sides. Whether you’re pro or anti, an understanding of the facts is essential.

In light of February being Marijuana Awareness Month and ongoing legalization efforts, we have compiled a series of points to help promote healthy discussion and education surrounding this controversial topic.

Increase your knowledge of alternate and street names for marijuana:

Alternate Names For Marijuana

Mary Jane

Marijuana is a brown and green mix of leaves, seeds, stems and dried flowers from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The drug’s main active chemical is THC, which quickly reaches the brain and other organs via bloodstream.

How THC Affects The Brain
THC affects specific areas of the brain, called cannabinoid receptors. Ordinarily, cannabinoid receptors are activated by chemicals native to the neural communication system, that are semi-responsible for brain function and development. Use of marijuana over activates this system, resulting in memory difficulties, impaired coordination and difficulty with problem-solving and basic thought processes.

Is Marijuana Addictive?
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be addictive; affecting the brain’s reward centers in ways similar to those found with more “serious” substances. When use escalates to a daily affair, addiction treatment may be needed to help kick the habit.

Health Effects Of Marijuana
In addition to potential effects on mental health and cognitive development, marijuana smoke can irritate the lungs of its users. Cannabis smokers have been found to develop many of the same respiratory issues as tobacco smokers, including daily phlegm production and cough, increased risk of chest infection, and more frequent acute chest illness.

Is marijuana worthy of demonization? Many would argue not. However, the potential issues associated with long-term usage should have many thinking twice before lighting up.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to marijuana, and are interested in peaceful, ranch-style treatment centers in Texas, the recovery specialists at Touchstone Ranch Recovery Center are here to help! Pick up the phone today and call 888-988-5402. Let our team get you back on track to the healthy and happy lifestyle you’ve been missing.

What Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Tragic Death Can Teach Us About Addiction

The passing of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman serves as a reminder of the dangers faced by recovering addicts. Though there has been much speculation, what is clear is that Hoffman has been abstinent for many years following an addiction to heroin in his earlier years.

It’s Easy To Cast Blame Towards An Addict
What Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Tragic Death Can Teach Us About Addiction
Courtesy of: www.wallchips.com
Hoffman’s road to stardom was riddled with choice and intent. These factors, however, were not at the root of the actor’s demise. Still, it’s easy for many to cast blame towards an individual whose death stems from heroin use. How, people say, could such a talented person risk his life and career with such an awful decision? How could someone prioritize drugs over family?

Statements like these only echo years of misunderstanding surrounding addiction and recovery, and are simply off target. The fact of the matter is: Choice has nothing to do with addiction – a disease that affects the brain, and slowly takes hold of an individual.

Choosing To Seek Treatment
Once people decide to stop using, whether on their own or with the aid of a drug addiction treatment facility, the tolerance developed throughout their use history subsides. Previously acceptable doses become lethal. The compulsive nature of cocaine, alcohol and heroin use impairs their judgment and ability to moderate.

The actor completed detox in 2013 to address a prescription drug problem that escalated to mild heroin use. Hoffman reportedly only used heroin for a week’s period before realizing he needed help.

Could Relapse Happen To Me?
Hoffman’s death hits home for many of us at the Touchstone Ranch equine therapy center. The shock and sorrow of losing a gifted actor quickly gives way to more personal questions: What does this mean for me, the recovering addict? Is my sobriety easier to lose than I acknowledge? Could this happen to me?

Unfortunately, relapse is a threat we all must address at some point in recovery. Whether you’ve enjoyed years of sobriety or are currently researching rehab centers in Texas for the first time, the struggle to maintain sobriety is one we all must live with. Though an addict can be in recovery, their addiction can only be managed. One step forward… one day at a time.

If you or a loved one are ready to start the healthy and happy lifestyle of long-term recovery, contact Touchstone Recovery Center now at 888-988-5402