Month: February 2015

Alumni Craig Fluter – Interventions & SyncroAddictions


It isn’t often enough that the opportunity arises where we can sit down with a 10-year Alumni who has not only flourished in his recovery but concurrently pursued a career in the recovery field. Craig Fluter is one such gentleman, and on Friday February 20th he came in to Together We Can where it all began for him to speak about who he was, who he is now, and what he is doing moving forward with his Intervention skills and his company SyncroAddictions. These are his words:

“I was here at TWC in 2005 and it was Christmastime. I remember the exact date, December 4th. I was coming off of alcohol and cocaine and for the past three years things had become progressively terrible. I was at 130 pounds soaking wet and while living in Deep Cove, BC I had managed to lose my marriage, my landscaping business, my massage therapy business, and any kind of life-force that was previously driving me was eradicated completely. I had a five year old son at the time and I just couldn’t leave him the depressing legacy of his father dying an addict.

I spent five months in treatment at TWC and I returned two months after my graduation to ask Robert Waring, the director at the time (and still now), for a job as a monitor at the facility. I had made up my mind through early recovery that I wanted to work in the addictions field and he agreed to my idea. I worked here for a year and then I worked at Harbour Light Detox for six years. I received my Addictions Diploma at VCC and along the way I picked up a number of different healing and holistic certificates related to not only my massage therapy history but my future with working in addictions. I began to specialize in interventions as well. I worked in the Downtown Eastside and learned about many different addictive behaviors. Best time of my life.

I know that TWC has grown, but the heart of the place has remained the same. It’s about men supporting men and the power that has is completely self-sustaining – unlike anything you would typically see outside of the recovery community. It’s common-sense thinking and that’s something we lose with time. TWC offers a realistic way of getting our common sense back or the sense that we never had to begin with – we build an emotional and moral fortitude that we can structure the basis of consistent wellness on. A lot of laughter, a lot of hugging, amazing support.

After Harbour Light, I took up a role at The Orchard and my title was Extended Care Facilitator and Step Guide. I’ve brought these skills into what I do now with my company SyncroAddictions. I do interventions for a variety of different things ranging from eating disorders to addiction to highly emotional family situations. I know how to facilitate group therapy as I’ve been specially trained, and I bring my heavy-hitting counselling skills into the group environment.

SyncroAddictions is an opportunity to do work with men who do not want to go to treatment, and that’s perfectly fine for some individuals. There are many times when someone can’t go to treatment because of their career or their privacy, and although I’m fully for the idea of treatment because I understand the incredible support it offers, I always want to support getting onto the path of recovery at the very least.

I have a home office and I work out of people’s homes. I go to the client, and I’m always between the Mainland and Victoria. I have clients all over the Lower Mainland and even in Alberta. I’m qualified in relationship counselling, eating disorders, core childhood issues, depression/anxiety, and some of these unique holistic therapy techniques I learned are incorporated into my counselling.

If you access my services, our conversation could be about most anything in general. It depends on what you’re calling about – yourself, family member, if it’s in any way to do with a life becoming unmanageable, then I have more than enough experience to come in and support it at any level in any way that I can with interventions and family counselling. I have withdrawal management skills, treatment stills, aftercare skills, and I’ve done five years of interventions with a success rate that is quite high.

Personally, the 12 Steps are the basis of my recovery, but I also use the Wellness Wheel which I believe isn’t truly emotionally and mentally accessible to anyone without doing the 12 Steps beforehand. When I came to TWC, I had actually done everything else other than the 12-Steps and I remember a counsellor here named Ted Connolly that taught us the Big Book from scratch. It changed my life. I still attend meetings each week and I still have a sponsor in Vancouver. I try to live a healthy lifestyle – as healthy as I possibly can anyway! If not, my spirituality suffers. The hard work that I put into becoming a good man and doing the next best thing has a direct correlation with how I do not suffer each day.

The reason I feel I am good at what I do is the fact that I learned the principles of the 12-Steps and I must continue doing these three things:

  • Living them.
  • Owning my part.
  • Staying close to my higher power.

If I’m not taking care of myself, I’m not taking care of my livelihood. It’s a lot of pressure sometimes but it’s where I’m at.”

Craig Fluter is affiliated with Together We Can and his addiction services through SyncroAddictions can be directly accessed through the main facility or by calling him personally at 778-840-9351 or by e-mail syncroaddictions@gmail.com. He is taking the ICADC exam in the next couple months to become internationally certified as an addictions specialist.

 

Relax and Have Some Fun


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I once thought it was impossible to have fun without drinking. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Sometimes I just shake my head in amazement that life is so much more fun in sobriety than it ever was during all those years when I was drinking. I really do have fun in sobriety.

When I compare my life while I was drinking with my life in sobriety, I can’t believe the difference in terms of adventure, excitement, and just how happy I am. I think I’ve laughed more in meetings than I have anywhere else in my life. Let me tell you, there are some hilarious people who have told some outrageous stories at some of the meetings I attend.

We all need a good laugh. Just think back to your first meeting. I can only speak for myself, but I wasn’t having much fun at the beginning. No one does. Those first few days and weeks can be rough.

When people think about getting sober one of their biggest fears is: Can I ever have joy and excitement again? Most people think sobriety is boring and no fun! Well, the newly-sober person needs to put his or her view into perspective. Yes, being sober won’t involve death-defying police chases or risky actions that can really hurt them or those around them. The definition of fun changes; the longer people stay sober, the deeper and more enriching their joys become.

If someone gets sober and doesn’t learn to relax and have fun, their chances of long-term sobriety are very limited. We must insist on learning to have fun. It can be a matter of life or death for some. I think this is a very critical component of recovery, along with developing a deep spiritual connection and working the steps.

Why are addicts and alcoholics afraid to let go and have fun? We had to ingest serious amounts of drugs or alcohol just to let go of our fears and insecurities. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that the need only gets worse the longer we use. The fear of being vulnerable that we experience in the early stages of sobriety is so intense that some can’t get past it. Working the Twelve Steps helps to reduce the fear by creating a fellowship of others in recovery, which can also help teach what the “new fun” looks like. The beauty of recovery is that if you reach out enough, you will find others who have the same interests as you, and often even the same sense of humor…but it takes reaching out.

So reach out, have some fun and enjoy the ride of sobriety… Luke D.

What is a Recovery Coach?


Even the most basic of treatments that surround addiction and recovery include an important aftercare plan for the safety of the individual and the security of long-term stabilization. Together We Can implements  “mid-term” review throughout a client’s treatment stay and a detailed, comprehensive aftercare plan that may involve Second-Stage Housing, a return to work agreement, Volunteering, or often a combination of a number of different tried-and-proven techniques that allow a client to maintain their recovery. People generally see aftercare and the relapse prevention plans in the most traditional of ways, but there are other, less commonly known ways of guiding a person through recovery such as being involved with a recovery coach.

TWC affiliate and personal Recovery Coach Michael Walsh visited our facility this week to speak to our staff and clients about the services he offers in the Lower Mainland. His personal endeavour, Addiction Recovery Services, specializes in working with a client using both distance-based and practical hands-on approaches to problems that deal with their personal recovery from addiction or compulsive behavior.

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“I typically work with men and women transitioning out of treatment and I am a big believer of ‘taking treatment home with you.’ I work with them over the phone, text, e-mail, private social media pages and in-person when someone feels they require extra guidance or support. I make clear that by the end of the conversation we will have found not only goals but attainable solutions to the problems at hand. I work with what the clients want to accomplish by the end of the session.”

– Michael Walsh

Both long-term and short-term goals are important to continuously grow in the recovery process, and a recovery coach empowers the client with the power to utilize ways to take control of their lives using healthy confidence and essential boundary setting. This may seem quite broad, but only because the services offered can range from anything involving family to work to trips around the world. With over twelve years in recovery from addiction himself, Walsh understands the different perspectives required to tackle any and all coaching experiences.

In pop culture, Hollywood celebrity Robert Downey Jr. has publicly thanked his own “sober companion” in regards to the support and services he received while on set filming. Many Hollywood contracts, due to the high-risk glamorous lifestyle and the addiction that can plague a star, even require known professionals to accompany or meet with stars on a regular basis to ensure they’re keeping their recovery in mind when working. The television series, Elementary depicts “Watson” as a female sober companion to a modern day Sherlock Holmes, for example. Michael Walsh believes that this service should be non-exclusive in society as addiction neither discriminates nor sets its own known rules, although this means there is also a universal amount of effort involved in both the client and the recovery coach.

 

“Addiction Recovery Coaching is motivational in nature, but a client shouldn’t expect the coach to do the work for them. The coach asks the right questions and helps construct a plan, while the client sets goals and decides what’s most important to them.”

– Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh has more information about his services here on his website, while any other questions or comments can be directed to TWC through our phone number, social media, or website.

Healing People, Helping People


Have you ever noticed that time seems to go by faster as you get older? Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries all come and go—and before we know it, here they come again.

As we age, we have less “new” or “first time” experiences. There are no unique memories to stand out. Our lives get busy… days, months and years fly by, and then we recognize that there are opportunities we have had to help others… but we didn’t. I can only speak for myself. I have missed some of those moments… heck many moments…

So what am I getting at? Well, every one of us in recovery has an opportunity to give back or pay it forward to someone else who is in their moment of discovery…their ah ha moment of change. We all have an opportunity to tell people that it is possible. To be the example. You don’t have to move mountains in order to accomplish this. Half the battle is simply getting sober and becoming a living example of someone who is responsible in their recovery. The other half of it is carrying a message in whatever way works for you.

I can only speak for myself although when I started having an interest in others, that’s when the ‘selfishness’ switch went off and the ‘pay it forward’ switch came on. When I started experiencing the benefits of recovery and I started becoming stable, I began to realize how valuable and how grateful I was for my sobriety. I became grateful to the people that became years before me to lay the foundation that has given me and so many other people the opportunity to see my full potential.

I was once blinded by my own denial. But, once I was able to SEE again, it just became natural for me to help others.

Another reason for this shift in attitude came because of my peers in recovery. They helped me, gave me advice, gave me support… they became my allies in my war against addiction. But it doesn’t just stop there. One thing I realized along this journey is that my peers also needed me. There is always someone new coming into recovery… their first day.. and there is always someone who is going to be there to extend their hand and offer a warm welcome to the newcomer. Someone was their for me on my day 1, waiting to give me the message. They were there to show me how to make it through detox and how to start getting support. They were there to share with me their message of hope. You just never know what a newcomer might say that could change your perspective, and therefore your life.

That is because recovery is about ideas. It is about changing our attitude. It is about shifting our perspective and doing something different. And you never know where you might get that kind of inspiration from. It may be from the newcomer, from the person who has the least amount of knowledge (or so you thought?) about recovery. They might say just the right thing that really causes you to stop and consider things again.

So my challenge to all of us it go up to the newcomer and extend your welcoming hand of recovery. Be a beacon of light to someone who is at the starting point of their journey. Carry your message of hope. We all have different approaches and unique talents in how we carry the message.

Some of us aren’t comfortable sharing in big groups. Some of us aren’t good at sharing at meetings. Some of us are better at talking one on one with a cup of coffee in front of us at our favourite java joint. Some of us prefer to share the message online. It doesn’t matter how you do it… When you are ready… just do it.

I carry the message in my own way, based on my own unique talents.

Look for for outlets in which you have more skill. I try to keep it simple, that works best for me.

The bottom line is this… Healing people… heal people.

I can’t do it alone. You can’t do it alone… None of us can do it alone!

So think about it…. Healing people… heal people.

Amazing… Thanks for stopping by… Luke D

Dirt-biking – IS IT A SPORT?


TWC believes in your freedom of choice when it comes to recovery, and this freedom extends to your right to party by going dirt-biking in the backwoods. Counsellor Dan Bernard is an avid rider who just so happens to also take some incredible photos (for an older guy). Really though, dirt-biking is an incredibly physical sport and requires many different tools that we learn in recovery…

Stuck in the mud? ACCEPTANCE.

Break down in the bush? PATIENCE.

Fall off your bike? HUMILITY.

Check out our slideshow below for his adventures.


 

Old Friends, New Friends and… New Beginnings


Over the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing people who are new in recovery talk about how lonely they are, and how at times they miss the friends that they use to hang out with. It’s not easy changing your circle of friends, but it can be a killer to keep hanging out with the people who are enabling you in your addiction.

It is tough to start over, that much is true. For those of us in recovery, especially early recovery, starting over tends to take on the magnitude of the nearly impossible. There are just so many different areas of life that need changing, so much to do, and so much to learn before anything can be done. How can someone make sense of all this?

Let’s be real for a second…The first friend we have to say goodbye to in recovery is our addiction, and whatever drug hijacked our brain and turned us into something we never intended to become. Our addiction turned on us—from reliable best friend to instigator of problems to vicious enemy. But what about the people in our lives— the ones we hung out with, got high with, grew up with… the people we called our friends. What happens when you live with someone who is part of your addictive past? What then?

If feeling the pain of separation from lifelong friends or even loved ones and family members is not something that you’re eager to take on, consider the fact that such a separation may not be forever.

But when continuing the association threatens to sabotage our sobriety, we really have only one choice, and that is to put some distance between you and them. But wait. Not all is lost…some of them will hang tough with us when we stop using. They’re usually the ones who have been waiting for us to see the light. Maybe they even had to shut us out for a while—a seeming betrayal that only makes sense as sobriety gives us new perspective on the damage we’ve caused and how difficult it might have been to be around us during our worst behavior. These are the friends worth keeping, the ones who champion our sobriety and welcome us back to the world of healthy activity: a sober day at a hockey game, skiing, snowboarding, a concert without smoking a joint, dinner without a drink, and the guarantee of a morning without a hangover. These are new beginnings.

On the other hand, there are people we will have to leave behind, and people who will fade away as we grow in recovery. The ones we need to say goodbye to are the ones who can’t or won’t acknowledge the importance of our new sobriety. It is often because they are caught up in the swamp of addiction themselves. Others, not necessarily substance abusers, won’t be able to adapt to the transformations that we necessarily go through as we move along a spiritual path. To some, we won’t be fun anymore; to others, we’ll be a threat to their own denial.

In recovery, we serve as examples to those we leave behind. Sometimes a friend we had to leave behind will finally have a moment of surrender and follow us into recovery, and the example we have set makes the difference between life and death.

Here’s the bottom line: When we enter recovery, one of the most important things that we will do is to move forward. This means leaving the past behind, where it belongs. Live each day to the best that we can, doing the most that we can with each moment. Do not obsess over the past or worry about the future. Live in the present and make every moment count. This is, after all, your new beginning.

Please share with us some of your thoughts and comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Luke D.

 

Gambling and Video Games Addiction


In 1998 the B.C. Lottery Corporation set up a “self-exclusion” program aimed at problem gamblers. This was prepared to at least tackle the issue of casino gambling in people’s lives. Since then, research has shown that there are severe psychological effects due to problem-gambling that can manifest itself into impulsive behavior that occurs in other areas of life such as family, relationships, careers, and personal health. In other words: addiction.

Intake Coordinator Stacy Wilson pictured above with Counsellor Carol Anne Turbitt

It is with careful planning and great pride that Together We Can announces their first session of the Gambling and Video Game Program to address clients’ needs surrounding these other equally important addictions. The groups begin Friday, February 6th 2015 with TWC Counsellor and Interventionist Carol Anne Turbitt. Our “GVGA” provides one-on-one and group therapy, 12-Steps through Gamblers Anonymous, SMART techniques, and other structured approaches to educate and assist those in need. Carol had this to say about her passion for this program:

“I have personally had experience with a family member and friends suffering from addiction due to gambling and one of the major concerns about the addiction is that it oftentimes remains secretive and publicly unacceptable. It involves large amounts of money, a change in all aspects of lifestyle, and it decimates one’s ability to have a healthy future. This is a growing problem that should not only be considered with casinos and ‘traditional’ ways of gambling, but online and video games as well.”

In a recent study published in the Vancouver Province, it is reported that $560 million dollars is made through problem-gamblers. While the numbers may be shocking to some, it isn’t a surprise to others that there is a widely distributed crisis of gambling addiction that isn’t necessarily being spoken about in the right way.

Here at TWC, our counsellors have identified the need for specific problem-gambling and gaming programming that clients can participate in to address their underlying issues. We look forward to comments, feedback, and questions from clients and supporters of TWC regarding this issue.

Luke’s Blog – Distractions


Well, today is Super Bowl Sunday and the Patriots and the Seahawks have practiced over the past 2 weeks. They have dealt with ALL of the distractions that the Super Bowl brings with it. Now it’s game time.

When we are in recovery there are all kinds of distractions. So how do you deal with it? Do you use the Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks approach? Do you tell your addiction while you are in treatment or recovery that you are only here because you have to be? We all know that approach doesn’t work. You have to want it. You have to desire it. But as we all know, there are MANY distractions that come our way during our journey.

So let’s be real about this: distractions happen. Distractions come our way, our focus will sometimes shift and sometimes pull us in different directions, and sometimes you will temporarily fall off the horse and… Slip. Have you failed? No way! In fact, what you do next right after you fall can make a BIG difference in your long term goal of recovering. It’s just like a field goal kicker who misses a 30 yarder. He can’t let that miss distract him to the point that he will be fearful of kicking a game winning 50 yard field goal with 3 seconds left to play. He has to focus on making that kick when the coach calls his number…So let the distractions end… yep that’s what we are going to talk about… Distractions.

The first thing that we need to do is to stop beating ourselves up. Hey I use to be an expert at beating myself up all of the time. I labeled myself a complete failure. I was filled with shame and guilt, which became a BIG distraction in my life. It had gotten to the point that I didn’t know who I was anymore. But not now! Now I view all of those distractions and the negative core beliefs associated with it differently. I now look at the real me. Now I look at the healthy me. I don’t have to hide anymore. All of the negative distractions no longer have any control over me. I know who I am now.

Another important part of recovery is to use your support system. I’ve talked about it before and I can’t say it enough. When we are experiencing distractions and fall down on our path to recovery, it is very important to use our support/coaches. When we are at this point, our addiction/distraction will want us to hide, it well distract us by saying we are ok. Don’t believe that distraction… It’s a lie. That’s why it is so important that we have support/coaches around us who care for us, who are there to help and coach/support us. Good supports do not attempt to increase the guilt/shame, but they are there to uplift and guide you. But they are also there to help us keep everything real! Good support is priceless. We need to set these supports up and put them in place. We need to use them and practice them just like the Seahawks and Patriots do before each and every game. If you don’t use and listen to your coaches/support, you are going to lose!

You can do this! Don’t believe the lie that your distraction is trying to whisper in your ear. You are stronger than you think! Have a safe Sober Bowl… Thanks for stopping by… Luke D