Wishing this…..


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Seattle Could Be the First City in the U.S. to Host Safe-Injection Sites for Heroin Users

Even the mayor says he’s open to the idea of providing places for people to inject under medical supervision.

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Part of the road towards recovery……


How bad do you really want to be free?

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Ireland to ‘decriminalise’ small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, for personal use

Minister also announced intention to implement ‘injection rooms’ in Dublin for addicts


Many drug users pick up additional infections and medical problems as a result of using unclean needles Getty

Rose Troup Buchanan

Ireland will move towards decriminalising substances including heroin, cocaine and cannabis as part of a “radical cultural shift”, the country’s drugs minister has said.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the chief of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy, told a lecture at the London School of Economics on Monday that drug users will be able to inject in specially designated rooms in Dublin from next year.

The minister said attitudes to drugs needed to move away from shaming addicts to helping them and emphasised there was a difference between legalisation and decriminalisation.

It would remain a crime to profit – from either the sale or distribution of illegal drugs – but drug takers would no longer be criminalised for their addictions.

“I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction,” said Mr Ó Ríordáin.

However, while Mr O Ríordáin told The Irish Times that there was a “strong consensus that drugs across the board should be decriminalised,” he said it would be for Ireland’s next government to discuss.

Screenshot from 2015-11-03 14:06:32

His comments follow a leaked report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, appearing to call for a worldwide decriminalisation on 19 October.

The report was reportedly withdrawn after at least one nation put pressure on the international body to bury the findings of Dr Monica Beg, chief of the HIV/AIDs section of the UNODC in Vienna.

Discussing plans to open ‘injection rooms’ Mr Ó Ríordáin said they would be “clinically controlled environments” that would aim to prevent already vulnerable individuals from exposing themselves to further risks.

He added: “Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centres is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviours.”

Following the opening of the Dublin clinic, the minster added he hoped similar rooms in Cork, Glaway and Limerick would also open.

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Posted in addiction, Awareness, Recovery

7 Healthy Habits for Family Members During Early Recovery


Once your family member has successfully completed an inpatient rehab program, she’s probably looking forward to coming home. And after a couple months of seeing one empty seat around the dinner table, the family’s eager to welcome her back.

Despite your excitement to reunite, it’s important to point out that things can be challenging for the whole family post-addiction. The best way to avoid unnecessary chaos and potential relapse triggers is preparation. When the whole family gains a better understanding of predictable issues, there’s a much better chance of avoiding problems in early recovery.

Here are seven family survival tips that will help to make the transition from rehab to home a lot easier for everyone.


One of the most important parts of the recovery process is therapy; talking openly and honestly about your feelings has a way of lifting thousands of pounds of pressure off your shoulders. While your family member is still in rehab, it’s important for you to attend her family therapy sessions and play an active part. Once home, she’ll want to feel understood and empowered; on the other hand, you’ll want to know she understands what’s expected of her. The thing is…nobody’s a mind reader. If no one talks about what they want or you tip-toe around the house rules, there’s bound to be a breakdown. Use your time in family therapy sessions to iron these things out. In the end, you’ll all benefit from it.

If no one talks about what they want or you tip-toe around the house rules, there’s bound to be a breakdown.


Though it can feel like a safety net, falling back into old family patterns is a huge no-no. Truth is, if the old patterns were so good, then things wouldn’t have fallen apart in the first place. Whether you spent time making excuses for your family member’s substance abuse or searching for reasons to point out her flaws, it’s imperative to fight the urge to return to those behaviors.

Whether you gain new insights during family counseling, personal one-on-one therapy or self-help books, everyone must be open to new ways of living. And it’s not a family punishment that has been levied as a result of drug use; it’s an opportunity to have better – and much healthier – relationships with one another.


To say that you’re no help to anyone else unless you’re taking care of yourself is an understatement. Spending all your time worried about “what ifs” is a great way to drive yourself in the ground. The stress from this kind of negative thinking is unhealthy and all-consuming. Give yourself permission to take care of your own needs first; it’s not a selfish act to protect your health and sanity, you know? Take time to do things you enjoy, whether that’s getting a massage, working out or having dinner with friends.

…it’s not a selfish act to protect your health and sanity, you know?


Without a doubt, addiction is one of the most selfish diseases on the face of the earth. There’s no doubt your family member did some things that made you angry or cut you to the core. She’s certainly aware of that now that she’s sober…and able to see what a terrible impact her addiction has had on the whole family. The great thing about family is that there’s an unbreakable bond amongst all of you, despite what’s happened in the past. Don’t let feelings of blind anger get in the way of forgiveness. And don’t confuse forgiveness with excusing past behaviors.

But now that she’s sober, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically expected to reinstate your full trust in her.


Addiction leads people to do things they never would have dreamed of doing beforehand. Your trust has likely been broken, thanks to your loved one’s active addiction. But now that she’s sober, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically expected to reinstate your full trust in her. And that’s something she’s been prepared for during her time in rehab. As you see her working at home to regain the family trust, compliment her achievements and let her know that what she’s doing is helping to rebuild that lost trust. Talk with her about her goals and future plans, that way everyone understands where they stand and where they hope to be in the future.


The idea of an emotional bank account was created by author Stephen R. Covey and included in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In a nutshell, the concept is that each time a family member does or says something that is caring or positive, you make a deposit. Naturally, if something negative or hateful takes place, you make a withdrawal. According to Covey, it’s essential to recognize this is a process. It’ll take time to build up the family bank account and see “numbers” that are in the black. The whole family must be patient with one another; an emotional bank account is one creative way to install “think before you speak” behaviors.


When your loved one was actively abusing drugs, the family unit paid the price for her disease. Memories of childhood or holiday gatherings from decades ago might have been the only things that brought back feelings of love for her; or maybe those old memories brought up feelings of great sadness, as if you’d lost her forever. Now that she’s sober, it’s time to build some new family memories. You don’t have to get extravagant; after all, it’s the little things that mean the most in the end. Maybe the whole family could cook dinner together one night a week, or how about making a great big breakfast on Saturday mornings? If your family loves to travel, plan a weekend getaway to a spot that none of you have been before or splurge and take a family cruise.

Maybe the whole family could cook dinner together one night… or how about making a great big breakfast on Saturday mornings?

Making new memories will bring the family closer and help to remind everyone just how precious life – and the love of family – truly is.

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Project Recovery Helps Addicted Mothers


Courtesy Photo

Jennifer Valentine and her two daughters.

Substance Abuse Program Treats Parents, Reunites Families

Sunday, October 11, 2015

By Molly Forster

Moms and pregnant women with substance abuse issues are highly stigmatized by society and are often considered to be high risk, making it terribly difficult for them to find the help they need. “But why would you treat a mom with diabetes any differently than a mom with addiction problems?” asked Anna Rodriguez, Manager of Santa Barbara’s Perinatal Program at Project Recovery, “They’re both diseases.”

Jennifer Valentine, 31, a mother of six and a longtime abuser of meth recently completed the Perinatal Program at Project Recovery and re-gained custody over two of her daughters.

Born to two meth-addicted parents in Ventura, there was never much hope for Valentine. As a child, she was abused, molested, and raped. She smoked meth for the first time when she was only 11 years old. She became pregnant with her first son at age 14.

After her son was born, Valentine stayed clean for a while, until her ex-husband began to molest her children. A victim of child molestation herself, Valentine didn’t know how to cope with what was happening, and she began to use again. She became the person she never wanted to be: her mother.

“And then my kids got taken away from me and that just made me feel even worse,” explained Valentine. “I knew that they depended on me, but I never know how much I depended on them just to be okay and to feel alright.”

Valentine has had four kids taken away from her by Child Welfare Services. When she was released from jail, only one year ago, she had lost custody over Tony, her 21-month-old daughter, and was 8-months pregnant with Scarlett.

“I just got to a point where I’m pregnant with Scarlett and I’m fighting for Tony and I can’t lose my kids again,” said Valentine. “I want to fight. I’m not going to stop fighting.” Which is why she pleaded for the court to refer her to Project Recovery in Santa Barbara, where she felt comfortable with counselors who had helped her in the past, judgments aside.

Santa Barbara’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CADA) Perinatal Program at Project Recovery is a small house that serves pregnant women and parents of both genders with substance abuse issues. Despite its location on the corner of East Hayley and Santa Barbara Streets, right next to a dope-fiend park, the small cottage-style building is actually quite charming.

As you walk though the front door, past the outdoor play area, peak into the bathroom covered with kid’s art and the kitchen that’s stocked with healthy snacks, you get the feeling that you’re in a family home. “Every time I had to make my kids lunch, I would go to Project Recovery and use their kitchen,” said Valentine.

The six- to twelve-month outpatient program provides a seemingly never-ending list of services to help recovering addicts establish healthy parenting styles and to assist them throughout their sobriety. Perinatal Program Manager, Anna Rodriguez, is particularly known for her unfaltering dedication to helping moms on their path to recovery.

When she started working in alcohol and drug counseling five-and-a-half years ago, Rodriguez had her heart set on working with Santa Barbara’s youth. However, her first position at Project Recovery was in the childcare room of the Perinatal Building. It was in that tiny room filled with donated cribs and toys where she realized, “wait a minute, this is where it’s starting.”

CADA has an adolescent substance abuse program called Daniel Bryant that gets a lot of attention in Santa Barbara. “They’re like our golden child,” said Rodriguez jokingly. However, Rodriguez feels it’s important to understand harm reduction when it comes to teenagers abusing substances.

“A lot of the kids at Daniel Bryant ended up there because they grew up in homes where their parents were using and didn’t have any parenting skills,” said Rodriguez. Because parents with substance abuse issues are highly stigmatized, they have a much harder time getting help.

Rodriguez said they’re doing okay on funding at Project Recovery, but things could be better. “We need a bigger building, there’s just not enough room here,” she said. People are more reluctant to donate to adult addicts than they are to youth addicts.

“What do you think when you see a mom who’s 8-months pregnant, with a huge belly, standing outside smoking a cigarette?” asked Rodriguez.

“Most people think she’s a horrible person and wonder how she could do that to her baby, but what they don’t think about is the stress that mom must be feeling,” said Rodriguez. “Maybe she’s smoking because she’s not doing heroin and it’s all she has left.”

Rodriguez has made it her goal to increase community outreach, reduce stigmatization, and help people see addiction for what it is: a disease.

Project Recovery treats about 50 women a year with a dropout rate of roughly 10 to 15 women each year. Most clients are heroin or meth addicts living in poverty with partners who are either absent or still using.

Parents are referred to the Perinatal Program through court referrals, Child Welfare Services, transition houses, Villa Majella (Santa Barbara’s maternity home for homeless women), CADA Cares, and self-referrals. “We’re starting to get more and more self-referrals, which is great,” notes Rodriguez, “I want to get the word out there to people that need our help.”

Project Recovery will do seemingly anything to make sure clients get the help they need. The program accepts MediCal and offers transportation for clients as far as Carpenteria to Winchester Canyon.

After intake, Rodriguez tries to get clients into group therapy as soon as possible. The first group focuses on relapse prevention and the second group teaches parenting skills —

and much more.

“Part of my work is assisting the clients with their treatment plan goals,” says Rodriguez. These goals include helping their kids eat healthier, teaching them how to breastfeed their babies, how to take care of their bodies, and how to practice safe sex.

On Fridays, Rodriguez is known to host “field trips” to destinations like City College, the vaccination center, and WIC nutrition services appointments.

“A lot of my clients end up going back to school while they’re here,” says Rodriguez, “or I’ll get calls from them after they graduated saying they just got their AA or they’re studying to be counselors because I told them if I can do it, so could they.”

Project Recovery also offers case management services: helping clients find employment, housing, mental health assistance, and even accompanying them to their court dates. They are constantly on the lookout for places that are hiring in town, especially businesses willing to give ex-felons a second chance. Many of the moms have found seasonal jobs and jobs working in merchandise retail and grocery stores. “Usually though, the cost of day care doesn’t outweigh a minimum wage job,” notes Rodriguez.

One of the most common cases Rodriguez sees at Project Recovery are Child Welfare Service referrals, which are usually moms trying to gain custody or visitation rights with their children. It’s extremely difficult for moms to get reunification services if they’ve already had an open case, explains Rodriguez. “They have to jump through all these hoops and everyone’s telling them what a horrible job they’re doing,” she said.

Despite the challenges of being the middle-woman between Child Welfare Services and mothers who want nothing more in the world than to be with their children, Rodriguez keeps an optimistic attitude. “The good thing is we have moms who are all here for one reason — they all want recovery — and their main goal is to be good mommies and have their families reunited,” said Rodriguez.

Although Rodriguez doesn’t think 6 months is enough time for clients to reach full recovery, she notes that about four out of 6 clients continue with their sobriety and she doesn’t see very many moms who re-offend.

“Santa Barbara has an amazing sober community, it’s like a little family,” said Rodriguez. “It’s really important for moms to continue to go to these meetings because it’s usually when they feel good and start thinking, ‘I feel great, I can have one beer,’ that they relapse.”

Jennifer Valentine has been sober for over a year and she and Rodriguez still stay in close touch.

“I’ve been in programs where you’re just ushered through the motions,” said Valentine, “but at Project Recovery they aren’t like that.”

When I met Valentine at Kid’s World, she was sitting on a blanket with her two beautiful little girls, a sparkle in her eyes, and a genuinely happy smile that you’d never expect to see on the face of someone who’s been through so much.

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The journey of recovery


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Today is the present.
December 2015
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Robert Christopher Mergupis


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