Stages of Recovery Program Director, Cole Watts Interview By Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is running a four-part series about the impacts that drug usage and drug addiction have had on Lubbock and the South Plains at large. For the third installment of the series, The AJ interviewed Stages of Recovery’s CFO and Program Director, Cole Watts.

What Makes Lubbock Different Regarding Addiction

In the informative and candid interview, Cole explains how drug usage differs a bit in Lubbock, compared to the rest of the nation. While the opiate epidemic which is making national headlines has impacted Lubbock, it is important not to leave other substance use disorders in the dark. Specifically, Lubbock struggles with abnormally high rates of alcoholism, meth-addictions, and benzodiazepine-addictions.

Cole explains that while many view alcoholism as a disease which affects older individuals more often, in Lubbock, it is not uncommon to find individuals in their early 20’s who have never really dabbled in drugs but are full-blown alcoholics.

What Makes Lubbock Different Regarding Recovery

Cole goes on to explain that Stages of Recovery expanded past only providing sober living services, to offering counseling, day programming and even in person psychiatric consultation. Making it one of the few facilities in the city to provide such a wide range of addiction and recovery medical services under one roof.

Cole goes onto the explain that Lubbock offers many unique opportunities for individuals in recovery such as Texas Tech’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery. The center gives individuals in long-term recovery scholarships to return to higher learning, as well as support for the unique challenges they may experience trying to navigate the college.

Read the entire article here.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or alcoholism, or if you would like to learn more about the services offered by Stages of Recovery, please contact us today.

7 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Rehab Facility

By | Addiction and Recovery, Drug Abuse, Life in Recovery, Recovery, Relapse Prevention | One Comment

Making the decision to seek professional treatment for your substance use disorder can be a very scary experience. You are choosing to invest your time, money and trust in a rehab program with the hope of discovering a new, healthy lifestyle for yourself. This process takes faith, courage and hard work – and if you want to succeed – it also requires research.

Here are seven essential questions you should ask yourself and the facilities when choosing a rehab program.
Is Insurance Accepted? While most rehab programs will accept insurance, there are a few that do not. Your particular coverage plan also may not cover a portion of your stay at a specific facility. If you have your mind set on enrolling at a particular location, check to see if they have financing plans or sliding scale payment options.
Where is the Location? Rehabs in major metropolitan cities or desirable areas such as beachfront locations will typically cost more. If it’s far away from your home, you’ll also need to factor in airfare or other transportation costs. However, you should consider the quality of the facility first and foremost. Just because a rehab is near a beach doesn’t mean that you’ll be tanning or surfing all day.
How Long is the Program? Short rehab programs can last from two weeks to 30 days, while longer programs can run for up to six months. Some facilities can amend individual programs to be longer if needed, while others have a strict timeline for checking out of treatment. Of course, the cost of your program will be determined by the length of your stay.
Quick Tip:
Short rehab programs can last from two weeks to 30 days, while longer programs can run for up to six months.

What Are the Amenities? Some luxury rehabs offer gourmet meals cooked by professional chefs, massage therapists and stunning private facilities. That being said, some people simply can’t afford these perks and others find them unnecessary. You naturally want to be as comfortable as possible during your treatment, so check to see exactly what amenities are included and remember that some programs charge additional fees for certain activities. Be sure to ask about the fine print.
Will I Have a Roommate? Most rehab facilities pair people up with roommates – either in dorm rooms or converted apartments. However, for some people, personal space in rehab is a necessity. There are facilities willing to provide you a “single” room or an apartment for the additional fee, but others believe communal living is part of the recovery process.

Quick Tip: A medically supervised detox is advised in most cases and, depending on the drug of choice, might be essential.

Are There Detox Facilities? It’s not uncommon for patients to arrive at a rehab facility already under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A medically supervised detox is advised in most cases and, depending on the drug, might be essential due to the potentially fatal complications associated with the withdrawal process. If your preferred center doesn’t have detox facilities, it might be best to attend one before transferring.
What Will it Cost? The cost of rehab is an important issue. Low-cost options can charge as little as $7,500 per month, while the most luxurious facilities can run upwards of $120,000 per month. Most fall somewhere in the middle. Talk with the treatment center beforehand and see what they offer in terms of pricing, payment options and potential scholarships.

Posted January 22, 2015 in Alcoholism, Detox, Drug Abuse, Luxury Treatment by McCarton Ackerman

The Role of Addiction in Disease

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By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A

Through scientific methods, we as a society have proven addiction is a disease. Though specific political, religious or otherwise conservative groups and individuals may continue to utilize the moral model to explain, address or attempt to remedy it, the general population has seemingly come to at least accept the terminology of addiction as a disease. The latter may be simply due to the growing and insurmountable number of people struggling with or negatively affected by it and therefore seeking to recover and understand. Regardless of the reasoning, the majority of individuals who have experienced or been directly exposed to addiction recognize the progressive, chronic and potentially fatal nature of it.

Helping professionals often look to diabetes, cancer or other diseases to explain the advancing stages of addiction, potential for relapse and the need for life changes as well as multi-option or integrative care to treat it. However, rarely do medical experts look to addiction to explain other diseases. Addiction specialists typically view addiction as an acute physical symptom of a much deeper emotional/spiritual issue. Yet, only a small portion of the population sees cancer, diabetes or any other disease as a physical manifestation of an unresolved emotional or spiritual struggle.

Unlike other diseases, once a professional or self-diagnosis of addiction is received, and treatment is sought, a holistic approach is usually taken. Initially, physical detoxification—ideally medically supervised—begins the process of recovery from the disease. It is the first of many vital steps. And, generally speaking, addiction professionals are aware that relapse is imminent if detox is the only step taken to address addiction.

Moreover, detox alone often proves fatal due to the fact that the body drops its tolerance to the substance and therefore cannot handle the amount once used by the addicted individual. As such, when and if relapse occurs, the amount of substance used which was easily tolerated by the addict’s body prior to detox is now a fatal dose. For this reason and the fact that science has proven addiction to be more than a simple choice, successful recovery typically requires a month of residential treatment during which the diagnosed individual works with a team of addiction treatment specialists to address the holistic nature of the disease.

Regardless of the process, whether a 12-Step program is preferred or not, the addicted individual is encouraged and directed to address emotional or psychological and spiritual aspects of the self while medical professionals, nutrition specialists, etc., tend to the physiological components. Often, life or recovery coaches, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists and other necessary members of the holistic recovery team are brought on board to assist in the individual’s complete and continued recovery from addiction.

And, also generally unlike other diseases, the diagnosed individual is instructed to continue the spiritual and psychological growth process along with maintaining their physiological health via attending support groups, connection to sponsors, counselors, life coaches and/or social workers who hold them accountable for their own recovery process. These individuals are ideally supported through a continuum of care which follows the lifespan of their recovery. This typically presents by way of sober housing, collegiate recovery and other sober communities and programs designed to prevent relapse.

Additionally, numerous outpatient treatment options are offered in case of relapse to help restore physiological, psychological and spiritual balance and steer the individual away from self-destruction and back onto a path of personal growth and empowerment. The latter is typically considered key to successful recovery due to the fact that much of the healing required to completely abstain from substances or maintain moderation or balance within behavioral processes lies not solely within the chemical dependency or biological changes which developed throughout various degrees of substance abuse or behavioral compulsions. Conversely, successful recovery from the disease of addiction requires a holistic healing of the body, mind and soul.

Could it be that the same can be said for cancer? Diabetes? Or any other disease? Is it possible addiction research and specialists have worked so hard to successfully prove addiction as a disease and inadvertently discovered the answer to healing and recovery from all disease? If nothing else, it’s food for thought.

Original version first published on

Distortion, Denial and the Truth About Addiction’s Two Most Powerful Body Guards

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By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Individuals with active addiction often become very defensive when confronted—even carefully—about their drinking or drug problem. In fact, many react with extreme emotional outbursts, as though someone has threatened their best friend or a beloved family member. The truth is, to an active addict, anyone attempting to confront the reality of their addiction is in fact bullying their closest friend.

An active addict’s drug of choice is not simply a substance. From their perspective, it is their security. The relationship they develop with drugs or alcohol becomes their most intimate and valued one. Therefore, people in their lives who were once cherished begin to feel abandoned and betrayed, as if they have been replaced by drugs or alcohol. Indeed, they have.

Unfortunately, if friends, family members or significant others voice these feelings, thoughts or experiences regarding this reality or attempt to rescue the individual from the throes of active addiction, they are typically met with varying degrees of denial and distortion. These defense mechanisms usually present with the active addict’s efforts to;

  • deny a problem with drugs or alcohol,
  • dismiss any expressed pain or suffering caused by the abuse of these substances,
  • accuse those confronting the addiction of wrongful behavior,
  • shift blame and accountability to the intervening individuals,
  • manipulate said individuals with victimization, excuses and verbal expressions of martyrdom and self-pity.

These behaviors work to defend active addiction by denying its existence and distorting the reality of its destructive nature. Ultimately, the combined forces of denial and distortion—as presented in the bulletin points—create a chaotic maze of the active addict’s circular logic and the loved one’s dizzying cycles of repeated attempts to communicate concern. The latter continually gets stonewalled and eventually shut down. The well-orchestrated topsy-turvy outcome serves to distract and dissuade everyone from their attempts to confront the active addiction in the first place.

In short, the process of confronting active addiction can be crazy-making. Moreover, to attempt to address it repeatedly is the definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is both a setup for and a characteristic of codependency.

That is the very reason denial and distortion are indeed addiction’s most powerful body guards. They not only work to protect the addictive substances and addiction itself. They also formulate such an insane, dysfunctional experience that those who become concerned and wish to interfere or intervene are forced to either maladapt and become increasingly codependent—a condition which requires recovery as well—or back off and simply let go.

Though the latter is always easier said than done, it is the necessary step each concerned individual must take in an effort to protect their own sanity and overall wellness. Aside from an organized intervention in which at least one helping professional is present to facilitate and mediate, there is nothing more that can be done to save an active addict from themselves. To prevent becoming an enabling part of the problem or an enmeshed piece of the dysfunction, loved ones must quickly employ their own empowering entourage; detachment and disengagement.

First published on

8 Things You Don’t Realize About Teenage Drug Abuse…Until You’re An Adult

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By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

As teenagers, we all feel a sense of invulnerability; “Nothing bad will ever happen to me, regardless of what anyone says, thinks they know or have experienced.” Therefore, at that age, it’s difficult to convince us of the harmful and potentially deadly effects of drug abuse. This is especially true with those of us who are financially and legally enabled. But what happens when we aren’t teenagers anymore? When we realize we aren’t so invincible after all? Our teenage blissful ignorance wears off. Suddenly, we start to notice the lasting consequences of our teenage drug abuse. It becomes very clear how negatively drug abuse in our teen years affects our adult lives. Sure. Maybe we notice a few changes when we’re teens as a result of our drug abuse, but because most of us aren’t exactly on our own, the reality of those changes don’t hit us until we become independent adults. But when they do hit us, it’s disturbingly clear our past teenage drug abuse can destroy our future adult potential. If only our adult selves could go back in time and frantically warn us about the following 8 things you don’t realize about teenage drug abuse, until you’re an adult:

  1. Legal consequences – DUI’s and other drug or alcohol-related legal charges negatively affect our ability to get accepted to universities, receive financial aid or gain reputable employment in adulthood. Our dreams of college life and high-paying careers are crushed before we even graduate high school.
  2. Stunted development – Studies show early onset drug use/abuse, including that which occurs in our teenage years, stunts the psychological development of an individual, resulting in prolonged adolescence. Basically, we don’t grow up, and though that may sound like a good thing, it’s not. Arrested development negatively affects our relationships, careers, coping and social skills. In other words, we find our adult selves far behind everyone else and basically failing at life.
  3. Unplanned pregnancy and STD’s – We all know teenage drug abuse leads to many irresponsible and irrational choices. One of many is unprotected sex which can result in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease. Since only a few STD’s are curable, our lives are potentially permanently changed. Additionally, if we become parents prematurely, that’s another permanent factor, and since very few teenage pregnancies result in marriage or life-long partnerships, it’s a real game changer in our romantic lives. Plus, the responsibilities of parenting only get more financially, emotionally and mentally challenging with time. As such, we lose the freedom most of us need in young adulthood to find ourselves and mature—the lack of which not only negatively affects us, but our children.
  4. Emotional immaturity – Due to the escape and avoidance tactics we achieved abusing drugs as teens, we missed out on emotional learning opportunities. As such, we didn’t gain the same level of emotional knowledge or intelligence as our drug-free peers. Consequently, our ability to appropriately confront and resolve conflict, effectively communicate, set or respect personal boundaries, etc., was crippled. Ultimately, we find ourselves emotionally handicapped as adults.
  5. Lack of or inappropriate social skills – The things we saw and learned during our teen drug abusing years were inappropriate at best. As such, we likely didn’t learn appropriate social skills. As drug abusing teens, we typically revolved our social lives around drugs. Most of our social planning, communication, events and experiences were drug related and—let’s face it—illegal. Everything from sneaking around, violating personal/legal boundaries and late-night parties to extreme drug seeking behaviors, petty theft and a possible lack of hygiene negatively affected our ability to acquire good social skills. Some of us may not have acquired any at all. What seemed cool when we were teenagers, proves awkward later in life. We lose cool points in the adult world, fast.
  6. Diminished mental capacity – As teenagers, we all heard the warnings about drug use resulting in brain damage. Either we assumed they were talking about drug overdose or bad batch scenarios and therefore saw it as a slight risk, or we just didn’t care. What we didn’t realize was due to the damage drugs inflict on our brain, any level of drug use is potentially devastating. As such, our years of drug abuse as teens guarantees us a degree of damage to our brain functioning with no way reverse the damage. We find ourselves struggling with memory loss, learning disabilities, inability to focus or concentrate and difficulty with even a few remedial tasks as adults. Mentally speaking, we become old before our time.
  7. Sexual impotency and Infertility – Yes. You read right. As much as it may have seemed to help us get lucky in our teen years, it may actually deter as adults. Drug abuse does a great deal of damage to our bodies, including all the organs and systems necessary for men to get and keep an erection. Therefore, drug abuse—especially that which begins in the developmental stages of our teenage years—has a negative effect on our ability to enjoy a healthy, vibrant sex life as adults. Additionally, drug abuse decreases an otherwise healthy sperm count and disrupts ovulation and menstrual cycles, negatively affecting fertility and our ability to start a family if we choose to do so.
  8. Chemical imbalances and mental illness – We may not have cared much as teenagers, but it’s been a well-known fact drugs effect delicate chemical balances in our brains. Because as teenagers our brain was still developing, our drug abuse likely had a permanent negative affect. As adults, we find ourselves suffering from anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.

Drug abuse at any age can be devastating and life-altering. However, unlike adults, our choices as teenagers are usually less informed. Even if we do have all the information, we don’t think about consequences because we’re concerned only with instant gratification; “I want to feel good now, and no educational brochure will stop me!” For teenagers, that’s a very normal mentality.

But, with regard to teenage drug abuse, it’s a specifically dangerous one. The consequences of drug abuse aren’t always immediate or short-lived. And, unfortunately, by the time we’ve figured that out, we’re adults, and the damage has been done.

So, if you’re a teenager struggling with drug abuse or a parent concerned about your teen, it’s not too late to change things. You can get help to stop. For parents and teenagers in need of Lubbock addictions services or Lubbock drug treatment, contact our hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP

For more information and resources, go to our website:

First published on

The Perversion of Parenting and Its Role in Addiction & Recovery

By | Addiction and Recovery, Life in Recovery, Parenting | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

When parents have children, they want nothing more than to see those children happy. They want to give them everything—all the things they never had. Somehow, they come to believe a happy child is a healthy child. But they’re wrong.

Dr. Carl Andersen, founder of the Center for the Study of Addiction & Recovery at Texas Tech University, once stated, “The perversion of parenting is to believe it is your job to raise a happy child. No. That is not your job. Your job as a parent is to launch a healthy adult.”

Though he was speaking to a classroom filled with college students in recovery—myself included—most of whom did not have children, his point was not lost on us. We all knew that somewhere in our past, someone—one or both of our parents—had worked very hard to keep us happy and therefore unwittingly denied us the consequences that might have kept us healthy. In essence, they nearly literally loved us to death.

It’s the most common form of enabling—parents doing everything in their power to keep their children from hurting and being a best friend, rather than a parent. In the moment, it looks and feels like love. But enabling—as Dr. Andersen also says—is not love. In fact, it’s anti-love. With regard to addiction, enabling keeps us sick by preventing us from hitting rock bottom—the low place we need to be in order to realize we need help.

Keeping us from facing consequences and financially funding our every want and need keeps us happy, indeed. But it also keeps us children, permanently. We never grow up. This perversion of parenting is the failure of parenting, and it’s a breeding ground for dysfunction.

Though it may not be completely to blame for addiction, the perversion of parenting is suspect in relapse and an accessory to the disease. It keeps us from developing accountability, breeds a sense of entitlement and a lack of humility—the cornerstone of successful recovery.