Sunrise Detox Music Program in the News


Ricky Byrd brings his experience helping individuals in the substance abuse / addiction treatment program at Sunrise Detox to Torrington, CT this weekend.

One of the “people's choice” favorite programs at Sunrise Detox in New Jersey is the music program. Thanks to dedicated, compassionate, and insightful musicians like Ricky Byrd, we've been exploring the strong connections between drug use, alcohol use, creativity, active engaged lifestyles, and even Rock n Roll, in the context of addiction  and sober living.

Guests at Sunrise Detox in New Jersey love it.

Ricky enjoys writing songs of his personal experiences, and expressing his insights into addiction and recovery. He also genuinely enjoys the community of friends and associates he has developed over his many years in rock and roll, and the past several years working with Sunrise Detox.

Just about everyone who has participated in the music program at Sunrise Detox will agree the connections between music and treatment for substance abuse is amazing, and that Ricky's perspectives help foster hope where it is truly needed. And now, Ricky is taking that message on the road, with a concert in Torrington Connecticut this weekend.

Learn more about this weekend's concert in CT from NewsTimes of Danbury.




Denial Ain’t Just A River In Africa

When we get into recovery, regardless of the path we take, it won't be long until someone tells that us we are in denial about something. In fact, the chances are good that we heard that a number of times before we even thought about recovery. But what is denial?

Actually, denial is an important part of coping with day to day living. If we accepted as fact everything unpleasant that someone said about us, we wouldn’t be able to function very well, if at all. If we weren’t able to put aside the tragic reality of a death in the family and tend to business, we’d never be able to get through it. Denial helps us overlook the rough spots in life so that the immediate impact is lessened, and we can deal with the issues gradually. However, it becomes a problem when we use it to help us ignore important issues.

Denial is of interest to addicts (and therapists) when it gets in the way of our recognition of behavioral problems. We alcoholics and other addicts use denial to smooth the path of our addictions, help us ignore the cold, hard facts, and continue doing what our instincts tell us we have to do. It becomes automatic. In order to recover we need to be able to recognize denial, become able to see the effect it is having on our recovery, and adjust our thinking. As the old 12-step saying goes,

Lying to others is rude, but lying to ourselves is often fatal.

There are many forms of denial, and all sorts of names to describe them. We’ve listed some of the common ones, with examples of how we use them to protect our addictive behavior. There are dozens of other examples and names, but denial generally falls into the following categories.

Normalizing: “Everyone has a few drinks on a weekend” (their birthday, to celebrate, during the game, etc.) “A couple of beers never hurt anyone.” (See minimizing)

Minimizing: “I only had a couple! (Of 6-packs). “I only drink socially.” (Five nights a week) “I might have had a couple more than I should have.” (I couldn’t stand up.)

Rationalizing: “I don’t have a problem, I’ve quit for months at a time. I just don’t feel like stopping right now.” “I have to socialize with people, it’s part of my job!” “It’s a prescription drug; my doctor knows what he’s doing.”  “I deserve it!”

Comparing: “Joe’s been married three times, in jail twice, lost his license and has to go to those meetings. That’s what happens when you drink too much. I’m doing fine.”

Uniqueness: “You don’t understand.” “If I go to treatment now, the business will fall apart and fifty people will lose their jobs.” “My family has an exceptional capacity for alcohol. I never get drunk.”

Deflecting is making jokes, changing the subject, angry outbursts that intimidate the opponent, threats, “important” phone calls, blowups when confronted and similar ways to take the focus off the issue.

Omitting: Leaving out information, or telling just enough of the story to satisfy the other person while leaving out the part that will get you in more trouble. “The doc said my health is great!” (Except if I don’t stop drinking I’ll be dead in five years.) Simply ignoring the other person’s remarks falls under this category as well.

Blaming: “If you had to put up with (my wife, boss, kids).” “I was doing just fine until I found George doing lines in the bathroom.” “The doctor keeps giving me prescriptions!”

Intellectualizing: This is coming up with all sorts of explanations that “obviously” anyone who thinks about the matter has to agree with, in an attempt to make questioners feel off base and uninformed. “The latest studies show that a couple of drinks a day are good for you.” It’s also a good way to fool ourselves.

Poor Me: “I’ve tried and I just can’t quit. I can’t do it no matter how hard I try.” “I give up, I’m just going to die drunk.” “My life’s in the toilet, I might as well….”

Manipulating is using power, lies, money, sex, or guilt to defuse the issue. “Remember who you’re talking to here!” “Don’t talk that way to your mother!” “Would I ever say something like that to you?” “Mommy doesn’t need to know about this. Here’s some money. Go shopping”

Compartmentalizing is doing things that you keep separate from other parts of your life. If you find yourself thinking something like “If he only knew,” or “If anyone ever found out,” then you’re compartmentalizing.

If we're honest with ourselves, it probably won't take us long to recognize some of our old — and perhaps not so old — tricks.  And maybe, just maybe, we ought to pay attention to the next person who accuses us of denial.


Is it an adjustment for children once you are sober?

Having a family member get sober is an adjustment for everyone.  While we are drinking or using other drugs, our behavior and effect on other family members is considerably different than when we get sober.  It is sometimes a shock to newly-sober people to discover that when they get back home things are not always sweetness and light.

We have written elsewhere about how unreasonable it is for alcoholics and other addicts to expect to be trusted, simply because they have been clean and sober for a few weeks or months.  Children may feel that a parent was not there for them when they needed support.  They may remember bouts of anger, even abuse of the other parent or themselves.  They probably have their own anger related to missed occasions, sports events, a normal family life, and general absence of a parent whom they love and look to for nurturing.

The same is true of a spouse.  In addition to all of the above, he or she may resent having had to single-handedly deal with responsibilities that should have been shared.  These things may apply to older children, as well.  It may even be that these members will resent the attempts of a formerly-ineffective parent to step up and fill the roles that they have gotten used to.

Some or all of these issues will exist in every family where a parent or sibling has been actively addicted.  For that reason, it is critical that families undergo joint therapy, where issues may be aired and adjustments made in the presence of skilled professionals.  Individual therapy may be necessary for some or all members as well.  Without such help, the likelihood of further family problems is high.

How long am I required to stay in rehab?

Q. How long am I required to stay in rehab?

Assuming that you have not been court-mandated into treatment, you are usually free to leave rehab at any time — against professional advice.  Assuming that you use good sense and stay, the answer varies depending on a variety of factors.

Getting the alcohol and/or other drugs out of our system is only the first of many things that need to happen in order for us to have a decent shot at long-term sobriety. Getting clean and sober (and staying that way) requires time.

I’ve written here often about the physical changes in our brains that cause us to be unable to function without drugs. Until our brains have had time to heal themselves, we are at great danger of relapse, because cravings can return at any time. Along with that danger goes the issue of how we feel physically and emotionally while the repairs are taking place. Post-acute withdrawal can be a bear, and it can last for quite a while. Without a plan and good support, that alone can make us uncomfortable enough to want to use again.

Psychological and emotional damage from our period of active addiction — and perhaps even before we first used, need to be addressed. Getting clean does nothing to deal with those issues, and ignoring them puts us at great risk of using simply to make the bad feelings go away again.

There are social and legal issues to be considered. Getting clean does not prepare us to go back to work immediately, repair damaged relationships with family, friends and perhaps employers, clear up financial and legal problems, and deal with the other situations surrounding our addictions. Only time, along with some support and work on our part, can prepare us to deal adequately with those things.  One of the prime targets of rehab is to help clients develop a plan, a support system, and learn how to use them.

Some help and support for family members and significant others is needed. Therapy, or at least a support group, is highly desirable for them because living with an addict is traumatizing. This is easier to arrange if we are under the guidance of people who know how to help our families and friends begin to heal too, because us telling our family that we think they need help is pretty much a non-starter.

Finally, we get to the addict behavior that we need to change. When we used, we developed behavior that protected our addictions.  Over time it became ingrained. (I like to use the example of putting Kobe Bryant in a basketball game, but telling him he can do anything he would normally do except try to score. How long would it take Kobe to blow that assignment, after spending most of his life working to do nothing but score? His instinct to shoot when the opportunity arises would trip him up, sure as taxes.) The point is, until we develop habits of thinking and responding to the world like a sober person, we are likely to respond to stressful situations just as we did in the past. More than one addict has come back saying, “I don’t know what happened — one day it seemed like a good idea and I just picked up!”

So there’s no way, really, to give a simple answer to this question. A safe one would be “Stay in rehab as long as possible.” Of course we all know that other factors can stymie a plan like that. Best answer: consult with the experts who are handling your rehab, and take their advice if possible. More rehab can’t hurt.  There are very few problems that can be solved if we don't have the skills to tackle them, and if we relapse — well, let’s just say that’s not the best way to remain out of rehab.

What is the difference between psychological dependence and addiction?

Psychological dependence is shorthand, used to refer to situations where there is no apparent physical withdrawal, yet there is a compulsion to continue using a substance or carrying out an act. Sex addiction is a good example, as is the compulsion to eat sugar. Psychological dependence is not a medical term.

There is a gray area, and not necessarily a wide one, between psychological dependence and addiction. For example, some heavy users of marijuana suffer withdrawal when they stop using, which qualifies them as addicted. Others have no obvious physical symptoms, but become psychologically disturbed.  Also, many activities — gambling, relationships, shopping and so forth — are mood altering and actually create changes in brain chemistry similar to those that occur when we use drugs. Likewise, many activities that we associate with good health, such as running and other forms of exercise, produce changes in the levels of endorphins in our brains, stimulating the very same receptors that are affected by opiates.

As far as treatment is concerned, there is no real difference, apart from the possible need to detox from an addictive substance.  We are dealing with the need to change behavior that is causing us problems in our lives, but that we seem unable to stop.  The changes we need to make are basically the same, regardless of what we call the circumstances that caused us to seek help.

Inpatient or Outpatient Detox — What’s Best?

In order to understand why outpatient detox for drug addicts and alcoholics rarely gives satisfactory results, we have to review a couple of things about addiction.

Addiction is a compulsion to use a substance or behavior to alter the way we feel. However, it is more than that: it is a physical and emotional way of living our lives that, over time, becomes ingrained and seems to be the normal way to live. Addiction makes changes in our brains that cause us to believe that we need the drug or mood-altering experience — be it a prescription medication like Xanax, an illegal drug such as heroin, multiple sex partners, alcohol (the most commonly-abused drug of all), or something else. We believe that we need it to feel normal, to be comfortable — to live — and every time we try to get the monkey off our backs we have those beliefs reinforced by the discomfort of withdrawal.

Living like this for long periods, we begin to view it as normal. No creature willingly goes from situations that seem normal into those that seem different [Read more…]

Online Training, Credits for Addiction Professionals

The Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies Distance Learning Program is a collaborative effort between the Addiction Technology Transfer Center of New England, the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies and the Program in Public Health located within the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, RI.

The purpose of the Distance Learning Program is to provide a range of health care professionals including addiction treatment providers, counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, and physicians with access to continuing education courses covering a range of topics relating to advances in addiction treatment and prevention.

More information on the CAAS site.