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By John Perry, co-founder of CSRS

What could 2018 look like without alcohol or other drugs? Let me count the ways…

No more harm to self or others. Fewer fights. No more trips to the pawn shop to retrieve family jewelry. Fewer trips to the ER. Fewer trips to jail, the courthouse or prison. Fewer car accidents, or accidents in general. No more covering up to Grandma, Grandpa and friends. Less self-hatred. Less sorrow and disappointment. Fewer broken marriages. Fewer lost jobs. Fewer disability claims. Less domestic violence. Less child abuse. Fewer secrets.

Read more: New year, new you...ringing in recovery

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By Don Troutman, Founder, Clean & Sober Transitional Living

FullSizeRender9The holiday season brings a lot of emphasis on giving and getting gifts. Well, I get to be part of that every month of the year when CSTL residents give and receive AA recovery chips. No holiday is necessary to make those meetings special!

Recovery chips tend to mean different things at different points in a person’s recovery. When people have just gotten sober, receiving a chip is a validation to the outside world that they’re headed down the right path. It’s one of the few measuring sticks we have for sobriety. Everybody knew when you were abusing drugs or alcohol, so now everybody can witness the validation of your sobriety. Yes, there is ego involved here, and it’s a healthy, motivating force because it prompts us to recognize how far we’ve come in our recovery. And it prompts our peers to offer up the support for sobriety that can be essential early in the game.

Read more: The best gift EVER - and it fits in the palm of your hand

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holiday candle burningJohn Perry, Co-Founder, Clean & Sober Recovery Services, Inc.

The holidays can be slow days at a residential treatment center because individuals and families often avoid seeking treatment at a time when it’s needed most. Why is that? At Clean & Sober Recovery Services, I see three factors at play in the hesitation to start treatment:

False hope: Starting mid-November, family members start to hold their breaths, waiting to see who will show up for Thanksgiving dinner. Will it be “the good (sober) daughter” or “the bad (drugged and abusive) one?” “The kind and loving father, or the angry one?” Will Mom show up at all, or will she be hunkered down in bed at 3 PM? Will our brother be in jail or MIA entirely? Beneath that festive holiday tablecloth, a lot of people cross their fingers tightly, ever hopeful that their loved ones will join the celebration in a safe and sober state. That typical view of hope during the holidays is "wishful thinking," at it's best.

Read more: Why don't people encourage their loved ones to get treatment?

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By Don Troutman, Founder, Clean & Sober Transitional Living

In late October, 60 Minutes took a close look at the notorious Pelican Bay penitentiary system to see how it’s evolving from “Lock ‘em up” to “Fix ‘em up.” When interviewer Oprah Winfrey asked the head of the California Prison system why we invest so much money in rehabilitating prisoners, his answer was illuminating: “Ninety percent of them will be returning to the communities. Would you want a guy who comes out who has an AA degree, has addressed his substance abuse problem, has done domestic violence classes.... What would you want as a taxpayer and a citizen of the state?”

Read more: Why CSTL recovery housing makes taxpayers happy

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The majority of street drug users say they switched to heroin after prescribed painkillers became too expensive. Should we be asking who is accountable if an opioid addiction starts with a prescription after surgery or some other hospital-based care? With so few doctors trained in pain management or addiction, should we view addiction as a medical error along the lines of some hospital-acquired infections?

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