Part of being a treatment professional is to notice – and help counter – common mistakes newly sober people make. We help them spot thinking errors, unrealistic expectations, patterns of self-sabotage and more.

But of all the mistakes I’ve observed in more than 30 years of recovery and work at Serenity Lane, one stands out: the belief that sobriety is all about giving up or stopping something. This belief is common, deep and incorrect.


During this season of graduation parties, many parents experience a mix of emotions. They feel proud, of course. High school graduation is an achievement worthy of celebration. But many moms and dads are worried, too, because it’s very likely that alcohol or other drugs will be available at parties.

It’s a high-wire act for parents. We want to support our kids’ celebrations – but to be clear that alcohol and drugs are not to be part of it. We know our sons and daughters think they’re becoming adults, and they are – but they aren’t fully mature, either. We want to keep them safe – but we have to let them make more of their own decisions.

Over many years’ work in drug and alcohol treatment, I’ve seen my share of men and women come in with both chemical dependency and gambling addictions. We don’t treat compulsive gambling specifically at Serenity Lane, but we do understand their stories. The suffering they – and those around them – experience can be truly heartbreaking.

Like addicts, problem gamblers start with a little bit. Then, over time, they experience the same progressive loss of control as any alcoholic or drug addict. They start “using” regularly – then keep going as losses mounted.

In my travels around the state, talking to employers and families of people with drug and alcohol problems, I regularly hear certain questions.

“Why does he keep doing such destructive things?” they might ask. Or, “She’s lost so much already – how does this make sense?” Or simply, “What was he thinking?” There is real frustration and bewilderment in each question.

What I try to help them understand is this: the person they care about has an illness that, unlike other diseases, completely distorts the thinking process itself.

Of all the mysteries surrounding chemical dependency, one of the most baffling is the one we call “codependency” – the tendency of important people in the lives of addicts and alcoholics to deny, accept or even assist in patterns of substance abuse.

At treatment centers, we see this every day. Men and women, otherwise functional in the other areas of their lives, who, when it comes to the alcoholic/addict they care about, put aside any reasonable expectations of behavior on the part of their spouses or partners.


When we use the term epidemic, we are not being melodramatic. Please take a look at this, especially your teens.

“According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prescription drugs have quickly become the nations most misused drug. In this infographic we’ve compiled some telling facts regarding the rates of prescription drug overdose in the United States. We also examine where drug abusers are getting prescription painkillers and which states have the highest drug overdose rates. The creation of new drug treatment and prevention programs is more important than ever. ”

Prescription Painkiller Infographic

Infographic authored by Origins Recovery Centers. To view the original post, check out the original

We live in a time when it’s common to predict our risk for developing serious illnesses. Women take tests for a “breast cancer gene.” Our ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol indicates our likelihood of heart disease. Our family history suggests whether or not we might develop diabetes.

In all of these areas, and many more, awareness of our personal risk factors helps us take better care of ourselves. We can keep an eye out for symptoms, change risky behaviors, even prevent some diseases before they occur.

This is clearly true for chemical dependency as well. While no factor is an absolute predictor that a person will become addicted, certain factors do indicate – some strongly – a predisposition towards the disease.

The most important? Alcoholism or addiction in the family.