Joseph Campbell, American Professor of Literature, once stated:
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”
Words are incredibly powerful and sometimes they can give us an entirely new perspective on life. They can make us contemplate new concepts and approaches that we otherwise would never have considered before. It’s so easy to become entrenched in reading that sometimes we may find that we lose ourselves amidst the words of a compelling story. The experience, the emotion and the imagery reel us in and we may almost feel as if we’re part of the story itself. If you love to read books, you may find a plethora of good, thought-provoking reads that will truly ignite your motivation and understanding of addiction recovery.
If you’re ready to get lost in some literature that’s good for the soul, check out these books:
Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
Nothing Good Can Come from This, by Kristi Coulter
Recovery Rising: A Retrospective of Addiction Treatment and Recovery Advocacy, by Bill White
Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions, by Russell Brand
A major part of addiction recovery is finding new hobbies and ways to spend your time. Reading could be an excellent hobby to pick up, especially since there are so many stories that have been told and so many new lessons you can learn. Between libraries and the internet, books provide us with so much knowledge right at the edge of our fingertips.
If you’re ready to get started on your journey to recovery, speak to someone from Cumberland Heights today. It’s never too late.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.
Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.
If you talk to anyone who has worked with James Luna during his tenure at Cumberland Heights, you’ll hear all kinds of anecdotes about his impact and personality. There is one theme you’ll hear over and over – that James was a no-nonsense kind of guy. In recovery, James often told people things they didn’t want to hear but needed to. It always came from a place of love.
James was Clinical Director of the Men’s Program for 19 years. As his obituary states “His own personal recovery, that spanned decades, was paralleled only by the love and energy he put into patients and friends alike struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. His life’s work will be remembered by the thousands he touched who are now, in turn, helping others themselves.”
Cumberland Heights Board Member Rob Crichton had this to say about James:
“I first met James Luna 31 years ago. James was quite a force at Friendship House. I suppose you could put him in the category of the ‘tough love’ type. Staying sober and participating in the program was top priority. He introduced me to a rather rough looking fellow in the coffee bar at 202 one afternoon and informed me I was going to be his sponsor. What an experience. James was emphatic to put it mildly. He also called it like he saw it in the meetings, not cross talking, but he always let you know where he stood. I admired his AA orthodoxy especially in a meeting.”
Many years later I became reacquainted with James after he became employed at Cumberland Heights, but something had changed. James was much more mellow. The rough edges seemed to have smoothed out. I cannot tell you how this happened. Perhaps it was his marriage to Dawn or being in the Cumberland environment, but he had transformed into a much gentler person. We worked on two projects together at Cumberland Heights and I felt totally comfortable around him. It felt like we were beginning to be friends.
“One thing is for certain in my experience – James Luna was always a good man regardless what chapter of life he was in.”
Vivian Jo Bell, who works in Medical Records said, “I found him to be direct, honest, grateful and compassionate. My favorite memory of James is 22 years ago. I was diagnosed with cancer. James Luna was the first person to come to me just to talk and offer prayers.”
Our Chief Clinical Officer Cinde Stewart Freeman had this to say about James:
“I met James during my first 60 days in recovery. I didn’t know how to talk to people and I was afraid this recovery thing wouldn’t work for me. James caught my attention in meetings because he spoke rarely, concisely, and always something that rang as true to me. During a day that I was really struggling, I got my nerve up and asked the $1,000,000 question. ‘James, how do you get faith?’ I think my voice was shaking; I know my hands still were. I thought he was going to give me a mystical and deeply theological answer that would change my world. He looked at me closely and then simply said, ‘Well, Cinde, you lived through things that you thought you couldn’t live through, and when you look back, you realize that God helped you. That’s how you get faith.’ At the time, it seemed too easy to be true and much too simple. As the years have gone by, James and I have had many conversations about God and the nature of spirituality. I learned so much wisdom from him. But I am not sure that anything he taught me was as powerful as that first simple truth – a truth that turned out to be mystical, deeply theological, and that did indeed change my world. Godspeed, my friend. I love you.”
James had a way with words, both spoken and on paper. You may be one of the millions who read his articles on Grapevine, AA’s monthly publication. And few could forget his goodbye letter to Cumberland Heights when he retired in 2012.
It read in part:
“To have been allowed a minor part in this unfolding passion play of God after his wounded and devastated children for the past 25 years has been, for me, nothing short of…words are often insufficient in this realm. Fortunately, God has languages that need no words.”
A Life Celebration will be held for James Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home and Cremation Center. A reception will follow at The Pavilion.
Addiction is a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point, impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, physical health, finances, and overall family dynamics.
Join us to learn about how your family might be affected and what you can do to support yourself, your family and your loved ones who may be struggling with substance use.
The mission of Cumberland Heights is to transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by drugs and alcohol. Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal disease. We carefully provide the highest quality care for adults, adolescents, and families who suffer from, or are affected by, this devastating disease.
International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.
Overdose Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. Together we honor those we have lost and share hope for the future.
A Service of Remembrance of those lost this year, especially to addiction, helping us to move from grief toward hope and healing. A list of first names with last initial of those we are remembering will be read at the service. If you would like to add a name to the list, please submit that using the form below.
June 10, 2018: Sunday Sermon: You Have To Serve Somebody…or Something
We are all worshipping something, whether we realize it or not. In this talk, Stan explores the various “Higher Powers” at work in our lives like seeking the approval of others, chasing financial success or needing to control people, places, and things and compares them to the benefits of the Gospel of Jesus, the Eightfold Path of Buddhism, and the Twelve Step recovery process.
May 27, 2018: Sunday Sermon: The Rich Young Man Revisited
Our most treasured possessions are the belief systems we use to navigate life as we understand it. In this talk, Stan borrows from the Biblical story of a rich young man who could not envision another way of being in the world and missed out on the greatest opportunity of his life. And so it is for those of us faced with the choice of recovery or continuing to use.
Art therapy is a growing experiential therapy used by the Traditional Men, Women, Young Men, and Extended Care programs at Cumberland Heights. It’s offered through weekly groups as well as to individual patients referred by their primary counselors.
Art therapy allows patients a non-confrontational mode of expression and communication which fosters self-discovery, internalization of core beliefs and improved self-esteem and identity exploration, while also supporting and enhancing 12-Step work. At Cumberland Heights we’re fortunate to have access to a variety of media for the patients to take risks and play with – including painting, drawing and collage, as well as repurposed and “trashed” materials which can be used to create something new – something out of “junk.”
No artistic skill, background or even desire is required for art therapy. All that’s asked is a patient remains open to the process and keep criticism of self and others at bay. This is a huge obstacle for many who’ve been told by others they aren’t creative or aren’t good at creating art – and have ultimately internalized a belief that art is not a mode of expression they’re capable of utilizing.
I have many patients who come through and have experienced some form of “art trauma” and find it very threatening to do something creative outside of their comfort zone. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness these individuals step up with courage to allow themselves to be vulnerable.
There are many things I love about art therapy; namely, there is tangible evidence of a patient’s process. There’s proof of how they’re feeling or thinking in the moment of creation. Art-making is inherently self-esteem boosting and allows patients an opportunity to get “out of their heads.” They begin to make sense of what seems out of control, especially when it’s difficult to find the words to describe or identify what they’re experiencing.
I worked with one young woman who entered treatment as the victim of a violent assault. Through art therapy, she was eventually able to tell her story using an artistically altered book as the method for her narrative work. She already had a lot of mature coping skills in place and had done some amazing work in boundary setting and self-care while in treatment.
After an art-therapy assessment, I decided she had the ability to self-structure. Her work showed she was very intelligent, insightful and expressive, but also revealed a struggle with unhealthy relationships and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. I asked her to create an altered book using an old hard-backed library book and mixed media. I gave her no directive beyond this in hopes this freedom would allow her to tell her story. By the end of this book, she showed her attack and trauma, and asked me to join her in her primary group so she could share her story using her book as the guide to show the story she was unable to tell.
The young woman began a new altered book before leaving treatment; the first page was full of messages of self-empowerment. It was inspirational to see her find her voice by taking away the power of her traumatic experience through externalization and storytelling. She no longer carried the burden of her shame and fear alone. Through art therapy, she reclaimed her life and found courage and inspiration from within.
Art therapy is powerful in a group setting as well, allowing peers to share themselves at a deeper level and demonstrate trust and willingness in the process.
I worked with an adult male patient who admitted he felt art therapy was the least helpful group for his recovery. After he skipped group, I gave him an assignment to explore how this avoidance was indicative of old patterns or defenses, encouraging him to think about what was holding him in these well-worn patterns of addiction.
From this challenge, he created a sculpture representing his long-term struggle with true acceptance in his life, and acknowledging for there to be a higher power, darkness also has to exist. He connected this to an understanding he had to find balance in his life and work in order to accept that which he cannot change, so he would be empowered in his recovery. His presentation changed completely and his work demonstrated a catharsis, a shift in breaking through his defenses and finally being authentic.
These are just a couple of examples of the powerful work I have been fortunate enough to witness in art therapy. I truly believe in its value as part of addiction treatment. I continue to be blown away by the power of the creative process in self-discovery and, most importantly, self-healing. I am eternally grateful to Cumberland Heights and to the people who have passed through these doors for the healing and growth I receive daily.
Cumberland Heights’ programming is based on the principles of the 12 Steps of recovery. Each month we ask a member of our expert staff to share his or her experience on a specific Step. This month Spiritual Directors Angela Moscheo Benson, M. Div. MA and Stan Bumgarner M. Div. LADAC will focus on Step Two: Came to believe a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
My first sponsor asked me to define each word in each Step we were working. Working through the definitions for Step Two brought my attention to the word sanity: the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner. I remember reading that definition only to laugh out loud at how far from sane my ability to think was in that moment. It’s almost impossible to think back on the roar of distortion in my head the first time I worked Steps One through Three. I lump them together because I recommit to them every day, and right in the middle is the all-important recognition of the need for help.
Step Two is all about asking for help. Sure, it’s also about understanding how our own best thinking got us here, but logically we need something outside of ourselves if we want to change.
There is an awareness which occurs in an honest working of Step One that leads me to a place of acceptance in Step Two. It’s as if the shift of perception leads to a shift in attitude, but that isn’t necessarily true. Unless we are willing to believe in something greater, the shift in awareness isn’t enough. At its core, Step Two asks us to move from the powerlessness we felt in Step One to a place of hope that change is possible. Like it says in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, “We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation.” Most often liberation comes with the strength we receive from a Higher Power, but only if we’re open to the possibility of a restorative Power and are willing to ask that Power for help. For some, that Power is found in the other people in the rooms, but for me, that Power is a caring God who wants to help me recover my true spiritual nature. I may be powerless, but I’m not without help.
Step Two is the natural progression of having worked Step One. In Step One we admit no matter how hard we try to stop, moderate, or control our drinking or drug use, we can’t do it. And as a result, our lives are not turning out the way we want.
The reasonable conclusion from working Step One is, “If I can’t figure this out on my own, then I need help, and it’s going to have come from something much wiser than I am and much bigger and stronger than alcohol and drugs.”
Working Step Two does not necessarily mean we must embrace the capital “G” God as the power greater than ourselves. Although many people are comfortable with this concept of Higher Power, there are also those who aren’t. And that’s completely acceptable.
For recovery newcomers, it may be more effective to have a tangible power greater than themselves in the form of the 12-Step recovery process, the 12-Step Recovery community, and a caring, present sponsor.
The essence of Step Two is recognizing and coming to believe two key concepts: 1. I can’t seem to figure it out because my addiction is bigger than I am; and 2. For me to survive and turn my life around I need help, and the help I get is going to have to be more powerful than my addiction.
Step Two is critically important because it sets the stage for all the other steps. Until we finally come to believe we need help, we won’t ask for it. Until we ask for help, we won’t experience the sense of hope and promise offered by working the remaining Steps.
For many, January signifies the start of something new: a new year, new resolutions, a new start. Many people make resolutions hoping to meet personal goals or to improve their quality of life. New Year’s resolutions are also reminiscent of the commitment we make to recovery. The first step we take in recovery is a step toward a new start.
The following are reflections on new starts in recovery from Cumberland Heights’ staff members:
A life in recovery from drugs and alcohol is a wonderful life with many new beginnings. A few of the many gifts I’ve received have been, stronger and deeper relationships with friends and family, a new way of living life with peace and serenity, and a greater understanding and love for myself and others. ~ John Boolos (Case Manager, Men’s Department)
For me “New Start” has meant opportunity, and new found hope. A “New Start” has afforded me the opportunity to be the son, friend, brother, uncle and peer I feel I was meant to be. In active addiction I was far from the person I feel I was meant to be, but I felt completely hopeless. An overwhelming fear I had lost my authentic self, someone not only my family and friends missed, but I did as well. A new beginning filled me with the hope the real me was not gone, just lost. It was up to me to put in the work to find him again. With new found hope and a Higher Power of my understanding, I received the power and direction needed to find myself and sustain my recovery. ~ Conner Davidson CPRS (Clinical Associate Team Leader, Young Men’s Department)
New Starts to me is the opportunity to get this thing called life right, and live it the way God intends me to live. With new starts, and the program of recovery I’ve not only been able to find myself, but actually love myself again. (Being worthy is a hard thing to feel when in active addiction.) I’ve been given what I call my dream job, and I get to have true happiness in my life because of new starts. None of it would be possible if I didn’t come to Cumberland Heights to find out I needed a program, a tribe, and a family of other like-minded people to help support me, care for me and encourage me along the way. In my New Start, I found God, the program and myself. ~ April Sambuco (Human Resources Generalist)
For me, I see the opportunity for New Starts more like a “Personal Renovation.” Much like fixing up an old house, the framework is there, but in active addiction I allowed my house to become dilapidated and unlivable. Luckily on September 5, 2005, I was given the opportunity to hire a new “interior designer,” (which I currently identify as my Higher Power) to remodel this ole house. A relationship with my Higher Power and the 12-Step program has given me a new “Design” for living. In recovery I’ve become a father to two beautiful children, I’ve been an employee at Cumberland Heights for 10 years, and I have wonderful relationships with my family again. I’ve been sober for over 12 years, and none of this would be possible without my New Start. As we start this New Year I look forward to many more opportunities for New Starts. ~ Travis W. Hupp, LADAC II (Clinical Coordinator, Men’s Program)
One of the worst things about my addiction was the rotting ball of shame and guilt I carried around in my gut every day. Made up of lies, failures, losses, wrong choices, and missed opportunities, I couldn’t get away from it unless I drank and used. Even then, it always came back when the high wore off. After a while, it was with me even with the alcohol and drugs—a horrible mess of feelings I couldn’t name. What a relief to hear the Third Step Prayer and know I could ask a Power greater than myself to “relieve me of the bondage of self.” It was scary to think about turning my will and my life over to the care of this Power I wasn’t totally sure would take care of me, but considering the alternative, I was willing to give it a try. People told me to try it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, as often as necessary. Each time I was willing to follow that suggestion, I could start again. I could have a New Start anytime I was willing to ask for help. The ball of shame and guilt began to unravel—sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, as the Big Book says. Today, that ball is mostly a memory. And, if I start to feel that old sludge, thanks to a 12-Step program, its fellowship, and a Power greater than me, a New Start is always within reach. ~ Cinde Stewart Freeman, RN, LADAC, QCS (Chief Clinical Officer)
How have you experienced New Starts in your recovery? Please share your experience with us in the comments below.
The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it. – Sydney J. Harris
Stress and anxiety can ruin your holidays and your recovery. Setting realistic goals, seeking support and planning ahead can help to lessen the stress this holiday season. Check out the following 7 ways to practice recovery and avoid stress during your holiday festivities!
Know your limits.
Don’t overextend yourself. Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries and know when to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
Go to a meeting, do step work, call your sponsor.
Engage your support system and beef up your recovery efforts during seasons of high stress. Don’t be afraid to reach out or ask for help when you feel overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and go back to the basics of 12-Step recovery.
Get some physical exercise, fresh air and plenty of sleep.
Exercise stimulates the feel-good hormone serotonin. Getting out in nature and going for a walk, run or hike can help relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Yoga and meditation are also great ways to refocus, clear your mind and calm your nerves during times of stress. Getting enough sleep is also crucial when avoiding the holiday pressures and being able to think clearly.
Focus on being grateful.
Making a gratitude list helps put things in perspective. Expressing gratitude or just paying a compliment has a way of lifting others’ spirits by bringing a smile to their face and yours.
Pray and meditate.
Silent reflection is always a good way to refocus and reduce anxiety. Holidays can be a deeply spiritual time of year. Take time to connect with your higher power or something greater than yourself; it will help you feel calmer and more centered.
Spending time doing service work or volunteering with those less fortunate helps put things into perspective. Wrap gifts for a local charity, volunteer at a homeless shelter, buy a gift for a child in need – whatever adds meaning for you.
Set realistic expectations.
Focus on fun and relaxation, rather than on creating the perfect table, meal or moment, and you will see your holiday stress melt away. The most precious thing we can give to anyone else is our time and attention. Tune in to the people around you and really be with them, so you don’t miss out on what counts most.
If you or a loved one would like to speak directly with one of our licensed admissions staff, please call us now at (800) 646-9998 or submit the following information. If outside business hours, we will get back to you the following day.
Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?
Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.