Tag Archives: Recovery

Tag Archives: Recovery

Your body is dangling, your heart racing, your stomach drops and then it hits – euphoria. You just plunged 30 plus feet, literally hanging by a thread – well actually a rope, but you get the idea.

More than two dozen Cumberland Heights employees took part in The Big Swing Event April 15and sure, it was an amusing way to kick off the week, but we did it for much more than the thrill. It was a lesson in trust, peer support and letting go.

“It’s your decision and yours alone,” said Recreation Therapist Jimmy Hudgens.

He was talking about the cable you pull when you’re ready to take the plunge. But for those familiar with AA, we’re thinking, “This sounds a lot like Step 3.” Wait a second! This whole exercise mirrors recovery” (or for others, simply letting go of control).

I was the second person in our afternoon swing group to go. The counselor who went before me did it effortlessly. She even looked relaxed, as if she were swinging back and forth on a hammock. I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, this is easy. I have nothing to be afraid of.” And then my friends on the ground started pulling me up. If you’re not familiar with The Big Swing, it’s kind of like those hoisting you up are playing tug of war – everyone is in a line stepping backwards, yanking on a rope to pull you to the top. So, I see them on the ground getting further and further away and all of a sudden, I’m looking down on acres upon acres of rolling hills as if I’m the camera lens on a drone. In my head I’m thinking “Oh gosh this is high.” It wasn’t until I heard people on the ground say “It’s going to be okay” that I realized I was speaking out loud. And then I had made it all the way to the top.

I nervously scream below, “So I just pull this thing?”

I hear a resounding “Yes!”

And I didn’t think. I just did it. I pulled it. And I screamed. I screamed really, really loudly. And I didn’t stop screaming for several seconds. And it was super scary. But it felt amazing. It was a rush like I haven’t felt before. And as you swing back and forth coming down, you just get to bask in the afterglow. All of my friends were happy for me, and then, even better, I got to be a part of their experience when they took the plunge!

Every person there had a job – to spot someone on the ladder, to hoist someone up, to stop pulling the rope when the swinger didn’t want to go any higher. We had to support one another and we had to trust each other.

Others who had done the swing before took it a step further. They put a blindfold on before they dropped. Josh K. was one of them.

“It was a totally different experience because being up there, being that high you can’t see down so you’re just trusting everything is set up right. Here we go. Blind jump. It’s wild,” said Josh.

“Walking by faith and not by sight may be easier than we expect,” said Jimmy.

April R. who organized the event took part in it as a patient at Cumberland Heights a little over three years ago.

“It’s more just fun now since I’m really not afraid of heights, but at the time it was very therapeutic, very special. It was me saying ‘I surrender.’ I just let go and it was emotional and moving,” said April.

She wasn’t alone in her experience. Jimmy says this exercise means more to the patients than we may ever know.

“I had one guy come to an alumni reunion and I recall that patient being very quiet when he was in treatment, but when he came to the reunion he said the swing was his first spiritual experience. It was about giving up control for him. It was his spiritual awakening he said. And you would never know because he never said anything until years later,” said Jimmy.

Recreational therapy is a staple here at Cumberland Heights and I’ve always appreciated it, but I never fully understood it until that day. In treatment you can do everything by the book and go through the steps as you’re told, but it’s usually moments like these when people really find their center, higher power or willingness to let go. Others may find those things in group therapy or in the art room. Everyone responds differently to certain therapies in treatment and Cumberland Heights works really hard to honor that. That’s just one of the things that makes this place so special.

Lying to ourselves by saying addiction is the solutionIf you’re new to recovering or considering getting help, one of the first lessons you’ll learn is the lie we tend to tell ourselves while in active addiction. Alcohol, substances and other forms of addiction may seem like a “problem” to those on the outside looking in – but for us, it’s a solution. It’s a way for us to try and drown out the problems that we have or the mustering thoughts and feelings that seem to nag at our hearts. This tactic seems to work temporarily, until we realize that they don’t go away forever – and that’s when addiction develops, because we have to keep the cycle going in order to keep our pain at bay.

Self-medication is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as,

“The use of medication by individuals to treat self-recognized disorders or symptoms.”

In 2017, the Psychiatric Times explained the hypothesis of using substances as a form of self-medication – as a way to relieve psychological suffering. One person shared their story of this through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); she explained that alongside a sense of crippling anxiety, the medication prescribed to her quickly became addiction as it took away the symptoms that left her on the verge of tears every day.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that in 2017, approximately 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers and with such easy access to substances through friends and family members, it becomes easier than ever to use substances to self-medicate. Little do we realize that not only are substances not the solution, but they exacerbate the problems that we have in life because they distract us from focusing on what really matters. Only once we’re in recovery can we address the issues face to face – and be on the path towards healing and restoration.

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.

Adolescent male recovering from addiction As parents and community leaders, it’s incredibly hard to see our teens struggle with substance abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) highlights that people are most likely to begin abusing drugs by adolescence, and this can be due to a number of reasons:

  • Wanting to try new experiences
  • An attempt at dealing with problems or to get a “boost” in school
  • Peer pressure
  • And more

Violence, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, and positive associations with drugs at home can greatly increase an adolescent’s chances of abusing drugs – but some adolescents naturally have less impulse control, and their personality traits can give them a need for “excitement” – which can also pave the way towards addiction. Male adolescents are often don’t get enough attention when it comes to substance abuse, because of the common theory that “boys will be boys” or the assumption that substance use will simply be a phase in their life. If not addressed early, male adolescent substance abuse can transform to lifelong addiction – and if this is something your concerned about for your teen, it’s time to seek help.

Signs Your Pre-Teen Is Abusing Drugs

First and foremost, you’ll be able to tell if your teen is abusing substance by the way they interact with you, as well as their general behavior and how they’re related to their peers and schoolwork. Your pre-teen may suddenly change their peer group – and if you keep a close eye on their friends, you may easily be able to tell if they’ve started spending time with friends who are also using. Since the adolescent brain is still developing, drugs can have a significant impact on the way your pre-teen behaves. Watch out for these signs:

  • No longer caring about appearance
  • Difficulty performing well in school
  • Missing class or skipping school altogether
  • Lack of interest in activities they were once interested in
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Damaging relationships with family members and friends

One man, now an adult, shared his story of struggling with marijuana abuse as an adolescent through Prevent Teen Drug Abuse. Here is an excerpt from his story:

“My first real hit of marijuana at age 12 sparked a slow death…I continued to smoke and soon became a shell of a person, paranoid and emaciated after an eating disorder that just popped up out of nowhere.”

He noted that all while he was struggling with this addiction, he received little to no help – because smoking marijuana was concerned such a “norm” that nobody perceived him to be going through any trouble.

How Can We Help Our Adolescents?

Previous studies have explored the many approaches we can take towards helping male adolescents recover from addiction. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that readiness to change can have a significant impact for adolescents to get the most out of treatment – but how can we help them feel “ready”?

There are many elements to treatment that can help our adolescents feel ready for healing and restoration in recovery:

12-Step Programs

Adolescents continue to face physical, mental and spiritual issues that hold them back from living a life that’s most meaningful to them. As a 2018 study published in the journal Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment denoted that 12-Step programs can not only help adolescents become more engaged in treatment but can also lead to greater abstinence over time.

Service Work

Many adolescents feel they’re either invincible, or that they’re all alone in their problems. Service work is a clear reminder that they’re human – and that in being part of the human race, they have something special to offer others. In 2016, researchers published a study in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly which found that higher service to others was related to reduced recidivism, reduced relapse, and greater character development.

Exploration and Activities

Despite struggling with substance abuse, adolescents respond to fun, encouraging activities that get them fully emerged in the present moment. Horseback riding, ropes courses, rock climbing, canoeing and so much more can give adolescents the boost they need to build a sense of community, push past their barriers and learn more about themselves – all at the same time.

School Support

Qualified special education teachers can provide adolescents with the support they need to get through school while pursuing treatment. If you have a teen who needs help, they can recover without sacrificing one of the most important milestones of their life.

Cumberland Heights: Adolescent Extended Care

If your teen is ready to tackle their addiction, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. Our Adolescent Extended Care program provides everything your adolescent needs and more.

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.

Rebuild relationships that are broken from addictionJohn Lavitt, a writer for The Fix, explained in 2016 his personal testimony and lessons learned in recovery regarding the rebuilding of relationships in recovery. He explained that it’s overwhelming – and for many, it is – because a person becomes more aware of their actions and how they’ve affected others. Here is an excerpt from his story:

“I soon realized, however, that rebuilding family relationships was not just about cleaning up the mess. No matter how much I wanted to do so, I could not repair those bridges on my own timeline. Rather, I needed to provide them with evidence that I had changed by learning to be a positive and productive member of my family.”

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences found that for most people in recovery, all they want is family support; they want their family’s love and acceptance while they make improvements to their lives for both themselves and their loved ones. While this sounds ideal, what happens if that’s not the case? What if some family members no longer want to be supportive, or want to cut ties altogether?

For those in recovery, this can be devastating. A person in recovery needs as much support as they can get – but as the personal testimony mentioned above emphasizes, we cannot control the timeline of our loved one’s healing process. Of course, there are some steps that we can take to show our loved ones that we’re serious about making amends, such as:

  • Writing them a letter or apologizing to them in person and admitting our wrongs
  • Being patient when family members are unwilling to move forward with certain aspects of daily living because they need to develop more trust first
  • Listening to what family members have to say, without becoming defensive or feeling a need to explain
  • Allowing family members to undergo their own therapy if they need it, rather than receive guidance from us
  • Accept the reality that some relationships simply cannot be repaired
  • Believe in the process of time, healing and recovery

In the end, you can only do so much. 12-Step programs emphasize several steps towards making amends with others – but even someone isn’t ready to reconnect, we must let it be.

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.

Safe start program focusing on the opioid crisis at Cumberland HeightsThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that in 2017, more than 47,000 Americans lost their lives to opioid overdose. The tragedy of this nationwide occurrence has left so many broken families and communities in a state of disorder, as government agencies, healthcare professionals and organizations alike have been working diligently to combat the horrific outcomes that have resulted from the opioid crisis. Safe Start is an evidence-based program of Cumberland Heights that provides those struggling with moderate to severe opioid addiction with medication assisted treatment (MAT).

The MAT program utilizes Naltrexone, which is an opiate antagonist that works in the brain to prevent opiate effects such as euphoria, pain relief, etc. The generic form of the brand name Vivitrol, Naltrexone can help reduce someone’s desire to use opioids, but of course, this medication alone isn’t as effective as it would be combined with other forms of treatment. Dr. Chapman Sledge, Chief Medical Officer at Cumberland Heights, stated,

“The basis of a strong spiritual foundation in the recovery process is essential. Medication is only part of the solution.”

The Safe Start program at Cumberland Heights starts with an evaluation to determine if a potential client is a good fit; after that, and once Naltrexone has been assessed as a good fit for the individual, they will detox in a safe residential setting with 7-10 days to allow their opioid receptors to clear before starting the MAT. With this Safe Start program, a person will have everything they need to start restoring their mind, body and spirit. Intensive support is provided, and with 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), individuals are likely to be well on their way to safely transitioning from a life of active addiction – to one of recovery.

Once a person has transitioned out of residential treatment, Cumberland Heights will assist the individual in creating a plan in which they’ll receive the Naltrexone shot every 28 days. If a person’s recovery is going strong after a year, a person may they choose to discontinue the medication. If this is something you or a loved one may be interested in, please speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

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.

is there hope for our communities from addiction and recovery?With such high rates of substance abuse in our nation, it’s safe to say that community members and healthcare professionals alike have been concerned about how we’re going to address such a rampant issue. News and media outlets tend to portray mostly negative stories, which may only lead us to feeling more hopeless about those around us seeking the help they need. If this is where you currently find yourself, know that you’re not alone – but there are steps being taken to help people, and there are so many people who care. Amidst the chaos of addiction, we can remain calm and resilient – and by staying positive, we can help guide those around us to change their lives for the better.

The Surgeon General has provided several notes of hope for those who are skeptical on the progress we’ve made so far in addiction recovery:

  • Policies and programs have been developed to help prevent drug and alcohol misuse
  • As more research has been conducted, we’re becoming even more aware of addiction effects, treatment outcome and strategies to better help those who need it
  • Evidence-based treatments do restore people’s health and wellbeing
  • 12-Step programs are evidenced to help individuals find structure and support during turbulent times
  • Health care reform efforts are ensuring that healthcare providers are more integrative in their care
  • More support is even being offered in prisons to incarcerated individuals who need support in recovery

A 2016 study published in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly emphasized that community engagement is vital to recovery success; in our communities, we’re becoming more diligent in our efforts to educate everyone on the dangers of addiction, the effects to the mind, body and spirit, and of the many resources available for support. There is still hope in our communities – and by holding onto that hope, we can overcome one of the biggest battles our nation has faced: addiction.

If you’re ready to seek help today, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights to learn more about treatment and how we can personalize your own recovery plan. Recovery starts one step at a time – but one by one, we can make a difference in healing the lives of others.

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.

“Minds are like flowers. They only open when the time is right.” This quote by Stephen Richards resonates not only with people in recovery, but anyone who has been through a journey of growth. Just like the earth and atmosphere go through seasons of change, so do our minds and our spirits.

Whether you found sobriety in winter, fall, summer or spring you felt a new season within yourself. Maybe it was November on the calendar when you got clean, but spring in your soul.There are many parallels between springtime and recovery. Think about the transformation you made when you got sober. You, like spring, experienced blossoming, renewal and probably began to physically look a little brighter too.

Recovery Blogger “Magz” wrote this about springtime being an inspiration for recovery: “I love the significance of spring combined with Easter as the time of rebirth and renewal. When I see the little flower buds opening up on the trees and I think about the significance of Easter, I think about the huge transformation that sobriety has made in my life. In a sense when I quit drinking I died, and then I was reborn again in recovery. My life is nothing like what it was when I was drinking, and I am often overwhelmed by this truly unbelievable transformation.”

But the outside didn’t always look this way did it? Before there were birds chirping, flowers blooming and streams flowing there was lot of dormant grass, frozen creeks and not a flower in sight. In the dead of winter, it’s hard to picture life and vibrancy again, just like when we are in the throes of addiction. But as Mother Nature proves over and over again, no matter how cold, dark and lifeless it may seem, rebirth is on the horizon.

Family having a therapy discussion to heal during recoveryFamilies experience a great deal of turmoil when a loved one struggles with addiction, leaving many family members feeling as though there’s nowhere to turn. When primary caregivers – such as parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles – are the ones fighting addiction, the entire family structure can become severely debilitated. New roles must be taken on from other members in the family, oftentimes with children picking up additional responsibilities in effort to keep the family system strong. If your family is currently trying to find peace and balance during a time when a loved one is seeking treatment, family therapy is one of the most beneficial treatments to get involved in.

What is Family Therapy?

According to the European Family Therapist Association (EFTA), family therapy is,

“…A well established and evidenced based approach…[that] addresses the problems people present within the context of their relationships with significant persons in their lives and their social networks.”

Dr. Anthony Siracusa, a psychologist in Massachusetts and a spokesperson for the American Psychological Association (APA), told Very Well Mind that family therapy acknowledges the fact that there are a number of people experiencing an issue – and thus everyone should come together to support those who are having problems. With substance abuse specifically, family therapy can help family members to address a number of concerns:

  • Helping family members understand how addiction has impacted the family as a whole
  • Recognizing the shifts that have taken place as a result of substance abuse occurring
  • Acknowledging pain, heartache, sadness, anger, despair and hopelessness that family members may feel as they attempt to reconcile with their loved one, or at least come to terms with what has happened in light of addiction
  • Exploring communication patterns that are currently taking place within the family, and helping family members to identify whether or not these patterns are promoting or hindering the success of the family
  • Discovering new perspectives from family members that may otherwise be difficult to talk about
  • Gaining knowledge on what addiction is and how it’s affected a loved one, so that family members can have a better understanding of the disease
  • And so much more

There are unhealthy behaviors that family members may also struggle with, which can be addressed in family therapy. They are:


When codependency is present, it is often the result of a dysfunctional family system. Codependent behaviors are essentially learned – through thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that become wrapped up in a loved one’s problems. Signs of codependency include worrying constantly about a loved one’s drug use as well as their consequences, living in denial about a loved one’s addiction, reacting violently to events related to a loved one’s addiction and more. Family members who struggle with codependency may even neglect their own mental, physical and spiritual health because they’re self-esteem has become low from tending to their loved one’s needs so often. For these family members, mood is often based on their loved one’s mood – and because of this unhealthy pattern, anger can manifest deep down, going unexpressed.


Family members who enable their loved one with addiction tend to remove the consequences of their actions out of love or fear – and because of this, their loved one is much better able to keep using. Signs of this may be using substances with a loved one to try and keep them “even keeled” or even suppressing thoughts or feelings in order to avoid conflict with a loved one. If reasons are given for why a loved one “needed to abuse substances”, family members who enable will accept those reasons – and will work to protect their loved one by minimizing the consequences of their addiction.

Altogether, codependency and enabling behaviors can only perpetuate the addictive actions taken by the loved one. Family members often don’t recognize they’re doing this – and that’s when family therapy can shed some light.

Healing in Recovery

There are 4 elements that are part of family therapy which help everyone move forward:

  1. Family engagement – at the beginning stages of family therapy, a therapist will help guide family members to open up with one another as well as see one another’s point of view.
  2. Relational reframing – with this element, therapists help family members to notice not just the quick, critical judgments that family members have of one another – but also by focusing on the relationship aspect that everyone truly cares about.
  3. Family behavior change – new skills are taught so that family members can begin changing their behaviors to those that are more conducive for family healing.
  4. Family restructuring – individual family members are encouraged to gain perspective on this new dynamic their family has, so that the family can work together to heal.

Cumberland Heights in Murfreesboro Tennessee is a 12-step based outpatient alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals age 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

a couple whose intimate relationship is impacted by alcoholism.One individual shared their story via DrugFreeWorld.org about their experience with alcoholism and how it affected their social relationships. Jamie stated,

This past year I have gone to work drunk, blacked out in clubs and bars and can’t remember getting home…I have destroyed two relationships because I hurt them so much through my drinking, but I put drinking first.”

As the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states, alcoholism can bring about a number of issues within relationship-contexts:

  • Violence
  • Marital conflict
  • Infidelity
  • Jealousy
  • Economic insecurity
  • Divorce
  • Fetal alcohol effect

Previous studies have shown that intimate relationships can experience vicious cycles of fighting and arguing, especially if one spouse is lying to the other or if one spouse isn’t happy with the others’ alcohol abuse. These relationships aren’t the only ones affected, however; children, relatives, coworkers, friends and more can all be strained when alcoholism is involved.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that after assessing 181 couples where one had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), relationship satisfaction was shown to decline longitudinally. Another study assessed some of the relational issues that couples face when alcoholism is involved, and these were the five main themes discovered:

  • Emotional distancing
  • Increased conflict/arguments between partners
  • Regret/remorse for actions while intoxicated
  • Partners reaching out to friends/family members for support around partner’s problematic drinking, and
  • Unbalanced support or care between partners in the relationship

Even when a partner enters recovery, it’s difficult for many couples to get back on track with their relationship between so much damage has been done. In these instances, couples therapy is needed. A licensed therapist can work with couples to help them understand the nature of addiction and how it has impacted their relationship, which often serves as the basis for recovery groundwork. From then on, tools can be developed to help partners better understand and work with one another.

If you or a loved one have been struggling with alcoholism, it’s time to seek help. Don’t wait any longer to restore your mind, body and spirit.

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.

Outpatient treatment in recoveryWhen we are involved in outpatient treatment, we’re able to pursue our addiction recovery in an intensive way – while still being able to return home to our families and carry out other responsibilities of daily life. A 2015 study published in the journal Psychiatric Services further evidence the success of these programs by assessing previous research conducted between 1995 and 2012; they found that overall, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are extremely successful in aiding alcohol and drug use disorders. Of course, we have to be on the right track in our recovery for outpatient treatment to be a good fit; having a supportive home environment, a drive for success in recovery, appropriate transportation measures and not needing detoxification are a few qualities of those in IOPs. Once you’re in, however, there are many benefits you can gain.

A 2017 study conducted by researchers from Portugal assessed 254 individuals in IOPs for addiction recovery. They randomly placed participants in separate groups: individual psychological counseling, individual psychiatric counseling, both psychological and psychiatric counseling, or the attendance of both individual forms of counseling along with group sessions. Ultimately, the study proved what many treatment centers are just now catching up to: the importance of integration in addiction recovery care.

  • Individual psychological counseling
  • Individual psychiatric counseling (the implementation of medication for specific needs)
  • Both types of individual counseling
  • Group therapy sessions

Implementing all of these approaches to treatment can make a huge difference for someone in recovery – because we all have different needs, thought processes, learning styles and personalities, and the various implementations can help fill in gaps that other approaches to treatment can’t. In the book, Integrative Addiction and Recovery, the authors highlighted the various treatment modalities that have expanded over time. Some of these include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), neurofeedback therapy, 12-Step programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous), contingency management, exercise, acupuncture, meditation and more.

If you’re ready to take on a holistic, integrative approach to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights. You’re not alone.

Cumberland Heights in Murfreesboro Tennessee is a 12-step based outpatient alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals age 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

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