Tag Archives: The 12 Steps

Tag Archives: The 12 Steps


From the earliest days of mankind, spirituality has served as a search for meaning and understanding. It helped our ancestors to explain natural disasters, motivate communities and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It shouldn’t be surprising that spirituality remains integral to our daily lives, especially for those in recovery – mindfulness, self-care and the acknowledgement of a higher power are all referenced in almost all popular approaches to addiction treatment. Today, we’ll explain the key differences between spirituality and religion, while providing some tips about how to integrate a spiritual approach into your recovery.

The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion

While these terms are often considered synonymous, key differences exist between spirituality and religion.

Religion, by definition, is an institutional system of religious attitudes, practices and beliefs that exists to explain the service and worship of a higher power, which may take the form of one (or more) gods. Most major world religions are based on the teachings and beliefs of historical or symbolic figures, such as Jesus Christ, Moses, Buddha or Muhammad. There isn’t much room to customize a religion – it often exists in a prescribed format, with concentration on rites, rituals, scriptures, observances and houses of worship.

Spirituality, in contrast, refers to the general experience of connecting to something more than yourself; it can involve seeking and exploring one’s meaning and purpose. It is more closely related to practical appreciation of spiritual teachings and personalized experience. This journey is inward in nature and focuses on awareness, rather than the performance of rituals or activities.

Characteristics of spirituality include :

  • A heightened state of awareness, perception or being
  • Informing, empowering and connecting an individual
  • A relationship with one’s self (and resources beyond the self)
  • Values and qualities of character
  • Changed, intentional lifestyle choices
  • Motivation and catalytic power to make a change

Why Spirituality Helps Us Recover

During active addiction, your purpose in life is commandeered by drugs and alcohol. Your day-to-day life becomes consumed by obtaining, using and recovering from your substances of choice. Simultaneously, friends, family, hobbies and career obligations fall by the wayside. All resources are redirected to drugs and alcohol.

Because of this, you have to begin searching for your purpose anew once you leave your life of substance use behind. Many people who leave treatment experience a disturbing revelation: “I’m sober. Now what?” Spirituality is a key tool for answering this question. It encourages introspection and personal development while also promoting an attitude of gratitude and curiosity. This active state of inward exploration is vital to the recovery process – without seeking to understand oneself and one’s motivations, lasting change is nearly impossible to achieve.

Taking a Spiritual Approach

Many individuals in recovery describe spirituality as a turning point in their journey: a perspective they uncovered after a near-death experience (such as an overdose), troubling diagnosis, traumatic event or incarceration. However, you do not have to have a major life event to begin experimenting with spirituality. We have compiled a few tips for integrating this mentality into your daily life.

  1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is at the root of spirituality. Develop an awareness of your inner self by sitting quietly and acknowledging the thoughts that arise. Avoid judging these thoughts or banishing them. Feel the ground beneath your feet and listen to the little noises around you. By slowing down and checking in with yourself, you’ll begin to build a regular spiritual practice.
  2. Walk in nature. Spending time in the great outdoors, particularly in the context of a state park or expansive forest, reminds us that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. Banish feelings of isolation and keep your problems in perspective by connecting with nature on a regular basis.
  3. Remember to be grateful. Gratitude is another fast-track to spiritual awareness. Keeping track of your blessings helps you to focus on the positives in life.
  4. Make a contribution. Helping others is a spiritual activity because it helps us to positively impact those in our community. Whether you’re reaching out to newcomers in at a meeting or organizing a volunteer day at your local food bank, dedicating your time to others is something that will boost your spiritual growth.

Spirituality in Recovery at Cumberland Heights

At Cumberland Heights, we understand that spirituality and recovery go hand-in-hand. Our spiritual care services are diverse and include sessions with our Spiritual Directors, experiencing the labyrinth and practicing mindfulness meditation. To learn more about our spiritual programming, contact our admissions staff at (866) 899-5231.

About This Course:

WHEN: Wednesday, February 26 & Thursday, February 27
TIME: 8:00AM – 5:00AM
WHERE: Cumberland Heights River Road Campus (8283 River Road Pike, Nashville)
COST: *Includes Breakfast and Lunch on All Training Days

$75 – December 25th – January 25th (Early Bird Registration)
$120 – January 26th – February 14th

Who Should Attend: Anyone interested in sharpening their DBT skills, you do NOT have to have previously attended the Part 1 training to take this course, however, if you are preparing to teach DBT in the future, you will need to attend the first part of the DBT training series.

This course is designed to introduce students to the skills training aspects of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). It includes introductions to the four categories of DBT Skills. Students are introduced to the strategies and styles of running a DBT Skills class.  They also participate in an actual DBT class, including completing homework, completing skills worksheets, etc. to provide an immersive and ‘hands-on’ experience. Throughout the course emphasis is placed on the importance of comprehensive, culturally-sensitive, individualized assessment and intervention.

 

16 CEUs awarded, NAADAC and NBCC approved.

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Course Outcomes

Students will:

  1. Refresh their knowledge of the foundations of DBT.
  2. Gain basic knowledge of DBT skills.
  3. Gain skills and stylistic strategies to conduct DBT Skills classes.
  4. Appreciate the experience of Skills class participants by participating in an actual DBT skills class.
  5. Understand how to individualize Skills for respective clients through observing role-plays/demonstrations and participating in ‘hands-on’ practice.
  6. Conduct basic behavioral analysis and suggest more effective behaviors
  7. Understand how to integrate Dialectics into DBT practice
  8. Know the four categories of DBT Skills and the skills therein.
  9. Participate in mindfulness activities.

Course Expectations

  1. Student Expectations: Students are expected to demonstrate professional behavior, which means: attending class; arriving to and leaving class at the scheduled time; informing the instructor when leaving class early (please do so minimally), turning cell phones to silent, vibrate, or off; not texting, emailing, tweeting, etc. in class; coming to class alone and without children, family, and friends who are not registered in the course; returning to class on-time after breaks; coming prepared to participate in class discussion; asking questions and/or giving feedback; limiting the use of laptop computers (with the exception of taking class notes) and other electronic devices; engaging in courteous communication with instructors and peers inside and outside of the classroom; and showing respect for others’ opinions. If your use of electronic devices is distracting to anyone in the classroom, including the instructor, you will be asked to turn off the device and/or leave the classroom. When communicating with instructors or peers, in person or electronically, please be aware that standards of professional behavior apply. Integral to higher education is the exchange of ideas, which may include new, controversial and/or diverse ideas, and sometimes we will not agree with the ideas we encounter in readings, discussions, or class presentations. However, under all circumstances, we will treat others with respect and act professionally. Students are responsible for their own learning and contributing to a larger learning community in the classroom. It is imperative that students be present in order to learn valuable skills for social work practice. If a student misses three (3) or more classes, he/she risks not passing the course.
  2. Instructor Expectations: Instructor is expected to demonstrate professional behavior, which means: attending class; arriving to and leaving class at the scheduled time; informing students of changes to the course syllabus; informing students of changes to the class schedule; providing students with classroom time to work on course assignments; providing clear expectations on course assignments; providing clear and concise feedback on course assignments; returning assignments to students in a timely manner, and replying promptly to e-mail. Integral to higher education is the exchange of ideas, which may include new, controversial and/or diverse ideas, and sometimes we will not agree with the ideas we encounter in readings, discussions, or class presentations. However, under all circumstances, we will treat others with respect and act professionally.
    1. Course Assignments: All students will be given a homework assignment which is due the second day of the training. No extension requests will be approved on assignments that are due within the next 48 hours.
    2. Incompletes: All participants are required to attend the entire 2-day course in order to receive full CE’s.
    3. Safety: As part of professional education, students will be engaging with the community. As such, this may present some risks. Sound choices and caution may lower risks inherent to the profession. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of and ensure personal safety. Students should notify the appropriate authority regarding any safety concerns.
    4. Confidentiality: Personal disclosure is not an expectation or requirement of this course. However, it may be appropriate for students to share information during class as it relates to learning about a particular topic. Students are expected to adhere to all professional standards of confidentiality during the semester.

At the end of the training, students will have the opportunity to evaluate the course and the instructor using the official University of Utah course and instructor evaluation. This course is based on the premise that much of our learning is from one another.  We each bring our experiences, knowledge, and analyses to realms of mutual learning and reflections.  Such learning requires the student to constructively participate.

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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 15 and 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.

The Original AA Manuscript written by Bill WAlumni Relations of Cumberland Heights invites you to participate in Back to Basics: Steps and Stories. This intensive 12 step workshop, much like the original step working format from the 1940’s, is open to all persons in recovery.

All materials will be provided for participants as well as box lunches.

Event Details:

WHAT: Back to Basics – Steps and Stories
WHEN: Saturday May 18th 9:00AM – 4:00PM
WHERE: River Road Main Campus – Ishee Chapel

All three of our guest facilitators, Wally Patton, Brit Schanks and Carver Brown,  are experts in Back to Basics and have taken hundreds of people through the 12 steps in group settings.
We will begin promptly at 9:00AM and end at 4:00PM, please make sure to arrive no later than 8:45AM to get your supplies and seats. During lunch there will be an assignment to process with your partner or small group. Please be prepared to stay for the duration of the workshop, each participant should begin and end the day with the group.

  • STEP 1 - Personal Information

    The RSVP cost for this event is $5.00 per person. Please provide your name, email, cell phone and number of tickets desired to secure your reservation.

  • STEP 2 - Credit Card and Billing Information

    We accept MasterCard VISA American Express & Discover

    There is a required $5.00 charge per ticket that is non-refundable and will go to the Cumberland Heights Foundation General Donations Fund. Please select the number of tickets needed and enter your credit card number, expiration month and year, CVN number and billing address to where your credit card statement is sent below.

  • Due to limited number of tickets available we can only allow up to 4 people per family/reservation.
  • Ticket price total: .00

12 Step Training – Experience, Strength & Hope (6-part series)This 2018 Summer and Fall, Cinde Stewart Freeman and Tammy Stone will be conducting 12 Step training for Cumberland Heights staff once a month for the next 6 months. All staff in attendance will receive continuing education credit (CEUs) for attending each of the training sessions.

WHAT: 12 Step Training – Experience, Strength & Hope (6-part series)
WHO: Cinde Stewart Freeman RN, LADAC QCS and Tammy Stone LPC-MHSP, LADAC
WHEN: Multiple Dates from 12:00-1:30PM (see below)
WHERE: Multiple Locations (see below)

2018 SUMMER / FALL SCHEDULE:

  • 1st Training: July 26th | 12:00-1:30PM in FLC Training Room – Experience, Strength, & Hope
  • 2nd Training: August 30th | 12:00-1:30PM in Founders Room – How Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous Came to Be
  • 3rd Training: September 27th | 12:00-1:30PM in Founders Room – The Structure of the 12 Step Program
  • 4th Training: October 25th | 12:00-1:30PM in Founders Room – TDB
  • 5th Training: November 29th | 12:00-1:30PM in FLC Training Room – TBD
  • 6th Training: December 13th | 12:00-1:30PM in Founders Room – TBD



The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

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.

Angela Moscheo Benson, M. Div. MA

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.


Stan Bumgarner M. Div. LADAC

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.

New Starts in Recovery

 

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.

Cumberland Heights Recovery Blog - 7 Ways to Avoid Stress During the Holidays

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!


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Volunteer.
    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.
  7. 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.

Volume 29 Number 46
December 4, 2017
Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, part of the foundation of AA
Many people mistakenly define the 12 Steps as a treatment approach, which therefore somehow serves to exclude other strategies in working with patients with addictions. In reality, the Steps are more of a philosophy that can serve as a foundation around nearly every accepted treatment modality, which is why a wide range of programs are able to integrate the Steps into their patients’ experiences in treatment every day. “The 12 Steps are more of a point of view, which means you can believe all that and still do straight ahead [cognitive behavioral therapy],” Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., section director for mental health policy at Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, told ADAW.

“People think of the 12 Steps as a rigid set of procedures. It’s not,” Humphreys said. He is quick to remind, in fact, that one of the adages in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is that “the 12 Steps are but suggestions.” The 28-day residential programs that were the most fervent in structuring each week of treatment around a progression through the Steps may be fading in today’s market, but the treatment field’s belief in the power of the Steps certainly has not diminished. Twelve-Step Facilitation is a research-based practice in which programs seek to help patients establish lasting connections with recovery support resources in the community. This effort is based on the realization that when addressing a chronic disease, the meaningful and ongoing connections that patients can establish post-treatment may prove more important than what happens in the time-limited context of a primary treatment stay.

Looking through the 12-Step lens

This establishes a repetitive pattern, it reminds patients of the small actions they will need to take in order to stay in recovery every day.
– Cinde Stewart Freeman discussing a New Design for Living for individuals in Recovery

ADAW spoke with Cinde Stewart Freeman, chief clinical officer at Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tennessee, who explained, “We use a variety of evidence-based practices that operate through the lens of a 12-Step-based philosophy.” Cumberland Heights patients’ exposure to the Steps is early and frequent, although Freeman says their very first experience with the Steps might actually occur unconsciously. A daily routine that includes morning meditation, periodic pauses to check in at intervals during the day, etc., is grounded in the Big Book’s Design for Daily Living. “This establishes a repetitive pattern,” Freeman said. “It reminds patients of the small actions they will need to take in order to stay in recovery every day.” In their orientation to treatment at Cumberland Heights, patients are introduced to the Steps, but not simply in terms of what the principles are. The practices that go with that, and the importance of the 12-Step fellowship, are emphasized from the start, Freeman said. Every patient who comes in receives a copy of either the AA Big Book or the basic text of Narcotics Anonymous, Freeman said. These are used in numerous ways over the course of treatment, which in many of the facility’s program lasts for around a month. The night staff in the residences are very familiar with the texts and will be able to use them in a practical fashion when everyday problems such as an uncomfortable phone conversation with a spouse or a spat with a roommate threaten to distract. “These things seem ginormous when someone is struggling with recovery, and they often make people want to leave [the facility],” Freeman said. Staff will be able to use specifics from the Big Book to show how these everyday concerns can be addressed. “In that way the books are treated not as literature, but as instruction manuals,” she said.

Meeting attendance

Attendance at 12-Step meetings also becomes an important component of a Cumberland Heights patient’s treatment stay. Freeman said an on-site AA meeting takes place at the facility every Friday, but the majority of the meetings patients attend while in treatment are located out in the community. “We try to get people to meetings at least three times a week,” Freeman said. “We want them to experience different meetings,” which will help familiarize them with the types of recovery support options that will be available to them posttreatment, she said.

Cumberland Heights patients routinely rank their experiences in community meetings favorably in patient satisfaction surveys. “They see what people are like out in real life,” Freeman said. “People there are talking about real problems. It lends a genuineness to things. It leaves patients thinking, ‘Maybe I can really do this.'” Ironically, some research has shown that patients who have the opportunity to attend in-facility support meetings have better outcomes, says John F. Kelly, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry in addiction medicine at Harvard Medical School. Both a program’s outreach into the community and its ability to provide resources in-house appear to have a significant impact, Kelly indicated. Kelly told ADAW that residential programs tend to be able to incorporate more components of the 12 Steps because they have more time with the patient. Outpatient programs still can have an impact by exposing
patients to the roles of 12-Step groups and sponsors. “Ideally you can have a warm handoff” to resources in the community, he said.

A good fit with therapy

Even for a program as steeped in the 12 Step philosophy as Cumberland Heights, “That’s not all we do,” Freeman said. She said her staff ‘People think of the Steps as a rigid set of procedures. It’s not.’ Keith Humphreys, Ph.D. colleagues probably have grown tired of hearing her say, “If all we do is what AA and NA did, we need to charge just a dollar.” Therefore, the organization has worked to understand how numerous treatment modalities can work through a 12 Step lens. Freeman said Cumberland Heights has worked with clinical experts at the Center for Dependency, Addiction & Rehabilitation (CeDAR) at the University of Colorado Hospital to incorporate a 12-Step-influenced model of dialectical behavior therapy. It also has tailored interventionist Judith Landau’s ARISE model to its 12 Step framework, helping patients to see the issues they are facing in a familial context. Around two-thirds of Cumberland Heights staff are in recovery, but the organization’s leaders want all employees to be literate in the Steps. The organization is establishing what leaders affectionately call a 12-Step “boot camp” for new employees, Freeman said. Humphreys believes that a 12 Step philosophy basically can fit with any research-supported treatment modality — with possibly one exception.

“We know there is a class of people who will wind up as moderate drinkers,” he said. “That doesn’t mesh with people’s understanding of the Steps.” Ironically, that is the case despite language in the Big Book that references some people ultimately being able to drink “like a gent,” or in moderation, he said.

Back to Basics – FREE Intensive 12 Step Workshop open to ALL in Recovery!

The Original AA Big Book Manuscript written by Bill W
One page of Chapter 5, “How it Works”, part of The Original AA Big Book Manuscript with edit notes. Very Cool.
Due to concerns regarding inclement weather of snow/ice on the weekend of January 12th & 13th, the Back to Basics has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 24th (same time from 9:30AM – 3:30PM). Please make sure to save this date on your calendar.


WHO: Open to all persons in recovery!
WHAT: An intensive 12 step workshop
WHEN: RESCHEDULE: Saturday, February 24, 2018 from 9:30AM – 3:30PM
WHERE: Cumberland Heights Main Campus in the Dr. John Ishee Auditorium

Also due to the AMAZING participation response we are at capacity for the Back to Basics course. The RSVP for this event is CLOSED. Sorry! We will start a waiting list in the event of any cancellations. If you are not able to attend, please let Jaime Gibbons know you won’t make it and free up a spot for someone else.

CANCELLATIONSWAITING LIST

Cumberland Heights will be hosting an intensive 12 step workshop, much like the original step working format from the 1940’s. This workshop is open to all persons in recovery. This includes all 12 Step fellowships.  Lunch will also be provided free of charge.

All materials will be provided for participants.

This workshop will be facilitated by Carver Brown, a Behavioral Health & Addiction Services’ Alumni Coordinator at Pine Grove. Mr. Brown is an experienced facilitator of the “Back to Basics” nationwide and we are very proud to welcome him here at Cumberland Heights. Please remember this workshop is open to everyone in recovery, including all varieties of 12 Step fellowships. We hope to have you sign up below and see you on January 13th!

We will begin promptly at 9:30AM, please make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to get your supplies and seats. Lunch provided will be free from the Kitchen and during lunch there will be an assignment to process with your partner or small group. Please be prepared to stay for the duration of the workshop, each participant should begin and end the day with the group.



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