December 26, 2011

Decisions, Transitions, and Peace

If someone in my life could grow with confrontation and feedback, why would I choose to refrain?

So many reasons…..but those most important to the decision I have made to remove myself emotionally instead of continue to engage is simply for the protection of my own serenity and mental health.

The decision did not come easily and, on occasion, I can find myself emotionally in that toxic space again. I am thankful it is no longer daily. Some of the transitions I had to make in order to reach the decision of self-preservation were paradigm shifts in my thinking and beliefs. While difficult during engagement, they have proven to be the right decisions for the outcome I desired: Peace.

There are times I wish I had the ability to provide the feedback to the person because I see their life spiraling out of control and their circle of support diminishing. However, I must rely on the information and experience I have with these attempts. None in the past have worked. Many, including myself, have given them feedback and approached them in genuine concern and love only to be meet with aggression and resistance. On most occasions these attempts are then held against the concerned party and eventually vented back in rage and venomous attacks. While that belligerent behavior is one of the many things that cause people great concern, apparently, it will continue to work as the defense mechanism for this individual to stay sick and stuck. Who wants to be attacked when they go to a person in genuine worry and concern?

I do care about this person. I do not hold resentments. I have let go. My wish for them may never come true. I had hoped they would see their own faults and become responsible for them…and change and stay changed. But I understand my journey and theirs are not the same. I know how freeing it is to take responsibility, in word and deed, for my actions. Today that has to be enough.

Prayerful and Peaceful

December 11, 2011

Just Write Something

I have slacked in my writing lately. So I am following the simple directions of several fellow bloggers. Just write something.

It is the holiday season.....

In the past few weeks I have put up my Christmas tree then put it up again. The dear little thing fell over in the middle of the night. I lost a few ornaments. But this one remains intact. And it is a favorite.

This year I have attempted to bring a festive mood back to this time of the year for my son's sake. And I see that he is talking about his grandmother a lot more. This is our first year with Max, our dog. My Sonshine even bought him a stocking to hang on the mantel. I love his spirit of giving. He is a lot like his grandmother. That reminds me she will be with us always.

My commitment to myself (and you) is to write more often. Even if only a little.

Happy Holidays.

November 08, 2011

Fall in College

In the fall of 1992 I was a junior at The University of North Texas. I moved to Denton from San Antonio, where I was attending UTSA, the school I wanted to attend. Why did I move? A man.

He was a drug user and often abusive. In October of 1992 I decided to leave. My family drove to Denton and packed a Uhaul with my belongings and took me back to Central Texas. At the time I thought I might die from brokenness. Interestingly, that was probably when I began some of the most incredible growth of my life.

I had the guts to face demons, live without an unhealthy relationship and redefine what I wanted in my life.

Nearly twenty years later I am walking around the same campus, in a much different role. And I see things that look familiar but feel no feelings that look the same. I have so much gratitude for the person I have become in those twenty years. So grateful for making that decision. Because this is a month of Thanksgiving, I thought I would remind myself that even, or especially, during times of struggle I have grown.


October 18, 2011

September 27, 2011


About six and a half months ago I embarked on a new journey that led me to Austin, Texas. The first day I arrived I felt like a fish out of water. I recall going to the corporate apartment that evening and calling several people to let them know I didn't think I would make it. But, I did.

Now my work in Austin is almost over. And I have a new direction in DFW. But a piece of my heart is still there.

I have met some incredible people that will take me back to Central Texas. Some who have forever changed my life. I am a richer person because of the experience. I am a stronger person because of the experience.

I will remind myself time and again that the first day was easily overcome. As have been most of my struggles. And I turned out much happier for taking them on.

I will miss you. But I will be back.

September 19, 2011

Drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in U.S., data show

Fueling the surge are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous.

Lori Smith of Aliso Viejo with photographs of her son Nolan, who died of a drug overdose in January 2009, six months shy of his 16th birthday. A toxicology test turned up Zoloft, which had been prescribed for anxiety, and a host of other drugs that had not been prescribed, including two additional anti-anxiety drugs, as well as morphine and marijuana. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / September 18, 2011).

Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States, a Times analysis of government data has found.

Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety.

Public health experts have used the comparison to draw attention to the nation's growing prescription drug problem, which they characterize as an epidemic. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979.

Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxietydrugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Among the most commonly abused areOxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma. One relative newcomer to the scene is Fentanyl, a painkiller that comes in the form of patches and lollipops and is 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Such drugs now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

The most commonly abused prescription drug, hydrocodone, also is the most widely prescribed drug in America, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Better known as Vicodin, the pain reliever is prescribed more often than the top cholesterol drug and the top antibiotic.

"We have an insatiable appetite for this drug — insatiable," Joseph T. Rannazzisi, a top DEA administrator, told a group of pharmacists at a regulatory meeting in Sacramento.

In April, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced initiatives aimed at stanching prescription drug abuse. The plans include a series of drug take-back days, modeled after similar programs involving weapons, in which consumers are encouraged to turn leftover prescription drugs in to authorities.

Another initiative would develop voluntary courses to train physicians on how to safely prescribe pain drugs, a curriculum that is not widely taught in medical schools.

Initial attempts to reverse the trend in drug deaths — such as state-run prescription drug-monitoring programs aimed at thwarting "doctor-shopping" addicts — don't appear to be having much effect, experts say.

"What's really scary is we don't know a lot about how to reduce prescription deaths," said Amy S.B. Bohnert, a researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School who is studying ways to lower the risk of prescription drugs.

"It's a wonderful medical advancement that we can treat pain," Bohnert said. "But we haven't figured out the safety belt yet."

September 11, 2011

Where were you?

My son turned 8 months old on 9/11/2001. His dad had only been out of the military a few months. We’d just moved back from Germany. We built a new home in Rockwall County and been there only two months.

I went to work that day. With a long time friend and colleague I was taking my first group of students from the LCDC Training School (now called Institute of Chemical Dependency Studies) on a ROPES course. As we were driving down the road I received a phone call from my son’s dad. He told me what was happening.

I shared the information with everyone in the van. Everyone started making phone calls. I called a friend still working on the military base in Germany. Then I called a friend who lived in Brooklyn, New York, though that call would not go through.

I remember having a great deal of fear and so many questions. The students decided to continue on with the ROPES course that day, as there was little we could do from Dallas, Texas. After we finished we stopped in a store with a grill and got some food. We ate there while we watched the first television broadcasts we’d seen all day.

I felt fear about my son’s dad having just gotten out of the military. I was afraid they would call him back. He would have loved being able to go back but I was worried about our sweet little 8-month old boy being without him.

I felt distress about the world my son would be raised in. I knew in my heart America would never be the same after 9/11/2001.

In the days that followed I felt a great deal of pride in America and its people. Strangers were coming together because silently we all seemed to know it was necessary. I remember wondering, and even hearing on television, discussions about when the right time to go back to doing things we used to do would be.

I sensed we never really would go back to the way it once was. When Homeland Security was developed and everyday since I have never once been angry for being asked to remove my shoes or allow my bags to be examined at the airport. I do get frustrated when people are upset about this process. I have visited countries that do much more search in an airport and never even ask permission. I understood the mandatory change.

Life hasn’t been the same. It likely never will.

I value my freedom. I support our troops and I thank God everyday that I am a citizen of the best country on earth. I won’t ever forget that day. I wrote my son a letter that day hoping to capture what life was like before. One day maybe he will understand its significance.

God Bless America.

August 30, 2011

Big Nate

My Sonshine had an author visit his school this week....and the author mentioned him in his blog. He was so excited!!!!

August 13, 2011

Support Needed

I am writing you today to tell you about an upcoming event that I am participating in that is both very important and very exciting to me. NAMIWalks, the signature walkathon event of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is being held in Ft. Worth, TX at Fort Worth Botanic Garden on October 15, 2011.

I would like to ask you to come and walk with me or to donate to support my participation in this great event. Visit my personal walker page to sign up:

It features a link to my team's page where you can see who else is walking with me. There is also a link so you can donate directly to me online. Donating online is fast and secure, and I'll get immediate notification via e-mail of your donation.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the largest education, support and advocacy organization that serves the needs of all whose lives are touched by these illnesses. This includes persons with mental illness, their families, friends, employers, the law enforcement community and policy makers. The NAMI organization is composed of approximately 1100 local affiliates, 50 state offices and a national office.

The goals of the NAMIWalks program are: to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, to build awareness of the fact that the mental health system in this country needs to be improved, and to raise funds for NAMI so that they can continue their mission.

NAMI is a 501(c)3 charity and any donation you make to support my participation in this event is tax deductible. NAMI has been rated by Worth magazine as among the top 100 charities "most likely to save the world" and has been given an "A" rating by The American Institute of Philanthropy for efficient and effective use of charitable dollars.

Thank you in advance for your support.


Paula Heller Garland

Ice Cream Social in Austin Wednesday!

TR Logo
Dear Caroline,

Beat the Heat and come join us for the TEXAS RECOVERS! Ice Cream Social this Wednesday, August 17th from 2 - 3:30pm at Communities for Recovery in Austin, Texas.

Paula Heller-Garland, the Project Director for the BIG TEXAS RALLY FOR RECOVERY will be there to share the message and purpose of this important state-wide inaugural event in Texas.

Please invite your friends, family, business and community allies too! The purpose of this Ice Cream Social is to share with you the opportunities to get involved:

  • Share your ideas to support THE RALLY
  • Help us bring over 10,000 people to the State Capitol on Saturday, October 1, 2011 to RALLY FOR RECOVERY.
  • We need your voice to help bring awareness to ending the STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION often associated with people living in and seeking RECOVERY!!

Please RSVP by clicking here!!

Texas Recovers! is a non-profit organization working to change public perceptions about RECOVERY from substance use and co-occurring mental health conditions, increase accessibility to recovery supports, and highlight the power of recovery to change lives in a positive way.


Recovery Rocks Ribbon

Click below to get a "Recovery Rocks" Ribbon:

1 RIBBON FOR $5.00

3 RIBBONS FOR $10.00



July 17, 2011

The Best Kept Secret...

Do you remember when you first heard about AIDS? No one really knew enough about it to understand the difference between HIV and AIDS or realize that you can’t contract it through casual contact? There was little research, little education, little funding, and the thought of AIDS meant a death sentence. People made rude comments about the disease. Having the disease was the punch line to jokes. It was acceptable to associate AIDS to the homosexual community. In fact, it was even acceptable to assume one homosexual if they were diagnosed positive.

Do you recall the time in American history when cancer was something we didn’t talk about when someone was diagnosed? Or even, perhaps, a time when the use of racial slurs was completely accepted in the workplace and schools?

What is the reason that has changed? It appears to me to have changed through education and action. Communities of people impacted by the discrimination and stigma rose up and took a stand. They insisted it not be okay to speak with derogatory words. They decided that instead of living in stigma they would insist that the world be educated.

The American Medical Association made the decision to classify behavioral health diagnoses diseases and long before that groups of people were seeking refuge from what they knew had to be more than a choice. So, what is the reason are we still in hiding? Why do people who are in recovery or people educated to treat those with behavioral health diagnoses remain silent? What is causing us to allow the discrimination and stigma to go on?

I have heard some say it is in the traditions of some recovery programs to remain anonymous. The way I read those traditions say it is only inappropriate to mention the particular program. There is no literature saying a person in recovery cannot tell others they are in recovery. This may cause someone to question the reason they would put themselves at risk of being looked down upon for openly saying they are recovering. I assume people with HIV or AIDS, with cancer, with disabilities, or in minority groups, in the past might have felt the same way. What if they had decided to allow the discrimination to go on and not speak out against it through the truth?

Still recovery remains the best kept secret! People in recovery are looked upon as people still struggling to remain sober, clean or not impacted daily with their mental health issues. But, that isn’t the case. People in recovery are productive workers, well -educated, good parents, our neighbors, our friends, our classmates, our teachers, our therapists. What if we stood up together, as people in recovery, those who work in the behavioral health field, and those who love and support people in recovery instead of living in silence and allowing the discrimination to go on?

When is the last time you heard or used pejorative words to describe people in recovery? I daily hear on TV, radio, and in casual conversations people calling others “crazy”. Even people in recovery call themselves or others “drunks”. How will we move past the stigma if we don’t stop doing it ourselves? Recovery from chemical dependency doesn’t mean you are a “drunk” and addressing your mental health issues doesn’t mean you are “crazy”. If people in recovery and those who understand by supporting people in recovery aren’t the voices that rise up, who will?

I invite you to stand with me at The Big Texas Rally for Recovery in Austin Texas on the South Steps of the State Capitol on October 1, 2011 beginning at 4:00 PM to let people see how recovery from addiction and mental health issues really looks. Beginning at 4:00 PM Thomas, “Hollywood” Henderson will share his personal story of recovery. That will be followed by The Jimi Lee band, a local Austin favorite, led by a man in recovery. This will all be emceed and broadcast by Neil Scott, from Recovery Coast to Coast radio.

Will you help END THE STIGMA?

June 27, 2011

Decisions, Decisions....

While working this morning I tuned the TV into Joyce Meyer, a Christian minister. Apparently, I was supposed to hear that message. I generally don’t have the television on while working. Lo and behold! She began speaking about something a friend and I were talking about just this weekend. Decisions.

I had an epiphany this weekend. And realized I had actually been working up to it for several weeks. In the past I have made many decisions based on emotion. And that doesn’t bode well for me. Many decisions have been in order to keep from feeling pain. Unfortunately, in the long run I feel more pain; stay stuck; become resentful; and miss opportunities to grow.

It occurred to me over lunch in a conversation that in the past I would get angry with people who made decisions I found “heartless”. I recalled that I would often say to myself, “how can someone who says they care about you hurt you”? I realized that sometimes, even when you do care about someone, the best decision is to move forward….even if that means without them.

I am the only one who truly knows what is right for me. And I have people I turn to and trust who help me stay accountable for what that is. (I don’t go it alone in my big dark head)! Hmm…so even when it might hurt, I will likely better be served to make decisions based on fact. Leaving a relationship that no longer works, leaving a job (even a career) that no longer serves you, or moving to another city…..decisions we all face…..while they involve emotion, I have to ask myself, “who am I living for”?

Hopefully me and my God!

June 22, 2011

Checked Baggage

I was fifteen years old the first time I said to my mom, “I think I am going crazy”. That resulted in my beginning a self-introspective journey. Someone recommended a therapist that worked well with kids. I went.

I learned that I wasn’t “going crazy”. I was actually going through adolescence. I learned many valuable lessons by seeing that therapist. And a few thereafter. In addition to a few programs….you get the picture? I have spent more than half of my life in a process of healing.

I am ready to begin living.

In the course of becoming whole I was able to identify issues and areas that needed to be examined. A great deal of those problems sprung from low self-worth. I pinned it on being chubby and Chubby became a great excuse. Chubby and I became buddies – partners in crime. Not only was she a sympathetic companion but a place to lay blame.

I found many other “issues” to manifest and comfort myself as I moved through life. Chubby and I would fight, I would ex-communicate her for periods of time but invite her back and embrace her as we cried over a pan of brownies.

Today must be the first time I truly understand Chubby. I realize what I needed protection from and how rational it actually was that I developed my comrade. Today, as I live in the now, I recognize – not just in theory, that baggage has no place in my today.

As a clinician, I still hold fast to my favorite counseling theory, Cognitive Behavioral. I do believe our past shapes us (and very non-clinically, I interject) it will bite me in the butt IF I remain unconcious of it. Sure we all have issues! Don’t pretend I am the only one…..

I have recently discovered – nix the word discovered, I’ve known it in my head a long time! – I have recently begun to live at the height of awareness of the impact of my behavior today. When I’ve remained unconcious of my actions and simply said, “oh, there go my issues again” I have taken no responsibility. Sarcasm has been a favorite of my deeds. Easily, when hurt, I pop off something rather witty, but usually cutting and spiteful. Then say, “oh, I was just joking”! But the person I am aiming for is harmed nonetheless. I am responsible for that. You know the old saying: HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE!

In review of this ideology and the daily practice of concious behavior, I have discovered that others don’t deserve my baggage. Not even me.

Happy travels….no baggage to check!

June 20, 2011

TAAP State Conference

We hope you will plan to join us for the Thirty-Seventh Annual State TAAP Conference on Addiction Studies, "The Age of Recovery: Let the Sunshine In!" Pull out your bell bottoms and tie-dye and meet us in San Antonio for this unforgettable conference.

July 28-30, 2011

Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade


25.5 CEUs

Workshop Sessions on
Ethics, Clinical Supervision, HIV/STD,
Prevention and Criminal Justice, plus many more!

Age of Recovery Dance

Polly Parsons

Daughter of legendary 60s singer-songwriter Gram Parsons, formerly of the band The Byrds, shares her father's story ranging fromHarvard University student, featured artist at Woodstock, and one of Rolling Stones' Top 100 Influential Artists, to his addiction and untimely and tragic overdose at the age of 26.

Sponsored by Hickory Wind Ranch

Candy Finnigan, BRI II

Board Certified Interventionist and star of the award winning A&E show Intervention.

Sponsored by Origins Recovery, LLC

Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S

Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute - Los Angeles, an outpatient sexual addiction treatment center, and accomplished author of several books on sexual addiction.

Sponsored by Elements Behavioral Health

Keynote Panel: There is More Than One Way To Advocate

Paula Heller-Garland, Texas Recovers!, Mimi Martinez McKay, Chief of Staff, Legislative Liaison, Mental Health & Substance Abuse, TXDept. of State Health Services, Cynthia Humphrey, Association of Substance Abuse Programs, Joe Powell, Association of Persons Affected by Addiction

Sponsored by Summer Sky

First Annual Community Health Fair
-Designed especially for the regional clinician & vendors

-Ancillary support services for client referrals

-Holistic Medicine, yoga & massage therapy

-New Age Spirituality, acupuncture, 12 step alternatives

-Dozens of vendors, giveaways & demonstrations

-Food, music and networking

Visit for pricing and registration. Register by June 27thto receive early bird discount rates!


1005 Congress Ave., Ste. 460

Austin, TX 78701


Today I am filled with gratitude. Even though things didn't work out in my marriage, my son has an incredible father.

Focusing on what I have, instead of what I don't.


I received this via email and wanted to pass it along to those of you who pray!

Please say this prayer, keeping in mind that over 1 million acres of Texas has burned up taking hundreds of people’s homes and several lives in the last 2-3 weeks. So far, we have been blessed in some parts of Texas but it is dry as a bone here and would only take 1 spark to set it off. Please say this daily and believe that God will Bless Texas.

This prayer was written in the1950's during an awful drought in Texas. The prayer was written by Father W. Schneider of
St. Marys in Fredericksburg, who also ministered at St. Francis Church in Stonewall. It has gone all over the world.

A Prayer For Rain

Almighty God, we are in need of rain.
We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky above,
what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is.
To think that so much water can fall out of the sky,
which now is empty and clear!
We place our trust in You.
We are sure that You know our needs,
but You want us to ask You anyway,
to show You that we know we are dependent on You.
Look on our dry hills and fields, dear God, and
bless them with the living blessing of soft rain.
Then the land will rejoice and the rivers will sing
Your praises and the hearts of men will be glad.