Houstonian Brené Brown Helps The Council on Recovery to Raise More Than $932,000

Brené Brown Luncheon

Houstonian and New York Times bestseller Brené Brown inspired a crowd of more than 1,500 Houstonians at The Council on Recovery’s 40th Annual Spring Luncheon on Friday, April 19, 2024. Co-chaired by Diane Erbstoesser, Pasha & George Joseph, and Neeraj Parasher, the event raised more than $932,000 to help individuals and families impacted by substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions.

Board of Trustees member Jerri Duddlesten Moore welcomed guests and highlighted the Speaker Series’ legacy of education and awareness. Executive Pastor Matt Russell from Chapelwood United Methodist Church provided the invocation. 

The Council’s President and CEO, Mary H. Beck, LMSW, CAI, emphasized that recovery is at the heart of the organization’s mission. She highlighted the organization’s expansion of services and capacity over the past two years, which aimed to reduce stigma and enhance campus events. “Today is a living, breathing testament to this mission,” emphasizing the luncheon’s impact in fighting addiction stigma and fostering recovery paths. Beck also stressed the ongoing commitment to this mission beyond the event, stating, “Our mission lives on beyond these walls,” as she outlined initiatives to expand treatment, develop future leaders, and enhance community partnerships. Beck affirmed their continuous effort to transform lives, underscoring, “We continue to approach our work with intent and passion.”

Luncheon Co-Chairs Pasha & George Joseph, and Neeraj Parasher followed with moving testimonials on how addiction has impacted their own lives.

George Joseph highlighted the transformative impact of addiction recovery, sharing his own experiences and the pivotal role of community support. He emphasized the significance of recovery efforts, stating, “One person’s recovery can affect hundreds and prevent generations of dysfunction.” 

Joseph praised Houston’s extensive recovery resources, noting its position as home to the largest Council in Recovery. He celebrated the community’s role in reducing stigma and educating others about addiction, underscoring the importance of events like the luncheon in spreading awareness and support.

Neeraj Parasher shared his transformative journey from addiction to recovery, emphasizing the profound role of hope in his life. He recounted the despair of waking up alone on Christmas Day 2018, a pivotal moment that led him to seek help. “I’m just thankful to be alive and free,” Neeraj expressed, grateful for the support from his sponsor and the Alcoholics Anonymous community that heard his “screams for help.” 

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He credits his wife, Morgan, with providing constant support and a reason to maintain his sobriety. Neeraj also highlighted his rewarding involvement with The Council’s Cradles program, where he plays Santa at their Annual Holiday Party, describing it as the most wonderful part of his year. Through his experiences, Neeraj has redefined what it means to live a consequential life, aiming to be a reliable presence for others struggling with addiction.

Board of Trustees Chair Amanda Polich reflected on the Council’s commitment to making treatment accessible, noting, “We made a promise never to turn away a family in need of treatment.” To fulfill this promise, the luncheons have raised over $22.2 million. Despite the growth in treatment options and innovations, the cost remains a significant barrier. 

To address this, Polich announced the launch of The Council’s Treatment Fund, seeded by a $150,000 donation from an anonymous donor. She urged attendees to contribute, using the donation methods provided at their tables, ensuring that all funds raised would directly support families in need of treatment.

Keynote Speaker Brené Brown then took the stage in an entertaining, thoughtful, and inspiring speech. Brené Brown shared poignant reflections on the importance of sobriety in her life, stating, “Every meaningful and important thing in my life, I owe to my sobriety.” She emphasized the transformative role of connection in overcoming addiction, remarking, “In the absence of connection, there is always suffering.” 

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Brown highlighted the contrast between addiction’s isolation and the community’s power, expressing gratitude for organizations like The Council that champion support for those unable to afford treatment. She noted, “I’m so grateful for The Council and their commitment to doing work on the hardest edges of love.” 

Brown’s message underscored the necessity of community and mutual support in recovery, concluding with a powerful reminder: “We don’t have to do it alone. We were never meant to.”

The Transformative Power of Telehealth Services in Addiction Recovery

Telehealth services are the use of technology to provide healthcare services remotely. Instead of traditional in-person visits, patients and healthcare professionals connect through various digital channels to exchange information, receive medical advice, and even conduct virtual consultations. Telehealth encompasses a broad range of services and technologies, including video calls, phone consultations, remote monitoring, and digital communication through secure messaging platforms.

The Path to Recovery

Addiction is a complex and challenging condition that affects individuals physically, psychologically, and socially. It is characterized by a compulsive need for a substance or behavior despite negative consequences. While the journey to recovery might seem daunting, it’s essential to recognize that addiction is a treatable condition, and with the right support, individuals can regain control of their lives.

The Nature of Addiction

Addiction is often described as a chronic, relapsing disorder that alters the brain’s structure and function. It can manifest in various forms, including substance addiction (e.g., drugs and alcohol) and behavioral addictions (e.g., gambling, gaming). The common thread is the compulsive engagement in the substance or behavior despite knowing the harm it causes.

Genetics plays a significant role in addiction susceptibility. Individuals with a family history of addiction might be more predisposed to developing addictive behaviors due to genetic factors influencing brain chemistry.

Substance use can lead to changes in the brain’s reward system. Repeated exposure to certain substances triggers the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, creating a reinforcing loop that associates substance use with pleasure.

Addiction can arise as a result of underlying mental health conditions such as stress, trauma, anxiety, or despair. Although substance abuse might be used as a coping strategy at first, it can eventually make mental health issues worse.

Social and environmental factors, including peer pressure, family dynamics, and exposure to trauma or chronic stress, can contribute to the risk of addiction.

The Path to Recovery

The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem and accepting the need for change. This self-awareness lays the foundation for the transformation of the journey ahead.

Seeking professional help is vital for a structured and effective recovery. Treatment options might include medical detoxification, therapy, counseling, and medication-assisted treatment, depending on the substances involved.

Building a strong support network is integral to recovery. This might include your family, friends, support groups, and mental health professionals. Connecting with others who have faced similar challenges fosters understanding, empathy, and shared coping strategies.

Learning healthy coping mechanisms is essential for maintaining recovery. This might involve acquiring new skills to manage stress, handle triggers, and navigate life challenges without resorting to substances or addictive behaviors.

Embracing a holistic approach to recovery often involves making positive lifestyle changes. This includes adopting a healthy diet, incorporating regular exercise, prioritizing sleep, and engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

Recovery is a neverending process that requires commitment and vigilance. Long-term success involves developing resilience, addressing underlying issues, and remaining connected to supportive networks.

The Benefits of Telehealth Services

Breaking Down Barriers to Access

One of the most significant advantages of telehealth services in addiction and recovery is the removal of geographical and logistical barriers. Traditionally, individuals facing addiction may have struggled to access quality treatment due to the limited availability of specialized facilities or the challenges of traveling long distances. Telehealth breaks down these barriers, enabling individuals to connect with healthcare professionals, counselors, and support groups from the comfort of their own homes.

Accessibility Anytime, Anywhere

Telehealth services provide unparalleled convenience by offering support and treatment at any time, from anywhere. This accessibility is particularly crucial in the context of addiction, where crises can occur unpredictably. Through virtual platforms, individuals can reach out for help when they need it most, reducing the risk of relapse or escalating crises.

Personalized Treatment Plans

The beauty of telehealth lies in its ability to facilitate personalized and tailored treatment plans. Addiction is a complex and multifaceted challenge, requiring individualized approaches for successful recovery. Telehealth services allow healthcare professionals to conduct comprehensive assessments, engage in one-on-one therapy sessions, and monitor progress remotely. This personalized care ensures that individuals receive the specific support they need to overcome their unique challenges.

Enhancing Privacy and Reducing Stigma

For many individuals grappling with addiction, the fear of judgment and social stigma can be significant barriers to seeking help. Telehealth services provide a level of privacy that might be difficult to achieve in traditional in-person settings. The ability to participate in therapy sessions or support group meetings from the privacy of one’s home reduces the perceived stigma associated with seeking treatment and encourages more people to take the courageous step toward recovery.

Family and Community Involvement

Addiction often affects not only the individual struggling but also their families and communities. Telehealth services offer a platform for involving loved ones in the recovery process. Family therapy sessions, educational resources, and support group meetings can be conducted virtually, allowing for the active participation of those closest to the individual in need. This holistic approach fosters a supportive environment that is conducive to sustained recovery.

Challenges and Future Opportunities

While telehealth services for addiction and recovery have shown immense promise, challenges such as the digital divide and the need for secure and confidential platforms still exist. However, ongoing advancements in technology and increased awareness of the importance of mental health and addiction treatment are paving the way for a more comprehensive and accessible telehealth landscape.

Get Started With Telehealth Services

Telehealth services have emerged as a beacon of hope in the realm of addiction and recovery, offering a lifeline to those in need. By breaking down barriers, providing accessibility, and fostering personalized care, telehealth is transforming the way we approach addiction treatment. If addiction is something you’re struggling with, telehealth services can help you get the kind of support you need. Through these virtual platforms, individuals can find the support they need to embark on the journey toward healing, resilience, and lasting recovery. Contact The Council on Recovery to get the help you want and need. 

The Role of Therapeutic Counseling in Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a complex and challenging condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Whether it’s substance abuse, alcoholism, or behavioral addictions, the impact on one’s physical and mental health can be profound. In the journey towards recovery, therapeutic counseling emerges as a beacon of hope, offering individuals the guidance and support needed to break free from the chains of addiction. 

It’s important to understand that addiction is not a lack of willpower. It’s a multifaceted disorder that involves changes in the brain’s structure and function. Substance abuse or compulsive behaviors become ingrained, leading to a cycle that is difficult to break without proper intervention. Keep reading as we delve into the transformative role of therapeutic counseling in addiction treatment.

The Therapeutic Alliance

Therapeutic counseling establishes a unique and vital connection between the counselor and the individual seeking help. This therapeutic alliance is built on trust, empathy, and understanding. A skilled counselor creates a safe and non-judgmental space, encouraging open communication and fostering a sense of security for individuals to share their struggles.

Individualized Treatment Plans

No two individuals experience addiction in the same way. Therapeutic counseling recognizes the need for personalized treatment plans tailored to each person’s unique circumstances and needs. Through comprehensive assessments and collaborative discussions, counselors work with clients to identify underlying issues, triggers, and coping mechanisms, forming the basis of a targeted and effective treatment plan.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

One of the most widely used therapeutic approaches in addiction counseling is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with addiction. By addressing distorted thinking and promoting healthier coping mechanisms, cognitive behavioral therapy empowers individuals to break the cycle of addiction and develop sustainable recovery strategies.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is another powerful tool in the therapeutic counselor’s arsenal. This client-centered approach helps individuals explore and resolve ambivalence about change. By fostering intrinsic motivation, counselors guide clients toward embracing the need for change and taking ownership of their recovery journey.

Group Therapy

Therapeutic counseling often extends beyond one-on-one sessions to include group therapy. Group sessions provide a supportive community where individuals can share their experiences, learn from others, and develop a sense of belonging. This collective support helps break the isolation often experienced in addiction and reinforces the understanding that recovery is a shared journey.

Holistic Approaches

Effective therapeutic counseling for addiction goes beyond addressing the symptoms and delves into holistic well-being. Integrating mindfulness techniques, stress management, and wellness practices into the treatment plan contributes to a comprehensive approach that nurtures the mind and body.

The Council of Recovery is Your Beacon of Hope

Embarking on the path to recovery from addiction requires a holistic and supportive approach, and one organization that stands out in the realm of therapeutic counseling is The Council on Recovery. We are dedicated to guiding individuals toward a life free from the chains of addiction, and we play a pivotal role in offering transformative therapeutic counseling services.

Founded with a vision to provide compassionate and effective addiction recovery services, The Council on Recovery has been a beacon of hope for individuals and families grappling with the challenges of addiction. As Houston’s oldest and largest non-profit organization dealing with addiction, we have earned a reputation for our unwavering dedication to empowering individuals to live a lasting recovery through therapeutic counseling.

Comprehensive Assessment and Tailored Solutions

One of the hallmarks of The Council on Recovery’s therapeutic counseling approach is the commitment to individualized care. Recognizing that each person’s journey through addiction is unique, the organization conducts comprehensive assessments to identify the specific needs, triggers, and underlying issues that contribute to the cycle of addiction. This personalized approach lays the foundation for tailored and effective therapeutic interventions.

Expert Counselors and Evidence-Based Practices

The Council on Recovery prides itself on the caliber of its counselors, who bring expertise and compassion to their roles. These professionals utilize evidence-based practices, including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and other proven modalities. By staying ahead of the latest advancements in addiction treatment, we can ensure that therapeutic counseling services align with the best practices in the field.

Mind, Body, and Spirit

In line with the understanding that addiction affects every aspect of an individual’s life, The Council on Recovery adopts a holistic approach to therapeutic counseling. Beyond addressing the immediate symptoms of addiction, counselors incorporate mindfulness techniques, stress management strategies, and wellness practices to nurture the overall well-being of the individuals that we serve.

Group Support and Community Connection

Recognizing the power of community in the recovery journey, The Council on Recovery hosts community events throughout the months. We host a 12-step meeting for many recovery groups every week. We also host free yoga for the community. And the Sober Recreation Committee holds movie nights and a yearly comedy show in our theater. These community events provide a supportive environment and community where individuals can connect and share their experiences, learn from others, and build connections that extend beyond counseling. The sense of community reinforces the understanding that recovery is a shared journey.

Reach Out to The Council on Recovery for Therapeutic Counseling

Therapeutic counseling stands as a cornerstone in the path to addiction recovery. By fostering a supportive and collaborative environment, counselors empower individuals to comfort their challenges, unearth the roots of their addiction, and build the resilience needed for lasting recovery. As we continue to unravel the complexities of addiction, therapeutic counseling remains a guiding light, offering hope and healing to those on the journey toward a brighter, substance-free future.

The Council on Recovery’s commitment to excellence in therapeutic counseling for addiction sets it apart as a beacon of hope and healing. As we navigate the complexities of addiction, The Council on Recovery stands as a guiding force, illuminating the path toward a brighter and substance-free future for all those who seek its support. If you’re ready to walk the path of recovery, contact The Council on Recovery. We’d be happy to join you on your journey.

The Council Joins Forces with Teen and Family Services to Support Teens and Parents in the Face of Rising Overdose Deaths

The Council on Recovery is excited to welcome Teen and Family Services whose central office will now be housed at The Council’s campus on Jackson Hill Street in a strategic move that will multiply impact and conserve resources. The two recovery-focused nonprofits will maintain their distinct identities while sharing space and coordinating services for families with young people impacted by substance use.

The move comes amidst an alarming spike in drug overdoses, which is now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. Declining mental health is also a significant concern, with Texas Children’s Hospital reporting that the number of emergency room visits related to mental health crises has skyrocketed 800% since before the pandemic.


“Teens today face more challenges and pressures than ever before,” said George Youngblood, President & CEO of Teen and Family Services. “Together, Teen and Family Services and The Council on Recovery can support the entire family as they navigate a complicated world.”

Long-time allies, the two nonprofits hope that by strengthening their collaboration, they can improve the landscape of care in Houston. “Addiction is too big a problem to solve alone. This partnership helps make the road to recovery easier,” said Mary Beck, President & CEO of The Council. “With so many families in need, it is essential that we join together with like-minded organizations to extend our own impact and make the best use of limited resources.”

With nearly a century of combined experience, The Council on Recovery and Teen and Family Services will work together to leverage their unique strengths to more fully serve families with teens affected by addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. Services will include screening and assessment; education and parent coaching; individual, family, and group counseling; and recovery support services.

For more information on these services, or to make a referral, contact us through our website or call 713.914.0556.

A Conversation with Dan Cartwright, Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award

Since our founding in 1946, The Council has been able to continue and expand upon our mission because of the incredible individuals who have stepped up and supported us. For three decades, Daniel S. Cartwright has been one of those individuals. Dan began serving The Council as a volunteer shortly after starting his recovery journey, and throughout the years, he has become one of our most committed and generous leaders. He served on various Council boards for more than a decade, including serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, before joining our Honorary Lifetime Board in 2008.

Among his many contributions, Dan served on the steering committee for The Council’s Restoring Hope, Rebuilding Lives capital campaign, which raised $11 million for the construction of our beautiful campus. He received The Council’s Jay Waggoner Service Award in 2005 and is also a devoted supporter of our annual Holiday Party, which delivers gifts and seasonal cheer to families in a safe, sober environment. He is a steadfast supporter of our Speaker Series luncheons, and through his influence, has helped open the door to recovery for an untold number of lives.

For his unwavering support of The Council and Houston’s recovery community, Dan will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at The Council’s 2023 Fall Luncheon with Craig Ferguson. We sat down with Dan to talk about his recovery journey and relationship with The Council.

Dan Cartwright with Lauren Anderson at The Council's 2022 Fall Luncheon.
Dan Cartwright with keynote speaker Lauren Anderson at The Council’s 2022 Fall Luncheon.

Tell us how you first got involved with The Council.

After I first went through the steps, my sponsor suggested that I get involved on several different levels in recovery, and that I be of service to the community in some way. I asked around, and several people mentioned The Council. I went over there, sat and talked with the director, and I liked what they were doing.

What about our work initially drew you in?

The director shared their vision on how they wanted to grow The Council and reach not hundreds, but thousands of people. At that time, there weren’t a lot of organizations in the community doing what The Council was doing. I’m one of those people who likes challenges, so to be of service at a very grassroots level and to help expand The Council’s work resonated with me.

What do you think the biggest change in the landscape of addiction treatment has been since you’ve been involved with The Council?

There have been more and more opportunities for The Council to be of service, for instance, getting involved in the court system. And to have these other programs, like for ladies that are pregnant and want to get sober, I think is just an amazing development. Thirty years ago, there was no such thing. There’s also been a considerable reduction in the stigma associated with addiction. There is hardly a family that isn’t affected in one way or another by addiction, depression, and other disorders.

What message you would share with people who are actively affected by addiction currently?

I always ask people three questions: Do you think you have a drinking problem? Are you ready to do something about it? And if they say yes to that, I say, are you ready to do something about it right now? If so, let’s get you to a treatment center. Our best thinking got us here, so your thinking’s just not working anymore, and there is a better way.

Is there anything else you want to share with us about your time in recovery and with The Council?

The old saying is, “To keep it, you’ve got to give it away.” I’ve given it away through The Council and other recovery efforts, and I get back tenfold. It is a spiritual journey, and it’s hard to explain that. It makes people recoil sometimes when you talk about God, but it’s God of their making. It’s not necessarily a religious explanation. And if a person is defeated by alcohol, there is a better way.

Help us honor and celebrate Dan’s lifetime of service by reserving your spot at The Council’s 2023 Fall Luncheon with Craig Ferguson.

How we’re combatting the opioid overdose crisis

The Council is troubled by the alarming spike in drug overdoses, which is now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. After a number of recent losses close to home, we wanted to provide an update on our efforts to combat this crisis in our community.

What we know.

Since 2020, the highest number of opioid overdose deaths in Texas occurred in Harris County. The threat of fentanyl is worsening this crisis. Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and is often mixed with other substances and counterfeit pills. This means that when people use drugs without a prescription like Adderall and Xanax, they are at risk of fentanyl poisoning and overdose.  As few as two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal. The Center for Disease Control found that about 66 percent of opioid-related deaths in Texas involve synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

How we help.

  1. We provide integrated outpatient treatment for anyone impacted by any substance use disorder, including opioids. If we cannot help someone here, we work with individuals and families to identify and connect them with services that are right for their needs. Finally, we provide ongoing support for those further along in their recovery from opioid abuse.
  2. : We distribute Narcan, a life-saving medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. We have also trained more than 4,500 people in Narcan administration in homes and communities across Houston, including healthcare professionals, law enforcement, educators, public park officials, and more. Additionally, all clients receive overdose prevention education.
  3. In 2022,The Council and Prevention Resource Center – Region 6 (PRC 6) collaborated with Houston High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area on a billboard campaign to promote awareness of the dangers of fentanyl. This “One Pill Can Kill” campaign strategically placed eight billboards across the greater Houston area and garnered an estimated 14,000,000 impressions. The Council and PRC 6 also hosted the 2022 Houston Virtual Fentanyl Summit, as well as the Family Summit on the Overdose/Poisoning Epidemic, both of which attracted hundreds of attendees to address this public health emergency.

What’s next?

The Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 629, which requires all public and private schools to adopt and implement a policy regarding the maintenance, administration, and disposal of opioid antagonists such as Narcan at every campus. It also passed House Bill 3908, which requires each public school district to provide annual instruction on fentanyl abuse prevention to students in grades 6 through 12. The Council is Houston’s go-to resource for local schools to develop and implement these new policies and procedures around Narcan availability and administration, as well as substance abuse awareness and education.

We will continue to explore new ways to effectively address this crisis through our own programs and services as well as through innovative partnerships with organizations and institutions across the city and state. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, or may be at risk of opioid overdose, call us today at (713) 914-0556, or contact us online.