Jeff Bagwell to Share His Recovery Story at 2020 Spring Luncheon

The Council on Recovery is excited to announce that Jeff Bagwell will be the keynote speaker at its Spring Luncheon, Friday, April 24, 2020, at the Hilton Americas Hotel. This is the 37th Annual Spring Luncheon of the Waggoners Foundation Speakers Series, which features notable actors, authors, athletes and more discussing their experiences with addiction and recovery, and is presented by the Wayne Duddlesten Foundation. Proceeds from the Luncheon will fund The Council’s programs that help individuals and families affected by alcoholism, drug abuse, other addictions, and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Bagwell is a former professional baseball first baseman and coach who spent his entire 15-year Major League Baseball career with the Houston Astros beginning in 1990. During his tenure, he was a core part of the Astros lineup along with Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman, with fans and media dubbing them the “Killer B’s.” He was awarded the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991, the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1994, and he was a four-time MLB All-Star. In 2017, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Says Mel Taylor, The Council’s President and CEO, “For decades, The Council’s Speaker Series has given us a powerful platform to share our story of hope for recovery. Jeff Bagwell is a Houston hero, and we are especially excited to have his support in carrying a message of hope to our neighbors who need to hear it. Most importantly of all, funds raised through the luncheon allow us to delivery urgently needed addiction treatment services to hard-working individuals and families who might not be able to afford it otherwise.”

The Waggoners Foundation Speaker Series was created in memory of June and Virgil Waggoner’s son Jay, who died of alcoholism at the young age of 36. Since its inception, the Speaker Series has raised over $16 million to help individuals and families overcome addiction.

The Council is now accepting corporate and organizational sponsorships and donations for the Spring Luncheon, as well as sales of individual tables at the event.  For more information or to purchase a table, contact us at specialevents@councilonrecovery.org or call 281.200.9336.

The Gift of Recovery

This guest post is written by David Sunday, outreach coordinator and veteran liaison for The Council on Recovery.

What is the gift of recovery? I think we can all agree that recovery is not just about learning to live a life free from drugs, alcohol or other compulsive behaviors. Sobriety is a byproduct of the gift. Recovery is about choosing a better way of life in which we no longer need to use these behaviors to cope. The gift that recovery gives us is that today we choose to feel everything. That’s where growth happens. We no longer choose the same coping mechanisms that the world has deemed useful. After a bad day, we no longer choose to go home to a glass of wine or a cold beer. Today we choose to learn and to grow from the adversity and pain, from the smiles and the tears.

Our greatest treasures lie on the other side of fear.

People in the recovery community choose to go there and they choose to do it together in fellowship. Recovery is absolutely about joy but it’s also about struggle and trust- trusting that our lives will be a blessing to someone else if we are brave enough to share it with them. “We can’t keep it if we don’t give it away” is our mantra. This is the gift of our recovery and what we have to teach the world. To somewhat quote recovery advocate, Bill White, in the process of burning ourselves to ashes we have emerged as people who love and appreciate life. We recognize it as our greatest treasure and view it in a new way- as survivors of a disease that almost defeated us!

Because we have been to the darkness and we are now warriors of the light. The gift of recovery is our presence in the world, in our families and in the lives of each other. We have become the change! Is there any gift more powerful or more redeeming? What each and every one of us boast about in our new lives is that we want to give what we have to you so that we may live!

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety… The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 64

Guest blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 64 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In the 1999 movie, The Matrix, a group of rebels are fighting a desperate war against a machine that has enslaved humanity in a sophisticated virtual reality system.  Laurence Fishburne is Morpheus, the leader of the rebels, and he has recruited Neo, played by Keanu Reeves and Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss as his archetypal warriors.  The operatives of The Matrix have been unbeatable, led by Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, such that most rebel warriors have little chance in head-to-head battles with the machine.

But Neo and Trinity have developed and honed their skills. A series of confrontations toward the end of the movie have Neo and Trinity performing incredible athletic feats to avoiding being hit by a barrage of bullets and simultaneously firing back in explosive bursts.  In one scene, Neo contorts his body to impossible extremes as the bullets fly by in slow motion.

A friend of mine, in a meeting one day, commented on this scene as reminiscent, to him, of how, in our continuing growth in recovery, we learn such adroitness, we develop evasive moves to avoid letting the pitfalls of life destroy us as they once had.  What a spectacular vision it created for me.  How often in our diseased states and even in early sobriety did we let everyday mishaps and normal challenges penetrate our fragile exterior and drive us to difficult ends.

Some of us, like me, may have reacted to minor mishaps with near explosive rage.  Maybe family members pushed long-set psychic buttons with idle remarks; maybe a friend or acquaintance made a snide comment that stirred some long forgotten pain; or maybe some external unrelated event had a similar effect. 

Our recovery demands that we learn to deal with these events.  As we work the program with sponsors and with fellow recovering heroes we learn to let these events, these triggers, to slide off or around us much as Neo dodged the Matrix’s bullets.  The image is powerful…we just need to learn the intricate evasive moves for ourselves, using the tools we hear over and over again from all our Fellows.

Where to start?

A road map to recovery options for those struggling with addiction

By Lori Fiester, Clinical Director for the Center for Recovering Families at The Council on Recovery

While the Council on Recovery is a known place to start when looking for help with alcohol or drug abuse, the average person who struggles with substance use issues does not know what is involved in treatment, much less recovery. It does not simply begin with the desire to do things differently…

Many people begin with decreasing their use of the identified substance, or stop completely.  While some can be successful with either measure, most who have abused substances for a long period of time have withdrawal symptoms. Those who have heavily used or have a genetic predisposition need more assistance. Millions of people have a crossed the doorway to 12-step meetings, have a sponsor and have worked the steps and been successful. And then there are those who need more support. 

When thinking about treatment, it’s important that the client be served in the least restrictive environment, but safety has to be the priority. The least restrictive measure involves individual therapy/counseling.  This modality can work but it needs to be supplemented with regular 12-step group attendance, utilizing sponsorship and working the steps.

Fiester (left) is the head of The Council’s Center for Recovering Families, Houston’s premier outpatient provider of treatment for alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental health disorders.

The next level of care is Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). This type of program offers approximately 10 hours of treatment to the individual that includes individual and group therapy, psychoeducation, and skills group, spread out between three to four days a week. This allows the person to work and sleep at home, but a good portion of their time is dedicated to therapy. Most IOP’s last six to eight weeks.

Partial Hospitalization (PHP) is the next level in care.  This option consists of being treated for up to five hours a day for five days, and then going home early evening. This service includes much of what IOP does, but is even more intense, adding five to ten hours per week, and can last several weeks.

Residential care is when the person enters a hospital-type setting in which they have about 20 hours of dedicated treatment services. They can stay there anywhere from 28 to 90 days. Many people who enter this type of care often need detoxification, which includes medical stabilization and a doctor to oversee the person’s withdrawal from the substance.

There are many avenues to consider when thinking about getting sober.  The Council can help with an assessment that can diagnose and give recommendations of what to do next. The continuum of care has many opportunities for someone to stay sober. Research indicates that the longer a person is in treatment services, the less risk they have for relapse.  If you or anyone you know is in need to start their journey to recovery today, start here – (713) 914-0556.

‘Sesame Street’ Addresses Impact of Addiction on Children

This guest post is written by Kierstin Collins, Clinical Manager of Children and Adolescent Services at The Council

Earlier this month, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, broadcast an initiative to support children and families affected by parental addiction. The newest Muppet to join the Sesame Street group, Karli, is featured in the initiative, whose mom is dealing with addiction. In the new content released, long time characters like Elmo and Abby Cadabby learn what Karli is experiencing and help support her. Resources released through the Sesame Street in Communities program, including videos, articles, and activities, broadcast the words children need to hear most: “You are not alone. You will be taken care of. Addiction is a sickness and, as with any sickness, people need help to get better.” And most importantly: “It’s not your fault.”

Ten-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery, poses with “Sesame Street” character Karli. The show recently explained that the puppet is in foster care because her mother is battling addiction. (Flynn Larsen/Sesame Workshop/AP)

In a press release this month Sesame Workshop, shared the motivation behind their efforts saying, “In the United States, there are 5.7 million children under age 11, or one in eight children, living in households with a parent who has a substance abuse disorder—a number that doesn’t include the countless children not living with a parent due to separation or divorce, incarceration, or death as a result of their addiction. One in three of these children will enter foster care due to parental addiction, a number that has grown by more than 50% in the past decade. The trauma of parental addiction can have lasting impacts on a child’s health and wellbeing, but children can be incredibly resilient; the effects of traumatic experiences can be mitigated with the right support from caring adults like the parents, caregivers, and providers this initiative targets.”

The Council on Recovery recognizes that Houston is not immune to these jarring statistics and aims to meet the needs of this special population. The Council has a long history of educating the community about the disease of addiction to break down the stigma and misunderstanding around this complicated family problem.

With the understanding that addiction is a family disease, The Council addresses all those who are touched by addiction, including youth who are at high risk of developing a substance use problem. Children from families of addiction are more likely to use and use problematically at a young age due to both genetic and environmental factors. To address this cycle of addiction, The Council provides services tailored to the developmental needs of youth. In the Kids Camp at The Council program, kids age 7 to 12 participate in three days of games, activities, and group work to gain education, prevention, and support. Kids in the program learn through their experience that addiction is not their fault, they are not alone, their job is to be a kid, and how to take care of themselves. Parents work alongside children to learn age-appropriate language around addiction and how to communicate about hard feelings, problems, and secrets.

As the rate of substance abuse grows in our community, the population of children who are impacted grows alongside it. You know a child who needs us. To interrupt the cycle of addiction and provide hope in the face of addiction, call 713-914-0556 or visit us online at councilonrecovery.org where you can learn more about Kids Camp and other youth services offered at The Council.

Grateful Client Gives Back

This guest post is written and graciously shared by Janel, a grateful client who found recovery through The Council

Seven years ago I was trapped living a nightmare with no way out. My addiction took me to the darkest place imaginable. I was literally battling for my soul. I could not stop using. I eventually gave up and tried to take my own life. It was the only way I thought I could find peace. Waking up in Ben Taub’s ICU after my liver shut down, I realized that God had another plan for me. I had been given a second chance at life.

Forced to seek help, The Council on Recovery started me on my new journey. They found me a bed at a treatment center where I spent almost 3 months coming out of my fog of addiction. While there I met one of The Council’s recovery coaches who told me about a longer term treatment program, where I spent fifteen additional months. During that time, I learned so much about myself and how to overcome my addiction. I learned how to be a lady and live life with a purpose. I would not be where I am today if it hadn’t been for The Council guiding me in the right direction. Their resources are what saved my life. The work they do in the recovery community is vital. Most addicts don’t know how to stop. They do not know how to get help. That’s what The Council is for.

Last year I found a way to give back and help The Council. I used my story and my first-ever marathon to help raise more than $3,000 for this powerful organization. The marathon was about pushing myself to do something I once saw as impossible. It was meant to inspire others and – of course – bring as much attention to The Council as possible.

People need to know there is a solution. They need to know where to reach out when they are ready. I am living proof that recovery is possible. Today, I am 7 years clean and sober and I am a productive member of society. I have put myself through school, received my Bachelors degree in Human Services, and now manage a successful staffing agency. I have run a marathon and am now training for my first Ironman. Seven years ago my addiction almost killed me, but today I live free with no limits to be and do whatever I want to. And it all began at The Council. They showed me how to break the chains that bound me. They gave me hope. 

Janel ran the Chevron Houston Marathon as her first-ever marathon and used the opportunity to help raise more than $3,000 for The Council on Recovery