Three Keys to Freedom in 2017

Happy New Year! My hope is that 2017 is a year of hope, prosperity and healing.

If this season has been one of relapse and significant struggle to stay sober don’t give up! Put your relapse plan into action, or create one if you don’t have one! Also, it’s important to use these as opportunities to learn!

Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of recovery, but if we fail to learn from them we’ve missed opportunity. Here are three helpful keys to addressing your relapse(s) and struggles.


Triggers are events that happen externally and cause us emotional or psychological discomfort. When triggered, we might feel anxious, panicked, sad, hurt, disappointed, etc. Triggers are normal, and we can react to them in healthy, even beneficial, ways. However, many of us choose to self-medicate instead in an attempt to numb our feelings caused by our triggers.

Do you know what your triggers are? Do you know how they impact you emotionally or psychologically?

Make a list of your triggers. Look at the ones that can be avoided and make a plan to do so. For the ones you can’t avoid, come up with a plan to address them more effectively. In what healthy ways can you engage with these feelings rather than medicating or numbing them?


Shame is a big issue some folks are aware of, but many are not. Some folks might put this in the category of triggers, but I feel it’s much bigger and deserves its own focus.

First, I think it’s imperative that we make a distinction between shame and guilt. Guilt is I’ve done something bad. It’s a behavior or decision. Shame is I am something bad. This is more about identity. It makes a statement about who we are.

Guilt can addressed by asking for someone’s forgiveness, making amends and empathizing with how we’ve impacted others. Shame… shame just sits on us. It says, you suck! You’re a terrible person! You’re weak. Shame statements are devastating to recovery.

Dealing with our shame statements means we first have to recognize them. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to pay attention to our self-talk. How do you treat yourself when you make a mistake like when you miss a turn driving to an appointment? If you hear yourself saying things like, you idiot! Stupid! then you too are a victim being oppressed by shame.

So how do we deal with shame?

I have found that Brené Brown’s work has been the most beneficial for my journey. She talks about shame reduction and how to work through those shame-triggering experiences. If you want to start with a book, I would recommend starting with The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown.

However, I believe that the most effective way to tackle this issue is with the aid of a licensed professional counselor, whether that’s in treatment or individual counseling. If you decide to engage a therapist in your process, ask them about shame and how to address it. This can be incredibly freeing and live-giving when addressed appropriately.

Professional Help

Finally, I truly believe – and have seen repeated proof – that the best path to recovery is being proactive with treatment. All too often, treatment is considered as purely LAST resort.

People think, after I have relapsed repeatedly, then I’ll need treatment. If I was homeless living in my car, then it would be time for rehab.

Those statements are SO false. We have to get a handle on our addictions early. Repeated relapse begins to lock our brain’s neuropathway’s into patterns that are incredibly difficult to break.

Proactive treatment in a safe and appropriate center (that not only focuses on sobriety but most importantly deals with our root issues) is imperative! So much is at work ‘below the waterline’ of our addictive compulsive behaviors. Uncovering them, addressing them and learning healthy coping mechanisms is key. Sobriety is so important, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What now?

Reach out! Get help! There’s no time like the present to get 2017 off to a great start!

Do you need help finding a treatment center for you or someone you know? Do you need more information about counseling options, relapse prevention plans or any help with recovery?

Call or email me now: Clint Clark 720.683.2639

I look forward to hearing from you. Also, as always, if you have feedback, questions or comments, please feel free to contact me!

Addiction and the First Responder

First responders are unique people. Unlike the majority who flee from tragedy, first responders head into it. Most first responders entered the profession out of a desire to help, to give back and to make a difference; therefore, they tend to be more comfortable helping others than receiving help. Unfortunately, this altruistic desire results in many first responders not seeking the help they desperately need.

Much of what a first responder is exposed to is traumatic. and can be processed and addressed in healthy ways without the need for the involvement of professionals. However, on-going and repeated exposure to traumatic events or exposure to a massively traumatic event can begin to cause difficulties in a first responder’s day-to-day life.

When these events begin to impact a first responder’s life negatively, it’s imperative that they seek help or explore strategies to address these issues in healthy ways. Unfortunately, the high rate of first responder suicides and addiction indicates that this important population isn’t getting the help they need. Sadly, substance abuse and alcoholism in the first responder population are significantly higher than the general public.

First Responder Treatment

I work as both a first responder and a licensed professional counselor, and I know how difficult seeking help can be. I’ve worked with first responders who have been on scene at nationally televised tragedies in our county. These brave people who seek out help aren’t weak; in fact, they are some of the strongest I’ve ever known!

To encourage first responders to seek help, we must offer them a place where they will be understood. They want to know that the person they’re talking to understands the many facets of being a first responder.

LakeHaven Recovery Center responded to this need and developed the First Call program. These professionals are retired first responders along with specially-trained staff who understand what it takes to cope with job stress of dealing with trauma and tragedy on a daily basis.

The LakeHaven team grasps the many challenges these professionals face whether correction officer, police, firefighters or EMS. Most importantly, they assimilate how these challenging careers play a role in addictions and the underlying causes.

Why Treatment?

Treatment is often imperative to breaking the cycles of addiction. Addiction is never as easy as just stopping.

LakeHaven’s experienced professionals are experts at working with those trapped in the cycles of addiction. In the First Call program, staff and first responders work together to untangle the complicated web that accompanies addiction. Having lived similar lives, the staff relates to the first responder and then works to reveal the core reasons for treatment.

It bears repeating: treatment isn’t weakness. Treatment is actually a process of reaching out and receiving strength through other professionals. If you are a first responder stuck in the cycle of addiction or know someone who is struggling, get help now!

Why Now?

Well, why not now? There’s no time like the present! Addiction doesn’t get better; it only gets progressively worse. For first responders, waiting to seek help could mean the loss of a job, family, even a life. Getting help now can stop this downward spiral of turbulence.

Getting help now can also offer the first responder new and healthy ways to deal with stress and the trauma. LakeHaven’s staff of therapist and doctors are uniquely prepared to help in the recovery process.

Call Now!

No matter where you are, we want to help.

You can reach me, Clint Clark, directly at 720-683-2639 or

You may also contact the experienced staff at LakeHaven directly at (786) 404-1353.