Good Bye Crack!

During one of the STOPP substance abuse groups,  we held a contest and asked group members to submit a break-up letter to their drug of choice or to their addiction as a whole. We received four entries. This is one of the letters….Show your love by leaving a like or a comment!!

“Dear Crack Cocaine, 

It started out as fun. When you came into my life I had no worries, no pain, and I didn’t care about family or friends. You made me feel happy all the time. Nothing lasts forever and something changed. I lost my apartments and spent all my money on you. I hit bottom and I hated myself. So one day I said “That’s enough.” I picked myself up and threw you out of my life. Now today I can say I love myself and you cannot have me anymore! 


Your ex.”

Mindfulness is the Answer!

Have you ever been talking to someone but your mind has made so many comments you lost track of the conversation and were unable to reply? Or have you ever been driving and realized you passed the street you had to turn on because you were caught up in your thoughts? We are consistently thinking, constantly analyzing to the point we function out of habit, “on autopilot.” day after day, We race to drop kids off, get to work, then back to pick up kids, get home, to cook, shower, sleep and repeat. Life becomes routine, it gets boring. Life is passing by us yet we’ve missed most of it.

The human mind capable of storing facts, faces and a range of information. It helps us solve small and big problems, an extraordinary problem solver it is. The mind can solve complex problems and be the ticket to success but it can also become our own enemy. Problem solving can turn to overthinking,worry and ruminating. It can create thoughts, all day, all night, everyday, endlessly. Thought after thought, the mind hijacks our attention; it takes us into the future, then throws us into the past, thinking and rethinking the “what if’s” and endless worrying that can lead to anxiety and depression.

Is there a way to stop the mind from thinking? from worrying? from chattering on and on? Yes, there is a way. Mindfulness.

John Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness is said to improve both mental and physical health; It helps relieve stress, depression and anxiety.

Mindfulness, in simplest terms, is paying attention, on purpose and connecting with the present moment. When you pay attention mindfully, you are able to enjoy each and every moment in the present as it happens. Washing dishes, showering or eating you completely engage and immerse yourself in the activity, noticing every detail and savoring every aspect of the activity. Staying present quiets the mind and releases you from future worrying and reliving past situations. Now, you can start to fully participate in your life, now, in the present moment.

So, how can you be mindfulness and begin living life? Here are 3 Simple mindfulness exercises you can begin practicing immediately, anywhere and anytime. Keep in mind, as you practice being mindful thoughts will show up. You may get thoughts you’re doing something wrong, this doesn’t work, I can’t do this, and so on. That’s ok, it’s normal. Just notice you had the thought and continue to breathe in and out.

Mindful breathing

Allow yourself to notice the flow of your natural breath, as the air comes in through your nostrils and goes out through your mouth….in…..out…….out. Now notice how your lungs expand as they fill with air when you inhale and deflate as you breathe out and exhale… inhale…….and exhale. Now notice how the abdomen rises as you breathe in and flattens as you breathe out. Allow your attention to gently ride each breath, not thinking about how you breathe, without the need to comment. Simply noticing your breath as you inhale…..and exhale.

5 senses

Start off noticing the natural flow of your breath. Lets turn your attention to one of your five senses….sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste. Allow yourself to look around the room and name 5 things that you see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Next, stay still and listen to the sounds around you. Name 5 things you hear for example the birds chirping, cars passing by, music playing. If there is music playing try to focus on specific instruments playing. Make it a point to distinguish between different beats or instruments. Try describing 5 different things you can touch, smell and taste.

Mindful walking

As you walk, focus your attention on any sensations felt throughout your body. Step by step, feel the contact each foot makes with the ground. Step by step notice which part of your foot strikes the ground first at the beginning of each step? Your toes…..your heel… Now, notice which part of your foot leaves the ground last at the end of each step? Toes…..heels……As you continue to walk and take one mindful step after another begin to notice how your knees bend as you walk, notice the flexing and contracting of your muscles in your calves, feeling any soreness or sensation that may arise. Next, notice your arms as they swing front and back….front and back. Notice how they lightly touch your hips as they swing back and forth. Don’t change anything about the way you walk, just notice even the slightest detail of how you walk.

Noticing or describing thoughts as they come and go can be added into any mindfulness exercise, for example, “ I am having the thought that..,” or you can silently note “thinking” and continue the exercise. You can name each individual feeling by name, for example “anger,” “boredom,” “happy.” When thoughts arise, You could use a phrase like, “it’s a thought.” You can be even more specific, and note your thoughts by categories, for example ‘judging’, ‘worrying’, ‘analyzing’, ‘remembering’, Or simply: ‘anxious thought’, ‘sad thought’, ‘neutral thought’; ‘thought about the future’, ‘thought about the past’ etc. If an emotion or feeling arises you can silently notice the feeling or emotion. You could use a phrase like, “it’s a feeling” or “I am feeling __.” Throughout the day be mindful and observe any thoughts or feelings that show up. This is useful and practical in the beginning of your mindful practice when you continuously get distracted by different thoughts, feelings or judgments. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. The point is to practice and be mindful.

Begin your mindful practice today. Curiously Noticing your surroundings, becoming aware and opening up the possibilities right in front of you. Start Living life in the present moment.

Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift.

Our true home is not in the past. Our true home is not in the future. Our true home is in the here and the now. Life is available only in the here and the now, and it is our true home.~thich nhat hanh~

Daily Prompt: Courage

What are you most afraid of?  Is it your past? Fear of being abandoned?  Shame of what you have done?   Your family, friends, a loved one or even a sponsor can help you overcome what you fear.  If it’s keeping you your from being sober you have to face it.

What you fear the most, you have to face; find the COURAGE and face it. You already took the most courageous step, starting the recovery journey!

via Daily Prompt: Courage

Recovery: Addiction’s Alternative

Recovery, an

Eye opening experience in which you


Overcome temptation while


Engaging in new

Responsibility, one day at a time

You can do it. What are you waiting for?

Addiction can confiscate your mind and body. But there’s an alternative, Recovery.

Mnemonic for Recovery.

Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2018

Together we can prevent new HIV infections. BMC and STOPP commit to saving and prolonging the lives of African American’s locally, nationally, and internationally!

Nationwide prevention efforts have led to declines in new HIV diagnoses among some populations,  including African American women, people who inject drugs and heterosexuals. However,  overall African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV diagnoses compared to other races and ethnicities. Testing is critical in order to prevent HIV in all ethnicities and within all communities.

Today, February 7, 2018, is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  Nationwide attention focuses on the impact HIV has on African Americans. For over 15 years, this day is observed  in efforts  to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement and treatment among Blacks.  Spread the word…get tested today!

African American enrolled in Borinquen’s STOPP Program educate their family and friends about HIV  to prevent HIV from spreading.  This is what they say:

“I use condoms in every sexual occasion.” “I make my family a part of my medical treatment so that together we can learn about HIV.” ~E. Y.~
“I teach my friends to have safe sex and use condoms.” ~D.C.~
“I keep myself informed by asking my doctor and attending Lunch and Learn here at Borinquen. The information I learn I pass it on when my family and friends get together.”

“I do my best to stay off drugs, go to groups and share my story with others. By educating others and being open about my HIV status I hope to see the HIV epidemic to end. ~S.M.~

Together we can prevent new HIV infections. BMC and STOPP commit to saving and prolonging the lives of African American’s locally, nationally, and internationally!

Borinquen Medical Center (BMC) offers FREE HIV testing, counseling, prevention and education to all of Miami Dade County.  At the main site, 3601 Federal Highway, on the 1st floor, and at the Behavioral Health Office, 100 NE 38 St, Unit 5, HIV counselors are available Monday- Thursday, 8 am – 5 pm, and Friday, 8 am – 4 pm. Come by today.

Get Educated!  Get Tested! Get Involved!!


Valentine’s Day in Recovery

Red hearts, pink hearts, candy hearts, chocolate hearts, sugar cookies, love cards. Theres no way around it, you can’t escape it, Valentine’s Day is here!    If you’re  in a romantic relationship, spend time together and multiply your love for each other.  If you’re single, don’t despair, shower yourself with love and think about how far you’ve come, staying clean and sober.   No matter your current situation, this day can be fun and enjoyable, sober and all!!  Here are some tips to spread love and kindness this Valentine’s Day:

1. Send messages of love to those you care about, friends, family, coworkers, neighbors. Call, send a text, reach out and express how much they mean to you and how grateful you are to have their support in your life. The biggest gift you can give a loved one is that you remain clean and sober.

2. Start rebuilding damaged relationships. When in active addiction, you tend to focus on yourself and don’t realize how your loved ones feel. Relationships get damaged. On Valentine’s Day, take a step towards rebuilding those relationships that got damaged. Send a friend you hurt a valentines card or a short text expressing your appreciation and gratitude. Don’t expect a response, the point is to share how you feel. Remember, it takes time to rebuild relationships.

3. Spend time with loved ones. You are not alone in your recovery. Spend time with friends, family and those who are supportive. Go to a meeting, invite a friend or family member to Starbucks. If you choose to stay in, cook dinner for a friend or loved ones and reminisce on good times.

4. Take care of yourself. Take a bubble bath. Get a haircut. Get a manicure and pedicure (men, you too!). Pamper yourself. Celebrate how far you’ve come. Take a walk in the beach. Go on a picnic or to the movies. Try a new hobby. Rediscover life, clean and sober.

5. Volunteer your time. Volunteering is a great way to give back. Providing service and help to the homeless, poor or others in recovery is an important part of the recovery journey.

You can celebrate and enjoy Valentines while in recovery. Spread love today and every day in February specially to  family, friends and  those special to you. Happy Valentine’s day to all.

Beat The Holiday Blues: 5 Simple Ideas

November and December are supposed to be the happiest months of the year, filled with celebration and joy. But are they? For some, stress, unrealistic expectations and even memories surrounding the holidays can trigger feelings of sadness, loneliness and anxiety, commonly known as the “holiday blues.” There’s no way to avoid or circumvent the holiday season, so what can you do?

The secret to beating the holiday blues is preparation. Arm yourself with a variety of coping skills. if plan A doesn’t work then be ready to use plan B. Here are 5 simple tips to help you through these months and beat the holiday blues….

1. Exercise. Hit the gym. Go for a walk at the park or even around the block. Try to be active for at least 30 minutes.

2. Plan ahead. Prioritize and manage your time accordingly. Make a schedule or a to-do-list. Pace yourself.

3. Stay away from alcohol and drugs, they tend to make you even more depressed in the long run.

4. Sleep at least 5-6 hours. Being tired can put you in a bad mood. Rest.

5. Attend Support groups. Socialize. Volunteer. Reach out to friends and family. Ask for help.

Remember your physical and mental well being come first. Try not to get caught up with “shoulds”… this should be like that, I should feel like that, that should be like this.

It will take some effort on your part to beat the holiday blues but who knows, you may find some holiday joy along the way. What do you think? Comment below…

Happy Holidays.

The Power of Addiction: Maxie’s Struggle

Have you tripped and fallen into the rabbit hole of addiction? It can get pretty scary, rather quickly! Addiction engulfs your mind and body digging deeper regardless of the humiliating and devastating consequences.  There are many theories explaining how addiction develops, but that isn’t the purpose of this story. Here, we will focus on how one young girl maintained her addiction, the struggles she faced and how she overcame them.

This is the story of a girls named Maxie.  She got absorbed by behaviors which at first seemed harmless, even fun, but quickly got out of control.  Then, in the blink of an eye, she got addicted and found herself in a downward spiral dragging her down and into the cycle of addiction.  Once addicted, she was stuck. She never thought it would happen to her. She struggled for a few years and received a few bumps on her head before finally realizing something had to change. Keep reading to find out what changed and how she was able to get out of the rabbit hole and started living a sober life.

Maxie, a shy and quiet high school student, didn’t have too many friends.  Maxie endlessly desired to fit in and be a part of the group. She hoped to be invited to a party but never was.  Maxie’s lonely days changed her junior year. Finally, she was invited to a party. Maxie was excited. She planned her party outfit and rehearsed different scenarios in her mind, on how that night would unfold. The night arrived and to her surprise it was nothing she had imagined.   Everyone was drinking. They didn’t seem to be themselves.

A friend offered her a drink. Maxie thought about the consequences but how could she say no? She had yearned to fit in and have friends. She was finally at a party and socializing. Maxie eagerly accepted the first drink and then some. Maxie’s fears drowned in the alcohol, one after another.  Maxie felt confident and quickly became the life of the party. She transformed into an outgoing, friendly and even flirtatious teen. She felt a sense of belonging.  Her life changed after that night. Shy Maxie? Never again.

Maxie continued partying and drinking through her high school and college.  There was always a good reason to go out and of course, have a drink.  Her alcohol tolerance increased. With time, she needed more alcohol to feel “good” and fit in.”  More and more each time, she drank till she blacked out. Maxie was unable to remember all the fun she had. There had to be a solution to this!

Yes, a she found a helpful solution.  A friend gave her cocaine to level out. Cocaine allowed her to drink more and for longer periods of time without the obnoxious black outs. This reminded her of junior year and her first party. Again, she felt confident, she was unstoppable.

Maxie immediately was hooked on cocaine. Together, alcohol and cocaine helped her avoid emotions surrounding the shy, quiet, lonely girl.  Then like with alcohol, her tolerance for cocaine increased. She needed more to make the feeling last. Drink after drink, bump after bump, it was never enough for Maxie.  She needed more, it kept her confidence high. Fun turned into a constant battle for more.

The excessive amount of alcohol and cocaine caused Maxie to react aggressively. Outings usually turned into verbal disagreements and sometimes even into fist fights. Maxie argued with everyone around her for minimal reasons. She wasn’t the life of the party any longer. Maxie’s “friends” stopped inviting her to parties. No one wanted to deal with her attitude. Her friends stopped calling her. Maxie did not understand why her friends avoided her, if she was so much fun to be around. She was filled with confusion, why?

Maxie, the shy girl who desperately longed to fit in felt sad and lonely. First, she blamed her friends and those around her. “It’s not me, it’s them.” Then, she tried to convince herself she was better off alone. “I don’t need them!”  She tried to convince herself but it was difficult to get rid of how depressed and hopeless she felt. But wait! There was one thing that made Maxie ‘feel better,’ alcohol. So, she drank thinking that would be the solution. It’s interesting how our minds help us in the worse times.

Drinking eased her pain, temporarily. She drank then felt worse, the following day. Day after day, she drank and drank more, to numb the pain. It was unbearable to get out of bed. Every morning she took a drink to get out of bed. Some days, she arrived on time to work and most days she was late. It wasn’t easy keeping herself together during work. Her work performance decreased. Coworkers noticed her changes in mood and tiredness. Eventually, Maxie was fired for excessive tardiness and sick days.  Again, she created excuses; they were exploiting her and treating her unfairly she explained. She drank more to alleviate the pain and loneliness.
By age 21, Maxie had no friends, no meaningful intimate relationship, and no employment. Even worse, she was in denial.   Maxie was in a vicious cycle and continued to make excuses. She tried hard to get her life together but drinking always interfered and brought her down. As Maxie’s life became more and more meaningless, she got deeper and deeper in to the addiction cycle.

Blaming, justifying and avoidance produced predictable results; results contrary to what Maxie wanted deep inside her heart.  These ineffective behaviors make difficult situations worse. The deeper one gets into the cycle of addiction, the more depressed, ashamed and numb one feels. Imagine falling into a rabbit hole and just digging deeper and deeper. You try to climb out but fall back in. You try to jump out and never get high enough to pull yourself out. Then finally it hit her. The way she was digging wasn’t leading anywhere and realized something had to change.

With the help of a STOPP counselor, Maxie became aware of long learned behaviors that kept her stuck and worked daily on changing. She connected with her values and learned how to manage her emotions, one day at a time. She accepted there were going to be good days and bad days and how to be patient and compassionate with herself. Today, Maxie is in college pursuing a bachelor’s degree, she is employed and sober.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and are willing to turn their life around, Borinquen’s Behavioral Health STOPP program can help.  One of the experienced STOPP counselors can help you start on the pathway to recovery. Like Maxie, you can stand up and face whatever is holding you down.