Tuesday, February 21, 2012


How often have you heard someone say, “Everything happens for a reason”? 

Did you ever watch the Hercules series on TV in the 90’s?  Right at the height of his career, actor, Kevin Sorbo, of Hercules fame, experienced a major health crisis.  He tells his story of his personal tragedy in his book, True Strength, My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life.  Like Jill Bolte Taylor, he also suffered a stroke in his 30’s, actually 3 strokes.  He was in great physical shape at the time and yet struggled to heal the brain.  He talks of a physical, spiritual (he went back to the Christian Church with his wife Sam and they prayed together) and psychological (emotional) healing.   He talks about going to a Jungian psychiatrist who helped him with accepting his “humanness” or his shadow side.  “We all have our shadow, the part of us we don’t want.  The ego wants to leave it behind, but Jung said that the purpose of life is to integrate it.”  He admits he had liked his Hercules identity and coming to terms with this “weakness” or being mortal and human, coming to acceptance of this and not feeling ashamed of “being human”, was part of the healing process. 

Most addicts or alcoholics have a hard time asking for help and accepting that as a part of their humanness. His body and his mind “were telling him to take a rest”.  He began to find balance in his life.  He describes his wife, Sam, as his “motivation”.  She supported him and recognized the mind, body, spirit healing process.  From this same Jungian psychiatrist, he also learned that finding gratitude daily for what was working helped him be more positive.  This is a great step to stay positive in recovery too. 

Finally, we can be grateful all life’s experiences, especially the challenges because they can help us grow. Kevin and his wife, Sam, now have 3 children and he is a spokesman for A World Fit for Kids, a non-profit mentoring organization in Los Angeles.  Hockey player, Wayne Gretsky in his recommendation of the book states:  “Hockey is a contact sport.  So is life…An inspiring and uplifting journey into the world of never giving up.”  Fellow actor, Tom Selleck states:  “Tragedy can transform us for the better.  That is Kevin’s message.”  Pick up the book and read it and tell me what you think?  Better yet, let me know how your challenge in overcoming addiction has transformed you for the better.   

Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC 

Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Last fall, I talked about three areas of recovery.  The first is a need to be committed to the process of recovery and to doing the hard work required.  And, it is tough work.  It is “my” work and no one can do it for me.  Therefore, I am accountable for my choices and consequences of my choices.  The second area was balance and the six areas of balance were identified:  physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial.  The third area is living in today or “the present moment”.

My last blog post I talked about the book, My Stroke of Insight, A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.  She talks about the amazing healing power of the human body and brain.  There are amazing gifts to each of us.  Believe it or not there is a need for balance of the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  Prior to her stroke, Ms. Taylor states that she lived much of the time in the left brain of analytical thinking.  Since the stroke was in the left brain, her right brain now became dominant.  She describes this as “gaining access to the experience of deep inner peace in the consciousness of my right mind when the language and orientation association areas in the left hemisphere became nonfunctional.”  She further states that her goal during her process of recovery has been to find a healthy balance between the right and left hemispheres, and also to be aware and in charge of which (right or left) dominated her perspective at any given moment. 

In recovery work, there is a saying of needing “to talk the talk and walk the walk”.  We also refer to how our head (left hemisphere) as the thinking part and it is telling us to do one thing while our heart, feelings or intuition (right hemisphere) is telling us the opposite.  There are numerous ways to describe the two hemispheres and she believes they are very separate and distinct.  Therefore, it is important to honor both thoughts and feelings and to find alignment here.  She used the phrase “step to the right” when she found she was over thinking and needed to relax and allow the feeling/intuitive right brain to come forth.  Just spend some time checking in with yourself?  Which hemisphere of the brain is more dominant?  Can you choose to “shift to the right”?  Often addicts, substance abusers (alcohol/drugs) use their addiction to avoid the right hemisphere feeling brain?  How comfortable are you with your feelings?  How comfortable are you with working with feelings and thoughts and finding that balance? 

Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC 

Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Friday, February 3, 2012


I have been challenged to blog once a week and I am making a commitment to do so.  No, this was not originally one of my New Year’s Resolutions, however, it now is. 

I recently finished reading the book My Stroke of Insight, a Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.  At age 37 she suffered a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain.  She states it took 8 years, however, she has now healed her brain completely and her book recounts her journey.  It is a powerful read in further understanding the brain, the right and left hemispheres, and the brains amazing capacity to heal. Since alcohol and drugs also affect the brain, I learned some important tools that can apply for healing the brain in recovery from addiction.  In her Appendix B at the back of the book, she lists Forty Things I Needed the Most.  I am not going to repeat all 40, however, I am going to paraphrase the first 5 and compare healing in recovery from addiction. 

Number 1 – I am not stupid, I am wounded.  Please respect me.  When someone is wounded physically it is easy to see and be empathetic, however, when one’s brain is wounded, it is hard to see and appreciate just how severe the wound may be.  In the process of recovery, it is important to respect ourselves and how we have wounded our brain enough to do the work of healing.  Dr. Taylor spent eight years working and challenging herself to heal her brain completely.  She is living proof, it can be done!  Yes, she had a great support group, however, she did the hard work. 

Number 2 – Come close, speak slowly and enunciate clearly.  Here she talks about how energy can be positive or negative to our healing.  Those who are loud and speak fast with nervous energy is counter-productive.  How is our own energy and how is the energy of others around us. 

Number 3 – repeat yourself, assume I know nothing and start from the beginning over and over. So many times I hear from client, “ I know all that, I have been to treatment before”.  Perhaps repetition is needed for my brain to internalize and for me to take action? 

Number 4 – Be patient with me the 20th time you teach me something, as you were the first.  The average for treatment experiences by clients with addictions is 8.  How patient can we be with ourselves and with others in the recovery process? 

Number 5 – Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down.  Take your time.  Hopefully, we can approach our recovery and healing with an open heart and offer the same to others. 

Again, any thoughts and comments from others is greatly appreciated.

Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC
Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor