Explore Irish Traditions This St. Patrick’s Day

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Explore Irish Traditions This St. Patrick’s Day
by Sarah Lockwood

For many Americans, St. Patrick’s Day is all about enjoying a parade and heading to a local bar to drink a pint or two of green beer. But what about those who don’t want to spend the occasion drinking, either because they abstain from alcohol for health reasons or are even in an alcohol recovery program?

As it turns out, there are all kinds of ways to enjoy St. Paddy’s Day – and plenty that don’t require a single sip of alcohol! The favorite early spring holiday that celebrates the patron Saint of Ireland is a great excuse to explore this fascinating culture from across the sea. The Irish have a rich musical, dance, and language history. Try a few old traditions on for size this year for a change in step.

Many people have heard of the popular Irish show Riverdance, where traditional music and steps are performed on a stage. Irish dancing is actually deeply steeped in community – and is not a spectator sport. One fun tradition is the Irish ceili dance (pronounced kay-lee). The ceili has been around since the 1500s. It is a fairly straightforward folk dance performed by couples to jeels or rigs. Attending a ceili is a great night out: you’ll get great exercise, use your brain to follow the steps, and maybe even meet new people! Competition level ceili dancers are out there, but most events are tailored to people who are new to the steps. You won’t be alone – an opportunity to learn step-by-step is often provided. This is a great date night out for adults, but can also be a fun physical education lesson for children middle school-aged and older.

If dancing just isn’t your thing, the Irish have a long musical tradition to dive into. According to the Irish Tourism Council, there are several types of Irish music. The first is ceili, which is all about dancing. The second is seisun (pronounced seh-shoon). They define this type of music as “an informal gathering of musicians.” Some of the instruments played are familiar to Americans, like the guitar and the flute; others less so, like the Irish drum. The Tourism Council explains that because the music is somewhat improvised, songs blend seamlessly into each other, keeping the fun going. If visiting Ireland, the songs also vary by region. Stateside, try looking for events in Irish pubs, Irish heritage organizations and even churches. If you really want to get authentic, Irish Music Magazine lists some of the best Irish music festivals of the year – many of which are in Ireland or Scotland – though there is one a little closer to home at Disney World in Orlando.

Another way to connect with Irish heritage is through the beautiful language. Omniglot, an encyclopedia of written systems and languages, notes a resurgence in interest in the Irish Gaelic language, partly due to people outside of Ireland wishing to reconnect with their roots. In fact, they note the University of Montana has one of the largest and most comprehensive Irish Studies and Irish Language courses in academics internationally. If you’re looking for something in Ireland, look no further than the Irish International Festival – described as the largest celebration of Irish language and culture – which takes place for the better part of March. One initiative they support is learning the Gaelic language. In addition, they have resources to teach songs, ceili dances, and even short films. Another app offers beginners lessons in the Irish gaelic language for free. Each lesson is short and easy to follow, and available on Apple, Windows or Android devices.

No matter what your reason is for enjoying a sober holiday, investing time in the Emerald Isle’s history is a wonderful way to spend St. Patrick’s Day.

Ms. Lockwood offers resources on substance abuse and addiction treatment via The Prevention Coalition. 

Tell the White House Why We Need Healthcare Parity

healthinsuranceIn 2008, Congress enacted the The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) to ensure that insurance companies cover mental health and substance use treatment no differently than they do other medical conditions. MHPAEA is a federal law that generally prevents group health plans and health insurance issuers that provide mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical/surgical benefits.

It is now 2016, and we’ve got a long way to go to make parity a reality. There are still disparities between the accessibility and coverage of MH/SUD treatment versus other medical care.

You can do something about it.

Last month, President Obama created a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force tasked with increasing awareness about comparable insurance coverage, improving understanding of requirements for health plans, and increasing transparency around compliance with the law.

The President’s Task Force wants to hear from you, from patients, families, consumer advocates, health care providers, insurers, and other stakeholders on their experiences and difficulties with accessing services and coverage.

Share your comments, experiences, and recommendations with the Task Force. Or, submit your comments by sending an email to parity@hhs.gov.

connect. recover. advocate. serve.

Minnesota Recovery Connection

CARA Update – Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act


CARA Call-In Day Tuesday June 14th

In March the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), followed by the House passing the House Opioid Package of bills in May. Now CARA and the House Opioid Package of bills need to be passed by the Conference Committee in order to be sent to the President’s desk for signature.

Want to help make sure the recovery support provisions stay in the Senate CARA bill?

Contact your legislators and let them know how important recovery support services provided by recovery community organizations (like MRC), recovery high schools (like Pease Academy), and collegiate recovery communities (like Augsburg’s Step Up Program) are to you. Click the links below, and make your voice heard.

CALL HERE

EMAIL HERE

connect. recover. advocate. serve.

Minnesota Recovery Connection

CARA Legislation on the Move

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BREAKING NEWS FROM WASHINGTON D.C. – CARA is on the move!

The Senate voted 95-1 to send the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) to conference with the House, in an effort to send a final bill to the president’s desk before Congress recesses in mid-July. (Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted against the motion.)

CARA’s sponsors, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), are not among the Senate’s conferees, but Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will serve on the conference committee, along with 35 House members (see list below).

CARA co-sponsor Sen. Portman has been critical of the House’s package (which focuses almost solely on the opioid epidemic), saying the Senate bill is more comprehensive. Recovery advocates have also shown a preference for CARA because it prioritizes prevention efforts and includes provisions that address recovery programs. In a statement, Sen. Portman said:

“I’m pleased that CARA is the position of the Senate as we move into this conference discussion[.] My staff and I have been working very closely with our conferees, Senator Whitehouse, and other members to help find common ground between the two chambers.”

Unfortunately, no Minnesota legislators are members of the CARA Conference Committee. Nonetheless, our elected officials need to hear our stories. In order to ensure that the final bill presents a comprehensive approach to addiction, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) is asking constituents to take action today. Tell FAVOR why CARA and a comprehensive approach to this public health crisis is so critical.

Republican Conferees:

  • Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California
  • Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan
  • Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia
  • Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin
  • Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas
  • Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia
  • Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan
  • Rep. Mike Bishop of Michigan
  • Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana
  • Rep. Susan W. Brooks of Indiana
  • Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia
  • Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida
  • Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana
  • Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Robert J. Dold of Illinois

Democratic Conferees:

  • Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey,
  • Judiciary ranking member John Conyers Jr. of Michigan
  • Education and Workforce ranking member Robert C. Scott of Virginia
  • Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington
  • Rep. Gene Green of Texas
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas
  • Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut
  • Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee
  • Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland
  • Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico
  • Rep. Judy Chu of California
  • Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut
  • Rep. Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire
  • Rep. Raul Ruiz of California

connect. recover. advocate. serve.

Minnesota Recovery Connection

Historic CARA Legislation Passes House

diagramOn Friday, July 8, 2016, the United States House of Representatives almost unanimously approved the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA). The 407-5 vote bodes well for the bill’s passage in the Senate, after which CARA will land on President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

CARA includes policies and grant programs affecting prevention, law enforcement, addiction treatment and recovery support.

The implementation of CARA will:

  • Raise prescriber awareness through education about the danger of opioids;
  • Increase access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for those with substance use disorder by increasing prescriber patient limits;
  • Expand first responder naloxone training programs and prescription drug take back initiatives, as well as general addiction treatment and prevention education, training and awareness campaigns;
  • Fund a comprehensive report on the reality of recovery in America and the collateral consequences of addiction;
  • Offer demonstration grants for states to provide a comprehensive response to opioid abuse; and
  • Provide grant funding for veteran treatment courts, treatment for pregnant and postpartum women, and recovery support services through recovery community organizations (that’s us – Minnesota Recovery Connection).

CARA’s financial commitment to expand recovery support services is modest – $5 million over 5 years – but overall CARA is a huge victory for recovery. CARA is an important step toward healthcare parity and a promising development that will further our efforts to end discrimination against those diagnosed with substance use disorder.

Please take a moment to thank your representatives for moving CARA forward.

Thank your representatives for voting YES on CARA.

Tweet your members of Congress #thankyou for voting YES on #CARA.

Minnesota Recovery Connection

connect. recover. advocate. serve.

The Senate Passed CARA!

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The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) – the first comprehensive addiction and recovery legislation to pass Congress in almost 40 years – is headed to the President’s desk this afternoon to be signed into law.

HUGE thanks to our own Julia Alexander for working on this legislation for more than two years! And Bravo! to the Addiction Policy Forum for all of its tenacity and perseverance!

Please take a moment to thank your Senators for voting yes on CARA.

Minnesota Recovery Connection

connect. recover. advocate. serve.

Recovery Voices Count! Voter Registration Information

Recovery Voices Count!vote-sticker

Did you know that in Minnesota you can register to vote online?

Pre-Registration is open until Oct 18.
After Oct .18 you will need to register to vote at your polling place on Election Day.

Wondering if you’re already registered to vote, or if your registration needs to be updated? Find out here.

Do you know what will be on your ballot? Do you know where to vote? To be prepared for Election Day, check the Elections & Voting website of the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State to answer any election questions.

It’s very important that supporters of the recovery community show up to VOTE on Tuesday, Nov 8! Not only is this a presidential election, but there are also important state and local offices to be decided – like judges, school district offices and in MN there’s also a constitutional amendment on the ballot too!

Everything you need to know about registering to vote from the Office of the MN Secretary of State:

Register Online
It’s quick and easy! You will need your Minnesota drivers license or Minnesota identification card number, or the last four numbers of your Social Security number.

Register on Paper
Download and print forms in English and other languages.Use these forms to register yourself or to register others in a voter registration drive.

Register on Election Day
You can register or update your registration at your polling place on Election Day. You will need proof of residence to register.
Learn more.

How to register if…

I’m a college student

I’m in the military or living abroad

I have a criminal record

I fear for my personal safety

I’m in a residential facility

I’m moving on or close to Election Day

I’m living temporarily in Minnesota

I’m homeless

My home is in foreclosure

THE BIG GAME AND THE GAMBLING DISORDERED

Thank you to our friends at Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance for providing this content:

Click here for PDF of Press Release.

THE BIG GAME AND THE GAMBLING DISORDERED

With the approach of Super Bowl LI, the Recovery Committee of the National Council on Problem Gambling has issued a press release to bring attention to the conflicts endured by those in recovery from gambling addiction. The lure of placing bets on the Super Bowl is particularly strong for compulsive gamblers.

THE BIG GAME AND THE GAMBLING DISORDERED
Conflicts for Individuals in Gambling Recovery
January 30, 2017

Washington, DC: As the “big game” approaches, thoughts running through the minds of individuals with a gambling disorder can be conflicting and problematic.“Hurry up, I hate the wait for the action to begin. The pre-game show begins; it is almost time for kickoff! My palms are beginning to sweat, my heart is beating faster. This is it… the big game, the chance to get even. I am ready to go. I have tossed a coin 500 times and 300 have come up heads. I can tell heads is the winner today. I have studied Luke Bryan; I know how long the National Anthem will be. I am watching videos of Lady Gaga; I can predict costume changes and songs she will sing. Those proposition bets are so fun. I am ready.”

“This is my last betting opportunity for the football season. I want and need to close out on a high. I know more about football than everyone else. Today is my day to prove it! I love all these amateurs betting on the game – what a great chance for me to take their money! This is my business. This is what I do best. The Super Bowl for me is like New Year’s Eve!”

The Recovery Committee of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is made up of people who care deeply about people suffering from gambling disorders. Many of us are in our own recovery from gambling disorders. We recognize and appreciate the lure of placing a bet on the Super Bowl; whether through an office pool, picking boxes at a bar, wagering in Vegas or on-line. It is part of the American pastime. It is fun and appeals to our competitive juices.

But we also know the pitfalls of Super Bowl for the compulsive gambler. They get caught up in the betting, the preponderance of options, odds and lines. It is not just WHO will win, but “Will Ryan or Brady throw for more yards?” “Will there be a safety in the game? How many times will Brady catch the Falcons off-sides? Which commercial precedes the opening kickoff?” The more bets, the more action for the compulsive gambler. This can lead to an overdose of betting that can have truly devastating consequences.

The Recovery Committee stresses caution:

  • Don’t get caught up in the hype and bet beyond your means.
  • Don’t mix alcohol with gambling; this may reduce inhibitions.
  • Treat gambling as entertainment, not as a job.

For those in early recovery from a gambling disorder, the Super Bowl is a high-risk situation. The best strategy may be to not watch the game at all. It’s a great time to go to the movies, spend time with family and friends who don’t watch the game, or find healthy ways to keep yourself busy and distracted. We urge everyone to be careful out there. Big events sometimes bring out faulty beliefs like “I can really triple up on my usual stakes.”

And if you are a loved one, family member or friend of a problem gambler, know that you too can be triggered as you observe their irrational thoughts and behaviors and wonder what you can do to help. Contact Gam-Anon, the organization for loved ones of problem gamblers for information and meetings in your area.

And remember help is always available 24-7: call or text 1-800-522-4700 or chat at www.ncpgambling.org/chat.

Contact: Jeff Beck, JD, LPC, ICGC II, Clinical Director, Maryland Center of Excellence On Problem Gambling & Chair, NCPG Recovery Committee 667-214-2128 jbeck@som.umaryland.edu or
Keith Whyte, Executive Director, NCPG 202.547.9204 or keithw@ncpgambling.org

Safety in Self-Help Groups

Safety in Self-Help Groups
~
MAJ John Donovan

One of the most important issues to confront recovery groups in decades has been the issue of “Safety in Self-Help” groups. Startling headlines and shocking news reports have circulated around the nation about predatory behavior within and around self-help groups.

Earlier this year the General Service Office of A.A. in New York, NY published a paper providing A.A. groups with much sought after guidance about how to deal with disruptive behavior within an A.A. group. This paper entitled:  Service Material from the General Service Office – Safety and A.A.:  Our Common Welfare, was printed on January 25, 2017.  The paper lays out the A.A. philosophy and suggestions for keeping groups safe.  Here are a few extracts:

  1. The paper states, “In any situation, if a person’s safety is in jeopardy, or the situation breaches the law, the individuals involved can take appropriate action to ensure their safety. Calling the proper authorities does not go against any A.A. Traditions. Anonymity is not a cloak protecting criminal or inappropriate behavior”.
  1. The paper adds, “As individuals, A.A. members are also “citizens of the world,” and as citizens we are not above the law”.
  1. Lastly the paper adds, “No A.A. group has to tolerate illegal behavior and any activity within an A.A. meeting is subject to the same laws that apply outside the meeting.”

Although not in the aforementioned paper, this excerpt from a letter Bill Wilson (co-founder of A.A.) wrote in 1969 clearly shows how Bill felt about the subject. He wrote, “This amount of charity does not mean that we cannot exclude those who disturb meetings or seriously interfere with the functioning of the group. Such people can be asked to quiet down or go elsewhere, or, to come back when they are better able to participate.”

In summary, the group’s welfare comes first. No one in a self-help group is above or outside the law.

MAJ Donovan is a person in long-term recovery and an advocate for veterans seeking recovery.  MAJ Donovan will present on “Safety in Self-Help Groups” on April 27 at the Annual Military Mental Health Initiative Conference to be held at the 133rd Air Wing located adjacent to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. 

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