Newsletter – May 15, 2021 – Continued Hope

Newsletter – Feb 15, 2020 – Giving Back

Newsletter – Feb 1, 2020 – Stopping the Insanity

Newsletter – Jan 15, 2020 – How Lives Change 

Newsletter – Jan 1, 2020 – The 2020 Vision

Articles of Interest: 

Three Essential Steps to Aftercare


Sober housing. One of the easiest ways for an addict to relapse is being in a familiar drinking or drug using environment. If you were living with someone who was not 100% sober before, you must ask them to abstain or live somewhere else. Even if you think your spouse having a glass of wine, or roommate smoking a bowl isn’t a big deal, it is and you absolutely cannot be around it. If they want to support your recovery, there will be a “no drink or drug policy” in the house.


Outpatient therapy or family therapy. Those who have suffered from drug addiction often need long-term therapy to fully recover. This is not a sign of weakness in emotion or willpower. It is simply one of the best ways to stay on track with a sober lifestyle and practice the coping skills you learned while at Fresh Start. Therapy can help you overcome traumatic life events and will keep your focus on recovery. You received a lot of help at Fresh Start but it may not have been time to clear all of your deeper issues. Consider seeking additional counseling from a qualified counselor, not your buddies.


Joining a recovery community. There is a reason why so many of us in recovery are lifelong support group members. Often A.A. or N.A. is an another option or one to use in addition to Fresh Start’s support group meetings. Finding a support system is necessary to stay on the right track. The community you choose will give you a place to celebrate holidays in a supportive environment. It will also give you a place to go when your therapist is not available and you are struggling. Where many of us go wrong is not staying accountable. Accountability is what has helped you this far – remember that.


“Hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.”

Psalm 130:7


Combating Alcohol and Substance Abuse in Middle Age

It used to be thought that younger generations (those in their 20s and 30s) were most likely to use and abuse drugs. However, studies show that the opposite is true, with an increase in mortality for those in their 40s through 60s due to substance overdose and diseases related to substance use. This is a harrowing discovery, as those in middle age set an example for young adults on how to cope with life, loss, and the future.

Economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton believe that the current middle age population is a “lost generation.” Unlike the baby boomers, these individuals are more likely to enter retirement with debt, and many are still supporting families, unlike their parents who had a much brighter and easier future. Other factors that have caused an increase in middle-aged substance abuse include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Disability or inability to find work
  • Declines in physical and emotional health
  • Financial insecurity

Alcohol abuse is the most common among this population; however, other drug usage is still prevalent, especially with prescription medications. This is causing a breakdown of family units and will set future generations up for failure.

What do you do when you’re struggling to find a job at 45, yet still need to support your kids that are in college? What helps when you have chronic pain that you thought you wouldn’t experience until your later years, and yet are still expected to earn an income? What do you do when you have no savings for retirement, yet are getting too tired to work?

All of these stresses can weigh heavily, which is why many older adults turn to alcohol or other drugs to ease the burden. It can be harder to notice the problem in middle-aged adults because many symptoms can be explained by other symptoms of getting older. Sluggishness and fatigue can be explained by hard work and little time off, not a hangover. Irritability or reclusiveness is seen as just a part of getting older, rather than a sign that someone is using drugs and coming down off a high. If not treated, substance abuse can cause severe physical and emotional damage, and ultimately death.

Middle age can be a challenging time in life, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. There is support for you to overcome your addiction and live a fulfilling life after 40.

If you or a loved one is struggling to overcome an addiction, talk to Fresh Start Ministries. We offer recovery programs for men of all ages and will get you the help you need to be a happier and healthier individual. There is always hope for a brighter future.


Codependent: NO!

Co-dependence is the taking care of others way above and beyond the call of duty. Sometimes a codependent is also called an Enabler.

Often you can recognize a codependent not only by their communication style, but also by the fact that they take care of everyone else until they are empty and void of joy and energy. They obsess over the addict or alcoholic’s problems, trying desperately to get him to stop while they are running from here to there trying to pick up the pieces of the destructive lifestyle of the addict.

But codependents begin to feel victimized and have lost touch with themselves, their own feelings and what they like. They use up all of their mental energy on others and their tank is empty for their own self. Eventually, the codependent gets resentful but is also elevated in their self esteem because they are the “martyr”. Then they become as “sick” as the addict or alcoholic, just differently. At its height, the codependent feels like God but with a little “g”. They are actually getting in God’s way of bringing that addict to his bottom. The codependent must get out of God’s way so HE can do the work in the loved one that is needed. The codependent  must realize this before they can learn to say “NO!” to co-dependence. Once this transition happens they begin to find themselves again, take responsibility for their own lives, and stop trying to clean up the mess of the lives around them, specifically the addict or the alcoholic.

Fresh Start’s 12 Step support group meeting is designed for the addicts and the codependents. It is designed to help teach the codependent to take control of their own feelings, to set healthy boundaries, to recognize when their helping is really NOT helping. A mere hour a week isn’t enough but it is a good start. Meeting with other codependents who are waling the same path is helpful and supportive. Our 12-Step meetings are open to the public and meet on Tuesday evenings at 7:15 at Fresh Start. Call our office for more information: 407 293-3822.


In A State of Transition

Transition happens in everyone’s life………marriage, divorce, birth of a baby, death of a loved one, job changes. How do you survive through uncertain times? Navigating transitions can be difficult; with an adjustment in how we respond we can navigate transitions much more smoothly. An adjustment in our attitude will often change how we view the problem opening up potential solutions we wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

Transition is normal; how we navigate it can make a world of difference.

As an addict in recovery there is transition and additional stressors. An addict will often feel more anxious and depressed than a person who is not also addressing their recovery. An attitude adjustment can smooth the waters of transition. Support is also a critical factor for an addict in recovery and transition simultaneously.

Often a counselor will recommend not going through major transitions during the first year of recovery. Sometimes, however, that is unavoidable. Or perhaps it was due to the addiction that there are major transitions such as loss of a job or a divorce.

Another tip to navigate the waters of transition is to have realistic expectations. In other words, if going through the birth of a baby know the first few weeks may rob you of some sleep; but, it gets better after that. If you have lost your job, have the realistic expectation that you may be out of work for up to several months. When you establish realistic expectations, you are less likely to become disappointed leading you into depression and anxiety.

Remember that transition can also mean great opportunity. Life is presenting you with new opportunities which may yield happier endings. And, being on the road to recovery is an opportunity to yield happier endings.


Continuing A Healthy Recovery is vital

After graduating the program at Fresh Start Ministries, it’s important to realize your journey isn’t over. As a matter of fact, addiction will be an eternal recovery process. It’s important to know where to go for support after graduating Fresh Start Ministries. There are many options; but, Fresh Start offers an Aftercare facility, “Sober City” where apartments are affordable and there is a lower level of accountability to help you transition back into society. For other support besides the Fresh Start support group meetings on Tuesday nights, two other of the most popular are Alcoholics Anonymous and The Most Excellent Way.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international program which has existed to serve for more than 75 years. They have an agnostic view of race, politics, and religion, addressing your power source as a “higher power” rather than “God, Jesus”, or other faith-based name. The twelve step program begins with admitting you are powerless over your addiction and that there is a “higher power” which can restore you to sanity.

As families around an addict knows, the environment can feel insane at times. Once sanity is restored, you take a personal assessment of yourself and begin to restore relationships which have been severed.

The Most Excellent Way (MEW) is a Christian view of recovery, addressing the ten attitudes of victorious living with a coordinating Scripture. MEW addresses addiction whether to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or other addictive behaviors. The first three attitudes of victorious living, humility, repentance, and submissiveness, take AA’s first two steps and incorporate faith and Scripture into them.

Following these steps, they address honesty, taking an honest look at your life, and reconciliation (attitude 7) to restore severed relationships.

These programs are in cities around the United States and can support you as you continue your path to recovery.

Fresh Start’s Sober City 



Addiction: A Path That Continues

As you know recovery is never a complete process; it is ongoing. Therefore, taking a look at the character traits that need continual assessment, resolution, and introspection can help you stay in recovery.

Staying humble and recognizing that you are powerless over addiction, asking for support, and looking to God to help you, will take the weight of recovery off your shoulders. One counselor said that she doesn’t want to take credit for her client’s successes because she can’t own responsibility for their failures either. Staying in recovery is a personal choice and having the humility to admit you need a power greater than yourself will help.

Reconciliation is another continual process. Often the addict doesn’t realize how many people his choices have affected and the number of relationships he’s severed. Therefore, it’s important amends are made as he realizes the effect he has had on others.

Perseverance–one final trait. You’ve heard of alcoholics “falling off the wagon”, right? Truthfully recovery requires perseverance. It’s not easy; but, it is possible. Persevere, find support, and continue your recovery process diligently. It will pay great dividends.

In conclusion, remember to keep practicing humility, reconciliation, and perseverance. You are capable of staying in recovery and seeds are being planted that will root and grow sometimes down the road. Nothing is wasted as long as you are trying. Success comes from trying.


Why Is Marijuana Dangerous If It’s Not Addictive?

Eight states in the United States have legalized recreational marijuana, and eighteen plus the District of Columbia have legalized it for medical use. This has sparked some argument as to whether the drug is truly harmful on human health. It has been used for medicinal purposes because of its calming effect, and because it is not as addictive as other depressants or hallucinogens. However, the dangers of its recreational use are still very real.

Marijuana is not considered PHYSICALLY addictive, but is certainly MENTALLY addictive. And heavy recreational users can experience some withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, decrease of appetite, and headaches. Psychological dependence on marijuana is very dangerous. Even if the body does not crave the high, people will go to great lengths to have the drug because it helps them relax, or distance themselves from psychological problems.

Marijuana also encourages some people to smoke cigarettes, which are certainly addictive. Many people who try smoking marijuana, or “weed” as it is called on the street, can associate the high with the sensations of smoking in general. This, coupled with the expense of purchasing the drug, can prompt people to smoke cigarettes. One of the major outcomes is that It is a “gateway” drug for more addictive substances and narcotic drugs.

States who have legalized recreational marijuana put laws into effect to protect citizens and adolescents from it.  Driving while high is as dangerous as drunk driving, because cannabinoids slow responsiveness. It can also cause developmental problems for teens and young adults who use the substance because their brains are not yet fully developed, which is why states have age restrictions.

Marijuana should be regarded like alcohol – it doesn’t cause everyone to become addicted- but it does pose a very serious threat to all who use it. It is NEVER o.k. to smoke marijuana. If you are ready to stop smoking, contact Fresh Start Ministries today.



By Tim Carlsward, Program Director

As individuals in recovery obviously we must work a solid 12 step program.  As we continue with our lives and preparing ourselves for the future, we should always keep some component of recovery education active in our life.  In looking at our future and what our purpose is, it is without question to be successful in whatever we do that we continue to look at ourselves on a regular basis.  I believe many recovering addicts make this devastating mistake after finishing a program that they stop working an effective 12 step recovery program.  As God continues to grow us, He will show us areas in our lives that need improving, that we need look at, no matter how long we have been in recovery.  If we are not in the position to learn, we can potentially miss our purpose in life.  God has a specific plan for each one of us, and it’s my prayer that we all continue to grow in whatever that plan is.  If we stay committed and focused with a positive attitude, there is nothing we cannot accomplish in life by the grace and mercy of God.  I ask you to continue to pray for the men here at Fresh Start Ministries and their families and may God richly bless you.


How to Help Your Husband with Addiction

One of the most heartbreaking moments of a marriage is when you find out your spouse has an addiction. Or perhaps you do know, but this time their addiction has caused some sort of physical, mental or emotional trauma. In either case, you know you cannot continue to accept a marriage with such pain and uncertainty.

When your husband (or partner) agrees to joining a recovery program, you will likely be their primary support. These are the best ways you can provide that support for him, your family, and yourself:

Don’t press for details. Your husband may be defensive about his past, or feel like you won’t be able to understand. It may hurt to not be given answers to your questions, but part of what prolongs addiction is the fear of loved ones finding out about its horrors. The subject may be so personal that your husband feels more comfortable talking to a therapist, rather than the one he loves most. But if you give him time and space, he will eventually open up to you.

Be honest with yourself and your husband/partner. Part of the path to sobriety is to make amends with the people one has hurt by their drug or alcohol abuse. When your husband comes to you for forgiveness, you must be honest with him about the things that you are upset, hurt or concerned about. Assure him that you love him and support him, but be honest about your feelings and regrets in the present. It will help you to work on the problems that affect you both the most, and try to make a fresh start.

Be prepared for change. Your husband’s personality may completely change during recovery. He may be angry, depressed or resentful in the first few months of recovery. Afterward, he will likely find new friends, new beliefs, and new desires in life that may be different than his past friends. Don’t’ be overly concerned about this new sober man, instead spend time getting to know each other again.

Take things slow. You have likely been hurt by your spouse’s actions, and may even want to divorce or separate. But we suggest you give your partner a chance to amend the relationship as part of their recovery. However, don’t accept their apologies too soon either. Until you know how and if recovery has changed your husband (not all of your problems will be resolved) wait and see how things progress before you make life-changing decisions.

Talk to a therapist. You have suffered emotional trauma, and potentially physical danger, from your husband’s addiction. This may have caused some unhealthy coping mechanisms to develop for both of you. Your emotional recovery is just as important as theirs, so take care of yourself and remember that you are more than strong enough to overcome.

Need someone to talk to about recovery options for you and your husband? Call Fresh Start Ministries at (407) 293-3822.


Our quitting point is God’s beginning point

Life is not a short story. With each stage in your life – from childhood to adolescence to the many stages of adulthood – you have the ability to write a new chapter for yourself. The chapters in your life start and end with your decisions. The chapter of sobriety is one of the hardest to write, but it is one of the most important to decide for yourself.

This quote by Woodrow Kroll tells us that when we have faced our hardest decision – the decision to quit using drugs or alcohol – God will be ready to show us a better path. Quitting is one way you can show your strength and faith in Him. And with His grace and unconditional love, your journey through recovery will be rejuvenating for your next phase in life.

Sobriety isn’t easy, even through faith-based recovery. You will have the temptation to return to your former lifestyle. And though that lifestyle was detrimental to your family, career, and health, it can bring back memories of ease and comfort. But temptation does not have to overpower you. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

God has a plan for you, and it includes tools to deal with relapse. Two of His most powerful tools are acceptance and perseverance. If you do relapse during your recovery (and many people do), you may feel regret. But faith in God teaches us to accept our past and our mistakes; they are a part of learning our limitations and putting faith in ourselves once more. Once we accept both our mistakes and the wisdom we gain from these experiences, we are given the perseverance to make right choices in the future.

Fresh Start Ministries can help you embrace your new beginning with God. Contact us to learn more about our programs and ways we can help you or a loved one with substance abuse.


Are You Supporting or Enabling Your Loved One?

Those in recovery need to know how much they are loved and cared for. But, you don’t want to give the impression that the addiction is okay, or that you encourage the person to “do whatever makes them feel better”. You have to set boundaries and stick to your convictions regardless of how hard the process becomes. Your loved one needs you be compassionate; but, they also need you to be strong for them.

There are many ways in which support can quickly turn to enabling behavior. We’ve compared the types of supportive help you should give your loved one in recovery, but also how these behaviors become enabling over time:

Distribution of home responsibility. In recovery, the previously addicted person may struggle to reintegrate into normal life. However, they may use their recovery as an excuse to skip out on home or work responsibilities. In the first few days or weeks of recovery this may happen a few times. But, if you continually do more than your fair share of the work, you are likely enabling or at least encouraging the addict to not accept their future.

Financial help versus financial enabling. Many people in recovery have trouble finding work. They may have a criminal record related to their use, or have health problems that limit their job opportunities. While you shouldn’t expect them to be completely financially independent, you should never just give them money without supervision. You never know when a relapse is occurring and your money is being spent to fuel the addiction rather than the recovery.

Respecting privacy versus making excuses. It’s okay not to tell everyone about your loved one’s addiction. It can cause tension, and some people just won’t be understanding to the situation. However, you can’t make excuses for why your loved one treats you poorly or why they act irresponsibly with other people. Don’t try to rebuild the bridges your loved one has burned through their addiction. That is their responsibility.

Selflessness versus self-depreciation. Recovering addicts need support, and sometimes they will test your limits. It can be incredibly painful to love someone who is entrenched in an addiction, but they need you to now more than ever. The only thing they should ask of your selflessness is to give unconditional love, but never unconditional favors or self sacrifice. If you feel unhealthy in the relationship with an addict, it is best you distance yourself while ensuring them that you support them in their recovery.


Why Didn’t I Know My Loved One was Addicted?

Sometimes, the confession of alcohol or drug addiction comes as a shock. Your loved one – whether it be a parent, spouse, child or close friend – comes to you about their struggle and you can’t feel anything but shock. You think, “How could I not have seen the signs?”

The truth is, most people don’t realize that their loved one is addicted unless they either catch them in the act, or they are told directly. Those suffering with addiction have become dependent because they are so good at hiding their behavior. If it weren’t a problem, you would have known about it. But those with addictions go to great lengths to ensure that no one finds out.

Addictive behaviors are also easy to “explain away.” Hard drugs, like heroin and methamphetamine, are more difficult to hide at home, but can be done outside the house and at work. Alcoholism can be easily hidden, or rationalized because drinking is legal. Some people don’t show side effects of drugs or alcohol, but are nonetheless addicted.

Subtle Signs of Addiction:

  • Decreased interest in hobbies or social activities – The person will be less likely to want to spend hours away if they cannot use. They may also feel uncomfortable around non-using friends and family for fear of judgement.
  • Excess time spent alone or running odd “errands” – The secret addict will need time to purchase the drug, and will make up excuses to allow themselves out of the home alone. They may also leave unannounced or be gone longer than expected on short trips.
  • Unexplainable mood swings – When the person is not able to use, they will go through short withdrawal symptoms and retaliate. Or their substance abuse may cause these mood swings, as often is the case with alcoholism.
  • Increased or chronic health problems – All drugs cause health problems, and it is only a matter of time before they start interfering with the user’s life.
  • Irritability after long hours spent with non-users – When the person is forced to spend a lot of time with non-using friends or family, they will be preoccupied with how to remove themselves from the situation to continue the behavior. They may also experience withdrawals which can cause physical and emotional discomfort.
  • Dilation or “pinpoint” pupils, staggering, or unexplained bouts of sickness – If the person looks unhealthy or is not acting normal, they may be intoxicated. They will try to explain the symptoms, but the reasons will not fully align with the situation.

If you suspect your loved one is in the midst of an addiction, contact Fresh Start Ministries today. We can help you and your family get through this difficult time with a better, brighter future.


Conflict Resolution

By Tim Carlsward, Program Director

The holidays are now over and as we move forward in 2017 it is healthy for us to look back during the previous year to see lessons we can learn from. One in particular the Lord has shown me is how our relationships during the holidays were sometimes challenged through a time of high anxiety and pressure that the holiday season can bring.  One important fact is that our relationships are very important to our recovery and thus, that is an area in our lives that can be challenged more times than not.  Learning how to resolve conflict is crucial to our recovery and sometimes our pride and insecurities get in the way of resolving them.  If we have a relationship that is strained, first look at ourselves.  Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV) says (1) “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (2) For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (3) Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (4) How can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (5) You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. As we now look at the conflict with a balanced perspective, we can then loving confront the conflict straight forwardly in a healthy manner.  The bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV), (4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. (8) Love never fails”. Problems can be resolved without the drama and personal attack on each other that generally comes when the conflict is dealt with dysfunctionally.  Conflict does not need to divide us if we apply Gods Word as he intended us to do.  Again I would like to wish everyone a very Happy and prosperous New Year and thank you in advance for your continued prayers for the men here at FSM and their families.




Warning Signs of a “Closet” Alcoholic

“I didn’t know for ten years my father was an alcoholic,” Jamie, a woman who sought help for her father in the hardest stages of recovery told us in an interview. “I knew as a kid something was different with our family, but I had no idea how to look for the warning signs of alcoholism when I was young.” An advocate of alcoholism treatment, Jamie (though not her real name) tells us about the warning signs of secret alcohol abuse.

“I felt angry because I had to go through a lot of pain due to my father’s addiction, and for ten years I subconsciously thought it was somehow my fault.” Many families of alcoholics feel the same way when finding out their loved one suffers from alcohol addiction. Secret alcoholics can hide their addictions in many ways, and usually the illness does not show itself until it significantly affects the person’s health.

Someone can drink in excess for years without their friends and family knowing. It’s important to read the signs of addiction before it affects your loved one’s health, career, or your relationship with them. If you suspect your loved one is engaging in alcohol abuse, look for these warning signs and symptoms:

Loss of Appetite. Alcohol use often curbs the appetite of someone addicted. You may notice that they start to lose weight, or their face and skin became paler because of lack of nutrition. Loss of appetite is also a sign of depression, which can cause excessive drinking or binge drinking. Jamie told us this was one of the first signs that her father was having problems. “My father didn’t eat very much at all, and his face and upper body was visibly weak. But, he looked as if he were gaining weight in his abdomen and legs. I didn’t find out until later that the perceived weight gain was actually swelling caused by liver cirrhosis.”

Personality Changes. If someone you know has severe mood swings or you notice they occasionally act completely out of character, you may be seeing them when they are hiding intoxication. Some alcoholics are angry and irrational, while others will act jovial and inappropriately friendly when intoxicated. “My father would yell at me for no reason, and lose his temper at night,” Jamie told us, “Then, in the morning, he would act as if nothing happened. I never understood it until now.”

Unexplained Health Problems. Alcoholism causes many health problems, from liver and kidney damage to severe mental impairment. The person you suspect of alcoholism may already be suffering from the behavior, but will cover up the symptoms by explaining things away. For example, Jamie told us, “My father would throw up often throughout the day, and could never keep his food or medicine down. He said it was because of gallbladder problems which ‘explained away’ the vomiting as well as the loss of appetite. In reality he was lying to cover up his alcoholic symptoms.”

Vodka becomes preferred choice of drink. Vodka is colorless, almost odorless, and incredibly potent. Family members can’t usually smell Vodka on the breath, which makes it easy to hide. Plus, it does not take as much of it to become intoxicated quickly. “One day, I found two empty bottles of Vodka in my father’s closet. I finally knew. It was about the time he lost his job that he became very ill. I suspect he probably spent the last of his money on alcohol, and when it ran out he went through withdrawal, putting him in the hospital. I was crushed, but at least it was finally over.”

Don’t wait to ask your loved one about recovery options. Your voice could be the one they need to hear to finally quit, and change their live in a positive way. To learn more about alcohol recovery, call Fresh Start Ministries at (407) 293-3822.


Enjoying the Holiday Season Drink-Free

It’s getting cooler outside, meaning another holiday season is just around the corner. But, for those in recovery, this time of year is especially hard. Staying away from holiday drinks and coping with the added stress of family can be more of a struggle than a celebration at times. Your family knows that you’re in the recovery process; but, not everyone will know what precautions to take or what might make you especially vulnerable to a relapse.

If you think you’ll have problems, or are in the first stages of recovery, follow these steps to stay sober. Controlling your thoughts and behaviors is essential to enjoying the celebration in a drink-free, positively enforcing environment.

  • Affirm your choice to stay sober everyday. When alcohol is likely going to be available, or you might be tempted to indulge, remind yourself why you’re in recovery. Remember how great it will feel when you enjoy Christmas by the fire without a drink, and without the guilt you may experience afterward. Everyday take a few moments to relax and list the reasons why you’d rather stay sober than quit in recovery.
  • Ask family and friends to be sensitive of your activities. If you think your family might serve wine on Thanksgiving or want to go out to the bar on New Year’s, let them know in advance that it will make you uncomfortable. Ask them to respect your need to distance yourself from temptation, and offer suggestions on alternative activities that don’t involve drinking. If they insist, simply decline the invitation to join and spend time with other relatives or close friends.
  • If you travel, find a meeting to join. You can likely find an AA or NA group almost anywhere you travel. In an unfamiliar setting, you’ll be under extra pressure and need the support of those who understand your struggle. Research meeting places online before you travel and work them into your plans whenever possible. If you think you’ll be too busy, ask for the number of your regular counselor to talk if you need the encouragement.
  • Have some alone time. Holidays are stressful for people who aren’t in recovery, so don’t feel bad if you need some extra time alone to cope with your emotions and anxiety. Family gatherings may bring out bad memories, and some members may not be as supportive as you wish they would be. Don’t take it personally, but do take some time for yourself to cope and relax at the beginning or end of each day.
  • Exercise and eat well. Of course, you’re likely to indulge on some extra desserts, or skip a few days of exercise around the holidays. But you don’t want to completely lose sight of healthy lifestyle changes you’ve made in recovery. Remember to moderate your eating, and fill up on the healthier dinner options rather than the desserts. Instead of abandoning your exercise routine, plan activities that incorporate light exercise (ice skating, skiing, walks in the park, etc.) into your holiday daytime plans.

In the midst of holiday celebrations, it can be hard to keep sight of the progress you’ve made. But remember that you’re making progress. Every day without drinking is another day lived more fully and with pride. Talk to a counselor at Fresh Start Ministries if you’re ever in need this holiday season.

A Christmas card



Why Do I Still Have Withdrawal Symptoms After Detoxification?

Ending any addiction comes with withdrawals, most severe within the first week of quitting. However, the body has almost as long of a recovery process as the mind and emotions when it comes to alcohol and drug use. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is the second phase of withdrawal symptoms, less severe but equally debilitating, when returning to normal life and daily function.

PAWS can become an impairment in itself when you are working or in social situations. Some of the symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Cognitive function impairment Simple tasks, such as performing math calculations or focusing on a task for long periods of time can be very stressful. You may feel as if you are suddenly much less intelligent and capable, which can also lower self esteem. However, these problems are not a reflection of you. This is only a symptom that will improve over time.
  • Insomnia People in alcohol or drug recovery can suffer from insomnia, which can intensify cravings and exacerbate cognitive impairments. Make sure you go to bed at a consistent time with no distractions, relax, and try to get at least six or seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Anxiety/Stress Small inconveniences turn into major burdens. Issues at work make you worry that you’ll lose your job or that you’ve completely lost your way. And you may feel a general anxiety for no reason at all. If stress builds up, take some time to meditate or remove yourself from the situation.
  • Emotional DistressIn withdrawal, many people feel as if their emotions are running wild. Because of the drug or alcohol use, your emotions have long been suppressed, and you have not fully developed the skills to cope with them. A flood of negative feelings may surround you, but don’t let it discourage you. “Getting your emotions back” means you are moving in the right direction.
  • Emotional Apathy In contrast, there may be times when you feel no emotions at all. This is a common symptom of depression, which can make it harder to connect with friends and family or empathise with others. If you feel disconnected from your family life and friends, express to them that you feel depressed and ask for help right away.
  • Social Anxiety Social situations can cause anxiety for those in PAWS recovery. You may be slower to react to social cues, or have trouble keeping up with dialogue, making you feel on the side lines. If you’re having trouble, spend time with small groups of friends and work on your social skills so you can improve when meeting new people.
  • Unexplained Cravings Certain stimuli can trigger cravings in recovering alcohol or drug users. However, in PAWS recovery you may have cravings for no reason at all. If you do feel the urge to return to your drug or drink of choice, take a walk or distract yourself. The craving will pass as long as you don’t give in to it’s perceived urgency.

Some of the best ways to cope with PAWS include regular exercise, ample time for sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, meditation, and working on social skills with close friends. You can also call Fresh Start Ministries if you need to talk to someone about getting help. We are happy to walk you through the steps of recovery and withdrawal, and offer expert advice from the Fresh Start Ministries Staff. Contact us today to learn more.


Holiday Stress

By Tim Carlsward, Program Director

The holidays are upon us and most of the men in the program and their families will experience their first sober and drug free Christmas and New Years in quite some time.  As we approach these two important holidays it can create much stress and anxiety within us.  On top of the holiday stress, families in recovery can begin to feel anxiety about if their loved one will stay on the road to recovery.  Most families in recovery filter out previous holidays and the destructive behavior that took place during their loved ones addiction.  This can put many of them on edge.  The best advice I can give you is to talk about it.  Don’t be afraid to process your thoughts and feelings and seek the advice of those with experience who have been though what you may be experiencing this holiday season.  Let’s experience the best Christmas and New Year’s ever and focus on our relationships with each other with love, peace and joy.  Please continue to pray for the men and their families this Holiday season.  I pray God richest blessings on you and yours and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year.



 Our goal is to help each man experience a variety of local churches while he is enrolled at Fresh Start with the idea that once he is on his own, he will know which church or type of church he’d like to attend. We always encourage the families to meet us at church and sit with their loved one. There is something so basic and bonding about being together in church. Below is our church schedule for this month.


Our goal is to help network and support folks who are in the same boat and to lend a bit of knowledge about addiction recovery or codependency by providing a short 20 to 30 minute teaching during our weekly support group meetings. After the teachings, we break into small groups for 30-45 minutes to process what we’ve just learned. The last Tuesday of every month is FSM Graduation and there are no teaching or groups that night. But graduations are very encouraging and uplifting hearing the testimonies of both the graduate & his family!



         3 Do’s and 1 Don’t to Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery

Addiction causes relationships to be severed and strained. As an addict enters recovery he must often face the damage he’s caused and work to rebuild the relationships which have been strained or severed. There are three important things to keep in mind as the addict works to rebuild the relationship.

First, recognize the pain caused by admitting fault, asking for forgiveness, and working to build trust by being honest. An addict has the tendency to lie in order to keep his addiction “in check”. However, his friends and family weren’t fooled; they remember the continual circle of lies. Therefore, it’s important for the addict to rebuild trust.

Second, action speak louder than words as the old adage goes. The addict must be more aware of acting in congruence with his words. Congruence is one of the ways a recovering addict can build trust.

Third, let bygones be bygones. Put the past in the past. This is important for you, the addict, and your friends and family. Be warned, however, that the past can’t stay in the past without new behavior patterns. If the previous behaviors tend to rear their head, people will not expect the past to be the past. It is important to note that this requires patience though.

Finally, DON’T try to repair all relationships. Some were and are toxic, and should be left in the past. If there are people in your life who are not supportive of your recovery it is best to remove them from your life or limit your time with them.

A recovering addict needs support. The relationships he strives to repair should include support, encouragement, trust, and candor. With this the recovering addict has a greater chance of success and a lesser chance of relapse.