A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss

Harm Reduction and Goal Setting in Addiction and Recovery with Terri Brown

February 21, 2024 Terri Brown Season 1 Episode 245
A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss
Harm Reduction and Goal Setting in Addiction and Recovery with Terri Brown
A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss +
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Show Notes Transcript

NOTE: In this episode, we will discuss childhood trauma, addiction, substance abuse, and sexual abuse.

Terri Brown is a peer coach, also known as a recovery coach, specializing in helping individuals with childhood trauma, criminal justice involvement, and addiction recovery. In this episode, we will address the topic of harm reduction, goal-setting, and the role of peer coaching in addiction recovery.

Terri shares personal experiences and insights into her work, emphasizing the importance of realistic goal-setting, finding purpose, and changing one's thoughts to change their world. We will also touch on the importance of creating a supportive network and the challenges faced in changing one's social environment. Terri is part of Face It Together, an organization that provides support and resources for addiction recovery.

Connect with Terri or find a counselor for yourself at https://www.wefaceittogether.org/

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A Subito Media production

Magic Barclay:

Welcome back to a magical life. I'm your host, Magic Barkley. Today, Terry Brown joins us. Terry has been a peer coach since 2009. She has a special interest in helping members with childhood trauma and criminal justice involvement as well as those in. The diverse gender community, and sorry, I don't know all the letters, people. They keep adding them. So welcome,

Terri Brown:

Terry. Welcome. Thank you for having me on your show. I've been looking forward to this, Magic.

Magic Barclay:

My pleasure. Now, you know, we need to warn the listeners. We're going to be talking about something that a lot of people deal with. Many people don't like to talk about, and that is addiction and what it ends up doing if you're not getting help, but we are also going to give some help. So we're going to talk about how you work with people and a little bit about your own experiences. So I just want to preempt this episode with listeners. Some of this may make you feel uncomfortable and that is okay. Acknowledge it. Listen to what we're talking about. And if you feel that you need some help, please do reach out. Okay, let's get into it, Terry, I'm just going to completely start with what is a peer

Terri Brown:

coach? Yeah, yeah, so a peer coach, um, recovery coach, support specialist, there, there's all kind of names that people use these days, but basically it's a person who's lived the experience. Been there, done that. That's where that evolves from. Now the peer coach isn't a clinician by any sort of therapist. We don't, don't go down those roads because those are more for people with some deep trauma going on. And neither are we a sponsor, like AA, NA, that kind of thing. We are somewhere in the middle there. We are trained and we have certification. Um, to work with people. So we give them more of a structure than, let's say, AA or NA. We use a lot of our own life skills that we've learned. you know, we're not here to judge people. We meet people from all over, different lifestyles and demographics. And everyone's not going to, experience the same way to get what they need. So we meet a person where they're at. That meaning, okay, so what is it that you think is beneficial for you? What don't you like? What have you had some success in? To find out which role we want to take with them. Now myself personally, I work with a lot of people with childhood trauma. Um, I have my own personal childhood trauma and, and that's why I'm so, committed to helping people with that because I understand it. Uh, we work with them on setting realistic goals. working on some key things that maybe they've never thought about in life because the, the drug usage has been so many years. Uh, we've been very helpful with people getting custody back with their kids, which is a huge thing. I mean, having to give up your child or children because of your addiction can be trauma right there in itself. So we, we take each, client we have and, and it's not like a cookie cutter approach. Once again, we meet them where they're at, how we can help them.

Magic Barclay:

That sounds quite involved. Now, Terry, I asked the same three questions of all of my guests and everyone gives me different answers and I just love the diversity in the answers. So here comes the first one. What can your expertise do to accelerate health, not just physical health, but also emotional and spiritual

Terri Brown:

health? Mm hmm. Well, we, we actually have a tool. Magic, it's called an RCI. It's a recovery, recovery capital index, and it's 66 questions that involves health, wellness, mental, spiritual, financial, housing, all of that. It's a basically a snapshot of one's life that we have that we approach every day, we have to do, that we are a part of, of the community. And, the first time they take it, it's usually a low score, which makes sense, and it's areas that are struggling in general health, nutrition, transportation, those things I just covered, and maybe they're not working, maybe they're homeless, you know, and so we start with the coaching of finding out where are they at, what do they need, and we Help them get there. First of all, maybe just getting a job and that in itself can be a start to start earning some money. Maybe they're eating a little bit better now. Maybe they can take the bus besides walking. So that's tool that we use every time we have a new, another tool could be the lived experience. I have to say, I think that is our biggest tool right there, is having the understanding of knowing what it feels like, what it looks like, what it smells like, what it feels like, all of that. And that in itself is a tool, I consider myself a tool, to help the individual with. we don't get into the whole religion thing, you know, because that's not needed, even though we need a person where they're at. A lot of people may not have, like, any type of spiritual belief. And, and you know what, that's okay. But I think that, even for me, I've, I've learned to become that, um, learned to understand that spirituality is different from religion. So that, you know, once they start believing and feeling that they're worthy of something, of having a good life, I think that's where a bit of the spiritual life can come inside of them to want to do better, to be better, to be a better mother, father, sister, brother. And so on.

Magic Barclay:

Now, our next question is around wealth. People think wealth is just the financial. When going through addiction, when the shit hits the fan in life, let's face it, because it's, you know, we find ourselves in these situations. We forget about personal and emotional wealth. So what are your top three tips to creating wealth?

Terri Brown:

Yeah, that's, that's a really good question. I just said people could come in not having any self worth. But once again, we can start with Understanding where they're at when they first come in. Helping them achieve some goals they want to be. Small steps, baby steps, helps. And, finances aren't the most important thing. But, you know, when a person starts bringing a paycheck, maybe they can get an apartment now. So that's part of learning some skills that either they don't have or they just have not utilized. now I'm going to start saving some money, you know, I remember when I first got out of a prison, I didn't have a dime in my pocket and I, I started with nothing except for the, the clothes I wore at prison, some, some toiletries and, but you know what, that was mine that I had that and I needed that. and I started slowly building my wealth as far as a bedroom set, you know, a mattress. pots and pans, that kind of thing, can be wealth if you have nothing. emotional, that, that's a tricky one because we're, we're, we're dealing with people who are using because they're not dealing with their emotions. Or they're not dealing with their emotions well. Once they learn that we're not there to judge them, we're not there to tell them what they need to do. Personally, I believe in suggestion. That can go a long way in itself. You're giving the person the opportunity to understand that they're making the decisions. That in itself is a very good thing to possess, is learning to believe in yourself. yeah, you know, we deal with a lot of mental health patients and their emotions aren't always that good. think in a nutshell, if I could say this, is that basically we're trying to demonstrate and show people that they can have a happy life. I mean, that's what it really comes down to. And you got to put in the work to get there, that's, that's the hard part. But once you put in the work and you, and you find yourself making it in life and things are going good, I'd say that they were in a pretty good spot.

Magic Barclay:

And our final standard question is around weight loss. Addiction can come in many forms and certainly binge eating, anorexia, purging, all these issues around. Weight can also be part of that addictive cycle. So. We can find that people when they cease an addiction can also put a lot of weight on. Have you ever battled your weight? If so, how did you go about it? And what can you offer the listeners who might be in this kind of addictive cycle?

Terri Brown:

Well, we, we, we primarily deal with people with substance, alcohol or drugs. We don't really do the behavioral. even though a lot of our clients do have weight loss or weight problems. mostly women. Um, we're not concentrating on the, on the weight. That's, that's a separate thing. That's a behavioral thing. But, at the same token, I understand and I know that a lot of women, are severely overweight that comes from their childhood trauma. And they're using the food to, you know, fill that empty hole. So, once they are start working on their recovery and things are changing and are feeling better about themselves, For some, they will start to not use food as a coping mechanism, to learn how to eat more nutritional. so, in a roundabout way, we don't specifically work with people with weight problems. Even though a way can be a problem, it's not the primary thing that's, that's being addressed.

Magic Barclay:

Okay. Now let's talk about your story. How did you come into this? And if you don't mind sharing how that journey started for you, I really feel maybe the listeners, you know, maybe they know someone, maybe it's themselves that they need to hear those light bulb moments of they're not

Terri Brown:

alone. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's great. for me, it started as, as a child I was living in Oakland, California now, then, and, and it's a very, very, very just toxic environment. I mean, the city itself is toxic, rape, gangs, drive bys. mean, you name it, the whole gamut. and inside of my house was, wasn't much better. I was adopted and that actually had something to do with, I think a lot of my abandonment issues I had, didn't know that till later, but my mother who adopted me, she was physically available, but emotionally. She wasn't there. She was just checked out. And, so I didn't get any nurturing that I needed for my mother as a young child. And there was also physical and emotional abuse. and when I was about six or seven years old, I started getting molested as a young child. now, you know, a child's brain at that age is not designed to figure that stuff out, nor should it. But, um, no one talks about it. We don't want to talk about addiction. We darn for sure don't want to talk about mental health. And we're not going to talk about childhood trauma. So I learned to stuff everything. I stuffed, stuffed, stuffed, stuffed everything. I started smoking pot when I was about 11. Because it took those ookie feelings away from me. I didn't have to feel those feelings. Well, that came with teens using cocaine, experimenting with different drugs, what have you. I went through a very violent rape when I was about 21. With my head being busted open, and it was pretty tragic, and, and I developed the mindset of, I don't care about anyone, it's all about me now, no one's looking after me, I'm in a life of pain, and so then I started doing crack cocaine. In the early eighties, when it first came out and boy, that took me down some roads that I never thought I would go across some lines that I told myself I would never do that. The crack cocaine had a stranglehold on me. and so I. that's what I did. I didn't, didn't really apply my, much, myself much in school because the drugs had taken over. I had to learn survival skills at a very young age just to you know, get by. And once again, I did things I'm not proud of. but the addiction was, was driving it. I moved to South Dakota back in 93, I think it was. Uh, to minus 26, that was insane in itself right there. I can't believe people were living in those temperatures. But anyway, I managed to get seven DUIs in a four year span. I went to prison twice. now I don't know why didn't I figure it out after the third, the fourth DUI, you know, the first time I went to prison, it's because of my irrational thinking. Oh, it's not that bad. It's I've done it before. I can do it again. That became my mindset. Finally, at 37, I was sitting in prison and telling myself that I can't continue this life. This is the life I was meant to live. And, um, I don't know if anyone's familiar with sweat lodges, but they have them on prison grounds. It's a Native American thing that, it's like a dome type, hand made, thing that people go in and kneel and sweat in. Hence the name. And, uh, for me, my spirituality was always there that I got from nature, and, I prayed in the sweat lodge and, I prayed for the drugs and alcohol desire to be lifted for me. And, when I did that, I had this. Weird, intimate, beautiful, scary, I don't know what you want to call it. something went all inside of my body, which was overwhelming. But I knew it was filling that empty hole inside of me that I was trying to put anything and everything in there when the molestation and the trauma first started. And, um, I knew when I left prison I would never drink or drug again. And this past 24 years. and it's a blessing to me. Um, I feel very blessed. Now, for most, you know, my life was doing really good. I mean, I started with nothing and as the years went by, I, I did a little bit of this and that, and, and I, I saved money for this and that, and, and I got possessions that I needed to live with. Um, without having the instant gratification of having to go buy a bunch of stuff, which I didn't have the money for. But I needed to learn to humble myself, number one. And two, I had to learn to put the instant gratification on the back burner. Those were key things for me, and it's the key things I think for most people in addiction is that we want everything right now. I want that magic pill right now. You, you gotta put on the work. You have got to put in the work, and that's, that's the only way this is gonna work. And have some fun along the way with it. Now, with all that going great, bought a home, never thought I'd own a home. Um, I got married to my wife in 2017. We've been together six years. We're coming up on 12 years. I learned how to ride a motorcycle in my recovery. I bought a motorcycle. I got to travel a lot because I was living a life of recovery. So all of this great stuff going on, in 2019, I was diagnosed, with non small cell lung cancer, three, and I was in disbelief, how that could happen because it's not fair. I had a crappy life. I went through recovery. I put all this work in, and now I'm going to put this on my plate. And it was hard. I have to say it was really hard when I got that diagnosis. But you know, I thought about it, and it was like, I have two choices. I can either die from cancer, or I can learn to live with it. You know, pick one. There's no do over, there's no take backs, and I started doing the chemo, and. the radiation and all that and, it traveled down to my pelvis, which made it stage four, which was scary. My doctor would tell me that my attitude had a lot to do with where my cancer was at, like a good attitude. And um, it's been 21 months now and I've been in remission. I do maintenance once a month to just keep it at bay. It's a little. Those little boogers are sneaky. but I'm gonna tell you something. It, it's taught me a lot. it's taught me what's important in life and what's not. What to give up and what to hold on to. I've purged in a lot of ways. It's been cleansing. For me, and, uh, you know, I, sometimes I share that with my, my clients and it's not because I want to make them feel bad or sorry for me. It's nothing to do with that, is that I want them to get a different perspective of what life looks like and how things aren't that bad. And then we have to put in the work and we have peaks and valleys and we have low periods and we have high periods. It's like, what are you going to do? What's put on your plate? You can, you can embrace it. Or you can just deny it and keep yourself not doing anything positive. So just feeling sorry for yourself because you got this, you know, this cancer thing. so I do feel blessed. I have short hair. I've been worried about losing my hair. I don't lose any weight. I mean, actually, I feel once again that I was, I've been blessed. I actually gave it a name. I, some people think it's, it's funny, but I, I call it my inconvenience. Cause it is a bit of an inconvenience, but I say in a kidding manner. found Face It Together 2009. I was something I wanted to be a part of, and I just love the whole. Live experience thing and it was different from AA. It was different from in a it was just a total different look and Recovery coaching has been around for years. it's been out there and I have to tell you For me the purpose in life is It's having a purpose and and for me one of my purpose in life is helping others find their purpose I get rewarded By these people learning to change their lives and having a happy life and they're, they're doing it, so, you know, that's what we do at Faces Together. We, we help people, who are struggling and we also just. A few years ago, we worked with loved ones, mom and dad, sister, brother, you know, what have you, who not, you know, really have an understanding of, of their person with the addiction. They want to know more. They want to understand why, why. and we help them to understand what the person's going through. And, and tools we can give the loved ones to understand and be able to connect and they can do this, this, this wellness journey together. It's a beautiful thing.

Magic Barclay:

Thank you for being so open with your story. Now, I want to ask you about what is harm reduction. So I know. Having an addict myself, I used to be a drinker and then I became an eater and then I became a binger. Uh, so what is harm reduction? Because I know going through my own struggles, it was like, I have to do this perfectly, I have to stop completely rather than taking any incremental steps.

Terri Brown:

Yeah, listen, if Bob goes from a gallon a week to a half a gallon, yo Bob, you know, he's, he's, he's not absent, but he's trying to, to increase it, you know, a little bit of time and maybe two weeks and he'll drink a quarter of the bottle or he'll just stop drinking. You know, it gives a message of, you know, if you don't stop doing all of this, you know, we're, we're just not, you know, that's not good enough. You, you have to be completely free of drugs or alcohol. Well, it's just ridiculous. It, it, it really is. And, and nothing against NA. I, I, I started doing AA when I first got a couple of years, you know, and you got to go in and then go, oh, I drank again, oh, you know, you feel like, You know, you've got to flaw yourself a few times, and we just don't see the, the, the insanity of that is you don't have to start over, okay? Let's talk about it. What was going on? Was there some new changes somewhere? This going on? Okay. All right. Well, let's, let's just brush yourself off and let's keep doing this. So harm reduction, cutting back is a good thing. You know, some people just can't totally quit. I mean, it's, like I said, I, I even work in drug court. I work with people, drug court participants, and even the drug courts know that. They can't expect people to just not do anything right off the bat. okay, here's a good harm reduction separate from drinking or drugging is that the needle exchange. The needle exchange is harm reduction. Having clean needles to give to people to take back their dirty needles is harm reduction. Because people are going to use clean needles. Why not give them clean needles to use so they're spreading less hep C or HIV or nasty stuff in the syringes? You know, they're getting dirty dope and and they're shooting it. It's like that's a form of harm reduction It's saving on taxpayers from going to the emergency room. it's not a bad thing, you know Maybe when they're using and they're using IV, maybe they're not getting as sick as they were You know, because they're not using a dirty needle. Maybe that'll give them in, you know, a, a reason to want to stop. Okay. so let's not, let's not scold people and, and say, you know, well you have to be completely stopped or that's just it. We're not gonna. You know, we're not going to do anything with that. So what is that saying? What kind of message is that sending to the individual? You know, who's struggling? Um, most people are struggling. I gotta tell ya. It's people who come from childhood trauma. And the number is pretty high. It's kind of scary all over the world. It's not just, you know, it's everywhere. So we want to let them know that we hear them and, okay, let's, let's, let's approach something differently. Maybe they need a relapse prevention plan, something tangible they can pick up and read. We teach them to try to find some hobbies they like. They go find something to do, you know. Um, doesn't matter what it is. And, and that's a start. And people respond well to that. They do.

Magic Barclay:

Fantastic. Now you mentioned that You're always there to help the families and, you know, the close friends, the networks. certainly in weight loss circles, we always talk about having a support network. I guess sometimes when we're in addiction, our support network are as toxic. As we are, they're, they're the circles that we're rolling in. So how do people start to find people that will build them up rather than keep them down?

Terri Brown:

Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of like the crabs in the bucket, right? Where do you think you're going? Well, people, places and things for a lot of us, I know for me that I hung around the crowd that was using, because that's what I did amongst all the chaos and the drama. And every dysfunction that comes with that. It can be challenging in the beginning to have a, a good social environment. you know, and you can find some of those in support groups. Okay, maybe where you work at, there's some, some cool people who, who don't use. And, and you can hang out with them, you know, go to a movie, go for a dinner. it's challenging. It's new. It's a change that we're not used to because we've always just hung around people who use. What do you mean I'm gonna go hang with someone who doesn't use? That's terrifying for a lot of people. They don't know how to act. They're nervous. They have anxiety. You know, that's kind of a natural thing to go to. I know for myself is that I would go to sober events and I had to get out of there pretty quick because I just wasn't feeling comfortable. It's not that I didn't want to drink. It was that I didn't, I wasn't comfortable in my own skin to be around these people. So it's, it's, it's small steps. It is. We're there to support. It can, you know, we're not a 24 7 operation, but they can always call or text. The Zoom meetings are great. You know what? We should have invested in Zoom, a few years ago because we'd all be sitting pretty good. It's not the same as in person, but it's better than an email, better than a text. yeah, it's challenging, but the thing is to change your people, places, and things. That's, that's the sticky part right there. It's like a person getting out of prison and they're, they're supposed to be changing their life and they're doing good, they've done their good solid time, and then they send it back to the environment. They do, just send them back in the hood and, kind of setting them up for failure.

Magic Barclay:

We talk about a similar situation in mold toxicity recovery. And you know, I give the example of an apple, you have an apple with a blemish on it and the blemish isn't really the problem, right? But it starts to form mold, but you keep it in the basket. With the other apples, before you know it, the first apple's gone, it's dust and the others are all moldy. So it really is changing that environment.

Terri Brown:

Yeah, yeah, most definitely.

Magic Barclay:

Now we've covered a lot today, Terry. Is there something we haven't covered that you feel the listeners need to hear?

Terri Brown:

I think Magic, we touched on, pretty much everything we wanted to go over.

Magic Barclay:

So how can people get hold of you? Where can they find you? And how can they start changing their apple bowl or their

Terri Brown:

crab bucket? Yeah, you know, one of, I, I put a couple of tattoos on myself and they all have a meaning, but one of them I have, it's, it's, I love trees. It's a big tree and it's got the continents in the tree. So it's the world and it says change your thoughts to change your world. and that's what it is. It's all about changing your, thoughts and practicing more conscious awareness, being mindful. Those are the two things that, we've always needed to do, but was never aware of it. is being more consciously aware of what's going on in your life. To be mindful. So, we face it together. org and it's easy. You can go in there, hit a little green button and, and there's bios there. It's a lot in there. They can, they can go around the webpage and see what we do, how we do what we do. And then someone will reach out and get, you know, information to get you started with the paperwork and stuff. And then I'll hit you up with a coach. And it's that easy.

Magic Barclay:

Are there any freebies there, Terry? Are there any, like, blogs or something that maybe people can dip their toe in first?

Terri Brown:

Yeah, there's some stuff online. There's a lot of stuff online. It really is. The phone number is, um,(605) 274-2262. We are fortunate, in South Dakota to have some grants, for funding, for the clients. We see. That's helpful. Everyone doesn't have money, and that's okay. We do have sponsorship as well. Uh, so we have a, a face together, which originally started in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and we branched out a couple years ago, and now we have one in Colorado Springs. Colorado, and we do a lot of Zoom. Uh, we have people from 40 different states. I actually have a guy over in, in, um, in Canada. That's pretty cool. so yeah. It's, um, we're there for you. You just reach out. And so the

Magic Barclay:

website again?

Terri Brown:

We. Faceittogether. org.

Magic Barclay:

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your passion for recovery and for people being better. I really do appreciate it and I'm sure the listeners do too. Well,

Terri Brown:

thanks for having me on again. I appreciate

Magic Barclay:

it. My pleasure. Again, listeners, this was a bit of a heavier subject and it's something that's important to share with you to help you and to be able to help you help others because that's how we become a better world. Again, thank you for your time. Listeners go forth and create your magical life.