Coming Up for Air: a podcast series for families

Coming Up for Air brings together two Allies in Recovery moms, for thoughtful discussion of topics pertaining to addiction in the family. Our hope in bringing you these podcasts is that you will relate to the experiences described by Laurie and Annie, that you will learn from them and be reminded that YOU.ARE.NOT.ALONE. 

Podcast #49—FAMILY SECRETS: Why Do We Keep Them?

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(30m09) Every family has secrets, but when secrets keep us stuck, in pain or operating out of a system of dysfunction, why do we keep them? When it comes to addiction, betrayal, mistreatment...why do those who are affected have a harder time talking about it than those in the grip of the behavior? Family—wives, partners, mothers, fathers, siblings etc.—tend to have a more difficult time being open about what is going on in the family than those afflicted, even though protecting the secret seems to be the barrier between healing and relief. 

Podcast #48—The Hosts Are the Guests!

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(36:09) Hear your Coming Up for Air hosts as never before! Allies in Recovery's Content Editor, Isabel Cooney, invites Laurie MacDougall and Annie Highwater to spend half an hour in the guest seats!

Podcast #47—Facing Addiction's Michael King Tells His Story

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(39 min) "I'm a college-educated white male. I'm the face of addiction!" declares Michael King. Addressing the way we speak about addiction, he explains, "If we end the stories that we tell by just talking about the mess that addiction creates, we're doing a disservice to everybody out there who is looking for help..."

Podcast #46—Feeling Sorry: Where Does It Lead? Can It Be Useful?

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(34:44) When a Loved One suffers from addiction, part of the complicated web of emotions we experience involves feeling sorry for them. A Loved One struggling with the influence of drugs or alcohol is not in their "right mind," and can often play on those chords—inviting us to feel sorry for them, in order to extract from us what they need in that moment. As the family of a Loved One with SUD, we can also be vulnerable to feeling sorry for ourselves, given the high stress and heartache that are part of nearly every day. 

Podcast #45—You Don't Know What You Don't Know: Awareness & Preparedness

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(51:31)   In today's episode Annie and Laurie touch on awareness being low when it comes to how many families are struggling with an addicted or chemically dependent Loved One. They discuss what families can become aware of ahead of time versus waiting for a wake up call. From how addiction starts, what specific signs to look for, and how each of these moms would have handled certain things differently had they known a thing or two like they do now...to how to handle someone in your orbit, such as a coworker, neighbor, relative or friend that may have this going on with their son, daughter or other Loved One, our hosts explore notions of preparedness and awareness.

Podcast #44—Special Guest: Former Drug Court Judge Scott Vanderkarr

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(48:49)  In this week's podcast episode Annie and Laurie interview recently retired Judge Scott Vanderkarr, from Columbus, Ohio's Drug Court. Scott left the bench to spread the word about Drug Courts being needed in every court setting across the nation. With a background as a Prosecuting Attorney and his days as a judge, Scott did not expect to find himself affected by the opiate epidemic on a personal level. Tune in to hear this moving account of the close relationship he developed with a young man who later died of an overdose. Scott tells us about all he is currently doing to bring hope and change to families who are dealing with the crisis of addiction.

Podcast #43—Encouraging Your Loved One Into Treatment

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(49:43) Your addicted loved one needs treatment. Motivation may not be great. You may have heard that the the family is powerless over the situation. Or you may be looking for a magic, instantaneous solution and fear that things are so dire that you don't have time to try anything "soft" or "gradual." Laurie and Annie, who have both successfully shepherded their loved ones into treatment, share how-to's for families facing this dilemma. Along with what worked well, they also point out what didn't. All the while acknowledging that different families need different solutions.

Podcast #42—Do You Really Want to Be Well?

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(37:24)  In this week's episode Laurie and Annie talk about those we know who seem content in misery, hanging pictures and inviting company down into their pit with them. Outside of being in the midst of trauma or grief, there are times we can decide not to see things negatively. Why do we return to situations we do nothing but complain about? This week's short podcast ends with a list from Psychology Today of symptoms and signs that one might be a "chronically unhappy person."

Podcast #41—Who Is Your Enemy?

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(41:12) In this week's episode, Laurie and Annie discuss the differences between dealing with a relative or partner struggling with SUD, versus a son or daughter. They explore why we are so easily hurt and inflamed in the midst of it all. Why do others just not get it? And why are some people mean, particularly to someone who is down? Are they the enemy? Tune in to this week's informative, relatable conversation!

Podcast #40—Conflict & Family Patterns

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(37:23)  In this week's episode, Laurie and Annie discuss patterns of conflict that repeat within our lives, sometimes without our realizing it. With recovery and peace as the goal, your hosts discuss strategies for not engaging in chaos and negativity.

Podcast #39—Accountability

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(55:12)  What is accountability and why is it important for families facing SUD? In this episode, Laurie goes over the meaning of accountability and how a movement of consequences for our kids began some years ago that included a level of shame and punishment that does not work. Your hosts discuss experiences with accountability including apologizing to their sons for handling them with fear and shaming tactics. Great episode for those who are ready to "drop the weapons" and approach their loved one with wisdom, compassion, love and hope!

Podcast #38—Trust and SUD

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(41:40)  In today's Coming Up for Air, Annie and Laurie discuss the effects of broken trust. Looking at the big picture of addiction entering a home of a family who did all the right things, to family and friends damaging our trust and how Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and deception often go hand in hand. Both discuss who to trust, what to trust, how to trust again and how to look at this enormous topic when it comes to recovering from the trauma of addiction in a family. Tune in to this week's episode for encouraging information!

Podcast #37— SPECIAL HOLIDAY PODCAST: When Holidays Are a Trigger

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(40:59)  Regardless the holidays or traditions you observe, this time of year can be trying, triggering and even traumatic. In this special holiday podcast, Laurie MacDougall and Annie Highwater take apart the often looming, overwhelming effect of "the Holidays" - from how our own expectations affect reality, what role nostalgia plays, how honest we are about those in our entourage who are struggling with SUD, and the heavy duty emotions that often come up for many of us during this time, this conversation will allow you to look at the holiday season from a different angle. 

Podcast #36—Anger vs. Wrath

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Anger is a natural part of the human experience. It is seen as a healthy response when a person has been victimized, for instance. Wrath, on the other hand, can be seen as the destructive state of being when a person takes anger too far, and is characterized by the desire for vengeance, the need to punish, and losing one's natural ability to tell right from wrong. In this episode, Annie and Laurie explore these two emotional states, the connections to a life affected by SUD, and ways to protect ourselves and our entourage from harmful behavior. 

Podcast #35—Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!

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This episode focuses on lying. It is well known that SUD often ushers in lies and more lies. Annie Highwater and Laurie MacDougall explore the phenomenon of lying, digging back into their own childhoods and trying to identify the roots of lying in adulthood. They look at how we, as the entourage of someone with SUD, can approach the fact of being lied to. We may not be able to prevent someone from lying, but we can learn how not to be thrown off or trapped in the net. Finally, they address the reality that many families are tempted to create their own web of lies in order to protect their Loved One struggling with addiction. Listen in!

Podcast #34—Heads Up! Tips for Families with a Loved One on the Recovery Path

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In this episode, Annie and Laurie offer tips for families who are affected by addiction—whether in the discovery phase, your loved one's already in treatment, or in recovery. Heads-Up tips include what to look for if you suspect your Loved One is struggling with a substance, to what to expect from those first calls home when they're in a treatment facility. Laurie and Annie discuss things they have learned along the way, as well as what they wish they’d known or been made aware of beforehand. Much helpful insight for those who are new or unsure of the dynamics they may encounter!

Podcast #33—Interview with Chief Deputy Sheriff Rick Minerd

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In today's episode, Annie and Laurie speak with Chief Deputy Sheriff Rick Minerd, from the Columbus, Ohio area. Officer Minerd details what he sees in the field, related to addiction, crime and even issues with cartel. Without a personal recovery story of his own, he nevertheless shares a hopeful view that was spawned from listening to families who have been through the horror of addiction with a loved one. Officer Minerd runs the HOPE Task Force, which approaches families in addiction crisis, particularly in the aftermath of an overdose experience, to offer hope, compassion and resources for help versus punishment, shame or fear. Tune into this week's episode for an eye-opening conversation with an officer of the law who has seen just about everything!  

Podcast #32—Victimhood & Victimizing

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What exactly IS victim mentality? Do you have it, do I? What is the definition of a victim? On this week's Coming Up for Air podcast, Laurie and Annie compare experiences of family and friendship that involved injury, disappointment and opportunities to stay down on the low road and wallow. Those along with experiences with a Loved One's struggle with SUD that are not personal, planned out attacks can tempt a person to feel defeated and suffer longer than we have to. One might get thrown under the bus, but we don't have to lay under it forever. We hope you will enjoy to this week's podcast conversation!

Podcast #31—Interview with Richard Jones of Recovery Cartel & FAVOR Greenville

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This week Laurie and Annie welcome Richard Jones: counselor, therapist, coach and founder of Recovery Cartel to Coming up for Air. Richard also represents FAVOR Greenville (www.favorgreenville.org), which was just recently named one of the 4 "model programs" for recovery nationwide by SAMHSA. Richard is in long-term recovery himself and has an experienced, compassionate and innovative approach to helping guide families who are affected by an addicted Loved One. He throws terms like "tough love" and "enabling" out the window and sets family members at ease—particularly distressed parents—to get involved, talking, and on the same page when it comes to helping the one they are so worried about find their way out of the depths of addiction. Tune in to this week's episode to learn his take on this compassionate, whole-family style of therapy, coaching and treatment!

Podcast #30—The Most Overlooked Resource: Friends & Family Members

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Has anyone ever said to you, “There is nothing you can do or say that will change things"? Did it make you feel hopeless? powerless? We may be powerless over the disease but we can influence our Loved Ones. This has been studied and proven with CRAFT. Have you ever noticed it's often the same people who warn against enabling and yet try to convince you you're powerless? Isn't this a bit contradictory? In this episode, Annie & Laurie discuss the role of parents-spouses-friends—the most loving and caring people in the Loved One’s life, and the most likely to champion their success in recovery and treatment.

Podcast #29—Interview with Pam Rickard from the Herren Project

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Today Pam Rickard is absolutely passionate about what she does - helping people with addiction and mental health for the Herren Project. She gives thanks for the judge who sentenced her to several months in jail for too many DUI's - this ended up being the beginning of her recovery. Rickard speaks about her life as a high-functioning alcholic who ran 7 marathons while still in active addiction. This interview with Laurie & Annie is both entertaining (Pam has a great sense of humor and ability to smile at herself) while also being extremely inspiring. A must hear!

Podcast #28—Fake It 'til You Make It 

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In this week's episode Annie and Laurie discuss what it means to be authentic, yet "fake it" until the feelings come organically—regarding getting better, feeling positive, being friendly and making wise choices in difficult situations when everything in us wants to do the opposite (act out). Annie poses the question "Is it fake to have manners around someone who has treated you terribly?" Laurie gives scientific proof that we can actually elevate our moods and outlook by smiling, keeping a record of what we are grateful for, and starting the day with a positive mind. Both agree being real is as necessary as "winging it" can sometimes be, to get better at handling very difficult situations, tune in for this very relatable episode!

Podcast #27—Codependency & Denial 

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In this week's episode, Annie and Laurie deep dive into issues and dynamics of being a "codependent" parent, discussing how this happens in early years of parenting when we feel responsible for our child's behavior, grades etc.  ...and how that builds toward issues that arise when addiction or SUD enter a family. Both share instances of being in denial when signs were there, versus going on instinct and searching for truths we know the signs are pointing to. Lots to ponder in this week's conversation!

Podcast #26—Special Guest Mike Duggan from Wicked Sober 

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In this week's Coming up for Air, Laurie and Annie welcome special guest Mike Duggan, Founder of Wicked Sober. Mike is in long-term recovery himself and opens up about his own story. He expresses great hope for recovery and treatment for those who are ready to check out of the miserable life of addiction and into treatment. Tune in to this week's episode for a great insider view of what it's like in the depths of dependency, as well as the mindset of those who are prepared to find freedom and recovery from it!

Podcast #25—CRISIS: How Do I Sit Through a Meeting or Fold the Laundry When My Life is Falling Apart?

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Annie and Laurie recall times they have experienced "hit-the-ceiling" stress and crisis resulting from issues that surge out of a family member's addiction. Some of these crises were even life and death situations. Both reveal how they pulled themselves down in the moment, who helped, what helped, and what didn't help - including the "10 types of distorted thinking" that can arise in the midst of madness. Both have learned how to quickly come to a place of peace and to make smart decisions. Lots of information in this week's podcast for those times of Level 10 of stress, conflict and crisis!

Podcast #24—Empty Nest & SUD

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On this week's show, Laurie and Annie respond to a listener's message about life after SUD. When your Loved One goes off to treatment and recovery, life changes for everyone. The dynamics of an empty nest and the absence of activity can have unexpected effects. Allowing ourselves time to process the changes and pursue new interests takes time, practice and sometimes therapy!

Podcast #23—What's In Your Toolbox?

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(44:07)  We all need tools for repairing, tweaking or rebuilding. In this episode Laurie and Annie discuss power tools for trying times, tools for moments of crisis and chaos and tools for triumphant, peaceful lives. Having a toolbox is important for "calming down our crazy" and finding gratitude in the good that comes from lives changed by the turmoil of SUD and difficult times in general.

Podcast #22—Disappointment & Grief: Finding a New Normal

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In this episode of Coming Up for Air, Annie and Laurie cover the topic of grief and disappointment and elaborate on finding a new normal. Laurie covers the 5 stages of grief and introduces the concept of grieving someone who's still living. Both moms give examples of how they are making peace with how life was, versus what it has become after loss, change and having a Loved One who struggles with SUD.

Podcast #21—Enabling Non-Use

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We've all heard of enabling use, but what about enabling non-use? In this week's podcast, Laurie and Annie discuss the positive power we have to influence our loved ones suffering from SUD, by enabling moments of non-use. Annie introduces 6 real life scenarios submitted from family members with examples of current family crisis or issues. Laurie gives the suggested CRAFT response to each. Modifying the behavior around a struggling Loved One begins the process of moving the family forward. Listen in to hear real life situations you might relate to, with helpful ways to approach and respond!

Podcast #20—Interview with Lee Weber from Addictionblog

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This week on Coming Up for Air, Laurie and Annie welcome Lee Weber of the Addiction Blog. With a readership of 2.5 million per month, contributors from all over the world with expert knowledge of addiction, alcoholism, SUD and recovery (including our own Dominique Simon-Levine, Founder of Allies in Recovery), Lee's work is affecting the lives of many. She brilliantly delivers her personal story, along with her years of knowledge and research for our audience in this episode packed full of hope, information and encouragement. We hope you will get as much out of it as we did!

Podcast #19—Interview with Writer & Activist Alicia Cook

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This week's episode of Coming up for Air may have had some technical difficulty, but Laurie and Annie powered through it to welcome their guest The Alicia Cook! Alicia Cook is an established writer and award-winning activist from New Jersey. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, CNN, USA Today, Teen Vogue, and many more. She gained international attention with the publication of her essay "The Other Side of Addiction," which explores how the family is affected by addiction. Cook is extremely active in her efforts to combat the heroin epidemic, including writing, podcast appearances, and speaking to students and their parents. PBS Executive Producer, Steve Rogers, created an episode of his Emmy-nominated documentary series, “Here’s the Story” around Cook and her efforts entitled “A Family Disease.” The episode was dedicated to Cook’s cousin, Jessica, who passed away from a drug overdose in 2006. The episode was officially selected in the New Jersey Recovery Film Festival in 2017.

Podcast #18—Good Time Charlies: A Conversation with Award-Winning Journalist Rob Koebel

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On this week's Coming up for Air, Laurie and Annie welcome guest Rob Koebel to discuss his past experiences with alcoholism and where he is in his recovery today. Koebel is an award-winning journalist, actor, writer, host and voice-over artist. His journalism work has been recognized by Emmy awards, Associated Press and an Edward R Murrow award. His career as a journalist spans nearly two decades. After experiencing a very public embarrassment, Rob has been making the climb upward and onward to help others see what is behind the face of the "Good Time Charlie" drinkers and the effects they may have on their Loved Ones. Great episode for those who know/love/might be someone who is known as the life of the party!

Podcast #17—Interview with Laurie's Son Tommy

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(52:52) In today's episode, Laurie's son Tommy opens up about his experience with SUD. Listen to his moving account of surviving a terrifying overdose and his thoughts for teens and young adults. Tommy also elaborates on what he feels parents new to this situation ought to know... This was a strong, raw, realistic conversation that gives much insight and HOPE!

Podcast #16—Interview with Annie's Son

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On this week's Coming Up for Air podcast, Annie and Laurie talk with Annie's son Elliot, whose opiate dependency and recovery is detailed in Annie's book "Unhooked." Elliot opens up with an honest, raw perspective of where a son or daughter's mind might be while in active addiction, what would have helped from his point of view, what to not take personally as the parent of someone struggling deep in SUD. He also tells us what life looks like for someone in their 20's pursuing sobriety yet wanting a fun, active lifestyle. We hope you will gain lots of insight from this week's episode through the eyes of one who went to the depths of darkness in his addiction and found his way to treatment and recovery.

Podcast #15—Silver Linings—A Whole New Playbook

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Can good possibly come in the midst of terrible crisis, chaos and despair? While Annie and Laurie agree that they would wish a Loved One's struggling with SUD on no family, they also agree that it can prompt positive growth,pruning and weeding, purging and healthy family development. Strength can emerge from the depths of this adversity. This week's discussion revolves around personal growth that has come from facing the affliction of their sons' addiction. Both give examples of how their sons have matured into men and how society as a whole is being called to health, truth and compassion. Join in and send us your thoughts about this week's Coming Up for Air!

Podcast #14—Stories of Stigma

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In this week's episode, Annie and Laurie interview special guest Brenda Stewart. Brenda is an SUD family advocate and Founder of the Addicts Parents United organization. They discuss her background, the meaning of stigma and the damaging effects. They also delve into addiction as a disease, ways to strike back against lack of understanding, and hopeful outcomes. Great information this week in Coming Up For Air!

Podcast #13— A House Divided Stands No Chance

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This week Annie and Laurie invite Laurie's husband Trevor and Annie's ex-husband Elliot Sr. to the podcast to discuss being on the same page during crisis and decisions. The conversation touches on blended families, exposing siblings to potentially dangerous behaviors, intrusions from others, being in agreement and being divorced-yet-not-divided. They explore the ways that division can opens the door for manipulation.

Podcast #12—Trigger Happy

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Laurie and Annie explore what it means to be triggered. Annie takes to the public to poll people about being triggered. Both give examples and explanations of how they perceive heated situations and how they are best dealt with. Laurie speaks, for example, about driving through a neighborhood that sparks the memory of her son's drug use, and how this can still produce anxiety for her. The episode ends with the topic of drinking reactivating the disease of addiction, and whether it's a trigger to drink around loved ones who have struggled with SUD.

Podcast #11—Am I Enabling Use?

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Annie and Laurie compare experiences of enabling use, offer a short quiz on signs of enabling and discuss better ways of managing situations that might require lending a hand.

Podcast #10—Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings

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Laurie and Annie elaborate on the effects and responses to surging emotions that are common when dealing with SUD and in other areas of human interaction. Why do we have feelings? And how much weight to we give them?

Podcast #9—Save the drama for your llama!

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Annie and Laurie explore the meaning of drama, using examples from a poll Annie informally conducted in public. They discuss how drama affects family and friendships and how not to get sucked in. 

Podcast #8—Am I  being manipulated?

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Laurie and Annie discuss experiences with manipulation. How do we recognize manipulation when it's present? How do we as affected family actually manipulate as well?

Podcast #7—the CRAFT Method, with Special Guest Dominique Simon-Levine 

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(51:10)  Annie and Laurie welcome Dominique Simon-Levine, Ph.D to explain the CRAFT method for helping families support an addicted loved one into treatment and through recovery. Dominique explains the softer, more effective approach versus arguing or surprise party interventions. Laurie & Annie share examples of self-care and the CRAFT strategy at work in their own lives.

Podcast #6—The Language of Recovery

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Annie and Laurie discuss the familiar anecdotes of recovery (such as "the 3 C's," "Do the next right thing" and "They have to really, reaaally want it!" etc.). Each shares compelling personal examples of how applying these slogans/ideas can be strength-giving, encouraging, empowering and can give wisdom through the tough days.

Podcast #5—Support 

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Laurie and Annie compare support group experiences as well as what is helpful when you first find out, or if you're going through it alone.

Podcast #4— Goals as the Family Member

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Annie and Laurie open up about where the focus was when addiction first presented in their sons, all the way through to where their goals and focuses are now -  with a short quiz on where you might be in the stressful process. (It is a process!)

Podcast #3—Consistent Forgiveness

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Laurie and Annie dive deep into the role forgiveness plays, relating to addiction and the road to recovery. Episode 3 explores frequent forgiveness for a Loved One who is acting out in the disease, as well as personal examples of forgiving others who made it worse along the way. They end this episode discussing the reasons they needed to forgive themselves.

Podcast #2—Behaviors Adjacent to the Crisis

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Annie and Laurie open up about parallel issues that can arise through the worst of times.  As they managed their homes with their sons' addiction raging, they also had to deal with what was going on on other fronts: crisis, chaos, conflicts, the good, the bad and the unexpected that happened alongside the central struggle.

Podcast #1—Introductory Episode: Meet Laurie and Annie

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Laurie and Annie briefly introduce themselves and discuss backgrounds and family dynamics. They speak about their lives, leading up to and through their personal experiences with the national opiate crisis. Two very different paths leading to the same journey of recovery. Their compelling stories validate that addiction is a disease and it’s a family disease that can happen to any family in any community.  We must recover together.