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022 - Brian Tierney

“Express complex emotions in an artistic way.”

Brian Tierney joins us to talk about maintaining his personal recovery while working in the recovery field. Service is a key ingredient for him and he is proud to be a part of programs like Colorado Artists in Recovery and Recovery Café. He talks about coming from a mindset of scarcity and insecurity and how Red Rock Recovery Center has helped him and others find balance. Enjoy.

The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates. They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.

Transcript (no grammar): express complex emotions in an artistic way brian tierney joins us to talk about maintaining his personal recovery while working in the recovery field service is a key ingredient for him and he is proud to be a part of programs like colorado artists and recovery and recovery cafe he talks about coming from a mindset of scarcity and insecurity and how redrock recovery center has helped him and others find balance enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps brian tierney is here with us today brian works at red rock recovery he's been in the recovery industry for quite some time and has a story of his own he's very involved in helping people uh heal and grow brian thanks for being with us today thank you shelia thank you for inviting me and and having me on i'm happy to be here i want to maybe just ask a little bit give some background to our listeners how'd you end up getting in this industry yeah that's a that's a great place to start um i am a person in long-term recovery and um until i entered into recovery i always i felt like i wanted to be in some kind of a helping profession but uh just could never navigate the fear of moving into moving into this space and i always had some financial concerns about doing counseling or something like that and once i got into recovery i came to realize i really didn't like the field that i was in i was doing property management and um it just wasn't you know i was waking up every day and not wanting to go to work and that was uh not something really conducive to the recovery and the lifestyle that i was trying to cultivate in my recovery so i moved through that fear i took a massive pay cut on the recommendation of somebody that i met in uh in a recovery community a 12-step recovery community and they suggested that i go get an entry-level position at a treatment center and like cut my teeth there and if i could do that for six months to a year and i'm not jaded or burnt out by the end of it that i might just be you know cut out to to be in this space because there's a lot of people that get into recovery i think early on that want to give back in a professional way and can be it can be disillusioning to actually get involved with the treatment opposed to like recovery perspective so i got in there i took an entry level position was a massive pay cut i moved through a lot of fear and i loved it i absolutely loved it i was felt like i was thriving there like spiritually and emotionally and i really felt like i would wake up in the morning be like i can't wait to get in like i'm gonna talk to so and so about this and we're gonna do this and i'm gonna help this person do that and it was really fulfilling and it's been about five years now uh so i started entry level operations i was doing overnight shifts for an extended care treatment program and that is definitely one way to really kind of cut your teeth in the space and and learned some stuff and uh you know moved my way and navigated through got some certifications and um moved into doing some counseling and some recovery coaching and uh have landed now in community outreach and and business development but it was a lot of fear to take that first step but i'm really glad that i did because it was uh it was such a fulfilling way to to go about making a living uh for me and uh yeah so that's that's incredible and you talk about the financial piece of it at night it sounds like that was a major piece of making that decision for you as it is i think for a lot of people even trying to get into recovery costs can be prohibitive and here you are willing to take this huge price cut and go into an industry that's new to you i don't know can you talk about the some of the fear that was around that yeah um yeah the main fear was definitely financial and like am i going to be okay am i going to be able to navigate through this space but luckily i was in such a place of willingness in an early stage of my recovery that you know new opportunities uh didn't seem as scary as they once did because i now had this foundation for how to navigate life essentially which i did not have before um you know before i got into recovery so much of my decisions and my life was fear-based is am i going to get enough am i going to lose what i already have and it was it was always coming from this place of scarcity and insecurity and when i got into recovery i learned some new tools you know i built a foundation um that helped me be able to look at risk and approach it and and do it willingly and do it with some level of grace so that was really a foundational part of it i think my recovery was there first i was doing involved with a 12-step community i was doing therapy i had done treatment so i really like invested a good amount of my time into building that foundation and then when these opportunities came up i wasn't making them from a place of fear or insecurity i was making them from a place of you know what's gonna fill my cup up what's going to what's going to bring me a life that i i want to have in recovery and you know i didn't know that working in treatment or working in the recovery space was going to provide that for me but i was i was willing to take the risk to find out and i'm glad that i did i'm really glad that i did because i really enjoy working in this space and i i volunteer with a lot of non-profits and i also um you know work with red rock recovery center and it is just it's a life beyond my wildest dreams being able to do it i know it's not for everybody but for me it's really it's really worked out when you meet a new client which i imagine you do occasionally or quite often how do you convince them to take that leap of faith and maybe enter treatment when it feels overwhelming to them because it sounds like you have a pretty good perspective that you may be able to relate yeah i mean that's a great question whenever i'm working with somebody who's relatively new in the recovery process or maybe re-entering their recovery process i just try to help them be informed and i try to connect with them i think it's really important that there's a connection there being in recovery having navigated a lot of the same experiences that they have maybe not exactly the same but certainly the same kind of feelings of shame and guilt and uh it's it's a unique experience to run up to run up to somebody with an addictive disorder where you really do not want to drink that night and you tell yourself you're not going to drink that night and then you find yourself drinking that is a unique experience to have and when i can connect with somebody on that level they kind of open the door up a little bit and i i honestly i try to stay away from convincing them to do anything i don't like to kind of coerce or manipulate or trick anybody into treatment but i do like to just hear some information like here's what helped me here's my experience here's what some of the research shows so like here you know now that we're connected and we're talking and we have some you know some rapport built here's some information about what you can do to to live a life you know that's much better than than what you have been experiencing up to this point and then they're free to make that decision for themselves and i think more often than not when i take that approach they're more receptive to um engaging and investing in their recovery process whatever that is for them and it doesn't always go that way but uh you know that's the approach that i i prefer to take rather than trying to kind of trick somebody to to get in and it can be difficult because often people are very close to their disease uh when they're entering into treatment so they a lot of distorted thinking is going on a lot of perception of reality that is not conducive to to wanting to grow at all so getting through some of those barriers i think is assisted by creating that initial rapport so they kind of let their guard down a little bit and then just letting them know like i'm not here to convince you to do anything i'm here to look just like here's the information here's what you can do here's my experience here's some other people's experience and you know this is what this is what life can be for you you know there's some things you got to do to get it but you know it's possible and that's that's the way that i typically approach it well that's incredibly empowering to them as well it gives them you know gives back into their hands choice um because that that disease takes a lot of choice away from them you know just like you said you know i'm not going to drink i'm not going to do this i don't want to do this and then they're doing it and so i love that empowering i think it's vital in their recovery for that so i think it's an excellent approach you talked about doing non-profit work you work for red rock recovery can you talk about some of those organizations that you work with and how they specifically help and support the people um that you care about yeah um i'll start with with redrock that's been an organization that's that's where i started got an entry level position and kind of have worked my way through the company and been with it as it's as it's grown pretty significantly uh since i came on with them about four and a half five years ago um i really enjoy working with this agency and believe in their mission because being an in-network provider they make care more accessible and they have a full continuum so they're able to kind of meet people wherever they're at whether they need to do outpatient services or they need a full medical detox and inpatient residential kind of stay but what really has kept me there is the investment that this agency has in their alumni community and i always when i'm looking at other treatment centers and always assessing for what are they doing for people once they get out of the treatment because treatment is really only the beginning i mean if somebody believes that they can go to detox or even just a 30-day or 28-day residential and come out completely fine you know i always try to educate people that that's typically not the case typically that's the beginning that is where you can get back in your body and feel you know healthy again to some degree and start working on deeper levels of trauma and mental illness that's typically co-occurring with with substance use disorders so um having that full continuum there is definitely helpful but you know recovery is is a lifetime commitment so what are people doing to support people once they're leaving care and typically it's a difficult thing for treatment centers to kind of wrap their head around at times because there's not necessarily a financial incentive to do recovery support services after someone's discharged from their care but what i saw redrock do really well and why i love being a part of it is we have you know two dedicated full-time staff that just do alumni services and i was one of those staff at one point and initially got to help develop a lot of alumni programming for red rock and to see that community grow to see people come back to be a part of something that's bigger than themselves and really engage in a sense of purpose and a safe and supportive like unconditionally supportive community i think is vital for people especially i mean at any stage of recovery but especially that first 18 months to two years is is really important for for people to be engaged with something like that so that is something that has has really drawn me to redrock and kept me there and something that i i really try to stay close to um with the the nonprofits that's something that uh was suggested to me early in my recovery one to always be uh working uh some kind of a peer-based community program like a 12-step program to volunteer somewhere and to if i'm working in treatment to not make that my program essentially so uh in my entire recovery i've maintained those commitments and i found it to be a healthy balance for me and um you know service being a huge part of what recovery can provide to somebody when you're really engaging with service you get to enact that sense of purpose which can keep you close to wanting to work a program because you actually have something to give um so you know in in my addiction i i felt worthless i felt like all i did was take from people and cause pain and harm and uh in my recovery i want to do the opposite and you know service provides me the opportunity to do that and to feel like i have something to give back and that's uh that's really impactful um so i maintain um you know volunteer commitments with with non-profits and the one that i'm really interested in and working with right now on their board for colorado artists in recovery which essentially provides free workshops to support people's creative expression at any stage of recovery so they'll do music classes creative writing classes art classes medica meditation classes things like that even where i think we're hiring a dance instructor here soon to do like movement expression um so that uh that kind of stuff i found to be really helpful because i found a safe and supportive artistic community early in recovery that really helped me learn to express difficult and complex emotions in a healthy way and often what we're doing in recovery is learning how to react to the human condition to to the things we're experiencing in a healthy way because we didn't have those tools before and that's what led us to to drink and use because these emotions and feelings and thoughts would be overwhelming and we were just trying to dial them down a little bit so finding something whether you know for me it was creative expression if it's exercise whatever hobby you find whatever it is it's important to find something that you can express yourself through in a way that's that's helpful so that you're gonna you know you're gonna experience difficult emotions in recovery especially in early recovery uh and to have an outlet for that i think is really important to help people build those tools and provide a community for people to do that is is something i'm really passionate about so um i've also been a part of recovery cafe which is in longmont colorado which really helps people as a safe and supportive community for people who kind of slip through the cracks a little bit and so working with indigenous people to be able to have a community that they can come by that's not just like a drop by shelter or something like that but actually helps them empower themselves to be a part of a community and instill some peer leadership skills and values so those are two ones that are near and dear to me so if you don't know about them recovery cafes they are kind of up and down the west coast are expanding a little bit there's one or two here in colorado and then colorado artists and recovery is another one that is just um i'm really passionate about supporting and a couple of really close friends of mine uh darren valdez is the one who started it um is out there really doing the the groundwork to to make it happen so it's the colorado artisan recovery is fascinating are those are those classes available to anybody are they are they available specifically to people in recovery what is what does that kind of an invitation look like yeah it's it's open to everybody uh it is definitely designed towards people in recovery definitely designed for people who are in recovery or from either substance use or mental illness but we've had people that are even just consider themselves like allies of recovery and they're wanting to engage with it so there's a couple sayings out there like everybody's in recovery from something you know we're all we're recovering from life at the very least so uh if you are interested in learning this stuff or being a part of it everyone is is welcome to join these things and uh right now a lot of the classes are virtual still so we have people from all over the country participating but at some point we'll probably move back to in person once it's safe to do so but i think we may maintain some virtual stuff so that people from out of state can still participate and are those primarily just a traditional art class for that group or is are they talking about you know recovery principles are they is there you know a key theme every time they have a class or is it really just more of a you know fraternity it's it's definitely based on recovery principles so what we do it's a kind of a two-part thing that we do is when we offer these workshops but we also recruit train and hire people who are in recovery who have an artistic talent so if somebody is very good at guitar or very good at piano or very good at art or very good whatever it is we help them instill peer leadership and then we pay them to facilitate the class uh and while we're kind of coaching them how to build their workshop we're peppering in uh recovery principles a lot of which is you know encouraging people to express themselves encouraging people to be a part of a community and reach out for help if needed and really tapping into that unconditional acceptance so much of what a lot of people experience in early recovery is feeling like unlovable and you know not being able to fit in in the right place is always kind of feeling a little off and distance from the people around them so a big part of those workshops uh you know they'll have the artistic element uh the creative expression element but a lot of that is tied into how does that function within a community that is unconditionally supportive so that they are really designed on on those recovery principles so it's not just like a basic art class that teaches you you'll learn that stuff too but it's all tied into how you can use this to enhance your recovery yeah you mentioned the exercise thing i think we see the exercise thing a lot more i don't know if that's you know just easier for people to do or what the story is but one of the things that you just said was that it helped you learn to express complex emotions in an artistic way can you tell us what that's like what is what it what did that feel like how did it help you in your process yeah so i grew up um learning i learned how to play music at a young age and grew up like playing piano and and i taught myself guitar at one point in my teenage years and was definitely something i was very passionate about but lost at some point in my recovery uh in my addiction and when i got back into recovery i was invited into a group that was recovery based that was for musicians in recovery and [Music] i had so much fear around doing that and i also when i got into recovery like i didn't know what my hobbies were i had my i didn't know what my identity was like i was really reshaping uh who i thought i was and who i could be uh and when you remove drinking and drugs from the equation there's often a large hole in what i do with my uh day-to-day activities so to find something to fill that is you know very important i think so um for me my experience was uh being reintroduced to music in a in a community that was unconditionally supportive allowed me to pick up a guitar again and i hadn't touched one in probably five or six years at that point and it you know re-engaged me with a part of myself that i thought i had lost uh and today what it still looks like is you know i'll come home from work and i i plug in and i'll play for a little bit and just kind of process my day a little bit and uh you know then you know 20 minutes later i'm kind of in a new space and that kind of expression i have found to be really really helpful and stabilizing for me so that's what it that's what it can look like for me but i know for a lot of other people it's different maybe it's drawing for them or maybe even dance or yoga or whatever it is but to find that hobby to find that interest that you're passionate about and reconnect with it and move through the shame and guilt or whatever you have around it is incredibly empowering so it is such a vulnerable thing to do to create something artistically and then share it with people and it is terrifying to do that and to do that in recovery and to move through that fear i think is a valuable experience for anybody to have at any stage of their recovery to go i've always wanted to write a song i've never known how to do it i barely can play and then to learn some of those skills and actually do it uh and then you see them receive the unconditional support on the other side of that and they just light up and it's it's a beautiful thing to witness somebody who maybe hasn't touched a guitar tried to write a short story in decades do it and share it with somebody and receive that support and all of a sudden things are possible again like opportunity opens up and a passion may be discovered that is you know can kind of fill that that void that you know drinking in drugs when you remove those things and that can be left there yeah it's the natural high with the right levels right the right natural levels that kind of help you get to that correction and then also a certain amount of distraction right gives you i know it's always important to not replace addiction with addiction right and and this falls into the category it's difficult to do challenging right it gives you it gives you a challenge and because there's sometimes especially if you're coming from that you know addictive mindset where you really just need something to just distract yourself right be able to turn your brain off or focus on or whatever and this just fills that void so well at the same time like you said it is a challenge it does require you know you to open up some of those feeling kind of gateways as opposed to compressing and disappearing you know into into addiction so um i find it intriguing i think it's actually really awesome it makes me want to look you know to see what types of programs are around here how has that been embraced by the team at red rock as well do they participate in those same types of groups or have the same type of programs or do you end up having to kind of keep those pretty exclusive oh they're not they're definitely open so at red rock uh in our alumni community we definitely have a lot of that stuff where we are connecting people to those kind of resources that that colorado artist and recovery or recovery cafe or phoenix multi-sport you know they do the active lifestyle whatever that is we definitely encourage our alumni to be a part of it and what that will look like redrock is also a part of t-pass which is treatment professionals and alumni services which in that space we work with other alumni programs from other treatment centers to kind of host bigger events so one that we have coming up pretty soon is we're actually hosting an open mic and some people from care will probably be there and some other people from the recovery community will be there and uh again it's another opportunity for people to kind of move through that fear and share something that they created in a supportive community and leaning into that vulnerability is uh once you do it a couple of times i think it helps you know think about working on a fourth step or something or think about thinking working with a therapist you know really diving into your trauma leaning into that vulnerability can be really scary and i think you know building some of that up by helping them do some creative expression can help them approach some of that stuff a little bit more readily because they've had some experience leaning into vulnerability and receiving that positive feedback and and knowing that they have the ability to do it without it kind of destroying them because that was always an issue for me too i could never really look too deeply at my past or look too deeply at my um fears or trauma that i experienced but through creative expression i didn't have to talk about it so i could i could express it in a way that was approachable and that made the fear of it kind of get dialed back a little bit and and more helpful to approach it in other clinical settings so yeah we definitely at red rock we definitely like working with with partners like colorado artists and recovery for our alumni community you talked about being involved also with recovery cafe and the work that they do can you talk about that a little bit more it sounds really interesting and needed yeah so i i was so glad to have uh come across that that agency and they were looking for someone who is in recovery to be a part of their their board to come on to have to offer that perspective for them uh and uh they really focus on people that kind of slip slip through the cracks so people that maybe have exhausted a lot of their resources to get to treatment or are living on the street or are in transitional housing that kind of situation and they have some principles laid out first and foremost being radical acceptance i think is how they word it so everyone is accepted as they are as they come and what they do is they they offer a space for people to come and it's not your traditional kind of drop-in homeless shelter where people can just come for food and leave there's a lot of activities that go on there's there's much more meaningful connection what i was always blown away by uh the the involvement the actual board members had with the participants in the community so they were actually volunteers sitting at the table connecting uh with people coming in and creating meaningful relationships and just really humanizing them a lot of times people who are experiencing homelessness can feel dehumanized and can feel disconnected from the rest of the world and this recovery cafe provided a space for them to come and feel like real human you know feel and be treated like like humans as they deserve to be and they also are able to connect people to resources if that's what the person's interested in uh and work with a lot of community partners in the area to help people access services and support them as a you know a recovery community organization as a part of their kind of holistic healing process as they're going through it and that's kind of different for everybody but that's that's one that was definitely really special to be a part of uh working in the treatment space i tend to work with people who still have resources available to them or loved ones willing to to help them get access to care so they haven't completely burned all those bridges yet or haven't gone uh out uh into the into the streets and those kind of things where at the recovery cafe that's exactly who they work with and that's that's who they're helping kind of get back on their feet and providing them that essential part to the recovery process which is community um for them as they're doing whatever else they're doing with with maybe a social worker or case manager at another facility so when you talk about radical acceptance accepting them exactly where they are does that include allowing them to continue to use while they're you know while they're in the program and i've used the word program loosely but yeah you know what are the boundaries and limitations so the the only requirement is that they're sober when they're there and it is uh i think they asked for 24 hours of of sobriety to to come in and to participate um but they also can completely understand their recovery process is not a linear thing especially for people in these situations it can be a lot you know relapse or recurrence abuse can happen but it's if somebody's still willing and wanting to kind of show up they're not excluded from being a part of the community because they're struggling with maintaining you know abstinence-based sobriety um but they are encouraged to or or ask to be sober when they are at the site um just to keep everybody safe but if relapse does occur it's not hey you can't come here anymore you're kicked out of the program it's what can we do to help you so it doesn't happen again or how can we how can we minimize the impact of it happening again if it does so that's uh you know more of a harm reduction approach which is i think much more appropriate for especially that that population um yeah and is there a limit to how long they can stay at recovery cafe and take advantage of those services what does that look like so no there isn't a limit uh that i think the average length is is probably about nine months the last time i saw a report from about that but people are welcome and encouraged to kind of stick around and maybe they use some more of the groups earlier on and then they transition into more of a peer leadership kind of hybrid volunteer role and then they can indefinitely be a part of the community that's incredible and in the back of my head i'm wondering how do they get funded to provide those services where does that come from oh at non-profits you know it's grants and and and fundraising you know so that is constantly what the board is always working towards uh identifying grants and uh going after them and then also cultivating funders to to keep the the mission alive um and that's the same thing with colorado artists and recovery as well they have some donation base and can do some partnerships with treatment centers to offer services but recovery cafe is definitely you know based off of funding so to keep the services free and accessible to people so that's a constant constant hunt in battle but luckily there's been a lot of research supporting recovery community organizations that have come out of the past five years mostly coming out of the recovery research institute which is based out of the harvard medical school which is showing efficacy around recovery based know peer-based community support uh before that it didn't really exist we all kind of knew like 12 steps stuff has been around for you know decades and decades and has been pretty effective for a lot of people but there's not a lot of research on it because it's an anonymous program but within the past five ten years they've really made a concerted effort to invest in research around peer-based services recovery community organizations referencing here william white's work who did a lot with recovery coaching and peer-to-peer relations and how that supports people's recovery as a kind of holistic approach to the treatment process not in place of treatment process but as a part of and with that research you know grants are more willing to fund or you know granters or [Music] agencies are more willing to fund these kind of services because now the research suggests that it is pretty effective and you know there is actually considerable amount of money that people can get after for if you're interested in creating a recovery community organization at the federal level for for these kind of services so um i could go down that wormhole and i probably went a little too far than i needed to but just to say that there is funding out there because the research is is showing that it's really helpful as a part of somebody's recovery regimen now i think that's interesting is that are are those resources also available through that network meaning like you said if i want to open a recovery cafe you know and i get on to the network and i start to research how to make sure that i'm doing it right and you know staying within the standards of the program do you have you know access to some of that information available to help support yeah so um there are organizations that will even offer specific trainings about how to start your rco your recovery community organization and where do you get you know how do you go after grants and colorado has a lot of great resources for non-profits so there's a lot of free courses you can take around fundraising strategies and things like that advocates for recovery here in colorado offers a rco training i believe and so does peer coach academy which is another nonprofit based out of colorado they offer a seminar on how to get your rco up and running those are the only two i know about but i'm sure that there's a lot more out there samsha has information on this stuff as well and then it's a matter of just being involved with your local politics to know what kind of grants are coming down the pike and uh you know uh going after them and applying for them that's um that's fascinating i know there's a lot of that going on but but i love that you connect that with your you know your passion of helping make sure that these people have people in recovery have that ongoing community and after aftercare because like you said it's not going to happen in 30 days it's a lifetime of recovery and in that space i want to ask what are some of the what are some of the key things that you do brian to keep you in recovery and keep you going down the path you want to go yeah uh well my my recovery is i was taught early on and i have attempted recovery a few times i had been to multiple treatment centers before i really stuck with this round of recovery um you know i've been sober and working an active program of recovery since uh january 17 2016. and before that i had probably had four or five stays at treatment centers and detoxes and psych wards and things of that nature before this really clicked for me when i got to the point where i was ready to kind of embrace an entirely different design for living um uh i just i i really took stock of what was happening around me and who who seemed to be living a life that i wanted to have and those people seem to be very active in service and very active uh in recovery communities uh so initially it was it was 12 steps for me it was a lot that's a very accessible recovery community to get involved with and i still maintain you know active participation in those but also therapy the treatment was very helpful and then i continued with therapy for the first two years of my recovery and if ever i'm feeling a little overwhelmed or burdened i tap right back into into getting into therapy and uh i've worked with uh recovery coaches for myself um i've been on medications before that have helped when i think about like what what i want to do for my recovery to sustain it's like what what tool am i not willing to use like i want to use every tool that's at my disposal as possible because the disease of alcoholism and addiction is just so brutal and it is it is uh in the 12-step lingo it's cunning and baffling it's insidious right uh in other other spaces it's just it's a really complex uh thing to work with uh so i'm gonna use every tool that's available to me uh that i can to maintain my recovery and and stay engaged with it and for me that looks like a lot of service because if i have a commitment to somewhere then i have a reason to be at that meeting or i have a reason to show up at that non-profit and i have a reason to go into work so i'm more actively participating in the community and i feel more involved with it i feel empowered to be a part of it uh and it's less of a passive kind of show up and sit down and you know listen and maybe go maybe not um that just had doesn't work for me so real you know active participation and kind of taking stock of of what people who have significant quality recovery are doing around me and they they tend to be very involved with their communities um so that's one that really really helps really helps me staying involved with community being of service and utilizing every tool i have at my disposal without hesitation like if i need help in some way i'm gonna ask for it i'm gonna i'm gonna utilize it i'm not gonna not engage with something because of stigma around it or whatever is going on i'm going to use every tool that's at my disposal because this this disease is is pretty pretty serious and can creep back up on you if you kind of what i i call it uh getting reset to my default programming if i ever deviate too far from being engaged actively with with uh my recovery network you know i tend to my default network my default programming tends to come back online and uh can easily you know get me back into causing harm or being selfish and just on a on a path that's not what i want to be going down so um that's yeah that's that's how i would kind of wrap that up uh i'm sure i could unpack it some more but i think that's a good way to put it so speaking of default programming that's one of the things you mentioned early on was that there as you got into recovery one of the concerns was that scarcity and insecurity mentality and that you know kind of you've got to be able to take that keeping up with the joneses and excelling in life type thing and and do something different with it right so so how do you handle that now right did the did this did this process and being um active in service and that kind of thing does that help you just let go you know some of that scarcity mentality or is it do you have a different way that you have to approach those things now oh yeah definitely a much much different approach from pre-recovery to now active recovery um what the service helps me do and the active participation in these communities it helps me stay close to the principles of those communities it helps me stay close to the people that help me recall those principles to the forefront of my consciousness on a regular basis and when i'm living from those principles i'm much more able to navigate risk navigate fear uh navigate you know feelings of insecurity financially or otherwise and it's when i distance myself from those communities that i find that those things really start to pop back up that scarcity mentality starts to come back in and i don't have enough and i don't make enough or i don't i don't have this i need this and all this stuff and that's a you know a headspace that is you know just a recipe for disaster in in my case so the service part keeps me connected and being connected allows me to keep those principles that i'm trying to live you know with me and current in my my conscience because because i mean it's one thing to read a book and to like wow they like the four agreements what you know that's great i love the four groups not not trying to bash them at all i love them but if i just read it and then put it down eventually that knowledge fades but if i consistently engaged with it in my day-to-day life and had a community to help me stay plugged in with it then it's actually going to take root and and become a part of my core beliefs so the community aspect really important staying involved with it through service is is help helps keeps that stuff uh readily available to me you talked about keeping having where you work not be a replacement for your program and be able to keep your recovery separate from your job so to speak that seems like it'd be a little tough to do because those inner they enter they cross they cross paths so much how how do you keep that separate that is a great question and it's this i have a conversation with anybody who is interested in the addiction treatment space or starting out in the addiction treatment space i was fortunate enough to have some mentors in my life that really were in recovery and worked in the addiction treatment space and they were very quick to let me know that this is not your program this is not your recovery program this is definitely something that is a profession that can fill your cup up but it is not a replacement for working for therapy or being a part of a 12-step community or another recovery community i had a glaring example of what it can look like when treatment working and treatment becomes your recovery program for somebody in recovery and i saw it happen early on working in in the space that i was in and it was it was kind of a warning to me it's like oh that can you know this can really burn me out chew me up and spit me out if i don't take care of myself and i put it like working in treatment those first six eight months i was doing the overnight living shifts at a as an operations tech um you know i could have went two ways like that could have chewed me up and spit me out and i would have been so burnt out or i could plug all any frustrations i had and difficulties i was experiencing working with the oftentimes treatment resistant population and i plugged that into my recovery and that's what i chose to do and continue to choose to do so that like i have a space to process these things so i always encourage people to really find the motivation to go to that meeting after you get off shift uh to you know work with that mentor sponsor or counselor therapist or all of them if you know if you're lucky enough to have all that you know do all these things because it's going to help you be better at your job and it's going to help you be kind of built to last because burnout is a very real thing in the addiction treatment space and if you're not taking care of yourself it'll it'll catch up with you pretty quick and the the the outcome especially for somebody in recovery is usually not very pretty when somebody kind of burns out so um i strongly recommend people to do what they need to do to take care of themselves outside of work and and stay active because the people that don't it doesn't end well usually so yeah i am i'm looking and i know that our listeners can't see this but i i know that you're a guy of integrity and that you really are applying the principles of recovery in your life because i'm looking past you at the canvas on the easel and thinking you know i'm wondering do you how often do you pick up that canvas and do some artwork or do you just take that out to your class with you how does that how does that fit into your day-to-day that's that's actually my partner's uh but that was for a care class that we did uh it was a painting class and we got some canvas and a little easel to do it and that was something that she did for herself and her recovery she hadn't painted in probably 10 years and one of the classes was about painting so uh what being on the board with care we we ask all the board members to participate in one class a year and that was the class she chose to participate in she's also on the board with us and uh that's her that's her painting back there but we like yeah we have the guitars over here it's just out of frame and we got that painting over here and you know we're not trying to like start a band and like you know or sell paint we just do it because of the cathartic process of creative expression we know is good for us and it's not about can we make profit off this can you know are people gonna like it it's just about the joy of doing it and engaging with it so yeah we have all kinds of stuff all over the place oh yeah very cool you started out talking about how much money you had to give up to get into the recovery industry and to work in this realm are you still giving up the money and does it matter um i i don't feel like i am i mean when i first initially started it was an entry level position and i was doing like uh regional stuff for property management so i had kind of been in that space for a little bit but uh so the like going back to an entry level position was a big cut for me at that point but where i'm at now i'm definitely i feel very financially stable and could if i had stayed in that lane could i have made be making more money than i am now maybe but i don't know if i'd be sober to be honest because i almost really did not enjoy that line it wasn't it wasn't a good fit for me um but uh i i don't have that financial insecurity i definitely have freedom from that today and i i'm you know you can definitely make a good living uh in the recovery space and i'm definitely very comfortable with where i'm at and uh it it was a lot of fear in the beginning i was researching earning potential for a counselor and uh you know it was looking at that and looking at earning potential for some other career paths i was you know you know holding those up but at the end of the day that's not what everything's about and even still like there's pathways in the addiction treatment space in the recovery space where you can you can make a very good living for yourself and still do really good work so um i believe i i'm in a place that i'm i'm happy to be in and i see a lot of opportunity ahead of me it's funny that in the recovery world we deal with you know helping people work through this stigma right about recovery right and and it's hard for some people to go to rehab it's hard for some people to admit they have addiction and all that kind of stuff but it's ironic that then inside of the recovery community there's some stigma about making money doing it which is a little bit ironic to me right and as as medical billers obviously we see this a ton yeah you know therapists who just don't have any interest in it they don't they don't care they don't want to have to deal with it they're just here to help people which ultimately becomes a disservice because it makes it harder for them to take care of people if they don't just figure out a way to keep the lights on right which is really interesting so for for us that comes from a place of perspective like ultimately the better you do at it it opens doors and when i say better i mean financially right the more successful financially you are in the industry it opens doors for you to be able to serve in more capacity right you couldn't get involved in care you couldn't get involved in some of those other organizations if you weren't stable enough to be able to do that and we see it in some of our facilities right they um scholarship some of the individuals that come through their facility which they wouldn't be able to do if they weren't able to you know cover all of their bases and so it's kind of a funny irony you know that we see inside of the industry so um so you mentioned care right that's we've got um colorado artists in um right how else how else do people get a hold of you ask questions well yeah uh you can always reach me by my email brian.tierney that's tierrney you can go through the website and call us that way i'm happy to get connected with anybody in any way um and i can i definitely hear your point kurt too it is it's important to remain be viable and be you know be fiscally responsible when you're doing it because if your doors are closed you can't help anybody you can't help anybody at all if you're not being responsible in that way so we've actually done some training around that with private practice therapists who yeah tend to want to kind of give it away and i totally understand that but you're going to be able to help a lot more people if you can keep the lights on that's for sure so um yeah i'm i'm i love talking about this stuff i've i've been doing it for a couple years now and plan to be doing it for much longer than that so if anybody has any questions about anything i talked about during this podcast yeah feel free reach out connect with me i'm happy to chat about it other things that i'm chat chatting about is another space is uh peer recovery coaching i do a lot of trainings to certify people in recovery coaching and that's actually becoming a billable service in a lot of states and a lot of even commercial insurances are starting to reimburse for for uh recovery coaching sessions so that's another lane uh for people in recovery to get involved with and have a career path end but happy to chat about that happy to chat about treatment recovery volunteering service whatever it is yeah please reach out brian thanks for your work in the industry um what an incredible example and and model out there for others that want to recover as well thanks for thanks for sharing with us today it's been incredible thank you for having me shelly curt great to sit with you appreciate being here thanks for being on the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collections simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry-leading reporting improve your practice's cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates

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