Recovery Talks: The Podcast
Deep-Diving on Dual-Diagnosis

Deep-Diving on Dual-Diagnosis

April 18, 2022
Mental Health Issues. Substance Use-Disorder. Each poses significant challenges for the person afflicted and the person tasked with helping the person when it comes to diagnosis and, when combined, represents a unique and different course of treatment. 
 
Marc gets down to it with Portage Path Behavioral Health professional Matthew Ragon in this plain-spoken, nuts-and-bolts episode. Within his role as a clinician with Portage Path, Matthew drills down into ‘Dual-Diagnosis' and why this approach is expanding its reach and charting its success. Marc and Matthew both bring to light the various ways that 'stigma' can manifest itself, compound the long-term recovery process within the dual-diagnosis model, and how it can impede the client from actualizing the goal of a self-directed life.
 
Let's listen to this necessary episode designed to understand more contemporary clinical methods and help those who may be on the cusp of starting their self-directed journey. Additionally, Matthew Ragon offers his contact info to anyone experiencing a dual-diagnosis situation. You are free to contact him at Portage Path Behavioral Health: mragon@portagepath.org.
 

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Never Give Up

Never Give Up

April 11, 2022

Athena Fleming has endured something that most people will never experience: the loss of a child to addiction.

 

In perhaps the most gut-wrenching episode of this podcast, Marc and Athena try to untangle and comprehend the journey and tragic ending of Athena’s daughter, Alycia. This episode recounts the battle that ensued to confront her addiction, the victories that temporarily showed promise, and the path that eventually led to Alycia losing the fight.

 

In Athena’s words, “Our loved ones don’t set out to become addicts. We’re dealing with something that takes over the brain.”

 

In this gripping, emotional episode, Athena shares with Marc her innermost feelings about doing everything possible to wage war on a scourge that slowly and methodically robbed her of her daughter. And we learn how a mother’s unconditional love can be a testament for others who may be experiencing the same journey.

 

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When the Shattered Pieces Come Together

When the Shattered Pieces Come Together

April 4, 2022
“Trauma is not unusual. What’s unusual is not having somebody to help us move through it”.
 
April 23rd, 2019, may have been a remarkably ordinary day for most. But for Jennifer Bartolotta, that day was the breaking point and the end of the life that she loved and cherished. In a moment, she lost her husband, business partner, best friend, and crisis-inspired trauma would soon invade and permeate every inch of her existence. Nothing would ever be the same. 
 
Eventually, that set her on a course of intense recovery. Through pain, insight, knowledge, and experience, the journey that started with formal training and gave her the wisdom to help both herself and establish early foundations for the construction of her new business, would ultimately assist others in the management of certified trauma-informed care.
 
Join Marc in season 4’s inaugural episode as he and Jennifer drill down into ‘trauma’ at its most basic, how it is best faced when fighting it initially, and how trust in yourself may, in fact, be the most effective and essential artillery in the fight against trauma. 

 

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Hurt People Hurt People

Hurt People Hurt People

December 28, 2021
The ‘well of pain.’ For the person in long-term recovery, ‘pain’ is real. Sometimes unforgiving. What can begin the process towards healing? Or, maybe even better put: who?
 
Can a frog?
 
Marc thinks aloud in this final episode of Season 3, reveling in his tail-less amphibian-ness. The frog is trusting, content in its knowledge that other people will acknowledge the pain, see it for the harm that it causes, and do what others are designed to do: to help. But what if everyone is not a fellow frog? Would others take advantage of a frog in misery? And if someone would stoop so low as to do that, would there be a space within us to initiate forgiveness? Is it possible? 
 
And who is this person who would continue to swirl the slurry of pain? Meet the scorpion.
 
In this reflective, contemplative, and powerful episode, Marc takes you on the frog-scorpion journey. He expounds upon the three-pronged recipe for eliminating suffering: asking for forgiveness, offering forgiveness, and, quite possibly the most difficult, learning to forgive yourself. Find out why scorpions aren’t necessarily good or bad. They are. But can forgiveness be found for them?
 
Hang out with Marc in this season-ending finale as he offers up insight on his journey, trying day by day to locate compassion inside forgiveness while also staying the course for those other frogs and scorpions in long-term recovery.
 

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The Road to Redemption

The Road to Redemption

December 20, 2021
The Road to Redemption – Judge Susan Baker Ross
 
If Season 3 of ‘Recovery Talks: The Podcast’ has shown us anything, it’s that addiction knows no gender, nationality, or social class. It can transform the lives of everyone from working mothers to corporate executives to, in the case of our host, musicians.
 
In this revealing episode, Marc also shows that even a person elected to uphold the statutes can fall victim to addiction’s tentacles. Judge Susan Baker Ross talks candidly and openly about her unique story of alcohol addiction and her continuing journey to stay clean even after more than 30 years of sobriety.
 
“Drinking, trouble…drinking, trouble’. Almost like a mantra, Judge Ross realized early on that alcohol was the demon that set her on a path of recklessness and danger. And while the trauma of sexual abuse at an early age may have been the catalyst, she also knew that her body’s chemistry seemed determined to deny her the capability of merely having a drink. In her words, “I had one last drink in 1989, I remember how that drink went down, and I could immediately feel the phenomenon of craving kick in”.
 
But Judge Susan Baker Ross also knew that even after three decades of sobriety that she was, in her words, “still a work in progress". She felt compassion for those who appeared in front of her bench, and she understood the emotional impact of their journeys. She was also content that issues still existed even after being on such a long road of sobriety. Sugar remained a culprit. And her past reinforced the need to continue to be in trauma therapy.
 
This is a genuine, authentic, and honest episode, a teachable moment for anyone from any walk of life. It’s proof-positive that everyone, even an elected official on the bench, is worthy and entitled to the healing act of redemption.

 

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Feeding the Malnourished Brain - Rachel Pollack

Feeding the Malnourished Brain - Rachel Pollack

December 15, 2021
Can a person be active in recovery without realizing why they are in recovery? Rachel Pollack is such a person. Stricken with an eating disorder, sidelined by the pandemic, it wasn’t until months into beginning a recovery path that Rachel realized that her anxiety disorder was partially responsible for helping to fuel it.
 
In this 14th episode of season 3, Marc gives us a detailed glimpse into Rachel Pollack’s world. Long before she chronicles her journey as a published author, Rachel floated in the middle-space that is overlooked when discussing eating disorders. Not everyone who suffers from this affliction hates food. And not everyone spends every waking minute consuming food. In her words, “You can eat three meals a day, and you can still have an eating disorder.”
 
Rachel talks at length about the concept of ‘control,’ how it is misunderstood, perceived, and how her understanding of it only made things worse. Tracing Rachel’s journey, we understand how someone on the precipice of losing weight, doing CrossFit, and gaining traction in her life realizes that ‘control’ can sometimes be an illusion. It was only through therapy that Rachel comprehended that it was her disorder that maintained all of the control.
 
Hiding. Eating in secret. And, eventually, not eating in secret. Rachel Pollack’s story is a singular one. Transitioning from ‘staying in therapy just to get people off my back’ to seeing full-scale progress, her tale reinforces the notion that the person in recovery can have a unique moment of enlightenment: the brain reacts differently when nourished regularly.  
 
It’s a special episode that magnifies a more than common condition. It spotlights a recovery tale that shows one person’s saga from feeling dead inside to feeling alive and whole again.   
 

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When The Wheels Come Off

When The Wheels Come Off

December 6, 2021
When the Wheels Come Off - China Darrington
 
This is not your average "girl who gets in trouble" recovery story. Let's face it: most 9-year-olds are playing soccer, making friends at grade school, or playing video games. Most are not spending a good deal of time interacting with older people. Most of them are not burgeoning BMX stars. And most pre-teenagers are not experiencing having their life hijacked and stolen into the dark arena of sex trafficking.
 
In this almost-unbelievable episode, Marc goes in-depth with China on her astounding upbringing. And they talk at length about how those early traumatic experiences helped form the foundation for uncertainty and confusion during her teenage years, as well as for her early heroin addiction. China also chronicles concluding that things were riding down the road without brakes and that the wheels were coming off.
 
As we'll discover, China's path to recovery was full of potholes. An inability at first to commit took her from heroin to crack cocaine. And even becoming a parent was not enough to facilitate a move towards sobriety. Drugs were controlling her life. In her words, "I turned into a machine." Jobs were thrown by the wayside. Houses were lost. But it was an unexpected pregnancy, the lightning-flash realization that the person you're carrying inside of you may be more important than your addiction, that finally enabled China to turn a corner.
 
In this dramatic episode, China charts her fascinating road to salvation, how meditation, Buddhist principles, and a book called the 'Dharma Punks' enabled her to deal with her anger and aggression. But more importantly, China Darrington documents her need to re-assess and revitalize her outlook on what exactly 'recovery' is and how she needed to establish new guidelines and coping mechanisms for herself. And, in her words, when 'my brain finally went back online, she talks about arriving at her current role as a recovery coach, a peer-recovery support advocate, a trainer, and a public speaker.
 

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The Master Manipulators

The Master Manipulators

November 29, 2021
Relationships can be both intensely gratifying and amazingly complex. And they’re made even more challenging if a relationship involves violence, particularly ‘intimate partner violence’.
 
In this one-of-a-kind episode, Marc steers the recovery-conversation in a whole new direction, and he does so with his guest, Hope and Healing representative Leanne Bilitz.  In this episode, Leanne deconstructs the assumption that domestic violence can only happen between a man and a woman.  She reinforces the view that ‘everyone’s rock-bottom is different’. We encounter new theories on emotional violence, the emerging condition of ‘financial abuse’, and how coercion and manipulation seeps into relationships of all kinds.  It’s a unique look into how a loving relationship can morph into a desperate decision to seek shelter, and how recovery plays a role within the dynamic of the need for control, as well as the cycle of violence.
 

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Helping-Each-Other Magic

Helping-Each-Other Magic

November 22, 2021

Recovery. And ‘creativity’. Are they light-years from each other? Distant cousins? Or soul-mates? The seemingly divergent paths of ‘staying clean and sober’ and ‘creating something musically’ collide in this latest episode.

 Hold on to your seats, because recovering addict, musician, and creativity-apostle Kathy Moser is a non-stop whirlwind of brutal honesty and hard-core advocacy for using music and creativity to foster a ‘process’ towards more engaging and fruitful recovery. Kathy charts her own story of recovery with Marc, talks about why music is so essential to her physical and spiritual well-being, and why she stands firm in her staunch belief that ‘creativity is not in the weed, it’s in YOU’.

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Being OK Where You Are

Being OK Where You Are

November 16, 2021

As a functional addict, Christopher Wimmer made every effort early on to, in his words, ‘get as messed up as possible as often as possible. Luckily, early on, he also made a decision, after bouts with depression and suicidal thoughts, to do what some simply can’t or won’t do: seek help. 

But ‘help’ for Chris Wimmer on his recovery journey also arrived in the form of spirituality. As an early practitioner of Transcendental Meditation and participation in the Unitarian Universalist Church, Chris eventually found his way into Zen Buddhism, both as a student and, later, as an ordained Zen Buddhist priest. Chris and Marc deeply explored the notion of ‘recovery dharma’, the need to understand being satisfied with not being OK with everything going on in your life, and different perspectives on recovery based on Chris’s role as a licensed independent chemical dependency counselor and licensed social worker.

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