Monday • April 15
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Break the Chains

Select an episode link below to view the on-demand archive.

The Joey Song
Sandra Swenson, author of the forthcoming book The Joey Song, tells the heartbreaking, frustrating, too-familiar story of a defiant, delusional addict and the mother who won't give up on him, until finally it hurts more to hang on than to let go. By the age of twenty her son Joey has OD'd, attempted suicide, quit college, survived a near-fatal car accident, done time behind bars, and been kicked out of rehab numerous times.

Sandy’s story may bring listeners to tears as she describes the suffering her beloved addict son inflicted on the one who loved him best – his mother. In the process Sandy discovered life lessons she needed to learn in the experience and shares them with others who may be walking along the same shattered path.

Acrobaddict: A Courageous Gymnast’s Tale of His Descent into and Liberation from Drug Addiction
Gymnast Joey Putignano takes listeners on a harrowing journey from the U.S. Olympic Training Center to homeless shelters to shooting heroin on the job as a cast member of Cirque du Soleil to being declared dead. Joey’s story, told in his new Book Acrobaddict (2014 Central Recovery Press,) goes beyond addiction. It is about the fragility and tenacity of the human spirit and how that spirit can redeem each and every one of us by helping to push us through the darkness, whether the darkness is from death, divorce or the disease of addiction. Acrobaddict is a story about the close relationship between athletics and drug addiction—how the same energy, obsession, and dedication that can create an Olympic athlete can also create a homeless drug addict – and how the human spirit can prevail.

Drugs and the Brain
For many years addiction was considered an affliction of the morally-depraved elements of society. Ignorance, some still in existence today, forced addicts to live out their lives as outcasts, as criminals in prisons or as inmates in atrocious mental institutions. Thanks to modern science, it is now known that addiction is not the result of immorality but is, in fact, due to complex issues stemming from the human brain. Some people are simply more likely to become addicted than others. Furthermore, we now know that abusing drugs and alcohol can cause fundamental changes in the brain that can take months, years or sometimes eternity to reverse. In this week’s episode we take a look at just what is going on in the brains of addicts, and why getting and staying off of drugs is so difficult for many people.

12 Hidden Rewards of Making Amends
Letting go of resentment and forgiving ourselves for our past wrongs are critical to recovery from alcohol and other drugs. Yet, Steps Eight, Nine and Ten, which focus on making amends, can be some of the most challenging to work. Why? Because we must face ourselves and those we have hurt and damaged.

Once we have a willingness to experience our painful feelings, we can grow and mature into the person we’d like to be. We can reach our potential and become our true self. We find forgiveness and self-respect. Through this transformative process we can recover and maintain integrity, resolve or complete unfinished business, restore trust, self-esteem and self-confidence, deepen spirituality and peace and mind, and reinforce a strong commitment to recovery.

In this week’s show, psychotherapist Dr. Allen Berger discusses his new book 12 Hidden Rewards of Making Amends, and provides an intimate, passionate and honest look at why making amends is not only critical but absolutely essential for anyone wanting to decrease their chances of relapse and learn to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Learn more about Dr. Berger’s work at his website. Look for this and other books by Dr. Berger on Amazon.

From Harvard to Hell…and Back: A Doctor’s Journey through Addiction to Recovery
Dr. Sylvester “Skip” Sviokla lived life as a successful, driven, athletic and brilliant graduate of Harvard Medical School, reveling in wealth and glamour until addiction brought his life crashing down. This real-life “Dr. House” had it all (he thought) – until addiction took everything – including his medical license. At one point “Dr. Skip,” whose patients had included Hollywood celebrities, was taking 150 pills of Vicodin a day and using other people’s names on scripts he’d write. In addition, he was drinking heavily. Eventually he was no longer taking Vicodin to get high but instead to stave off the massive pain of opioid withdrawal. After many years of battling bureaucracy in California, Dr. Skip moved to Rhode Island where the medical board reinstated his license. Wanting to give back, Dr. Skip now works in the addiction medicine field. In this episode of Break the Chains, Dr. Skip will discuss his journey, which is detailed in his new book: From Harvard to Hell…And Back, available on Amazon.

Learn more about Dr. Sviokla at:


Women and Addiction
Recent research has demonstrated that there are significant gender differences when it comes to addiction. Women’s bodies metabolize substances differently. Female addicts are more likely to have co-occurring disorders, such as depression, than males, and they are more likely to report sexual abuse in their past. Society is more judgmental of a woman addict, especially a mother, which can result in the addiction being hidden much longer or treatment never sought at all. Women sometimes can’t go into treatment, because they lack child care options. And a woman who does seek help may find herself at a disadvantage in a child custody dispute. This show is designed to shed light on some of the most common differences between men and women facing addiction with the goal of assisting afflicted women in knowing that they are not alone – that somebody understands - and that there IS help.

Restarting Your Recovery: 12 Things You Can Do to Get Back on the Beam
Sometimes the best of intentions can fall by the wayside, but when it happens to people in recovery, it can be very dangerous. It’s not uncommon for people “working the program” to become complacent over time and let sobriety sink from “number one priority” to “somewhere else on the list – but not at the top.” It can be a serious event to “fall off the beam” if it means a loss of sobriety, but it doesn’t have to go that far. If you find you’re working the program with less enthusiasm and commitment than you once did – or not at all - or you’re feeling like you’re slipping, or depression is setting in or you’re experiencing any sort of negative feelings that are keeping your from your highest good, this show is for you. Author Tricia Abney (penname Taite Adams) will tell her own story of “falling off the beam” as detailed in her book Restart Your Recovery and share 12 powerful ways you can do just that and get back on the beam.

Recovery Residences: The Next Step after Rehab for those who Can’t or Shouldn’t “Go Home”
For many people working to remain abstinent, living in a structured, monitored environment can provide an additional safety net between rehab and going back home. But like anything else, not all recovery residences are the same.

Some operate to a very high standard, where residents are closely monitored and appropriately supported. Others do not follow best practices and become one more conduit for people not serious about their sobriety to meet other like-minded people.

A variety of environments falls under the “recovery residence” umbrella with names such as “halfway houses” and “sober living.” What do these terms mean?

What should you consider when looking for the right recovery residence for yourself or someone you love?

What type of environment is best for you?

What are some common red flags that should send you running away before you ever ring the doorbell?

These and other questions will be answered over the course of this compelling, information-packed hour. Don’t miss it.

Neurofeedback - A Powerful Weapon in the Addiction Fight
When addicts abuse substances, fundamental changes occur in the architecture of the brain. It simply doesn’t look – or behave - the way it once did. Many of the once-functional links and connections that communicated signals efficiently and appropriately are damaged or even destroyed. As a result, the addict experiences cravings, anxiety, sleep problems, judgment lapses, inappropriate emotions, depression and loss of motivation. What used to give the person pleasure before they started using now does nothing for them. What once allowed them to see the world in a realistic way now is colored with skewed perceptions and an inability to cope. Studies show that when neurofeedback (biofeedback for the brain) is added to conventional treatment modalities such as therapy and AA/NA, addicts tend to get better faster, have fewer cravings and see improvements in all aspects of their lives – all without medication! What is this thing called neurofeedback, and why haven’t you heard about it? It’s been around, after all, for more than 60 years. Tune in to find out.

Everything You Need to Know about Interventions
Have you ever wondered if someone you know who’s abusing drugs or alcohol needs an intervention? If you’ve ever seen the A&E series Intervention you know that doing an intervention isn’t easy on anyone – not the addict or those affected by the addict’s behaviors. What you probably don’t know is everything that goes into an intervention and the fact that there is more than one kind. Tune in to the show to find out who does and doesn’t need an intervention, what types there are and what to look for and avoid if you’re thinking about an intervention for someone you care about.

Stupid Things People do to Mess up their Recovery and Smart Things to do Once the Drugs and Booze are Gone
Recovery Road is always bumpy, but for some it’s bumpier than others due to self-defeating actions and beliefs. In this powerful hour author and psychotherapist Dr. Allen Berger details some of the things addicts typically do to mess up their recovery.

Learn about Dr. Berger and his books at his website..

Myths About Addiciton
Which one of these statements is true?

An addict has to want help in order to benefit from treatment or… it doesn't matter if an addict wants help or not. He or she can be helped with the right intervention.*

Hmmm, if you’re like most people, some of what you know about addiction might be “conventional wisdom” - and conventional wisdom isn’t always so wise.

Years ago it was believed that cigarette smoking was actually good for your health! You may have seen vintage ads stating that “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!” It seemed credible at the time, but now we know better.

The same applies to addiction. On our “Myths about Addiction” show we are going to talk about some of the most common misconceptions about addicts and addiction, and why knowing the real truth can help you (or your loved one) see yourself and your addiction challenge in a more empowered and accurate light. Our guests are: Dr. Adi Jaffe and Jerome R. Barry

*Tune into the show for the answer!


The Opiate Epidemic
Many people are unaware that the United States is experiencing the worst opiate epidemic in its history. Opiates range from prescription medications like OxyContin and Vicodin to the street drug known as heroin. This show examines what an opiate is, why it is so addictive and how it can be found in every community, urban area and suburb in America. Our guests are author Tricia Abney and Dan Duncan, associate executive director at St. Louis's National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.