FAQs

How is Reimagining Recovery different from other support groups?

  • “Take what works and leave the rest” is the main premise rather than an after-thought. We don’t offer a “prescription” for recovery. We recognize that it looks different for everyone, and thus aim to empower the individual to make choices that foster their overall wellness. Recovery is not linear. There are no “steps” here.
  • We openly talk about harm reduction. Harm reduction is engaging in your problematic behavior but in a way that causes less damage. It can mean things like needle exchanges and safe injection sites. It can also mean drinking a few too many but deciding not to drive. It can also mean using the Sinclair method for alcohol reduction, which involves taking a pill called naltrexone about an hour before imbibing in your drink, which is said to cause an extinction of cravings.
  • We recognize that the personal is political and hold space for talking about how oppression in all forms influences and shapes almost every aspect of our lives.
  • We believe that mental health is health. We take a holistic approach to wellness, and recognize that mind and body cannot be separated from one another. Thus we hope to incorporate somatic (body-centered) techniques where appropriate, and prioritize mental health as openly and eagerly as our physical health.
  • We believe that addiction or substance/alcohol use disorders (whatever you choose to call the pattern of ritualized compulsive self-soothing) are borne out of a desire to escape unbearable feelings. We as humans are hardwired to want to avoid pain, emotional as well as physical, and there should be no shame in this. We don’t take a particular stance on whether or not it is a disease, but affirm that it is certainly not a moral failing.

How much do your events cost?

All of our events are free, with donations gladly accepted. $1-5 is traditional, but there is absolutely no pressure to contribute financially– your presence is enough! Accessibility and inclusion are two of our main values.
What are some of those other values?

Organizational transparency, personal confidentiality, community, self- and other- empowerment, consent, social justice, diversity, group sovereignty, (radical) acceptance, respect, vulnerability, reciprocity, intersectionality, compassion, and authenticity.
We also aim to be: Non-hierarchical, anti-racist, LGBTQ2A+ inclusive, trauma-informed, introvert-friendly, open-minded, and ever-evolving (More details to come).

I never carry cash. Can I donate online somewhere?

We don’t have 501(c) status yet, so we can’t give you a tax receipt, but you can paypal money to agent964 @ gmail . com (without the spaces) in the meantime. You can also support us through Patreon.

When and where do you meet?

-Every Monday at 7:00-8:30 PM at Taborspace ( 5441 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215 )

-Every 2nd and 4th Sunday 1:00-3:00 PM at Q Center ( 4115 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, Oregon 97217 )

-Every 4th Wednesday at Alano Club PDX 7:00-9:00 PM ( 909 NW 24th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97210 )

Are there plans to expand?

Yes! We hope to inspire others to start similar experiments in their communities. Contact reimaginingrecovery@gmail.com if you would like to start a meeting where you are.

What are events like? What should I expect?

Every event is different! However, the general idea is to make space for everyone to contribute to the conversation. The meetings are generally more dialogic, and cross-talk is encouraged and in fact the norm. They are not lectures, they are spontaneous experiments in collaboration. We aim to break down the teacher/student binary, and to come together as peers, recognizing that each individual has contributions and wisdom to offer to the group.

Is there childcare?

Unfortunately, not at this time. email reimaginingrecovery@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering to change this.

Do I have to participate?

It is completely up to you what you want to share, and there is never any pressure. In fact this is what many people choose to do the first time. Whatever makes you comfortable.

 

…More to come!

 

 

 

Safer and Saner Self-Medication With Cannabis

Monday, MAY 6th 7:00-8:30 PM Taborspace 5441 SE Belmont St, Portland, Oregon 97215

FREE, please share!

We all self-medicate, to one degree or another. Excessive exercise, television, retail therapy, alcohol, coffee just to get through the day.

As recreational marijuana grows in popularity, inevitably more and more people figure out that cannabis affords some relief from their symptoms, and start to self medicate. I want this conversation to shed light on the stigma against simply wanting relief from pain, both emotional and physical.

Is self medication inherently harmful? We’ll talk about the pros and cons and how to utilize it more safely, effectively, and responsibly.

We’ll also go over the concept of dialectical abstinence, for those of us wanting to curb their usage. Dialectical abstinence is a synthesis of the ideas of harm reduction and abstinence. It accounts for the fact that recovery is not linear, and takes the shame out of (re)lapses.

We’ll also have a crash course on terpenes, learn about our body’s own endocannabinoid system, a bit about botany and history, the benefits of CBD, basics like the difference between Indica and Sativa, going on tolerance breaks, microdosing, safer modes of ingestion, using it in lieu of harder drugs to reduce usage, how to choose the strain for you, the research about its effectiveness for PTSD and other conditions, and more! If you have a particular question you’d like to discuss, post it in the comments! Reimagining Recovery groups are collaborative and conversational, so bring your own knowledge and experience with you!

The facilitator is not a medical professional and does not recommend any course of treatment, or give any advice. We encourage caution when making the choice to take any mind altering substance.

Depending on the response, this may become a short series of groups. Stay tuned.

Trauma, Memory, and the Brain

FREE, NO REGISTRATION
Please share!

Wednesday, MARCH 27th 7:00-9:00 PM Alano Club PDX ( 909 NW 24th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97210 )

Trauma causes physical changes in the brain. It is indeed a largely physiological rather than psychological process, which has demonstrable effects throughout our entire nervous systems. Much of this process has to do with the sympathetic nervous system and the fight/flight/freeze/fawn response.

When the body is trapped in this cycle, it causes ripple effects for almost every aspect our selves and the lens through which we view the world.

Specifically we’ll learn about the roles of the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and the amygdala, and how they interact in response to crisis and perceived danger.

We’ll learn how traumatic memories are stored via a completely different process than normal memories, and discuss how these memories can be “trapped” in the body, what that feels like, and why somatic (body centered) approaches are particularly useful.

We’ll provide a basic understanding of this process, discuss how it manifests in our daily lives, and look at the political ramifications of trauma myths and misconceptions.

This talk will be based on the research of Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine primarily, as well as referencing Healing Trauma: Attachment, Mind, Body, and Brain edited by Marion Solomon and Daniel Siegel.

This event is FREE and put together by Reimagining Recovery: A Neurodiversity Club.

This is a PEER-TO-PEER group. The instructor/facilitator has no special training besides being a lifelong autodidact and voracious bookworm. See www.reimaginingrecovery.org to read her story.

Like or follow our page to keep up with upcoming events and groups!

https://www.facebook.com/ReimaginingRecovery/

PayPal agent964@gmail if you’d like to donate.

Reimagining Recovery Art Group!

MARCH 11th, 2019 7:00-8:30 PM Taborspace 5441 Southeast Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon 97215

FREE! No experience needed!

Reimagining Recovery’s first peer to peer art group at Taborspace!

Bring your own supplies if you have them (and sharing or donating are very much welcome and appreciated), but we’ll also have various other art supplies available to use.

We’ll announce a theme or prompt for the group but you’re also welcome to bring your own projects (maybe leave your welding set up at home, though…) I’ll also bring a couple coloring books if that appeals to you more.

Check out www.reimaginingrecovery.org to read more about the project and the facilitator. And don’t forget to like our follow our page to keep up with future events!

Hope to see you there!

Event: Confronting Ableism

MARCH 10th, MARCH 24th 2019 Q Center 4115 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, Oregon 97217

 

Ableism is discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities (including invisible ones like PTSD, bipolar, and executive dysfunction– all of which the facilitator lives with).

Ableism comes in many forms, from intellectual elitism, to lack of accessibility protections, to stereotyping to systemic and institutional erasure, med shaming, cluster-B personality shaming, the anti vaccine movement, “sapiosexuality” and so much more.

We’ll share our personal experiences with ableism (including internalized ableism) in our daily lives and strategies for confronting it. We may also may explore some of the more difficult implications like the spectre of eugenics. We’ll also learn about the medical vs. Social models of disability.

Come with your own questions and ideas, this is an open conversation in which everyone is invited to share their thoughts and experiences (providing they’re not hateful, of course).

 

This is a continuation of our first Combating Ableism group; We want to keep the conversation going for at least a second and third session. You don’t need to have attended the first to come to the second or any subsequent events, though it’s recommended that you try to commit to as many as you can so as to create more of a container for the group. However, we understand that we all have limited energy and time to commit to things, and it’s hard to predict what each day will face us with, so I’ll try to organize it such that there will be a bit of overlap and continuity.

Please feel free to add suggestions for activities, journal or discussion questions, or any other idea you’ve got for the group. I’ll also periodically post links to articles or video lectures as I find them; you’re welcome to as well!

Event: Mindfulness for Survivors of Trauma

FREE, Donations welcome!

MARCH 4th – 7:00-8:30 PM Taborspace 5441 Southeast Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon 97215

APRIL 14th SUNDAY 1-3PM Q Center 4115 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, Oregon 97217

 
Mindfulness is often presented as a panacea for everything from mental illness to addiction. What the trend unfortunately overlooks is that certain mindfulness practices can be retraumatizing for survivors and counter-productive, if not outright harmful.

In this group, we’ll explore why this is, share our experiences and struggles, learn techniques and practices that are less likely to be triggering, and let go of self blame about why it hasn’t been working for us. Indeed, there is no “right” way to be mindful or meditate, and it’s best to customize your practice to best suit your needs.

I’ll be referencing the book _Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness_ by David A Treleaven.

This is a PEER-TO-PEER group. The instructor/facilitator has no special training besides being a lifelong autodidact and voracious bookworm, as well as many years of experience battling mental illness, trauma, and addiction. See www.reimaginingrecovery.org to read her story.

Like or follow our page to keep up with upcoming events and groups!

https://www.facebook.com/ReimaginingRecovery/

Distress Tolerance Skills from DBT

DBT means Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Read about it here.

These are practical skills to get you through difficult times. I like to keep things like this posted on my refrigerator or somewhere else I can see it often until I get into the habit of using the skills consistently and incorporating them into my daily life. I’ve added to, adapted, and tweaked this version from DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets by Marsha M. Linehan.

Distress ToleranceDistress Tolerance2

Distress Tolerance3

The history so far

…Or herstory, as it were.

 

TW: sui ideation, hospitalization, incest mention (not graphic)

My name is Molly DuMars, and I’m the founder of Reimagining Recovery. I’m writing this on September 23rd, 2018 and I feel a little silly talking about the “history” of something that was only properly conceived a few months ago. Although I will say, that this idea has had a pretty lengthy incubation period; that period is in fact the sum of my experiences in recovery.

One of the many events that cumulated in this conception was my most recent hospitalization for suicidal ideation 5 months ago. Once again I had found myself at a point of desperation. This was my 5th or 6th hospitalization (they blur together in a haze of slowly-sipped instant bouillon and Sharkzilla marathons interspersed with crying spells and art therapy). Once again, going to the hospital enabled me to stabilize, grow, and feel like I was getting somewhat of a fresh start. When I began to trust myself enough to be alone, I was discharged.

As for my plan after discharge, I kept running into the same exasperating decision: Go to mental health or addiction treatment for my outpatient care? Very few integrative options exist, certainly in my price range. I had briefly lapsed on my drug of choice, alcohol, but my crisis had precipitated before the idea of drinking even entered my mind. Several triggers converged at once and my PTSD symptoms became beyond my control. I learned in retrospect that I was also in the middle of a hypomanic and dissociative episode. My trauma, my bipolar, and my addictions are one inextricable ball of twine, and my experience isn’t unique in that: More and more, dual diagnosis is beginning to be seen as the rule rather than the exception.

Hence, why I have opted to do away with the whole addiction/mental health dichotomy and offer classes, groups, and discussions about issues that affect everyone, practical coping and grounding skills that anyone can use, regardless of their diagnoses or lack thereof. I believe that humans all have the same needs, at core. One can get them met in constructive, or destructive ways. Many of us have unfortunately learned a lot of destructive methods, but not for lack of alternatives. The knowledge has just been out of reach. That’s why this project is essentially about accessibility and inclusion for people at all stages in their journeys.

But I digress– After I was discharged, I opted to go to Providence’s intensive outpatient program (IOP). They do wonderful work there, and where I used to be a tinge ashamed, I now proudly say I have graduated not once, but FIVE times. And I learned new lessons and cemented old ones each time– lessons about topics like distress tolerance, mindfulness, myths and realities of mental illness, radical acceptance, sleep hygiene and other self care basics, and so much more. During one particular class about enforcing boundaries, I wondered “Why doesn’t everyone learn this stuff in school?”

I’m sure I wasn’t the first to ask that. But, I’ve always felt constrained by schools and academia. When I was 16 I decided to Unschool myself and “dropped out” and into lifelong learning. I have always been an autodidact, the type of person that listens to lectures in their free time. It never feels like a chore, because I’m passionate about learning. Once you begin to feed your curiosity, it grows, and the rest comes naturally. So I’m wanting to bring some of the things I’ve learned through that journey back to the recovery community: First, the joy of teaching oneself new things; Second, the joy of sharing that knowledge with others.

Another lesson from this quest for knowledge, is the freedom of not having to choose a specialty, the freedom of not being bound by “discipline”. A cross-disciplinary approach is helpful, but to truly approach understanding of complex systems (for instance the small matter of everything that constitutes the human experience) it’s more effective to transcend disciplines entirely. When you’re free to follow your curiosity wherever it takes you, I’ve learned that you can achieve a more nuanced understanding of any issue.

Another experience of mine that informs my ideas on the project and my vision for it is my year of teaching English in a “small town” of 5 million in China. It wasn’t something I had really planned on, in fact it would have been inconceivable that I’d go back much less move there a couple months prior. It’s too long of a story to go into here, but I was barely eking out an existence in Sydney, Australia, juggling my time between working at a small grocery store and moonlighting as a cello-wielding busker when my then-boyfriend’s online poker buddy in China said their school was hiring and they’d pay for our flights. Thus we were faced with a decision: Admit defeat and cut our trip short, become homeless, or make a rather drastic detour?

So, there I was thrust into the world of English pedagogy abroad. I had to learn how to teach people from age 10 to 90 and quick. It actually came surprisingly easily to me. After all, I was fluent, I grew up in and amongst the matrices of this complex, beautiful language– I knew the subject matter well, I just had to learn how to relate the material. Luckily, the school I worked for made it as easy as possible for teachers to step right in and start teaching– all you had to do was pull a lesson plan out of the filing cabinet, look it over, add your own twist if you had some extra time, and go to class. The students did most of the work. Most of the time you were just soliciting responses, asking the right questions. The point was to give the students room to talk. This brought to mind what I had heard of the Socratic method, and I started experimenting with those concepts with my more advanced students. I was also introduced to a wide range of teaching and learning styles. Most of all, it taught me that everyone has the potential to be a natural teacher, if you give them a solid template and set a good example.

My own struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder, again, informs this project;  I’ve tried, lapsed, and relapsed many times. I did get decent periods of sobriety racked up, but kept repeating the same patterns eventually. I now look back on how I managed to accumulate the time and successes I have, and I realized I was unknowingly practicing dialectical abstinence.

The idea behind dialectics is that two seemingly opposite truths can both have and contain, well, truth. My aunt once commented, “Isn’t that just growing up?” and I admit she has a point, but not everyone had that learning opportunity, especially in the case of developmental trauma. In this case, dialectical abstinence is the idea that harm reduction and complete abstinence both have benefit. The idea is to practice harm reduction while you are making your ultimate journey to sobriety (whatever that means to you), as you gain the coping skills that enable you to make the transition.

Traditional support groups tend to shy away from harm reduction. How many of us believe in abstinence-only sex education in high schools? It doesn’t work and it’s not realistic. The same is true in recovery. It is an act of radical acceptance to acknowledge that recovery is f*cking hard. Recovery is not linear. Recovery takes time, and it’s a continuous process. We are going to make mistakes, and rather than wallow in shame, it is more effective and helpful to accept rather than reject reality as it is.

To touch on another main influence: I want to take a different kind of detour now, and it’s a twisty one. Flash forward to my hospital stay again. I had finally gotten the courage to ask an actual doctor something I had wondered about for years– How had the specifics of my earliest traumas impacted my development? (TW for the footnote below)* Specifically, how had a substance that was given to me without my knowledge affected my brain development? He told me– and I might have taken this a lot differently if he hadn’t been the first psychiatrists there to sit down and truly listen to me without judgement or an agenda– that he thinks I’m probably THE expert on that one. It was validating, actually. He was also the first person in a white coat to tell me they would change my diagnosis to C-PTSD if only the APA would catch up and put it in the diagnostic manual (which it sounds like they will soon). It was empowering also– I am my own expert. We all are the experts at our own lives, because no one else has ever had to live them.

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*(TW r***, incest) Flash back to 8 years old– I think? I think that’s about when my dad started drugging me so that he could more easily molest me in the wee hours of the mornings before he would go to work. Sometimes I think he drugged me first so that he could convince himself he was doing less harm, but even that’s probably giving him too much credit… I’m sure it was just to more thoroughly silence me.

This project is also me speaking out against oppression in all forms. My dad’s actions cannot be neatly separated from the rape culture we inhabit. The personal is political, and especially with relation to trauma. Recovery to me also means examining the structures that lead to a chain of events that cumulated in homelessness. poverty, self-destruction, addiction, and how these intersections interacted in my lived experience. As is often the case, understanding the factors that led up to my  addiction contextualized my experience in a way that enabled me to shed shame, which is toxic to recovery.