Wendy Stevens

Connecting with Love

Connecting with Love

The addiction and recovery journeys are challenging ones.  They come with tests and triggers, and everyday life stresses.  One of the pieces that remains so consistent is knowing there is love on the journey.  Even at the worst of the challenges, we see love in our community, with family members, friends, and even strangers.  Allies in the journey are sometimes the foundation that create the stepping-stones to success.

What does it mean to be part of the stepping-stones across the raging river?

  • It can mean supporting someone in the way they will accept it.
  • Maybe, active listening without fixing.
  • Sometimes, it’s just holding space.
  • Often, it’s getting out there and doing something fun and not focusing on the problems at all!
  • It could be boundary setting to guide independent success.
  • At times, finding resources to new paths.

All of the time… it’s about connection and the relationship you have together.

One of the most beautiful successes that many families find through this journey is how to connect and be stronger together.  The strength and growth in the family that may not have happened if addiction and Recovery were never part of their lives, many call it a gift of addiction.


Posted by Wendy Stevens in CFLR In Action

CFLR Welcomes Dr. Harold Berkeimer to the Herkimer Clinical Programs

CFLR Welcomes Dr. Harold Berkeimer to the Herkimer Clinical Programs

Dr. Berkheimer “Dr. B” is one of our newest employee additions to CFLR. Dr. B started as a counselor in our Employee Assistance Program, working to help individuals and families. He was recently promoted to a supervisor position in Herkimer programs. 

Dr. B was born and raised in north central Pennsylvania in a small rural farming town. After graduating high school, he joined the US Navy and served for 4 years. During the last 13 months of his enlistment he worked as an EOD/MED-EVAC in Viet Nam. After his military service he moved to southern California and started college with a major in chemistry and psychology. While in school, he began an electrical contracting business, which quickly grew into a 20-year business.

His real dream was to pursue a career in psychology and medicine. At age 45 he decided to change careers and realize his dream. He decided to sell his company and was admitted to medical school. After medical school, he completed a 4-year residency in adult psychiatry and immediately afterward did a 1-year fellowship in addiction medicine. Dr. B began his medical career at OMH at Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy, New York where he was assigned to the acute care ward. There he managed 10 to 20 patients daily from the surrounding state prisons for various psychiatric ailments. A few years after retiring from CNYPC, he decided to apply to CFLR for a new adventure.

CFLR is excited to have Dr. B as part of our team.

Posted by Wendy Stevens in CFLR In Action

Families Experience Vicarious Trauma

By Ambi Daniel, Director of Family Service Navigation

It’s an interesting thing, we often talk about the trauma history of the person with a substance use disorder.  What if I told you there was both vicarious trauma and community trauma that also may require help and intervention? 

Family members may have pervasive impacts from experiencing fear, being in traumatic situations of overdose, a missing loved one, and more.  Family members may need space to learn tools to navigate this both from a clinical perspective, and from an engagement perspective.  Resentments, mindfulness, radical acceptance, awareness, and redirection can help families better connect and impact the cycle of trauma.   

Becoming trauma informed can also help loved ones to understand the why a person may use drugs or alcohol, or why certain behaviors persist.  When we look at it differently, we can practice empathy, reduce frustrations, and move ahead reducing our nervous system responses, decreasing stress, and engaging as a family in a recovery process more successfully.   

If you’d like to learn more about tools that can help your family work on this, connect with our Family Support Navigation Services or join us in one of our virtual support and educational groups!   

Family Support Group, for loved ones impacted by an individual’s substance use disorder Tuesday 6:15 alternate Tuesdays 

The Light Carried, for parents who have experienced loss of a child due to substance use disorder 6:15 alternate Tuesdays 

CRAFT and engagement Wednesdays at 12:45 

Ambi Daniel, adaniel@cflrinc.org

Posted by Wendy Stevens in CFLR In Action

This Was Supposed to be Fun

This Was Supposed to be Fun

Managing Big Feelings on Family Adventures

Wow… I wish I had this nugget of information when I was parenting young children! The Center for Family Life and Recovery offers an Employee Assistance Program that is staffed with individuals who are continuously searching for information to help make work/life balance better and more fulfilling for you and your employees.  The following is what one of our EAP Coordinators found while doing a bit of  research  and thought other parents could use to better a family getaway.   

Imagine, you work all year to take a few glorious weeks off with your family… only to have child 1, 2 and 3 each spend the beginning of it, stressed, crying and throwing temper tantrums.  Would you like to know why?  

When your family goes on vacation, all the rhythm and predictability of home is replaced by adventure, new places, and lots of togetherness. All the things that make family trips fun are also the same things that can easily get very young children off track. 

“When the family comes together and spends extended time, a child’s limbic system, the seat of their emotions, gets the signal that life is better than usual. Feelings that don’t correspond to the closeness, the ease, or the sense of relaxation pop up, ready to be released. Those feelings, held in storage for days or months or years, don’t match the present circumstances. It’s as if the limbic system says, “Hey, we have a wad of xyz upset in here that is old and taking up lots of space. The world isn’t xyz any longer. Let’s heave it on out!” and up comes the upset, right at the time when parents are trying to relax and enjoy their children.” https://www.handinhandparenting.org/2013/08/summer-with-kids/ 

If you’re not ready for your children’s emotional cleansing sessions, you’ll be irritated for sure. It can feel overwhelming to a parent that has spent the entire year dreaming of a relaxing, family fun filled vacation! But processing emotions is hard! Just think of how long an adult takes to fully unwind when on vacation, and that is with adults having years of practice, knowing how to appropriately de-stress.  Kids don’t always have these processing abilities… and fun, can often be overwhelming! So how can parents help and manage the inevitable vacation meltdowns?  Here are some tips to help adults get through the emotional ups and downs of taking children on a vacation: 

Allow time to de-stress. -Schedule time to watch their favorite show, let them play their favorite video game.  This can often feel like a waste of valuable vacation time, but kids need habits of normalcy too.  

When a child displays off track and unreasonable behavior, they are often asking for us to bring a limit to help them stop. – Don’t be afraid to sit in the emotions for a bit! Sit with the melt down but offer limits! For example: I understand sleeping in a strange place, can be hard, let me lay down with you for a bit and talk about all the fun things we will do tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.  

Being empathetic while still saying no. -If you can remember that when conditions are especially good, children can cry about times they weren’t wonderful, and that they do this so they can leave the emotional debris of that past incident behind, you’ll think, “Well, this is a hassle for sure. But here we are, we don’t have anywhere we have to be. We can sit here and listen to her cry about wanting a second stuffed animal. We can just keep saying ‘No,’ and loving her. That’s what she needs, and that’s what we’ve got. Time and love. The rest of the people here we’ll never see again. If they are bothered by us, they can find another gift shop.” Hand in Hand Parenting 

Every family is different, so embracing the change and stress of vacationing is going to look different for every family.  Managing our own adult stress is key to engaging our little ones’ outbursts.  Remember we, as adults are very aware that keeping everyone’s’, passports and boarding passes organized is much more important than having the bag of Goldfish crackers at the ready, but kids could care less about paperwork and cannot grasp the why’s of not having the snack at the ready per usual! Understanding that outbursts and overflow of emotions in different environments is completely normal and even healthy, may just help get that family vacation back

Posted by Wendy Stevens in CFLR In Action