Addiction Mental Health

On Addiction, Treatment and Recovery

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet a fabulous new friend named Dr. Sherry Young of Right Fit Now at her home in Taos, New Mexico.

We got to talk about the spectrum of mental health treatment options, specifically around addiction, and I wanted to share some of those conversations with you.

If you’re struggling with addiction (or even mental health issues) or love someone who is … take 60 minutes and listen in … this interview is for you.

We talk about addiction, treatment options, the role of support groups and sponsors and why they call it “recovery.”

You can watch it on YouTube, or listen/download it on my podcast, and finally, I’ve included a full transcript below.

Here is the full transcript: 

Cory Miller: Alright. Hey everybody. I’m with my new, great best friend in the whole world. Dr Sherry Young. She lives in Taos, New Mexico. I had the good fortune, my wife and I to meet Sherry in her home in the beautiful town of Taos. And we’re asking her questions because we’re very, as you know, I’m very interested in mental health and helping share the message treatment options, how people can get support and encouragement for mental health. And Sherry has spent her career helping people do just that, specifically with addiction and treatment centers and clinics. And so I wanted to talk, I asked Sherry to come on and share everything she shared with me, which I think is so helpful for those that might be either grappling with addiction or have someone in their life that is struggling with addiction and the options. Sherry’s got a business and I’m going to ask her in just a second to talk all about that. But she helps pair people that either have, are struggling with addiction or have someone they love that is struggling with addiction to the appropriate treatment. And so anyway, Sherry, thanks so much for taking the time and sharing your expertise and what the magic you do helping people.

Sherry Young: Thanks Cory. It’s a privilege to talk with you about this and honestly, I consider the work that I do an incredible honor. And I’m so grateful, you know, to have been given an opportunity to do the work that I do.

Cory Miller: Well, and it, and it is true, I would call it when you were starting to say that I was thinking my head was going calling. It’s a calling because you, when you share with us about your experiences and what you do for people, I mean, you really truly are, are helping save lives and help people that are struggling to recover. So could you tell us a little bit about your background? I s I say decades of experience. You’ve been in mental health and specifically addiction treatment clinics and centers for the bulk of your career.

Sherry Young: Actually quite, that’s not quite true. I I was a college professor for 10 years and then directed study abroad programs for three years after that. So I, you know, in my professional, I had been a stay at home mom. I found my way, you know, into the academic community and into that career. And I absolutely love teaching. I have an interdisciplinary doctorate in psychology and literature and was, you know, studying under some of the greats, the founders really of depth psychology. And that was just such an honor. So I was very, very well trained. What’s really interesting to me is shortly after graduate school my life’s began to spin out of control with my own issues of addiction. And I had no idea that growing up in in an alcoholic family a chaotic environment, you know precipitated all of that and in some ways contributed to, you know, that that path that I’ve found for a while.

Cory Miller: And in some ways, my addiction really saved me because it was a survival strategy that helped me mitigate the emotional pain that I still hadn’t at that point, dealt with from that, those early childhood experiences. And so it wasn’t until my, you know, second career that I began, you know, well that I found recovery and you know, began that healing journey from you know, survival to from surviving to thriving, let’s just put it that way. And so during those years that, you know, my addiction was out of control, I truly went away from my best self and I did that, you know, I mean, sort of ironically, by managing my life myself in the best way that I knew how, and mostly that was through escape of multiple, multiple forms. I was a true escape artist. And it was just such a relief when I was able to stop all that and begin to put the pieces together and heal those very, very old childhood attachment wounds and early childhood abuses that often inadvertently happen in a home where there’s addiction or mental illness.

So finding my way into this industry, it was like, you know, I had done the research all my life, you know, both in observing others and in seeing what happened, you know, to me. And so I come to this work with great empathy and with, you know, deep understanding of how this happens, you know it’s not like anybody, any kindergartener when the teacher says, what do you want to be when you grow up, raises their hand and says, I want to be an alcoholic. I want to be a drug addict. We don’t choose that. But you know, life stressors and life situations, you know, and especially in our culture today it’s, you know, it’s a management strategy for, you know, all of those stressors. So many people take that route.

Cory Miller: All right. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know when we privately met, you shared your story of addiction and recovery and it was inspirational and uplifting and we didn’t even talk about that before we got gone. And you, you shared so openly and I so much appreciate that because I think it’s a, it helps in stigmas. It helps empower people to get help. And I appreciate you sharing that part of it is short and I know that’s woven into your entire story too and what you do now. Right.

Sherry Young: And I think Cory, that’s an important piece because it’s that empathy and compassion and connection that, you know, even if, and I don’t often share my own story, but I think my experience really helps to provide even a hidden connection with the people that I talk with on the phone. And, you know, the people that I help in, you know, finding their way to appropriate clinical fit for treatment. And so I wanna make it real clear that you know, my work really spans, you know, primary mental health and addiction issues. And I think so often that there’s been in, you know, and remains a divide between, you know, the medical community and, you know, the approach to mental illness and the, you know, addiction and recovery community and their, you know, approaches to healing from addiction. And, you know, and these two worlds have got to come together because it, you know, it really is both. And I, you know, I just do not even see a person anymore who is struggling with addiction that doesn’t in some way have at, at the very minimum co-morbidity. And an underlying that trauma attachment and family of origin survival strategies

Cory Miller: Can, these are all words we kind of talked about and I’m the person that always goes, hold on, what, what is, what are those? So we said co-morbidity and family [inaudible]

Sherry Young: Would be you know, basically defined as anxiety, depression, bipolar, OCD. Those are manifestations that are actually, you know, in, in psychology, behavioral health terms. But they’re also descriptors of anybody who’s in an addiction. So one of the things we say about an addict is that they have all or nothing thinking. So when we think about all or nothing, we’re thinking of the, of the behavioral health categories of you know, manic and depressive, depressive, nothing manic, all, yup. So it spans that spectrum and you know, it’s almost impossible to determine what’s primary and what’s secondary with those issues until somebody’s able to put aside the substances and then it takes even them, it takes a long period of time before we can figure out you know, what’s driving what. So the addiction can create symptoms and manifestations that looked just like primary mental health issues or primary mental health issues. You know, what ends up happening is that the medications are not right. You know, people end up, you know, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol and, you know, trying to manage, you know, those you know, disorders themselves.

Cory Miller: Now does that fall under the realm of the dual diagnosis? Like we’ve

Sherry Young: Comorbidity, dual diagnosis, basically two different terms. Mean the same thing.

Cory Miller: Okay. Okay. I’ve heard that quite a bit from you. And then others as we’ve kind of insert into learning more about addiction and addiction treatment. Okay. So, so that’s a great precursor. Can you tell us a little bit about what you act, what you do today? The

Sherry Young: Lead up to that? By saying that 15 years ago well, a few years before 15 years, my life kind of fell apart in sobriety. I’ve now been sober, I’m just coming up on 23 years this year. I know it’s amazing. It’s such a great way to live. But at around nine years sober, my professional life fell apart in, you know, in some ways, in worse ways than my life had fallen apart with in my addiction. And it really, it was, I see it now as such a gift because it really brought me up short and it was, it required that I look at some of those deeper underlying wounds. Here I was nine years sober, didn’t even think about alcohol any longer, but you know, I was still carrying some deep hurt inside myself that had not been healed.

And so that for me became the time to, you know, really begin to surrender and be willing, you know, to heal those deeper wounds and find what I now refer to as emotional sobriety. So those first nine years I had physical sobriety, not so much emotional. So I was still, you know, on that bipolar spectrum you know, manic depressive all or nothing, you know man is still in some ways managing my life. And those events really brought me to a surrender that was, that invited me to let go of the picture in my head and what my life needed to be. And I was willing to surrender and become open to a different picture. And with that came in and large meant that I never could have imagined. And that was entering into, you know, this industry behavioral health industry.

And I started working for a family owned treatment center in Texas and it was a treatment center that treated a broad spectrum of issues, not mental health, but both chemical and process addiction. So process meaning eating disorders, sex addiction and they also treated professionals, so impaired physicians or psychiatrists or psychologists who really got into trouble with their addiction and where their licensure was in jeopardy. So that was my introduction and my role was that of a clinical outreach person and basically I, you know, learned how to come alongside therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists medical doctors. So that when their patients and clients were struggling with you know, mental health or addiction issues, you know, I had some solutions that could help them find some resources for healing. I worked for them for almost four and a half years and then, you know, worked for a big behavioral health company that actually had 19 treatment centers.

Both were treating primary mental health and addiction. And those eight years that I worked for them, it was just incredible. So the learning curve was amazing and I, you know, was wildly successful beyond even, you know, anything that I had ever hoped for. So I I did that until two years ago. And the model with that large behavioral health, you know, company shifted and they began working with predominantly insurance dependent people. And I realized that the you know, that their referrals that I had, you know, build a trusted network of relationships with that their clients were predominantly private insurance and private pay. So it was just no longer a fit. And so I, you know, I said to myself, okay, you know, I’ve gotta do this about I have my own company. And so I’m essentially doing the same thing that I’ve done for the last 15 years working for employers now working where with a handful of, you know privately owned companies you know, that treat mental health and addiction, the full spectrum. And I’m able to help families actually at no cost to them. You know, find, sorry, find resources for healing.

Cory Miller: Yes. Which is so, so incredible because, you know, minimally when we kind of followed this trail that led to you our counselor here in Oklahoma City we had a phone call with you and you, you and cow have known each other for awhile. And to, to just this whole world that opens up in, I assume that because I didn’t grow up in a family with, I’m trying to think as we’re kind of talking addiction, that what would you do? One, if you are struggling with addiction. And second is if you have a loved one that is and the service that you’re doing, connecting what I know, talking to you, you only work with the facilities you believe in that have, you know, life changing processes and approaches to addiction and mental health. And I think that’s so, so powerful because I can’t imagine a mom worried about their daughter or son and not knowing what the next step is. So can you talk a little bit about, you know, a, no, no names, but you know, some of the common questions and things that your clients come to you. Asking about or needing

Sherry Young: Right. So, you know that’s great. Kind of, you know, segue cray. Thank you so much for that. So one of the things I think the, these 15 years of experience afforded me the opportunity to visit all the major treatment centers in the country and not just, you know, addiction treatment centers, but also hospitals that were treating mental health and some of them stabilization for, you know psychosis and others, you know, that we’re doing longer term, you know, treatment of mental health issues and, and so my clinical skills have really and been enhanced by these experiences. And so, you know, I think what when people come to me, you know, they have no idea where to start. So they come with the problem and the problem is this fam themselves or this family member, you know, and typically what brings people, you know, and I call it the gift of desperation but it’s where, you know, whatever whatever path the person is on currently that is causing problems in, you know, their own personal lives in a relationships with others.

In their work life could even, you know, as I mentioned earlier, jeopardize licensure in some cases. And the truth of the matter is that, you know, nobody wants to be doing that, but the survival mechanism that they’ve chosen is one that traps them and takes them hostage. So they really can’t, you know, get out of that by themselves. And I’ve watched a lot of people over time, you know, try to do that. I mean, you know, honestly, my last year drinking, I tried to do it myself and you know, my attitude was don’t need, you don’t want, yeah, I can figure this out. I’m a researcher, so if I don’t have the answers, you know, I can find them. And so what, what I do with families is I really,

Cory Miller: By the way, Sherry, I call that Superhero Syndrome and I have a bad case of it. I can do everything by myself. Yeah. I’m sorry to interrupt you, but you said something so powerful to me in your home and house. That was it switching from me to we.

Sherry Young: Yeah. So that, you know, I honestly believe that that is the essence of recovery. It’s the essence of, you know healing from mental health, Mental Health and addiction isolates us. And it keeps us locked inside those old patterns and those self wrench referential ways of thinking and dealing with problems. And, you know, it’s only when, and, and this is very hard for you know, an addict or you know, a person struggling with mental health to trust another human being enough to say this isn’t working and that, well, you know, in the first step of alcoholics and not anonymous, the step says, we admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable. So that we admitted is the most powerful beginning of any healing. So every time I get a phone call from a family member or an individual, you know, who’s willing to say, this isn’t working for me anymore, or this is a lot of work, you know, to manage, you know you know, my addiction or my mental health issues that, I see that as a first step. It’s, I s I say you’re already on the path to making this call.

Cory Miller: The, the parallel and the public story I share about my own mental health journey is that same thing. Getting to the end of myself specifically depression and divorce and going, I can’t do this by myself. Like I, the Superhero Syndrome quickly wore off because like I, when you get to the end of yourself, you can’t do it. And I, I think that’s such a power con peripheral concept in mental health in general is an addiction of course. But in general going may w this term of rugged individualists in this country, we were supposed to be strong and do things ourselves when truly it’s a we thing we do life together.

Sherry Young: Absolutely. And you know, and everything in mental health struggles, you know, wants to keep us from that. Yeah. Everything says keep it secret. There’s so much shame and stigma as you mentioned. You know, around those issues. I’ve got a dog that barks Sanders, go lie down. Okay.

Cory Miller: That’s so powerful. Sherry, what you’re saying there, I wanted you to continue that because yes, it’s pulling into ourselves. Keeping it in ourselves, either the problem that we’re but or else our or ego or whatever it is inside of us going, I need to keep this all by myself, which is a snowball pro problem in itself. Yeah. Yes,

Sherry Young: It grows. And you know, I mentioned earlier how I had gone away from my authentic self and you know, so let me come at that from another direction. So basically, you know, you know, I’m, you know, I’m a, a strong woman and pull yourself up by your bootstraps was, you know, the way that I lived and you know, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and you know, [inaudible] so managing [inaudible] whatever is difficult and you know, to Rena Bernay Brown is just doing a beautiful job in our culture in really celebrating those moments of vulnerability where we’re able to see, hey, you know, this is not working for me anymore or I need help. Those words are so incredibly powerful because those, those are the words that connect us. We think that we’re going to be revered and respected with the superhero. I can handle this syndrome. And all it does is further isolate, separate and keep us stuck.

Cory Miller: And that’s part of the reason why I want to keep ringing this bell talking to good people like yourself is because I suffered in solitude. I went through this. And by the way, that’s not a one time thing. That little Superhero Syndrome still peaks his head up and goes, no, no, no, you’ve got this Cory. But yet so many people are suffering in solitude. And when there is help and support out there from treatments, counseling, even people in your life, the story that I might have shared with you in Dallas, there was my parents didn’t even know what was going on in my marriage at the time. And so when I filed for divorce, they had no idea, completely shocked. And they were the first people I called when I was at my worst, my lowest and didn’t know. So there’s something there of that either culturally too, I think adds to it where we end up taking it on ourselves and then suffering to a great degree that we don’t need to.

Sherry Young: Yeah, I, I totally agree. And you know you bring up a good point because I don’t just work with companies that you know, provide like residential treatment. I also work with a spectrum of treatment resources. So even intensives or workshops, I make referrals all the time to local clinicians who with, you know, with whom I have a relationship who for whom I have great respect and regard and know that I vetted them as, you know, clinically sound resources. And then you know, in my, you know, spectrum of, you know, client resources, I often refer beyond that scope as well. So, you know, there are many times that, you know, you know, they’re just something that people need that not going to be a fit for those, you know, amazingly great resources but it’s not right for this particular individual. So helping that person get connected at whatever level of help, you know, they’re able and willing to accept.

Cory Miller: You laid out for us a scope, a spectrum of services which was solely emanated into us and you hit on some of them intensives, workshops, those opportunities and options exist, treatment facilities. And then all the way I think to hospitalization you laid out for us which colors court corresponds with the name of Your Business, which I think is so appropriate. By the way, could you share that and then also your, your website address.

Sherry Young: Yeah. So when I was starting my business I said to myself, so what is it you really do? And Cause I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I answered my question and I said, I find the right fit for people. So I named my business right, that consulting and the name of my website is right fit

Cory Miller: Yes. It’s by the way happens to be a wordpress website that I’m helping with a little bit brushing off some of my website skills. So right fit is where you can get a hold of shared by the way. And we’ll put those in the show notes of course. But I think it’s so appropriate because what you’ve just said is by the way, there’s something, I don’t want anybody that would listen to this to overlook. As you say, for your clients. It’s a free service that you connect them to your partner networks, that you have a spectrum of treatment workshops, intensives, all that spectrum of options that you can find the right fit for someone.

Sherry Young: That’s right. So, you know, so, so my services to individuals and family members and to my reference that I work with hand in hand are at no cost. And the reason that I’m able to and privilege to do that and to offer those services is because of these amazing client companies that I work with who do not pay me for admissions. They pay me a monthly consulting fee that gives me the latitude to do the work that I do clinically. And you know, basically offer these services at no cost to people,

Cory Miller: Which I think is incredible. And you have very high and backed opinions. Oh No, you send people to you. And I so much appreciate that because you want to find that right fit. Okay. So let’s, let’s circle back to OK. So someone calls and they’re, some of the questions or problems, they don’t know where to start. That’s the one that really occurred to me. You eliminate so much of, I wouldn’t even know where to help

Sherry Young: Someone. So, you know, people will call and I, I, you know, I get their name, I’m usually taking notes when someone talks with me. Because I talk with a lot of people and it’s really important to keep things straight. So I start by, you know, asking them who, you know, gave them my name and number because being able to thank reference and also send, you know, people to my referral base is really important to me. So I asked him who, you know, how they got my name and number and then I s I, you know, ask them to tell me a little bit about themselves and I get their name and number and I say, so who are we talking about today? And, you know, then they tell me that and I write down that name. And and it might be one in the same.

It might be that they’re calling about themselves. And that is such a courageous call and whether it’s, you know, themselves that they’re calling about or a family member, you know, I acknowledge that because they’re reaching out. They don’t know me, never met me, you know, you know, they’re going on the word of a clinician or somebody that they got my name from, you know. And so that’s a huge step of, you know, courage for them to take. Absolutely. And then I just say, so tell me what’s going on. And you know, that is a really critical point because, you know, they may have, you know, stacks of medical records of treatment, experiences of Diagnostics of, you know, I’m, I, I just can’t tell you how much many people have been through by the time you know, I received the call, but I say to them, so tell me what you’re seeing.

And so we come at the conversation from a phenomenological level. I, I want them to tell me, what’s your experience of this person? What, how have you noticed the progression or the development? When did this start? You know, can you remember any precipitating events, you know, what was the childhood like? You know and just getting them to start thinking about all of the contributors to this. And, you know, early on, I let people know, you know, that, you know, this happens across economic, socioeconomic lines, across cultural lines, gender, race. It doesn’t matter. You know you know, addiction and mental health are not respecters of persons. And so you know, you didn’t choose this, this is what’s happening and you know, and there is help and there is healing. So once we get clear on what’s really been going on, what they’ve done to mitigate, you know, you know, some of the challenges and what they, you know, want to do moving forward then we begin to build a framework. And I tell them very early on, look, you know, finding the right fit is a process. So we’re not going to have this con one conversation and I’m not going to have a cookie cutter answer for you. You know, I, I, I may have some suggestions by the end of this phone call and we may have a starting point, but what we’re going to do together is explore the options and, you know, find what is really, truly the right fit for you or for your loved one.

Cory Miller: Which I think by the way, is us, is true of finding the counselor. So many times I’ve shared that I have a counselor you happen to know, but that I have now, we’ve we’ve been together for so long that I can text them or we can get an appointment. I said, but we found the right fit with him. Now, Lindsay and [inaudible]

Sherry Young: First at all levels, you know, like even when people call me, you know you know, like, and they, you know, their addiction issue, you know, has, you know, begun to be resolved and they’re, you know, looking for a sponsor. So they might ask me, you know, what do I look for in a sponsor? And, you know, I can tell them that, you know, so when they go into meetings, what are they listening for? You know, and it’s sort of like all of us, you know, make mistakes, you know, and we don’t know what we don’t know. Right. And so when I first got sober I chose my sponsor by the, you know, whether or not she was wearing cute shoes.

Cory Miller: Yeah.

Sherry Young: We learned that that wasn’t necessarily the best qualification.

Cory Miller: That that’s, that’s good. So, okay, it’s, it’s one starter conversation that probably is multiple conversations until you find the right options that fit the person that is needs treatment.

Sherry Young: This doesn’t go on forever, but you know, usually by the end of that first conversation I can give them one or two names of companies or individuals that I think might, you know, be right for them. And then what I want them to do is go to the website and look, and I say, when you go to this website, I want this or this, what I want you to start with, I want you to look at their staff. I want you to look at their daily schedules. You know, and then Chris, ultimately it’s gonna come down to location, you know, travel distance you know, financial considerations, you know, whether or not they work with, you know, in our out of network insurance. So all of those, you know, specifically logistics that are all a part of the decision making process. But I always start with what’s clinically the best. And then I say, you know, let’s start with the best and if that doesn’t work out for one reason or another and let’s work backwards because you will begin to know what great treatment looks like and you know, we, you know, may be able to replicate that, you know, taking into consider some of the other logistics.

Cory Miller: Yeah. Okay. So next question. I love being able to pepper you with questions cause you, you have so many good, enlightening answers.

Sherry Young: So great about that Cory, is that these answers aren’t just, you know, head answers or information that I’ve stored away. These are lived answers. And so, you know, I can speak with you openly and freely, not knowing what question you’re going to ask next because I’ve lived this for so long.

Cory Miller: Yeah. Their heart answers. Yeah. Talking to you. Okay. So, so let’s say I’m listening to this today and go I’m either one, have someone that I think might be in, in some of these categories. You know, I might, it might be right before I need to make the call. What are the signs maybe for someone that listening and going, okay, do I have a problem? Second. For the family member loved one that sees someone struggling with an addiction, what are some of the things to to look for? Think about?

Sherry Young: Yeah. So typically when things fall apart, you know that, you know, that’s an opening as long as a person is rich, rigid, rigidly clinging to solutions that have allowed the person to manage and out of control life, right? Yep. They can’t hear, they can’t hear. They’re are not open to change and they’re not, they can’t hear people talk about that. So if a family member calls me about someone else in the family, I ask them always the question, you know, is your son or daughter, you know, willing to get help. And

It’s really hard when they’re not. Yeah. That’s going to be a heartbreaking question to ask. It is so heartbreaking and I tell you, I have had so many really difficult conversations with parents where, you know, they’ve got a 21 year olds, you know, living in their basement. I’m paying the bills and basically allowing them to use in the house and you know, not work and be fully supported. And, you know, I have to have a tough conversation about, you know, their part in that and you know, enabling that dysfunction to continue. So those are really hard conversations and hopefully I’ve been able to do those with people in a very loving way. You know, sometimes, you know you know, people will, you know get the son or daughter out of the house and change all the locks on their doors. And that is, that is a moment of awakening. We hope that that becomes a moment of awakening for that individual and you know, that, you know, that the parent is, you know, very clear that any time they’re willing to accept, help, they’re there and in full support, in a continue to support the problem.

As a parent myself, that’s going to be a hurt. I just care. I get, I didn’t want to mess it. Yeah. Yeah. So there, you know, there’s that and then, you know, if someone is willing, you know, to get help, you know that, I mean those are the, you know, really beautiful calls where you get to engage them and you know really assure them at, you know, this journey is transformational. You know, when I first started exploring the possibility of, you know, getting sober and you know, becoming abstinent from my addiction you know I didn’t realize that it was going to be so drastic and I thought, you know, I was going to learn how to drink like a lady. And I did learn that. And the only way that I can drink like a lady is not to drink alcohol. So, you know, we, you know, we never know when you start this journey where it’s ultimately going to lead and then, you know, learning how to drink like a lady other than alcohol, right. I learned how to heal and transform all of those early childhood wounds and hurts and, you know, really get free of all of the drivers of my addictive thinking and behavior. Yeah. So it’s still a process. It continues to this day.

Cory Miller: I think every time you show your story, you’re, you’re answering one of my, my question, which is speaking to person that is struggling with an addiction right now, or in that process, you know, you said it was a slow, slow thing for you where you finally got to the absence where you can say 23 years later, you know. Right. What would you say to the person that is still linked on that coping mechanism? What would you say to that person?

Sherry Young: So I would say that it works until it doesn’t work any longer, you know when I, you know, my last year of drinking was horrible. I had six car accidents and every car accident I was able to get the car repaired and pay for the higher you know, auto insurance rates. And I had a certain arrogance and pride around all of that, you know, so I was managing my life and you know you know, as I mentioned earlier, the first step of alcoholics anonymous is we admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. And I was real clear about the powerless piece, right? But my attitude was my life is still manageably unmanageable. You know, I was a bootstrap Gal. I was, you know, I knew how to get tough about this and how to manage it, but it was a lot of work. And ultimately, Cory, it was not those consequences that got my attention. It was you know, what we call in comprehensible let, let, what is it? It was that inside sense that I would look in the mirror and I would not recognize myself because I had gone so far away from my values and my authenticity and who I was as a person. So really all I was doing was managing my life and it was a lot of work. And for me, it was an incredible relief the moment that I said, I can’t do this anymore. And you know, and that was just the beginning. I had no idea what else I was saying yes to in that moment.

Cory Miller: Yeah. Did you say that to yourself? Did you say it to someone else? A loved one?

Sherry Young: Yeah, no, I said it to myself and you know you know, and for me the mirror is a huge thing. So I look in the mirror a lot and look at myself and I say, who are you? I mean, I had, I had really departed from, you know, those really strong, you know, values. And it, I had become self-absorbed. I had become, you know, so busy. And you know, at the time that I got sober, I was working three jobs, thinking that if I was busier, maybe I wouldn’t drink as much as I was drinking. And it actually worked the opposite. So if I had less time, I drank more in a shorter period of time. And you know, it was really awful. I wasn’t eating at that point and just drinking and working these three jobs. So you can [inaudible] that I wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t operating fully.

Cory Miller: Yeah. I think the couple of concepts going back to at the me, me too. We you know, in that you, you have the, your, the way to say it, but is that solutions that are working until they don’t, you know.

Sherry Young: Yeah. So, you know, it’s interesting. So, you know, I, you know, I couldn’t see alcohol as a problem because for me it had become the solution. It was the way that I dealt with the emotional and spiritual pain in my life. And it wasn’t until I was willing to say that, you know, that’s, that that was a problem. And you know, and then, you know, there are many paths to getting sober and getting, you know, free from mental health issues. So I just want to say that for me, 12 step, you know, alcoholics anonymous was my path. It’s not the only path, you know, that I follow today, but it certainly was a point of entry and I’m so grateful for that because of the clarity that it provided. And you know, I was in a fellowship of men and women, you know, who had, you know, the same or similar problems to myself. And so when people, other people would talk, even though I was the college professor rolling my eyes going, oh my God, what am I doing? You know, in this room was hearing other people tell my story.

Cory Miller: So I think there’s a couple of concepts I want to hit on because they resonate in my life. But the, the options beyond just AA, I think that’s an important message to share. We talked about previously, there are some other options. Could you, could you list couple of those options

Sherry Young: Too? Yes. So, yeah, there is a a group called rational recovery or smart recovery. You know, this is particularly appropriate for people who have experienced religious abuse and are having a hard time with the idea of God even though, you know 12 step programs are very open about that and they invite people to begin with the god of their understanding, which can even include a god that doesn’t exist. I love that. I love that. You know, or people come in and they, you know, when they’re invited to, you know you know claim a god of their understanding, you know, and they can’t do that. For one reason or another. You know, people will say, well, why don’t you just use the group as the god of your understanding. So this group will provide you good, orderly direction. G, O, d and it’s something as simple as that.

And then there’s a Buddhist recovery called refuge recovery. And that’s a path. You know, people in, you know, in Christian circles there’s celebrate recovery and they basically follow, you know, 12 steps. There are people who, you know, find paths through yoga and meditation and a more eastern approach. You know, there are many paths and I think what’s important is not, you know, what’s the right path, but you know, you know, what path can I begin to take these steps? And I began to take steps. I think there’s probably some point, you know, in that, you know, that out there in the distance where all pads meet and we’re all watching, you know, we look back and we’re like, oh, we were all on the same path. They were just different names. I think this is a good message though to say that there’s lots of options.

And then, you know, we’re all in the same boat in this world. We are, you know, we’re connected. We’re absolutely connected. And you know, I, I love it when people tell me about, you know, their spiritual journey, whatever that is. Whether that’s, you know, you know, to a modicum of, you know, mental health or you know, to, you know addiction recovery or you know, just their life path, their journey. You know, it’s so interesting to watch how the steps evolve. Yes, absolutely. Okay, there’s so much here, but I got a couple

Cory Miller: Of cones, couple of questions that, and then I know you’re busy and I want to make, make good use of your time. But so what, what, what really resonates with me about a all for years has been two things. The role of group that you have a group that’s your, you a is so fascinating to me that you can in every city, major city for sure find a group to go and the concept of doing life together the me to, we I live by the, a African proverb or I tried to if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And so this, I’ve got the word together in my office. You’re hanging because I want to be reminded of it every single day. And it’s a resonating thing from my life. What I think is so powerful for a a that the rest of the world I want to get is the power of group having people that are in the same boat on the same or similar journey. Right? And I think that’s such a powerful concept.

Sherry Young: It’s so powerful. And you know so let’s just think about what the power of that group is. So whether it’s a 12 step meeting or whether it’s group therapy or whether it’s a Sunday school goal class, you know, the power that w or the f, the essence of what happens in that group is confession. So people are telling the truth, ratting themselves out, coming clean. You know, saying this is not working for me. And they’re, you know, they’re hearing one another doing this in a notion zone where people are free to tell the truth, to admit to what’s really going on. And I believe that once we admit where we are, we can never ever, ever change until we stand where we are in the problem and see it as a problem. And once that happens, the we admitted shifts. Everything we confess, we move forward. And I believe that all of that is a spiritual experience.

Cory Miller: So it’s, it’s ironic that weren’t talking today because yesterday I’ve been with a business group in Oklahoma City here for the last nine years and we meet every month for three hours for nine years. And once a year we go on an annual retreat. And it’s the s similar principles that we’re meeting is, it’s confidential trust, respect, but that we, the essence is to get to the top 5% and the bottom 5% w areas that we pushed to go where we don’t normally probably wake up wanting to go. And so I, I know I personally shared things in that group that is very similar to this to the, the format of a type a top or any kind of support group. It’s been, I’ve clung to that group because I can be my authentic self, let down the shields, take off the mask and go, okay, here I am in that no shame, no judgment zone.

I think that’s so powerful. And that’s why I want to come back to the AA. I think it’s tragedy though. They’re not very many groups outside of these examples that I have found. And part of my mission is to help to help people go in groups like this because I’ve seen the powerful in my business group, in my forum what we call forum and then I’ve heard so much at the power of the AA support groups. Okay. So that’s one concept. The groups, the second I think is really, really powerful is the aspect of a sponsor specifically with AA and I know smart recovery in other groups you’ve mentioned have similar concepts of support group, someone that you can call lean on ask for advice, that kind of thing. But the, the role of the sponsor. Would you talk about that for a second?

Sherry Young: Yeah. So a sponsor is really a mentor or a guide and in the 12 step community that is not a therapist. Basically a sponsor is someone who has worked the steps, who has been on the journey and has the ability to s to share their experience strength. And hope regarding that process or that journey. And I see the steps as a journey. So, you know, basically you know really being willing, you know, to do the work and so, you know, rather than, you know, choosing a sponsor who has cute shoes, you know, choosing a sponsor where when they speak in a meeting you listen and you say, I want what she has. I want what he has. I want to think like that.

How could that person do that?

Cory Miller: I loved that you said these three aspects is such a different, it’s a fresh perspective for me to think through cause it’s applicable not just in AA or at for addiction, but also in so many areas of life, experience, strength and hope as person who has slipped up. I want that mentor and guide is someone that’s a few steps in head. Right. But the, the role that’s so interesting to me because when we talk about groups and we talk about sponsors, to me it feels like support. No judgment, no shame. Support in when I’ve heard talk about addiction is that, are you getting support, you know, and these two, these two elements feel actually critical. Whatever label you might put on them is a group of people that go into a similar you know, trial or tribulation or struggle that you are in the aspect of a mentor guide that you can lean on and call in and and get some help that hasn’t been that you want, which is, you know, hope it’s true.

Sherry Young: Absolutely. You know, I mean, throughout classical literature, you know, there were always, I mean, the gods and goddesses were all as you know, guides and mentors and in Homer’s Odyssey, Athena, you know, became a guide to Odysseus in, you know she appeared as a male guide named mentor which is really where we get, you know, that term mentorship or, you know, this is my mentor and all it is, is a person who has gone before and taken some steps, you know, before you, and now is willing to take steps alongside you. You know, the mentor never tells you what to do. They basically just are there support as you make decisions and take steps guiding and helping make those course corrections and those adjustments.

Cory Miller: I know through coaching my coaching program at Ut Dallas that you know, you have the answers. That’s the aspect of you have the answers, then you, I’m here to support Karen answer questions but that

Sherry Young: The my answers, so you know, for me to impose my, you know, my way on you, you know, seems to me to be a violation. And so it’s really, you know, a person who is really open and sees is that the path they’ve walked has been appropriate to them. But there have also been a lot of course corrections on that, right. Though they’re open enough to say, you know you, you’re going to figure this out.

Cory Miller: Yeah. That, so one more bank to my group with entrepreneurial organization reform group, one of our rules is experience over advice. You can, you know, we’re, we’re asked for advice in specific areas. Of course with your particular practice, what you do is I want your advice but when you’re in this kind of mentor guide for in model sharing your experiences that parallel the others and such a powerful concept for me because then I can go, oh, I can put that, you know, take that, listen to that and go, what is appropriate for me? How does that work? And then I feel much more empowered because I feel like taking good stuff, there’s no ego. You’re trying to tell me to do something. You know, I can create the solution from these experiences that I gather. I think that’s so incredibly powerful. Okay. One last question and then I want to, I want to talk about anything we’ve missed and ask people in, ask you where again, people can find you. I’ll put it in the show notes and blog posts, all that kind of stuff. Okay. I’ve heard over and over and over, you’re in, you’re in recovery that when you start starts abstinence, sobriety, that you’re in this concept called recovery. What the heck does that mean? So

Sherry Young: Me and I’m sure recovery means different things to different people. There are a lot of people out there for whom all it means is just not, you know, drinking or using whatever their drug of choice was. For me it’s so much bigger than that. And so for me, it’s reclaiming that authentic self, that, that self that I was created to be, that, that person, that individual that, you know, nobody else can be the me that I was created to be except me. And so being willing to step into the fullness of whatever that means and wherever that takes me you know, that’s recovery. It’s a re, it’s a reclaiming. It’s you know remembering. So if, if I’m, you know, if I’ve been fragmented by and distracted by, you know, what I thought was a solution and a path, then it’s about being put back together, really member who I am.

Cory Miller: Gosh, I love that. I love that. That is a message of hope, by the way. Alcohol, drugs, addiction that really destroys, and being able to reclaim that, that feels powerful. That feels hopeful. That’s really good. Okay. Thank you for that. That’s, and I think that’s a good word for a message for others to hear too. But if anything, it’s sunk in for me. Okay. Sherry, what if we missed and anything else you wanna share before we wrap it up? You’ve been so gracious to give us your time and share your expertise and experiences and your story by the way.

Sherry Young: Thank you, Cory. Yeah, I would just say, you know, that whatever the struggle is, you know, it may be about mental health issues. It may be about, you know, addiction. I would just say that reaching out when ever, you know, we’re, you know, feeling isolated, alone, ashamed scared, you know, reaching out to another human being that, you know, we, you know, [inaudible] yeah, thanks. Can hear us trust usually with all of those issues is broken and there’s a lot of betrayal and there’s a lot of fear in opening up to another human being. My experience is, and I was one of those people, I didn’t trust anybody. I didn’t, I came to not trust myself and I certainly didn’t trust God. So for me recovery has been a restoration of, you know, the ability to trust and connect and you know, and that has been a very, very gradual and slow process for me cause I was a pretty wounded coming in. But and it’s still happening, you know, so I would just say if there’s, you know, anybody that you think that you can reach out to, you know?

Yup. Grab them by the shoulder and say, can we have coffee and a conversation.

Cory Miller: So for me it was the answer to this question, who are the people when the crap hits the fan, tey that run out while the others rush in. So the people that are rushing in, when the crap hits the fan for me were the people that I called first. They were my parents. Yeah. You know, they were my, my brothers, right? Their wives ran, rushed in to my life. And I get that too. There’s, there’s wounds we all carry. Some can of worms, however they are to life. And well what, what such a good word. Okay. Sherry, would you remind us again where we, those that listen, that may have, you know, this may be ringing a bell inside of them and for someone else who had themselves can reach out and contact you.

Sherry Young: Of course. Thanks Cory. So you can reach me on my website … or you can call me my phone number is 575-779-6062. And I don’t keep office hours because neither do crises. So call me.

Cory Miller: Gosh, thank you Sherry. I hope people will actually give you a call so that they can touch base and find that right fit. Thank you so much for sharing, first and foremost your story of addiction and sobriety and then so much, so many good, helpful resources that people can have light to the darkness and find some hope and next steps.

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