Not Busy

alcohol recovery

Recently I read a blog article in the Huffington Post titled “Busy is a Sickness“. It described the self-created crisis of busy days and lives which most of us today are so familiar with. It went on to detail how this approach to life really is a soul sickness rampant in our society. Interesting concept and the timing is ironic, here’s why.

Ten days ago I had a surgery and because of that I have been home recovering… Ten.Whole.Days. Ten days of aches and pains, bed rest, daytime television, takeout dinners, Facebook and Instagram. Mercifully, the staff at BRC has called and emailed me with issues and questions from time to time. I have never been so grateful for an issue du jour. I think they just felt sorry for me and asked for input out of sheer pity, saints that they all are.

I said to my husband as he left for work this morning, “You sure do seem busier than normal these past few days.” To which he laughed and replied, “That’s just your perception, my schedule hasn’t changed.” Really?

I remember while I was growing up, walking into my house as I got off the school bus. My mom would be sitting there waiting for me, and more often than not she had popped popcorn (the real kind, not microwave) and poured us a Coke to share. We would sit there and have a snack and chat a little before I started my homework. Over this past week, I’ve found myself wondering what in the world did she do all day before I got home? I have come to the conclusion that in days gone by, people, like my mom, didn’t have to fill up every second of every day with scheduled activities just to reach the “ok” mark.

I have often heard in recovery that we have a God-sized hole in our souls that we filled with alcohol and drugs, and that in recovery we will find a “sufficient substitute”. This is absolutely my experience. But, with this latest experience of being still and being quiet, I find myself challenged. The challenge is to be ok with stillness, to be ok with life, to be ok with just this very moment, even as I sit here in my flannel pjs blogging about my latest experience with God and recovery.

I am most grateful for awareness, for the gently nudging from my Higher Power, and for the opportunity to continue to grow and evolve during this journey of life and recovery.

Be still and know. What a concept.

BRC Blog: Not Busy

Enslaved to Drugs

…“though he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.” –Big book, pg. xxxii

Recently, the Austin Stone Community Church Story Team published an article written about one of Benchmark Recovery Center’s alumnus, Alex. His story, “Enslaved to Drugs”, is one which is  BRC - Alex X and Marsha Stone heard too often. Alex’s drug addiction began in high school after a string of injuries ended his possibilities for a college football career. He attempted sobriety many times, but each attempt was quickly met by relapse and mounting disappointment until eventually he checked into Benchmark Recovery Center in January 2013.

While he was a resident at BRC, Alex started to form a relationship with his Creator. He began participating in a daily devotional group reading of the book Jesus Calling. Through this simple action, his relationship with his Creator began to take shape and became the necessary foundation for Alex’s recovery.

Alex discharged successfully from the BRC Men’s program, and transitioned into the BRC Men’s Recovery Apartments. Even then he had fear in his heart about what the future held for him. He thought that using drugs again was inevitable. However, something happened during his residency at Benchmark Recovery Center that changed the course of his life.

ThAlex S at BRCe Big Book says, “On one proposition, however, these men and women are strikingly agreed. Every one of them has gained access to, and believes in, a Power greater than himself. This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible.” When I think about the hundreds of once-broken lives that completed the BRC program successfully over the years, I am grateful that I get to witness God accomplish the impossible, and the same is true in Alex’s life.




Enslaved-to-Drugs_Marsha_SignatureKeep up the good work Alex!

Marsha Stone, CEO
Benchmark Recovery Center




The Top 5 Reasons Alcohol Rehab Centers In Austin Are On The Rise

You may have noticed that recently the number of alcohol rehab centers and programs in Austin are on the rise. So alcohol rehab Texaswhy is this happening? There are actually numerous reasons for this, even though some may think the increase is due to the new Affordable Care Act. It has certainly played a part in building awareness, but I’m not sure it has had the impact so many were expecting…at least, not yet.  In my opinion, the increase in facilities and programs is a result of several factors. Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons why alcohol rehab centers in Austin are on the rise.

1. Rehabilitation is more accessible

It’s hard to know exactly how much the Affordable Care Act is impacting the rise of rehabilitation options, but it certainly has raised awareness of the need for more alcohol and drug rehab services. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, it’s picking up momentum.  The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 has also helped equalize the importance of mental health and substance abuse problems as it relates to insurance coverage.

2. Alcohol abuse statistics are more readily available

Significant research has been done by organizations nationwide illustrating the magnitude of alcohol abuse in our country. These findings are readily available on the internet, easily found by anyone searching for information.

Dr. Jane Maxwell, research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, summarizes her 2014 annual report in a recent article, “Seven Emerging Trends in Substance Use in Texas”

“Alcohol is the legal drug most commonly abused. Some 67% of Texas high school students reported that they have ever drunk alcohol, and 21% had five or more drinks in a row (binge drinking) in the last month. Seven percent of Texans over age 12 were estimated to be alcohol dependent or an abuser in the past year.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports national statistics based on their research.

“In 2012, 24.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month.”

“Nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

It’s not difficult to grasp the seriousness of this problem among our youth. While it is much harder to collect accurate data on alcohol abuse with adults, it is no surprise that death as a result of substance abuse shows up significantly on lists such as this one from Other than alcohol-related deaths, note how many of the categories are drug and/or alcohol-related.

3. More people need help

Based on the statistics cited earlier, it appears more and more people are having problems with alcohol and drug abuse and at earlier ages. I wonder if we are just getting better at gathering statistics or research methods are more accurate.

We know there are many people out there who need help and many will die before they get it.  Some will never have the opportunity. Others will get help but never have the spiritual awakening so critical to the recovery process, and end up relapsing over and over.  Eventually they may overdose or if they are lucky, they will finally “get it”.

At Benchmark Recovery Center, we see chronic relapsers on a regular basis and have many alumni living healthy happy sober lives as a result of our programs.

4. Asking for help is more acceptable

Historically, substance abuse problems were something kept hidden. Shame, embarrassment, and guilt all play a part in the emotional devastation of addiction. In recent years there has been great progress in recognizing alcoholism and drug addiction as disease rather than a poor lifestyle choice or lack of moral character. Sober LvingAsking for help has become more accepted in our society and people are getting education at earlier ages about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.  Fortunately there is less stigma, thanks to organizations like the Faces and Voices of Recovery who have worked long and hard with national awareness campaigns to promote widespread understanding about long-term recovery. While the stigma still exists, is appears to be lessening over time.

5. Emphasis on extended care

 Professionals in the alcohol and drug rehab industry have known for a long time that 28-30 day inpatient treatment programs produce low success rates for long-term sobriety. Relapse rates are high and weekly aftercare meetings are not enough.

90 days of residential rehabilitation is ideal for the initial phase with subsequent step-down phases to help the person acclimate to living sober in a structured environment where triggers are minimized and/or controlled. The extended-care program offered at Benchmark Recovery Center offers a 15-month continuum of care with three levels of care…residential, sober living and a 12-month aftercare accountability program.

Texas Alcohol Rehab





Marsha Stone, CEO

Benchmark Recovery Center

The Hard Facts: What This Texas Alcohol Rehab Center Wants You To Know

It was recently reported that half of all people in this country have at least one family member who has a drinking problem. And since it is also a known fact that people have a genetic disposition towards this kind of problem, the worry is that these numbers are expected to continue to go up in the future. In the hopes of making people see that drinking too much is neither fun nor relaxing, but downright dangerous, here are the hard facts that Benchmark Recovery Center wants you to know.

It Can Permanently Affect Your Brain

Alcohol rehabilitation centers can help people recover from their problem, but there is unfortunately only so much that they can do. Alcohol is more dangerous than most people actually realize. Although how much permanent damage will occur depends on a whole host of factors, it is important to know what some of these dangers are. “Alcohol can cause alterations in the structure and function of the developing brain, which continues to mature into a person’s mid-20s, and it may have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.”

If Alcohol Was Introduced Today, It Would Be Classified as a Class A Drug

Alcoholic beverages are readily available in every grocery store around the country. You can walk into any bar and order an alcoholic drink and most people have a number of alcoholic beverages at home at all times. Although there are age restrictions on who can purchase alcohol, the reality is that it is a legal substance. However, if it were a new substance introduced today, it would be categorized as a Class A drug.

“A new league table of drugs and the harm they do has been developed by Professor David Nutt of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the government’s scientific advisory body on drugs policy, and Colin Blakemore, the chief executive of the Medical Research Council. Professor Blakemore said that under the alternative system for categorizing drugs he had worked on, “Alcohol would probably be listed as a class A drug.”

Additionally, alcohol has been found to be more damaging to public health than tobacco. To give this some perspective, imagine being able to purchase cocaine or crack off the supermarket shelves. Imagine going to a bar and ordering a hypodermic needle with heroin from a bar and that the only thing you have to do in order to be allowed to do so is prove that you are over 21. However, alcohol is so ingrained in our society and the government earns so much from it, that actually making it a Class A drug would be impossible (they tried and failed during the Prohibition).

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Are on the Rise

As alcoholism is starting to become more and more common among women, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are on the rise too. There is a lot of confusion about drinking alcohol during pregnancy, with some doctors still advocating a daily glass of red wine, others stating that “a few drinks” won’t hurt and others stating that total abstinence is the only way to protect a baby. However, total abstinence is impossible for someone who has a drinking problem and is not receiving treatment.

Benchmark Recovery Center offers gender-specific recovery programs.  Various research findings show that men and women recover from drug addiction and alcohol addiction differently.

Texas Alcohol Rehab

BRC Life Skills with Marsha Stone

After the 90-day residential program, residents who successfully complete the first phase of the Benchmark Recovery Center program are offered the opportunity to continue with extended levels of care. Most of the residents who come through this Austin rehabilitation center move into their sober living residences and participate in Segue, a 12-month aftercare monitoring program.

This is the continuum of care so essential to long-term sobriety. Through guidance, accountability, and the learning of new skills, BRC residents prepare to re-enter society. Life skills is a critical part of learning to live sober. Many men and women struggling with alcohol and drug addiction lack adequate role models for healthy living and/or never learn the basic skills necessary for successful daily living…how to take care of the mind, body and spirit, and how to take care of our personal affairs.

Through the Benchmark Recovery Center program, residents learn many life skills including goal setting, accountability, financial responsibility, physical health/wellness, and communication.

In this brief video, CEO Marsha Stone, highlights the importance of life skills in the recovery process at Benchmark Recovery Center.

Austin recovery

Mark Houston Hall

The Virtuous Woman

Marsha-and-GrandparentsI have heard it said that our original conceptions of God are formed when we are children and influenced by those with whom we are in close relations – usually parents or grandparents. The characteristics and virtues our caretakers exude are observed and adopted subconsciously to form the power, authority, and “personality” of a deity.

My grandmother, who I called Mema, passed away at the age of 97, on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. She was born August 22, 1917, and lived nearly a century. She lived through the Great Depression, the Second World War and other notable conflicts. She married at 19 and stayed married to one man; she raised three children and helped raise seven grandchildren. She was devoted to God and her church, and was known throughout the town as a woman of dignity, grace and a good amount of spunk and quick wit.

At her memorial service, the pastor read from Proverbs 31: 10-31. He read about the qualities of a virtuous woman. He read and I remembered, he read and I cried. I didn’t cry out of sadness necessarily, but out of gratitude. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I can never express the gratitude I have for them- for the example that they set, and for the subconscious truths I adopted based on their words and deeds.

I have witnessed some people, attempting a Second Step, having trouble. They have reservations about the “God idea”. They express concerns that God is not powerful, or that God is angry with them, or that God is not loyal, loving or kind. Perhaps in part due to the influence of my Grandmother, I never had any such reservations. When confronted squarely with powerlessness, I was ready, willing and able to conceive of and accept Power from a source greater than myself.

I never visited my grandmother’s house one time that I didn’t leave with more than I arrived. Whether it was food, clothing, money or just plain hope and joy, I was always enriched by her life and her presence. This truth is very analogous to my current relationship with my own Higher Power. Similar characteristics resulting in similar experiences…

MStoneBlogPhoto_VirtuousWoman-WebThank you Mema for showing me that Love is an action word, and for preparing me to receive, many years later, the gift of Power in recovery. Virtuous, indeed. Godspeed.

The Language of BRC

Benchmark Recovery - Leadership and Drug RehabI was recently given for my birthday the book “CEO School- Collective Wisdom of Top CEOs” by Can Akdeniz.  On a flight back to Austin, I pulled it out and began to skim through the chapters. One of the CEOs featured in the book is Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. One of his tips states “culture is everything.”

When I read this, I immediately thought of BRC and the culture of recovery that was established so long ago and remains through to this day. Not only in the daily programming, residents, alumni, and families of alumni but in the employees and even in their extended families.

The phrase from the Big Book- “the spiritual life is not a theory, you have to live it”- comes to mind. A large part of the peer recovery support model is based on modeling recovery at the highest level. One of the responsibilities taken very seriously by staff, alumni and residents is to do just that. In essence, to show others how we have recovered, through our actions as well as our words. Certainly, this is not done perfectly, not even close. But without a doubt it is done, and it is done with love and service at its genesis.

I realize Mr. Cuban was using the word “culture” in a somewhat different connotation- but I would submit that the message is the same. To create something you believe in, and want to participate in, and integrate it into your daily work life and beyond. In other words, live what you believe. I’d say that sounds a lot like recovery, and a lot like the amazing group of men and women with whom I have the privilege of calling my co-workers, residents, families and friends.

Culture is everything? I think so.

Marsha-Stone-Benchmark-CEOMarsha Stone, CEO
Benchmark Recovery Center



Home Is Where The Heart Is

HomeHeart010615webEarlier last year, I made the uncanny prediction to my husband that it looked like 2014 was shaping up to be a year of busy travel. He quickly responded his displeasure at my remark. Last year did turn out to be a very busy year, personally and professionally, and I spent a fair amount of time away from home.

Some of the conferences I attended had open 12 Step meetings every morning before the events of the day began in earnest. I always did my best to make these meetings when I could. I find it beneficial to commune with like-minded individuals and set my spiritual intention for the day. And, as has been my experience, when you travel and attend often enough, it begins to feel a little like a traveling home group. At a minimum, there are always smiling, sober faces to greet a fellow sister in recovery.

We have all heard the saying “home is where the heart is.” But what does this mean in general, and to us as individuals? And more specifically to individuals in recovery?

I read a quote in a magazine recently by Cheryl Strayed, the author of the book Wild.
She stated she had reached the age where she no longer needed validation from anything outside herself. A piece of me believes that having my heart at home is quite correlative with the idea of my sense of self and well-being coming from my relationship with my Higher Power and finally with myself. The Big Book describes the fundamental idea of God being deep down within every man, woman and child. And, in my experience, when I began to really seek a connection with God and with myself, it was right there all along.

So, as 2014 drew to a close, I had one more trip to go. Then, I was home for Christmas – and as usual, and thankfully, my home was a flurry of activity with children, presents, food and love. I’ll write a blog another time about the downfalls (literally) of an aging body, but for now I’ll focus on the wonderful gift of an aging heart. I am able to be present and enjoy the beautiful chaos of my home, and my heart.

And for that, I would have traveled to the ends of the earth to find. Thankfully, all I had to do was look in and up!

Blessings to all in 2015.

MStoneBlog010615Marsha Stone, CEO
Benchmark Recovery Center