Finding Stillness

BRC-Men's-House-with-Rainbow“The mind is a marvelous mechanism,” to quote a friend Bill W. It can be a useful tool or a nagging liability, depending on the degree of inner stillness I am experiencing. Through the spiritual path outlined by the 12 Steps, I have learned that in order for me to be able to trust and use my mind effectively, there are certain actions that have to be taken and attitudes adopted.

Once I have cleaned house (meaning taken the necessary actions to be freed of the destructive power of resentment, fear, and made amends) I get the opportunity to work with a blank canvas. Through some basic practices of prayer and meditation, I can begin to discipline my mind, with guidance and direction of a Higher Power. Stillness, I have learned, is the voice of God. The mental chatter that occupies my thought life on any given day rarely serves a purpose other than to separate me from God and disconnect me from others. I often find myself completely consumed by the chatter in my mind (usually by the time I’m in the shower in the morning,) and then in a moment of clarity and awareness, I realize that my inner space has been disturbed. It happens on a daily basis and most of the time it motivates me to take some action. This is why a daily meditation practice is so vital my recovery and happiness.

By getting quiet in the morning, finding stillness by focusing on breathing, and by framing my thoughts on positive intention, my internal condition begins to become fertile ground for fresh inspiration, determination, and awareness. By taking these fruits into my day, I find that I am more clear on my purpose and live a richer life.

Matt_Finding StillnessMatt Battle
BRC Recovery


It’s Hard to Hate Up Close

BRC Recovery - Unite to Face AddictionMy name is Marsha Stone, and I am a person in long term recovery. I am gratefully sober and serene today, but this was not always the case. For years I was in and out of rehabilitation facilities, desperately trying to arrest my illness, all the while, hurting friends and families alike with the collateral damage associated with alcoholism.

There are so many misconceptions in this country and throughout the world about what addiction means, and further about what recovery means. Many see alcoholism and addiction as an illness of the weak willed, a moral failing of some sort, and at worse a blatant disregard for self and others.

I remember as a child hearing my precious grandmother describing her two alcoholic brothers. She would talk about how much she loved them, of their quick wit, handsome appearance and then sigh and say, “The way they are…it’s such a shame they don’t want to quit…They don’t have to drink, they are just too selfish and weak to stop. They’re throwing their lives away.”

In fact those two uncles both died early deaths from the disease of alcoholism. In those days treatment was scarce, and stigma and ignorance were rampant. People hid the truth about themselves and their family members struggling with addictive disorders out of shame and of fear of public scorn. I ask you- has much changed?

If you line up ten out of ten people and ask them whether an alcoholic chooses to drink, or an addict chooses to use, most of them would answer yes. It seems obvious doesn’t it? No one is putting the glass to your lips or the substance into your body. It’s a voluntary act, clearly it seems. Or is it? Clear as mud….

I have wondered before if I would be among the judgmental and misinformed had I not found myself in a position to be suffering from an illness I did not understand, and desperate for a solution, any solution, in order to avert continued misery, and ultimately death. My guess is I would have assumed alcoholism and addiction were a choice, and proceeded to judge accordingly. Thankfully that was not to be my experience.

Not only has my struggle with alcoholism informed me about the truth of its origins and its solution, it has also opened up a huge world that I never even knew existed. On October 4, I will travel to Washington, D.C. and hear my husband speak about his recovery, joined by friends and strangers alike as we Unite to Face Addiction. This momentous and historic occasion will mark the first time in our nation’s history where people are joining together to face and speak of addiction, to break the silence and the stigma.

United we will stand. I can’t imagine what this event will be like, what it will feel like. I like to imagine that we are doing this for ourselves, and for future generations. But I also love the idea of our alcoholic ancestors, including my uncles, looking on with pleasure and pride. We have something they never did – truth and understanding, and the ability to openly put faces and stories to recovery. Oh yes, we understand, and it’s hard to hate up close. #TYG


Marsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery

Gloucester Police Department is Making a Difference

Chief Leonard Campanello- BRC Recovery

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello

Earlier this year, BRC proudly joined the Gloucester Police Department’s ANGEL Initiative. The ANGEL Initiative was designed to reduce the number of overdoses in Massachusetts by providing a person suffering from the disease of addiction an opportunity to turn over their remaining drug supply and paraphernalia without the threat of being arrested.

“Gloucester Police Department highly values its relationship with BRC Recovery which we have found as an exceptional program from intake to long term treatment. We look forward to continuing our partnership with this premier program to help as many people as possible with this disease”, states Chief Campanello.

The Gloucester Police Department’s efforts to help people suffering from the disease of addiction don’t stop with the ANGEL Initiative. Last week, the police department reached out on social media, urging people to contact the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies to “politely ask them what they are doing to address the opioid epidemic in the United States.” And then later posted that Pfizer, a pharmaceutical corporation headquartered in New York City with research headquarters in Connecticut, called the department to set up a meeting.

BRC Recovery is honored to partner and support the Gloucester Police Department, as well as other professionals and treatment providers nationwide, as they boldly continue to hold healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies accountable for blatantly over prescribing patients – contributing to the current opioid crisis in America.

For more information about the Gloucester Police Department, and to see how you can join them in making a difference towards raising awareness on drug addiction, find them on Facebook.

Marsha_Blog_Gloucester Police Dept


Marsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery

Anniversaries and Old T-Shirts

T-shirt-blog-photo- BRC

Marsha Stone celebrating her 1-year anniversary at BRC (formerly MHR)

I was cleaning out my closet the other day and my eyes rested on all the work shirts I have.  Short sleeves, long sleeves, button downs, hoodies, even tie dyes- all with Mark Houston Recovery or Benchmark Recovery Center monogrammed smartly on them. When I look at those shirts I am reminded of years of hard work, love and sacrifice. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow have been cried in those shirts.

August 2009 I was pulling into the HEB on Hwy 620 in Round Rock. I received a text from Mark Houston inquiring whether I was interested in a job. He was thinking of opening a women’s center that would mirror the men’s center he had established. At first hesitant, and then intrigued and excited, I accepted and started working on September 13, 2009, six years to the day as I pen this blog.

So much has happened since then. Sadly, Mark suddenly passed away; Wayne Kinsey (thankfully) bought the company, the name was changed. So many faces, staff, residents and their families alike, coming on and off the property at 11503 Parsons Road. So many memories…

And so much growth! We added a national monitoring program, and then two apartment buildings for sober living, a dynamic and active alumni program, and most recently a clinical center.

The-Shirts-Are-In- BRCAnd now it’s time for more! As of September 28, Benchmark Recovery Center will be simply known as BRC Recovery. We are so much more than one recovery center. A visitor remarked recently, “You all aren’t just a treatment center, you’re more like a recovery movement! The energy here is palpable!” It is absolutely true that we, as a team and as a community are enthusiastic about recovery!

So a simpler name with a larger vision. It works! I like it! And I love a good paradox, recovery is full of them. Surrender to win is one of my favorites! (Sorry, inside joke- shout out to Casey Dobson, Paige Amstutz and Pat Swan and all my good friends practicing law in the great states of Texas and California!)

But what to do with all those old shirts? Fall is here, maybe a celebratory bonfire with the BRC Family is in order. I will never regret, not even one day I wore those shirts. Lessons learned in those shirts made me who I am today, a grateful, and much wiser, six year employee of this company. A vibrant, alive, ever growing and changing family company full of love and acceptance, imperfection and forgiveness,  and most importantly an undying enthusiasm for God, our residents, recovery, one another and the future.

After all, everyone has to clean out their closet sometime. I’m so grateful for the strength and willingness to do so. After all, God is in charge, and change is good! #BRCRecoveryMovement

Marsha_Anniversaries & Old T-shirts-BRC


Marsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery

A Parent’s Perspective: Raising Your Children is Never Easy

BRCRecovery - drug rehab Austin,TXRaising your children is never an easy task, but when you know they are in trouble and you can’t fix things, your heart shatters. I remember clearly the day my son said, “I need help Mom and I am ready for rehab.” I can’t begin to express all the thought’s going on in my mind at that time. Being a nurse I immediately started “the research project”…calling rehabs everywhere sometimes late at night with tears running down my face.

Nothing felt right until I called BRC Recovery, formerly Mark Houston Recovery, and the voice on the other end of the line saved my sanity. The Admissions Staff knew all the right things to say and I felt such peace every time we spoke. Unfortunately things did not work out for a quick admission for us. Many roadblocks stood in our way, but BRC was always there for me.

Finally, the day arrived when it was time (6 months later) that we put our son in the car and made the trip to BRC Recovery. From the moment we stepped on property we felt safe and sure this was the place to be. All the staff from Marsha Stone down was so kind and helpful that we had no concerns leaving our son in this special place. As we left with tears in our eyes we knew we were so grateful to have found this place. As time passed we received many phone calls from our sons Program Director giving us updates, guidance, and reassurance.

The monthly meetings that they provide have incredible speakers and give all the parents rays of hope and understanding of this horrible disease, and on Sunday the BRC staff continue to explain and teach about how to respond to our children, and ongoing programs to help our children survive in the real world.

When we first left our son I told them they could keep him as long as they needed to. As we became involved and they became “our family” we would joke and say they could keep him forever. Low and behold he became an employee of our beloved BRC and we still come every month that we can to see these wonderful people that we will be forever GRATEFUL to for giving us our son back.

Now looking back almost 4 years later, I have seen so many people come through and be given a new lease on life and see the joy in parents face’s that I know this place is truly a sacred place.

The Sharp Family - BRC RecoverySusan Sharp

Do You Really Want To Get Sober? Choosing Alcohol Rehab In Austin, Texas

alcohol rehab AustinThere is no shame in admitting that you have an alcohol problem, and that you need help. In fact, it is empowering. However, the statistics on this particular problem are pretty bleak. Only about 15% of people who have a problem actually seek help, and out of that number, only 5% are able to achieve a life of sobriety. This means that it is very important that you seek the right help. But how do you choose a facility for alcohol rehab in Austin, TX? Here are a few things to help you get started on the road to recovery.

What Type of Treatment Do They Offer?

The first thing you need to look at is the type of treatment the facility offers. Research tells us that people need to achieve at least four years of sobriety before it is more likely that they will remain sober for the rest of their lives. Hence, a facility that only offers detox or a short period of rehab may not be suitable for you. In fact, the best facilities are those that offer a combination of treatments, culminating in a sober living house.

“Sustained abstinence typically requires a stable, alcohol- and drug-free living environment. Without this type of environment, recovery can become difficult and even the most motivated individuals may become derailed on their way to recovery. Sober living houses (SLHs) are alcohol- and drug-free living environments for individuals who are attempting recovery.”

Is Treatment Personalized?

Another thing that is very important is that you find a facility that personalizes the treatment they offer you. Every person who has this issue is a unique individual. This means that if they follow a “one size fits all” package, it is unlikely that the program will succeed. You need to make sure, therefore, that the center is able to assess your individual needs and that they devise a treatment plan that is just right for you.

“This study is another important step toward personalized treatments for alcohol dependence,” says Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which funded the study. “A personalized approach based on a person’s genetic makeup is increasingly being investigated for delivering optimum treatment to the ‘right’ patient.”

What About the Financial Side?

If money were no object, you would be able to get round the clock, high quality care when and where you require it. Unfortunately, for most people money is actually a very big concern. Luckily, with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, it is likely that your medical insurance will cover at least some of your treatment. Additionally, Texas is making concerted efforts to ensure everybody is able to access treatment if they need it. However, you do have to ask the important financial questions, so you know where you stand. Do remember that finances should not be the driving factor in your decision. Your recovery is the most important thing. Choosing not to enroll in a facility because of expenses involved could cost you a whole lot more.

Get Recommendations

Finally, you should always try to get recommendations for the different treatment facilities that are out there. There are two great places to go. Firstly, your family physician and, secondly, the internet. Online, you will be able to find a range of reviews and testimonials and you can search through these in complete anonymity. If you are not ready to tell the world that you have a problem yet, being able to stay hidden is very important. However, an important part of your recovery process is admitting you have a problem and if you do, it is likely that your friends and members of your family will be more than happy to help you find a rehab center as well.

Choosing Alcohol Rehab In Austin, Texas

Vulnerability is the New Black

Drug Treatment Center Austin Laura Swann, my friend and the Clinical Director of the new BRC Clinical Center, participated recently in the Brene Brown training held in San Antonio. Brene Brown is an American scholar, author, and public speaker. Over the last twelve years she has been involved in research on a range of topics, including vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

I have been thinking about a phrase I heard somewhere recently, “vulnerability is the new black”. I’m not quite sure what it means but it stuck with me. Is it that we should all be more vulnerable? Is this a short season of vulnerability? Or is it simply that we are all waking up to the fact that we all, deep down inside, have the same fears and feelings, and it’s the act of pretending that we don’t, that separates us and causes discord?

Those that are close to me know that this blog was initially a one-time request. It turned into an ongoing assignment, and now has evolved into a labor of love, of sorts, that allows me to talk about the goings on in my life and how they’re connected to my recovery. I’ve often said there’s no distinction between where my job ends and my life begins. I prefer it this way. It is important for me to be the same person to everyone in my life. Transparent, authentic, and yes – vulnerable.

I have heard throughout my recovery that we are spiritual beings struggling with the human experience. This resonates with me. The Big Book reminds me that, “because of my own experiences I can be uniquely useful to other alcoholics.” (Pg. 89)

But how does this actually happen? How can the God in me connect with the God in others? By the purposeful creation of an honest space for this miracle, through the simple act of letting down the walls and allowing, even inviting, vulnerability.

BRC Recovery CenterHaving said that…thanks for allowing me to share my journey through this blog. Be well, and as vulnerable as you possibly can be. #TYG

Marsha Stone, CEO

Alcohol Treatment Centers In Texas: Is 30 Days Enough?

30-Day-Program-QuestionedMany alcohol treatment centers in Texas only provide treatment for 30 days. However, is this really enough? Experts agree that this is insufficient. When we understand the facts that studies have consistently found, that it takes four years of sobriety before someone is likely to achieve long-term recovery, 30 days seems like a drop in the ocean. Let’s take a look at why 30 days of treatment is not sufficient for treating the disease of addiction.

Short Term Rehab and Relapse

During short term rehab, patients are often rushed through the system. Treatment facilities, for all their best intentions, are simply under pressure to detox someone, give them as much counseling as possible and then send them on their way again, causing many of those who attend short-term rehab end up relapsing soon after. Unfortunately, many people leave rehab and return straight to their past behavior. The relapse rate is said to be between 40% and 90% in the initial month following rehab.

This shows how severe the disease of addiction is. Additionally, you have to look at this from the psychological perspective of the person with a drinking problem. Imagine, someone who has mustered up the courage to ask for help, only to quickly relapse. Approximately 15% of people that complete a 30 day program seek additional treatment after relapsing. However, by offering longer treatment options, the chances of someone relapsing are greatly reduced.

Why Do Short Term Rehab Facilities Exist?

If short-term rehab has proven to be less successful than long-term treatment, then why do so many facilities offer 30-day programs? Believe it or not, the responsibility for that problem lies squarely with the insurance companies. Different insurance companies offer different contract terms for treatment and services.

Insurance companies determine the length of stay for patients to be covered for treatment, often covering only 30 days and refusing payment if any further treatment is requested. Since rehab facilities are generally privately-owned and for-profit organizations, they have no choice but to offer 30 day treatment programs if they want to accept insurance from their clients. At the very least, treatment facilities are able to reach some people with this, rather than none should they refuse to conform to the demands of the insurance companies. However, they know that these services have proven to be ineffective long-term.

The Stages of Rehabilitation

Many people don’t quite understand just how much hard work rehabilitation requires, regardless of the particular substance of abuse. It starts with a five-day period of detoxification minimum, which can actually be longer with those who have drinking problems as they often cannot quit cold turkey without risking their lives. After that has been completed, the patient must be physically and psychologically assessed.

“Over the past 30 years, several studies have shown that alcohol use disorders often co-occur with certain mood and anxiety disorders. In fact, the National Comorbidity Survey found in 1997 that alcoholics were two to three times more likely than non-alcoholics to also have an anxiety disorder.”

Although diagnosing a patient need not take too long, it would be impossible to say that each of these problems could be “fixed” in the remaining 25 days (if someone only had five days of detox). When the diagnosis has been completed, therapy will start. Generally, patients undergo cognitive behavior therapy, group therapy and family therapy. This continues on throughout the program, after which patients should be provided with a 12-step program as well as a sober living accommodation. There is no way this could be done in just 30 days.