Arlina Allen is a life-recovery coach and podcaster. She’s been sober for 26 years. From her experience, she says the holiday season is often challenging for people recovering from addiction.
“I would experience situations or triggers that I didn’t know how to handle," Allen said. "Like nobody plans to get triggered, but once you have an emotional response to a situation, if you are not prepared and you don’t have tools, it’s very difficult to choose wisely. Like my compulsive choice was to reach for a drink or a bong hit.”
She says connecting with others who have shared similar trauma experiences is essential in the recovery process. That’s why she plans to attend a holiday fellowship marathon on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day offered for free by Lionrock Recovery.
“For me personally, Lionrock is my revenge against addiction that took my sister and almost took one of my children,” said Lionrock Recovery Co-founder and CEO Peter Loeb.
Father Peter Loeb and daughter Ashley Loeb Blassingame are co-founders of Lionrock. Ashley’s been sober for 15 years and she says she’s here to set an example of what sobriety can be.
“Holidays are traditionally tough for anyone in recovery, not least because these occasions typically involve alcohol. In fact, CDC numbers show that December is the most dangerous time of year for drug and alcohol-related deaths”
They’re determined to help people looking for recovery – which is why they offer the 15-hour marathon every year, all done virtually.
“We were telehealth from the very beginning," Loeb said. "People got to laugh at us for many years before, in the last really year, telehealth has gone mainstream.”
Run by Lionrock staff, the marathon isn’t only for people struggling with addiction. Loeb says it’s available for anyone feeling lonely or with mental health struggles. All you have to do is visit lionrock.life online. The entire day is filled with fellowship and activities.
“Mindfulness meditation, a documentary about Chris Herren who is in recovery, coffee by the campfire, a painting activity,” Loeb listed.
Loeb Blassingame says recovery, alcoholism, addiction or any kind of mental health illness thrives in isolation, which has made 2020 even more difficult.
“The people who are staying sober and staying well are the ones who are connected by some sort of community where there is some sort of anchor," Loeb Blassingame said. "And the ones who are falling off are the ones who are passing away or the ones who are relapsing.”
What fuels Arlina’s podcast is the power of people sharing their stories and opening their hearts.
“When someone is vulnerable and speaks from their heart, that is a language that passes all boundaries," Allen said. "We get connected and suddenly we feel like we’re not alone or we’re not that different.”
It’s a battle that’s so hard. Both Allen and Ashley Loeb Blassingame fully understand that battle. However, there is hope for change.
“I am encouraging people to focus on the solution, find connection in any way you can, and put one foot in front of the other whatever that looks like,” Loeb Blassingame said.