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The Most Dangerous Drugs Ranked

Ranking The Most Dangerous Drugs

Addictive drugs each are dangerous in their own way. Yet what makes on worse than the other? The truth is that it’s a really difficult question to answer, with many factors and countless different interpretations. While we do possess the data to quantify how some drugs are more dangerous than others, the bigger picture is important as well – the most dangerous drug is the one you’re hooked on, and it’s the one that’s most likely to kill you.

For anyone worried about addiction when considering drug use, there’s only one appropriate answer: don’t use them. All addictive drugs possess a risk of addiction, and that risk varies tremendously from person to person. As for mortality, a similar issue arises – there’s a clear ranking for what drugs kill the most people, but the most dangerous drugs are also the most limited, so they aren’t at the top of that list.

The one study that comes to mind when discussing the dangers of drug use is a UK study performed in 2010 that had a panel of experts assign a number value to each addictive drug based on a series of factors largely split between factors that contribute to individual harm, and factors that contribute to societal harm. However, there’s little inherent use to a study like that, because it mixes opinion with fact, and because the result is a ranking that is flawed in many ways.

Some drugs are definitely more dangerous than others. But any definitive ranking will change based on how the danger is defined. Rather than try to definitively decide which drug is the worst, we’ve opted for a nuanced approach: below is a crude ranking of the world’s most dangerous and most commonly used addictive substances, in no particular order, with details to help take note of why each substance can be life-threatening in its own way (and why some substances are far more dangerous both to individuals and communities than others).

7. Marijuana

As far as addictive and/or illegal drugs go, one particular drug to note is marijuana. This is because marijuana has long been the focal point in a debate about decriminalization, and next to tobacco and alcohol, it is one of the most commonly used drugs in the country – while being statistically less harmful than both.

Experts agree that, if marijuana replaced alcohol as the most common recreational intoxicant in the country, we would all be better off. But that doesn’t make it a ‘good’ drug. Marijuana can still be dangerous, and there’s research that shows that being high still comes with a risk over being sober: driving while high doubles your risk of a car accident versus being sober, for example (in comparison, alcohol raises your risk of a car accident by nearly 14 times).

Other research seems to indicate that long-term heavy use, as well as early use (especially in a person’s formative years) can have negative cognitive effects on a person, enough that experts agree that younger adults should stay away from marijuana.

It’s possible to argue that marijuana is wrongly vilified, or even among the least dangerous in a group of highly dangerous substances. But it shouldn’t be taken lightly, either. And yes, marijuana is addictive, even if it isn’t as addictive as other substances.


6. Psychedelics

When discussing psychedelics, the two substances that most commonly spring to mind include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) psilocybin and (magic mushrooms). These drugs are not addictive, but they make the list because they are commonly grouped with other drugs.

In terms of long-term effects, nothing seems to suggest that these substances are in any way dangerous. While they can cause an overdose and potentially death, it would be quite difficult to cause serious harm with a magic mushroom or with LSD. However, the dangers of psychedelics aren’t their direct effect on the human body, but how that body reacts with the rest of the world while ‘tripping’.

Without proper care or supervision, the symptoms of psychedelic use can be dangerous. Users can experience hallucinations, delusions, and panic. Mushroom or LSD use can be very disorienting. Furthermore, when buying off the street or the black market, you can never be too sure of what you get. Psilocybin is a particular kind of mushroom, but there are poisonous Psilocybe lookalikes, and other hallucinogens can be mixed with unwanted substances.

Most pure hallucinogens – particularly the two mentioned above – are not addictive, and not dangerous in a clinical setting. But whether they’re therapeutic is still up for debate. Mushrooms as well as LSD are being studied for their potential in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions, in conjunction with professional guidance and proper therapy. When taken recreationally, hallucinogens can be very dangerous.


5. Stimulants

Cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamine are all highly dangerous and highly addictive drugs, with methamphetamine ranking as one of the most dangerous drugs in the country both in terms of mortality and availability, while amphetamines (usually prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin) and cocaine have lower mortality, but are still highly potent substances.

Stimulants, or ‘uppers’, can severely damage the heart and liver and raise a person’s risk of stroke. Methamphetamine is also often ‘cooked’ impurely and cut with various other substances to drive up profits, which can lead to accidental overdoses and a variety of different health conditions.


4. Benzodiazepine

Taken recreationally in the form of Valium, Xanax, Diazepam, Diastat, Ativan, and a wide range of other ‘benzos’, benzodiazepine is a family of depressant substances designed to drive down the central nervous system and reduce symptoms of panic and anxiety.

However, benzodiazepines affect the brain similarly to alcohol, and can cause addiction, as well as severe withdrawal symptoms. The effects of a benzodiazepine drug are additive when taken with alcohol, meaning that overdoses are possible. Their popularity as a party drug marks them as one of the most dangerous drugs in the country.


3. Tobacco

Bar none, tobacco leads to the most deaths of any drug, illegal or legal, as per the CDC. This is due to the rate at which cigarette smoke causes and spreads cancer not only among smokers, but among nearby individuals as well. The risk of heart disease and lung cancer soars with smoking, and nicotine addiction is incredibly common.

Nearly half a million people die from tobacco use every year, because tobacco is directly involved in the development of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic pulmonary illnesses in 16 million Americans.

This is due to tobacco’s widespread availability and popularity, as well as nicotine’s potent addictiveness. While cigarette smoking has declined, vaping has become more popular. However, vaping shares a completely different risk profile, and the real long-term repercussions of vaping are still being researched. Many of the risks of smoking come from burning tobacco – vaping uses a combination of water and glycerin to produce a theoretically harmless vapor. However, common issues in vaping include heavy metal contamination and nicotine addiction.


2. Alcohol

Next to tobacco, alcohol is responsible for the second highest death toll among America’s recreational drugs. This is due to alcohol’s ubiquitous nature, as well as the fact that it is deeply ingrained in our culture. Banning alcohol has been historically fruitless, but there’s a big difference between the effects of moderate consumption and heavy use, which has been found responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among adults aged 20-64 years. Alarmingly, alcohol use – particularly binge drinking – is on the rise.


1. Opioids

While opioids don’t account for as many deaths as tobacco and alcohol, opioids are also much harder to get, yet still account for the most overdose deaths among all illegal drugs. Heroin and prescription opioid use have led to the nation’s current opioid crisis, fueled by decades of lobbying and reckless advertising from drug companies like the controversial Purdue Pharma, responsible for the meteoric rise of Oxycodone addiction. Among all drugs, opioids are arguably the most dangerous because they are extremely addictive and carry a high mortality rate. Opioid addiction is also very difficult to treat, and often requires the use of medication to help recovering addicts wean off these powerful drugs.

As mentioned previously, it’s important to note that the most dangerous drug is the one you’re addicted to, or the one you’re most exposed to. While drug use doesn’t always imply addiction, the two are most definitely correlated, with heavier drug use leading to a higher risk of drug dependence and substance use disorder.

Regardless of whether you are or aren’t addicted, whether you are or aren’t using, or whether you’re reading this for yourself or for a close loved one, it’s always important to be aware of the difference between how risky something is to the general public, and how risky it is to you.


Prescription Drugs Are Still an Issue

Prescription Drugs Are Still An Issue

Some prescription drugs have the potential to be as addictive as ‘hard street drugs’, like heroin or cocaine, as well as more common addictive substances that account for most drug-related deaths, like alcohol and tobacco.

A drug is a drug is a drug, but addictive drugs stand in their own category due to the dangers they present after long-term use, especially among people who are already at risk of addiction due to both internal (genetic) as well as external (stress, abuse, mental health) risk factors.

While opioids – particularly ones mired in recent scandals, like OxyContin – have begun to carry significant infamy in the wake of the growing opioid crisis, it’s important to recognize that other addictive prescription drugs, while therapeutic in certain cases, are still often overprescribed and pose a serious danger.


Amphetamines and Other Stimulants

Stimulants are used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy and are meant to effectively energize or speed up the central nervous system. While they are often touted as improving memory and focus, that is not necessarily true. Despite this, they have been abused by students and stressed workers aiming to meet deadlines, study and pass difficult tests, or continue to work while struggling with sleep deprivation. Truck workers and shift workers are common users of illegal prescription stimulants.

The most common prescription stimulants that are abused for their euphoric and energizing effects are amphetamine (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin).


Anti-Anxiety Drugs and Other CNS Depressants

While stimulants invigorate, depressants calm down. They have legitimate uses in the treatment of severe anxiety and seizures, but these drugs are also abused both as sedatives and because of their mild euphoric effect. Their effects on the brain are similar to alcohol, which is also a depressant.

The most common prescription depressants that are abused are alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and clonazepam (Klonopin). These drugs are known as benzodiazepines. Other depressants that are rarely prescribed but still circulated include barbiturates and tranquilizers.



Opioids are any kind of drug that affect opioid receptors, and they’re largely composed of drugs derived from the poppy plant, and synthetic drugs that work in a similar fashion. Opioids are used primarily as painkillers, but they interact with depressants, often in a dangerous way. While opioids are inarguably an important part of treating critical pain and terminal pain, the argument can be made that they are still being overprescribed.

Commonly abused prescription opioids include oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, and meperidine (Demerol). Fentanyl is a prescription drug involved in over half of opioid overdoses, often by being mixed into a batch of illegal heroin to increase the drug’s potency after it is cut with filler substances.


More Than Just a Side-Effect: How Our Healthcare Affects Addiction 

It’s no secret that there are long-standing problems with the country’s current healthcare system, especially in regard to mental healthcare. While the War on Drugs has been a major financial focus for several of the past administrations, the investment into improving mental healthcare and helping addicts recover and stay sober has been subpar.

This matters. Many addicts know that there’s little being done to help them become productive members of society, versus the effort put into ensuring they continue to have problems with the legal system. While it’s been proven several times that a punishing attitude towards addiction and drug use doesn’t work, and a therapeutic one has a better potential of impacting the problem, little has been done to bring about meaningful change.

Addicts often internalize this, and that’s a problem too. The stigma demonstrated by both the system and those who feel that addiction is a choice and a matter of responsibility rather than mental health continue to affect any given addict’s chances at recovery, as the odds seem impossibly stacked against them.


Addressing Demand 

An important thing to keep in mind is that despite the fact that drugs in themselves are dangerous, and prescription drugs continue to be a potential danger for people who struggle with the factors that characterize addiction, it’s also important not to put the wagon in front of the horse.

It’s arguably the demand that needs to be addressed the most, rather than the supply. Both the environmental and genetic factors that inform an addiction are difficult to address but are still important to take note of.

These include family life (stress, abuse, feeling distant or removed from family life), bullying, peer pressure, overwhelming pressure and stress at school/work, family history, pressure to perform better mentally or physically, and a personal history of anxiety or prolonged sadness/depression.

Teens are especially at risk as their age makes their brains more prone to developing an addiction through drug use, and their natural curiosity or potential ignorance of a drug’s full effects (especially in regard to prescription drugs) can make them more likely to use early on.


What Can You Do?

As a member of a family with an addicted loved one, you can seek to inform yourself and help those around you inform themselves on the topic of addiction, better understand what factors feed drug use and continue to prevent recovery and encourage relapse, and learn more about how to better support your loved one in the difficult struggle against addiction, helping them seek professional help where necessary.

As an addict, you can continue to seek help and seek resources to better improve your toolkit in combatting addiction, and develop a support system to help keep you sane and sober on days when you feel like everything is making you lose control, and nothing is in your power – and take advantage of the good days by progressing in ways that matter to you the most, from doing your best at work, to being helpful at home, or being a better partner for your loved one.

As a citizen, you can continue to inform yourself on when and where to vote, and who to vote for, keeping an eye out for candidates that prioritize a better health care and mental health system, who seek to prevent the opioid crisis from repeating itself or growing even worse by addressing both the demand and the supply of drugs, rather than uselessly punishing drug users for their illness and further salting the wounds that led to their addiction.

Doing your best to fight against addiction requires a multifaceted approach, taking into account what role you play for yourself, your family, your community, and your country, and then making the best choices you can, whenever you can, and learning from the bad ones. No one is perfect, and no single person will fix a problem as big as this – but awareness is an important first step, and it needs to be followed up with more learning, and further action.



Faith in action. I’ve been thinking a lot about what that looks like in real life. When something happens that adds a question mark to all that we know and believe.

Two weeks ago in New York, I saw a play called Accidentally Brave – a one-woman show performed by a truly and incredibly brave, courageous, humble, and vulnerable woman named Maddie Corman.

Maddie took what anyone would call a nightmare and turned her experience into a story of recovery. Maddie’s husband of 20 years was arrested for child pornography. Instead of seeing her husband as a monster and leaving him, she stayed. She chose to see him, as he was, a very sick person. Without condoning or belittling his behavior, Maddie chose to help him through his illness. And she didn’t stop there. She chose to recognize the issues of her own that this horrible experience uncovered. So, along with her husband, Maddie began an effortful road to recovery. She sought out the right supports and fought for the opportunity to heal her and her family.

This is faith in action. When, despite tremendous hurt and fear, we choose to go through our suffering. Not around, over, or under. But bravely through it, growing and learning along the way.

Maddie’s story of bravery pushed me to define faith in more meaningful terms for myself. My immediate reaction to negative circumstances is to wish them away. To fight their existence. Yet, each and every one of the experiences I’ve labeled as “bad” in my life has been an inflection point for the good. They allowed me to learn more about myself, remind me of my values, and, most importantly, help others.

There is a book that was written in 1040 called “Duties of the Heart”. The author states that true faith is not only accepting that all that happens to us is for the best but also, that all that happens is to guide us to our purpose on this earth. So, I will define faith as the acceptance that everything, including the tragic, can help me accomplish my journey, the unique reason I was put on this earth. To guide me towards my gifts.

This week, let’s emulate the kind of faith and strength shown by Maddie. Let’s bring light to the challenges that could very easily imprison us in the dark. Know that no matter the circumstances, you are always deserving of love and community. Rather than painfully dwelling over, “why did this happen to me??”, let’s allow faith and courage to help us learn and grow from whatever life throws at us.

Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

Interviewing Your Feelings

Interviewing Your Feelings - Transcend Recovery Community

We typically react in three ways when our needs aren’t met: we get big, we get small, or we run. Maybe you’re that person yelling at the barista because your morning coffee was two degrees too hot. Or the person who jumps from one commitment to the next, never quite seeing one through.

In either scenario, these responses allow us to avoid the harder questions. The outstanding questions or concerns in our lives that are much more easily treated with anger, drama, or distractions. But your needs will fight you till the death to be heard. To be taken care of.

I despised yelling when I was a child. And the way a harsh tongue only left me feeling fearful and uncertain. Yet, as an adult, my tendency is to “get big”. Though I don’t want to be a harsh person, quite the opposite, I yell when I can’t seem to get the right words out. When I don’t have the emotional vocabulary to speak to my needs, my true feelings. And the guilt and shame follow like clock-work. But the behaviors we learn as children get coded into our psyche whether we like it or not. And the burden of change, of writing over that code, is on us.

Interviewing Your Feelings - Transcend Recovery Community An old teacher of mine taught me how to interview my feelings. Like, go on a walk by myself and literally interview the anger/hurt/anxiety to ask them what they’re trying to tell me! This allows me to separate myself from my feelings for just a bit. Just long enough to steady the rapid-fire thoughts and temper them. By the end of the interview, I’d get a chance to understand what my feelings are telling me. Whether I need to ask for support, work through an insecurity, or get honest with myself or someone around me.

This week, I challenge you to interview your own feelings. In a true courting format, as though you are dating them. Ask them why they’re vying for your attention. If anxiety is a regular visitor of yours, there’s a reason. Allow that feeling to be heard for a moment. In truth, this is an exercise in listening to oneself. And syncing up with your needs. Try and it out and let me know how it goes.

Unconditional Love, Accountability, Community

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

Taking Back the Power

Life is a series of wonderful and messy events. One after the other. We embrace the wonderful, but what about the messy? The hard or the tragic?

I recently spent time with a gentleman who reminded me why we’re better off confronting the difficult stuff with the same willingness as we do the wonderful.

This gentleman had been horribly abused as a child. And these experiences shaped his life choices for many years, choices that self-inflicted further suffering and hardship. He has since embarked on a healing journey that requires him to face his trauma head-on. But, when asked by a confidant what his own part was in his abuse, the man began to get very angry. He exclaimed that he was a mere child and how could anyone say he had a part!? The confidant gently replied that his part was in holding onto the abuse for so long. After a little reflection and great strength, the gentleman said, “Yes. That is true”.

Taking Back the Power - Transcend Recovery Community Healing from our traumas is an incredible exercise in acceptance. We do not need to dismiss an act of injustice or cruelty to accept responsibility for our own well-being. Rather, when we insist that the healing is up to us, we regain any power that the trauma tries to rob us of. Confronting the parts of ourselves that hold our trauma, from poor coping mechanisms to harmful thoughts or belief, grants us decision making power. The abuse of this man’s childhood was out of his control, but the totality of his life is wholly up to him. Health and happiness are choices we make every day. The choices are not always easy, in fact, they rarely are, but at least the choices are ours to make.

I do not minimize the horrible things that happened to this man and many others. Nor do I minimize the horrible things that have happened to me. But I have found that true peace and empowerment comes from working through the messy. And, sometimes, undoing the choices others have made for us. Knowing that we play the primary role in cultivating our own well-being. Not the person or people who wronged us.

This week, let’s really take ownership of our lives and do something that moves us closer to well-being. Even if it’s scary, even it’s hard. Perhaps that’s having a difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding, practicing forgiveness, going to that support group, or simply having the discipline to meditate for 5 minutes every day this week. Freedom from the hard stuff is ultimately up to us. We are the authors of our own story. So decide what story you want to tell.

Unconditional Love, Accountability, Community

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community


Accepting Failure

Lately, I’ve been putting myself out there more. Playing outside my comfort zone. I started working on a book, and through the experience, I have found myself facing some deep fears – fear of vulnerability and failure.

I have always been willing to share my story. Energetically expressing my thoughts on life and hopes for the future. And because others tell me that this is me putting myself out there, being honest and raw, I’ve developed, as I see it, a false sense of vulnerability. But I’ve not yet shared all the stories that I believe are important to tell or taken such a risk as publishing them. Rather, I have avoided this goal of mine to avoid the fear that comes with it. Writing a book is a huge unknown. Will anybody read it? What if I share my most intimate secrets and people use them to mock me, to look down on me? These doubts repeat themselves to me over and over.

Brene Brown has shed great light on the feelings of shame and vulnerability. She writes that if we choose to live a life of courage and vulnerability, we will fail. Not we may fail. We will fail.

Accepting Failure - Transcend Recovery Community I think this perspective is quite empowering. When we accept failure as a known outcome, as a certainty in a bold and courageous life, we can start to work with it. Not around it. Success and growth stem from curiosity and allowing ourselves to take risks. Despite the potential for failure. We unearth our greatest potential if, and only when, we grant ourselves the freedom to fail. Not every journey will end in an amazing success. And that’s OK. We’re better positioned to take that next great adventure knowing that we’re capable of daring to try.

I will not lie to you. As I said, I’ve been sitting with my biggest fears while working on this book. But, I have found that when I’m not being courageous or truly vulnerable, I’m not growing or living authentically. I was stuck in a pattern of being comfortable with the discomfort I knew rather than testing my unknown potential. And that’s the fastest route to a life unfulfilled. What a shame it would be for any of us to live a life void of growth and exploration, ignoring our greatest ambitions! We owe ourselves a daring life.

This week, I urge you to peek outside your own comfort zone. Take on a challenging project at work, sign up for that class you’ve always been interested in, reach out to someone you’d like to be friends with, do something new and find out what you’re capable of. The old me would tell you not to be afraid, but I’ll modify that to say – fear is an OK feeling. Acknowledge your fears, maybe sit with them for a bit, and then choose to go for it anyway. You’re capable of taking the risk and these many journeys may just lead you to your greatest life yet.

Unconditional Love, Accountability, Community

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community

Living with Integrity

I’m currently in Poland with my son. We’ve been visiting the concentration camps, remembering a very dark part of history.

We just left a camp called Sobibor. Approximately 300,000 Jews were murdered on this solemn ground. And the only remaining mark of the extraordinary atrocities that occurred here is an area of dirt covered with stones. It marks a mass grave of about 175,000 people.

As I scan this land, as I recount the many death camps just like it across Europe, I can not escape the question of evil. How could thousands of people comply with a regime that allowed for such immorality, that inflicted this level of organized torture? Could I have been capable of doing so?

Jordan Peterson, a famous philosophy and psychology professor in Toronto, has spent his career studying evil.

He is known for asking his class if they would have participated in the Holocaust. Not surprisingly, no one raises their hands. To which Jordan reply’s, “80 percent of you are liars!”

Such acts of violence throughout history are atrocious and unimaginable. Yet, they keep happening. Does that simply mean that evil recycles itself with every new generation? Are these just masses of bad actors working together? I don’t think it’s that simple.

Put in a situation where our lives or our families lives are at risk, the majority of us will do whatever it takes to save ourselves and our loved ones. Even if that requires us to participate in evil, to sacrifice another’s well-being, to act outside our moral code. We will at least consider the option.

So, how do we live our lives with the least amount of collateral damage? How do we resist evil, on any scale, and live with true integrity?

We choose persuasions of humanity over persuasions of evil. We choose not to live in fear. Hitler preyed upon fear and insecurity. He convinced masses of people to deem Jews the ultimate threat, as the cause of their imminent demise. Annihilating this enemy group was merely an act of defense.
But evil cannot spread when we are living in love, tolerance, and kindness. There is no need for it. These other things provide us with a sense of security and well-being. They persuade us to live peacefully. And this is ultimately what we’re all after.We must ensure then that we are cultivating such a life. We must actively engage in habits and behaviors that put us into a rhythm of integrity. That can be as simple as regularly showing gratitude to those around you. From the man who delivers your packages to your coworkers, family, and friends. It’s even more powerful when you show love and kindness to someone who you wouldn’t typically. Maybe you volunteer for a day at a homeless shelter, maybe you take the time to explore a different culture or religion than your own with curiosity and acceptance. Additionally, we must never forget that evil exists. That good people are capable of doing bad things. We must get to them with love and kindness, first.

This week, step into the rhythm or step it up. Messages of fear and hate are always out there looking for an ear. Yet, every action we take can have a positive and protective impact. From a smile to a respectful interaction with a stranger. It is our responsibility to drown out hate with messages and acts of love and kindness.

Unconditional Love, Accountability, Community

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community


Remembering Our Value

Remembering Our Value - Transcend Recovery Community

I recently had the privilege of spending time with a friend named Robert. Robert also goes by Rascal. Though I don’t think the man he is today would have earned him such a nickname. So I will refer to him as Robert.

Robert looks very different than I do. Our backgrounds, families, and life experiences differ in nearly every way. Regardless, we share a deep connection. Robert has spent every year in jail for the past 18 years. A roadmap of his choices printed in dark ink on his body and face. But when you listen to Robert talk about his goals for the future, it’s clear what a kind and caring man he is. He has become.

Admittedly, Robert has a history of making bad choices. Of benefiting himself at the sacrifice of others. Even though his conscious, his true self, wanted to do good. When I pressed him on the difference between his past life and his current, he answered that it is my enduring belief in him. Even though he said he’s had plenty of opportunities to mess up, he chooses not to. Just as I am committed to him, he is committed to staying on the straight and narrow.

I will get back to the best part of the story in a minute. The entire purpose of my commitment to Robert.

When Robert attributed his success to me, I immediately thought, “Asher, you fraud!”. It was a reflexive thought. It took no effort for me to invalidate my own good-doing. The underlying belief is that I, a flawed human with his own set of weakness, couldn’t possibly give Robert hope and inspiration. Usually, I buy into this belief. But yesterday I chose to pause and thank the higher being in me. The part of me that, like Robert, is uncompromisingly good. That defends me against such destructive evaluations of myself so that I can get back to the good stuff. It is my belief that together with God, I will continue to recognize and foster the most valuable, compassionate parts of myself and others. Which always exist.

Remembering Our Value - Transcend Recovery Community Back to Robert and the evolution of his truest, most human self.Robert asked me to guide him in helping someone he loves very much. He said it was his daughter for whom had spent her entire childhood and young adult life with a father behind bars. At 20 years old, this young woman had just gotten out of jail herself. And Robert was committed to preventing her from following in his footsteps.Today, we are helping his daughter, together. She is enrolling into a trade school and getting connected with a therapist. With the help of a higher-being above, we will hopefully change generations to come. It all started with a commitment to Robert. And a belief in myself that I could contribute something valuable to someone else.

You see, if I had bought into the fraud part, that I had no real value to give this man, I would have missed out on this miracle. Of seeing this father, in a great expression of selflessness and love, wholeheartedly commit to the daughter he once abandoned. To see her accept his love and support. And help them to repair such a beautiful and important relationship.

This week, the next time your mind belittles your value, resist! Such thoughts are undeniably false. No matter how strong your doubts, your value never leaves you. It’s always there, waiting to be called upon. Do yourself and this world a favor and lend out your gifts. As a mentor, a supportive friend, a helpful co-worker, or a loving parent. Express these human talents each and every day. You are not a fraud!

Unconditional Love, Accountability, Community

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community


Fostering A Sense of Community in Sober Living

Fostering A Sense of Community In Sober Living

What is the determining factor for success in recovery? The answer is that there is no single factor responsible for a lifetime of sobriety, but there are dozens of factors that make a significant positive impact on a person seeking to maintain their sobriety after addiction. One crucial factor is self-efficacy, or the ability to believe in your own ability to get something done. If you wholeheartedly believe you’re going to stay sober, you’re less likely to relapse. Another factor, however, is the environment you’re recovering in. A positive environment is more likely to encourage you to stay sober.

A big part of that is how the people around you affect your recovery. Alone, getting and staying sober can be very difficult. Addiction treatment is not a matter of willpower, but a chronic condition that heavily affects the brain. A person’s ability to think and calculate risk is compromised after regular drug use, and it’s much more difficult to resist impulses while still under the full influence of a drug addiction. Regardless of how you approach your addiction, all treatments ultimately harken back to a similar origin point: help is needed to get through this process.


Community in Sober Living

Through the lens of addiction treatment, the importance of a positive social environment in a group setting is crucial. Recovering addicts living together at a sober living house should be incentivized to help each other improve and progress at their own pace. Because sober living homes don’t have set programs, tenants are encouraged to seek out other resources for a more individual approach, including experienced therapists with a history of working with recovering addicts, and addiction recovery groups.

However, despite the lack of a clearly-defined collective journey, many recovering addicts share a whole lot in common. Many struggle with the same fears surrounding recovery and relapse. Many share similar forms of guilt. Many share similar stories regarding their early days as an addict. And all have the potential to learn from each other through these stories and the valuable experiences they represent. Fostering this sense of community in a sober living environment is part of why the sober living experience is very effective in helping people maintain their sobriety throughout early recovery and beyond.


You’re Not in This Alone

Addicts face a debilitating amount of stigma and hatred. Despite one in seven Americans facing substance dependence, many addicts experience ongoing shaming and negative perceptions throughout the media and society. On top of the way drug use heavily impacts an addict’s psychology, these negative perceptions further serve to diminish and undermine an addict’s confidence in themselves, their ability to overcome addiction, and the efficacy of any given addiction treatment. Even in recovery, many addicts struggle with feelings of guilt and shame, often too much to bear.

Many also feel that these are feelings they cannot discuss with others, out of a fear of stigmatization. Many refuse to seek out treatment, worrying that in doing so, they might be sealing their fate and risk facing ostracization. But a sense of community can significantly diminish this by helping recovering addicts realize that there is an entire nationwide network of addicts working together to provide opportunities for others to speak out about their experiences and problems, and work through them in a healthy, positive, and compassionate environment composed of a wide variety of individuals whom all share similar experiences despite very different backgrounds.

This sense that you are not alone can be very empowering, especially if the connection is maintained. Addiction requires treatment, not hatred – and a big part of treatment is calling addiction out for what it is and talking openly about how it feels to be addicted. Being able to do so without fear of being misunderstood or insulted can be uplifting.


The Benefits of a Sober Community

A sober community serves to provide its members a variety of different benefits, including:

  • A sense of belonging.
  • The opportunity to create lasting bonds of friendship.
  • Benefiting from the experiences of others.
  • Access to a positive support network that helps uplift members.
  • A safe space to discuss addiction without the effects of stigma.

By fostering a sense of community within a sober living home, tenants are encouraged to do better, and help others do better as well. Sober living environments live and breathe recovery, in the sense that they consistently promote behavior and thinking that helps recovering addicts manage their cravings and work on life goals that help them develop a responsible self-sustaining lifestyle, maintaining employment, a regular regimen of daily chores, and healthy social interaction with others.


Maintaining Contact After Sober Living

Sober living environments are meant to provide places for recovering addicts to stay for longer than most residential recovery programs usually allow, but they are ultimately designed to be temporary residences rather than permanent homes. At some point, whether after four months or a period of over a year, a recovering addict should move on to finding their own place to stay, continuing to work on the lessons they’ve learned while living at a sober living home. But that does not mean the recovery process is over – nor does it mean that a person’s involvement in the sober community has concluded.

Recovery is a lifelong process, and many recovering addicts feel that they can continue to help others believe in their ability to stay sober and the efficacy of their given program by sharing their experiences, talking frankly about the challenges and struggles of addiction, and providing resources and opportunities to communicate with other recovering addicts.

One of the greater benefits behind a sense of community in sober living is the opportunity to help others as time passes. Helping others in their recovery journey not only gives you the chance to do good, but it can make a positive impact on your recovery as well. Research confirms that it generally feels good to do good and continuing to participate in recovery communities after rehab and sober living can help maintain sobriety and prevent a future relapse.

Keeping Negative Thoughts at Bay

Keeping Negative Thoughts at Bay - Transcend Recovery

I have a tendency to point out flaws. To skew towards the negative. Whether it be in how I judge myself or the world around me. Which may come as surprising given my unswerving belief in the beauty and potential in others and this planet. Yet, my mind will always make a “problems list” first.

Thankfully, something happened this week that reminded me to check my approach. To override my reflex to critique and choose a point of view that serves rather than burdens me.

I have the privilege of working with a young man who is deaf. We usually have our meeting in-person, but last week we connected over a phone call. Through virtual technology, he was able to sign to an online interpreter who then verbalized his messages to me. The interpreter matched his own expressions and tone of voice to the thoughts and feelings my friend was conveying through sign-language. It was amazing!!

Keeping Negative Thoughts at Bay - Transcend RecoveryNow, as I’ve said, I’m a critic. And I often critique the pitfalls of digital technology and social media. With our heads down, eyes glued to a screen, we miss out on opportunities for true togetherness. And while we have this incessant urge to plug into a highly connected digital world, so many of us yearn for connection and friendship in real life. To be seen and loved in real life.

But, I can also appreciate that the technology that often leads to loneliness and disconnect, is the same that allowed me to have a wonderful, enriching connection with my friend.

The only thing that changed in my valuation of technology was my perspective. Yet, I only had this opportunity to have a more positive experience with technology because of a forcing event – my friend required the assistance of a virtual interpreter. While I still warn against the downside of technology, I can choose to recognize the upside as well. I can choose to engage with it in a way that adds to my life, like a conversation with a dear friend.

Keeping Negative Thoughts at Bay - Transcend Recovery

This week, my goal for myself and my hope for us all is that we kick ourselves out of negative thinking. That we take a positive mental approach and search for the good, first. Even if it’s just for the next week, wake up and think of three positive things. Three positive traits you possess or maybe three positive things going on in the world. We may just realize there’s much more promise to be found in this way of thinking.

Community, Accountability, Unconditional Love.

-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community