Better Training, Better HealingTM

The Foundation for Addiction Specialist Training

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Resources to Help You Help Them

Whimsical picture of a frog with glasses on reading a book
"A resource is an allegory, parable, or story with an agenda … usually created on the spot to help a client grasp a concept … so that they can move into a right-brain understanding of the idea. They are shared to be used."
- Dr. Mary Anne Fifield
Whimsical picture of a frog in a Superman outfit flying
Mindful MeditationsAuthor:  Dr. Mary Anne Fifield

If there were ever a time to dare,
To make a difference,
To embark on something worth doing, it is now.


Whimsical picture of a frog in a Superman outfit flying
Dream BigAuthor:  Unknown

If there were ever a time to dare,
To make a difference,
To embark on something worth doing, it is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily—
But for something that tugs at your heart,
Something that's your aspiration, something that's your dream.
You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.
Have fun.
Dig deep.
Stretch.
Dream big.
Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
And there will be bad days.
There will be times when you want to turn around,
Pack it up, and call it quits.
Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,
That you aren't afraid to learn by trying.

Recovery is worth all the effort we can muster. The journey is exciting and dangerous. We are in it for the duration for the reward is finding us, recovering ourselves. Certainly a reward worth dreaming big. Never, never, never give up—you are too important to waste.

Whimsical picture of a frog stretched out in air after jumping
PersistenceAuthor:  Unknown

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead.

The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, "Did you not hear us?" The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Which frog do you choose to become? The one who listened to the negative voices or the one who kept on trying. The persistent frog believed he could make it, and took the voices as encouragement. These perceptions brought him freedom.

We often choose our outcome by the voices we heed. Those around us, and those in our heads. Choices...

Whimsical picture of a frog yelling thru a big red megaphone
GossipAuthor:  Unknown

My name is Gossip.
I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning, malicious and gather strength with age.
I flourish at every level of society.

My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.

I am nobody's friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.

I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion.

I spawn suspicion and generate grief. I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name hisses.

I am called GOSSIP: office-gossip, shop-gossip, party-gossip, telephone-gossip. I make headlines and heartaches.

REMEMBER, when you repeat a story, ask yourself: Is it true! Is it fair? Is it necessary? If not, do not repeat it. KEEP QUIET!

"By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach" — Winston Churchill

"To destroy someone's good name is to commit a kind of murder" — Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

Gossip is a kind of verbal terrorism, it can only destroy. Step 6 & 7 give an opportunity to remove this defect of character.Return to Top

Whimsical picture of a blue frog sitting on a giant red question mark
FEARAuthor:  Unknown
  • F = False
  • E = Evidence
  • A = Appearing
  • R = Real

Addicts and partners have bundles of faulty core beliefs, beliefs that are incorrect. These core beliefs are about themselves and the nature of reality at any given moment in time.

Core beliefs are common to us all and are created by biology and biography. We come to believe what we believe from our unique genetic make-up and life experience. Correct core beliefs enable us to perceive life events accurately and to develop patterns of responses from these beliefs that lead to healthy behaviors.

On the other hand, faulty core beliefs create misperceptions followed by dysfunctional choices. Incorrect responses lead to failure and painful consequences. Denial patterns are developed to protect the addict or the partner from recognizing the truth. Acting out rituals and control are also the results. Life becomes unmanageable, with the person in the dark as to why.

Sobriety begins the process of uncovering the faulty core beliefs that make false evidence appear real. Over time fear responses lessen considerably, leading to a healthier "recovery" way of life. Sponsors, 12-Step meetings, step work, therapy and interaction with a Higher Power all give opportunity for recognition and hence change.

Then ... AHA!  Frogs are not blue, they are green. So why be afraid?Return to Top

Whimsical picture of a frog writing with a giant pencil
The DESC Script Author:  Dr. Mary Anne Fifield

"I was standing, shadowed, in the stucco archway of the Center looking out into the courtyard. A man in a red shirt ran in, grabbed a leaf off of the tree in the middle, and ran out the opening on the right."

"I am feeling anxious and confused. I am wondering who that weird man is and why did he do that?"

"I need to know who he is and what is going on that he would run in, grab a leaf off of that tree and run out. Then I will feel safe."

"If my confusion is not cleared up, I will leave."

This small tale illustrates the use of the DESC Script:

  • D = Describe the event, just the facts, no attributing motive
  • E = Emotion and thought about the event
  • S = Specify what is needed because of the event
  • C = Consequences if need is not met

This communication tool offers an assertive means of communicating about an event. It creates boundaries. It takes responsibility for one's own experience. It is interactive self-care. And, it works!

Recovery can only be achieved and maintained by learning to practice healthy assertive communication. Passive or aggressive communication is dysfunctional and ineffective. Moreover, they do not allow a recovering person to be successful. They lead to relapse.

A Script can be written or verbal. It can be practiced with a therapist, sponsor or support person prior to using it. It is best used when the heightened adrenal response of an event subsides. Amygdala reactions shut off the prefrontal cortex and hearing anything is next to impossible, much less being able to be act upon it. Wait, even if some time has to pass. It can be one complex sentence or as long as necessary. But, be aware of belaboring. Two examples are below.

An Addict – to his partner the next day after a yelling tirade by his partner:

"Last night when you were so upset with me, yelling and calling me names in front of the children, I was afraid and wondered what in the world I am going to do. I do not to want you to yell at me in front of the kids ever again. If you do, I am going to leave the house. I will call you later and only return if you tell me you will not yell."

A Partner – to her addict when he was a half-hour late coming home:

"Last night you were a half-hour late coming home. You did not call to tell me you would be delayed as you promised to do. I was afraid and mad. I thought that you were acting out again. I need you to call me if you are going to be late. If you do not, the kids and I will eat our dinner without you, and you can sleep on the cot in the garage again."

Try it! Teach it!Return to Top

Whimsical picture of a fighting frog with boxing gloves on
An Amygdala Moment Author:  Dr. Mary Anne Fifield

Penny was deeply asleep, buried in the goose down cushion of the Chinese red settee. It was late on a warm evening, the patio door was shut and I was finishing up the pre-bed tasks. All was quiet.

Suddenly she erupted from her sleep, straight up, in a frenzy of growling and barking. She jumped off the back of the settee into the living room, running in circles and clearly distressed. I was not alarmed, only curious, at this unusual behavior. She ran to the patio door, but not out her doggie door, another departure from the norm.

We live in a townhome complex and have private, small backyard. The fence at the far back is 10 feet tall, the side fences are 8. From the patio door to the back fence is about 20 feet. This area is hers to protect from whatever dares intrude into the space. She usually races out the doggie door at full speed barking and alerting the intruder to her presence.

Not this time. The growling was new, as was the halt at the door. I got up and pulled back the door and stepped out. Then she was out and headed straight to the back fence. I stepped inside and turned on the outside light. Looking around I could not see what the commotion was all about. She was so upset that she was trying to climb the fence.

Now, Penny is a Cockapoo, half poodle and half cocker spaniel. She is the color of pennies, new, used and old. At the most she weighs 16 pounds — mostly hair. Not much of a threat, but she was giving it her all. I walked up to the fence and pushed several times. Nothing. Tried again, something moved and it was big. It was sitting on the top of the fence amidst the greenery.

I went to get my flashlight, looking I saw a possum, a big possum. Now what do I do? The hose! I turned it on jet stream, full force and it moved to the left down the fence. It stopped again in another patch of branches. More water and it finally ran on down the fence tops and disappeared.

Penny continued trying to climb the fence, barking and growling. It was very loud, not helped by my calling her name to no avail. I hosed down the fence, and Penny, to wash away the scent and calm her down. That helped. Now she was running back and forth across the patio and whining, crying, but better. With all the spray, I was wet also and concerned about my neighbors sleep.

I gave her time to settle down, and when she was able I got her in the house, closed off the patio and troweled her dry. She paced and whined for a good hour, until we finally went upstairs about 2:00am to bed. Why was this such a big deal, I wondered.

Several days later, I spotted an article about possums and learned that they have a very offensive odor. Then I got it. Scent is the first sensory input that we have. That is how babies find mom, the nipple and milk. Mammals the world over have this first ability. Blind babies of all kinds find mom this way. Scents go to the thalamus whereas other sensory input goes elsewhere. The input to the thalamus goes straight to the amygdala and with the hippo-campus decides if this is pleasure or not. This limbic early-warning system triggers a response of safe=pleasure, or not-safe=bad. If not safe the autonomic nervous system goes into full-blown defense. Fight, flee or freeze. All before there is conscious awareness by the pre-frontal cortex that there is even a danger. Handy in the jungle where tigers lurk.

The smell of the possum was powerful enough to trigger her fight response through her thalamus even when she was sound asleep. It was not sound or sight, but smell that caused her amygdala response. Impressive.

Triggers for recovering addicts can be as unconscious as Penny's adventure with the possum. Smell of a mistress' perfume, sweat, shampoo or lotion can be thalamus triggers. An innocent walk by the cosmetics counter in Macy's on the way to men's shirts could send an addict to act out. Such a slip would be perplexing and defeating, if not understood.

Fearful events that trigger an amygdala response can cause a recovering person to flee back into their addiction. Or lead to seething anger, a resentment, the number one cause of relapse according to the Big Book. All from an amygdala moment.

Finding the patterns of these moments, unpacking them to discover the reasons for the reactions will break the learned responses. It takes time, but well worth the effort to be free of such amygdala moments.

We have had more visits from possums, but the response from Penny is more in keeping with her other defensive reactions. She knows what the smell is now, whereas before it was new, bad and not safe. Now I get the flashlight and hose, squirt away and problem solved. Lessons learned.

Then there was the cat in garage.....Return to Top

Whimsical picture of a frog hugging a big red heart
The Sponge Author:  Dr. Mary Anne Fifield

Once upon a time in a kitchen far far away, there lay a sponge. It was old, dirty and all dried up, lost in the back left corner behind the garbage disposal in the cabinet under the sink. It was grimy and smelly under there, with bits of garbage and trash that the roaches and rats came to forage. The sponge no longer knew it was a sponge for without water it had no way of knowing. So it waited.

One day it was found, because it was spring-cleaning time, the Homeowner discovered the lost sponge. The Homeowner looked at the useless sponge and thought to pitch it in the garbage, but decided that it might be redeemed and used. Put in a bowl of water, the sponge was set aside.

The sponge was very hard, being empty of liquid, so hard that its surface was unable to open to the fluid. It rested in the clean water with a sense of familiarity, but with resistance and fear. "What do I do?" it wondered, waiting. "What does this mean"?

The Homeowner noticed its plight, and stopped to softly touch the surface. Gently that edge relaxed and in came some water. It hurt a bit as the membranes surrounding the cells stretched against the dried rigidity of the fibers. But the water softened and soothed, and so it stretched some more.

Now this was not an ordinary man-made Safeway sponge, but this sponge had grown up on the floor of the ocean off the coast of Australia, in Shark’s Cove. There it had been picked as a juvenile sponge, and sold in the village market to an importer who knew the value of a good sponge. Its color was the light sand of its birthplace, and its size was that of a grown man's hand, just right for use in the kitchen. It was irregular in shape, but it never smelled bad or harbored mold.

As the day of its awakening continued, the Homeowner changed the water to encourage the sponge’s recovery. The cool water was refreshing and reminded the sponge of water long ago. It stretched and strained to let the cleansing water into all the cells. However, it was the warm water that helped the most, as it softened the hard places more easily. The Homeowner added several drops of green Palmolive soap and squeezed it gently to remove the dried-in grime.

Clean, soft, full, and restored, the sponge knew just what to do: pull water in, give it out. It remembered now that it was a sponge, designed it pull water in, give it out. The Homeowner was so pleased and glad at the results that the sponge was displayed to all who came into the kitchen. The Homeowner demonstrated just what a fine sponge it was as it pulled the water in and gave the water out. The sponge was placed in a green dish to the right side of the sink where it was ready whenever the Homeowner needed it to pull the water in and give it out.

People who have been abused or neglected or not nurtured have hearts shriveled up, rigid and dry. Hearts that are forgotten in the business of living are lost in the refuse, the garbage of just coping. The physical heart is designed to beat to the rhythm of life, to pull the blood of life in, and give it out. The emotional heart is designed to pull the wonder of living in, and give it back. The spiritual heart is designed to pull love in, and give it away.

For the harmed ones, only the physical heart remains, so death has not come. They have not yet been pitched away, forever lost. They wait in the dark corners of this world for redemption. They wait to be reclaimed, restored to how they were created to be. Just as the sponge was created to pull the water in and give it out, so was the human heart designed.

When found, just as the care of the Homeowner restored the sponge, so the care of a therapist can carefully aid a broken client to recover. Gently, cool water of refreshing affirmation and warm water of cleansing are applied. The therapist knows that as the sponge responded, like a sponge would, so too can the heart of the client respond to care. No matter how young, how early the damage occurred, there is hope in the knowledge that hearts retain the ability to respond. Just as time in the bowl for the sponge was necessary for restoration to occur, so it is imperative for the heart to have all the time it needs. Patient waiting for the Homeowner yielded delight; so too can the therapist delight in the redemption of the client's heart.Return to Top

Whimsical picture of a frog walking
Two Tongues Author:  Unknown

Did you know that you have 2 tongues? Yep, you do. The one in your mouth and the one in your shoe. If I want to know what is really going on with you, I watch the one in your shoe.

You can talk a good game, sound really terrific, but your behavior tells the true story. In recovery we learn to walk the talk. Congruent. Trustworthy. Rigorous honesty. Reliable. These are the evidence of a recovering life.

Abigail Adams said it well, "We have too many high sounding words and too few actions that correspond with them."Return to Top

Whimsical picture of a frog swimming with a scuba mask, fins, and snorkel on
Sump Pump Author:  Dr. Mary Anne Fifield

A sump pump is a pump that sits in a sump, or a hole. These pumps are invaluable in climates where heavy rain, flooding and/or snow-melt routinely flood basements. They wait patiently until the water level rises and trips the float, starting the suction pump. Out goes the water. Handy gadget to have!

Addiction is like a sump pump. It waits patiently until the stress level rises and trips the float or switch in the brain, activating the addiction. Out goes the stress, carried by the addiction. Handy defense against the floods of stress.

A well installed sump pump will be at the lowest point in the basement to trigger as soon as the water level rises. It will also be connected to a drainpipe that will move the water away from the structure into a natural drainage area of the surrounding terrain. No help if the pipe is too short or not well positioned for the water simply will cycle around going nowhere fast. No help there.

Since the helpful effect of an acting out episode is short-lived, the addiction has to keep cycling around and around. Nothing changes for the better as the negative consequences only mount up as would the damage in an improperly drained structure. Deadly black mold, rotting wood, cracked foundations, infestations of bugs, to mention a few. Pretty grim.

Recovery also can be likened to a sump pump, even the one previously used for addiction. When the stresses of life begin to mount up, when the going gets rough, when life happens on life's terms, the float gets tripped. With recovery, new tools and strategies are used to release the flooding of stress. Well positioned and well piped, the pump draws the stress away. The stressor may remain, but the emotional, physical or relational upset becomes manageable. Sobriety is maintained.

One of the ways the pump suctions off the unmanageability, is through acts of service. Bill Wilson knew all too well that night in the hotel in Akron that the stress of losing the business deal was going to take him into the bar and another bender unless he could find a wet one to share his story with. So he got on the phone and began calling clergy in town until finally he was connected with Dr. Bob, a stubborn drunk. AA was born. The pump had done its job. Give it away to keep it. Carry the message.

A well-maintained sump pump in the life of a recovering person is a powerful protection against relapse. Meetings, sponsors, steps, phone calls, therapy — the list grows long over time. Each application of a recovery tool keeps the pump in peak condition, ready to help. How's your sump pump today? The floods are coming.Return to Top

Whimsical picture of a frog juggling a bunch of different fruits
Two Wolves Author:  Unknown

A grandfather told his grandson, "It's like there are two wolves in me. One is good; the other is bad. One leads me to be kind; the other leads me to be mean. One helps me to love; the other makes me hate. A war of the two wolves wages in me."

The boy asked his grandfather, "Which one wins?"

"That," the grandfather replied, "depends on which one I feed."

Recovery is about regaining the power to choose. Which wolf to feed? Sobriety or Addiction? Choice. Choosing to feed sobriety with recovery actions, makes sobriety stronger. That brain neuropathway grows by sprouting new dendrites, axions and connections. The neuronet gets tougher, more resilient. Time passes and recovery emerges from a sober brain. Choose wisely.Return to Top

CAS Training DVDs

Wise Words

Practice on-purpose positive thinking, being open to learning, growing, and changing.

Mary Anne Fifield

The only disability in life is a bad attitude.

Scott Hamiton

Let emotion subside before you decide.

Joyce Meyer

There must be more to life than increasing it's speed.

Mahatma Gandhi

Wag more, bark less.

Penny

All that a man achieves (or) fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.

James Allen

If you feel dis-couraged, ask God for courage so you feel en-couraged.

Mary Anne Fifield

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Abraham Lincoln

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is progress in its presence. Do it afraid!

Joyce Meyer

Remember, being a human people is not a character defect. Be gentle with yourself today.

Mary Anne Fifield

You don't have to think about everything that falls in your head! Choice!

Joyce Meyer

There can be no intimacy without identity. Find yourself first, then another.

Mary Anne Fifield

Reason is our soul's left hand, Faith her right.

John Donne

There are some secrets we think we're keeping, but those secrets are actually keeping you.

Frank Warren

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

Norman Vincent Peale

Power is the ability to achieve purpose. . . to effect change.

Martin Luther King

We don't see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.

Mary Anne Fifield

A slave is one who waits for someone else to come and free him.

Ezra Pound

It's never to late to be who you might have been.

George Eliot

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.

Ashleigh Brilliant

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

Winston Churchill

It is only possible and live happily ever after on a day-and-day basis.

Margaret Bonnano

Your 'who' is different than your 'do'. Your 'do' can be changed. Your 'who' is terrific as is!

Joyce Meyer

Your attitude determines your altitude: fly high or bump along in the dirt. Choice!

Mary Anne Fifield

Weed & Feed: weed out what hinders your growth; feed with spiritual food for healthy growth.

Ortho & Dr. Fifield

Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.

Joyce Meyer

Whatever we think about we bring about.

Ernie Larsen

Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.

Aldous Huxley

Power really does not change things; It only rearranges them.

Napoleon Bonaparte

No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.

George Jean Nathan

Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.

Martin Luther King

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of only standing still.

Chinese Proverb

If what I say resonates with you, its because we are both branches off the same tree.

William Butler Yeats

Availability is making our abilities available to be used to help another along the way.

Mary Anne Fifield

What comes around must go around or it does not come around again.

Richard Rohr

For God alone my soul waits in silence.

Psalm 62: 1,5

GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. Into your mind, out into your life. Your are worth the good stuff.

Mary Anne Fifield

Healthy pride leads to service and gratitude. False pride leads to relapse.

Mary Anne Fifield

The soul is here for its own joy.

Rūmī جلال‌الدین محمد رومی

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