Tag: Florida

What’s the Most Sober City in America?

Can You Guess?

Talking about sobriety apps and social sobriety seems almost redundant at this point! Lighthouse has already reported on a variety of ways people in recovery are using social media to help stay sober – what’s next?

Well, the fine folks over at Recovery.org figured it out! They recently put together a great article on the most popular recovery hashtags, the most sober cities, and the most sober states in America!

They also recorded the least sober cities and states. They took all this information from Instagram…so it may not be the most scientific. Still, it’s a pretty good cross-section of what recovery looks like online in 2015.

Find a breakdown of the most sober cities below, as well as some images courtesy of Recovery.org!

The Most Sober Cities

Before we list the actual cities, a quick note on how this list was calculated – it’s based on the number of times hashtags like #recovery and #sobriety were mentioned in a specific city.

Does Delray Beach top the list? Well, unfortunately not…but we are in the top 10!

  • 1) Costa Mesa, California

  • 2) Los Angeles, California

  • 3) San Jose, California

  • 4) New York City

  • 5) Murray, Utah

  • 6) Pasadena, California

  • 7) Heath, Ohio

  • 8) San Diego, California

  • 9) Delray Beach, Florida (hey, that’s us!)

  • 10) Albertville, Alabama
most sober cities
  • 11) Midvale, Oklahoma

  • 12) Santa Clarita, California

  • 13) San Francisco, California

  • 14) Malibu, California

  • 15) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • 16) Salt Lake City, Utah

  • 17) Austin, Texas

  • 18) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • 19) Simi Valley, California

  • 20) Santa Monica, California

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The Most Sober & Least Sober States

Now that we know the most sober cities, it should be easy to guess the most sober states…right? Wrong!

Well, sort of wrong. Check out the list below to see what we’re talking about.

  • 1) Utah

  • 2) California

  • 3) Florida

  • 4) Oklahoma

  • 5) Nevada

  • 6) Alabama

  • 7) New York

  • 8) Connecticut

  • 9) Arizona

  • 10) Ohio

Based on the list of the most sober cities, we assumed California would be first, Utah would be second…and so on. Turns out that isn’t the case.

While the sober cities list only measures the popularity of sobriety using #sobriety and #recovery, this list uses a ton of hashtags, including ones like #soberlife, #alcoholicsanonymous, and #wedorecover.

Once you add all those in, Utah becomes the clear winner. In fact, the popularity of recovery hashtags in Utah is over twice as much as California! And don’t even get us started on little old Florida.

Okay, now we know the most sober states…what about the least sober? Well, they are:

  • 41) Wyoming

  • 42) West Virginia

  • 43) Arkansas

  • 44) Wisconsin

  • 45) Montana

  • 46) Iowa

  • 47) Kentucky

  • 48) North Dakota

  • 49) South Dakota

  • 50) Mississippi
most sober states

It’s interesting that states like Kentucky and West Virginia – located in Appalachia and among the hardest hit by heroin and painkiller abuse – rank so far towards the bottom of #sober states.

You’d think those states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic would also have a thriving recovery community, right? Maybe a small recovery community, but still some.

Turns out that isn’t the case. What we can take away from that fact is the idea that recovery should be everywhere and anything we – men and women in long-term recovery from substance abuse – can do to make that happen is well worth the effort!

This Former Drug Addict is Making the World Smile

Do You Have Tissues? ‘Cause You’re Going to Need Them!

Have you heard of Donald Gould? No? What about his popular nickname, Boone? Still no?

donald gould
image via People.com

Well, you may have seen him in a recent viral video floating around the internet.

Gould, fifty-one years old, is a former drug addict who, unfortunately, is still homeless. He’s been making a living on the Gulf Coast of Florida by playing the piano for tips.

Well, as of recently, he may be doing much more than making a living! In fact, Gould told a local paper, “I was thinking I could just put my hat on the piano and make a couple dollars and get tips…I didn’t expect it to jump out to this” (WWSB-TV).

Donald Gould’s heart wrenching story is told in detail below, but first for some good news! After gaining internet fame for his piano playing – including covers of Styx, Billy Joel, and Bach songs – he’s been offered a job at a local bar.

While one job is a far cry from stability, it’s this type of compassion that will get him off the streets. What a blessing.

Jesse Schenker’s success story is another heartwarming tale of how one man beat addiction & homelessness!

From Talented Child to Homeless Addict

Daniel Gould’s story begins when he picked up a clarinet as a child. He instantly fell in love with the instrument and continued playing throughout his life. After joining the Marines Corps, he began to play clarinet in their official band.

Eventually, Gould returned home to Michigan. He enrolled in a Christian liberal arts college called Spring Arbor. His aspiration? To teach music to children.

With tuition ever increasing, he decided to instead focus on starting a family and working. He married, had children, and things were wonderful until one day in 1998.

His wife died and, overcome with grief, Gould descended into addiction. He eventually lost his three-year-old son and ended up homeless. He bounced around the United States and found his way to Sarasota, Florida.

That’s where Gould lives today. Although he’s put his substance abuse behind him, he’s still stuck in the hand-to-mouth cycle of extreme poverty. His situation isn’t that unique either. According to a 2013 report, it’s estimated that over 600,000 are stuck in the same vicious cycle.

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Bringing Smiles to the World

Today, Gould is still riding the wave of viral video fame. He’s looking forward to getting a job playing piano or performing and teaching some other type of music. This last part, teaching, is what’s brought him the most joy.

Remember, Gould was studying to be a music teacher before he started his family. Today, that simple joy is what keeps him going. In fact, children have been coming up to Gould as he’s playing recently and asking him if they can play.

Gould will move over, let them sit down, and help them play something simple. When asked about his teaching spirit, he responded,

“I play the ‘Heart and Soul’ bass, I say ‘just hit the white keys, you can’t screw up’… It doesn’t matter how they play, if they play crappy or good, I always clap for them…I’m a nurturer, I’m a teacher” (People Magazine).

Learn some of the many blessings of sobriety!

The Heartbreaking Toll of Addiction & Mental Illness Combined

A Worried Mother & an Addicted Son

Barbara Theodosiou isn’t a household name. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people outside of a particular community who know her name. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s fighting a life or death battle.

“There is no peace for me. Ever again. This is a life sentence,” Barbara uttered during a speech in Oakland Park, FL. She was talking about the impact her son Daniel’s death has had on her life and work.

the addicts mom
image via The Addict’s Mom

Barbara Theodosiou is the founder of a support group called The Addict’s Mom. She started it in 2008 to help other families struggling with addiction. Since 2008, The Addict’s Mom has exploded. What started as a small Facebook group has grown to monumental proportions – 30,000 members and chapters in each of the fifty states.

Still, when Barbara lost Daniel, a twenty-three year old boy struggling with addiction and mental illness, none of her group’s success mattered. She was simply heartbroken that her child, who had been missing for a week, was gone.

Daniel passed away in April. She’s still awaiting the toxicology report. Over the last few months, Barbara has thrown herself all the more into advocating for mental health and substance abuse treatment reform.

She’s using Daniel’s story and her own heartache to raise awareness of the dangers individuals with co-occurring disorders face. She’s committed to reforming a broken system – the mental health and addiction treatment industry as it pertains to schools, jails, and youth.

This is her story.

“Text message therapy” is real and it’s saving lives!

The Addict’s Mom

Barbara’s path to mental health advocate isn’t a straight line. She never set out to reform anything. She was just a mother struggling with her two sons’ addictions.

Her eldest child, Peter, was addicted to both painkillers and heroin. He abused them throughout his teenage years before getting sober. Today, he’s been in recovery for a number of years, has graduated college, and is doing well.

Daniel, on the other hand, is a tragic example of the deadly toll addiction and mental illness have on families. From as far back as elementary school, Daniel struggled with isolation and social issues.

Barbara took her son to see a psychiatrist at twelve. The doctor didn’t diagnosis Daniel with any specific mental illness, instead suggesting he potentially suffered from a few. These included ADD and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Soon, Daniel followed in his older brother’s footsteps and began abusing drugs. He escalated from over the counter medicines to just about anything he could get his hands on. Barbara believes he was self-medicating with substances.

That makes sense considering at school Daniel wasn’t offered much in the way of mental health treatment. There was no compassion or understanding when he got in trouble. There were only punitive measures like detention.

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An Ineffective System Led to Daniel’s Death

Of course that’s a vast oversimplification. Death from substance abuse and mental illness isn’t due to any single factor. Rather, it’s an amalgamation of several factors. In Daniel’s case, the largest was the incredibly ineffective mental health system in schools, jails, and even institutions.

And he wasn’t alone. Close to 9 million Americans suffer from a co-occurring disorder. Only 7%, or 630,000 people, are treated for both. While that number seems high, consider that 56%, or almost 5 and a half million people, are treated for neither.

Okay, let’s think about this for a second. There are 9 million people who’re struggling with both addiction and mental illness. Close to 5 and a half million receive no treatment at all. For either. That’s negligent in the extreme.

child dies of drug overdose
image via The Addict’s Mom

What about those with mental illness in jails and institutions? Well, according to the US Department of Justice, 56% of those in state prisons suffer from mental health issues. 45% of those in federal prison and 64% of those in jail suffer from mental health issues.

Those are incredibly large numbers. Something isn’t right here. In fact, something is very, very wrong.

That’s where The Addict’s Mom is focusing the majority of their advocacy. Among other tactics, they’ve submitted a bill to the Florida State Congress that would make it illegal to arrest an individual who’s currently in a psych ward.

The bill is born from Barbara’s direct experience. In late 2014, Daniel was receiving care from the psychiatric unit in St. Lucie Medical Center. While there, he allegedly assaulted a security officer.

The assault landed Daniel in jail and triggered to a chain of events which culminated in his death in April.

Barbara isn’t alone in her loss. Many members of The Addict’s Mom have lost children to either addiction or mental illness. Sherry Schlenke, one of these mothers, had a son who struggled with heroin addiction for twenty years before passing away a year and a half ago.

Barbara, Sherry, and the rest of those involved in the Florida chapter of The Addict’s Mom sent a letter to the legal team that prosecuted Daniel. In it, Barbara wrote,

“All I can do now is tell his story to the world in the hopes that I am able to make the smallest change in a broken system that houses the mentally ill in violent jails” (Gant Daily).

Small or not, some change is desperately needed. Let’s just hope it comes soon.

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