All posts by Always Hope

Relapse Stages

There are often a number of warning signs that precede a relapse. If a person is aware of these 3 common relapse stages they have a better chance of reversing their thinking and can prevent and actual relapse. 

Usually emotional relapse occurs first, this is identified when habits and actions are happening that aren’t healthy. Usually at this point a person isn’t thinking about using or drinking but they are behaving in a way that can threaten their sobriety. Examples are: isolation, unhealthy eating, lack of sleep, easily angered, and bottling up emotions. These are warning signs but they can be addressed easily; connect socially with friends, family or people that have your best interest in mind, eat better and drink lots of water, make an effort to get enough sleep and exercise and be kind to yourself. 

Mental relapse is usually the next stage. One starts romanticizing past use while forgetting the chaos and pain it caused. You may start hanging out with old “friends” and in places that are triggers. Considering and bargaining with oneself that “one more drink or drug won’t hurt me”. This is also the stage and time when one is usually visualizing where and when they will get high or drunk again. It’s at this relapse stage that reaching out to someone for help is crucial. A friend, family member, or a professional that understands addiction is extremely beneficial. 

Call me at 1-829-932-0123 at anytime if you need to talk. 

The last of the relapse stages is physical relapse. It occurs when one is actively planning and seeking out drugs or alcohol. If you are calling your dealer, driving to a liquor store, lying to loved ones so you can be alone you are usually within minutes or seconds of full relapse. Unless a great coincidence happens and the right person calls you or interrupts your thoughts during this small window in time a relapse is almost certain. Hopefully you or a loved one can recognize what’s going on and help you get back on the path of healthy recovery. 

I and many others have said often that we all have a relapse available to us but recovery isn’t guaranteed. The next relapse could unfortunately lead to jails, institutions or death. Please reach out to me or anyone you trust if you are struggling with active addiction or if you are on the verge of relapse. 

Rehab Cost and Benefits

Rehab cost is often one of the first questions asked when someone is inquiring about addiction help. I realize that $ is an important factor but there is much more to consider when deciding where to go for help such as location, individual attention, the program offered and availability.

First in reference to the cost of rehab I’ll try and put it into perspective. For example a 2 week all inclusive resort can likely cost $3000-$5000 or more so it’s a similar price but rehab will include professional counseling instead of “all you can drink”. Rehab is also a step in the right direction for recovery by helping the individual deal with underlying issues vs hoping that a 2 week break from reality might be the cure.

It is also noticeable as the years pass that an investment in your health is cheaper than most funerals. Even though I’m only mid 40’s it seems that a handful of classmates and acquaintances are dying from overdoses and suicides every year now. The financial cost of death is small in comparison to the emotional cost to friends and families.

Location, individual attention and the type of program offered can differ greatly between all rehabs. During this past month I was blessed to visit a rehab that held open meetings. It was unfortunate to see that the facility was almost full capacity (25-30 people) but it was also great to see that those individuals were seeking help. It was sad to see that some of them weren’t getting the 1-1 counseling they deserved, but it was nice to see the social connections they were making which would help keep  them from isolation in the future.

There is no “one size fits all” rehab and so Always Hope was designed to be a different option. We offer 1-1 counseling for an hour 5 days a week, the program is tailored to the individual and the cost is similar or less than most private rehabs. We allow you to determine the length of stay, any timeframe over 2 weeks is feasible. If you or a loved one is looking for a different option for addiction help we may be able to help.

Call or message 1-829-932-0123 and we will help you start on your road to recovery.

Paradise found: a rehab like no other (testimonial)

Paradise found: I came to Always Hope at a low point in my life.  Five days into my two week stay at my house in Cabarete, having escaped the northeast winter as I do every year, I was still living a life which revolved around anticipating, using and recovering from a daily intake of alcohol, much as I had done for the past 25 years or so in the states.  I was in the throes of my addiction,  my life closing in around alcohol, and wanting to stop all the time.  I thought about going to AA, going into rehab, etc., but I did not, could not take the first step.  It was the stage 4 cancer diagnosis I received at the end of 2021 which was my “rock bottom” in which I realized I may very well die, but I will definitely die, sooner rather than later, if I don’t stop NOW!  But here I was in the DR, still doing the same old thing.

 Finally,  one late night I googled “rehab in Cabarete” and came upon “Always Hope”.  I immediately called the next day and was answered by a human ,  Roger, the owner.   He answered my questions about his program, in a measured , soft spoken manner, and did not say too much, though I noted a calm voice, which I found reassuring.  I detected a heart.  Though there was no hard sell here, almost a benign indifference.  “Take it or leave it” he seemed to say.   He told me about local AA meetings which he offered to meet me at.  But I knew I probably wouldn’t get there on my own, and I needed help to get away from the alcohol. So without any real hesitation or investigation, and with no real options (there was no Dr. Bob to lock me in a room), I requested that he take me in.  He came the next day to pick me up.


The location is a well appointed, modest sized villa with a large terraced pool in a luxury gated community between Sosua and Cabarete.  I was immediately greeted by his friendly wife  Shauna and their son,  then shown to my private  room and bath in a separate area overlooking the pool terrace.  I quickly felt at home.  I soon realized I was the only “visitor”, something which at first made me a little nervous, but which I soon came to relish.    It was my first day of sobriety in 25 years and had no idea how it would go.  But I was in a low-key, quiet, relaxing place away from alcohol.  Even there are no locks on the door, I knew I was safe.  And off to my first meeting later that day.  Once I made that first break, I never looked back.

  
 The program at “Always Hope” is deceptively simple, almost minimalist in style.  The structure being daily 1 hour counseling sessions, two or three weekly AA meetings “off-campus, and study guides and literature provided by Roger to take yourself through a kind of self-guided 12 step program.   At first I felt like I needed more help and structure.  Being the only patron (the max is 3), I didn’t have any people to share experiences with and I worried a wouldn’t benefit from the interaction with other addicts in and out of various groups, as you would in a typical rehab.  But I soon realized the peace and introspection that came without having to deal with other people’s baggage, and the ability to really focus on my recovery, in such a pleasant, peaceful space.     ( I also soon realized that I would get plenty of feedback, sharing, and meeting other “people like me” in the AA meetings.).

Roger and his wife are always there, but almost in the background, present and available to talk to when needed, but otherwise pleasantly and “quietly” going about their lives.  Roger is quick to point out that he is not a counselor, but he was a good sounding board and shared his own experiences with addiction and recovery when appropriate.  I soon realized that Roger’s function for me was like that of a host, or tour guide;  helping me navigate through the process of my own new found sobriety in a congenial, unobtrusive, and relaxed  manner.  Going to my first AA  meetings with him was major a life changing experience.  Having avoided and been afraid to go for so many years, I needed that personal escort.  Once there, I quickly embraced and became emerged the AA program.  A life long skeptic and atheist, I  soon realized that AA would be essential to my long-term sobriety.    

Daily  runs and casual chats with Shauna, and movie night, focused on addiction movies, were some recreational highlights.   The unrestricted use of my phone and IPad was also much appreciated, as I did not want to place my life on hold.  In fact, for me, one of the chief therapeutic aspects of the program was the ability  to experience elements of my life and some of the daily stressors sober, within the confines of a safe place.  A kind of “exposure” therapy.    Shopping trips with the host, which entailed walking past the liquor aisles, also served in this regard, as well preparing my own meals, which I had normally done drunk.   Though food is provided and there is easy access to the kitchen, Shauna is happy to prepare meals upon request. This is not the place for 4 star resort service, however, and you are expected to basically clean up after yourself, do your own laundry, etc., which is all part of the process.   

Though most of my time was spent at the Villa, customized outings were arranged.    I was able to visit my house several times and tend to my chores, chickens and dog, without alcohol being part of the picture.  That was hugely therapeutic.  The most important thing was to be able to stop drinking, and begin my AA experience, and I could not have done it without  “Always Hope “.  I will forever be grateful.

5 Foods to help during recovery from addiction

Every substance that gets abused has its own set of specific effects on health. Many drugs or alchohol have similar impacts on a person’s ability to get all the nutrients necessary for health in recovery. Those who abuse any drug or alcohol are likely to experience vitamin and nutrient deficiency. 

Water is most important. While the body can withstand lack of food or malnutrition for weeks, if not longer. Dehydration quickly becomes a matter of life or death. Water makes up the majority of the human body and plays vital roles in nearly every function. Examples include helping brain function, improving mood, flushing out toxins and transferring nutrients through the body. 

Bananas contain a lot of tryptophan, this is an amino acid that’s not absorbed easily when using drugs and alcohol. Tryptophan is essential in the formation of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which promotes relaxation and proper sleep.

Yogurt is full of probiotics. Alcohol and opiates will disrupt your gastrointestinal system, which is why constipation and diarrhea are so common. Probiotics will help normalize the digestive tract.

Vegetables in general, contain a range of essential vitamins. During active addiction, improper nutrition absorption, along with a poor diet, causes malnutrition, but a vegetable-rich diet helps to restore proper nutrition levels. Vegetables will also help to improve skin and hair health, which commonly deteriorates during active addiction. Foods like papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, pineapple and oranges are all high in vitamin C and many other vitamins. Load up!

Garlic tastes good on almost everything. You can put it on pastas, in bread, on meats, on vegetables, and more. Not only does it taste great, but it is also good for your body. Garlic is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It will help to clean your liver, and it will help to restore some of the damage in your body. Plus, it supports your immune system, improves bone health, and helps to regulate your blood pressure. Garlic is like a wonder drug disguised as food.

These are just examples of some of common foods (and water) that are readily available and can help speed up the recovery process. At Always Hope the food on this list is usually organically grown, and fresher than you could find in most rehab locations. Most are available year round in tropical Dominican Republic. 

Reflection as I age

As I turned 44 years old I did some reflection and there was a time when I was concerned about if I would make it to 40 or even 35 years of age.  


Many blessings and adventures have come my way since giving up drugs and alcohol. The list is endless but some of the bigger achievements I have witnessed and at 1 point never thought possible are…


Family is still by my side. (Anyone that knows me realizes how great and supportive my family is)

Saw my oldest son graduate high school and my youngest graduate from middle school. (I used to hope I’d witness this)

Live in a new country. (Many dream of this but few are brave enough to try)


I never know what the future holds but at least I have many things to look forward to. Life may have thrown me a few lemons (obstacles) to test me but I’m not special in that regard as all of us have issues to face daily. 

Everyone has a past and challenges that they need to overcome and it is worth the effort to try and make another day of memories. I try now to take it one day at a time cause the best present  is being “present” in the moment. 

Addiction is a Pandemic

Addiction doesn’t take a break just because of a worldwide pandemic. The issues and consequences of active addiction haven’t decreased during this time but have unfortunately actually increased. Physical abuse to self and others, crime etc have been rising during this pandemic. This is because alcohol and drugs “seem” like a viable solution or alternative to dealing with this new reality (Coronavirus) but in an unhealthy way.

Always Hope has remained open and taken the necessary steps and precautions to help those wishing to deal with their addictions. Our unique rehab which only takes a maximum of 3 quests at a time helps maintain social distancing. This also gives you the opportunity heal in a safe environment. Plus decreased exposure to those possibly infected.

Air travel has also resumed to the Dominican Republic and measures are in place at airports to perform rapid tests upon arriving. We at Always Hope are and will continue to be available to help those struggling with addiction. Don’t suffer alone, there is no better time to begin your road to recovery.

Call or text 1-829-932-0123 today for more info. 

Free Rehab

UPDATED JULY 1,2020 *THIS OFFER IS UNFORTUNATELY NOT AVAILABLE ANYMORE DUE TO THE FACT THAT FLIGHTS ARE COMING INTO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AGAIN. THE OFFER WAS TO HELP DURING THE COVID-19 AND THE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS*

I’ll try and make this short and to the point; free rehab online was available to anyone interested. Due to social distancing and the need for all to self isolate so the spread of this pandemic ends. We at Always Hope wanted to still help those still suffering in active addiction, or anyone who wants to learn more about what someone may learn at rehab. 

We were willing to email out all our literature and program info to anyone that contacted me through Facebook, text, phone call or email.  There are 33 different assignments or reading info

1-829-932-0123

contact@always-hope.ca

I realize this didn’t give you the 1-1 counselling but I personally am also always available for any questions, calls or videochats. 
This wasn’t ideal or a cure all but I wanted to do my part to help while we all struggled through these trying times. I hope this helped those that took advantage of this offer when it was still available.

Take care

Roger Palsma owner of Always Hope

Honesty and addiction

Many of us began our addictions out of curiosity. But if we truly look at it with honesty we can find a way to recover. Some of us became involved because of a justifiable need for a prescription drug (such as my story) or as an act of deliberate rebellion. Many began this path when barely older than children. Whatever our motive for starting and our circumstances, we soon discovered that the addiction relieved more than just physical pain. Our drug of choice provided stimulation or numbed painful feelings or moods. It helped us avoid the problems we faced— or so we thought.

For a while, we felt free of fear, worry, loneliness, discouragement, regret, or boredom. But because life is full of the conditions that prompt these kinds of feelings, we resorted to our addictions more and more often. Still, most of us failed to recognize or admit that we had lost the ability to resist and abstain on our own. 

Call or message 1-829-932-0123 for assistance

Rarely do people caught in addictive behaviours admit to being addicted, this is the very nature of the disease of addiction. It tells us we can handle it. To deny the seriousness of our condition and to avoid detection and the consequences of our choices, we tried to minimize or hide our behaviours. We did not realize that by deceiving others and ourselves, we slipped deeper into our addictions. As our powerlessness over addiction increased, many of us found fault with family, friends,  and even God. We plunge into greater and greater isolation, separating ourselves from others, especially from our loved ones.

When we, as addicts, resorted to lies and secrecy, hoping to excuse ourselves or blame others, we probably became isolated physically and emotionally from those who could not understand us. With each act of dishonesty, we fell deeper into the depths of our addiction, using more to hide our feelings. Then a time came when we were brought face to face with reality. We could no longer hide our addictions by telling one more lie or by saying, “It’s not that bad!”. We call this our bottom and it is a place where we feel totally alone, helpless, hopeless and useless.  A loved one, a close friend, a doctor, a judge, or someone else we trust may have told us the truth we could no longer deny. That addiction was destroying our lives.

Honesty with ourselves first

When we honestly looked at the past, we admitted that nothing we had tried on our own had worked. We acknowledged that the addiction had only gotten worse. We realized how much our addictions had damaged relationships and robbed us of any sense of self-worth. At this point, we took the first step toward freedom and recovery by finding courage to admit that we were not just dealing with a problem or a bad habit. We finally admitted the truth that our lives had become unmanageable and that we needed help to overcome our addictions. We found the courage to ask for help.  The amazing thing about this honest realization of defeat was that recovery finally began.

Honesty with ourselves is possibly the hardest thing. It may be because we can and do get away with lying to everyone else. But we always know our truths. 

Am I completely ready to be honest with myself to the very best of my ability!

Forgiveness and recovery

ALWAYS HOPE – FORGIVENESS

Forgiving is difficult, but perhaps we make it more difficult to forgive ourselves or others because we don’t understand the task. It is not necessarily to bring ourselves to the point that we can agree with the person whom we feel injured by, or to say that what we experienced was really alright, or that the other person did not make a mistake, or injure us in one way or another.

Call or message 1-829-932-0123 for assistance

Forgiveness is really freeing ourselves of bitterness and resentment, and thus allowing ourselves to cultivate our best impulses as well as the best impulses in others.

Forgiveness is a “letting go”. It feels like a relief, a new serenity, and a sense of spiritual power that assists us to deal with emotions that poison our own personalities and relationships.

To “let go” doesn’t mean to stop caring but to realize what we are responsible for and what we are not responsible for. I am responsible for my own thoughts, actions, attitudes and feelings. I am not responsible for anyone else’s thoughts, actions, attitudes and feelings. It is only when I realize this truth that I am able to respond to others in a truthful and responsible manner.

I cannot learn for another, or control another and it doesn’t help me to blame another, or try to force another to change. My attempts to fix another’s problems will end in failure and it doesn’t help me to sit in judgment upon another, or to deny another’s reality. Destructive criticism, nagging, scolding or arguing never serves to heal my own or others’ hurts.

Letting Go

Letting go often means allowing others, as well as myself to learn from the natural consequences of actions. If I can accept reality, recognizing that being human means being imperfect, I may find that I can be supportive and encouraging to another person, even if I am unable to understand their actions. If I can see my own weakness and strength then Ican be more tolerant of others shortcomings and more appreciative of their strengths.

There is evil in this world. It is not possible to be aware of myself without recognizing the things that are destructive to human society, and that often affect me or someone I care about in a personal way. If I hold bitterness and resentment I contribute to this destructiveness, and have less, if any, positive influence on my world.

If I can let go of my past disappointments and hurts, and begin to live for my present moment I can, by invitation, have some influence, however small, on the future of the human race.

Forgiving is hard work and it requires us to search ourselves, honestly, but gently. It takes some time, but needn’t take a whole life time. It begins with a decision to make the effort, and it requires that we forgive ourselves first. Guilt-ridden people are not able to be very flexible or receptive to new ideas. Human growth requires an open mind, a flexible attitude and a belief in the ultimate possibility of goodness. This, in essence, is what love stands for. Love does not eliminate sadness from our lives, but neither does sadness interfere with joy. These two emotions can abide within us side by side, and still allow us to experience the fulfillment that comes with a purposeful life.

Call or message 1-829-932-0123 for assistance

Forgiving is not forgetting, it is letting go of the hurt!

There is a line in “The Prayer of St. Francis” that goes like this “In order to be forgiven we must forgive”

Willingness and Hitting Rock Bottom

Importance of Willingness in Recovery Determination to Stay Sober:

If people do not have a strong desire for sobriety, it will be hard for them to maintain it. It is possible for the individual to get sober to please other people, but such recoveries tend to be short-lived. This is because staying away from alcohol and drugs is hard if people are not fully willing to do all that it takes. In order to build a successful life away from alcohol and drugs, the individual needs to be prepared to put in a great deal of effort. Those who lack willingness will not be able to summon the necessary determination. My personal experience is that willingness was key.

Call or message 1-829-932-0123 for more info or help

Willingness Defined:

Willingness can be defined as being eagerly compliant. It means doing something out of choice and not because of coercion. When people become willing to do something, it means their minds become more open and receptive. They may consider doing things that in the past may have appeared objectionable. Willingness means embracing change rather than fighting it.

Lack of Willingness and Recovery:

It is not possible for people to find success in recovery unless they are willing to put in the necessary effort. This is because such personal change will not occur unless the individual gives their permission for it to happen. Addiction is driven by a strong urge to escape reality and hide in chemical numbness. In order for recovery to take hold, there needs to be a powerful driving force supporting it. This power is provided by the willingness to change.

Reasons for Lack of Willingness in Recovery:

There are a number of reasons for why the individual may lack the willingness to stay sober:

Some people will enter recovery because they feel coerced in some way. They may have decided to accept help because of pressure from family and friends and not because they really want to be sober. This usually means that this individual will be using recovery as a way to buy time. As soon as they feel that it is safe for them to return to their addiction they will do so.

Many addicts suffer from ambivalence.  This means that they have feelings, thoughts and attitudes that are contradictory. They may have a strong desire to enter recovery and escape the pain of addiction while at the same time having a strong desire to continue with the alcohol or drug abuse. Until this ambivalence towards substance abuse is resolved, it will be difficult for the individual to summon enough resolve to finally quit their addiction.

Some individuals have un-realistically high expectations of their recovery, and they become disappointed when things do not happen as expected. This disappointment may mean that their willingness to stay sober begins to wane. It takes time to rebuild a life away from alcohol and drugs, and if people have expectations that are too high, they will be let down.

The individual can become stuck in their recovery, and this is a drain on their willingness. The usual reason for why people become stuck is that they are faced with a problem that they do not want to deal with. Until they face this challenge, there can be no further progress. Instead the individual either relapses or becomes a dry drunk.

Sometimes, people in recovery will start off with a great deal of determination, but then run out of steam. This can occur if they develop the “pink cloud syndrome”. What happens is that people can become so joyful at escaping their addiction that they lost touch with reality. Staying sober begins to feel effortless, so the individual begins to take it for granted. When the pink cloud ends, and people are once again faced with reality, they can find it hard to summon up the willingness to get back on track. If the individual has expectations of recovery that are too low, they may be willing to settle for very little. This is a real shame because sobriety offers some wonderful opportunities for those people who have enough willingness and determination.

Memory can be a treacherous thing sometimes. People can forget how miserable things were at the end of their addiction. They can start to think back to those days when it felt like alcohol or drugs brought them pleasure. This is known as romancing the drinking or drugging, and it can sap the willingness to stay sober if it is allowed to continue unchecked.

Some individuals will have other mental health problems as well as their addiction. If people have untreated depression or another dual diagnosis, they will find it difficult to maintain their willingness to stay sober. This is because this other condition will make recovery unsatisfying and prevent progress.

Willingness and Hitting Rock Bottom

Rock bottom is sometimes described as reaching a point where the individual is, sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. There is no reason for why people need to lose everything in order to hit their rock bottom. They just need to reach a point where they have had enough. Some individuals will hit their rock bottom without losing very much at all. It is like going down in an elevator. It is up to the passenger to decide where they want to get off. There is absolutely no benefit from staying in the lift all the way to the bottom, because this means death.

Once the individual has fully decided that they have had enough of addiction they will have be willing to do what it takes to escape. This willingness is a force that provides them with the energy to take the correct steps to end the addiction. It means that they will be ready to make use of available resources such as rehab, therapists or addiction fellowships.

Willingness and the 12 Steps

In 12 Step groups such as A.A., N.A., or C.A, they emphasize that the member needs to be willing to go to any lengths to stay clean and/or sober. It is not possible for the individual to complete the 12 steps unless they have a high degree of willingness. This is because it involves taking action that the addicted mind would rebel against. The member never graduates from these 12 Step programs, so this willingness will need to be something they are able to maintain indefinitely.

Willingness and HOW, HOW is an acronym for what is needed to find success when using a self-help group. The acronym stands for:

  • Honesty
  • Open-mindedness
  • Willingness

Here, willingness is viewed as being ready to change and take risks in order to find happiness.

The Key to Willingness in Recovery

Willingness can insure success in recovery from addiction. These are its major components:

If the individual is truly willing to escape their addiction they will do whatever it takes. It involves having an open mind about any potential resource that can help them. Those who are truly willing do not have a long list of recovery options that they are not even prepared to consider.

Willingness involves a degree of humility. The individual no longer believes that they have all the answers. They are prepared to listen and learn from the experiences of other people.

If the individual is willing to stay sober, they will make this their number-one priority in life. This is because they realize that making a life away from addiction requires a great deal of effort. It will not be achieved overnight. The willing individual will be prepared to devote however long it takes to rebuilding their life.

Those who are willing to escape addiction will want to make the best use of all the available resources that can help them. They will take responsibility for their own recovery and see addiction specialists as partners there to help them. The willing individual does not passively wait for other people to fix them. They take action to make this happen.

Willingness does not mean becoming passive. The individual still needs to question things and make decisions. It does usually mean being a bit more open-minded about possible solutions.