Interview with Kito Holtzman
As CEO of Canyon Vista Recovery Center, Kito Holtzman spends his days facilitating and fine tuning the processes used to help those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction turn their lives around. This is a mission that resonates with him on a personal level, since Holtzman is in recovery himself.
Recently, Holtzman to volunteered to share some advice on moving forward with your recovery after relapse.
1. Life Is About Change
Making the decision to seek treatment is a monumental step, even if it’s not your first time addressing your struggle with addiction. The uncertainty of not knowing what’s ahead can be scary, but you need to embrace this change to find out who you were meant to become.
“Everyone creates an identity that they carry around thinking this is who they are, but life is about living many incarnations,” Holtzman said. “Give yourself permission to loosen the grip on the identity that you’ve created for yourself and to allow yourself to become the person you know deep down you can be. Reaching your full potential is all about being open to change. I never imagined myself as a CEO, but now I have a chance to help people in recovery grow and change each day.”
2. Recovery Is a Journey
When you finish residential treatment, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’ve been “cured” of your substance use disorder. Although you may be feeling better physically and emotionally, addiction is a chronic illness that requires a continuous plan of care.
“What happens after treatment can be as important as what happens during treatment, Holtzman said. “At Canyon Vista, we take great pride in making sure that we have a solid aftercare plan in place to help clients effectively manage and maintain their sobriety.”
“Addiction is an insidious disease,” he added. “Your brain is constantly trying to trick you into thinking you don’t have a problem. The first year of sobriety is the hardest, but the risk of relapse is always going to be there. Stay safe by continuing to work the program, talking to your sponsor, and helping others with their own recovery journey.”
3. Take Life One Moment at a Time
Life is a series of small moments that form a larger story. When you’re under the influence, you miss out on the good, the bad, and the ordinary. Moving forward after relapse means making the decision to be present for each moment.
“When I was in active addiction, I felt dull and not alive,” Holtzman said. “Now that I’m sober, I’m connected to the moment no matter what I’m doing. Whether I’m hiking, surfing, reading to my daughter, or writing reports in my office, I’m 100% present and accountable. When you’re dealing with an addiction, you don’t realize everything that you’re missing out on. Even something as simple as taking a shower can become an experience when you are present.”
4. Finding Balance Is Essential
Being in recovery is a juggling act. You have lots of different responsibilities to manage, but it’s up to you to figure out how to best balance the different aspects of your life.
“If I had to identify one single factor that increases the risk of relapse, I would say it’s a lack of balance that leads to stress,” Holtzman said. “You can’t make your life all about just one thing. You need time for work, family, friends, and fun. Make recovery a part of your life, but not your whole life. Try new hobbies, interests, and passions to promote neuroplasticity. When you’re creating new neural circuits, you’re keeping the brain young and giving yourself the tools you need to deal with stress and other life challenges.”
5. There’s No Shame in Asking for Help
In a perfect world, addiction treatment would be 100% effective on the first try. Unfortunately, life is complicated and even the most well-intentioned people make mistakes. If you’ve relapsed, it’s important to keep a positive attitude.
“Add this to your life experiences and use it as a chance to learn and grow,” Holtzman said. “Brush yourself off, hold your head high, and remember that addiction is a disease. Addicts often think they know everything, but none of us have all the answers all of the time. There’s no shame in relapse, so ask for the help you need to get back on track. Then, use what you’ve learned to be of service to others who are in recovery.”
6. When It Comes to Rebuilding Trust, Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Often, the hardest part of moving forward after relapse is knowing that you’ve disappointed the people you care the most about. However, you can take some comfort in knowing that rebuilding trust is possible if you’re willing to put forward the effort.
“It takes time to rebuild relationships, so be patient with your loved ones and yourself,” Holtzman said. “Remember that actions speak louder than words. Someone who is struggling with addiction is full of excuses and empty promises. Show you’re serious about your recovery by taking action to help them feel comfortable trusting you. This might mean agreeing to weekly urine tests or allowing someone to have access to your computer and phone. Ask what will help the people you care about feel comfortable trusting you, then give them what they need.”