Finding Meaning and Purpose in Recovery

Willie Oswald, founder of Summit Malibu, talks about meaning and purpose in recovery. Check out the latest episode of Sobering Up Summit Malibu to watch.

Program coordinator, Kristin Robert, interviews Willie at the newest Summit house, Summit Vista. Willie shares his experience, strength, and hope in this chat. He also discusses how he ended up working in the field of recovery. As well as the meaning and purpose that he has found in this field.

Willie got sober in 1979 and has worked in the field of recovery since the 80s (for over 35 years). It was never an industry that he thought he would work in, but in the work of helping other addicts, he found purpose in his own life. He found something that he was able you give– his experience, strength and hope. And, through giving this he discovered that he was able to help a lot of people.

This was the foundation for Willie’s career in addiction treatment, and after various other endeavors, around a decade ago Summit was founded. It is the big heart, the passion, and the commitment that Willie has for recovery that is a huge part of Summit. That same feeling and tradition is carried down by the entire staff, and it is this that makes the Summit Team so special. The real heart of what makes Summit Malibu different is its’ people, and Willie is a huge part of that.

Check out the interview here:

Also, follow Summit Malibu on YouTube here:   Summit Malibu YouTube Channel

Addiction Recovery and the Importance of Exercise


Episode Three of Sobering Up Summit Malibu is live!

In this episode, Dr Kim Chronister talks about addiction recovery and the importance of exercise. She talks about how very important exercise is as a part of life. Especially for those that are recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.

Exercise is way more than a way to be healthy. Exercising releases endorphins and hormones that make the body actually feel better. Regular exercise can decrease anxiety, depression, and even high blood pressure. Getting fit does a lot more than make you look good, it also helps you to feel really good. And not just when working out…that feel good mood continues after, and uplifts you throughout the rest of your day. Exercising brings good to the mind and the body.

When beginning recovery exercise is an excellent new habit to begin forming. It is a healthy way to spend the extra hours that are found in a sober day. It is also something that can really make you feel good, and can often make you feel how you have always wanted to feel. It provides the “good” feeling that drinking and drugging promise but fail to deliver. It also really does do the body good and can help speed up the time it takes to be back to feeling like yourself after a relapse, or for the first time in a long time if newly sober.

Exercise is a vital component to a healthy lifestyle. Add in a healthy diet, and positive activities that focus on self-improvement, community, and service. This is a great way to really begin to set the foundation for a future that is worth living. And one that makes you feel pretty spectacular too.

Check out Dr Kim’s Exercise and Addiction Recovery video here:


Please subscribe to Summit Malibu’s YouTube Channel here: Summit Malibu on YouTube

Getting Back to Wellbeing

cloud of words or tags related to vitality or vital energy concept on a vintage slate blackboard isolated on white

Wellbeing in action.

Finding a Healthy Lifestyle

What happens in a luxury rehab can set the tools for a balanced life.

The tools that are learned and the way of life that is set forth in this setting are things that anyone could use to improve their own lifestyle and well-being. These are skills that benefit an entire life. They are for more than the time in treatment. The time that is being focused on beginning recovery and getting off of drugs and alcohol.

Dr Kim Chronister, Summit’s Clinical Director, recently wrote this article about this for  It explains what everyone could learn from the routine in luxury treatment. She explains that the foundations set in treatment are core foundations to living a balanced, meaningful, and healthy life.


Gaining Happiness with Wellbeing

She explains that there is a focus of mindfulness, health, and spirituality. Through this, the three components of meaning/purpose, activity, and connectedness are addressed. These three components are clinically proven in gaining happiness. If anyone implemented even a few of the things on the curriculum of a Mindfulness-based luxury rehab, such as Summit, it would be immensely effective for lifting mood, gaining inner peace, and increasing happiness overall.

You can check out the full article here: What a Luxury Rehab Can Teach Us About Wellbeing.

Maintain a Healthy Balance in Addiction Recovery

It is easy to get caught up in the bustle of life and to stop doing the the things needed to maintain healthy balance. Once off kilter it is so easy to fall into the traps of our negative behaviors, and for addicts and alcoholics that often means falling back into the throes of their addiction.

Relapse really starts before the actual drink or drugging. It shows its’ glaring face in other aspects of life and thought patterns. This is why it is so important to maintain a healthy balance in addiction recovery.

Here are a few warning signs to look out for. When you see these signs in your own life it may be a red flag to get back on track and into a healthy routine.

You Are Perpetually Sick

You Are Super Irritable

You Simply Can’t Concentrate

You Feel Like Everything Is A Chore

You Feel Down In The Dumps

You Experience A Breakdown

You Feel Incredibly Anxious

You Never Take Time For Yourself

You Feel The Days Blurring Together

You Feel Kinda Rundown

You Never Eat A Real Meal

Check out this article to learn more and to see what these signs are really telling you about what’s going on in your life:

11 Signs You Might be Spreading Yourself too Thin

Creating a Healthy Routine when Times are Tough

There are times when life gets hard, and everything seems to be going wrong. It often makes people feel overwhelmed and hopeless. This is particularly true of those suffering from addiction.

But, there are some tools that you can use to make things feel better, and help you to get through the rough times.

Summit’s Clinical Director, Kim Chronister, PsyD, was featured in this article for Bustle, higlighting some great tools to use to turn the tough patches of life around.

The tools include:

Try Something New

Set Intentions Every Morning

Get To Cleanin’

Do The Thing That Scares You

Build Up From Small Changes

Force Yourself To Have Fun

Go Hang Out With Cool People

Fake A Better Attitude

Take Some Time To Assess

Have Yourself A Good Cry

Be All About The Lists

Make A Plan To Reach Your Goals

Remember You Aren’t Alone


Check out the article here to learn more:

13 Ways to Fix Your Life, When it Feels Like Everything is Going Wrong

Every Day is a New Beginning: How to Make it Matter

We cannot erase what we have done or what has happened to us in the past, but holding on to guilt and resentment will hinder emotional and spiritual growth. A negative outlook can lead to anger, hopelessness and eventual relapse.

Instead, approaching each day as a new beginning and a chance to make better choices can foster hope and lead to positive action. Thankfully, there are steps that people can take to consistently incorporate this outlook into their lives.

Develop a Positive Attitude

Sometimes being positive takes work, especially after going through a stressful experience. Try taking an active approach:

  • Meditate or pray. Ask for guidance from a higher power.
  • Think about what makes you happy. Write a gratitude list.
  • Reach out to a friend or other support.
  • Use helpful self-talk. Repeat mantras and affirmations.
  • Remember that you are the only person who can control your thoughts and actions.

Follow a Morning Routine

Having a healthy morning routine and practicing the steps until they become habit will help you start your day off right with minimal conscious effort:

  • Get up when your alarm goes off. Hitting the snooze button will actually make you less productive.
  • Eat a balanced breakfast.
  • Do a mentally stimulating activity, such as working on a crossword puzzle or reading a daily meditation.
  • Get dressed in clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good.
  • Praise yourself for getting through your routine with a positive attitude.

Reflect at the End of the Day

After all of your responsibilities are met and you are winding down, do some honest self-reflection. Take time to assess your thoughts and actions from the day.

It might help to use a set of questions:

  • Did I help anyone today?
  • Did I cause harm to myself or anyone else?
  • What did I do well?
  • What do I need to work on?
  • What were my lessons today?

Make a Plan

Using the information you gathered from your reflections to set an intention and create a plan for the next day. Make a goal and identify steps that you can take toward reaching it. Even if it is not met, having a goal can help you wake up with a sense of purpose the next morning.

Lastly, remember that everyone makes mistakes, and feelings get hurt. The trick to moving on is to find a lesson and make an effort to avoid repeating what happened. Sometimes it takes conscious effort to be positive; having a set of techniques to overcome pessimism and foster growth will make the process a little easier. Incorporate the techniques above and any that you already use to start each day fresh and focus on making progress.

The Four Necessary Aspects of Comprehensive Addiction Recovery

It is no secret that substance abuse takes a toll on an individual, but the damage might not always be obvious. Usually, the problems that stick out are physical symptoms. Even medical issues that are not visible from the outside, such as liver disease and hepatitis, can be observed and are easily measured by medical professionals.

What might not be as evident are three other detrimental effects that active addiction can have on a person. Using also harms a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Therefore, recovery must address all four of these areas, in order to be comprehensive and successful in the long term. The good news is that there is hope. Keep reading to learn the many techniques and resources that are readily available.

The Physical

In active addiction, it is common for people to neglect their medical needs. Start by seeking medical attention for any issues that have not been addressed, and continue with regular check-ups and preventative care.

Maintaining physical wellness over time also requires a healthy routine:

  • Eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day
  • Exercise, which can be as simple as walking)
  • Get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night

The Mental

Prolonged substance abuse can affect the brain and have a negative impact on mental functioning. While some conditions are irreversible or require medication, there are steps you can take to improve clarity and reasoning:

  • Read
  • Play word games
  • Do jigsaw puzzles and other activities that require concentration
  • Perform activities that require hand-eye coordination and improve motor skills
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in caffeine

The Emotional

Regular substance use interferes with a person’s ability to experience and process emotions. Mood swings and anxiety are common in early recovery.

Especially in the beginning, the focus should be on stabilizing moods and learning how to cope with the natural ups and downs of life:

  • Develop a support network
  • Identify triggers
  • Practice coping skills

The Spiritual

The spiritual aspect of addiction and recovery is not necessarily tied to religion. Some people say that they experience an empty feeling, a hole that they were trying to fill by using drugs and alcohol. People sometimes refer to this as a ““spiritual void.”

In order to avoid relapsing or replacing substances with other addictive behaviors, it is important to fill that void with spiritual practices and principles:

  • Pray or reach out to a higher power
  • Meditate and reflect on thoughts and behaviors
  • Connect with other people in recovery
  • Do service work to reach out to help someone else 

Recovery takes effort, and some areas might be harder than others. It is often recommended that people get involved in a 12-step program or Refuge Recovery, as they provide support and tools for lasting recovery. Regardless of your method, the key to maintaining over time is to regularly address the four domains outlined above.

Stop Worring, Calm Anxiety, and Feel More Relaxed

Worry and anxiety can be overwhelming, especially early in recovery from drugs and alcohol. There are ways to ease these feelings and get emotions under control, starting with mindfulness. Some tools that can bring calmness and ease into life include:

Engage In Mindfulness

Embrace Uncertainty

Challenge Your Dichotomous Thinking

Reframe Negative Self-Talk

Challenge Irrational Beliefs

Eat Healthy

Incorporate Relaxation Techniques

Write Your Worries Down

Focus On Something You Can Control

Practice Questioning Your Thoughts

Pretend You’re Relaxed

To learn more about these tools and how to use them please check out this article:

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Reawakening the Senses in Recovery

Regular substance use, no matter what kind, suppresses emotions and interferes with people’s ability to experience what is happening around them. Take a look at the physical implications of prolonged use and learn how to reawaken the senses once the substances leave the body.

Addiction and the Brain

The brain is the hub of all our activities. It regulates the body’s physical functions and is responsible for our thoughts, behaviors and responses to our environment. We need it to walk, talk, think, create and feel.

Drugs affect different parts of the brain by inhibiting its ability to communicate vital information. One area of the brain that is affected is the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for seeing, feeling, hearing and tasting. It is also essential for thinking, planning and making decisions.

Another area is the limbic system, which regulates the ability to feel pleasure and perceive other emotions. Many drugs cause neurons to release abnormally large quantities of dopamine and other pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters. They also disrupt the brain’s ability to regulate these neurotransmitters naturally and lead to a “crash” once the substance leaves the system.

Emotional Tolerance

The beginning stage of recovery is often likened to an “emotional roller coaster” because mood swings are common; however, remaining abstinent and working a program of recovery affords a person the ability to experience and appreciate life’s natural course. Developing coping skills and a support network should be a priority in order to tolerate stressful situations.

It is also important to participate in activities that lead to pleasure and fulfillment. Get together with a group of people who know how to have fun without using substances. Find activities that you enjoy, and pursue them.


One powerful method of using the senses is to practice mindfulness, which is the active process of bringing attention to what is presently happening, both externally and internally. It involves being aware of your surroundings, thoughts and feelings. Try to do so without judging them in order to fully experience the moment.

For example, if you are out in nature, listen for birds chirping or the sound of a stream flowing nearby. Look at colors and shapes. If there is a breeze, focus on how it feels on your skin. Pick up a stone or touch the bark of a tree, paying attention to the texture. Notice your internal reactions to what is around you. Maybe you are feeling peaceful, or perhaps you are nervous about running into an animal.

During meals, pay attention to the aroma of your food. Take time to taste each bite. Is the food sour, sweet, salty or spicy? Observe the texture before you chew.

Early recovery can be overwhelming, and learning how to tolerate feelings should be a priority. It is then time to use the skills you have learned to find pleasure throughout your recovery. Make an effort to pay attention to everyday activities and look for new opportunities to find fulfillment.