Friday, May 12, 2017

Why Was I Denied my Driver’s License at the Hearing?

Many clients believe that they cannot get the drivers’ license back because it costs a lot of money and it’s very difficult. Some of the clients simply give up because that have received prior denials and they simply don’t know how to even decipher the jargon of the denial letter. It’s a big mistake to think that it is impossible to get your driver’s license back and to give up. A few things need to take place for a person to get their driver’s license or RDP (Restricted Driving Permit) after a denial of driving privileges issued by the Secretary of State Office.

First of all, you need to have a good evaluation prepared by an experienced evaluator. Everything in this evaluation has to be consistent and the evaluation cannot have any discrepancies. A good evaluator takes into account client’s drinking and drug use history, prior evaluations, significant other interviews, treatment verification, etc.

Secondly, an evaluator needs to spend time with a client going over his or her denial letter and reconciling those discrepancies between what the client had said in his prior evaluation and what he or she stated during the hearing. Many clients do not understand the process of the hearing and a good evaluator will go over everything and explain the nuances of the documents, hearing preparation process and mistakes that the client made during the hearing. The difficult language of the denial letter should not be a barrier to applying for another hearing. The more time passes the more difficult it is for the client to relearn all the information both from the evaluation as well as from his treatment. The client needs to take the time to prepare for the hearing adequately and this will ensure that he or she will be approved for a permit or a full license reinstatement.

There are many reasons why the client would receive a denial letter after the hearing. One of the reasons is being inconsistent with the drinking and drug use history. It is imperative that the person memorizes his or her evaluation and reports exactly what’s in the evaluation during the hearing. Many clients don’t understand how they could possibly remember their life drinking and drug use history and they think that they’re not expected to memorize it. Another reason for the denial is a lack of understanding of the symptoms of substance use disorder. Clients either underreport or overreport their symptoms. This is due to the fact that they do not understand the meaning of the symptoms. This problem could be easily overcome by spending time with a client and going over their symptoms and explaining the language that is being used during the hearing. Many clients underreport their symptoms due to fear of further legal consequences or over report their symptoms due to being coached by their well-meaning friends. Clients’ friends sometimes have similar circumstances with denial letters and believe that over-reporting is what the Secretary of State is actually looking for in granting an RDP or a full license. Clients are being coached by their friends receiving incorrect information and repeating some mistakes over and over again. Admitting to too many symptoms is not helpful and creates additional difficulties for the evaluator and the client alike. The third reason for denial is receiving incomplete or inaccurate treatment verification from a treatment provider. Since some treatment providers don’t perform drug and alcohol assessments they don’t communicate with an assessor who completes such evaluations. Clients also don’t understand their treatment verification and can’t explain the discrepancies between their treatment level completed and their symptoms. Some treatment providers don’t adequately explain the additional treatment requirements and dependency and non-dependency issues. This creates a problem for a future evaluator, especially if the client considers himself or herself non-dependent, but his or her treatment verification states that he or she is dependent. The fourth reason for denial is a lack of solid support system, that assures the Secretary of State Office that the client maintains sobriety. Clients are often told by providers to attend self-help groups but they don’t adhere to the recommendations. If they don’t have a specially designated support system, either traditional or non-traditional, it would be impossible for them to obtain either an RDP or full license privileges.

These are just some reasons for denials during the hearing process. There are many more that have to do with minimizations when filling out questionnaires or incomplete paperwork from significant others/friends or self-help groups. The more seriously we take the process of the reinstatement, the better we will be prepared when we go to the actual hearing. The best advice is, to be honest during your evaluation, memorize the evaluation after it is completed and present the same information during the hearing.


Anna Jankowska MA LCPC CADC

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Why Does the Fifty Shades Movie Look Like Domestic Abuse?

To those who aren’t fully familiar with Fifty Shades of Grey, the book and film may come across as just some woman’s fantasy of meeting a rich, good looking man, who looks after their every need. However, it goes much deeper than that. The situations portrayed in the film are too similar to ones many women do experience in real life, but it’s not a happy ending. They are situations involving controlling men for their own pleasure.

Christian Grey may be a handsome millionaire, but beneath the surface, he is a deeply disturbed man whose dark past dictates his relationships. The story begins with him stalking Anastasia Steele after she interviews him. Eventually, he pushes a contract onto Ana that says he will have complete control over her, including when they have sex and what she will eat. He takes her virginity with no emotional attachment whatsoever as if he is doing her a favor. She may be willing, but he knows how naïve Ana is. He has also snuck into her apartment and questions her about her friends.

What do Researchers Say about Emotional & Domestic Abuse in the movie?

An analysis by researchers showed there was emotional abuse and sexual violence taking place in almost every interaction between the two characters*. During a time when it is trying to be taught that “no means no,” that certainly isn’t the case in Fifty Shades. Ana protests at some of the Christian’s actions. He responds by threatening to tie her feet up and gag her too. Of course, it is assumed this is okay because she signed a contract, but we know that it most certainly is not. He threatens to punish her, all for his sexual gratification. He will “take” her when he is angry and use alcohol to lower Ana’s inhibitions. Yet, Christian somehow gets away with it, presumably for being rich and handsome and deeply sexual.

Stalking, dictating what you eat, who your friends are, insistence on being ready for sex whenever they want, and physical harm for sexual pleasure despite being told “no” are all situations that someone may experience with domestic abuse. The feelings, or confusion of, that Ana experiences are also a typical victim of domestic abuse behavior. She “obeys”, then says she can’t and won’t put up with it, following with her declaring her love for him, even after getting the beating of a lifetime with a belt in a room that is meant for sexual play, but resembles more of a Tudor torture chamber.

Fictional But Troubling for Domestic Abuse Victims

There are many fans of Fifty Shades who say they know it is a work of fiction, yet still swoon over Christian Grey, declaring him romantic for all his stalking/break-ins/beatings. Shockingly, there are even excuses made for him due to his disturbing past. This isn’t the message that women should be getting. Yes, it is a work of fiction, and the idea of domestic abuse was probably not the intention of the author of the book, but the situations are not a fantasy for many women who have found themselves a victim of domestic abuse.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Commercial Drivers Held to a Higher Standard When It Comes to Driving Under the Influence

Drivers with a commercial driver’s license have much stricter regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the minimum standards for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), but the issuance and administration of the CDL remains a function of the state. Most states do follow the FMCSA regulations when it comes to impaired driving. A commercial DUI is serious business.

Drivers who fall under the FMCSA regulations include:

  • Owners of commercial vehicles
  • Federal, state and local governments
  • Private motor carriers
  • For-hire motor carriers
  • Non-profit or civic organizations
  • Churches

According to the FMSCA, there is no exception for volunteer drivers. A person who is driving the church bus, but does not get paid to do so, is included in the scope and intent of the CDL regulations. Compensation is irrelevant when it comes to commercial drivers.


Blood Alcohol Limits for Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers have more responsibility when they are behind the wheel. Their cargo might be passengers or hazardous material. An accident would pose a serious risk to public safety. The FMCSA sets a 0.04 percent blood alcohol content limit for commercial drivers. In addition, commercial drivers are not supposed to drive a commercial vehicle for four hours following a drink of alcohol.

Commercial drivers give consent to testing by driving a commercial motor vehicle. This is called implied consent. Refusing to take a chemical or breath test will almost certainly result in an automatic license suspension. The FMCSA holds that a refusal to take the BAC test is the equivalent of pleading guilty to a DUI. It does no good to refuse a BAC test.


DUI Penalties

In accidents involving commercial vehicles, law enforcement can administer a BAC test to the driver, but the employer will almost certainly request the driver be tested for controlled substances under FMCSA §382.303. Should a driver have a concentration of 0.04 percent BAC or higher, not only does the driver face criminal and administrative penalties as any driver would who is facing a commercial DUI, but the penalties are much higher. For example, it could result in a 1-year disqualification. It might take 10 years before the driver would be eligible for reinstatement for a major violation of CDL regulations.

In addition, commercial drivers are required to report any traffic violation to their employer, even if the incident occurs on personal time. A DUI conviction could prevent a person from maintaining employment, should his or her license get revoked or suspended for a DUI. The stakes are much higher for drivers with a CDL when they drive after drinking alcohol.


Commercial DUI Charges Are Serious

Commercial drivers may live in one state and drive all across the country. Dealing with a DUI in a state where you do not live can be even more difficult than having to face charges in your own hometown. Commercial drivers face the same penalties as non-commercial drivers who receive a DUI, but a commercial DUI can destroy a career. It would be beneficial to consult with an attorney before making decisions about the future.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can a Drug Test Lead to a False Positive?

Types of Drug Testing

Drug testing is becoming increasingly common during the job application process, as part of random workplace drug testing, and as a condition of probation. Individuals who have not used illicit substances occasionally find themselves subjected to positive drug tests.

Blood, hair, urine, or saliva testing may be requested. Drug testing looks for alcohol as well as certain prescription medications and illegal substances. Amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax and Valium), cocaine, designer drugs (bath salts, MDMA, etc.), marijuana, opioids (narcotics including heroin or prescription opiates such as codeine), and PCP (phencyclidine) can all be detected by drug testing.

A common type of drug test is called an immunoassay test. If this test produces a positive result, the laboratory may follow up with a GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) test, which greatly reduces the chances of a false positive.

Can a Drug Test Lead to a False Positive?

False positives on urine drug screenings are uncommon, but no testing method is 100% reliable, and false positives do happen. Some common causes of false positives include:

• Antidepressants. Sertraline (Zoloft) can cause a false positive reading for benzodiazepine. Bupropion (Wellbutrin) can cause a false positive for amphetamines.
• Cold medicines. Non-prescription or over-the-counter cold, flu, and allergy medications that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine can cause a drug test to show up as positive for amphetamines.common causes of false positives in failed drug tests
• Ibuprofen. This over-the-counter pain reliever can cause a drug test to show up as positive for barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and marijuana. 12000 mg of ibuprofen, it is thought, may interfere with the enzyme used in the testing method. Ibuprofen is in a class of pain relievers called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). All NSAIDs can cause a false positive. Alternatives to ibuprofen such as aspirin and acetaminophen don’t cause the same effect and are safe to use before a drug screen.
• Poppy seed bagels. This one is so well-known it has even made its way into sitcoms, but just in case you missed it, poppy seeds contain trace amounts of opiates. Eating foods containing poppy seeds have been shown to give false positive drug tests for opiates as much as 16 hours after the seeds were ingested.
• Snack bars. A few brands of granola and snack bars contain hemp seeds for extra protein, which contain very tiny trace amounts of a chemical found in marijuana. Although you won’t get high from eating snack bars, the hemp seeds may cause a false positive drug test for marijuana. You would probably have to ingest a fairly large amount of hemp seeds to get a false positive, but just to be on the safe side, avoid these snack bars before testing.
• Tonic water. Originally developed as a medicine to fight malaria, tonic water contains the substance quinine. Quinine is made from the bark of the cinchona tree, and the bark contains substances that may cause a false positive test for opiates. The amount of tonic water used to make a mixed drink, such as a gin and tonic, is enough to cause a false positive test opiate test.
• Vitamin B supplements. The B vitamin riboflavin, or B2, is sometimes synthesized from hemp oil. Like hemp seeds, hemp oil contains tiny trace amounts of the chemical found in marijuana and is likewise capable of causing a false positive.

Drug Testing Myths

• Passive marijuana smoke can cause a false positive. This is not a valid reason for a false positive; the amount of marijuana compounds the body ingests from passively breathing marijuana smoke is well below the cut-off level detected by the drug screenings.
• Novocaine can cause a false positive for cocaine. This is also not a valid reason for a false positive, since the compounds detected by the test for cocaine are only found in cocaine and not in Novocaine. The “caine” in the two names doesn’t mean the two are chemically similar.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Creating Harmony: Balancing the Demands Between Work and Home

People who hold high-powered positions or are required to work substantial overtime often struggle to find the time to pursue personal goals or devote the attention to their families that they deserve. The stress that comes from trying to provide for your family while still being present is all too real. It can sometimes lead people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which can contribute to depression, addiction, or even suicidal ideation. Here are a few tips to get the best of both worlds without venturing into dangerous habits.

Be Mindful About Social and Work-Related Drinking

Some professionals enjoy grabbing a drink with coworkers after a long day at the office, and for many people it’s a harmless way to blow off steam. Just be conscious of how often you go and how much you drink while you’re out. Limit yourself to a drink or two, and be sure you’re drinking water at the same time. Post-work drinks can be a great way to bond with your colleagues, but too many can lead to some unprofessional antics you might regret later. Plus, the longer and more often you’re out, the less time you have to spend with your family.

You might even discover you prefer to have a soda or iced tea instead of an alcoholic drink. That way, you can still reap the benefits of spending off-hours time with your coworkers without running the risk of overindulging.

Define What Balance Means to You

The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving harmony between work and home, because success looks different to everyone. The first step in working towards greater harmony is to define specifically what that looks like to you. Does it mean attending every baseball game or sitting down for a family meal every evening? Perhaps it means being able to unplug and devote your undivided attention to your family one day each week.

The key to achieving the ideal balance is to know precisely what it means to you. Only then can you set realistic, actionable goals and work towards making your vision a reality.

Make Deliberate Choices

To avoid feeling overworked and overwhelmed, people faced with these circumstances must master the art of making deliberate choices. You may find that it’s sometimes necessary to tell your boss that you’re not able to work overtime so that you can attend your daughter’s dance recital. Or, you might decide to turn down an opportunity that’s likely to take more time away from your family, perhaps requiring you to work out of town during the week. Whatever choices you’re faced with, evaluate the pros and cons carefully and make deliberate decisions in your and your family’s best interests.

If you’re accustomed to coming home and having a glass of wine or a couple beers as a way to unwind, make the conscious decision to take a few nights off from drinking each week. Instead, switch to a tall glass of water or a nice mug of herbal tea on those nights. Not only do you want to reduce the chances of your nightly ritual escalating, but taking this kind of break from alcohol and switching to a healthier alternative could help your body detox more easily, allowing you to get better sleep and feel more rejuvenated come morning.

Schedule Time for Everything

Some busy professionals swear by a running to-do list, while others find the never-ending nature of such lists overwhelming. Whether you’re a list-maker or a roll-with-the-punches type of person, scheduling can help you stay on task and better balance the demands of work and home.

Scheduling blocks of time for work tasks, meetings, and appointments as well as baseball games, dance recitals, and events at your child’s school will help you avoid overlap and enable you to better manage your time. Lists are great for outlining what you need to do, but schedules will increase the odds that you’ll actually get it done.

Prioritize Taking Care of You

If you tend to sacrifice your own needs to be there for others, you might actually be setting yourself up for failure. While it may seem like you have no choice when there are simply not enough hours in the day, the truth is that prioritizing self-care is the best way to be present and be your best self when you are serving others.

How can you prioritize self-care for better harmony between work and home? Make sure that you get enough sleep each night, eat a well-balanced, healthy diet, avoid overindulging in alcohol, and take time to exercise regularly. When you’re well-rested and your body is getting the right mix of vital nutrients, you’ll perform better and be more productive at both work and home. Productivity, of course, means that you’ll progress through work tasks with greater ease, reducing the odds that you’ll fall behind and end up missing out on quality family time to catch up.

When you learn how to make deliberate choices, schedule your time effectively, monitor work-related drinking, and take care of your body and mind, you might just find that making the transition back home might be more within reach than you think.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

3 Ways Humans Deal with Anger

Anger is a reaction to a threat or insult that can be all-consuming and sometimes, difficult to deal with. While anger is a normal human emotion, how we deal with it is important for mental health and a sense of peace. If not handled well, anger can become a chronic issue, making it hard to control emotions and cause you to act “in the heat of the moment.”

Everyone becomes angry at some point in their lives. So, how can we deal with anger when it strikes? The trick is to control anger before it controls you, and if it’s getting out of control, seek help. Let’s look at the 3 main ways humans deal with anger.

The Ways of Dealing with Anger

Internalize it

Some people hold their anger inside because they don’t want the emotion visible to others. While internalizing your anger may prevent you from doing or saying things you may later regret, it doesn’t always make the emotion go away.

Studies have shown that people who routinely hold onto their anger put themselves at risk for health conditions like high blood pressure and restless sleep. If you’re able to internalize anger and mentally let go of it—by either forgiving the incident that caused you to be angry or deciding not to let it bother you—then you’ll likely reach a sense of peace with your anger and not let it affect you. But for some, holding in anger only makes the emotion brew and grow stronger. They need another way to cope.


Let it Out

Expressing anger can help you let go of the emotion. There are many ways of letting anger out; some are better routes than others. Yelling and shouting are less desirable ways of expressing anger, especially if another person is at the receiving end. Becoming physical, fighting or getting “in someone’s face” might help release anger, but aren’t the best choice. Routinely venting anger onto others, or becoming physical with others, is not only harmful but can actually increase the amount of anger that you feel.

While it’s true that physical expression works to reduce stress and anger, doing it appropriately is key. Consider a physical work out, running, brisk walking, or letting off steam on a punching bag as an outlet for reducing anger. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help you feel better and think with a clearer head.


Let it Go

The final way humans deal with anger is by letting it go. This is an excellent concept, but often hard for people to accomplish. Learning to let anger go is a learned behavior—a beneficial one! You may know someone who is good at “brushing things off,” or who doesn’t let things bother him. This doesn’t mean that person doesn’t feel angry. He’s simply learned to let go of the negative emotion.

Consider how you think about the situation that caused you to be angry. Is it worth continually mulling over what was said or done to you, feeling angry and furious, or would it be better not to hold a grudge? Learning to accept that you can’t change the situation that caused your anger is a good step in letting the emotion go. Try replacing negative, angry thoughts with more rational ones. And remind yourself that getting angry isn’t going to solve any problems—it might just make things worse.

What you can do About Anger

If the anger is too much to deal with on your own, talking to a trusted friend, family member, or if needed, a mental health professional who leads anger management classes can help. If you’re struggling to deal with anger, consider verbal expression. Sometimes a listening ear is the perfect outlet for getting anger under control and dealing better with it in the future.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Best Ways to Deal with Stress Natural Ways

Did you know that nearly a quarter of all Americans are under varying amounts of extreme stress? According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 85,605,500 people rated their stress levels at a level eight, nine or 10 on a 10-point scale in 2011. While the other three quarters of Americans say, they deal with fluctuating levels of stress on a daily basis, a disturbing trend has been observed. The stress most adults face on a regular basis is not going away. More and more American adults are reporting increasing levels of stress as time goes on. Although we cannot always control the sources of stress in our lives, we can change how we react to them.

What Are the Main Causes of High Stress Levels?
Chronic stressors such as job trouble and relationship problems are linked to serious emotional and physical effects such as depression, high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease. While most adults believe that stress can contribute to major illness, only 29 percent report being proactive about reducing their stress levels.

The American Psychological Association created a chart based on the regular stressors reported by surveyed American adults. Money and work remain as the top two main stress sources followed by economy, relationships, family responsibilities, family health problems, personal health concerns, job stability, rising housing costs and personal safety.

How Stress Affects Your Physical Health and Wellbeing
Extreme and unexpected stress such as the sudden loss of a loved one can have immediate effects on your health. Grief can really and truly break your heart. After losing someone close to you, your risk of suffering from a heart attack goes up 21 times for the first week and decreases to six times for the following week. The risk for heart attack will usually continue to decline further after a month or so.

Even everyday stressors can cause detrimental effects on your health if they are not successfully dealt with. If your body is allowed to remain in a “fight or flight” mode for longer than necessary, you will burn out your adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue can lead to a constant feeling of tiredness, skin problems and more. High stress levels have also been linked to cancer and may contribute to the growth of cancer tumors.

Common Stress Symptoms
Keeping your stress levels under control is an ongoing commitment and requires daily attention. Unfortunately, many people fall into a vicious cycle with their coping mechanisms and perform unhealthy activities such as bingeing on TV/movies, eating junk foods and consuming alcohol and drugs.

The most common stress symptoms are listed below in order of acuteness:

  • Anger/irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy, motivation or interest
  • Headaches
  • Stomach upsets
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes in sex drive

How to Deal With Stress Naturally
Unhealthy coping mechanisms are only distractions and may even intensify your stress levels. This, in turn, will cause greater problems such as sleeplessness and overeating, thereby trapping you in a vicious cycle. The best thing to do to protect yourself is to focus on health strategies for dealing with stress.
#1 EFT
One very good tool for stress management is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). EFT is similar to acupuncture but works without needles. It is a free and simple way to help release emotional baggage quickly. Even children can learn and benefit from it.
#2 Exercise
Exercise is one of the best natural stress relievers in the world. It has been used as a natural remedy for anxiety due its powerful ability to cause the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are the “feel good” hormones and act as the body’s natural painkillers and antidepressants. The negative effects of stress are increased in those who fail to exercise regularly. Yoga or yoga alternatives can produce some of the same benefits as exercise by reinforcing the mind-body connection, improving self-esteem and controlling anxiety.
#3 Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been used more and more regularly to treat stress-related disorders. These include psychiatric disorders, autoimmune diseases, infertility and depression. Acupuncture can initiate changes in the cardiovascular/immune systems such as increasing protective T-cell growth and encouraging healthy cellular immuno-responses. Because of its ability to regulate the nervous system, acupuncture is one of the best treatments for patients who are recovering from heart disease.
#4 A Healthy Diet
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to feed your body well. A nutrient-dense diet that includes trace minerals, healthy fats, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants is critical to ensuring that your brain and body can handle stress the most efficient way possible.
Foods high in B vitamins — raw or cultured dairy products, grass-feed beef, poultry, green leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast
Foods high in protein — bone broth powder, lentils, wild-caught fish, natto, black beans and raw cheese
Foods high in calcium and magnesium — cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage,
Brussels sprouts, beans/legumes and organic yogurt

Foods high in healthy fats — coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, fish oil, nuts and seeds

Try to avoid the following foods as they can increase stress levels:

  • Processed/refined foods
  • High levels of alcohol and caffeine
  • Refined vegetable oils
  • Foods high in sugar

#5 Adaptogens and Essential Oils
Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwaganda, tulsi (holy basil), ginsing, astralagus root, licorice, rhodiola and cordyceps mushrooms (reishi, shiitake and maitake) help restore balance to the systems of the body. Adaptogens work by helping your overall bodily functions respond in healthy, balanced ways are are commonly used to help decrease the effects of cancer and other serious illnesses.

You could also consider essential oils. Myrrh, lavender, frankincense and bergamot can help reduce inflammation, improve immunity and balance hormones. Consider purchasing a diffuser to allow the oils to disperse through the air in your home or office space.

Stress is unavoidable in the day-to-day lives of the functioning American adult. However, with the right techniques, stress can be managed to prevent it from taking over your life and making you ill.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

3 Ways Domestic Violence Trauma Can Impact Your Life

There are many ways that domestic violence affects the lives of victims as well as abusers. These damages often go far beyond the physical injuries. Addressing psychological and emotional traumas that come from abusive situations is a necessary step for recovery. Domestic classes and relationship counseling can help.

 The 3 Impacts of Domestic Abuse

  1. Attitude

Attitudes and temperaments are made up of a wide range of interpersonal behaviors coming together to make a cohesive whole. When you change one of these habits, especially when it’s an important one, it can cause a noticeable change in the way you interact with others. While changing these elements of your personality can be a force for positive change in your life, it can also be harmful and cause problems in many settings:

  • At work
  • In relationships
  • During recreation or sports
  • With extended family

Domestic violence trauma can often cause victims to perceive themselves as being somehow to blame. This can lead to identification with the abuser, leading to a victim picking up some of the abuser’s attitudes and habits. Domestic violence classes help everyone reframe these experiences and adjust attitudes that lead to strengthening the cycle of abuse. Victims can benefit from these classes, but everyone from abusers to family members can also stand to learn something.


  1. Learning Abilitiesdark side of domestic abuse

Having to worry about domestic violence makes it difficult to focus on academic work. It’s a question of priorities. When physical safety is threatened, it’s common for victims to put most of their mental and emotional energy into developing ways to mitigate and prevent situations of violence. This leaves little room for any type of formal education and is one of the major effects of domestic violence.

Another aspect of abusive situations that prevents learning is the emotional toll. There’s a tendency to withdraw from any considerations of the future. Most of the time, this pessimism is due to a belief that the future isn’t worth working for. This makes sense if you’re stuck in a pattern of domestic violence, but what most victims don’t realize is that these cycles are often broken with the help of trained professionals.

Hope for the future allows victims to continue their lives and pursue their goals. Relationship counseling often plays a part in exiting an abuse pattern, so don’t be afraid to reach out and improve your prospects.


  1. Socialization

The same things that cause antisocial attitudes and withdrawal from opportunities for personal growth also damage a victim’s abilities to socialize with others. This can happen to anyone, even the most gregarious people, and it isn’t always obvious.

For instance, a victim of domestic violence might perform well at a job that requires them to be social and connect with people in a business setting. However, they might exhaust their extroversion on the job and miss other social opportunities necessary for career advancement. Don’t let violence hold you back. Just because you still manage to perform some socialization doesn’t mean that you are the best version of yourself you can be.

Whatever your relationship is with violence, counseling can help you get back to normal. There’s no reason you need to deal with any of these mood or social impairments alone. After all, you didn’t get into this situation by yourself, and nobody expects you to deal with domestic violence alone. Seek relationship counseling or take domestic violence classes when you’re ready to make a positive impact on your life and the lives of everyone around you.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

13 Signs of a Cheating Partner

Most of us have been cheated on at some point or another. In fact, up to around 60% of married couples have engaged in cheating. This is an alarming statistic but rings true if you suspect your partner is cheating on you. If you have a tingling feeling they are being unfaithful, here is a checklist of thirteen signs they are cheating on you.

They Grow Distant
You know this feeling. Over time, and sometimes suddenly, your partner begins to distance themselves from you and it feels as if they are punishing you with the cold shoulder for no reason. They no longer make an effort to show an interest in your likes and hobbies and won’t go out of their way to spend time with you. Cheaters do this as a way to remain mysterious, especially in regards to their cheating, but instead, will leave you questioning. They would rather have you feel questioning than certain they are being unfaithful. Not only this, they are growing distance because in their minds they have already moved on to someone else.

They Buy You Gifts
Did they buy you a batch of gifts for seemingly no reason and out of nowhere? Is your birthday months away? If your partner has never had the habit of buying you gifts randomly, then they’re probably overcompensating and masking their guilt. Cheaters who buy gifts think you are feeling unhappy with them and will use these attempts to win you over, especially if you suspect them. One gift in particular that will raise a red flag is if they buy you spa packages or tickets to a game. These gifts are coded as, “Please leave the house. I plan on having an uninvited guest while you are away.”

They Accuse You of Cheating
Guilty cheaters will almost always project their guilt on others. They want to justify their cheating by trying to catch you doing it first. If they suddenly start accusing you of cheating, chances are they’re probably the ones actually doing it. Cheaters use this tactic as a means of putting up a front to show that they won’t tolerate cheating, indirectly alluding to dissuade you from thinking they are cheating.

Sudden Need for Privacy
In the past, if you and your partner have always been open with each other and then suddenly they have a strange and strict need for privacy, this could be a telltale sign they are hiding their infidelity from you. If your partner deletes their internet browser history or setting a passcode on their phone, when in the past, they did not care for these things, then they are keeping a secret from you. In the past, they have always bugged you about accompanying them to shop at the mall, by suddenly they will make strange excuses to drive to place alone, most likely to meet up with their lover.

Unaccounted Spending
This sign is trickier to spot, especially if you don’t have a joint account or track your spending. If you do, check the payment statements to see the places they have been to “alone.” Some of these places might contradict places they told you they were going. If you see payments for fancy dinners for two or two tickets for entertainment, then this is a huge red flag. If you confront them about these new spending habits, they will mostly be caught in a lie that they can’t find a way to explain or get out of.

Time Spent Together
This is different than from when they distance themselves from you. They will spend less time together with you, but will still have meaningful conversations during these times. They won’t necessarily give you the cold shoulder, but they will be going out of their way to go spend time with their second honey. If your partner suddenly makes more hangout appointments with their group of friends, then they’re most likely lying as no one has that much free time in a week to spend with friends. Everyone has their own lives and same goes for their friends. Spending more time than usual with them is a great indicator that they’re actually going out to see that someone else.

Sudden tension in the air every time you spend time together with your partner is your gut telling you that something is not right. Your partner feels tense because they can expect to be confronted about their cheating at any given moment. Their tension makes you feel just as tense. These moods will leave you wondering what is going on and if they have something to hide.

Won’t Discuss Topics Related to Cheating
This sign goes hand in hand with the tension. Before, you and your partner could probably laugh off topics related to cheating but out of nowhere they will give you a nervous laugh or just plain out refuse to discuss the topic. Why, because they’re feeling guilty? Most likely. Cheaters will always want to avoid this topic for they fear they might slip up about their infidelity. They will almost always refuse to watch any movies or tv shows related to cheating as well.

New Hobbies
Partners who suddenly pick up new hobbies and interests are probably mimicking the person they are cheating on you with. In psychology, people imitate those they are romantically interested in and your unfaithful partner is no different. This sign is an easy one to spot, especially if your partner has never had a knack for sports, art, or knitting and then one day they do.

Partners who suddenly become very punctual or place importance on time mean they are trying to cover up their trail by saying, “I got here on the time we set. There’s no way I have time to cheat on you.” In reality, they are dancing around these set times to juggle both you and their cheating.

New Home Ritual
If your partner has always been a stickler for cleaning up the house and doing chores, but one day you come home to find they haven’t done any of them, then they have probably spent that time doing naughty things with someone else. Look out for new rituals like coming home from “work” and jumping straight into the shower to wash their guilt away.

No Longer Jealous
This sign is one of the most suspicious ones. If your partner loses their jealous side and starts to make recommendations about people being your type, then they’re trying to get you to cheat in a way to compensate for their cheating. They may suggest the idea of an open relationship and ask you your opinions on who you think is hot or not. Encouraging an open relationship is an easy way to cover up their past cheating and normalize it.

Mood Swings
Not everyone suffers from mood swings, but when cheating partners tend to always be irritated and happy at the same time. If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, then you might be stepping on a landmine if you ask them about anything related to the topic of cheating. They also might be looking for ways to start frequent arguments and validate their reasons for cheating on you.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

How to Get Your Driver’s License Back After Revocation

DUI Charges in the Illinois Court System

In Illinois courts, the greatest fear for most people facing DUI charges is the question of whether they are going to jail or not. The question as to whether the Illinois Secretary of State revokes their driving privileges is a very close second. A license revocation has a devastating impact on people, often preventing them from working, getting to school, traveling, and fulfilling their responsibilities with their family. At the close of the initial court proceedings, the Judge may impose a sentence of “Court Supervision”, which is a deferred judgment, meaning that there is no conviction, as long as all of the terms are satisfied, and there are no new arrests. The Secretary of State will take no action to revoke a driver’s license when a sentence of Court Supervision is issued. The Judge may also impose a sentence of conviction, conditional discharge, probation, and/or jail. These types of convictions result in the Secretary of State issuing an order “revoking” the driving privileges of the motorist. Upon conviction, the revocations are as follows, 1st Conviction = a minimum 1-year revocation; 2nd Conviction = a minimum 5-year revocation; 3rd Conviction = a minimum 10-year revocation; and 4th Conviction = a lifetime revocation.

There is Hope to Get your Illinois License Back After Revocation

However, motorists should recognize that following a conviction and revocation, all hope is not lost. The Secretary of State has created a driver’s license reinstatement hearing program, which allows individuals seeking to reinstate their driving privileges the opportunity to prove to the Illinois Secretary of State that they were properly classified by their evaluators, received the appropriate treatment from their providers, determine if there is a problematic use of alcohol, have a working knowledge of the effects of alcohol on the mind and body, be aware of the alternatives available to avoid alcohol use,  accept lifestyle changes that can be made, and support programs that should be attended, if necessary. The “paperwork” required to proceed with such a hearing is prepared by a licensed Illinois DUI treatment provider. This documentation must be prepared by a provider well versed in the reinstatement hearing process, because if there are any omissions, contradictions, or inconsistencies in alcohol use histories, symptoms, blood alcohol content levels, or drinking use patterns, the Secretary of State can issue an Order of Denial, and send the person fighting for their driving privileges back to square one.

Preparing for the Illinois Drivers License Reinstatement Hearing

To properly prepare for a reinstatement hearing, one should also seek out a qualified attorney, with extensive knowledge, skill, and experience in reviewing the treatment documentation and preparing their clients for the rapid-fire line of questioning they will be subjected to in the hearing. Typically, I will require that my clients go through a minimum of three to four mock hearings in my office before I can be assured they are ready for the hearing. Considering all of the time, money, effort, and energy my clients put into the reinstatement process, it is my responsibility to ensure that they are properly prepared, with accurate and consistent responses. Just like any area of law, there are tricks to the trade, and knowing how to properly respond to the Secretary of State’s questions, and carefully avoiding their traps, places the client in the best position to achieve driver’s license reinstatement, and be back on the roads!

Click here for our free eBook on How To Get Your Driver’s License Back After a DUI Arrest

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Them’s Fightin’ Words: Changing the Tone of Your Relationship from Conflict to Co-operation

Even the best relationships run into trouble from time to time, but the when an already bad relationship starts to go south things can get ugly very quickly. That’s when it may be time to call in the help of seasoned professionals. Counseling and mediation can really help in these situations, and it may be necessary for one or both partners to take anger management classes. If things continue to escalate, eventually ending in physical harm, domestic violence classes may help.

It’s possible to save your relationship from a trip to the therapist, but it requires you and your partner to work together so that you can improve the communication in your marriage.

Communication is Both the Problem and the Solution

Things begin to go wrong in a relationship with one or both partners feel as though they have unfulfilled needs. This could be related to the partnership, or these needs could stem from outside situations. If the people involved don’t address or communicate these needs directly, misunderstandings will start to happen. The husband may snap at his wife about something small. He’s stressed over an unrelated situation, but at the time it feels like it’s her fault. She gets upset and defensive. Feeling put down, she either attempts to correct what was never wrong to begin with or snaps back at him.

Either way, neither person has done anything to solve the real problem. Instead, they’ve invented new challenges to add to the pile.

Fighting Fire with Gasoline Isn’t Going to Help

It’s not right to add anger to an already angry situation, nor should you attempt to make up for something you haven’t done wrong. Instead, it’s better to give the angry person their space until they calm down. If they do not leave you alone, then you need to remove yourself from the situation until they are willing and able to listen. Once both of you have cooled off, sit down together and have a real conversation.

domestic violence classes in chicago for couplesIn a real conversation, both people listen to each other. They reserve judgment and make the decision not to take things personally. To follow up on the above scenario, the woman could start by saying “you were angry with me earlier, but I feel like it wasn’t actually about me. What’s bothering you, and is there any way I can help?”

This takes the responsibility for the anger off your shoulders, but it doesn’t displace it onto the angry person. Doing so will only make them feel guilty, and that will lead to more anger. From this point, continue the discussion and focus on resolving not only what made the other person angry, but also on how to prevent this from happening in the future.

Professional Help is Always Available

Polite conversation can’t solve everything, and some couples may not even be capable of this. For those times when you keep hitting a brick wall, consider anger management classes or domestic violence classes.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In-Person DUI Classes vs Online DUI Classes

While it’s causing a bit of a controversy, it’s now possible to take the required DUI classes through various online venues. It costs extra, but it saves you from having to beg a ride from a friend to fulfill the requirements necessary to earn back your license.

This actually isn’t new. In the past, this option was only offered to those who couldn’t find a valid course in their area. Now the DMV has relaxed these stipulations, allowing anyone with an internet connection to enjoy the convenience of virtual learning.

In Person DUI Classes a thing of the past?

It seems the idea is popular because traditional, in person DUI classes are becoming a thing of the past. There’s not enough interest in sitting in the classroom, and many people opt for the convenience of the online option despite it being much more expensive.

This has raised a lot of questions, and opponents to the change have expressed a fear that this will only remove roadblocks to driving under the influence. If it’s easier to fulfill the requirements of the program, people may be more inclined to get behind a wheel while intoxicated.

While this is an understandable concern, it has some problems. Most states have a three-strike rule that results in permanent suspension of the license and jail time for repeat offenders. However, even a first-time offender can cost the life of a loved one. The question here is, if potentially costing a life isn’t enough to stop someone from making such a bad choice, then is the threat of having to attend a class going to be enough?

The thing about it is that repeat offenders don’t have a problem with bad decision-making. They have a problem with addiction. Addicts are not rational, and repercussions fly out the window when an addict imbibes in their addiction.

Cons of Online DUI Classes

This actually highlights an argument against online DUI classes that has more credence. Addicts are presented with very few opportunities wherein they are faced with the consequences of their actions within a supportive environment. These opportunities have the potential to save the addict’s life and the lives of anyone who may be affected by their DUI classes illinois

That’s the drawback to an online course. Without a physical instructor present, the chance of an addict seeking real help because of the experience is almost non-existent. This is probably the strongest argument against the program, but even it is somewhat invalidated. Getting an addict into rehab takes a level of self-realization that probably isn’t going to be achieved by a day in DUI classes.

People have also expressed fear that the offender may simply get another person to take the course in their place. The online course is based on the honor system, and honor isn’t something addicts are known for. Honestly, it’s probably not easy to find someone willing to sit through a DUI class for you.

While online DUI classes have caused a controversy by potentially killing the in-person DUI course, it remains to be seen as to what effect this will truly have in the future.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

6 Reasons Parenting Classes Create Healthy Families

Professional parenting classes can teach you everything you need to know about children as they progress through each stage of development. Healthy families are made from loving and informed parents who foster good relationships. Here are 6 ways parenting classes in Chicago will help you create a healthy family.

  1. You Will Learn How to communicate with your child

Children talk in a different language than adults; one that evolves alongside their mental, physical, and emotional capacity. Listening is the foundation of communicating effectively. Parenting classes will help you understand how your child thinks, and this will improve your ability to truly listen when a child communicates. Instead of reaching a conclusion based solely from an adult perspective, you’ll learn to understand the child’s perspective based on their level of development. Once you learn to understand and speak their language, it becomes easier to teach them yours.

  1. You Will Learn More About Child Development

As children grow, they hit milestone achievements in mental, physical, and emotional development. These are like signposts that show if the child is behind, on track, or advanced in any area. Parenting classes can help you understand each stage of development. Understanding the milestones in children’s development will give you the tools you need to ensure your child succeeds throughout life.

  1. You Will Be Better Able to Meet Your Child’s Emotional Needschicago parenting classes create healthy familities

Discipline is one of the most confusing aspects of parenting. Acting out is part of being a child because children are built to test boundaries. Sometimes, however, children act out to show that something is off. It could be something very simple, like wanting a little more time with you or having seen something frightening on television. Understanding more about emotional needs at different stages of development will help you understand when your child is misbehaving to test boundaries, or when your child legitimately needs help.

  1. You Will Feel More Confident

Children play on the emotions of the adults around them. The authority in the room will direct how they respond because young children have no blueprint for how to act. The more confident you are, the better behavior you will model. Children will feel more secure, and they will likely follow directions better.

  1. You Will Learn How to Choose a Good Daycare

Many children spend most of their waking childhood in daycare, so it is essential to find a good one. Avoid changing daycares before age three as well because this can be detrimental. The more you understand your child, the better you will be able to discern if they are happy and progressing normally. This makes it easier to tell if your daycare isn’t living up to their promises.

  1. You Will Learn All Sorts of Parenting Hacks

Having kids is hectic sometimes, so it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve! You can find classes that will teach you how to calm a crying baby instantly, diaper like a pro, or fix quick and balanced meals.

As you can see, parenting classes help to create peace of mind and confidence. They can also help you understand your child better, which helps them to understand you better. That’s a sound basis for any good relationship, and good relationships make for healthy families.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Learning about the Immigration Hardship Evaluation Process in Chicago

Moving to a new country is always challenging.  People do it for better opportunities, safer living, or to earn enough money to support family still living in their home county.  Adjusting to the new life may be particularly difficult for those families whose members do not have legal status.  Obtaining legal status in the United States is a long and complicated process.  Those who lived in the U.S. illegally are required by law to leave the country to apply for status change, but for many families that means long-term separation.


Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility


One way to avoid the separation of the family is to apply for a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility.  If the waiver is granted, the immigrant who would otherwise have to leave the country for three or ten years, may remain in the U.S. while obtaining the permanent resident status.  Before the waiver can be granted, the family needs to prove that a qualifying relative, who is a citizen or a legal permanent resident, would suffer extreme hardship if the person applying for the waiver left the country.


Qualifying relatives are typically parents or spouses of undocumented immigrants.  As part of the immigration process, they can submit to a psychological evaluation to demonstrate extreme hardship.  While the psychological evaluation is not mandatory, it can be very helpful in the immigration process, because it can help the family present a fuller picture of their life difficulties to the immigration judge.  It is important to note that according to the immigration law, the mere separation of the family and expected suffering that comes with it is not considered hardship.


What is Extreme Hardship


Extreme hardship is more than what an average person is expected to experience when separated from a family member.  Unfortunately there are no clear criteria explaining what the immigration office considers extreme hardship, so each case has to be explained individually.  The hardship evaluation will explain difficulties the qualifying relative will likely experience in different areas of his or her life.  Those difficulties may be related to physical or mental health, financial problems, or lost educational or career opportunities.


The Evaluation Process

extreme hardship evaluation in chicago illinois

Most people seek the hardship evaluation at the suggestion of their immigration attorney.  However, a referral from an attorney is not required.  The hardship evaluation is done by a psychologist or mental health counselor, whose role is to collect information from the qualifying relative and other family members and write a report that will be submitted to the immigration office.  Depending on the individual situation, the number of information-gathering meetings can change, but typically two to three meetings may be needed.

Immigration judges take everything into consideration before making a decision about granting or denying the waiver.  While the hardship evaluation does not guarantee the outcome of the case, it can help significantly because it presents additional information that you or your attorney may otherwise not communicate to the immigration office.


It is not easy to deal with immigration laws, but remember that there are many people able and willing to help.  Working with immigration attorneys and mental health counselors familiar with the immigration process can improve your chances of getting your green card.




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Friday, January 27, 2017

How to Help a Loved One Manage Chronic Pain and Addiction

When I was little, my favorite uncle was injured on the job and prescribed a prescription painkiller. He’d suffered back pain for years and finally decided he’d accept the extra help to manage the pain. Though he was eventually able to return to work and all appeared to be back to normal, he just didn’t seem the same anymore. He didn’t joke and play with me the way he used to, instead always resigning himself to a quiet spot apart from the rest of us at family dinners. A few times he even dozed off in the middle of our meal. Then he stopped showing up to family functions altogether. Though I was too young to understand at the time, my uncle had developed a serious opioid dependency that had quickly taken over his life.

My family spent a painful few months trying to get him help, and it led to some tough calls. My aunt refused to let him live at home while he was using, and he was no longer invited to our family gatherings unless he was sober. My mom stopped answering his calls because they inevitably led to him asking for money and refusing to consider treatment. Though my uncle was finally able to find sobriety, it took some tough love on my family’s part — a strength that many loved ones face each and every day.

Addiction is a major battle for anyone, but it can be especially dangerous for someone with chronic pain who becomes dependent on their prescribed medication. When it happens to a loved one, you must find the balance between offering your support without enabling their addiction. It’s a complex situation, but there are ways to help — first, you must identify and confirm the issue, then help your loved one overcome their addiction and find healthy ways to conquer their chronic pain.


Is it Addiction?

Many with chronic pain see their pain medication as essential –  something they “need,” but it’s a slippery slope to addiction. And the longer they are taking the medications, the more likely that they will develop physical dependence and possibly psychological addiction.

It is very difficult to tell if someone is addicted to prescription medications when the medication is prescribed to them, but, there are some ways. Watch for warning signs such as:

  • A lack of energy or drowsiness. Your loved one may seem like they could fall asleep at any moment, which may be a pattern that seems to happen throughout the day.
  • A lack of concentration or motivation: As much as opioids can help someone, they can also interfere with an individual’s thinking and can lead to tolerance, which means that a person requires more of the same substance in order to achieve the same level of relief. If your loved one is addicted to their medication, they will probably begin to miss a lot of work, leave work early, and may even begin performing poorly at their job.
  • Changes in their social life: It is inevitable that your loved one’s social life will be interrupted by their addiction. Due to the way they feel and act, it may create disagreements and challenges in maintaining friendships. They will usually become more isolated and disengage from their previous social behaviors.
  • Changes in their appearance: You may have trouble telling if your loved one is misusing their medication. Some of the signs that a person has taken too much medication include slurred speech, an intense calming, nodding of their head, a flush neck and face, drooping eyes, itching of the legs, stomach, or arms, or pupils that are constricted, even in dim lighting conditions.
  • Increased secrecy: Your loved one may seem to be hiding something from you. It may seem like they’re leading a double life. They don’t want to let people know that addiction is taking over, but sometimes by trying to hide it, they make it more obvious.


You Can Only Do So Much

You can’t take away your loved one’s chronic pain, and you can’t “fix” their addiction. This is something you need to face so you can move on and give as much assistance to them as possible. When it comes to your loved one’s addiction, one of the best things you can do for them is to let them know you are there for them when they need you. Sit with them, listen to them, or offer to take them to their doctor appointments. Don’t give them lectures or judge them. Encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle and to be honest with their doctor about everything. This includes previous or current addictions or substance abuse problems.

As for the chronic pain? There are many things you can offer to help with that may ease their burdens. There are also things that you can do together to take their mind off of their pain or other problems, such as taking an exercise class or working out together at home. Low-impact aerobics have been shown to be very helpful for those with chronic pain. These exercises include stretching, swimming, or biking, among other things.

You could also think about a yoga, Pilates, or a strength training class. Even walking together provides an opportunity to talk while also doing something good for your body. Many doctors recommend walking or participating in some other form of exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.

Don’t let your loved one forget about the importance of deep sleep. It is crucial for them to get adequate REM sleep, which is the time the body uses for rest and rejuvenation – thus, adequate sleep will only help them feel better throughout the day. Another idea might be to take a cooking class together. You both can learn about what kinds of foods are healthy, and you might even discover foods that can reduce pain and inflammation.


Time Apart to Heal

It may be necessary to give your loved one some breathing room initially. Let them work on their recovery and get through the healing process

alone, if need be. You can still be there for them simply by letting them know you’ll be there when they need you. Hopefully at some point during their reco

very you’ll both be ready to spend time together and engage in healthy activities such as daily walks or a group exercise class.

Never forget that one of the most important things you can offer is your love and support. Let them know that while you may not be able to totally understand their struggle, you love them and are cheering them on. With your compassion, your loved one can get back on track and find the way to a happier, healthy life with limited pain.


Article wrote by Caleb Anderson

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Getting a SAP Evaluation from the Department of Transportation

SAP stands for Substance Abuse Professional. While anyone who has ever worked for public transport is required to undergo drug screening prior to beginning work, employees who have caused an incident or been caught breaking this rule will find themselves in front of a SAP. Sometimes the DOT performs random drug screenings, and that is how many offenders get in trouble.

These parameters are put in place to protect the public, but that doesn’t make it any less of a hassle for the employees who need SAP evaluation. Here’s what to expect from the process:

Standard Pre-employment Drug Screening

Drug screening is a necessary step for anyone beginning work as a driver for public transportation. The initial screening requires basic drug testing, which means you will have to find a qualified lab. They will then run the SAP evaluation based on your urine. You will have to leave all items at the front desk and fill a specimen cup in the restroom. Depending on what your employer requires, this may be monitored. The urine is then checked for temperature to prevent fraud and sent off to a lab. A negative result means no drugs were detected in the urine, whereas a positive result indicates the opposite. If you come up positive, you’re going to need a SAP evaluation.

SAP Evaluation Following a Failed Drug Screening

If you’ve been caught unaware by a surprise test, or something happened that put you under suspicion by the DOT, then you’re going to have to find a substance abuse professional to perform an evaluation. This goes way beyond a drug test. If you haven’t been caught outright, you will likely need to fail a drug test in addition to whatever happened to bring you into question before you end up in front of a SAP.

During substance abuse evaluation, you will sit down with a trained SAP and have a clinical assessment. This person is familiar with addictive behaviors, and they will be able to tell if someone is likely to repeat the offense. Based on this conversation, they may make a recommendation for treatment programs. After successfully completing the treatment program, you will have a follow-up SAP evaluation.

substance abuse evaluation by dot

The SAP has to provide you and your employer with an official write-up of both evaluations and any treatment recommendations. They may also suggest additional drug screenings or treatment sessions. Once the process is completed, they mark you as either compliant or non-compliant.

It is important to note here that a SAP evaluator does not make a recommendation to your employer regarding your future employment. They are an impartial evaluator put in place to protect the safety of the public. Even if you are judged as not in compliance, your employer could still choose to work with you. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. Compliance doesn’t guarantee your job. The best way to stay out of a SAP evaluator’s office is simply to follow the DOT guidelines and not partake in prohibited substances.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What You Need to Know About Court Ordered Drug and Alcohol Evaluations in Chicago

If you get caught partying and end up in front of a judge for your Friday-night antics, you may just find yourself facing a drug and alcohol evaluation. If you’re caught driving under the influence in Illinois, you’ll have to be evaluated before the judge will even sentence you.
The reason the judge requires a drug and alcohol evaluation is because it has a direct impact on the nature of the sentencing. That’s why it’s ill-advised to take the drug and alcohol evaluation lightly. It’s recommended that you enlist the services of an attorney to help you through the process as the outcome can affect your life far into the future. Depending on your assessment, the evaluator will determine what level of risk you pose:
  • Level 1 is a minimal risk
  • Level 2 is a moderate to significant risk
  • Level 3 is high risk

What the Different Risk Assessment Levels Mean

Each level carries a different set of requirements as to treatment, and this treatment must be completed to fulfill all obligations to the court. Additionally, it’s possible for the judge to change the terms of the treatment depending on how they feel about your behavior. If you lie to the evaluator and get caught, don’t expect leniency. If the judge changes the terms of treatment, you are bound by both the original document and the judge’s input. Here are the legal mandates for treatment with DUI classes for each level of risk:dui risk assessment
  • Level 1: DUI Risk Education (10 hours)
  • Level 2, moderate: DUI Risk Education (10 hours); early intervention (12 hours over a minimum of four weeks); possible requirement for ongoing continuing care plan
  • Level 2, significant: DUI Risk Education (10 hours); substance abuse treatment (20 hours); mandatory continuing care plan participation
  • Level 3: substance abuse treatment (75 hours); mandatory continuing care plan participation or admission to in-patient treatment facility.
As you can see, this could play a part in your life for a very long time. Get an attorney’s help before submitting to the evaluation to ensure the best possible results.

Know the Alcohol & Drug Evaluation Rules for Your County

If you’re located in Cook County, the rules may be a little different. The evaluations in Cook County are performed by Alcohol and Drug Evaluation Services (ADES). Central States Institute on Addiction operates ADES. Different countys will require that you use different agencies for the substance abuse evaluation. That’s why it’s best to work with an attorney. That way, there’s no question that you’ve chosen the right agency.

Don’t Evade Questions or Lie to the SAP (Substance Abuse Professional)

The person evaluating you will note if you are honest, consistent, or non-evasive. The judge’s primary goal is to ensure public safety by preventing repeat offenses. Lying does not make the judge feel comfortable that you will stay on the straight and narrow should leniency be granted to you. Working with an attorney can help you prepare to answer questions in a way that results in a low-risk assessment—provided that the charges against you do not show otherwise.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Trump and Immigration

While campaigning for President, Donald Trump pledged to increase enforcement of immigration laws.  After the election, surrogates claim Trump will have more moderate views.  No one is sure what will happen, but given a Republican-controlled Congress, the appointment a Supreme Court Justice, and the new President’s circle of advisors including anti-immigrant stalwarts like Senator Jeff Sessions, everyone should prepare for a stricter immigration environment.

Trump’s policy on immigration states that he will:

Enforce the immigration laws by deporting illegals.

  • Although it is physically impossible to deport all undocumented persons overnight given its economic cost and impact, this policy would significantly affect communities through an exodus of undocumented persons.
    • Persons subject to deportation are given a chance to plead their case before an Immigration Judge – a process that can take years.
    • It will take a long time to hire, train, and empower more enforcement agents.

More strictly enforce current immigration laws

  • There will most probably be a change in “enforcement priorities.” This means ending considerations preventing deportation for persons of good character, with US-born children, owning companies that hire workers, or paying taxes.
  • Empowering and emboldening ICE (Enforcement) Agents and Attorneys to take more decisive action and deny please for clemency or understanding.

Establish new controls to ensure only legal persons can work.

  • Increase enforcement by tripling the number of ICE (Enforcement) Agents.
    • This would decrease the availability of workers in an already tight labor market.

End sanctuary cities

  • Require large cities and their Police to enforce immigration laws.
    • The largest American cities were focusing on solving larger violence problems, and concerns about helping victims of crime who are undocumented.
    • This can dramatically change, requiring all Police to check on immigration status, thus severely impacting life in big cities.

Immediately terminate DACA

  • This affects up to 700,000 people who entered the US as children, finished high school in America, and remained in the country.
    • Under DACA, these child arrivals received a stay from deportation, obtained work authorization and were able to study.
      • With DACA canceled, these persons would lose their permission to work, and if in school, may be expelled.
    • This is especially significant as these childhood arrivals came here through no fault of their own, and many of them are indistinguishable from other young Americans.

Trump also proposes reforms to the immigration system so that immigrants are admitted based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.  Trump would vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions, and people, and temporarily suspend immigration from certain regions.

trump and immigration

What Does This Mean to US?


The number one issue is to – stay legally in the USA.  If you have a valid visa, it is critical that you keep that visa valid or apply for a more suitable visa – Student, Employment, Training, Specialty Occupation, etc.

If you have friends or relatives wanting to come to the USA -make sure they apply for the proper visa BEFORE they come.  Permanent residency can be obtained through a job offer within 18 months and applies to the worker and their entire family.  If your friends or family intend to stay and work – have them apply for a green card.  Persons can be sponsored through job offers in a variety of positions from non-skilled to highly skilled – domestic workers, nannies, truck drivers, carpenters, programmers, business managers – the possibilities are endless.

Trump’s proposals for immigration reform would support granting permanent residency to those with jobs who add to the economy. Current programs such as labor certification – or obtaining permanent residency through a job offer, will likely continue.



If you can, apply for permanent residency immediately.

President Obama’s programs remain in effect until January 20, 2017:

  1. WAIVERS – Of illegal entries and overstayed visas if either of your parents or spouse is a permanent resident or citizen, and you have a currently available petition
  2. DACA – If you arrived in the USA before the age of 16 and are 15-30 years old, you can apply for special protected status for 2 years, obtain work authorization, and can even travel outside of the USA. This program will end 1/20/2017 or soon after.

IF NONE OF THE ABOVE  apply to you and you no longer have a valid visa – you should at least begin the process of applying for permanent residency.  If President Trump does increase enforcement of immigration laws, some priority must be given to the removal of illegal aliens.  That priority, although unknown, must include some for of mitigating factors.


Learn more about Hardship Evaluations.


Chris Kurczaba



(773) 774-0000

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