Accustomed to the Chaos

Odds are, at some point in your life you will find yourself in a “toxic” relationship.

As soon as you point your finger, another is pointed back at you.

Towards the end, everything becomes one jumbled mess of pain and heartache. A lot of the time, once it’s over,  we wonder why we stayed for so long.

I know from my experience, I am not completely absent from blame. Many times both parties in the relationship had been victimized and the tangled web of hurtful words and actions became indistinguishable.

It took a frank conversation with family members to get me to the point of ending the relationship. But, no matter how much I had been hurt and knew I hurt him I STILL craved a relationship with this person.

Toxic relationships can do this to a person.

At a certain point, we become accustomed to the chaos.

But why do we continue to put ourselves through this?

Why do we not get out of the relationship before its wreckage has piled up so high it seems impossible to break through?

I wish I had answers. But no how many articles I read about toxic relationships, or how many times my family members came to me with worried eyes after an explosive phone call, I was not able to see how this relationship was deeply affecting me.

I can not emphasize enough the importance of listening to yourself and your feelings, while also understanding you cannot fix people.

If you start noticing behaviors in your relationship that are troubling or cause you distress, do not ignore them. Saying “I love you” more, or spending more time with that person will probably not make that person love you any more.

If you feel unappreciated, giving your significant other the world will likely not change that. Making unhealthy sacrifices in your own life to make them feel more secure will not make everything better.

We tend to think each bad fight might be the last one, each hurtful comment, each tearful phone call will be the last time.

It’s not. I promise.

If you find yourself settling into this pattern, I urge to you look at your relationship from a loved one’s perspective. Often times I would use the excuse, “My parents don’t know my relationship. They do not see all the good things he’s done for me.” But they did hear me yelling from my bedroom on the phone, or crying after trying to prove to my significant other that I was not seeing anybody else.

Since ending my relationship, I have truly found myself. Instead of putting all of my energy into “fixing” it  and contributing to the chaos that it was, I am now taking care of myself.

I started focusing on friendships I had neglected during the duration of my relationship and have apologized to those I hurt with my absence.

The damage and chaos of a toxic relationship is not worth the absence of loneliness being with someone provides.

If you feel that you may be involved in a toxic relationship, lean on those that love you. And realize you are not alone. Making the decision to end a relationship is always scary. Nobody wants to feel alone, or like they failed.

But I promise you, as you begin to heal, you will know it is the best decision you ever made.

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What Are You Willing to do for Your Recovery?

As 2017 comes around the corner, a lot of us are making New Years resolutions. 

Whether it’s to lose a couple pounds, quit smoking or to start and/or continue on your road to recovery, a new year always seems like a great time to start. 

But what are you willing to do for your resolution? What are you willing to do for your recovery? 

When difficult times fall upon you, are you going to reach out to your sponsor? Or are you going to reach for a drink? 

Are you willing to make amends to those you have hurt or wronged in the past? Are you willing to clean your side of the street, even though that may not fix everything? 

Recovery does not suck, but it is also not a cake walk. And there are times where you will be uncomfortable. 

But you need to be willing to walk through those times, and reach out to those who want the best for you to get you through it. 

If you are willing to put in the work, we are willing to guide and direct you to places that can get you there. 

Recovery does not suck, and there is so much hope. Happy New Years from A Man in Recovery Foundation and please reach out to us if you need help on your journey to recovery. 

Darek Horan (630)-730-8323

Ashley Buffano (847)-361-0422

Tim Ryan (312)-502-8671

Chris Reed (847) 307-1143

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Slow Down

“Slow your brain down.”

If I had a dollar for every time my mother had to tell me this.

In this day and age, we are expected to carry the world on our shoulders and then some. We are expected to know about current events, execute tasks effectively and correctly, while we provide for those we love. And still, at the end of the day, we are expected to be a decent human being.

It can get difficult at times.

Especially when the world feels like it is spinning faster than you can keep up with, and sometimes you are not able to do all that is expected of you. Or, in my case, you start to lose credit cards, cell phones, pretty much anything that is important to you.

During this stressful holiday season, it is so important that we remember to slow down and appreciate every moment. There is an incredible amount of pressure to keep up with everything and everyone, but sometimes you can’t.

And that is okay.

If you are feeling extra anxiety during this time, I suggest you try this mindfulness exercise. It helps me get grounded and reminds me to just slow my brain down and focus on one thing at a time. ]

Happy Holidays everyone, remember to be mindful and present.

Hand Mindfulness Exercise


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The Cost of Recovery

As the weather gets colder and the days get darker, many addicts find themselves retreating into their addiction more than before.

At AMIRF, we generally see an increase in those seeking help and unfortunately overdoses during the holiday season.

This year is no exception.

Over the past 30 days, AMIRF has put Eight people into long-term treatment programs and 12 into sober homes.

We are thrilled that we have been able to reach so many people, however, putting people into treatment is not cheap.

Scholarship for one month of treatment = $1,400 dollars


Train ticket to treatment center = $300 dollars

= $1,700 dollars

Currently, 80 percent of AMIRF’s funds are from Tim Ryan’s motivational speaking events and it is becoming more and more difficult to provide for those who need our help.

This Tuesday is Giving Tuesday, so please consider donating to AMIRF. If it is not your loved one who needs help, it is someone else’s. Please consider giving someone’s child or parent the gift of recovery this holiday season.

Thank you for helping us continue to fight the good fight.unknown

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The Face of the Modern Day Heroin Addict

As a country, we have many ignorances about heroin and opiate addiction. We are just now seeing that those we should trust the most (doctors) may play a hand in this, we have also learned that no one is immune to this disease.

Race, class, sex, it does not matter. Heroin does not discriminate.

The image of a troubled teen, slumped in a dark alley with a needle in his arm is no longer accurate.

Heroin has snuck into our suburbs, it has claimed the lives of popular cheerleaders, jocks and young, creative souls. So why has the past rhetoric stuck?

I believe that when we reduce this problem to some random, strung out kid in an alley, we lose ownership of this disease.  It’s a lot easier to say, “Oh, this could never happen HERE.” “Not, my kid!” Or, “They’re way too happy to use drugs.”

When we reduce drug addiction to something foreign that cannot reach us, we give the disease more power.

We need to accept the fact that heroin and other opiates are here, and they are not going anywhere soon. The longer it takes us to accept that this is our problem, the longer it will take to fix it.

So yes, it can be your kid. It can be your best friend. It can be your boss, teacher, even your doctor. But, we need to be vigilant. Having Narcan with you, being trained in how to respond to an overdose and knowing the warning signs of a brewing addiction are important steps in making sure this problem does not reach the ones you love.

AMIRF puts on The Cop the Kids and the Convict presentations where those attending can arm themselves with computer monitoring systems and drug-testing kits. Tim Ryan also runs opiate support group programs where attendees can receive FREE Narcan and Narcan training.

Just because drug addiction can reach anyone, does not mean it has too.

Arm yourself, get educated and take ownership of this disease. We will be here to help.


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Tim Ryan Speaks to Chicago Tribune about Upcoming “The Cop, the Convict and the Kids,” Presentation.

Story originally appeared Nov. 9, 2016 in the Chicago Tribune, written by Denise Crosby. 

Tim Ryan and Brandon Novak will be speaking at the Naperville Municipal Center today at 7:00pm and at East Aurora High School Nov. 14 at 7:00pm. The two will be joined by A Cop,  Sgt. Rich Wistoki, a Kid, Jessica Gerke and a convict: Tim Ryan.

Ryan spoke with the Tribune about his education efforts, being four years sober and presenting with former Jackass star Brandon Novak.

Read full story at link below.

Link to story here



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The importance of group therapy in addiction recovery

“Hello, may name is ______ and I’m an alcoholic drug addict.”

Many of us have been in situations where we have had to utter these words. Sitting in a lazily-formed circle, looking around the room for answers in other’s faces and body language. We saw tired faces, weary from life. We’ve seen faces that looked happier than others, sleepy faces, scarred faces, scared faces, tattooed faces. We’ve seen legs shake in anticipation of speaking, or hands clutching the Big Book as if its the only thing tying that person to the planet.

We’ve been in group therapy.

According to an article in Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41group therapy, or group, can be incredibly rewarding for individuals recovering from addiction. These groups can reduce isolation and allow members to watch the recovery of their peers. The group format also addresses common symptoms accompanying drug addiction, such as depression and shame.

Having someone say, “Hey man, I’ve been there too.” Or, “I feel the same exact way!” Can be an incredibly healing experience. Not only can you see that it is possible to make it through whatever you are dealing with, but that person can also give you advice from their own experience.

Humans are social creatures, we crave interpersonal relationships. In the throws of addiction, we may isolate ourselves from those who care about us and therefore cause ourselves more pain.

Although A Man in Recovery does not provide clinical group therapy, and someone seeking that should reach out to a treatment facility, we do offer support groups that are open to anyone.

At these groups we have parents, loved ones and addicts share experiences, in their respective groups, about what they are currently going through or struggling with. Through these groups, participants receive support or advice from a diverse group of individuals and see that they are not alone.

Groups such as this or 12-step programs are an important addition to an addicts recovery, however they cannot replace clinical group therapy. In fact, most treatment facilities make attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or similar programs mandatory, according to Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41. These groups act as a supplement to the treatment process, and should be treated as such.

Sitting in a group of strangers can be terrifying. But, there is no better feeling than watching the transformation of that group from strangers, to friends and finally family.


For times, dates and locations of AMIRF support group meetings visit this page. 



Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from:


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BREAKING: Tim Ryan Releases New Chapter from Book! 


“We love to think about the way things were/But the time has come, and I’m glad it’s over…”

Lyrics by Keane, “Snowed Under”, 2004, from Hopes and Fears

My dope was gone, my dope sickness was gone, and my will was gone. But for the first time in a while, hope replaced dope in my life.

At 3 a.m. on my day of transfer, they came for me. What is it about prisons and 3 a.m.? Do they ever do anything during normal business hours? Then I remembered that much of my life outside of prison kept the same backwards schedule. When I partied, many nights were just starting to pick up at 3 a.m.

While waiting to be taken to the bus for the prison transfer, they locked me in a bullpen with the loudest, most obnoxious person I’d ever met. 

“On my momma, keep the 100. On my momma…” he kept chanting like a fool.

God, keep this guy away from me, I begged.

We sat in that holding cell for hours. 

One by one, guards took us fully shackled in chains and loaded us on a dingy, old bus that had a heavy tint all over the windows. They bolted the chains to the floor so we wouldn’t be able to do anything crazy, like hurt anyone or escape. I could see out the windows a little. I flashed back to the movie The Fugitive. I guess I was living a life of the movies, just not one I’d pick out of a pile of choices. 

While I was taking in the brutal reality of my surroundings, who do you think got seated and shackled in the seat right next to me? Yeah, Loudmouth from the bullpen. 

Okay, God. I can handle a bus ride with this nut. But please, don’t let him get off at Sheridan.

The bus lurched forward. I remembered that scene from The Fugitive when the bus wrecked and then got hit by a train. If the bus rolled over, we’d all be found dead hanging upside down. 

As we exited the prison and entered the freeway, I looked out the window at the other cars: people headed off to work, kids going to school, and a few likely up to shenanigans. I thought about Shannon and my kids. It would take me two hours to get to Sheridan. What were they doing now? What would they be doing when I got to Sheridan? 

I tried to tune him out the yammering guy shackled next to me. Meanwhile people were striking up conversation. 

“I got a five piece,” one said.

“I got a year,” another responded.

“Ya’ll pussies,” another boasted. “I got a 12 piece” 

They went on and on like this was no big deal, just a way of life. And for many of these guys, it was a way of life. I know that I didn’t look like a belonged here. I wasn’t built like any of them. The heroin had reduced me to a bag of bones covered with loose-fitting skin. Anyone glancing at my face would immediately know that I didn’t look like this was just another day. 

There was another guy behind me who didn’t look like he fit in, either. He was sitting alone, and he was double shackled. 

“How much time you get, whitey?” one of the other guys asked him. 

He turned, stared his questioner in the face, and said calmly, “Forty to life.” The bus got silent for the first time, and all I heard was the whirring of the tires going down the Illinois toll-way—the same toll-way taking women to deliver babies and men to job interviews. 

“What d’ you do?” someone asked. It didn’t matter who said it; we were all thinking it.

“I caught my girlfriend cheating on me. I cut off her head…and her boyfriend’s head. Then I mailed them to her mom.” He looked around at the others. A lot of eyes got very wide instantly. Damn, a voice said from behind him. Damn, whitey.

Loudmouth rocked back and forth while saying, “On my momma, keep the 100. On my momma…”. 

What the hell am I doing here? I thought. What’s going to happen to me? 

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Addiction is a disease, so why do we shame people for relapsing?

Addiction or drug abuse is a malfunctioning of the brain’s reward system, but that is not the only part of the brain that drug abuse affects.

Heroin allows the brain to saturate itself with dopamine. Because of this, dopamine receptors will decrease their sensitivity and even kill off certain receptors in order to protect from the incredible amount of the neurotransmitter.

When a heroin addict begins to abstain from their drug of choice, it does not mean that the brain automatically goes back to normal. Most of the time severe damage has been done and it will take months, even years to fully recover.


So, even with the clear scientific data showing that the brains of addicts are not functioning as fully as they could be, why do we shame and ridicule addicts if they relapse?

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We need to look at and talk about addiction as a brain disease. Till then, we will be unable to have intelligent and productive conversations about the drug epidemic in our country. When someone experiences a relapse of hypertension (high blood pressure) we do not get angry with them. We do not say, “How could you do this to us?” We might be worried about that individual’s health and help them with a new diet, but we would not call them “weak” or shame them.

Addiction is no different.

When 40 to 60 percent of people are relapsing with this disease, it is not because they want to. Many individuals who have fought hard for their recovery and other’s recovery will fall into the grips of their addiction at one time or another. It is our job to stand with them, and continue to help them fight against the dangerous and deadly disease of addiction.

Drug addiction has serious consequences. It can rip apart your family life and cause legal troubles that last for years, something that cannot necessarily be said for other diseases such as hypertension.

These consequences have placed a seemingly unbreakable stigma on drug addiction, keeping individuals from seeking treatment, shaming those that do and causing some to blame addicts for something as uncontrollable as a relapse.

A relapse does not mean you have no chance at recovery. A relapse is an opportunity for friends, loved ones and professionals to come to your aid and help you back to your feet again. It is not our job to ridicule and shame those struggling with their battle.

We owe it to our friends and loved ones who are struggling with relapse to learn more about their condition, and know that their sickness is not who they are.

So, stop throwing stones and kicking those who are down. We at AMIRF will not stand for it. If you would like more education on the disease of the addiction, please contact us. We would be happy to help you understand.

Images used in blog taken from

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