DeAnna Jordan, relationship and addiction recovery specialist, is enthusiastic and extremely passionate about service in recovery. After embarking on her own personal recovery experience she has made helping others in recovery a personal priority. DeAnna has worked in recovery services for over 20 years, specializing in the maintenance of healthy relationships. She covers a broad spectrum of issues such as how to maintain healthy marriages, intimacy, relationship and addiction issues ranging from drugs and alcohol to co-dependency/love addictions.
DeAnna attended the University of California in Irvine where she received her bachelor’s degree after which she did post-graduate work at Centaur University. In Centaur’s Chemical Dependency program, DeAnna graduated in the top one percent of her class with CAADAC certification and went on to become a talented and respected drug abuse counselor at New Method Wellness.
I had the privilege of interviewing DeAnna a few days ago. During our conversation, as you will find below, she shared valuable principles on love and addiction and how they intertwine.
Cherese: DeAnna, I have read about your extensive background as it relates to empowering people in the arena of recovery. After the first few seconds of speaking with you the passion and zeal for helping others was so apparent. How did you get started on your journey to help others?
DeAnna: I started in addiction recovery over 20 years ago. The journey actually began after I had experienced my own struggle with drugs and alcohol 25 years ago. Once I began my recovery process I was really afraid to go back out and join that “lifestyle” again and I was told if I started helping other people it would be the best way to ensure that I avoided any type of relapse. So, that is exactly what I did.
I started doing volunteer and charity work, helping everybody I could find that would listen to me about drugs and alcohol. I would go to women’s shelters and other places just trying to help women get back on their feet. Once I realized I had a talent for it I decided to go back to school and became a drug and alcohol counselor. I did that for a lengthy period of time which prompted me to get my Marriage and Family Therapist license (MFT). Nearly seven years ago I went ahead and opened my own treatment center in southern California.
Cherese: I can see that you were already successful and flourishing in your career field, what made you decide to open your own treatment center?
DeAnna: I had worked for so many treatment centers and felt like they were doing it the wrong way. I would look at certain methods and say, “There is no way this is helping people.” The old school idea, “I’m going to knock you down and beat you up. I’m going to shame you and tell you to stop drinking and smoking” does not work. I believe that drug addicts and alcohol abusers beat themselves up so much already that for me to beat them up is counter-productive. That method only reinforces their negative belief and makes them wonder why they should get sober.
I decided I wanted to embrace a new approach; a different way of doing it. I’m not the first to transition to this method but the basis of it is “healing is in loving.” Healing involves a lot of love and clear boundaries. I tell all of my clients that non-negotiable self-care is paramount. Only after you have taken care of yourself as a priority will you be able to help others.
Cherese: What do you think about the all of the cases of addiction that have flooded the news lately? Every day it seems like another story of addiction surfaces, especially with those who possess a “celebrity” type status.
DeAnna: It is not like people are addicted because they are bad people or because they are malicious; no, there is a true and serious problem of addiction in this country. In our country addiction is not only accepted it is demanded; there is a demand on consumption, a demand on overusing – as much as you can get. The theme seems to be use as much as you can, get as much as you can and party as much as you can. We are destroying ourselves because we are not built as human beings to live this way.
In this country people who are responsible are considered boring. By far, the people who are “boring” and not sensationalized live healthy lives. If you do the right thing, don’t drink and drive, take care of yourself and stop at a certain level then you are considered boring. What is considered exciting are the people who are wrecking their lives. So in order to be a healthy human being we are going to have to redefine what we consider boring.
The problem with this is our young people are growing up and watching this behavior and thinking that is how life should be. They think this is what I need to emulate in order to have a great life – similar the ones they see in the media. This causes unrealistic expectation and as a result they become depressed. What they fail to realize is what is seen on television is sensationalized, not really the way real people live.
Cherese: I know you share principles on love and addiction and how they intertwine. Tell me about this concept and how the two feed off each other.
DeAnna: We are taught in our cultures that as women we should always be beautiful, really thin and look like Barbie or a princess; all while sacrificing yourself. Fairytales offer these mixed messages and cause a lot of people to grow up thinking life will be like a fairytale. The reality is your life can be like a fairytale but you have to write it. It cannot be someone else’s fairytale – that will never work. It has to be your own. If you don’t write it you cannot sit around waiting for Disney’s version of it.
I encourage young girls that I work with to write a fairytale describing what they want their life journey to look like. This does not mean some guy pulling up in a Mercedes and sweeping them off their feet. Instead how about going to school and educating yourself so that you can become who you want to be and do what your heart desires. I came from living in my car to educating myself through grants, scholarships and loans – working my behind off. I did not wait for it; I “wrote” it and worked for it.
With love addiction people see who they want to see. In other words, when couples meet each other too often they see who they want to see as opposed to the authentic person that really exists. Then about three years later they are asking their partner, “Why are you not who I thought you were?” It takes three years to really get to know your partner. The problem is they attributed “magical” qualities to their partner which were never there, because they were writing the story as they went along.
Cherese: So when dealing with love addiction it is important for individuals to write their own story as opposed to sitting around waiting for life to happen. How do you explain the process?
DeAnna: The first thing I deal with in love addiction is unrealistic expectations. We make up stories in our head, and in our minds the stories we have created are accepted as truth without even checking it out. People literally die from love addiction and while some don’t believe it – it is still truth. Many people have died as a result of having unprotected sex or they went home with a stranger and were killed. Then there are countless others who have committed suicide due to a bitter break up. There are serious consequences to love addition and the first step is realizing that you are behaving at an entirely different level than you should.
Love addiction can be cute when you are 15-years-old and are writing a boy’s name on your notebook after yours. However, when you are 30 and are exemplifying the same behavior it is embarrassing and by 40 it is downright repulsive. In other words, if you cannot mature through whatever stopped you from growing emotionally during your teenage years and you are still treating relationships the same way this is a real problem. You will attract whatever you are putting out. The only way to find comfort through this dysfunction is through food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, work or other addictions – whatever it takes to calm that anxiety.
Cherese: That is so true and what happens is it turns into a cycle which confirms itself as an addiction. Is this the reason you tell people it is important to wait 90 days before having sex?
DeAnna: Exactly, it becomes a love addiction. People always laugh when I say they should wait at least 90 days to have sex. They think OMG that is so old-fashioned! What they fail to realize is in the first 30 days of a relationship people are in the honeymoon stage. So they have no idea who the person really is, they only know the honeymoon stuff. Then the second set of 30 days is when they start to see some things they dislike about their partner. And the last 30 days is when they can determine whether or not they really want to be with this person and if the other party is really valuable for their life. Only then can you make a conscious decision because your head is clear and you know this person and have developed a real friendship. This is not a moral judgment, but a self loving choice. This is just another way to be kind to yourself.
Cherese: I agree with that principle because once you have sex things instantly, for women, become emotional. Intercourse enhances our blind spots.
DeAnna: Right, it is all over. Now you cannot make any clear judgments concerning the relationship. Dr. Pat Allen taught me this, “Don’t ever have sex with a man before you know what his plans for you are.” Women have sex and think it mandates a relationship and the guy is saying, “We are not in a relationship. I never said I wanted to be in a relationship – I thought we were just having sex.” This has now manifested as an unrealistic expectation which was never communicated.
If you ask him what his plans are for you and he says I don’t really have any I just want to take it one day at a time – that’s clear and it is fair because it has been communicated. What happens afterwards is your choice but he has given you the tools you need to make a conscious decision.
Cherese: Why do you think so many women fail to ask their partner what his or her plans are for them?
DeAnna: So many girls and even women don’t have enough self-esteem to ask what their partner where he wants the relationship to go. Too often people feel like a zero and expect their partner to spend all day making them feel like a 10; that is not a relationship. It is also not a reality because no one can sustain that type of pressure. Again, waiting 90 days is not a moral call, it is a self loving call; one that makes you so powerful!
People wonder why they feel so mixed up. All of their cells have switched; the cells in my body have joined the cells in your body. All of these cells from the different people they have had sex with have their emotions so mixed up. After sex women become bonded and that is because we are created that way. When women are going to have an orgasm or even nurse a baby they have a lot of oxytocin; their bodies become flooded with this chemical. We were created that way so that when we have sex with our partner we bond to them.
So here you are bonded to this guy and all this oxytocin is flowing every time you see, smell him or hear his voice. You become like a drug addict, you want that feeling again. The issue is men don’t produce oxytocin when they have sex, so they can very easily walk away like “thank you I’m done – goodbye.”
When I’m counseling people far too often they say “I just can’t leave this man” and I say of course you can’t because you’ve bonded to him. The only way you can leave him and get him out of your system is if you spent two years not hearing, talking to or smelling him. If you go back around him you’re going to talk to him, smell him or hear his voice; all of a sudden that oxytocin is going to start flowing and before you know it you will become “joined” to him again.
Cherese: It is important that people really understand how vital this information is. You communicate it in a way that is so clear and direct.
DeAnna: It is direct because it’s the way God made us. If we cannot handle it and get some new dating and relationship tools we will continue to victimize ourselves. Women have fought so hard for so much that it does not make sense to continuously put ourselves in a victimized state. What I have found is there are so many people who do not understand the concept and reality of love addiction. We cannot expect people to behave if they don’t know better or possess the tools to make better choices. This is why I’m so passionate about helping those who seek a better life for themselves.
Cherese: I really enjoyed speaking with you and I fully understand why you are considered an expert in addiction recovery and relationship therapy. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule of helping others to share with the readers of Guardian Liberty Voice.
DeAnna is the Clinical Director of New Method Wellness. This addiction treatment center is located in beautiful San Juan Capistrano, California. It is composed certified staff members whose every day goal is to help anyone that enters their facility acquire the help and care that they need. Unlike other treatment teams the staff at New Method Wellness makes a life-long guarantee that upon completion of the program they will provide attentive after- care to all alumni who seek it.
Stay tuned for more informational articles on healthy relationships and addiction recovery with DeAnna Jordan. In the interim you can find her at www.newmethodwellness.com.
Interview by: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
DeAnna Jordan (Interview)
New Method Wellness