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How to Plant a Seed for Recovery In Addicts and Alcoholics…

Re-post from Fit Recovery.

I love this post from fellow word press blogger, because these are things I constantly say to my son. Let’s hope seeds are being planted and silently being nourished in love…..

If you have an addict or alcoholic who desperately needs corrective action, but you don’t know what to do, allow me to offer you this: Plant seeds. Tiny, pernicious seeds. The inspiration for this post comes from an ear worm I’d suffered through lately from an Alice In Chains song. Here’s the worm: What’s your […]

How to Plant a Seed for Recovery In Addicts and Alcoholics…
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Seeing Addiction Through a Trauma Informed Lens

From Maryland Addiction Recovery Center

By Robyn Brickel, MA, LMFT

In the struggle with substance abuse, sometimes the goal of just getting free from the frightening dependence on drugs or alcohol can hijack all our attention.  So, as a therapist, I want to thank you for your June 10, 2016 article on “The Link Between Trauma and Addiction,” and allowing me to write a follow up article from a trauma-informed care perspective.  

I cannot stress enough how important it is to consider and treat trauma when we talk about addiction treatment and recovery.  There is always a reason someone is using. When a pattern of addiction behavior has taken hold, it is not because it’s fun or feels good. People use because they are trying to maintain a sense of feeling “normal,” to feel less badly, or to feel less of anything at all.

What kind of trauma are we talking about? You said it perfectly, “trauma can be different for everyone.”  Indeed, trauma is in the eye of the perceiver.

What is Trauma?

Trauma happens when something overwhelms and threatens a person’s sense of safety or ability to cope. One person’s forgettable incident may be another person’s haunting memory. For some, it could be their parents’ divorce. It could be getting lost in the grocery store. It could be having a childhood illness, or being in the hospital. It may be witnessing violence, or the suffering of a family member. It may happen with an abusive, absent or addicted parent, or silent emotional distance from a primary caregiver.

Trauma can actually be any event!  What matters is that the person perceived trauma in their life.  We need to recognize its impact on a person’s mental health and its certain role in addiction.

Often people who develop addiction don’t see themselves as trauma survivors.  I want to encourage more people — therapists and families and people struggling with addiction — to see addiction recovery through a trauma-informed lens.

What It Means to Be Trauma-Informed

Becoming trauma-informed means learning about the impact of overwhelming, toxic stress on every part of the trauma survivor’s life.  As a therapist, providing trauma-informed care means being aware that for people that are using addiction behavior, a history of trauma is nearly always part of their experience. We need to become skilled and adept at guiding the recovery process to include treatment for trauma. This way long-term recovery is more likely to be sustainable.

Therapists study many principles and treatment methods in trauma-informed care. But here I’d like to focus on three ways a trauma-informed approach helps with addiction recovery:

  • It takes a non-pathologizing view — respecting the person in recovery as a worthy human being; they are not bad people, just people in pain!
  • It builds awareness of stages of recovery — a “road map” for healing, not just the using behavior, but the pain that they were trying to address by using.
  • It enables the client, trauma survivors, to replace self-harming/addictive behavior with self-care, even with the same emotional triggers.

The Non-Pathologizing View in Trauma-Informed Care

Many who struggle with addiction have self-tormenting thoughts about how weak, flawed or somehow defective they are for having this problem. Being non-pathologizing means seeing the person recovering as a human being in pain facing great challenges, not a defective person.

Trauma-informed therapy creates a space to recognize and claim the innate worth of the person in recovery.  It does not mean turning a blind eye to substance abuse. Rather, we see people who tried to numb themselves to feel less badly, not because they are bad.

The non-pathologizing approach of trauma-informed care helps build the trust and safety needed for healing. But it’s also important because it offers survivors a valid self-caring way to see themselves.  They can see that they turned to self-harming addictions because there was nowhere else to turn to feel less, or to feel less badly. But now we can find a healthier path.  There is hope!


Understanding Stages of Recovery

Therapist and author Judith Herman describes three stages of recovery from trauma, including addiction:

  • Stage 1: Safety and Stabilization
  • Stage 2: Remembering and Mourning
  • Stage 3: Reconnecting and Integration

Stage 1: Safety and Stabilization, the Longest Stage

Stage 1 is all about getting a sense of being clean and sober, and learning coping skills to deal with emotions, painful thoughts and feelings, and urges to use. When emotions are no longer numb, many in recovery feel overwhelming anxiety or depression, and they don’t know what to do.

I believe Stage 1 is the most important stage, and it’s only the beginning of the journey.

The first goal is to develop coping skills so a person in recovery knows what to do to recognize and deal with emotions in healthier ways.

It’s also about learning skills to manage painful mental states such as flashbacks or self-criticism.  Helpful skills include mindfulness, self-care and finding trusted resources and supportive people and groups that might include 12-step programs. Therapists may want to incorporate Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) and many other modalities to help those in recovery develop strengths and stable relationships, and minimize unhelpful responses.  (Some therapists, myself included, use training in multiple modalities such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Ego State Psychotherapy, and EMDR, which are helpful in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of treatment and recovery.)

It is so important for family members and people in recovery to understand this process.  It’s important to realize that completing a 28-day program doesn’t mean you’re done – you’ve only just begun. It takes time to build new coping skills. It takes time to develop connections with supportive people and 12-step or other support groups.  That’s why Stage 1 is the longest stage of trauma and addiction recovery.

About Stage 2: Remembering and Mourning

In Stage 2, stabilization to gain freedom from substance use allows people to stay present and grounded while they make sense of what happened in their lives. Trauma-informed therapy helps survivors to process unresolved trauma.  Mourning the loss of the happy childhood or peace of mind that you could not enjoy is part of this process.

As a trauma survivor, you learn that this is part of your experience, but it’s not who you are.   You do not have to recall every detail to heal, but you can remember it if you wish, and retell it without reliving it. Because of Stage 1, you are able to stay in the present moment as you review the past. You know healthy ways to cope with any triggers or cravings to use that may appear.

About Stage 3: Reconnection and Integration

In Stage 3, unresolved trauma no longer defines or organizes your life. You recognize the impact of trauma – but you can heal, grow and live with it. You experienced overwhelming difficulty, but now you are growing from that. Your goal is to pursue a happy, healthy, loving life.

Replacing Self-harming Behavior with Self-Care

Therapist and author Babette Rothschild reminds us “the first goal of trauma recovery must be to improve your quality of life on a daily basis.”

It’s about living your life in the present moment, so you’re not living in the body’s unhealed response to traumatic memories.  It really is a matter of improving your quality of life.

Even if progress in trauma treatment feels slow, that does not make it poor progress.  Maintaining sobriety and recovery while processing difficult feelings and emotions is the key – stabilization is always required to make progress.  In fact, slow progress is often good progress. That is because trauma-informed recovery allows us to honor the time it takes to cultivate new skills, strengths and abilities to maintain healthy behaviors and resilient healing.

For everyone, understanding trauma’s role in addiction helps us better support people in recovery.  Being trauma-informed helps those in recovery to understand themselves and why they began using, their need for emotional safety, the universal need for healthy coping skills and connections, and their right to feel calm and good about themselves. In treatment, it helps therapists guide a positive journey to greater self-understanding, self-care and powerful coping skills.  It is the most powerful approach I know to grow from addiction into a fulfilling, self-directed life that is not trauma driven.

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False Accusations

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I had a neighbor lady who sold Avon & also worked at the post office. I used to babysit her kids once in a while.

One day on my usual route after school, I went to the post office to pick up the mail from Box 169. As soon as I pulled the heavy door open, I could feel a chill in the air. I opened my mailbox & found the familiar yellow card that meant there was a bigger package behind the counter. As I put the yellow card on the counter the lady said to me, “Samantha! I need to talk to you”. I could feel the icy-ness dripping from her words in an accusatory tone.
As I swallowed the scared lump rising into my throat; I said, timidly, “Okayyy”.

She then proceeded to tell me that she had a large bag of Avon makeup in her living room closet that was now gone and there had only been 3 people in her house that week and I was one of them.

I felt the blood drain from my body and my knees grew weak. I felt a dark tight tunnel closing in around me. I stood there completely aghast & speechless.

What I now know, is that I was experiencing the flight or fight syndrome, as I talked about in my previous post The Addicts Plea.

So here I am, an 11-year-old girl, alone with a significant adult in the community who had a certain power (to gossip) trying to defend myself with zero communication skills. And even less conflict resolution skills (I still lack).

So what did I do? I chose the only thing I knew – escape!

I ran! I ran the two blocks home in utter terror.

I got home, ran up to my room and fell into my bed in tears. I was caught completely off guard & thoroughly embarrassed that I was thought of as a thief and of course the whole town would know.

In her eyes of course, my fleeing meant guilt. I think I kind of remember a phone call after that but I don’t remember anyone ever talking to me about it. If there ever was a phone call, I’m sure my mother told her right where she could go & how to get there.

All I know Is that, of course, I never babysat again and I avoided the post office when she was in there.

This event was so traumatic to me that I found myself questioning if maybe I had taken it! Surely an adult as powerful as her wouldn’t accuse me if she didn’t have good reason. My un-experienced brain just couldn’t process that without some guidance, which I didn’t get.
But what my brain DID process was:

  • People can & will turn on you- no matter what (trust issues)
  • I must be over vigilant in proving that I’m doing nothing wrong (paranoia/ over compensate)
  • When someone does turn on you, there’s no going back. Sorry isn’t good enough because you will never be believed (avoidance/shame / unforgivable)
  • Not to trust myself

Call this unresolved issues, and baggage -40 year old white Avon baggage! It wouldn’t be the last time I flee-ed an uncomfortable situation. As a result, I have tread lightly with people and relationships. Of course every negative experience adds to this internal map we all have and the stories we tell ourselves about that map.

With me, the overwhelming fear of not knowing what I’ve done wrong mixed with the confusion of wondering if maybe I am a bad person and I just don’t realize it! Otherwise, why would this nice (or powerful or beautiful- insert any word you want) person be accusing ME of it?

The lasting residual of events such as this, with most relationships; is to gain control BEFORE they turn on me- lash out- even subconsciously- before they have a chance to. Going cold is another defense mechanism.

People wouldn’t really call my experience a trauma in the context of traumas, but it is to me.

So if I meet a woman in a position of power; and I am standoffish, or I feel unequal to her- so why even try- this may be a reason. And I absolutely despise getting in trouble. Even with strangers. Because I know my intent was never to do what they are accusing me of.

We just don’t know why people choose the things they do.

We don’t know why people act insecure or boastful or scared. I’m starting to see that what we see as poor choices or weird is maybe what kept them alive in the moment! Maybe it was self preservation!

In the case of choosing substances, of course, they never, ever anticipated the consequences to be so bad. But the choice at the time was what helped them through whatever they were dealing with.

My fav Instagram recovery & homeless advocate explains it wonderfully.

Insta

If you’ve known me for a while now, you’ll have heard me talk about how my drug use played a huge part in saving me from dying by suicide as a teen and a young woman. In a perfect world I would’ve had different tools, different support systems, and hell… I would’ve had a different life entirely. But we don’t live in a perfect world and so all responses, even imperfect ones are valid.⁣

Sometimes self destruction and self preservation can look almost identical from the outside. Chaotic drug use can also serve as the only inner calm that a person who’s consumed with trauma or existing in traumatic circumstances may be able to access at the time.⁣

Don’t assume that you know what internal battles a person is fighting.⁣
Sometimes what you see as “the problem” is actually “the solution” for that moment. Sometimes what you view as disordered is actually the very behavior that is helping them maintain order as they navigate pain that you know nothing about.⁣

I have come to believe that is why my son stays stuck. Avoidance is his trauma response. The trauma of losing his dream business, his family, his livelihood- everything that humans hold dear-has created an avoidance response. In order to protect himself, he has cut himself off from caring.

Once in a while it will peak out, like a child grounded to his room for throwing a fit; to see if its safe to come out. Is everyone still mad at me? If it doesn’t feel safe, back in he goes, like a turtle hiding under his shell. My sons shell is drugs. He’s isolated himself to that world and the people who do love him are stuck in their own trauma & pain of the situation.

This is why family recovery is so important. To place all the work on the person with the damaged brain & zero resources or coping skills seems ridiculous. But that’s what most families do. “Don’t contact me until your sober”, is the mantra.

My son is very ill. Yes, recovery has to be his choice, no one can make it for him. But the environment to recover in, can’t be overlooked either. Jail really isn’t ideal, & on the street in the chaos of trying to fill basic needs doesn’t seem to work either. I pray for all suffering that we can find our own safe place in which to heal.

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The Addicts Plea

Emotionally, the argument between choice versus disease exhausts me.

I heard it again this morning… From a nurse….

“They choose to stay in that situation”

I wonder if- as a nurse – she would say that to a domestic violence victim.

The last few days of intently listening to my son’s fears of prison and his charges- {He has court tomorrow}-for possession of feeding his cravings for a disease that he thought would exclude him; I am sitting here in complete desperation and fear myself. I’m exhausted from trying to explain to people that NO-ONE (*** in their right mind***) WOULD CHOOSE this. And it’s just not that easy to get out of.

I can see my son’s limited view. I can see where the years of drugs have damaged his rational thinking. His primal brain is in full throttle of fight or flight. He wants to run away. He can’t see a solution. He doesn’t think it’s fair to get 8 years for self-medicating just to feel ok and then to have it turned into this monster that sucked the life out of everything. He didn’t know he was selling his soul to the devil.

I understand his pain, his dilemma way back when…..Because right now, I WANT to just feel ok. If something was in front of me as a solution to get out of this pain I’m in, I would probably take it! I would! I want it to stop. This is what my son did years ago…..he felt uncomfortable, unsafe in his own skin, always seemingly “doing it wrong” because that’s what the world tells us.

That’s what I continually get told. I’m doing it wrong. I’m supporting him wrong, I need to live my life, let him figure it out, & my favorite: go do something you enjoy. They just don’t understand that no matter what you’re doing, the discomfort & pain is ALWaYS THERE.

In my post Rat Park, Pam Jones Lanhart states:

NO ONE and I mean NO ONE chooses addiction. Not one person who took a drink or a toke off of a bud expected to become addiction. That’s a ridiculous notion and not informed by any data or science. “When I used I was rewarded with a really good feeling. So I used again.” And eventually the neuropathways of the brain are reprogrammed and THEN in spite of all of the negative consequences and the fact that the using is no longer working for them, they can’t stop. That is the definition of addiction. Continued use in spite of negative consequences.”

I know that recovery is a choice Also, but trying to convince a damaged brain that it isn’t damaged is exhausting.

A fellow addict wrote this:

Let me say… Cause this may be the only way some people can understand.
This was not our plan… We didn't plan this daily struggle of depending on something to numb us, just to get through whatever pain we can't stand.
Our plan was to be a natural part of society, not dependent on whatever may be lying around to help us see another day.
It's no excuse… We're a mess, I will confess… But we're also blessed by the best.
If god can forgive us then u can to, because trust me he's better then you.
Your no better sitting on ur throne, with ur nose held high to the sky… We don't judge you cause we already know that he's in charge of that… And we may be addicts, but I know for a fact one day we will change and you'll still be well… well you'll still be That.
N. H.

Please pray for my son, my family, the judge, the court, everyone who can have a hand in relieving the pain of this nightmare, not just for me but for the turmoil and pain my son is feeling inside. The feeling of being trapped and hunted down & punished for a disease that took him way beneath his capability to handle or understand. Thank you🙏

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The Science of Kindness

One of my Childhood Idols Marie Osmond wrote this about the science of kindness:

I have always known kindness is a gospel principle, and that it heals our hearts emotionally and spiritually—but this story proves it can even heal us physically!

In the 1970’s, researchers set up an experiment to determine the effects of diet on heart health. They used a controlled group of rabbits and fed them a high fat diet and kept track of their blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. All of the rabbits had a build up on the inside of their arteries, but one group surprised them by having 60 percent less build up than the others. Everything in their diet was the same, so they were confused as to why. The only thing they had not checked was the research staff. They found that every rabbit with fewer fatty deposits was being fed by one researcher. Although she fed them the same food, “she talked to them, cuddled and petted them… She couldn’t help it, it’s just how she was.”

She did more than feed the rabbits food, she fed them with love. Since it was so difficult for the research team to believe the rabbits we’re healthier because of kindness, they repeated the experiment. After the experiment was completed again, it showed the same thing, the loving researcher produced higher health outcomes in the rabbits she fed while being loving and kind. Years later, scientists still refer to this experiment. A book was written called The Rabbit Effect with this conclusion: “Take a rabbit with an unhealthy lifestyle. Talk to it. Hold it. Give it affection. That relationship made a difference.”

Ultimately, what affects our health in the most meaningful ways has as much to do with how we treat and live with one another, and how we think about what it means to be human. I love this because it isn’t often science will admit to the connection to gospel truths. 😉 After all, God created the science in the first place.😄

The results of this study are pretty easy to figure out… after all, the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” followed by, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:36-40)

The results of lack of kindness shows in the world today and is proof positive the Savior was right by saying—love God, then each other! They really are the greatest commandments. I know we don’t have control over others, but we do have control over ourselves (and remember too that holding on to anger is proven to be a health risk). I believe we can make a difference when we all show kindness, one person at a time.

Last week Tyler Perry accepted the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars, and speech resulted in a standing ovation! He said, “My mother taught me to refuse hate, she taught me to refuse blanket judgement. It is my hope that all of us would teach our kids to just refuse hate. Don’t hate anybody. I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican, or because they are black or white or LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I want to dedicate this award to whoever wants to stand in the middle. That’s where change happens.”

Science His words were a balm for every soul and spoke truth! And you know what? It takes as long to be mean as it does to be kind—it’s just a choice! And we have scientific proof it even helps rabbits! 🐰😉#KindnessHeals

If you bring Tyler and Marie’s words and apply them to addiction, you get this:

I’m listening to this book on Audible and it states:

“Families of addicts using collaboration and kindness rather than confrontation to support behavior change”.

This theory comes from the CRAFT approach which bases their “craft’ on this principle:

We envision a world where everyone who loves someone struggling with substances has access to information and tools based in science, grounded in compassion, and tailored to the needs of families and their community.

Studies show the CRAFT approach has a 67% success rate compared to Al-Anon/nar-anon. This is the the success rate for the person with addiction when their families participate in craft principles compared to those other support groups! So how we treat the addicted loved one matters!

So Instead of washing your hands of something ‘you can’t control’ (which is true – in theory) craft teaches these skills:

“Providers who are trained or certified in CRAFT teach parents communication skills, collaborative problem-solving, and how to talk with their children in a warm and loving way. Parents get coaching and individual therapy and are encouraged to do couples work.

“While other treatment approaches call for either confronting or detaching from a loved one who is a substance user, CRAFT shows how to change one’s interactions with the addicted person to reduce or stop his or her substance use and encourage the person to move toward getting help. CRAFT teaches family and friends skills such as how to:

  • Care for themselves and take back control of their lives.
  • Understand triggers that lead to a loved one’s substance use.
  • Reward a loved one when he or she does not use ­substances—and withdraw positive reinforcement when there is unhealthy behavior, such as alcohol intoxication.
  • Use positive communication to improve interactions and to maximize their impact.
  • Encourage a substance user to seek treatment.
  • Spot signs that things might escalate to domestic violence.-

While it is true you can’t MAKE someone stop using, or control the outcomes, you can surely “invite” them to care enough about themselves to want to get better. We do this by showing kindness to another human in the face of a devastating insidious disease that needs the balance of a LOVE & CONNECTION to overcome its demons.

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Myths of Addiction

The following is from Shatterproof: a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the addiction crisis in the United States.

Addiction Myths vs. Facts

Most of what the average American knows about addiction is rooted in discrimination and stereotypes. The shame and social disapproval associated with addiction are greater than for any other medical illness.

Stereotypes can show up anywhere: In movies and on the TV news, in our classrooms and workplaces, even in our homes. And these stereotypes aren’t just hurtful and untrue: They directly contribute to the stigma that prevents people in need from getting treatment.

Here are some common myths about addiction. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Myth: “Addiction only happens to certain kinds of people.”

Fact: Addiction can happen to anyone, no matter their race, upbringing, personality type, or grade point average. There are genetic, social, and psychological risk factors that can put some people at greater risk—but addiction has nothing to do with a person’s character.

Myth: “Addiction is a choice! Kids should just say no.”

Fact: No one, whether they’re a teen or an adult, chooses how their brain will react to substances. The majority of American teenagers report they’ve tried alcohol, and many experiment with other drugs, too. There are effective ways to prevent drug use and addiction—but “just saying no” doesn’t really do that.

Myth: “People with addiction are all criminals.”

Fact: Most of the time, the only person directly harmed by an addiction is the person who’s addicted. Yet millions of people are in jail or prison right now just because they struggle with substance use.

Myth: “People with addiction need tough love. Helping them just enables drug use.”

Fact: Showing love and support are never bad things. Boundaries and self-care are important, but lifesaving interventions should never be denied out of an impulse to teach someone a lesson. Not only is it cruel, but it’s ineffective. Addiction is an illness.

Myth: “Addiction medications are just replacing one addiction with another.”

Fact: Medications for addiction treatment (MAT), especially for opioid use disorder, have been proven to save lives and substantially improve recovery rates. For people in treatment for substance use disorders, medications ease withdrawal symptoms to give people the space they need to recover and prevent overdoses. Medications don’t create a high or cause impairment—they allow patients to work, drive, care for their families, and live full lives.

Myth: “People with addiction are hopeless.”

Fact: People can and do recover from addiction every single day. In fact, millions of Americans are thriving in recovery right now. We just don’t hear their stories as often. Once treatment begins, someone with a substance use disorder can move on to manage their illness, just as they would any other chronic illness. With the right treatment, recovery is possible for everyone.Science of AddictionAddiction is a treatable medical illness. Here’s what research shows about how drugs affect the brain and body.Addiction in America22 million people in America struggle with addiction and it’s the third largest cause of death, but many don’t get the help they need.Educating FamiliesWe provide resources to millions of families who are looking for information, tools, and support.

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Tranquilizer Chair

In a previous post, I shared a guest piece from a relative of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who still holds the title “Father of American Psychiatry.” He lived from 1745-1813. So I decided to look him up.

Needless to say, I was a bit horrified at the methods of treatment for mentally ill people back then.

They included:

  • tranquilization through the imposition of physical restraints
  • food modification or deprivation
  • cold water treatments
  • prolonged shower baths.
  • Plus a strange blood draining method.

Read Letter B below:

Read that again….

FEAR, ACCOMPANIED with PAIN and a sense of SHAME has sometimes cured this disease.

Just like prison sometimes appears to cure someone of their traits. I’ve spoken about the correction system in regards to addiction many times in my blog. I’m adamant that if negative consequences cured addiction, no addict would ever lose more than one thing, or ever get arrested more than once because they would be so horrified and shocked at their own behavior they would just be magically cured.

Back then, little was known of mental illness so of course, the theories that were presented we’re taken as Bible. There were no “fact checkers.” Being the Monday morning quarterbacks that we are all experts at, its easy to scoff at Dr. Rush’s ideas of circulation & bleeding to cure the brain.

When you know better, you do better. I hope there is currently enough education being done around MAT treatment for inmates that better humanizes their need to have treatment like any other disorder. Many people can quit cold turkey and maintain sobriety, but I believe it’s because THEY chose it- not because they were forced.

Samhsa’s website lists the goals of MAT therapy:

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. 

Buprenorphinemethadone, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid use disorders to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

These MAT medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime. As with any medication, consult your doctor before discontinuing use!!!!!!!!!

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

Web MD lists 6 current “traditional” treatments for addiction that have proven successful:

6 Treatments For Addiction That Are Proven Successful
By Corinna Underwood
Reviewed by Dr. Carol Anderson, LMSW, ACSW on December 12, 2020
With several options available, you can find an addiction treatment option that best fits your individual needs.
Addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all. Treatments may vary based on your needs. You can choose the treatment that works best for you based on the substance you're abusing, the level of care you need, your personal mental health needs, or what health care options you can afford. Here are some of the most common addiction treatments that have set patients on a successful path to recovery.

Detoxification
Medically-assisted detox allows you to rid your body of addictive substances in a safe environment. This is beneficial because sometimes substance withdrawal can cause unpleasant or even life-threatening physical symptoms. Because detox does not treat the underlying behavioral causes of the addiction, it is typically used in combination with other therapies.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
According to American Addiction Centers, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a valuable treatment tool because it can be used for many different types of addiction including, but not limited to, food addiction, alcohol addiction, and prescription drug addiction. Not only can CBT help you recognize your unhealthy behavioral patterns, but it can also help you learn to identify triggers and develop coping skills. CBT can be combined with other therapeutic techniques as well.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) could help you recognize your negative thoughts and give you ways to combat feelings of self-defeat. The goal of REBT is to help you realize that the power of rational thinking lies within yourself and is not related to external situations or stressors.

Contingency ManagementContingency Management (CM) can be used to treat a wide variety of addictions including alcohol, narcotics, and tobacco. Contingency management therapy reinforces your positive behavior (ie maintaining sobriety) by giving you tangible rewards. This type of treatment has been used successfully to combat relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

12-Step Facilitation
Twelve-step facilitation therapy ("12-step programs") can be used to treat alcohol and substance abuse. It is a form of group therapy that includes recognition that addiction has several negative consequences that can be social, emotional, spiritual and physical. This type of therapy begins with acceptance, then moves on to surrender to a higher power, then eventually transitions to involvement in consistent group meetings. Programs like the popular Alcoholics Anonymous use group meetings for discussion and mutual support.

Treatment with Medication
Medication can play an important role in recovery when combined with behavioral therapies. Certain medications can be used to reduce cravings, improve mood, and decrease addictive behaviors. For example, the FDA recently approved lofexidine to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in patients receiving treatment for opioid addiction. Medications like acamprosate can help reduce drinking behavior.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, you don’t need to fight the battle alone. Talk to a medical professional. There are successful treatments available that can help you overcome your addiction.

There are many other alternative treatments such as Ibogaine, vivitrol- not sure if that’s alternative- its pushed as pretty mainstream now- & also sublicade injections & subutox.. I won’t go into all of those here; because it’s been a rough day & my brain is loopy but its important to remember that NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL despite what any social media influencer tells you.

Let’s work together to find help for these struggling souls, including my son who’s still out there. Other struggling humans aren’t the enemy & other recovery providers shouldn’t be either.

Instead of a tranquilizer chair let’s find a LOVE chair!

Btw..Don’t look up “love chair” for a blog, at 4:30 am- before coffee…
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Panic Mc-tacks

I pulled into my usual spot- the McDonald’s Drive through-line. I ordered my daily soda and pulled forward. As I searched for my wallet, I realized it wasn’t in its usual place because I had re-organized my car & work bags in anticipation of my daughter borrowing my car for a few weeks.

I desperately looked for some loose change to pay for my dollar soda. I found 35¢. I looked up. There were 2 cars ahead of me towards the pay window. Panic ensued. Should I pull out of line? Would they take 35¢ since I’m a “regular?” Of course, they wouldn’t.

Such a first-world problem, I know.

But it made me realize how we take for granted the simple privileges of having money, a car. All the things we NEED to function daily and get shizz done.

So when we get frustrated with our people with substance use disorder, for not paying a fine or not returning an important call; we have to almost look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

As one treatment center states:

"When drugs and alcohol come first, the rest of your needs can begin to fall away, and you can find yourself neglecting your basic needs for food, shelter, and relationships. For example, some will allow themselves to be homeless to ensure they can continue using drugs or alcohol".-abtrs

When we find ourselves becoming so incensed at the behavior of someone else who doesn’t value the things we do; it can be maddening. However, if we can see the effect these drugs have on their priorities, it’s easier to understand.

I learned this early on when I was preparing for my son’s return from his first rehab. I knew he would probably be staying with me at least a few days while finding a job etc. I hurriedly readied up a room ‘manly style’ & when I presented it to him with explanations that the bed wasn’t very comfy etc, he said, “Mom, do you think I care where I sleep?” I took it then as he was just grateful to be back and “cured” & the bed was a minor thing compared to the wonderful life he had to look forward to. But looking back- he meant “I don’t care where or how I sleep as long as my mental & physical obsession is satisfied each day.” He lasted 9 days before those cravings took over.

His brain was not healed in the least. Turns out that 6 weeks of subpar rehab isn’t enough & although he wanted to fix things; without his usual coping skills, he was left with a confused hijacked brain telling him to retreat & not be responsible.

A couple of months after that, when he was in full-on active addiction, I drug him- literally- into finish his bankruptcy proceedings that we had started while in rehab. Outside the office, he was in such withdrawals that he was sweating and cold and thrashing around in my back seat. I told him it would only take a minute & I practically pulled him out of the back seat.

He only had on one shoe.

Afterward it was laughable, but at the time, I was physically and mentally exhausted. And so was he. Who knew trying to keep from getting sick was so exhausting.

My experience at McDonald’s is just one of many times when I am grateful that I can pull out my wallet and drive my car and snuggle into my soft bed at night. My son doesn’t even have a bank account anymore. It’s heartbreaking that someone can fall so low but even worse, is the shame and desperation which this leads to. I won’t even go into the finagling that a simple task takes when one doesn’t have a mailing address, bank account, or even a car.

When my son still had these conveniences but was spiraling fast; he carried around his faded visa card that had a big crack in it. Of course, it finally broke and he still didn’t get it replaced until the account was finally stopped for continual negative balance. He would joke that all the fast food people knew him by his broken card. This gives a little insight into the chaos that swirled inside his head which surprisingly, the drugs fixed.

We just can’t quite understand it, but we all operate from this Internal state that I spoke a lot about in this blog.

As I study more of Gabor Mate’s work, the connection between the internal state of ADD and addiction becomes clear. Here’s one of his videos about pain and emotions.

My son, like all of us- just wants the loud buzzing in our heads to turn to a soft roar.

Addiction wants to take that buzzing & fill it with every insecurity possible.

It preaches freedom but guarantees slavery.

It whispers love but guarantees hate.

It splashes waves of euphoria onto a moving screen but keeps moving the screen away from you.

Addiction wants to take everything.

It wants panic.

It wants life. Any life. It wants bright, strong, committed, loyal, funny, driven, happy people.

It gloats and giggles when it leaves them in the dust like a used piece of bubble gum.

Addiction survives on hate, & stigma & shame.

It revels in families fighting & falling apart. It rejoices in little kids precious tears.
It pretends to wipe them away with empty promises. But like an evil stepmother in a fairy tale, it vanishes the child to its own attic of shame, self doubt, & abandonment.

Addiction despises wands. Wands of love.
Wands of prayer. Wands that fairy Godmothers hold dear. It hates the alchemist that can turn pain into power, coal into diamonds, & dull metal into Gold.

Be the wand it hates.

Be the love.

Be the fairy Godmother.

Be the carriage.

Be the prince.

Be anything that will hinder its evil path.

Contravene its power.

Hinder its lies.

Be anything that proves to your loved one that you are A CHOSEN one.

One who is chosen to not play a part in this evil scheme.

Be the one who stops the clock just before midnight- & help them believe there is still a glass slipper to be found.-©Samantha Waters
And so your loved one never has to look for their lost shoe again......
Home Base

Start Where You Are

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Five years ago I moved back to my home state, found a new (to me) condo to buy, and started a brand new job. I was overwhelmed but curious to see if I could pull it all off.

Which by that time, I technically HAD pulled it off. I had driven all my belongings in a big box truck TWICE from out of state to my new home, visited dozens of houses for sale & navigated finding a new job despite suffering from excruciating ( new)- & changing- job anxiety. It was a lot of work by myself, financially & emotionally. I had recovered from a 24 yr marriage ending a few years earlier and had now navigated the ending of a three year relationship. I was still figuring out the inner independent woman in me.

As I sat in my new office, wondering where to even start- I pulled out some of the items from my previous office. I had previously went to a state activity certification for the elderly population. This box was full of sensory materials such as sound healing therapy and tactile exercises along with adult coloring books which were becoming all the rage at that time. I opened up to the coloring page “start where you are” that I had colored at that conference.

So that’s exactly what I did. I hung that amateur adult coloring page up on the cabinet in front of me and BEGAN.

New patients, new co-workers, new hospital. I went to compliance meetings where I didn’t have a clue what the culture or focus was. Was it low-key? Rigid? What did they expect from me? Well, there was no way to know all that without the gift of the process of TIME. What I did know was federal guidelines. So I started with those and worked backwards to see how the facility could meet those.

So imagine my surprise today when I opened up my email and saw Shelly Youngs beautiful post titled “Start Where you are!”

In it, she describes perfectly, my own experience with my son with substance use disorder, as she is telling her journey.

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During family weekend, seven months into treatment and recovery, I am seated across from my son. We are sitting “knees to knees,” face to face, eyes to eyes within a circle of four other families. 

The counselor says, “Holding eye contact, take turns sharing one resentment, one regret and one affirmation with each other.” 

Holding my gaze, my son nods my way as if to say, “you go first.”

With a trembling voice that breaks mid sentence with deep remorse, I express my greatest regret, “I regret not starting sooner, waiting, to get help and end your suffering.” 

My greatest regret still is not accessing proper care and treatment sooner. People were telling me not to try at all (there is nothing you can do, you can’t cure it) and to banish him from our family to force change (detach, tough love). Some said it was my fault (enabling) and then others said it wasn’t (you didn’t cause it). Some said you have to “wait until they want it” and others said you have to wait until rock bottom. No one said what exactly that meant or looked like so I’d know when it was and when and how to respond. 

There was so much confusion and ambiguity in how to respond when your loved one presents with the adverse effects of a neurotoxin on the brain that I felt torn. Stuck in the middle of an idealogical battle rather than a health condition. Add to that, I’d been raised in an alcoholic environment where I was conditioned not to respond at all. Intervening in someone’s substance use no matter how severe it seemed wasn’t modeled in my family. (until I intervened on my mother, when I was 40 years old) Add to the confusion, a medical system that defined addiction as a health condition but in practice treated it more like a moral issue or lack of willpower (nurses in the ER with my mother) while also contributing to addiction with overprescribing and fraudulent prescription writing (Local Dr. supplying young adults with a supply of opioids and xanax). An insurance system that refused payment for evidence based treatment protocols and mental healthcare with the code, “not medically necessary.” A religion that treated it as a sin or a lack of God or spiritual connection. A government that for years defined it as a crime and conditioned families to treat it as a crime or a moral issue with the failed, “war on drugs” and the “just say no” prevention campaign. A society that encouraged substance use, normalized it, marketed it, until you got sick, hurt yourself or someone else or violated the social contract of use or used the substances that were not approved by society and then treated it like a crime. Families were primed to either not respond (deny, cope, suffer) or to respond with harsh consequences (kick out, detach, abandon, banish) and to do so silently (stigma). All of which cause harm to the individual and the family system. 

In the confusion and disorientation we all suffered trauma. The manifestation of a slow, conditioned, harmful response to substance use disorder, a treatable health condition. It is that trauma which we are now in recovery from. The suffering that ensued by being told to wait for a potentially fatal health condition to get worse before getting proper care for it, the denial of our reality and gaslighting by the insurance company by refusing to pay for evidence based care. The shaming by some therapists, certain support groups members, family and friends for securing attachment and providing care. The pressure to reject my own maternal instincts and betray my intuition in the name of “tough love.” The exhaustion and terror of trying to keep someone alive without medical or community support. The anguish of isolation compounded by the shame of stigma where there never should have been any in the first place. 

As a mother, that is what I am in recovery from. A cultural system failure and the gross lack of continuity and consistency in the system of care.  

For more than 200 years addiction has been defined as a health condition that impacts the body and brain. Dr. Benjamin Rush, who happens to be my great, great, great, grandfather not by blood but by marriage, pioneered the therapeutic approach to addiction in the 1800’s. “Dr. Rush recognized that the person using the substance loses control over themselves and identified the properties of the substance, rather than the person’s choice, as the causal agent.” In other words, the toxin on the brain and in the body was the problem, never the person. Two hundred years ago and still families are suffering the impact of the confusion born of a flawed healthcare, criminal justice, education system and a lack of consistent coordinated response and disparate ideologies around substance use. Two hundred years and some people are still debating “choice.” Ridiculous.

My greatest regret is not following my instincts sooner, not trusting my inner knowing sooner to drive my response. In the end, my inner knowing and my instincts were correct and a clear, compassionate, therapuetic response made way for proper care and treatment, recovery and healing. What propelled me was taking a stand for healing and grounding in addiction as a health condition and treating it no different than any other health condition. Love, Science & Attachment Theory all the way. Then immersing myself in learning about recovery and what it takes to be a recovery ready family. 

The good news is there have been great strides in the understanding of addiction. Powerful research and evidence based treatment grounded in science has paved the way for a compassionate therapuetic response to addiction although access still lags for many communities and the barriers to care are many and differ from state to state.. The recovery community continues to grow, blossom and advocate for policy change that has a powerful effect on peoples lives. People are recovering out loud and sharing their stories and pathways to accessing care and supportive communities.

If you’re looking for specific support, education or resources, or just want to someone to witness where you are right now, reach out. 

I’m here, holding space for your healing and recovery. 

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Shelly Young
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Gratefulness In the Midst of Worry

As I read this post from a fellow blogger, I couldn’t help but remember hearing that story/ analogy in church years ago.

What I wouldn’t give to go back to those days. At the time, I thought my life was difficult but compared to now, I would go back any day. My parents were alive and my kids were all home and safe.

The thought of addiction affecting my family was completely out of my head.

But tonight, after going down memory lane on my phone with pictures and videos, I felt the familiar sadness creeping up from my belly….

I hate feeling bad for what isn’t anymore. I hate not being able to enjoy almost 33 years of my kids memories just because the last 3 have been bad.

But as I read my fellow blogger’s story of Thanksgiving, I realized I was kicking God in the teeth. ( I wonder if (He) has tee….. Nevermind).

Why didn’t I stop & tell my kids how much hardship they would face? And how strong they are? Why do they look so sweet and innocent then? As if they would be ok, with just life’s normal struggles?

Because they WERE sweet & innocent. They never wanted life to be so difficult. They ARE strong. They have just forgotten. Like in a coma with amnesia. They’ve Forgotten who they are. Forgotten their strength. They’ve become identified with their struggle. Labeling themselves, as society has labeled them.

In my defense, i probably did tell them.

And I’m trying to now -in their worst moments-even as adults. As my fellow blogger put it:

Respond to your children with love in their worst moments, their broken moments, their angry moments, their selfish moments, their lonely moments, their frustrated moments, their inconvenient moments; because it is in their most unlovable human moments that they most need to feel loved.― L. R. Knost

For now, instead of dwelling in the past and feeling sad, I will rejoice and embrace the time I had with my little ones; knowing that I did the best I could with the precious gifts God gave me. I served him. I loved them. I will continue to love them despite their choices.

Instead of getting mad at God for not moving the mountains that I want moved; I will praise him for entrusting me with their care. Despite my moments of guilt and despair, I still believe that I was their choice for a Mother, for whatever reason.

Lauren Daigle says it best