The Addicted Mind Podcast is about understanding addiction from a research and treatment perspective. We will dive into what drives the addictive process, explore the latest research on addiction, and talk about the latest addiction treatment options. We will also explore what recovery from addiction looks like from a variety of different people. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction then The Addicted Mind Podcast can help.
Here's the Latest Episode from The Addicted Mind Podcast:
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane talks Georgia-based counselor Eddie Capparucci about his personal experience with addiction and how to fight off sex and porn addiction. He also talks about the impact of fears of abandonment and how that drives sexually destructive behavior.
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Jumping into the idea of the inner child, Eddie explains that children make up for not being seen by creating new realities in their mind. Playing out fantasies in their heads is part of how they cope with abandonment. He never realized that because of that pain, he was using women.
After you get through the period of regret, Eddie says, you experience a kind of euphoria in understanding what the problem is. Eddie walked away from two marriages because he felt that his infidelity couldn’t be fixed. Soon after, he sought therapy and began to understand his abandonment issues.
Eddie also discusses his idea of the “inner child.” It provides insight into why people engage in addictive behaviors. By identifying the core emotional triggers, you can take control.
He names nine different kinds in his Inner Child model:
- The Bored Child
- The Unaffirmed Child
- The Unnoticed Child
- The Emotionally Void Child
- The Lack-of-Control Child
- The Entitled Child
- The Inferior-Weak Child
- The Stressed Child
- The Sexually Early/Stimulated/Abused Child
Most people identify with three of four of these kids. Some people identify with all nine of them. The goal here is to identify the triggers associated with your inner child.
Moving onto treatment, Eddie talks about how you need to produce mindfulness. Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can start to apply them to situations moving forward that activate your inner child.
People with sex and porn addictions are trying to comfort the inner child. It’s easier to feel sexual arousal, Duane says, than to feel depression or isolation.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/103
Eddie is concerned about how the ease of access to porn will affect the next generation. He believes that young boys are going to be taught that objectification is normalized and even encouraged.
When you understand your own trauma, you can move forward. You’re no longer stuck as a “bad person.” But people have to hit the point where they do want change in their lives. And someone actually interested in the sex industry only gets there because their self worth has already been eroded. It’s tough because most people don’t really want to look back and look their pain in the face. They don’t want to spend time thinking about how they were hurt in their childhood. But ultimately — there’s a benefit to doing this work. You can change your life. There are a ton of resources you can tap into and you can finish strong.
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane talks with author Benjamin Hardy about his personal experience with addiction and the chaos that comes along with it. Benjamin describes the process overcoming his own addictions involved going through a “redemptive process,” which involved forgiving his father and rebuilding the relationship there. With trauma, you’re always looking in the rear-view mirror, but you need to make meaning going forward. Meaning is not going to strike you—you have to make it yourself. The beauty of this is that you can change the meaning of your past, Benjamin says. It’s key to have empathy for your old self.
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Benjamin also talks about how writing about your trauma can really help. Turning away from the past, you can have hope for the future. Without a hope for the future, Benjamin says, the present becomes meaningless. You can also choose to ascribe a meaning to your past. We call it “meaning-making,” Benjamin says. Part of becoming emotionally-developed includes this idea of choosing the meaning of your past.
He shares a story about how you can actively work to a solution for something that didn’t go exactly how you planned instead of snapping to a quick decision. You can choose to frame it in a new way instead of being defined by a failure. Choosing the meaning going forward can change how you store that forever. In his story, Benjamin points to the fact that he was vulnerable enough to share his feelings with the people in question as part of the process.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/102
Moving onto his book, Benjamin unpacks the idea that your personality is going to change, and that you have the power to choose who you want to be in the future. Your personality is just how you consistently show up. It’s crucial to have your identity based on who you actually want to be in the future. The same courage that moves you to say “I need help” is the courage it takes to tell people who you want to be in the future. It takes courage, as Benjamin says, because it’s uncertain. You’ll realize you might be rejected, but that you also need to do some “rejecting” to get you where you ultimately want to be. When you are open and honest, nothing is hiding anymore.
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane talks with Andrew P. about the concept of cognitive bias and how this process works in the middle of addiction. Andrew also talks about his own journey with addiction in light cognitive bias.
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Alongside his medical practice, Andrew ran a psychotherapy practice for 15 years before becoming addicted to alcohol and opiates. After hitting rock bottom, Andrew’s friends brought him to a 12-step program and a light went off that allowed for him. Being able to see that other people were able to get themselves out of the pit was huge. It’s crucial to understand that there’s nothing wrong with you, but that the symptoms of addiction are common.
Cognitive bias, or our natural inclination to make information match what we already believe, was the research focus for Andrew for many years. He found that people with addictions distort information to the extremes using a very intense form of cognitive bias. In other words, addiction amplifies the effects of cognitive bias.
Being able to recognize cognitive bias at all can help the addict, because it challenges you to think about the way that you’re thinking: metacognition or plain mindfulness. People ultimately want to know the why; they want to know why they think the way they do, and why their brain works the way it does.
Andrew encourages people to be open-minded, which he recognizes is difficult. Creating a list of feedback from other people can help to defeat cognitive bias. The empty chair technique works to try to visualize the situation if you don’t have someone in arm’s reach to offer feedback. There are techniques you can actually use to challenge your cognitive biases, which can help you to overcome your addiction.
Andrew wants everyone to know that all are capable of a lasting recovery if they only accept the help that is out there.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/101
Andrew breaks down three prominent forms of cognitive bias that
- The attentional bias, or the bias that’s attached to our attention.
- The optimism bias, where we cling to the belief that things will end up okay, despite all evidence pointing to your own destruction.
- The recall bias, in which the addict recalls what they want to believe. They forget the bad stuff and recall the bad days as something rosy-glassed.
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane sits down with father, husband, sales executive, speaker, and author Kyle Dean Houston. They speak about being in the throes of addiction, despairing for hope, staring down your own doom, and ultimately persevering through recovery.
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Kyle openly describes trying methamphetamines and quickly spiraling into a needle-using meth user. At rock bottom, Kyle was overcome with depression and tried to overdose, but failed. He talks about spending months in county jail trying to learn to make the right decisions. Making and breaking promises to his family, Kyle eventually realized that he was powerless over his own actions and he couldn’t continue to live that way. Coming to grips with the role that the brain plays in your addiction was crucial during this time.
The moment that really changed everything was when he realized he could have a purpose for his life. Being alone in jail put Kyle in the position to finally start thinking about what he could actually do to change his life. His relationship with God and the spiritual goes back to his childhood, but in the moments alone in jail, his understanding of the spiritual really opened up. He began to see the full weight of his own ability to take control of his life. It struck him like a hammer, he says. He says that in the jail cell, he never felt so alone.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/100
In transitioning out of prison, Kyle was institutionalized and he was scared to death. He knew that people were aware of his problems, his PTSD, and he felt prison would’ve been better. But only five months later, he met his future-wife, who would go on to be his rock and cornerstone. Kyle credits her for virtually all of his success. That, and his intense drive to accomplish what he sets out to do.
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane interviews Erika Flint about hypnosis, hypnotherapy, and how the two can help you to overcome mental blocks in your life.
Formerly a software engineer, Erika loves the idea of reprogramming, even your mind. Her recent book, Can You Be a Hypnotist? shows how virtually anyone who wants to be a hypnotist can become one. She tries to subvert the idea that all hypnotists are stage hypnotists. There is a more practical kind of hypnosis that can help you with your mental health.
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Though her job was great on paper, it ultimately wasn’t fulfilling. After going through her struggles with alcohol, she hit her rock bottom. Seeking meaning, she found hypnosis was useful in battling demons and fighting off addictions. Now, she spends her time helping people to get their lives back, to love their lives fundamentally.
Interestingly, people are regularly entering into hypnosis, whether they know it or not. The goal of Erika’s work is to get people to enter that state intentionally to achieve some specific purpose. Hypnosis helps to cut through the conscious mind into the unconscious mind. It helps to target beliefs and values to get to the source of particular behaviors. Hypnosis can help to identify “limiting beliefs” and uproot them, dismantling unhealthy thoughts and behaviors in the process.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/99
Because hypnosis is an “opt-in” experience, it cannot be done in covert. There has to be a willingness on the part of both people in order to be successful. Because so many of the decisions we make are based on convictions in the subconscious, hypnosis tries to get to those baked in prejudices to free up the conscious mind. And contrary to popular belief, it all happens very quickly.
Erika’s style, called “insight hypnosis” is directed at coming to moments of insight. The goal is for her clients to have massive “aha” moments and generate great results in just one session. Erika mentions her concept of “bad data,” which is basically bad or misinformed perspectives and attitudes that can be corrected by illuminating truths through insight hypnosis.
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane talks to author and counselor Rabbi Simon Jacobson about making meaning out of suffering, and understanding your own purpose.
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Rabbi Jacobson talks about how surrendering to a higher power, and relinquishing control over your circumstances gives you an edge on dealing with pain. Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer to injustices writ large, but we can have some hope in giving up control. This change in power can give you the strength to make positive action as a result of suffering.
Duane shares a bit from his past to illustrate how you oftentimes need to let go of the desire to understand why loss happens, because you ultimately will not find the reason. Letting go of that need for a reason can help you to heal and move forward.
There is a healthy way to channel pain from loss and trauma. You can reinvest your time into healing and supporting other people going through the same thing. At the end of this, it will not be in vain if you are able to help others walk through their darkest moments.
Toward the end, Rabbi Jacobson talks about his academic life and his background as a writer. Interested by the seeming homogeneity across people’s concerns for their lives, Rabbi Jacobson conducted some research into how to actually make your life meaningful. Perhaps, with the right effort, we could achieve a higher state of human consciousness that values meaning over meaninglessness and places high values on human life.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/98
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane sits down with author Robert Imbeault to talk about his book Before I Leave You. Robert also speaks to his own battle with addiction, his suicide attempts, and his eventual recovery.
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Based in Ottawa, Canada, Rob shares his story of how experiencing a memory of being raped as an eight-year-old turned his life upside-down as he became a shell of himself fueled by drugs and alcohol as a result. After hitting many rock-bottoms, he attempted suicide a few times. But in recovery, he reminds us that despite how dark the story can be, there is hope on the other side.
Unable to find authentic happiness, Rob pushed further into his work obsession at the sacrifice of his personal relationships. When a memory of his childhood assault comes crashing back, Rob is left catatonic and unable to fully confront his trauma. He let his marriage deteriorate during his spiraling. On a trip to Las Vegas, Rob discovered how alive he felt on ecstasy and cocaine. He believes, too, that these mistakes ultimately empowered him. He’d become all but non-functional at home and at work. The duality between his personal destruction and business success continued to escalate and tear at him. His then-girlfriend’s decision to make him confront his drug addiction more or less made him wake up.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/97
After visiting Walden, Rob knew that he wanted to live. But before this, his awakening to the notion that he was not a good human in any sense made the idea of suicide tempting to him. Ultimately, Rob felt it would free him of all of his burdens. What actually helped turn all of this around for Rob was the decision to write out his rationalizations. He calls them “secret goodbyes,” and Rob credits his writing with freeing him from the bonds of his mental place. It was his “solace” to write. He then started meditating and became a practicing Buddhist. Rob and his wife became pregnant, which enforced their “zero-tolerance” policy. They’ve both been clean ever since.
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane speaks to Tyler Farnham about his skydiving accident and his subsequent journey through addiction and recovery.
Tyler says that having goals and making active decisions about who is in your circle can change your life.
Originally from Cocoa Beach, Tyler now lives in Bali. Even before his accident, Tyler had already dabbled a little with pain pills in the form of 20mg Percocets.
After becoming somewhat dependent on them, Tyler found it harder and harder to get off of them. In a leadership position as a lifeguard, he felt the call to give up the pain pills. It was around this time that Tyler realized that the company he kept mattered.
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When he was 18, Tyler started jumping out of airplanes. He jokes about being addicted to it, but in some ways, he feels he really was addicted to the rush, anyway. In the crash, he shattered his right femur and they almost had to amputate.
His left femur broke. He shattered his jaw, fractured his skull, and lost nine teeth. He was placed in a five-day medically-induced coma, and he woke up on his 26th birthday.
On a morphine drip and in excruciating pain, Tyler was confined to a wheelchair and even had to attend speech therapy during his recovery. He had to have his mouth wired shut.
Depression set in and it started to feel impossible to see the hope in his situation. Tyler started to journal as a means of keeping up hope. It helped him to track his progress and feel some sort of hope and motivation.
Having something to do that’s physically active helped Tyler to overcome the dependency. The natural endorphins you encounter can boost your positivity. He encourages others to find the same.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/96
Tyler shares a story about how his inability to refill a script affected his mood so severely that he felt he couldn't even do his job. Because he didn't want to hurt people, he decided to try to find a solution. This is when he decided to seek treatment.
Put on Suboxone initially, Tyler started to work toward changing his life. Tyler’s message to someone struggling with addiction now: reach out to someone. And write things down.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. These are small promises to yourself. Keeping them can give you the motivation to keep moving forward.
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane speaks to sex coach and educator Stacie Ysidro about addiction and healing your sexuality during the recovery process. Stacie has studied virtually every corner of addictive sexuality and has focused her career on helping people navigate sober sexuality once they’ve recovered. She has something of a passion for sexology and the relationship between sexuality and spirituality. She realized that people need coaching around their sexuality in recovery.
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Stacie discusses how sex is typically seen through the lens of people-pleasing and not through an honoring one. When not using a substance to escape, you have to more or less face your real sexual self. And yet it’s hard to honor yourself after trauma. Because sexuality is so vulnerable, it gives you access to every other part of yourself.
Duane and Stacie talk about the link between vulnerability and sex with regard to treatment programs, our relationships, and the broader culture. Part of this process deals in releasing ourselves from shame and forgiving ourselves. Stacie uses something called a Sexual Values System to help assess where people are. The system has people scrutinize their own values, beliefs, and even definitions surrounding their own sexuality, including desires and expectations. Doing this work in a shame-free environment allows people to find new words, change their understanding, and set and realize goals.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/95
Stacie’s work helps people to see their own worth. She encourages people that are curious about healing their sexuality to start asking questions about their own sex lives to try to better understand their attitudes about sex. To come into presence with your body is the only way to authentically step into pleasure, free from judgment. And to do this is to ultimately unite our spirits with our sexuality. As Stacie says, “pleasure is our divine right.”
On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane speaks with author Carder Stout about his book, Lost in Ghost Town, the story of his addiction and recovery. Duane also addresses the difficulty of the ongoing COVID-19 situation by starting a campaign of stories trying to spread hope in a time of darkness.
Carder grew up in Georgetown, where his father constantly worked and his mother was an alcoholic. From an early age, he had feelings of disillusionment and worthlessness. By the time he was 11, his parents had divorced, securing the disarray in his home. By twenty, he’d already gone through eating disorders and was living on cocaine in New York. He thought that moving to Los Angeles would help him distance himself from the people he knew and his addiction, but in Venice, the epicenter of crack at the time, Carder’s addiction spiraled. Carder meets a drug dealer in Venice named Flynn, who, with his grandmother Beatrice, actually showed Carder the familial love that he never received from his actual family.
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As a child, Carder experimented with drugs and alcohol as early as age 7. By age ten, he was regularly smoking weed, bein altogether unsupervised. He talks about receiving visions, for lack of a better term, from his grandmother, as frightening as that is. His grandmother, who was a clairvoyant in her life, ultimately became something of a spirit guide for him while he was high. While in the midst of dealing drugs, Carder talks specifically about being surrounded by guns in the culture. In the middle of a lot of psychological pain, he says that he could not stop the “loop” of obsession and compulsion, the things that kept his addiction rolling. In a lot of ways, Flynn became the person that loved him through the cycle of addiction.
In Santa Fe, Carder is accepted into a psychology school after getting out of in-patient care. He worked 2 or 3 jobs for almost ten years working on his degree. Now, he’s a practicing psychologist in Los Angeles. Part of his platform is pushing the idea that developing a sense of purpose is one of the first steps people can take toward a successful recovery program. Forgiveness also plays a vital role in recovery. Carder talks about forgiving his family and forgiving himself, and how that opens the door to freedom.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/94
Carder carved out 4 hours a day, three days a week and set a goal to write. He found some hope in the writing process, which allowed him to tell his story and materialize healing. A publisher under Simon & Schuster picked up his book and he was able to do a reading before an audience before the COVID-19 outbreak. In his sobriety, he married and had two children, and he points to his life as living proof that addicts can recover. There is hope for those who actively seek support.
Today's guest is Dr. Don Wood, from the Inspired Performance Institute, and he will be talking to us about trauma and how to heal from it. Don helps people reprocess their trauma so that they're no longer in a state of hyper-vigilance and responding to their past trauma in the present moment.
Our traumas can either take us down or inspire us. Don believes that every individual who is dealing with addiction has had trauma. He has been very successful in treating addiction as well as trauma. In the past, he used to find that people were finding ways to live with trauma by learning how to manage it and cope with its effects. Trauma, however, creates glitches and error messages in the way that our minds work and so Don has subsequently discovered that it is possible to eliminate trauma so that we no longer need to deal with any of its effects.
Self-help books tell us to stay present and be in the moment, but our minds don't work that way. Once we understand how our minds work, we become able to create the necessary solutions to get our minds to remain in the present moment.
Our subconscious mind operates in the present, so ninety-five percent of our brain is always present, just like the mind of an animal is always present. But because our minds experience trauma on a looping basis, we can't shut off the loop of information, and so we continue to re-experience the past trauma in the present moment.
Our traumatic events and experiences are recorded in our memories differently from our regular experiences. Experiences that are neither threatening nor disturbing are recorded and stored in memory as fairly low-resolution files. Threatening or disturbing experiences, however, are recorded and stored differently by the mind. Our senses are heightened and intensified with those experiences, so they are stored in our minds in high definition. And this is where the glitch comes in.
If our mind goes back into memory, and it sees the stored images of those traumatic events, it perceives those events to be happening right now, in the present moment. So although there is nothing threatening happening in the present moment, the mind still creates a response to the memory of the threat.
With people who have experienced trauma and a constant sense of fear or anger, along with the emotional dysregulation of the nervous system, the normal reaction of the mind is to want to escape the threat, or to attack it. In other words, the high-resolution data is constantly being activated, and that creates a physiological fight-or-flight response. So although the fight-or-flight response is an emergency management system, designed to protect us, for most people, it has become an operating system that is on all the time.
Your mind will do anything to try to protect you and avoid pain. So at the Inspired Performance Institute, they start with the premise that there's nothing wrong with anybody, or with anybody's mind. They understand that our minds are being affected by events and experiences throughout our lifetime. And this is constantly activating our nervous systems. So, if you have high-resolution data stored, and your mind is activating it, you will create a response. And the response could be to take a drink or to use a drug.
We have a second memory system, called Procedural Memory, which is based on the basal ganglia learning how to adapt to their environment. By doing something over and over, you train your brain to build a code to protect you in the same way as an animal mind would.
Don believes that what is happening with addiction is that people who have had emotional pain from trauma and have repeatedly used a certain resource to stop the pain, have built code in their nervous system that their mind keeps using to keep the pain away. Yet the code is an error message, so it keeps looping and the erroneous danger response remains active.
There can be both high-level and low-level traumas.
Sometimes, people have lived with trauma all their lives, so they think that the hyper-vigilance that they are experiencing is normal. If you feel emotion when thinking about something that happened to you as a child, it means that the trauma is still active. By using a process to resolve the trauma, you can de-activate it and then your mind will start seeing things differently.
To fix things, the mind needs to stop looping. At the Inspired Performance Institute, they have developed a series of techniques to reduce and eliminate PTSD, panic attacks, and anxiety attacks in a four-hour session. They do this by providing a counter-frequency for the memory. Then, the mind takes on the new frequency and changes it to the lower state. After that, the mind stops responding to the previously traumatic memory.
People are often shocked at how fast the trauma has been eliminated!
The mind and body are designed to heal. All you need are the tools to do it with.
Links and resources:
If you need help or some support, reach out to us at www.theaddictedmind.com/help
The Inspired Performance Institute - https://www.inspiredperformanceinstitute.com/
To get the first chapter of Don's book, You Must Be Out of Your Mind, or to contact Don, go to https://www.inspiredperformanceinstitute.com/
Due to the worldwide situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, and everything else that goes along with that, we're bringing you a special episode today. The current situation has left most of us with very intense emotions that can be quite difficult to cope with.
So Suzie Wolfer, who was our guest on a previous episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, (Episode 53) decided to join us today, to share some of her insight about emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and somatic experiencing, to help us cope with the feelings that this pandemic has brought up.
Suzie Wolfer, LCSW, SEP, is a therapist specializing in Somatic Experiencing®, a powerful system for healing trauma and addiction at their core, and for completing trauma so that it lets go of you.
Suzie has noticed recently that almost all her clients are experiencing the signs of freeze, and often, they are experiencing anxiety along with that too. She points out that we all have within our bodies certain superpowers, that have come to us through millions of years of evolution, that will allow us to move easily through this very frightening time. So today, she will be talking about those superpowers, and she will explain how to use them to move through this difficult time with a little more ease and, hopefully, a lot less freeze.
Freeze makes our bodies go rigid, feel numb, and get ready to bolt. Suzie always used to experience this at the thought of going to see the dentist. What she realized, after getting some training in Somatic Experiencing, was that she had the superpowers of fight, flight, and freeze. So, the next time that she had to visit the dentist, she tried using these things, rather than letting them control her.
She began to practice noticing, welcoming and allowing the feelings of freeze, rather than fighting them off and letting them frighten her. She became aware that the feelings that she was experiencing were like a wild animal's response to a threat, so she imagined what she would do to the animal attacking her if her body was that of a wild animal. The image that came to her mind was that she would punch the attacking animal in the face with her super-powerful fist and then she would run away to a safe place, where she would relax.
While imaging the wild animal scenario, she became aware of her body shaking. She allowed the shaking, which was coming from her autonomic nervous system, to continue, and then things started calming down. After getting up from the dentist's chair, and walking to her car, she noticed that it had been the first time that she had ever been able to function normally after a dental appointment. She realized that this is something that we need to complete, and completing something is very different from managing anxiety and freeze.
We call freeze a superpower because it allows us to become invisible by holding ourselves very still. Predators detect their prey from the carbon dioxide in their exhalation, so holding very still, breathing very shallowly, and keeping ourselves hunched over with our eyes down are the same things that wild animals do to keep themselves safe from threat. But people do tend to become scared when their bodies do these things without them realizing what is happening.
Currently, we are all experiencing an existential, invisible threat. We can't fight it or outrun it, but we can freeze. Our physical biology can invoke the very smart superpower to hunker down. However, along with that comes fear, so we also need to do something to overcome that and develop within ourselves an ease for readiness.
There are some techniques that we can use, with our friends and our children, to enable us to respond in a manageable way to our current, frightening situation.
Firstly, tune into your body and become aware of where you are holding tension right now.
- Notice, and welcome whatever is going on in your body.
- Don't try to make your feelings go away. Simply notice them with curiosity.
- Taking a deep breath naturally, is a sign that your autonomic nervous system has hit the reset button. It means that you're present and that things are returning to normal in your body.
- Let your eyes go wherever they want to, in the outer world. Notice what they are looking at. This will bring yourself into the present moment, through your senses.
- Notice how your body is responding to whatever it is looking at.
- Remember that even a one percent shift towards ease is the beginning of a process.
Ask yourself four questions:
1) Are you safe right now? (Yes or no?) If the answer is "no", ask yourself if you truly are not safe, or if you just don't feel safe. The reality is that most of us are safe.
2) Using your five senses, affirm that your body truly is safe right now. As mammals, we often take safety cues from one another, so looking into someone else's eyes can help us to feel safe.
3) Bring your attention back inside yourself and notice how your body responds when your attention is aligned with your mind and body around the idea of being safe.
4) Take a moment to savor the shift that you have experienced, and know that it is possible to return to this state whenever you need to.
This process can be repeated over and over, whenever necessary.
Links and resources:
To contact Suzie: https://www.oregonsomatictherapy.com/
Today, Rebecca Williams joins us. Rebecca is a licensed psychologist, who lived and worked in beautiful San Diego, California for twenty-five years. She recently relocated to Savannah, Georgia to be close to the wildlife and the natural beauty of the area.
Rebecca's path into addiction opened up through her family's struggles with addiction. Especially those of her late mother.
Growing up in this way, Rebecca wanted to learn as much as she could about addiction so she got her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, followed by her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
One of Rebecca's specialties is mindfulness. She has been working on it for the last twenty years and she has found it paramount to her self-healing and also to her capabilities as a psychologist. She discovered mindfulness through yoga when she started teaching it in the eighties before mindfulness became cool.
Mindfulness helped Rebecca to quieten her anxious mind. It's also a tool that has been very helpful to her, in her profession, to help a lot of other people with anxiety, depression, and other issues relating to mental health.
Mindfulness, as a practice, is a way through anxiety. Jon Kabat-Zinn described mindfulness as being in the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment. Being in the present moment is a challenge, and doing it on purpose takes work. Letting go of judgment can be difficult, but like everything, with practice, it gets easier.
Although it can take a lot to rid yourself of judgment, Rebecca explains that when you get used to not judging anymore, your brain starts to re-calibrate itself. And new, smoother neural pathways start opening up.
Rebecca believes that it all starts with the simple step of finding a quiet place where you won't be disturbed for a while. Then close your eyes for five minutes, and focus something like a sound or your breathing. If you do this every single day, you will become calmer and more focused over time.
There's no right way to meditate. It's just about permitting yourself to take the time to do it. Rebecca tends to struggle with her mind jumping around, so she concentrates on her breathing to help still her mind. She advises people to keep it uncomplicated, and as simple and as possible.
Rebecca also suggests doing a walking meditation. To do that, you can simply count the colors of green that you see while you're out walking. Or, if you're in the city, you can count all the different shades of grey you come across. The main thing is to permit yourself to be okay with any anxious thoughts that may arise because they are normal. And remember that the mind is designed to think so you can simply be grateful for that and keep going.
Permitting yourself to take the time to meditate is the number one thing that Rebecca recommends for everyone. This year is intense, so developing the ability to practice breathing, and sitting is critical for healing.
Rebecca has seen that resilience and self-compassion are the secret ingredients to recovery from addictions. With resilience, you can calm the nerve-endings enough to function well and be healthier. Mindfulness is one way to develop resilience.
Rebecca's book, Gift of Recovery, has 365 affirmations in it. Affirmations, good nutrition, exercising, and getting enough sleep all help to build up resilience.
Surviving is important for recovery, however, it's also necessary to thrive because when you thrive, you're able to make good choices, quality decisions, tell the truth to yourself and others, and reconnect with people. And you also need to practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. Self-compassion is about treating yourself like a best friend would treat you.
When you're mindful, you're treating yourself kindly. The moments when you treat yourself kindly add up, and help you become a gentler person. Remember though, this doesn't happen the first time you practice mindfulness because mindfulness is something that you need to cultivate over time. It's the same with recovery.
Links and resources:
Rebecca's website: www.mindfulnessworkbook.com
Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways To Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction by Rebecca Williams and Julie S Kraft
The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction: A Guide to Coping with the Grief, Stress and Anger that Trigger Addictive Behaviors by Rebecca Williams and Julie S Kraft
Anita Abdul-Karim is our guest for today. Anita is a registered dietician and she has written a book called Bad Bitches Don't Diet. Today, she will be sharing her journey and talking to us about her book.
Anita is from the Middle East. She struggled to fit in while growing up because there weren't many other Middle Eastern people at her school. She was also chubby, and not the smartest kid in the class, so, although her parents did the best they could under the circumstances, all of that added to the social pressure that Anita was experiencing.
Anita was overweight, and that impacted on her socially, and also within her family. So she tried to take matters into her own hands while growing up. Having a scientific mind, she gravitated towards any available information about diets and nutrition.
Anita lost a lot of weight in the seventh and eighth grades. However, in her senior year of high school, a lot was going on, and she gained thirty pounds in one month. It was a very dramatic situation.
Although Anita's weight fluctuated a lot, she was always aware of being overweight. And although she binged from time to time, she still knew that she wanted to become a dietician, and study nutrition.
Anita has always wanted to understand and move towards the truth. So she enrolled in an excellent program and learned about the science of nutrition. Then she came across a book called Intuitive Eating, written by two dieticians, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, and that took a huge weight off her shoulders and changed her entire life.
The philosophy behind eating intuitively is all about learning to trust your body to tell you what it needs. Unfortunately, however, most people grow up being taught not to trust themselves. This can cause a lot of misery and even lead people towards addictions because the further you push away from yourself, the more miserable you become.
Anita continued to suffer a lot of social pressure while she was studying because she was still overweight and people often made nasty comments about her being large and studying nutrition. So although she was still suffering the misery of trying to figure out her body, she started learning how to come back to herself and block the opinions of others. She soon learned how to be completely still and surrender to the point of being okay with herself and with everything happening in the present moment. She realized that any deviation from that kind of thinking could lead her towards an addiction.
Coming from a background as a health educator, Anita found that asking her patients questions inevitably led to better outcomes for their lives. That is because asking people questions empowers them and informs them subconsciously that they have the answers to most of their ailments.
Many people don't consider food to be their medicine. Nor do they consider food to be something that can cause them to feel something immediately like medication does.
To feel the effects of food, you need to pause, do away with all the noise around mealtimes, and come back to cultivating stillness, paying attention, and asking yourself how you feel when you eat something.
Overburdening your body with too much food is painful. It's important to understand that reaching for food when you're not hungry, or when you don't need it, hurts. So sitting with the truth about what's really going on with you is the best way forward, even though it might seem difficult, or even impossible to do.
You need to learn to ask yourself if the food you're reaching for is suppressing any pain or if it's presenting a new kind of pain. And you also need to be courageous in learning these new steps and sitting with your pain to get to the truth that's hidden inside of yourself.
Once you discover these new places within you, and you start summoning your courage as a resource, you're sure to start doing things that you previously thought were impossible. And life will become way more fun!
Links and resources:
Bad Bitches Don't Diet: A True Philosophy About Food by Anita Abdul-Karim
Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole
Today, our guest is Julie Hall. Julie is the author of The Narcissist In Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free, which was released in December 2019. In today's episode, she will be talking to us about what narcissism is and what it's like growing up with a narcissistic parent or parents.
Julie comes from a narcissistic family, so she describes herself as a survivor. She is an educational writer, poet, and journalist. While working on her memoirs, she came to realize that narcissism had been a major theme throughout her life, so she shifted gears and began to write specifically about narcissism. This became part of Julie's healing process.
Julie has a popular blog called The Narcissist Family Files, and you can find the articles that she writes regularly in Psychology Today. She also has articles in The HuffPost and various other places on the internet.
Narcissism is a personality disorder and there has been a lot of talk about it recently. Julie's book is about narcissistic personality disorder and how it affects the people close to the person with the disorder.
Everyone has a level of healthy narcissism, in that we all see things through our lens to some degree. The narcissist, however, has pathological levels of self-involvement and he or she experiences fundamental developmental deficits, early on in life.
In a family in which one or both of the parents are narcissistic, the family is structured in such a way that the needs of the children are secondary to the needs of the parents.
With narcissists, there's an underlying sense of profound vulnerability, shame, inferiority, and worthlessness. Narcissism is a defensive coping structure and children who develop this kind of coping structure tend to repress their feelings of vulnerability and shame and they build an exterior persona to mask their overwhelming feelings. They develop a false grandiose and superior personality, often becoming domineering and competitive. They are out of touch with their inner, emotional world and so they don't actively engage with people on an emotional level.
The narcissistic personality avoids self-reflection at all costs and it learns to mimic certain behaviors that look like intimacy. Narcissists tend to see themselves and others as either worthless or wonderful. When they see themselves (or others) as perfect, they need to stay that way in order not to feel worthless. They seem to be in a state that is disconnected from other people.
A major loss could sometime cause narcissists to look for help. This can be difficult for them and their process of recovery takes a long time, possibly seven to ten years.
It's devastating to be around a narcissist regularly. Especially for children, who suffer from a lot of pain, confusion, and complex trauma as a result.
Addiction is a part of the narcissistic family system. As well as a pattern of depression, anger, confusion, family rifts, and alienation, with no awareness of what the core issue is, or naming the personality disorder that is driving the dysfunction within the family system.
Denial is a big obstacle for the children of narcissists to overcome. They tend to move through all the stages of grief for a very long time.
The therapists who can best help the children of narcissists have usually gone through the same kind of experience themselves, like children.
Becoming educated about narcissism is very important for people who grew up with narcissistic parents. It's very easy to do today because there is so much information available.
Links and Resources:
Julie's website and blog: www.narcissistfamilyfiles.com
The Narcissistic Family:Diagnosis and Treatment by Robert M. Pressman and Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman
We have Kenneth Anderson, from HAMS (Harm Reduction Abstinence and Moderation Support) and the Harm Reduction Network with us today. He will be talking about harm reduction, what that means, how that differs from traditional forms of treatment (like twelve-step abstinence models), and the way that the harm reduction model can help people who are not yet ready for, or not willing to practice total abstinence, but would still like to change their drinking habits.
Kenneth is the founder and CEO of the HAMS Harm Reduction Network, a free-of-charge support group for people who want to make any kind of positive change to their drinking habits, from safer drinking to reduced drinking, to quitting altogether. There are seventeen elements to the HAMS program, which are all optional and can be done in any order. Although HAMS is an alcohol-focused group, they don't stop anyone from talking about any other addictions or problems that they may have.
HAMS has a handbook, called How To Change Your Drinking, which was written by Kenneth. The book was published ten years ago and about 22 000 copies have been sold on Amazon.
Kenneth used to drink a lot and he was getting into trouble as a result. He tried turning to several different groups, Alcoholics Annonymous included, for help but they did not work for him. He tried Moderation Management for a while, and while he was there, he developed the Harm Reduction approach. He was fascinated by the concept of harm reduction and began volunteering at the Needle Exchange Program in Minneapolis. There, he learned a lot and it completely changed his perspective. He realized the importance of encouraging every positive change.
The problem with abstinence models is that they are perfectionistic. So any improvement that anyone makes, apart from abstaining entirely, is not deemed to have any value whatsoever.
The Harm Reduction Model is about every positive change and it is a very pragmatic model in the United States. It was started in Holland, when drug users decided to do something to help themselves, and decided to start handing out clean needles to prevent their friends from dying. This model used to be illegal in the United States and it is still illegal in many places.
Harm Reduction encourages people to pick a goal that fits them. A goal that is do-able and right for them. Many people who come to Harm Reduction eventually choose to abstain completely.
In the broad definition of Harm Reduction, it also encompasses abstinence. It is about creating a better quality of life in the present moment.
There is research data available from the Rowntree Foundation, about people reducing their heroin usage from addictive to occasional use, although heroin is very difficult to moderate.
The National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions, was done by the American government's National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse. It surveyed more than 40 000 people and it was found that about half of the people with alcohol dependence recovered by controlling their drinking and half recovered by abstaining.
Generally, about 85% of all the alcoholics who recover do it on their own. It sometimes takes a long time, but recovery from alcoholism through controlled behavior does happen.
Early on, there were a great number of approaches to addiction treatment. Kenneth is currently writing a history of addiction treatments in America.
Aversion Therapy was big in the US until the 1980s. There was a chain of about 25 Aversion Therapy hospitals, using conditioned taste aversion, or electric shocks, and there were no alternative treatments available at the time.
What sets the Harm Reduction Network apart from all other recovery programs is that they are willing to welcome and support anyone who wants to make any kind of positive change to their drinking habits. They have online groups and a forum on their website so that you can do all the work yourself, for free. They also have a very popular Facebook group.
Better Is Better is one of HAMS's most popular models.
Links and resources:
The HAMS website - www.hams.cc
The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) Waves 1 and 2: Review and summary of findings - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4618096/
Josh Rychert joins us today. He will be talking about the recovery community called Recovery Dharma, in Boise, Idaho. Josh shares his personal story and explains how mindfulness, Buddhism, and learning to understand his dharma assisted him and can assist others too, by bringing the elements of peace and calmness into their lives and their recovery process.
Josh is in Boise, Idaho, where he has been involved in the recovery community since 2014. Recovery Dharma, under that name, only came into being last year. Recovery Dharma in Boise started as Refuge Recovery, with small groups and alliances with other similar groups through an online presence.
Recovery Dharma is an addiction recovery peer support group, with meetings all over the nation. It uses Buddhism, with the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, as a way to structure recovery for individuals.
Josh's recovery began in 1995. After having had issues with an alcohol use disorder, he became involved with Twelve Step groups. And after many years of recovery, Josh eventually found himself moving away from the Twelve Steps and developing an interest in meditation, to help his depression. Eventually, he rediscovered his need for a recovery community, and he fell into the Buddhist addiction recovery path, under the name of Refuge Recovery.
Buddhism was something that recognized Josh's capacity to have a life where compulsions and addictions were not the primary focus. It offered him an opportunity to identify with a recovery path that didn't identify with his addiction. He could, however, still recognize the risk of compulsions and addictions in his life.
The kind of present moment experience that Josh wanted from Buddhism was the experience of seeing the world clearly, being able to participate in life, and simply being alive and happy. While recognizing, at the same time, that he had certain risks to his wellness.
Buddhism offers a spiritual path, it uses mindfulness and meditation, and it recognizes addiction as a risk. It addresses the recovery from addiction as what is happening in one's life in the present moment, as it is being lived, rather than having a focus on the past, and an identification with a set of behaviors to retain recovery. After the initial concerns with a compulsive or addictive behavior have been addressed, it's about living life and knowing that there is a tendency for that kind of behavior. Present moment awareness is where the ability to stay in recovery is exercised.
For most people in recovery, options are not offered to them in the beginning. People with addictions are usually referred directly to Twelve-Step-based recovery programs, although many people don't resonate with that.
Having Buddhism as an option is valuable because it recognizes a modern incarnation of our knowledge of recovery and it does not require reliance on a Higher Power.
Mindfulness has been scientifically validated. With cravings, mindfulness helps people to be with the discomfort, and sit through it. Also, when the cravings have lessened, mindfulness helps people to thrive, in the moment.
Recovery Dharma offers a way to learn about, and practice meditation, as a supplement to the Eleventh Step in the Twelve-Step Program.
Recovery Dharma is broken down into some general categories. There is the practice of meditation, there are recovery meetings, and there is the study of Buddhism.
Dharma is often the word used to describe the teachings of Buddhism. More broadly, it describes a sense of truth, or a clear understanding of reality, or the wise teachings that bring about in people a sense of well-being and an ability to connect with the world. It allows people to share their wisdom and it offers them a sense of togetherness.
The Recovery Dharma meetings facilitate a sharing of wisdom through engaging in a practice to build a sense of calm and equanimity.
The path of Buddhism provides structure and a more wholesome way of life for people in recovery. It also brings in the cultivation of compassion, forgiveness, and a sense of peace, equanimity, calmness, and presence.
After his initial experience with the Twelve Steps, Josh continued to feel like an outsider. He did not fit with the feel of the meetings and the program. So he moved away from it and, as a result, he lost the support of the group. But his life went on and he forgot about his problems with addiction. Over time, however, he developed a problem with the compulsive use of internet pornography. He did not enjoy the subtle undercurrent of shame around issues of sex within the Twelve-Step Program, and he realized that with the program, many of the issues around cross-addiction were being swept under the rug, and this often led to denial. This drew Josh towards looking for something that would address the underlying cause of his addiction.
Recovery Dharma is a branch of Refuge Recovery and it addresses the underlying causes of people's addictions.
A book called The Mindful Way Through Depression, and The Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, in Boston, gave Josh a connection to a very solid Buddhist community. Through these connections, he developed a sense of what Recovery Dharma could represent for people in recovery, as an alternative to the Twelve-Step Program.
There's a recognition within the professional community today, that Recovery Dharma, and the practice of meditation, are very valuable to people on the path of recovery.
Links and resources:
Recovery Dharma's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/recovery.dharma/
The Addicted Mind Website - www.theaddictedmind.com
For more info about Novus Mindful Life Institute, go to www.theaddictedmind.com/help
Join our Facebook group. Go to www.facebook.com, type in The Addicted Mind, and click 'join'.
Book: The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Today's guest is Alex Katehakis. Alex is a Clinical Sexologist with a doctorate in human sexuality. She's also the Clinical Director of the Center For Healthy Sex in Los Angeles, California.
Alex has written several books - Sex Addiction As Affect Dysregulation, Erotic Intelligence, and Mirror Of Intimacy.
In today's episode, she shares her wisdom and insight about recovery and we have a great conversation about the root causes of the addictive process. We focus on the early developmental trauma and the way that it affects the ability to regulate our affect, and how addictive substances or processes are used to escape from those feelings.
Alex has always been fascinated by human sexuality. After practicing as a licensed marriage/family therapist for twenty-five years, she decided to dive deeper into human sexuality, rather than psychology.
In addition to human sexuality, Alex has also been studying with Dr. Allan Schore for the past twelve years, looking specifically at developmental neuroscience and how the early formation of the infant impacts on the developing brain, nervous system, and mind.
Talking about affect is referring to emotions. These emotions live deep within the body, and they only come forward when they are registered by the brain as feelings.
When a person is dysregulated and stressed out, their affect becomes dysregulated. When a child feels threatened, perhaps from an alcoholic, raging, shut down, or mean parent, their affect becomes dysregulated and they will always find themselves looking for something to make them feel better. In their waking life, a dysregulated person will feel anxious, depressed, dead internally, or dull. There's a general lack of feeling vitality in the body.
Dysregulated people say they don't feel joy states, or they are super anxious, so they have to drink to make the anxiety go away. They may use sex to make themselves feel powerful or good about themselves.
Anything that we're doing outside of ourselves to make ourselves feel 'right internally' speaks to affect dysregulation. Someone who is securely attached, and has a good heart-rate variability in general, doesn't have to reach for anything to change their internal state or mood.
Love addicts, and some sex addicts, learned very early on that they had to get their needs met by themselves, so they used fantasy, which is a form of mild to moderate dissociation. This makes it difficult for them to connect to another person, as an adult, and to have intimacy or closeness. People often don't know this about themselves until their lives become unmanageable.
As humans, we are highly adaptable creatures, so we can adapt to just about anything, even something dysfunctional that feels better than the problem we're living in. This can create patterns that are difficult to change.
Change is possible, however, it takes time.
Willpower is difficult for people experiencing a lot of stress. It's not the best way to change long-standing patterns that people have developed over time.
Long-term psychotherapy can help people feel into their bodies, and it allows them to feel the things they could not feel, as a child.
The therapist's nervous system can soothe and regulate the nervous system of the patient in the same way as it would with a healthy mother and a child. This is known as a co-regulatory process.
With a healthy person, their brain circuits are all online and firing. With someone who has been abused, however, their circuits are not coupled. They are down. This creates a deadness at their core. It requires the care of other people to get their circuits to come back up.
Twelve-step programs help people change because they are inclusive and non-judgmental. As humans, we all need other people to survive.
In her book, Sex Addiction As Affect Dysregulation, Alex looks at the underlying mechanism that drives problematic behavior. It helps people to see sex addiction in a new way, and it offers hope for the people who are struggling with it.
Sex addiction is being recognized more and more by the scientific community as a bone fide problem. It was first recognized in about 1978, although people were talking about it as an affliction as early as in the 1800s. In 2011, the American Society of Addiction Medicine made a public policy statement, in which they included sex as an addiction. In 2018, a proposed diagnosis of compulsive sexual behavior disorder was established for the international coding book, the ICD.
Willpower can be used to show up to people who care, and in that way, it can help to heal from sex addiction.
Remember, it's never too late to take a step in the direction of health!
Links and resources:
To find out more, go to www.thecenterforhealthysex.com
Alex also has a Youtube channel with hundreds of videos from sex-experts around the world.
Alex's books: Sex Addiction As Affect Dysregulation
David Fawcett is our guest for today and he will be talking about chemsex addiction. He will explain what it is and how people recover when they fuse a drug addiction and a sex addiction.
David is a licensed clinical social worker and a sexologist (sex therapist). For the last twenty years, he has been working with men who have sex with men who use methamphetamine, other drugs, and high-risk sex. He has now developed an interest in what has become known as chemsex.
For years, people were coming to David, as a sexologist, with their sexual problems. By looking at their history, he noticed that the sexual problems were being caused by methamphetamine. And he realized that people were often seeking help for their sex problems rather than for their drug problems. This led to David's discovery of the fusion between sexual behavior and drug use. And the devastation that it caused for the affected individuals.
People simultaneously using drugs and sex causes a fusion, or bonding, of neuropathways in the brain. This brings about a specific set of behaviors, making it necessary for them to deal simultaneously with both their sex and their substance addictions.
People's sex lives become so set by the super-stimulation of sex and drugs that nothing normal is appealing anymore. Sex and porn addiction play out similarly and the brain has to reboot in recovery.
There is even a state, called anhedonia, where people are no longer able to experience any pleasure and life feels grey and depressing. This is often due to the brain shedding its receptors.
People who were a year or eighteen months clean were coming to see David. They had virtually no sexual desire because sex been so fused with their drug use that when they gave up the drugs, the sex went with it. This happens because of Dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain, that bonds actions and rewards together.
With chemsex, there is a high-level volume of stimulation coming into the brain. So the brain sheds its Dopamine receptors to control the level of stimulation that it is receiving. This can lead to depression.
Methamphetamine is neurotoxic. This means that it consumes and destroys the receptors in the brain. It can take several years in recovery for the neuropathways to recover.
Recovery from chemsex involves working with both the chemical and the sex sides of the addiction. David uses an abstinence-across-the-board model, combined with recovery plans for sex and substance addictions.
One of David's goals is to re-integrate healthy sexuality back into people's lives. Anything that gets people into their bodies and out of their heads speeds up the process.
Peer support is really valuable for recovery from chemsex addiction. Recovery is possible!
Links and resources:
David's email - firstname.lastname@example.org
David's websites - www.seekingintegrity.com
Kathleen Oh is our guest for today. We have a great conversation with her about breathwork, facilitating change, and non-ordinary experiences.
Kathleen is an Integration Coach, and her work started three years ago, in the foundation of her addiction, and her recovery. She had plenty of help from some great mentors and teachers along the way, however, it was ultimately the tools that she acquired for herself, in her journey out of her addiction, that got her to where she is today.
Kathleen has a food addiction. This was very hard for her, and although her addiction wasn't obvious to others, it was clear to her that there was something profoundly wrong with her brain because she saw how she was continuously cycling through addictions with cigarettes, alcohol, and food. She was a binge-eater who used to eat secretly. She was obese, and her appetite for refined foods was insatiable, so she knew she had an issue with food but she did not realize at the time that it was an addiction. She thought it was an emotional need that she was trying to fulfill.
The specific foods that Kathleen cannot tolerate are refined. Due to their molecular structure, her brain takes in refined foods as if they are drugs like heroin or cocaine. It was a huge eye-opener for her when she discovered that by removing refined foods from her diet, she was able to access the non-ordinary experiences of a spiritual awakening.
Breathwork has resulted in some of the most profound experiences that Kathleen has ever had. She started her relationship with breathwork about twenty years ago, when she encountered Breath Therapy for the first time, and her facilitator became her mentor.
Kathleen's addiction revealed itself to her three years ago, and she has been in recovery ever since. She now realizes that when she was overeating and drinking alcohol, she was trying to escape from her body.
Breathwork has allowed Kathleen to feel safe to be in her body. This connection to herself has given her something wonderful that she has never experienced before. Breathwork supported Kathleen in a way that she could accept the difficult moments in her life and power through them. Breathwork became a place of surrender for her, and this became the foundation for her recovery.
Although the method that Kathleen's breathwork facilitator used was initially very challenging for her, it became the primary breath that Kathleen used at the time. It involves a sharp intake of breath, into the top third of the lungs, and the sound it makes can create a shocking feeling and cause one to re-experience past traumas that have been stored in the body.
Since then, Kathleen has learned and practiced many other breaths, many of which are gentler and just as effective as the initial breath that she learned.
Holotropic Breathwork is probably the most effective and best-researched breathing technique. It was developed in the 1960s by a psychiatrist called Stanislav Grof, who came to the US to do LSD research. When his research into LSD was terminated in the late 1960s, he continued looking for ways to bring about the non-ordinary state. He found that breathwork was as effective as LSD, and using yogic breath practices, shamanic journeys, and loud cultural music and drumming, he developed the Holotropic Breathwork system.
A non-ordinary experience can also be defined as an altered, or subconscious state. This state is outside of what we would normally experience in the container of our regular thoughts, feelings, and ideas. And pushing your mind beyond the normal experience gives you access to more information and allows you to be more creative in your thinking, feeling, and being. This state can be attained through meditation, yoga, certain prayer practices, and breathwork.
Kathleen would like to encourage people to follow their bodies intuitively. Yoga, dancing, or breathing techniques can allow one to immerse oneself fully into the experience in a way that the body feels safe and comfortable.
The breathwork that Kathleen coaches and facilitates is intuitive and unguided. One of its premises is to inhale a lot more breath than you exhale, to build up CO2 in the body. This shuts down the default mechanism in the brain and allows people to connect with parts of themselves that have previously been inaccessible on a day-to-day basis.
This technique works very well for addictions because it allows people to access their inner truth, and see themselves in a different light. They can then work with their experiences with more resources than they had when the initial incident occurred.
It's hard to be objective with ourselves. But with breathwork, we can have moments of clarity and truth where we can observe ourselves and make the connections.
Breath is our life source. Kathleen believes that breathwork is our highest power and something that everybody needs because it connects us to something greater and more powerful than we are. By practicing breathwork, we are creating a better version of ourselves which will ultimately benefit everyone.
Today, our guest is German Lopez. German a writer and he is currently doing a project called The Rehab Racket, which involves looking into addiction treatment, exploring some of the issues associated with it, and bringing them to light. This challenges the addiction treatment community to provide the very best care for people who are suffering from addictions.
German is a senior correspondent at Vox.com. Before, he was writing mostly about drug policy and criminal justice issues, but for the past few months, his focus has been on The Rehab Racket project, which was created to investigate the cost and quality of the treatment that is available for addictions in the United States. At this point, German has received more than 1100 submissions from patients and their families.
For the last few years, German has been researching and writing about the opioid epidemic. He saw that policy-makers had been making an effort to put more money into addiction treatment, which is something that activists had been calling for, for quite some time. This information initially seemed contradictory to him because addiction is hard to treat, and there was a general understanding out there that much of the available treatment was inadequate, not evidence-based, and not really helping a lot of people.
German wanted to make sure that the money being poured into addiction treatment was indeed going towards something worthwhile and effective. So he started talking to families, to ascertain whether or not he was onto something. This is how The Rehab Racket project came about.
German believes that more money should be poured into addiction treatment but, at the same time, more should be done to ensure that the treatment is good. His hope is that The Rehab Racket project will serve to ensure that addiction treatment is motivated to be good by someone holding it accountable.
It seems that the idea that people who use drugs and go through addiction treatment are under-represented overall in the conversation, has changed in recent years, particularly with the opioid epidemic. This is what motivated German to want to hear directly from the affected people. Also, to truly reflect how well addiction treatment is working, he needed to reach out to as many people as possible. This is why there is a survey form on German's website for people who have gone through the system to fill out, talk about their addiction treatment, and help shed a light on this part of the health-care system.
Hearing from people who found a treatment that worked for their addiction, and got them into recovery, who had spent thousands, and sometimes even tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on that treatment was alarming for German. The American health insurance system is supposed to protect people from these catastrophic costs, and in a lot of cases, the insurance is not doing that due to the many barriers that are involved.
Mostly, the cost for the treatment of addiction is very high and there are no guarantees that it will be successful, because the treatment, and the various medications for addiction, do not work the same for everyone. Also, the medications that have worked successfully for addictions are not offered at all treatment centers.
For a long time, society neglected this particular area of health care. There were initially no places that provided treatment for addictions, so that forced all the assistance to come from community groups, like AA and other twelve-step groups.
Treatment for addiction is still a relatively young field, it takes good research to make a good change, and we are still learning about the most effective ways to help people who are struggling with addictions. However, many treatment facilities don't track their outcomes and many of the surveys that are done around addiction and recovery are of very poor quality, so it's difficult, at this stage, to know what kind of treatment is the most effective. But, based on the data that's available from the federal survey of treatment facilities, there seems to be more push lately to find out more about this particular field of health care.
Often, issues of addiction, and issues like eating disorders, tend to overlap and may need to be treated simultaneously. This is challenging in terms of the kind of treatment that is currently available.
It's difficult right now to find a facility that's the best fit for everyone's specific needs. Shatterproof would like to alleviate that issue. It's going to be a system like Yelp, but for rehab, to give an overview of the facilities and services offered by each treatment center.
People with addictions need support. However, there's still a stigma with addictions, so people who struggle with them often get treated badly, with a lack of compassion. German has seen that even doctors, nurses, and other people who have been trained to deal with the suffering, tend to be prejudiced towards people with addictions. He would like to see this change and see the people in authority and policy-makers realizing that people with addictions need to be treated kindly, with compassion and care. He points out that this could be one of our society's main lines of defense against the current drug crisis.
It seems clear to German that something is wrong. He hopes that through The Rehab Racket project, he can shine a light on problems like stigma, lack of insurance coverage, and lack of evidence-based care, all of which keep on coming up. He hopes that the policy-makers will soon realize that something needs to change.
Telling your story is cathartic. It assists with the recovery process.
German's Reporting on Vox - www.vox.com/rehab
German on twitter - @germanrlopez
Today, we have a great conversation with Jen Sugermeyer. She shares her story of addiction and recovery, and she talks to us about overcoming her shame and her fear of reaching out, and how she managed to change her relationship with herself.
Jen grew up on the East Coast and she currently lives in Dallas, Texas.
Jen's addiction started at the age of twelve, with an eating disorder. At the time, she did not realize that she was paving the way for her brain to become accustomed to satisfying her reward system.
When she reached her mid-thirties, she was an alcoholic and she had been trying to get sober for more than a decade. Looking back, Jen could see her pattern of gaining control of one addiction, and then that leading to another one.
Jen also saw that she was accustomed to living two distinctly different lives. She was working in Corporate America at the time, and she did not talk openly about her eating disorder with anyone. She seemed to be a happy-go-lucky person, and she always came across as loving and caring, but she had a very dark side that she kept hidden. And as much as she didn't want to acknowledge her dark side, that part of her was slowly winning the battle and taking over.
Jen was living an extremely chaotic life, running in and out of jails and hospitals, and then straight into work. She was trying to keep the two parts of herself separate and it was eating her up inside. She even became suicidal towards the end, from living such an unmanageable lifestyle. She kept trying to fix her symptoms when she was the problem. She couldn't get a hold on her addictions, and she knew that at some point, she would have to come to terms with the fact that she needed to work on herself.
Although Jen really wanted people close to her, she could never get too close to anyone because she only wanted people to see one part of who she was. And she was working in Corporate America, where there was a stigma around having any kind of mental health issue. So there was a constant battle raging within her between the two aspects of herself, and she felt very alone because there was nobody that she felt she could talk to. It was around this time that she became suicidal because it seemed the easiest way out.
It was only when she was about twenty-five that Jen admitted that she had an addiction problem. And it took at least another five years before she could admit to being an alcoholic, even though she had to acknowledge before that, that there were things about her behavior that didn't line up. From the age of twenty-five, she was in and out of AA for about ten years.
Jen had to learn to love herself. This became abundantly clear to her when the man she was dating told her so and it was his words that finally launched her into sobriety. This was the first time that she understood what she needed to do.
Coming out and talking about everything has been an interesting road for Jen. She has been well-received and she's found the experience more liberating than she imagined. However, she realizes that there's still a lot of work to be done. Although Jen gave herself an entire year to work on her recovery, she knows that will have to continue working on herself every day, after that. Because, since she was twelve, she has never really felt her emotions and she has always been suppressing her feelings.
About five years ago, Jen finally started admitting to her alcoholism. She got sober and began wrapping her head around the recovery process. Although it took a long time for her to find her sobriety, she's okay with it because she doesn't think that she would be the person she is today if she had found her sobriety at the age of eighteen.
There is a whole lot of forgiving that goes with recovery. Not just for others, but yourself as well. Jen knows that she would not have been where she is today without having learned to let go.
Jen is six-feet, one inch tall. Now, for the first time in her life, she thinks that it's amazing, and she is can embrace herself and her uniqueness! She has really enjoyed getting to know and appreciate herself, and she's learned the value of loving herself and sharing that love with others.
Jen has written a book, called RESET (Recognize, Eliminate, Standardize, Elevate, and Transform). She started writing it on the first anniversary of her sobriety. It's about what she went through, and how to claim the life that you deserve. It will be coming out in the spring of 2020. You can sign up on her website for the VIP launch, to get a copy of her book for only 99 cents.
Jen also has a 101 coaching program that will be coming out in 2020.
Jen's website - www.jensugermeyer.com
Jen on Instagram - Jen Sugermeyer
Today, Dr. Faye Mandell is with us to talk about spirituality, connection, and how being in the present moment and looking at our reality from a quantum perspective can help us find more joy and happiness.
Dr. Mandell is a practicing Awareness Coach. Although she has a Ph.D. in psychology, she does not use the old paradigm psychological framework that she learned in graduate school.
Dr. Mandell wanted to continue educating herself so she went to the Cambridge Adult Education building in Massachusetts and decided to randomly choose a course. At the time, she did not yet know that random was the order of the universe. She had never studied anything to do with physics, before, and by chance, the course that her finger landed on was called Quantum Physics In The Face of God.
The course was given by Fred Allen Wolfe and it completely re-oriented Dr.Mandell's life and changed the way that she interacted with people from then on. She started to see things clearly and understand that reality is not what it seems.
Dr. Mandell began to get the meaning of the equation, E equals MC squared. And she began to realize that nothing physical is really solid and that everything is a matter of vibration and resonance.
She familiarized herself with the work of Albert Einstein and it changed her whole understanding of reality. It helped her understand that we are the observers, not separate from the observed, that one thing can be in many places at the same time, and that we create our reality.
You cannot solve a problem with the same information that you used to create it. Thought moves you in time, so when you're thinking you cannot be in the present moment. When you are in the present moment, however, the mind is quiet and the information from your body becomes what you focus on, and what's intelligent for you. This is because the body has superior intelligence.
We have to shift our attention from being addicted to the thoughts in our heads, to listening to the information from our bodies.
All our cells have memories, and memories are intelligent. They can sense what is good for us and what is bad. And we're getting information from all our cells continuously, moment by moment. This kind of information is known as natural codes and it does not require any input from the mind. The function of the mind is to create and innovate ways to connect with the present moment.
Our feelings are the information from the body to ourselves. Built into each feeling is the right action to perform to recalibrate ourselves to come back to the present. So, to get the body to use its superior intelligence, we need to pay attention to our feelings. This is the exact opposite of what our culture tells us to do. Anxiety and frustration are examples of the type of feelings that give us information.
Feelings lead to thoughts and negative emotions are feelings plus thoughts. We need to learn how to separate the feeling from the thought so that we can stop pulling lower emotions back into ourselves. We want to listen to how the thought is structured, rather than the content of the thought, so that we can find out where we are in time and space.
Our experiences create forms that then become our belief systems. This locks us into a false belief about what reality is and it can make us lose our creative ability. Dr. Mandell calls this being in the matrix. She helps people by reframing things for them so that they can see them from a different perspective.
You have to listen to the structure of your thoughts because the structure tells you where you are in time and space.
We choose where to put our attention. The phrase, "I am", tells us that we're in the present moment.
To get people off their addiction to listening to their stories, and to move their attention to the structure of their thoughts rather than the content, is the challenge of awareness.
Addiction to thoughts is as powerful as an addiction to a substance. Shifting your focus is the key to your freedom. When you are free from addiction, you become able to make choices and become driven by the wonderful six drivers of behavior. They are service, compassion, integrity, accountability, courage, and gratitude.
Remember that nothing is impossible. You can choose where to put your attention- even when you're sick. Where you place your attention can have a very big influence on your life.
Steve Rio, Founder of the Nature of Work is our guest today. Today, we’re talking about work and recovery and what affects the recovery process. In a quest to live our best lives, we want Steve to share his take on how we can optimize our lives and live in a way that fulfills us.
Steve is a futurist, technologist and researcher born in Vancouver BC, Canada. Steve is founder and CEO of Briteweb, an international social impact agency delivering strategy, branding and digital, and the Founder of Nature of Work, helping people be more productive, creative and happy in their work and their lives.
Steve thrives at the intersection of social impact, culture and technology and is an expert in exponential organizations, remote and distributed teams and workforce wellness and performance. He has real world experience leading remote and distributed digital teams as well as implementing technology and systems for over a decade. It’s through the lens as a freelancer turned business owner and entrepreneur that he thinks about performance for modern workers.
Social media has invaded our daily lives and because we are engaging with technology in such a persuasive way, we now have one of the most addictive devices in our pockets at all times. It’s hard to separate ourselves from social media because we feel like it is a way to engage with our friends. However, we forget that social media platforms have been engineered to be addictive.
Steve founded Nature of Work out of his own need. He wanted a quiet space, close to nature, where he could do his deepest and best work. Despite his best efforts, he still could not calm his mind and focus in the way he expected.
Because many of us have complicated relationships with work and technology, we can’t just control our external environment to get a productive outcome - we have to look internally as well. Our time, attention and focus are pulled in a million directions each day, and the technology we use to accomplish our work, is also what causes us the biggest distractions and the lowest productivity.
We are in the information age, and our tools can be used across multiple platforms to accomplish various tasks. In previous times, the tools used for work could only accomplish the task we were working on - think about a shovel. You wouldn’t be able to check Facebook on a shovel, so you could have long periods of attention and focus in order to accomplish the task.
Steve advocates optimizing your work so that you can be more productive, but also so that you can have a higher quality of life and an increased level of fulfillment. We work ourselves to burnout level without taking into consideration the quality of our lives. When we get back to basics with our daily routines and practices, we can begin to see profound changes.
Our time and attention are the 2 greatest assets that we have. They are non-renewable and determine the quality of the experience of our life.
Steve on Instagram
Steve’s Podcast - Now with Steve Rio
Recovery from addiction is a particularly challenging process for women, who are also mothers, to go through. Emily Lynn Paulson, author of the book, Highlight Real: Finding Honesty and Recovery Beyond the Filtered Life, is our guest for today's show. She shares the story of her addiction and her journey along the path of the process of recovery and healing.
Emily lives in Seattle and she's is the mother of five children. She has been sober for three years now, and she is a certified, professional recovery coach.
Emily used to dislike herself a lot. She had difficulty with being honest, both with herself and with others. From a very young age, she used to tell white lies to cover up the things she didn't like about herself and to make up for the things she thought she lacked.
When Emily started drinking, it helped her to cover up, and make up, for the things she didn't like about herself or that she thought she lacked. The first time she ever drank alcohol, she realized that it affected her differently to the way it affected her peers. Rather than just having fun, when she drank, she felt that she was finally the person she was always meant to be. This theme wove its way into different areas of her life and followed her until she found recovery.
When she was younger, it was hard for Emily to make the connection between alcohol and her problem because back then it was still relatively easy for her to hide things from other people. Bad things didn't happen every time she drank but every time something bad happened, she had been drinking. At college, her problem was easy to hide because everyone was drinking all the time and her behavior didn't appear to be any different from that of anyone else.
As an adult, Emily had five children and she didn't drink while she was pregnant. So she continued denying her problem for quite some time until the consequences of her drinking finally started outweighing what she thought she was getting out of it.
Emily didn't believe she was an alcoholic at first because she thought she could stop drinking. She made several attempts to stop but she always started again. Deep down, she knew that she had a problem but she was not willing to let it go forever. That is alcoholic-thinking, and it is very common. Eventually, it got to the point where Emily could no longer deny her alcoholism.
All the dishonesty, secrecy, and lies of omission can make addiction a soul-crushing condition. Other people are often not fully aware of what is going on, so they don't step in and offer to help.
Although Emily came to realize that dishonesty didn't work, it was still very hard for her to become fully honest. She found that coming out with her sobriety, and also writing her book, helped her to make the connection and become truthful about who she was, and about the things she still needed to deal with. She knew that she could not start afresh without first dealing with everything that had come before.
It's very easy to give a false impression of what is going on in our lives with social media. And many people fall into the social media "comparison-trap".
Having to confront her kids with her alcoholism was the most difficult part of recovery for Emily but it was also her biggest blessing because it brought about some very necessary conversations.
Alcohol is not something that women have to do to survive their kids. For Emily, her book is an important message to women, telling them how necessary it is, to tell the truth to other women about what alcohol does to mothers.
Since Emily started putting her sobriety first, she has been able to be there for her family in a way that she has never known before. Her life has become so much better. She's not perfect now, but her best day when she was drinking was always way worse than her worst day, sober.
Links and resources:
Emily's website - www.emilylynnpaulson.com
Emily on Instagram - @highlight real recovery
Today's guest is Maureen Stanton, the author of the memoir, Body Leaping Backwards, Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood.
Maureen spent about forty years writing her book but she kept avoiding taking it to the point of getting published because there was shame in it for her. So she only started writing the book seriously in 2014, once her dad had passed away. He had done the very best he could for her so she wouldn't have wanted him to feel ashamed of her.
Maureen wanted to tell the story of what happened with her so long ago because she believes that it is still relevant and that it will still resonate with teenagers today, even though the specifics are different.
Maureen's teenage years were a time of great anxiousness, sadness, and confusion. She felt that she wanted to disappear. She had feelings of self-doubt and she lacked self-confidence to the point of self-loathing. So she turned to drugs to self-medicate. She started using Angel Dust, a dissociative anesthetic that was a very prominent drug in the 1970s. It numbed her, helped her to escape from the emotional pain that she felt as a teenager, and allowed her to stop thinking about her insecurities and sadness.
Maureen is now in her late 50s. She kept all her diaries from before she was using, and from the time when she began feeling a sense of despair and started doing drugs. Reading through the diaries as an adult, she was able to remember just how she had felt then, so she was able to convey that very clearly in her book.
A lot of kids start using drugs or drinking during their fraught teenage years while crossing the bridge over the treacherous terrain from childhood to adulthood. Children who are suffering from psychic pain, and don't have guidance, are more likely to start using drugs and alcohol.
Maureen started with alcohol and marijuana. Her friend's older brother then introduced her to Angel Dust. As it was smoked in a joint, it seemed to Maureen to be very similar to marijuana, and there were no warnings at the time about the dangers of using this terrible drug. There was still a part of her, however, that realized that it would cause damage to her brain cells.
Mauren believes that essential loneliness and discomfort are felt by teenagers because they don't yet know who they are.
Maureen feels shame about her terrible, delinquent behavior while she was using drugs. She does, however, feel extremely fortunate that there was no lasting harm, that she knows of, done to anyone.
Who we are, as individuals, is defined by our passions and our interests. Maureen gave all of that up for getting high. She progressively stopped doing the things she loved as she slid deeper into her addiction. So although the drugs helped her escape and provided some relief, she continued to erase herself. She eventually became so empty and despairing that she knew she had to ask for help. Her mother arranged for her to see a counselor and Maureen paid for her counseling herself with the money she earned working for a gas station.
Maureen believes that the culture of a society impresses itself on teenagers in a way that they don't necessarily understand. In the 1970's the American culture was a bit lost, and there was a sense of despair, due to immoral leadership, the Vietnam war, and Watergate, and Maureen's journey seemed to mirror that to some extent.
Looking back, Maureen realizes that some of the things she had to face were very hard, but she wanted to give something back and touch the hearts and minds of other teenagers. Her book is a public confession and she has written it in the hope of helping other people.
Our guests for today are Mark Sheeran and Michelle Dunbar of the Baldwin Research Group. They have a thought-provoking conversation about The Freedom Model of addiction treatment, which is a non-Twelve Step, and non-disease model of treatment.
Mark is 49-years old. He is the chairman of Baldwin Research and he is one of the authors of The Freedom Model. Mark co-founded the Saint Jude Retreat, which is where The Freedom Model is taught.
Mark and Michelle both come from heavy AA backgrounds. Their families were both steeped in treatment and AA, so their research actually began when they were kids.
Mark was involved in a serious drunk-driving accident thirty years ago, at the age of nineteen. This made him realize that he needed to change his life. He was mandated into treatment and found that he disagreed vehemently with what they were teaching him because he did not believe that he would be an alcoholic forever. His treatment experience was so bad that he knew there had to be a better way. After completing eighteen months of treatment he decided to figure out a better way for people. Within one year, he coined the phrase "non-Twelve Step”.
Mark spent the next twelve years, doing research. He then met Michelle and they continued doing the research together, along with some others. Together, they developed the skeleton of what was to become The Freedom Model. The model was perfected over the next twenty years.
Michelle is the Executive Director of Baldwin Research. She is also one of the co-authors of The Freedom Model. Michelle is the Director of the Saint Jude Retreat and she teaches the program.
Mark met Michelle's father at AA in 1989. Michelle approached her father for help with her drinking and drug use when she was twenty-two years old. Her father had been in recovery for about ten years at the time, and he no longer believed that he was an alcoholic. Michelle was intrigued by her father's approach. He had a group of young people with whom he was doing research and so she unknowingly became one of his only female research subjects in his project.
Michelle's father told her that she did not have a disease and she was not powerless. He explained that her problem was temporary and that she could be okay. This was a very new idea for her. She continued with AA for another seven years but she was always a heretic, trying to change it from within and telling people that they could be okay.
Mark and Michelle spent the first twelve years of the thirty that they were doing their research in AA, trying desperately to make it work and become more effective. But they were heretics at the same time. Where AA was saying that you never get over the problem, they were saying that you most certainly do.
Mark went to over 3000 AA meetings. First, as a member, then as a skeptical member, then as a researcher, then as a researcher that was fairly anti-AA when he got to truly understand the facts.
According to Mark's research, people do move on from their addictions. Over 90% of drug addicts, alcoholics, and heavy substance abusers move past the problem as they get older, whether they treat it or not.
With The Freedom Model, you have to undo the mythologies so that you become free to move on.
As a young person, the idea that you are going to struggle with your "disease" forever can be very daunting.
The Freedom Model debunks 23 of the grand myths that people are told about addiction so that people can make the choice as to the benefits of their using. Because people use because they like it.
The Freedom Model helps people question why they make decisions and why they are motivated to use, based on their behavior, their belief systems, and the myths by which they may be living their lives.
According to Mark's research, 90% of drinkers quit, whether they are treated or not. 98% of crystal meth addicts stop whether there are brain changes or not. And 99% of cocaine users and 98% of heroin users quit whether they are treated or not, even though their brains change because brain changes are normal.
It is more natural to move on from addiction than it is to keep one. And it is much more natural for a human being to change than it is to remain static in a behavior. The key to recovery is to move the locus of control to the self.
Shame sits in the way of recovery.
At their residential retreats, people spend four weeks attending classes where they work with the 450 page Freedom Model curriculum. They don't take away people's cellphones and laptops or treat them like babies or criminals. It is a very conducive, quiet, learning environment. By the time that everyone leaves, the myths have been undone, they know that they can be free, and they have usually chosen either moderation or abstinence.
Life in recovery doesn't have to be a daily struggle.
It all comes down to a choice that we make to deal with difficult experiences. Mark and Michelle help people by challenging their beliefs that a substance will help them to deal with stressful situations.
Mark and Michelle have both been there. They want people to know that they can move on from addiction because it's not a chronic, progressive, psycho-social disease. You can become free to get on with your life and move past all of this and by actually understanding what is happening.
Links and resources:
The Baldwin Research Group - https://www.baldwinresearch.com/
Website for retreats - www.soberforever.net
Website for the book and all services - www.thefreedommodel.org
Today, Dave Jansa, of We Face It Together, talks about how he helps people get through a part of addiction treatment that sometimes tends to be overlooked. There are some people who suffer from addiction who have not necessarily hit their rock bottom. So, although they realize they have a problem, they have often not yet suffered the all big consequences of their addiction.
Dave offers coaching, to help these people change their thinking about addiction and to help them change their addictive process before they have to face the deep consequences that are normally associated with addiction.
Sixty-four-year-old Dave was born and raised in South Dakota. He comes from a big family where addiction was rife. Currently, five of the eight siblings in Dave's family are abstinent from drugs and alcohol.
Dave started drinking alcohol when he was in high school. He also became a heavy marijuana smoker at the time. This curtailed his education because he quit college after his first semester and he went back to work full-time.
Dave stopped using marijuana in his early thirties, after many attempts at moderation, and he is currently thirty-two years alcohol-free.
During his mid-forties, Dave began to become intensely curious. With the advent of the internet, his curiosity led him to immerse himself in the very confusing landscape of the issues of addiction that he and his brothers had gone through. As a result, he retired early from his very good and long-term sales position and threw himself into the world of addiction.
Dave started volunteering for a local community organization, which eventually became a very innovative organization that was doing things differently and breaking down barriers. He was a great fit for the organization and has been with them ever since then.
A big flaw in an already flawed system is that our entire culture, including some people in the addiction-care world, is saying that some people with addictions, whose lives have not collapsed completely, are not yet sick enough for recovery.
Seeing his brothers transform before his very eyes made things very logical for Dave. He did not have to wait until everything fell apart to recover. He could also do what his brothers had done, and turn his life around.
Dave had no doubt that, although he was low on the spectrum, he was still an alcoholic. At Face It Together, he first went through a protracted trial-and-error process of harm reduction, trying to curtail his drinking. It didn't work, so he decided to go for long-term abstinence.
Addiction is known to be a chronic disease. The pillars of chronic disease management are to detect it early and to deal with it as quickly as possible. This makes chronic diseases easier to treat but most people don't think of doing this with addictions.
Dave firmly believes that people, who are clearly showing signs of what he refers to as 'pre-addiction', would do well to have a non-judgmental conversation with a health practitioner in a clinical environment.
At Face It Together, they offer non-judgmental peer coaching. They never tell people what to do. They rather make suggestions. They often initially assist people towards a harm-reduction protocol, which is on the way to recognizing and dealing fully with their problems of addiction. Sometimes people with addictions simply need to recognize that it's normal to first want to cut back on using, before going for complete abstinence.
At Face It Together, they knew that peer conversations were powerful. They employed science and embraced harm reduction and motivational interviewing. They also expanded on this and developed a tool called Recovery Capital Index, with which they can accurately measure someone's addiction wellness. This tool has been validated as an instrument, by Sanford Research, in South Dakota. This has been published in the South Dakota Journal of Medicine.
Addiction wellness is measured way more in terms of how an individual is fitting into the world, and less in terms of how much drug they are using.
At Face It Together, they work hard on people's behaviors and they have conversations with people about their journey. The Recovery Capital Index shows them where people are doing well and where they are not doing well.
Today, Dave feels exponentially better than he did during the sixteen years that he was quitting alcohol.
We Face It Together's website - www.wefaceittogether.org
Today's guest is Gregg Champion and he will be talking about hitting rock bottom, what that means, and the significance of finding ourselves sitting at the crossroads of wanting to change from a life of addiction to one of recovery. Gregg also discusses his rock bottom, and he tells us his recovery story.
Episode Link: www.theaddictedmind.com/76
Gregg is the co-founder of START UP RECOVERY, located in the Pacific Palisades. START UP RECOVERY is a transformational residence that supports people through career, passion, and what Gregg refers to as a recovery play-book. Their four cornerstones are a community, accountability, education, and love. They also provide for their residents the unique service of mentorship for long-term sobriety and long-term success.
Gregg got sober 25-years ago when he was in his mid-twenties. He has managed to retain his sobriety by remaining willing to be willing. He maintains a mindset of life as a continuous journey going forward. In his first year of recovery, he did everything the old-school AA way, and over time, he began adding breath work, sound bath, and then Al-Anon to his play-book. He found that every time he became distressed in his disease, someone would show up with a new tool for him to try. He gets through all of life's painful problems with sobriety and with the support of the whole recovery network. He is always looking for ways to continue healing and growing.
Living a counseled and supported life during the years of recovery is essential because, when left to our own devices, our ego will show up. And with pride and ego involved, we tend to make bad decisions, even when we're sober. One addict helping another really works!
Rock bottom is choosing to do the same thing over again, knowing that the result is going to be bad. It can happen as a result of many different things, like childhood trauma, divorce, or addiction. At rock bottom, people often find themselves doing things that they said they would never do. It's the point when people begin to realize that they are powerless and their lives have become unmanageable. Having the compassionate support of others at this time is crucial.
Developing joy in life, and shifting from addiction to passion are parts of the process of recovering from rock bottom. This does not happen overnight. It happens one day at a time and it can result in people becoming addicted to a life of recovery.
For Gregg, it is important to help people to reach their rock bottom by showing them, rather than telling them, what he has done in his life to maintain his sobriety. He refers to this as co-piloting people through their recovery process.
Life is difficult. So Gregg believes that the Twelve-Steps would be a very helpful tool to incorporate into the school system. He suggests introducing it to children in the fourth grade, before they have reached puberty, and before they have discovered drugs and alcohol. With this process, they could develop the essential skills necessary for living joyful and passionate lives.
Recovery is a life-time process. Gregg encourages everyone to unpack their backpack of shame sooner rather than later because the longer it is carried, the heavier it gets, and the more it will weigh you down. To be tuned-in to recovery, he recommends being spiritually sound, sober, hard-working, diligent, and seriously honest.
Today's guest is Dr. Sonya Lott, a licensed psychologist with advanced training from Columbia University's Center for Complicated Grief. Sonya runs a private practice in Pennsylvania and she hosts the Reflections on Multicultural Competence Podcast. She is the founder and CEO of Cempsych LLC, a company offering continuing education for licensed mental health professionals.
Today, Sonya talks to us about grief and loss, which is intertwined in many ways with the addictive process. She explains that living is about connection but, ironically, the more loss we experience, the greater the likelihood becomes that we will actually fear connection. Still, it is very important to acknowledge the need for connection.
Sonya explains that what we think and feel has a direct and immediate influence on what's happening with the neurotransmitters in our brain. This has a long-term impact on the way that hormones are released in the body. Over time, these reactions become chronic and cyclical, and they have an impact on every part of the body, including the immune system, making us more susceptible to illnesses.
Processing loss is important and we need to grieve to do it. Many people, however, don't frame their adverse experiences in terms of loss, even though their bodies and their hearts take it in as such. Often, people end up being diagnosed with depression or anxiety without having addressed the root cause, which is usually a painful loss of connection or secure attachment from their early childhood. It's important to frame any kind of loss and grieve for it because that awareness allows people to heal in a different and deeper way. This is crucial to the recovery process and it lessens the suffering.
Losing a child is particularly challenging for parents because it goes against the natural order of things. Losing a child to an addiction is a bit like losing a loved one to suicide. It comes with a great sense of helplessness, so this type of loss could easily set someone up for complicated grief.
Therapists who are well-informed about grief and addiction can be very helpful for finding meaning in life and establishing a new identity in terms of recovery from addiction. Self-help groups or groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) also provide support for individuals who are able to recognize their experiences of loss.
Links and resources:
Dr. Lott's website - https://drsonyalott.com/
Cempsych website - www.cempsych.com
Reflections on Multicultural Competence Podcast - https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/reflections-on-multicultural-competence
Today, Erin Miller shares her story of losing her son, Chad, to heroin addiction. She talks very frankly about her painful process of grief and loss, and she explains how she's managed to find meaning and purpose in what she's been through, by using Chad's story to help others.
Five years have passed since Chad's death. During this time, Erin has gained a lot of insight and wisdom, and her current perspective is completely different from how it was at the time of his death. Being able to help others has made the whole experience worthwhile for her.
Erin explains that addiction has become an epidemic. It is on the rise and it is destroying families and people's lives. She believes that there's one kind of addiction or another running in virtually every household because both street drugs and prescription medication are so very easily available today. This is why she advocates strongly for mental well-being and helps people to find ways, other than medication, to cope with their inner pain.
Episode Link theaddictedmind.com/74
Erin advises parents to be open with their kids and let them know that having an addiction is not something to be judged. And as a parent, it is important to know that your child's addiction is not your fault if you have done your best.
Erin has written a book, Miller Strong Rewrite Your Story - Take a Stand and Turn Your Past Into Your Superpower, which is due to be launched soon. She spent five years interviewing thousands of addicts and people in recovery and this taught her that nobody likes to own up to their faults or to admit that they are not in control.
Erin started a foundation, called Miller Strong Seventeen Foundation. It is all about purpose because most people tend to lose their purpose somewhere in their lives.
Erin explains that sharing our stories is very important because for every story shared someone is needing to hear that exact story. Erin believes that we should provide help for those who need it, and lean on each other, especially on the darkest days.
Erin found God with the help of a spiritual healer in Indonesia.
In this episode, Mike Collins talks to us about sugar addiction. Mike is the chairman of the Food Addiction Institute, a non-profit which has been around since 2005. Their stated goal is to get chronic sugar use elevated to a substance use disorder.
Mike found recovery from his drug and alcohol addiction a little more than 34 years ago when he was 28. Over the years, he got married and had a normal career and business life. Yet, as he progressed with his sobriety, he started to recognize that his patterns with sugar were almost identical to his using patterns with drugs and alcohol. If he didn't have it he suffered withdrawals and became anxious, and irritable.
In his intensive studies of addiction over the last five years, Mike has noticed that the sugar cravings in recovery seemed to revolve around the brain's reward system. He saw that many people, in their first year of recovery, would gain huge amounts of weight and he realized that they were getting an alternative dopamine rush from sugar.
Sugar is an easy way to make ourselves feel better, so it often becomes a substitute for other addictive substances. And although sugar is a powerful psychoactive, it gets no respect as an addictive drug because it is a habit that we've had since we were children. It's freely available, so instead of dealing with the pain and discomfort of the withdrawals, most of us simply reach for more sugar. With its continued use, life becomes only about fighting off withdrawals, so all of us need to connect the dots and realize how sugar affects the brain.
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Mike has been off sugar, flour, and caffeine for the last thirty years. It was a drawn-out and lonely struggle for him in the beginning, and it took a while to get off them, but once he managed to do it, he stuck to it. Mike has never seen anyone go for 90 days without sugar and then go back to it.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Eli Nash, founder of the Mic Drop public speaking training program whose purpose is to help people articulate their stories. Eli has recently gained recognition from his TEDx video about escaping his porn addiction, and he hopes the Mic Drop program provides a platform for others to find connections through being vulnerable enough to speak their truth.
At a young age, Eli started scouring through his family’s mail to find any catalogs with a lingerie section and hiding those catalogs in secret stash places all around his house. When his family got a computer, his secret stashes became hidden computer folders containing pornographic images, and even when he knew he needed to stop this behavior, he simply couldn’t stop. This demoralizing process of wanting but failing to stop consuming this content just fed into the downward spiral, necessitating retreating back into porn even more.
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When Eli finally hit his emotional rock bottom, he reached out to his therapist for 5 years and finally came clean about the behavior that he had been hiding in shame for most of his life. His therapist put him in touch with another one of his clients who was having a similar struggle with porn addiction, and Eli became a part of his new friend’s 12-step support group. Through this group, he was finally able to break the shame cycle and realize that he was not alone in his struggles. Brené Brown defines shame as “the fear of not being worthy of connection,” and Eli found this definition to be completely accurate in his own life. When he started to feel worthy of connection, his shame started to break down, and while it was not an overnight change, it was not as overwhelming.
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Through this support group, he learned that telling his story brought him some freedom and connection that he had not known for so long. He realized that other people had similar stories and struggles that they had been hiding as well. In 2018, Eli launched Mic Drop as a resource for training people to tell their stories in a way that could aid their recovery journeys from the traumas or addictions in their past and also potentially use them as a jumping-off point for those listening who have similar struggles. Everyone has a story, but we will never know how alike we are until we are open about sharing what we have gone through.
Dr. Ellie Katz has spent the past 35 years working in the area of addiction treatment, using her holistic approach and real talk with compassion to work with her clients. She joins us on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast to discuss her experiences and observations about the field and about human nature.
Ellie has been living in Israel for 40+ years and she began her career in psychological linguistics, but she always had a desire to help people directly. Even as an adolescent, people recognized her deep intuition about those around her, calling her the Earth Mother and coming to her for advice and guidance. Ever since she transitioned to helping people with their addiction treatment, her focus has been on helping her clients and their families sort through the irresistible urges that had been ruling the addicts’ bodies.
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Ellie went through a traumatic surgical procedure when she was 5 years old, which caused her to develop an addiction to food that her mother did not know how to handle. Having experienced these psychological ramifications of eating for several years, she can recognize where the addicts that come to her treatment facility are struggling. Patients spend between 7-12 months in the therapeutic rehab community where Ellie works, and she teaches them how to interact with each other and do the internal work necessary to heal the impacts of their addictions.
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She created a model that she calls “The Six Essentials”, which are building blocks for personal success: Some of them are good mood, love, and kindness, discipline, flexibility, and forgiveness.
Ellie is not afraid to call her clients out when she sees them say or do something that they said they wouldn’t say or do and she provides them with the support to help them change. She believes in caring for everyone without judgment because she recognizes that it could have just as easily been her struggling with the addiction. She wants the best for her clients who are really just wounded people in need of someone to help them pick themselves up and head in the right direction.
Ellie wants everyone to know that as long as you are drawing breath, change is possible.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Leslie Cole, an addiction medicine physician at a clinic outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and author of the book “Quit Pain Pills.” Leslie spent the first 20 years of her medical career as an internist. The journey of self-discovery stemming from realizing she had been struggling with an eating disorder led her down a different path. She found hope and healing through recovery literature during that time. When an addiction clinic called her out of the blue to offer her a job, she knew that she had found her sweet spot, helping others find hope and healing.
Leslie is a firm believer in providing an environment to patients where they feel welcomed, accepted, loved, and safe. People struggling with addiction are used to the shame heaped onto them from themselves and others, but they are not used to a provider listening to them without judgment. As a part of her clinic’s program, patients fill out an Adverse Childhood Event questionnaire, which is likely to indicate that they experienced Traumas (big T) and traumas (little t) as they were growing up that they had just accepted as normal. This experience at Leslie’s clinic may be the first time they realize how these traumatic events continue to impact them even in adulthood.
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During Leslie’s recovery from an eating disorder, her therapist pointed out to her that the most important relationship in all of life is your relationship with yourself. This colors how to interact with others and with the world. This realization is the basis for Leslie’s approach with patients at the clinic because they probably don’t know how impactful this primary relationship is in their own life and recovery journey.
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In 2017, Leslie was diagnosed with breast cancer, which resulted in chemotherapy and a mastectomy. She found that during her battle with cancer, she received so much support and encouragement from those around her. When she went back to work at the clinic, she was struck by the stark contrast between how she had been treated as a cancer patient and how addiction patients are treated. This contrast prompted her to write her book, “Quit Pain Pills,” to provide hope without judgment and helpful resources to anyone struggling with addiction who has never been greeted with optimism by their family members, friends, or healthcare providers.
Leslie wants to make sure that everyone knows that you are not beyond help. You can always make a change, so give yourself every possible chance.
Cynthia Schmit is an advocate for medication-assisted treatment of addictions who would love to see healthcare providers informing their patients of all of the options for treating their addictions. On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, Cynthia talks with us about the physiology of addiction and the need for education regarding medication-assisted treatment.
In her early 20’s, Cynthia found herself using every recreational drug that someone put into her hand, quickly progressing from marijuana to heroin and beyond. She found herself wanting to quit often, attempting to detox on her own at least 5 times before she completed a 28-day methadone detox and a 6-month 12-step recovery program. During her time in rehab, the knee-jerk reaction of providers was “you don’t treat drug addiction with drugs,.” Medication-assisted treatment was not presented as an option to her. She got married a few years into her recovery.
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She then moved to the east coast where she completed her bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and her master’s in social work at Columbia. While at Columbia, she started volunteering at the buprenorphine program, of which she eventually became the managing director. With her experience working with treatment providers and drug manufacturers, Cynthia came to understand precisely how drugs like buprenorphine and methadone can assist in treating drug addictions.
Physiologically, consuming drugs is tied to the rewards circuitry of the brain, which was intended to support behaviors that support survival, such as eating. Drugs, of course, do not promote survival, but since they are tied to the rewards center of the brain, the brain develops a belief that they are necessary for survival, which is why withdrawals are so difficult and painful.
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This is why medication-assisted treatment can be so effective in immediately providing moments of clarity to individuals who are addicted as well as helpful in avoiding potential relapses. Every person is different, and Cynthia’s goal is to have every healthcare provider and treatment center educated about all of the options available for individuals’ treatment plans so they can make the best decisions and recommendations for each patient. This involves the proper way to use medications like buprenorphine as well as how to effectively get off of those medications if and when the time comes.
Cynthia wants everyone to know that there is hope. Advocate for yourself by being well-informed and committing to putting in the work necessary to get into and remain in recovery. You are worth recovery.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, Duane interviews Dr. Ursula Whiteside, a clinician, researcher, and trainer in the area of suicide prevention. Ursula struggled with her suicidal thoughts throughout her life, and in 1999, she moved to Washington state to learn from Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT (dialectical behavior therapy). Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in some age groups and is more prevalent than car accidents, homicides, and breast cancer. Beyond these statistics, it is estimated that 10 million Americans every year have suicidal ideation.
The exciting thing is that this overwhelming emotional crisis that can lead to suicidal ideation is not sustainable in the brain for more than 48 hours. So while people are within this timeframe, it often feels like things will always be this bad and that there is no hope. While it might not be helpful for them to think that they might feel this way for a couple of days, it might be beneficial for them to know that they will only feel this way for a couple of days at most. When Ursula talks with someone amid their suicidal ideation, she tells them to wait until this suicidal period passes before deciding to act on their ideation.
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There are a few simple things that someone in an overwhelming emotional crisis can do: (1) try to describe what is happening, (2) practice mindfulness by being in touch with your emotions, and (3) submerge your face in cold water for 20 seconds at a time for 3-5 minutes. For friends and family members, it can be helpful to know how to respond to their loved one’s thoughts and feelings. The best way to support them is by listening to them, taking care of them, and just being there for them. Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon, especially during adolescence, and in addition to DBT and ongoing conversations with your physician, the Now Matters Now website is an excellent resource for learning how to cope with difficult emotions and how to get through an overwhelming emotional crisis step-by-step.
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Ursula wants everyone struggling with suicidal thoughts that you can make plans for things to be different. You don’t have to believe your thoughts, and you can reach out for help in navigating these.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Maureen Cavanagh, author, and founder of Magnolia New Beginnings. Maureen’s family had a long history of addiction, but since she was not personally prone to addiction, she thought that she knew the formula to help keep her kids away from addiction as well. However, her world was suddenly shaken when one of her daughters came to her to admit that she had been experimenting with heroin.
Even living in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, opioids were not difficult for her daughter to find, and once she tried heroin for the first time, the road to sobriety and recovery proved to be steep. Just when Maureen thought her daughter had a handle on her addiction, it would rear its ugly head again, and she would see just how much of a hold it had on her precious child, who was now an adult. Maureen did what she believed any good parent would do: she dropped everything and rushed to her daughter’s aid, providing her with whatever she needed and paying for her to get into a treatment center again.
She found out that her daughter had a “friend” who was providing her with the drugs, protecting her from her family when they came looking for her, and reviving her if and when she overdosed. Even with this barrier between them, Maureen knows of 13 times when her daughter was admitted to the hospital after an overdose, and at least 40 separate stints at treatment centers before something finally clicked.
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Maureen realized that she was on her journey during this time, which was intended to be separate from her daughter’s journey. The more Maureen tried to hold on and help her daughter get out of whatever situation she was in at the time, the farther away her daughter seemed to drift. However, when Maureen was able to let go and provide her daughter with some space, not jumping to her rescue but rather empowering her daughter to rescue herself, that was the moment when her daughter started getting better.
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Somewhere after treatment center #40, the rehab took, and for the past two years her daughter has been sober with the help of her family, her therapist, her recovery coach, and her community. Maureen went against her instinct to keep family business private when she was approached by a publishing agent about sharing her story, and the hundreds of people who have messaged her since the book came out are proof that the world needed to hear the truth about what it is like to be the parent of an addict. In addition to her book, Maureen provides resources and support groups through her non-profit, Magnolia New Beginnings, which is impacting tens of thousands of people.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Tim Sitt, a clinician at the Freedom to Move Group who shares Duane’s appreciation of Virginia Satir’s work. Virginia Satir was cutting-edge in the 1960s when she moved away from the “traditional” psychoanalytic model and practices that perpetuated the hierarchical narrative that had become the norm in therapy. Her work is still revolutionary in that clinicians using her techniques bring in all of the pertinent members of the person’s family to address every member as having equal value and potentially remove the risk of redacting progress made with the individual during a session when they go back to their home environment, which may have caused them to turn to coping in the first place.
People struggling with addiction often feel shame and no sense of self-worth, but this model aims to bring dignity to the person rather than harping on their behavior or pattern leading them to addiction. This could be the first safe space where they have been encouraged to explain themselves and evaluate why they are doing what they are doing. It gets down to the roots of the self, life, energy, and value. Perhaps pain or trauma in their past has led them to develop this inner dialogue of disconnection to self because they believe they are worthless. Satir’s work set up a system where the person realizes that they are not the problem and they can feel hopeful in connecting to their true self in the present moment.
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Often, people react to circumstances with “I am…” statements that ultimately draw conclusions from the external stimuli about who the person is. This is frequently very unhealthy and the cause of many underlying issues that lead to addiction or other coping mechanisms. It ultimately comes down to these two questions: What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about relationships? The way the individual answers these questions shed a lot of light on the presence or lack of self-connection. It is important to create a space between the identity and the behavior in order to truly begin the self-connection journey.
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Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Dr. Michael Steuer of the Pacific Ketamine Institute in Los Angeles. Dr. Steuer’s training and practice have mainly been in the areas of anesthesia and pain management, but for the past 5+ years, he has shifted his focus somewhat to the use of ketamine to treat depression, mood disorders, addiction, and chronic pain.
Before 2013, when the effectiveness of ketamine for these purposes was discovered, the main drugs to treat depression and mood disorders such as PTSD were SSRIs and SNRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). While these medications were effective in temporarily treating the symptoms of depression and mood disorders, they often took weeks or months for patients to feel their effects and they often came with unpleasant side effects.
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While ketamine has been abused by people for its hallucinogenic properties in high doses, it has been found that lower doses have minimal short-term side effects and patients typically begin feeling relief from their symptoms during the infusion or shortly thereafter. Even patients with “treatment-resistant” depression or chronic pain feel better almost immediately, and these feelings are sustained for weeks or months after each infusion. It is recommended that patients have 6 infusions over 2 weeks in order to jump-start their recovery and most patients continue to receive one infusion per month to maintain their results.
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In the case of chronic pain, many people are prescribed narcotics or opioids, which essentially intercept the messages being sent from the body to the NMDA receptor of the brain which regulates mood and pain and the drugs themselves have addictive potential. Ketamine has proven to be more effective in modulating pain as well as addictive impulses, depression, and mood because it heightens the brain’s ability to recognize the signals being sent. This property causes ketamine to treat the root cause of the pain, rather than masking it like many opioids do. There are no known addictive properties of ketamine, making it safe for use in prescribed doses and frequencies, which may differ from person to person.
Dr. Steuer’s message to listeners who are struggling with depression is that you don’t have to be alone or feel like you want to give up. Reach out, because there are people who want to help.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, Duane interviews Jacob Jones, author of the book “Recovered” and former opioid addict. Jacob has had a very turbulent but not uncommon path from addiction to recovery, and his insights into what drove his attitudes and behaviors over the years are eye-opening to anyone who has never personally experienced addiction.
Jacob grew up in Alabama, the son of a University of Alabama football player who spent several years playing professional football, so the desire to perform well athletically was instilled in Jacob at a young age. When he started playing football in 7th grade, it was clear that he had genuine talent, and the desire for acceptance and affirmation through achievement essentially became his first addiction. He was given the scholarship to play at the University of Alabama – a dream come true – and before he even took the field for his first practice, he was already dreaming of playing in the NFL.
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During his first season, he tore his quad 6 times and had to redshirt his freshman year. Being unable to perform athletically due to these injuries exacerbated the depression and anxiety that he had been medicating with physical activity and achievement, so he began to have panic attacks and feel like things were spiraling out of control. During his sophomore year, he had to take a medical release from football, essentially ending his football career and any hopes of playing professionally. He got pneumonia that year and became addicted to the hydrocodone cough syrup he was prescribed.
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The confluence of all of these factors led to Jacob’s compulsive behavior of getting his hands on as many opiates as possible just to feel ok. He realized that he had a problem when he tried to stop taking the pills, and he experienced withdrawals. That day, he called his mom and told her everything. He went home and went through a 30-day rehab program, emerging with a renewed resolve to not get into drugs again. He justified increasing his drinking habit by saying that it wasn’t drugs, but before long, he found himself clutching opiates again. He was arrested for possession and went through a year of drug court, never convinced to stop doing drugs but rather convinced not to get caught again. As soon as his drug court was over, his addiction quickly became all-consuming, and he began to burn relationships with his friends and family in pursuit of getting his next fix. This cycle became exhausting, and he was drowning under the weight of the shame and guilt resulting from how he was living. By this point, he was taking excessive amounts (perhaps fatal amounts) of opiates, benzos, and hypnos, and while he was not exactly suicidal, he would have been alright with not waking up the next morning.
When he reached this breaking point, he gave all of his drugs to his parents and tried to break his addiction cold turkey. He suffered a psychotic break and was admitted to the CCU due to his dangerously high heart rate. He was then sent to the psych ward where he “came to” and realized how out of control things had gotten. After significant advocacy from his parents, the doctors finally released him after 3 weeks there. Just 4 months later, he took a job as a manager of a restaurant, and due to the intense stress and detrimental environment, he ended up getting wrapped up in opiates once again.
At this point, his family had been trying to help him for 8-10 years, and despite their unconditional love for him, it was becoming unhealthy for them to continue supporting him. Jacob remembers being shaken to the core when his aunt told him that his family was not always going to be there unless something changed. He immediately went to a rehab facility in Florida, overcoming his fear of admitting he had a problem and reaching out for help. He started a new life there, finally being able to identify his feelings for the first time and finding a community of fellow recovering addicts who he could relate to and grow with. He realized that he was not alone and that he had good within him.
Now, Jacob is 3 years sober, and he is dedicating to helping others who are struggling with addiction by sharing his story. While he would never wish his situation on anyone, Jacob recognizes his journey as the biggest blessing imaginable because he can relate to so many people and share hope with them. He is now very involved in his church and participates in mission trips where he can share his story and just gain perspective on the world.
To anyone struggling with addiction, Jacob’s message is: You are valuable and worthy. Your life right now might seem unfair and hopeless, but you can make the choice today to reach out for help. Your worst day can become your best day.
Harry Derbitsky, President of Advanced Coaches Training Inc. and author of “Evolution of Addiction Recovery”, joins us on this episode of The Addicted Mind. While Harry himself has never been addicted to a substance, he recognizes that there are addictive behavior patterns in every person, and he has committed his life to help reorient the minds of those affected by addiction.
During his time working with the indigenous people of Vancouver, Harry has found some common patterns: people want to leave their addiction, but they do not know how, many of the common strategies focus on personal effort, and working with clients on their internal condition first brings much more significant results. Harry uses a three principles model which includes mind, though, and consciousness and combines mental health and spiritual wisdom. With this model, the primary goal is to guide the client to find the answers within themselves, connecting to the spiritual and having their moment of insight, rather than continually trying to take in anything they are being taught. In this place, they will finally feel the relief that they have been trying to find through their addiction all this time. But now, they have experienced it in authenticity and satisfaction, and they will want to stay there rather than going back to the patterns of thinking and behavior that lead them away.
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From the therapist’s standpoint, it is most useful to give them the space to find what they need internally and help them process what they are experiencing, perhaps sharing some of your own experiences of what you have seen. It is also essential to understand and remember that thought creates feeling and feeling creates form. This process is one of the driving forces of addiction, but it can also be the golden ticket out of the addictive behavior pattern. You should focus on talking about their health rather than something being “wrong with them” and recognize that even though the topic is severe, you don’t have to be serious about it.
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Harry encourages people who want more information about the three principles or other aspects of his philosophy towards addiction treatment to visit his website.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Samantha Arsenault, Director of National Treatment Quality Initiatives at Shatterproof. Shatterproof is a nonprofit organization on a mission to improve addiction treatment through prevention, treatment, education, and advocacy. It was founded in 2014 by Gary Mendell, a businessman who lost his son to the disease of addiction and became passionate about helping other families navigate the broken addiction treatment system.
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The work of Shatterproof was additionally spurred on by the 2016 Surgeon General’s report that showed empirical evidence that substance use disorders and other addictions can be treated effectively, but there is a significant gap in care available. In response, Shatterproof established their National Principles of Care (https://www.shatterproof.org/shatterproof-national-principles-care) to provide individuals and families affected by addiction with some helpful guidelines about what to look for in an effective treatment program. In fact, they are using these National Principles of Care along with treatment program surveys, insurance claims data, and information about the consumer experience to create a rating system of treatment centers in certain states by 2020.
This rating system will be a treasure trove of critical information for those seeking treatment and a motivator for treatment centers to improve their best practices in order to best serve their clients. Sam gives the example of someone coming into the hospital for their initial diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. The hospital would not manage their medications, food intake, and activities for 28 days and then send them back home with no resources, treatment plans, or follow up. The same should be true for those being treated for addiction. They should receive individualized treatment based on their specific needs, access to medications, and ongoing support.
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Shatterproof sees a world where this is the nature of substance use disorder and addiction treatment and they are excited about the prospect of this type of treatment becoming a reality for everyone who needs it. For more information about the work of Shatterproof and resources to help you in your journey, visit their website.
On this episode of the Addicted Mind Podcast, our guest is Kyle Ferroly, a specialist in the area of psychophysiology. Kyle is passionate about spreading his message about the connections between mind, brain, and body and the untapped potential of integrating brain mapping with physical and mental health practices.
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Most people, even those in the medical field, do not realize the depth of knowledge that can be gained through the analysis of a brain scan. An electroencephalogram (EEG) simultaneously measures 19 channels of brain activity and speaks volumes about electrical imbalances in the brain that contribute to varying levels of connectivity, coherence, phase, and speed and impact the mind as well as behaviors. This test can reveal certain brain patterns that predispose people to addictions or anxiety and provide doctors with a whole picture of what is going on in the body. Without this psychophysiological aspect, it is difficult to get an accurate representation of why you do, think, and feel the things that you do in response to external stimuli.
Everyone can benefit from understanding how to regulate their nervous system and brain activity, but many people do not know about brain mapping or the connection between their body and their brain. Did you know that misfirings or imbalances in the brain can lead to physical tension, headaches, and breathing improperly? In order to truly thrive and gain or maintain your holistic health, it is imperative to understand what is really happening on all levels.
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When it comes to the fight or flight response, many people have lived in this high state of stress for so long that they don’t even realize it, which makes it impossible for them to achieve normal functioning. Self-awareness is the first step in addressing any issues that may be uncovered during this process, and many mental health clinicians are beginning to integrate psychophysiological elements into clients’ treatment plans.
Kyle is in the final stages of writing his book entitled “Check Your Blind Spot”, which outlines the 6 main blind spots that people have in looking at their overall health (body, mind, and brain). For more information go to theaddictedmind.com/61
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, Duane is joined by two practitioners in and advocates for recovery high schools. Michael Durchslag leads PEASE Academy in Minneapolis and Andy Finch is an academic researcher in the field of recovery schools at Vanderbilt University and co-founder of the Association of Recovery Schools.
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Recovery schools have been around since the late 1970s, but their growth has really started climbing in the past 20 years and there are currently 45 recovery schools in the US. Recovery schools provide a high school education and significant recovery support to students who are in recovery for a substance use disorder. Adolescents leaving rehab often find it difficult to maintain their sobriety when they return to the same home environment and school situation, so recovery schools are a great resource for students to learn and be specifically supported.
These students have likely not dealt with heightened emotional reactions that are normal for teenage development without turning to a coping mechanism, so recovery schools are set up to provide adequate resources to help them process what is going on without turning to their old habits. Additionally, since research has shown that adolescents are mainly motivated by their peers, it is ideal for students in recovery to also be surrounded by others who are on the same page, rather than those who may be a bad influence on them. This is a built-in form of accountability, but there are additional programs and structures within recovery schools that further support the students’ journeys.
Recovery schools are typically day schools, so it is good for these students to have peers like them that they can spend their time outside of school with as well. There are also usually family support or community groups for the parents of the students to be involved in as well, since this journey is so impactful on the parents. In fact, many parents refer other families to recovery schools based on their positive experiences and the progress they have seen in their own children.
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Mike and Andy have both seen incredible results from recovery schools and believe in this as the best option for the continuation of recovery care during the high school years. In fact, going through a recovery school sets students up for a great transition to one of the more than 100 collegiate recovery programs as they continue their education. For more information about recovery schools or to start the process of advocacy for a school in your area, check out the recoveryschools.org website or reach out to Mike and Andy through their contact methods below.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, we are joined by Glenn Livingston, a psychologist, marketing consultant, and former binge eater. Glenn’s issues with food began during his childhood and continued progressing through adolescence until he developed very serious health problems and his doctors told him that he needed to make a change. Coming from a family full of psychologists, he started out going the psychological route, but he didn’t break through until he had a couple of realizations that led him to create an unconventional road to recovery.
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The first thing he realized was that people gravitate towards binging different types of foods based on their mental state. He organized a study with 40,000 responses that described the connection between foods and circumstances: chocolate is the drug of choice for people who are lonely or brokenhearted, salty and crunchy foods appeal to people who have stress at work, and chewy and starchy foods are relatable to people who have stress at home. Through this study, he realized that the emotions people were experiencing were not the problem, but they were the justification for their binge eating.
The second realization in Glenn’s journey was that the food industry was scientifically developing highly palatable foods and stripping out the nutrients, almost guaranteeing that their products would be addictive without the consumer ever feeling satisfied. This solidified in Glenn’s mind the fact that he would have to take charge of his own eating habits because the industry was not doing him any favors.
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Glenn’s commitment to taking charge led him to a practice that may be frowned upon by some in the psychological community, but it delivered exactly the results that he was striving for because he was in the driver’s seat. He began keeping a journal that contained an inner dialogue between Glenn and the “pig” inside him that squealed for the pig slop it wanted to eat. He made clear rules for himself about what foods he would and would not eat and when he would and would not eat them. This removed the opportunity for slip-ups because he had made his own decisions about foods that were off-limits ahead of time. Using this method, he lost 80 pounds, and when he shared this method with one of his colleagues, his colleague lost 80+ pounds as well. That was when they decided they needed to publish the “Never Binge Again” book, which has over 600,000 downloads to date. Glenn provides this and other resources such as food plan starter templates, sample rules, and testimonials for free on his website.
Finally, he encourages listeners to take charge of their own situations and come up with creative solutions to get where you want to be.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Laura Kelly, health reporter for the Washington Times. In early January 2017, Laura wrote an article for the Times about the increasing rate of teen nicotine addiction due to e-cigarettes and vaping. Over the past 6 years, e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular, more technologically advanced, and more discrete.
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One particular brand – Juul – has risen to the top, and they are using their elevated status to target teens and young adults. The vaping liquid or pods that Juul produces contain a salt-based formula that comes in attractive flavors containing nicotine, which causes it to be absorbed differently than the nicotine in cigarettes. Because pods are not tobacco-based, the e-cigarette/vaping industry is not currently regulated by the FDA, meaning that companies can sell to almost anyone who wants to buy and they are actively advertising their products on social media and through radio ads.
It is surprising to learn that while 4% of the adult population use vaping devices, 13% of teens are becoming increasingly dependent on and addicted to the trendy nicotine vehicle. Since vaping is such a new phenomenon, not much research has been done on the addictive nature or the difficulty of breaking the addiction, which is scary and dangerous for our society. Additionally, vaping is an expensive hobby, and teens are likely spending everything they have to pursue it.
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While teens are vaping to “fit in” and to relieve stress, the adverse effects – in addition to the addiction overall – are memory loss, difficulty concentrating, lack of sleep, and mood swings. Because Juul devices have a very minimal vapor cloud after inhalation, many teens are “hitting the Juul” during class, contributing to the frequency of their hits. Many teens have admitted that when they first started vaping, they were going through one pod - equivalent in potency to one pack of cigarettes – in a week, they quickly progressed to a pod per day. A nicotine addiction also opens individuals up to other future addictions when they find that the “high” they initially felt while vaping isn’t so high anymore.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Lacy Bentley, a recovery mentor, and coach in the areas of love and sex addictions for women.
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At age 13, Lacy found herself consuming erotic novels and pornographic anime called hentai. She didn’t realize it until much later in life, but her involvement with those types of pornography had created an addiction to the fantasy that affected all of her relationships into adulthood. She developed a pattern of escape and avoidance related to any intense emotion – positive or negative – that was affecting her marriage and her relationship with her children as well.
Once she realized her own issues, she realized that there had to be other women out there who were struggling as well, but no one was willing to talk about women having problems with pornography. Since so much of pornography involves the subjugation and abuse of women, there is a “girl code trauma” associated with women being aroused by the terrible things that are portrayed happening to other women. Lacy has found in her work to help women find the freedom and recovery that they so desperately need that once a woman is willing to admit her addiction, she is usually all-in to do whatever needs to be done to heal. They need to go through a period of raw and unfiltered honesty about what has happened, then move past the shame that they have been living with for too long, and find their way to reconnecting with their partner healthily and intimately. One of the keys to a successful recovery is opening up and walking through your struggles with your partner, talking about what happened, what works, what doesn’t work, and so on.
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Women who are struggling with love, sex, or porn addictions need to know that they are not alone. That they are worth recovery and that they have the right to be empowered to be themselves and have the courage to face their problems head-on. Lacy is a strong advocate of the concept of regaining your integrity because integrity is a big part of what is lost during an addiction.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, we are joined by Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician in the Boston area who is an advocate of medical cannabis.
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During medical school, Peter and a few of his classmates decided to try a sample of Vicodin to see if they could experience the euphoric side effects. While his friends tried it that once and never felt compelled to try it again, Peter immediately felt the need to find another high. This feeling was exacerbated by the stress of the medical profession and the easy accessibility of medications, and throughout 10 years, he battled an opioid addiction. Ultimately, this addiction led him to trouble with the law, a 90-day rehab program, and a few relapses, but 3.5 years later, Peter had progressed in his recovery enough to get his medical license back. He credits his successful recovery to the support he received from his family, friends, and Physician Health Program.
Peter is an advocate of medical cannabis treatment as an alternative to help avoid and treat opioid addictions. Cannabis can effectively be used to treat chronic pain either in conjunction with or in the place of opioids. Baby Boomers are particularly open to trying this treatment and Peter anticipates that more people will be willing once the US government legitimizes its uses and changes the classification.
Contrary to what people may think, medical cannabis does not have to be smoked and does not have to give the user a high because different chemicals within the marijuana plant can be isolated to be used in treatment.
There is a hurtful stigma within the recovery community that insinuates that medically-assisted treatment is not adherence to the “zero tolerance” rule. Peter says that rehab programs that do not recognize the values of medically-assisted treatments are becoming irrelevant as a result of this stigma and he hopes that they will learn to adapt to the times.
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He also emphasizes the significance and importance to an addict of the love and support from family and friends. Even though they may have given up on themselves, it could mean all the difference for them to know that you will not give up on them.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Joshua Shea, who joins us to tell his story of addictions to alcohol and pornography and the past 4 years of recovery. Joshua was first introduced to porn around age 11 and alcohol at age 15, and looking back, he recognizes that he was addicted from Day 1. Even at a young age, he began to use alcohol and porn as an escape from life and a way to soothe whatever emotions or pain he was experiencing, seeking the element of power or control over his circumstances that he didn’t have in the real world. He leaned on the notion that alcohol and porn were never going to let him down or tell him he wasn’t good enough, and this mentality became a crutch for him.
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Joshua remembers that things began spinning out of control when he was struggling to keep up with work and his public service, so he took himself off of his medications for bipolar disorder to have more time and perceived clarity. Instead, his consumption of alcohol and porn exploded and became uncontrollable, which magnified the unmanageability of his life situation. He had learned during his 20+ years of addiction how to get away with things, but he knew at this point that something was going to get him. He began to have dreams about childhood memories that he had repressed about abuse and trauma that he had endured.
On March 20, 2014, the Maine State Police knocked on Joshua’s door and arrested him for child pornography. Apparently one of the women that he had engaged in a porn chatroom was, in fact, an underage girl. He was immediately fired from his job, which he saw as a removal from one of the stressful situations in his life and was the beginning of his “clean slate.” He met with his lawyer after his arrest and finally realized that he had a problem with alcohol and porn. Although his life had been spinning out of control and he was mostly estranged from his wife and children, he had not recognized that he was an addict. He sees now that he would not have been receptive to anything less than getting into trouble with the law regarding confrontations, interventions, or conversations about his behavior.
He entered a rehab program at the recommendation of his lawyer with low expectations, but he was utterly amazed by the content of the program and his progress along the way, and he ended up staying in alcohol rehab for 10 weeks instead of the original 4. He began seeing a therapist regularly, which unearthed the repressed childhood traumas and allowed him to process them and how those memories had been affecting him for decades since. Finally, 22 months after his arrest, Joshua was sentenced to 6 months in jail. At this point, he had already completed rehab and began a new life, committed to recovering, so he spent those 6 months writing the first draft of his book. He also went through 7 weeks of rehab for pornography and then began working as a freelance writer, which allowed him the time flexibility to focus on his health and recovery.
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Now, Joshua is 4+ years sober and lives a much simpler life than before, focused on his family and not on the judgments of others. He has committed to remaining sober and has set up safeguards and tools that aid him in staying away from alcohol and porn. He is an advocate of addicts going through rehab programs if they have the resources, but the most important thing is to just reach out for help.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Mari Lee, a licensed marriage and family and certified sex addiction therapist supervisor, consultant, coach, speaker, author, and founder of Growth Counseling Services in Glendora, CA. Mari is a firm believer in the power of group therapy in conjunction with individual therapy and 12-step sessions to aid in the recovery process, especially with sex and porn addictions. Addiction thrives in secrecy and isolation, and could often be triggered by boredom and loneliness, so an excellent way to progress in the recovery process is to have a confidential group of individuals who know what you are going through and can support you along the way. The members of this group could, in fact, be the first healthy relationships they have each experienced.
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Group therapy, when facilitated the right way, can provide the individuals with shame reduction practices, a community with the other members, structure, consistency, inclusion, focused discussions, and accountability. The connections between the group members are often viewed as a brotherhood or sisterhood and provide a foundation for each member as they engage with their life circumstances outside of the group as well. It is common for individuals in the group to have trauma from their families of origin, and these traumas and unhealthy familial roles typically play a part in these group therapy sessions. Group therapy members are also encouraged to attend 12-step programs to support their individual recovery as well since these programs are more systematic and structured, providing each individual with a sponsor for accountability. However, 12-step programs do not have the flexibility of group therapy when it comes to cross-talk between group members, feedback, and deep conversations.
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Mari encourages anyone out there who is considering joining a group therapy session to go ahead and give it a shot. Be sure to do a pre-group interview with your therapist to determine which group might be best for you and be open to being referred to a group in another therapist’s practice if that one is the best fit. Find out the logistics of when the group meets and how a session typically looks, so you are as prepared as possible for your initial meeting. Be open to the process and commit to the group for your own healing.
Therapy in their practices, Mari recommends reaching out to a consultant who can help you come up with curriculum, client standards, policies, forms, standards of care, and a general roadmap for conducting and facilitating your group.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, our guest is Suzie Wolfer, LCSW, SEP a therapist specializing in Somatic Experiencing®, a powerful system of healing trauma and addiction at it’s core and for completing trauma so that it’s let go of you.
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Somatic means “of the body,” which includes the sensations we feel when we experience different emotions and thoughts. Trauma and stress are stored in the body, causing behaviors, patterns or responses arising from implicit memory system or the unconscious.
Our initial reaction to the uncomfortable feelings that are associated with trauma and stress is to stabilize these feelings by managing them from the “top down,” striving to suppress, control, or make the feelings go away. This desire to manage troubling thoughts and emotions, though useful in the short term, keeps us from healing the underlying stuck patterns, that show up as chronic Fight, Flight or Freeze behaviors or a combination of these.
With somatic therapy, we help your body remember how to complete stuck Fight, Flight or Freeze patterns We call this re-negotiation. Instead of trying to get rid of scary, infuriating or numbing feelings and thoughts, you learn to watch them, especially in how your body expresses them.
Imagine a roller coaster. It can be scary and exhilarating to feel the car taking you up, up, up to tower over the precipice, wondering if the little wheels will keep you safely on the rails. Challenging emotions, even pleasure, can start to feel scary, and it’s easy to use substances or compulsive behaviors to try to manage or outrun the sense of threat they pose, of “going off the rails.” The closer we get to the top of the roller coaster, the more energy builds inside us, including excitement.
When you are able to observe what’s happening inside, especially observe your body sensations associated with thoughts and emotions, these emotional messengers can deliver their message and let go of you.
When that happens, like when the roller coaster car comes back to the platform, you may feel a good feeling, a smile on your face, as you get off on level ground and go on to the next thing. Maybe even a little more confident in your ability of face challenges!
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In the past decade of supporting her patients with Somatic Experiencing® Therapy, Suzie has found that this gentle approach helps people not only feel better, but get better, a little at a time, and in every session.
Rather than just talking about issues and understanding them, an important first step in the healing process, using the body’s built-in system for “self-regulation” helps patients feel Ease and Confidence, as the backlog of accumulated stress, lets go of them, from inside out.
They feel lighter and more alive as they experience the reliable nature of things on his planet, that all experiences having a beginning, middle and end, a beginning, middle and end. When clients experience this natural cycle, they often take a deep spontaneous breath, their body relaxes and their face brightens with more aliveness.
Like a caboose on a train, the thinking process is sometimes the last to know!
Here’s a little 3-step process you can try at home:
- Are you safe? Yes or no. Notice that feeling safe and being safe in this moment are two different things.
- Using your 5 senses, notice signals or data are you getting from the world outside you, which confirm that you are safe. What are these signals?
- Next, notice what happens in your body when you confirm that you are safe in this moment. Perhaps savor what you discover.
If you could take one thing from this podcast, here’s what Suzie would like you to know:
“That you may discover that you are not broken. Your body is simply trying to solve a different problem than your mind. Collaborating with your biology will help you heal and release stored trauma and feel like yourself again.”
On this episode of The Addicted Mind, we are joined by Michael Hobbes, a writer for The Huffington Post and co-host of the You’re Wrong About… podcast. Michael wrote an article entitled “Everything You Know About Obesity is Wrong” for HuffPost in September 2018 which has gotten a lot of attention in the psychology community as well as the culture at large. There are 160 million Americans that are classified as overweight or obese based on the BMI scale, but even though these individuals constitute 30% of the population, they are treated as a marginalized minority who are somehow tainted or inferior to the rest of Americans. During the interviews that Michael conducted for his article, he encountered countless people who felt guilt, shame, hurt, anger, and sadness based on the way they have been treated or the projections of what they want to look and feel like instead of the way they do right now. There seems to be a prevailing attitude that overweight or obese people are lazy and that if they would just exercise some self-control, they would suddenly shrink down to “normal.” There is not much tolerance for the overweight and obese community, making those individuals feel less than human and live in a constant state of stress about their weight and others’ perceptions of them, even if they are trying their best to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Michael hopes that his article advocates for this community to have their voices heard and be accepted for who they are, just the way they are. The mental toll that unsolicited advice and diet suggestions have on overweight individuals can put them in a cycle of stress that exacerbates any issues they may have and can even make them suicidal. Michael emphasizes the importance of stigma resistance, which gives overweight individuals a voice to express their needs and stand up for themselves in environments where they have never been heard before. It should not be a big deal for someone to ask for a bigger chair at a work meeting or to be seated at a table instead of a booth at a restaurant if needed. Fat shaming has no place in our society and can only be stopped if we realize that we are all equal and deserving of courteous behavior.
On this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast, our guest is Tom Horvath, founder of Practical Recovery and co-founder of Smart Recovery. Smart Recovery is a non-12-step approach to addictive behavior problems that provides an alternative to programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. While both methods provide new communities and relationships to build on as well as specific examples of individuals who are models of success, AA is based on the idea that you must give yourself up to a higher power because “you are powerless” and must rely on your sponsor and meetings in order to recover.
12-step programs can be helpful to some, but they can be ineffective for others, so the demand for alternative programs is continuing to increase. Smart Recovery integrates any methods that have been supported by scientific evidence, are self-empowering and are applicable in a mutual help group, including CBT, DBT, and ACT. They recognize that there are multiple pathways to recovery and that great results occur in a community.
Smart Recovery takes a self-empowering approach to recovery, relying on the individual to set their own limits and establishing a 4-point program for people to work through:
- Maintaining motivation
- Coping with craving
- Identifying and resolving other problems
- Achieving a greater lifestyle balance
Smart Recovery emphasizes “ideal” recovery, rather than “real” recovery as is expected in 12-step programs. Ideal recovery may not be complete abstinence, but rather staying within the limits that each person sets (and potentially changes along the way) for themselves, which is the point of the accountability of attending meetings.
Tom encourages those struggling with addictive behaviors or searching for a recovery group to be persistent in finding what works for you. Most people are able to resolve their problems with treatment, so just don’t give up.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Dr. Ken Adams, a therapist specializing in the area of parental enmeshment and its connection to compulsive behaviors such as porn and sex addiction. All families are defined by the balance of closeness and separate between the members. Enmeshed families overemphasize their closeness, resulting in the parents controlling the decisions of their children, demanding their loyalty, prohibiting them from becoming involved with friends or activities outside of the family, and using guilt as a punishment for trying to separate any part of their lives from their parents. It is not uncommon for the parents in these types of families to treat the children as a surrogate husband or wife, expecting the child to fulfill their emotional needs. As a result of experiencing this lifestyle throughout childhood, adults usually find themselves struggling to live their own lives, even if they are geographically separated from each other. The enmeshment mentality can make them feel smothered, engulfed, or trapped by their parents, while remaining staunchly loyal to them, perhaps even at the cost of their marriage or other relationships. Living with this burden often leads to addictive behavior in the porn or sexual realm, with the affected adult child seeking freedom that does not come with any commitments. In every other area of their life, they feel stifled under the weight of others’ expectations, and compulsive behaviors give them the short-term release that they feel like they need.
When Dr. Adams sees adult children affected by enmeshment for therapy, the first step is to move them from their pre-contemplative state of considering that they may have an issue with enmeshment and possibly a related addiction. Perhaps they have done some self-education by listening to podcasts, reading books or articles, or viewing videos on the topic, and they feel that they can identify with the feelings and behaviors being described. The next step a therapist takes is to delicately shift their internal entanglements and beliefs and help them establish external boundaries for themselves and their parents. He conducts intensive therapeutic workshops to help individuals through this process.
If you think you or someone you know is struggling with parental enmeshment, remember that there are resources out there to help you gain the separation that is so crucial to thriving in your own life. Reach out and consider reading one of Dr. Adams’ books to learn more about taking the necessary steps toward true freedom.
Ricky Santiago, a specialist in adventure therapy, joined us for this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast. He uses specially planned and designed activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and ropes courses in his adventure therapy sessions. Experiential therapy like adventure therapy maximizes the benefits of group therapy by building self-esteem, utilizing metaphors, and providing an arena to practice coping skills and process emotions. Ricky and his colleagues have often found more success through one experiential therapy session than through several talk therapy sessions because clients are not able to hide their true selves when they are participating in an activity that is challenging to them mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Since the therapist is participating in the activity as well, the clients see how the therapist handles their emotions and difficulties they come across, and clients can more easily open up about fears or challenges in their own lives or experiences. Though the timing of the formal “processing” aspect of the therapy session differs depending on the activity and the group, this is a crucial step for clients to take as they draw parallels from the adventure activity to their own lives, perhaps realizing things that they never had or being willing to share a trauma that they had never voiced. The effects of the treatment are ongoing, as the client will continually draw on their experience as they approach the problems in their lives and take steps to resolve the situation, just as they had been taught.
Ricky encourages everyone to remember that recovery is possible and pursuing the treatment you need can change the trajectory of your entire family if you show up motivated and ready to work toward healing.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, our guest is Anne Fletcher, author of 8 books including “Sober for Good” and “Inside Rehab.” Anne felt the need to write “Inside Rehab” after consulting with several experts, one of which posited that people usually spend more time picking out their next vacuum cleaner than they would finding the right addiction treatment facility. Driven by the notions that treatment should help people avoid hitting rock bottom and that their treatment should emphasize the benefits of sobriety over the pitfalls of addiction, she spent 4 years studying 15 different treatment centers across the country to see what was working and what wasn’t working for their patients.
She was somewhat shocked to discover that most inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities heavily employ group-based treatment, 12-step methods such as AA, and counselors without medical or psychological expertise in their limited one-on-one sessions. As she expected, she heard stories of programs that worked for some people and not others, helpful and hurtful methods, and discrepancies between quality and cost. In fact, one of the facilities she studied had an on-site barber shop, cafeteria, radio station, and college level educational courses to help equip their patients with transferable skills that they could use to get a job after their treatment was concluded.
Overall, Anne sees a lot of hope and opportunity in the future of addiction treatment facilities if they treat each patient as an individual and personalize their treatment to their background and situation, keeping in mind that therapeutic alliance between the patient and therapist is crucial to the patient’s recovery and success. She hopes to continue to see alternative methods to AA popping up across the country, because AA’s process does not work for everyone, but a vast majority of treatment programs rely on it to help their patients. She is a firm believer that treatment centers will change certain things that may not be working if consumers express their concerns and desires.
Anne’s advice to those who may need addiction treatment is to start by receiving an assessment from an individual therapist who is not associated with a treatment center. They will be able to give you their professional opinion about what kind of treatment you might need and can point you in the right direction. Also, keep in mind that inpatient treatment is not always the most effective unless the patient is in danger of self-harm or needs a period of detox. Be persistent in finding the right treatment for you; you are not alone, and you do not have to continue to live with this substance use disorder.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Nate Postlethwait, who joined us to share his recovery journey. Nate grew up in a very religious environment in a rural southern town, which had a profound impact on his childhood and his eventual recovery from the trauma he experienced and his resulting sex addiction. Sexual dysfunction was a generational issue with his family that was never properly handled, and he was the victim of multiple abusive encounters as a child, but it was not until his early 20’s that Nate realized that his compulsions were not typical. He came to understand that he was putting himself in physical danger due to his addiction which led him to feel tremendous shame. Acknowledging that he did not want his life to continue this way, he sought counsel and therapy within the religious community for several years, but he found that they were not equipped to address the biological roots of his trauma or addiction.
In his first week at a treatment center, Nate felt that he had covered more ground toward recovery than he had during the past five years of religious counseling, and he immediately felt validated. His therapy there explained the biological reasons why he had been acting with such sexual compulsion and that he was not broken or weak. This therapy allowed him to shift his perspective, alleviate the shame, and reinstated boundaries that had never indeed been enforced. It provided his younger self with a voice to express the pain and hurt that he had been suppressing or trying to change through his addiction. By addressing the root of his trauma and addiction, he found that his desires were different, and he had the potential for positive self-care for the first time.
Nate was able to build on the foundation that had been made during his time at the treatment center by taking a step back to evaluate his life and engage with himself to find who he was without these strongholds. He made a few drastic lifestyle changes and realized that he was still in need of therapy, so he began doing intensive EMDR sessions which allowed him to grow and continue the recovery journey. He is still in treatment, and as a part of his journey, he has started a blog and a podcast to discuss the “taboo” topics of male sexual abuse, heterosexuality, and homosexuality in the religious realm, PTSD, and EMDR.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, our guest is Marla Berger, a clinician in the field of experiential therapy, who joined us to talk about equine-assisted psychotherapy. Research and experience show that treatment centers, which incorporate some experiential treatment into their program, see their clients make more progress more quickly. Equine-assisted psychotherapy and other similar activities give clients an opportunity to apply the insights they have gained through their talk therapy sessions.
During an equine session, an equine specialist and a clinician create a custom environment for the client or group of clients based on their needs and other environmental factors, and they facilitate the framework of the session. Clients then have the opportunity to interact (or not interact) with the horses or donkeys and ascribe meaning to what is happening. Animals are incredibly intuitive by nature because of their survival-driven need to be in tune with their environment, so they can sense in a client various emotions or behaviors and react out of their intuition. People are subconsciously going to interact with the animals in the same ways that they behave in other relationships, through the presence or absence of love, mutual respect, communication, and boundaries. By the clients recognizing how their behaviors or attitudes make the animals react, they can have revelations about their lives that they may have been oblivious to without this therapy.
Equine therapy is a very promising tool for therapists, clinicians, and clients themselves that can aid in the recovery or healing process.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind, we are joined by Amy Emerson and Shannon Carlin of the Multidisciplinary Approach for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) research group. Amy and Shannon’s group has had 107 participants complete their MDMA-assisted PTSD therapy program in the last several years, with promising results. As you may know, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) affects 7% of the US population who have experienced life-threatening events such as military combat, car accidents, natural disasters, or childhood abuse. Individuals with PTSD experience prolonged instability in their lives, perhaps resulting in hypervigilance, fear, difficulty sleeping, and lack of trust.
MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, allows participants to experience the opposite of their PTSD symptoms, ideally increasing trust and dampening fear. Participants go through 3 previous therapy visits to establish a baseline and get them familiar with the therapy process, then they have their first MDMA session, followed by 3 integrative sessions, their second MDMA session, 3 more integrative sessions, and then their final MDMA session and 3 integrative sessions. Overall, the therapy sessions span 12-15 weeks, and though the courses are quite intense, participants have found this method to be less invasive and retraumatizing than their previous experiences with talk therapy. During their MDMA sessions, participants will spend 8 hours with 2 therapists who will guide the participant to follow their inner process by listening to their internal healing intelligence. This could mean that the participant talks a lot or barely at all during the session, but the purpose of the subsequent integrative visits is to help the participant process what they experienced and develop the new perspectives that they may be feeling in terms of life in general, coping with their trauma, work, and relationships.
The MAPS research group’s research has shown that 2 months after completing their last therapy session, 56% of participants no longer had PTSD, while 12 months after finishing their therapy, 68% no longer had PTSD. Participants have been pleasantly surprised by their results and healing, and therapists are observing the sessions and effects have been amazed at its effectiveness. To anyone who has been seeking help and been discouraged with your progress, Amy and Shannon want you to know that there is hope and research advances are providing new treatment options to the field faster than ever before. Keep seeking help until you find the right fit for you.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Brad Kammer, a therapist specializing in somatic psychotherapy to solve shock and developmental traumas. Brad’s interest in somatic psychotherapy began during his time as an aid worker working with Burmese refugees. He observed their healing rituals, which frequently involved physical actions such as singing, chanting, or performing, and while he was going through his own healing process from the secondary PTSD from his time with the Burmese people, he realized that talking through trauma is not always effective.
By working through the complex traumas experienced during childhood or other traumatic events with the body, healing can be much more attainable. Additionally, using more natural and realistic relationship-focused alternatives to the typical therapy session involving closed shades, a locked door, and no interruptions make people much more likely to share openly and get to the root of their traumas.
Whether we realize it or not, our psychobiological patterns are established early on, and these patterns impact how we will cope with unfortunate circumstances and make decisions throughout adolescence and adulthood. These patterns are mainly formed by our attachment or bonding circumstances with our caregivers when we are children, and we often find that patterns we developed out of the necessity for survival as children are actually getting in our way as adults and keep us from experiencing true freedom and joy. Brad uses the NARM (NeuroAffective Relational Model) to help individuals process their emotions from the top down (from thoughts and identity to emotional and physical aspects) and the bottom up (from the body to the thoughts and behaviors). He finds that clients often experience excitement and fear as the notice that their patterns are changing; excitement for the freedom they have found along with fear regarding the change and the potential loss of attachment, even if their attachment figure is no longer living.
Therapy is a process, so results do not begin overnight, but with consistency and intentionality, therapy can provide the opportunity to reorganize and transform your life.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Lori Kandels, a therapist in the Bay area specializing in anxiety. Anxiety is often the result of trauma and can manifest as fear, stress, self-doubt, and persistent negative stories ruminating in the mind, and can sometimes lead to addictions as a way to escape. The repetition of these stress responses creates neural pathways in the brain that become a cycle that can be difficult to break and usually negatively impacts the individual’s metabolism, concentration, sleep patterns, and ability to relax.
The key to understanding and treating anxiety is realizing that anxiety is only about the past or the future. With discipline and intention, anxiety can be overcome with practices such as mindfulness, meditation, EMDR, and the Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping. By identifying the triggers and developing a practice that gets the person used to relieve the anxiety, there is absolutely a way out of this stress cycle.
Lori wants to encourage those struggling with anxiety that you have control over this, you are safe now, and you do not have to live like this. Seeking help can provide you with a hope you may not have felt in a long time.
On this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast, we are joined by a returning guest, Adina Silvestri of Life Cycles Counseling in Richmond, Virginia. Adina’s practice works with individuals battling eating disorders partnered with addictions with the goal of transferring their shame to hope and healing.
The combination of eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating) with substance or other addictions is very harmful to the health and wellbeing of those struggling and can even lead to death in untreated cases. It is common for men and women to struggle with eating disorders and addictions for years, silently suffering due to their shame, before reaching out for help. While there is not much literature available on treating these two disorders together, Adina has found that mindfulness and support and accountability groups are effective and life-changing resources for those struggling.
In these situations, there is always an underlying issue that the individual is trying to heal or escape from, causing them to develop an eating disorder and/or an addiction. Armed with coping mechanisms and the support of family and friends, hope and healing can be found. If you are struggling, reach out for help right now. You are not alone and you do not have to handle this alone.
On this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast, Timothy Wienecke joins us to discuss his work in advocacy, clinical mental health, and an educational institute for veterans and first responders. A military veteran himself, Tim recognized the need for clinicians to focus on the mental health of veterans and first responders, who are prone to mental injury on a daily basis. He found that non-combat veterans and combat veterans with a dishonorable discharge have almost no access to resources to help them cope with PTSD and/or traumatic brain injuries, not to mention the typical struggles with finding purpose, integrating into civilian life, and learning how to be present with their families again. During their time in the service, members of the military are required to make very few major life decisions, but when they get out, they are bombarded with decisions but their identity is so wrapped up in their roles in the military that they struggle to process it all.
We have all heard that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, but 11 of those are veterans of Vietnam and Korea, 6 of those are non-combat veterans, and 5 of them are combat veterans. Most people enter the military to run away from something (adolescence, family issues, educational pressures, etc.), and often the uniformity required by the service allows them to hide from those issues by focusing on the ultimate mission rather than themselves. When they get out, the issues pop back up and they have not been equipped to cope with things, so they find the ultimate escape in taking their own lives. Tim and his colleagues are committed to helping them find the resources and hope that they need.
While there are organizations on the national and local levels to support veterans, there are almost no support structures in place for first responders (firefighter, police officers, EMS professionals, ambulance drivers, dispatchers, etc.) as they experience frequent trauma which they are trained to just push to the side so they can do their jobs efficiently. While some of the calls they receive are routine and not traumatic, they have to be prepared for the worst every time, which takes a mental and emotional toll on them. There is a stigma around mental health in the first responder community which causes those individuals to either not seek treatment or do so in secret, fearing that they will be demoted to desk duty if their department finds out that they have anxiety in any form. Tim has found that providing these professionals with emotional regulation skills such as mindfulness and DBT followed by the tools that will help them answer the existential questions that may arise as a result.
Tim wants veterans and first responders to know that you do not lack purpose just because your service is over. There is always something in the world to connect to, and there is always help if you are willing to seek it.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Dr. Jack Bloomfield, a specialist in the ARISE model of interventions. This model is an alternative to the “traditional” form of confrontational interventions created in the 1960s by Dr. Johnson. In this confrontational model, the focus is very much on the addict, usually involving an ambush-type situation where several family members trick the addict into coming to a certain location where they are presented with some type of “go to rehab tomorrow or else…” ultimatum.
Due to the heartfelt emotions in this situation, addicts are likely to agree to go to rehab, but 70% of them will leave rehab within 2 weeks because they didn’t make the decision to enter on their own terms.
They usually feel anger and resentment towards their family which proves to be counterproductive to the family’s original desires and plan.
The ARISE model of intervention is different and successful in 3 areas:
- It is an invitation model.
- The addict is invited to a “family meeting” where they likely know what will be discussed.
- The dialogue changes from “you have a problem” to “we, as a family, have a problem.”
- 80% of addicts will come when they are invited.
- 50% of those happen because they recognize that they have a problem
- 50% will go because they don’t think they have a problem and want to defend themselves
- The focus is on the family.
- The family indicates that they recognize that they all have things they need to work on in themselves, and they have reached out to someone who can help them all as a family.
- The addict does not feel singled out.
- The interventionist works with the family for 6 months.
- By committing to continuing care, the family creates a safe place for all of them to work on and discuss their issues and their progress during weekly accountability phone calls.
- This timeframe empowers the addict to make their own choices and not feel forced or pressured into action.
- They may decide that rehab, intensive outpatient treatment, or just consistent AA meetings are their best option.
- During and after the addict addresses their issue, the family is all on the same page and speaking the same language because they have all been on a healing journey together.
The incredible statistic is that while 70% of addicts who enter rehab as a result of a confrontational intervention will leave within 2 weeks, only 2% of addicts who enter rehab as a result of an ARISE intervention will disappear within 30 days.
This gives so much hope to the families waiting for a breakthrough in the life of their loved one who struggles with addiction.
On this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast, our guest is Dr. Scott D. Miller of the International Center of Clinical Excellence in the field of mental health. Dr. Miller has used his decades of experience in the industry to develop outcome measures with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of therapy. These outcomes are not merely “milestones” or objective progress markers, but are more subjective and are focused on the client’s well-being and function. Previous training for therapists had been targeted towards treating the symptoms that the client had, but often even when the symptoms had gone away, the person wasn’t feeling much better. Using the ORS and SRS scales that Dr. Miller developed allows the therapist and the client to maintain an open dialogue regarding the effectiveness of their treatment and their satisfaction with their relationship overall, which is key to the success of the therapy. This practice of consistently tracking and reporting results allows the therapist to adapt their methods for each client, allocating the care and energy necessary to develop a healthy relationship that has proven to be essential for the treatment to be effective. Dr. Miller shares that a significant portion of the population that needs help does not seek it, and the main reason that is cited for this deficit is the misconception that therapy is not effective. However, the average treated person is better off than 80% of people with similar problems who are not receiving any care. Additionally, 80% of people would instead talk to someone about their issues than receive a medication to treat their issues from their general physician. When someone does decide to seek treatment for their issue, the most crucial step is to find the right therapist for them. This therapist is going to be getting to know you very well, so you must make sure that you can develop a trusting relationship with them and know that their advice and methods are for the best. Be prepared to call or visit several therapists to find the right fit for you and do not be discouraged when one does not work out.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Amy Smith, founder of the Worth Recovery podcast, which has grown into a community of mutual support. Amy began her recovery journey in 2011 when she realized that her multiple failed “relationships” were a result of sex addiction and the notion that intimacy was nothing more than a transaction. On the very same day that she promised to do something to change her situation, her father – with whom anger had characterized her relationship – told her that he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
Because women with sex addiction seem to be a taboo subject, where Amy had to overcome stigma and shame that men with the same issue would not have to deal with due to the social acceptability. At the time, she was living in Seattle, where she found a great therapist and women’s 12-step group that embraced her on her road to recovery. A couple of years later, she moved to Salt Lake City and expected to find similar resources, but she saw nothing but skepticism and discouragement. There were no meetings for women in the area, and though she eventually found the right therapist for her, she encountered many professionals and peers who told her that it was not possible for her to have a sex addiction. Amy’s sponsor kept encouraging her to see this as an opportunity, and eventually, Amy started a meeting in her home for women who grew to the point that there is now a network of support for women in Salt Lake City.
Knowing that there is healing in both hearing other people talk about their struggles and in telling others about our own, Amy decided that there might be a few other women outside of Seattle or Salt Lake City who needed to know that they are not alone in their recovery from sex addiction. She started her podcast to tell her story, hoping that it could reach 20 people outside of her region, but the podcast is averaging nearly 600 downloads per day, reinforcing the need for a community to support each other through recovery.
Amy’s parting words for anyone struggling with sex addiction (or any addiction) is to believe that you are worth recovery, and do not let anyone make you think or feel otherwise.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, we are joined by Robert Weiss, a digital-age intimacy and relationship expert and author of several insightful books on the topic (links below). Rob’s non-alarmist approach to the impacts of our digital age on intimacy and relationships as well as on the minds and futures of our children is refreshing and encouraging, while still reminding us to be aware and informed. In his 25 years in the industry, Rob has noticed significant shifts in the accessibility of pornography, leading to an increased prevalence of problems with porn in today’s society.
While previous generations had to wait until a certain age to legally purchase or rent pornographic magazines and videos – usually from a grimy store in a defunct area of town – the internet has allowed today’s adolescents and adults immediate, free, and convenient access to porn. This eliminates the need for mentally processing whether gaining access to the porn is worth the effort, because it takes little to no effort at all. Additionally, there are similarities between porn addictions and gambling addictions in that both arenas provide the consumer with both unlimited material and anonymity, aiding their participation in the experience of anticipatory fantasy, always driven to keep going for the euphoria of seeing what comes next.
For these compelling reasons, the consumption of pornography which could lead to an addiction is becoming a more prominent issue in our world, and with the coming universality of virtual reality in American households, experts are only expecting the issue to become larger. With the tolerance of overt sexuality in our culture, adolescents are prone to jump straight from flirting to sexual acts – either online or in person – and they are not learning the necessary social experiences of true intimacy learned through making friends and being in a relationship that lasts more than a night.
Understandably, today’s parents are worried about the culture where they are raising their children, but Rob encourages parents to focus on loving, caring for, and supporting their children above any concerns that they may have. Just as previous generations of children have adapted to the inventions of new technologies, this Digital Natives generation will do the same, and it will not ruin their lives. They can find more ways to use new technologies like virtual reality for good as they can for evil, and parents can help their children know the difference by being aware and well-informed.
On this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast, we talk with Nicki Mosley about trauma-sensitive movement practice and the effective impact that this can have on those suffering from long-term trauma. Trauma-sensitive yoga was developed by The Trauma Center in Boston several years ago to give individuals a safe way to access their trauma and work through the sensations felt in the body by rebuilding the neural pathways related to making choices based on feelings. This is an evidence-based technique that does not get caught up in sticking to a certain process, knowing that participants will need different things during the class to find healing.
During a trauma-sensitive yoga class, participants will be invited to be as comfortable as possible by choosing the area of the room where they set up their mats as well as by wearing clothing that allows them to move freely and then by having the ability to choose how they will participate in the movement practice based on what feels right to them. Being empowered to make these basic decisions and discover what their body is capable of slowly begins to integrate into their lives outside of class, giving them control that they may feel that they had lost during early childhood trauma or other types of trauma that had made them feel powerless. Nicki advises participants to have a therapist or counselor outside of class with whom they can talk and process their feelings and realizations from class.
Nicki encourages those struggling with long-term trauma to investigate if this movement practice would be helpful to them and find a provider in their area.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, we are joined by Dr. Pam Peeke, a physician and scientist specializing in food addiction. Those struggling with food addictions fit into two categories: (1) people who practice disordered eating which eventually takes over all other aspects of their life, or (2) those who are recovering from another addiction and have turned to junk food and beverages as a transfer addiction.
Disordered eating and food addictions mainly revolve around the chemical effects of processed foods on the brain’s reward center, which releases dopamine and conveys the feeling of pleasure to the body. When people continue to eat junk food, the reward center of the brain becomes overwhelmed and reduces the number of receptors that can process the dopamine being released, so eventually the feeling of pleasure attained by the release of a certain amount of dopamine doesn’t feel as good as it once did, which makes the person want to consume more junk food in order to reach the desired level of high. The food industry knows that processed but hyper-palatable food acts as a drug to the brain, impairing the frontal cortex which controls decision-making and discipline, so they try to create food that will make consumers feel that “bliss point” and crave even more junk food.
Dr. Peeke has worked with registered dieticians to outline a plan in her book “The Hunger Fix” (link below) to empower people to switch out processed food with natural and whole foods and allow the brain to shift back to a healthy balance of active receptors so that people can adjust to feeling a natural high from eating healthy. While the first step of recovery is to eliminate processed foods from home, work, and your shopping list, a crucial second step is to seek help from a registered dietician and/or support and accountability from family and friends to get back into a healthy balance. A key to the recovery process from food addiction is to understand why food has this power over the person, and Dr. Peeke has found that it normally stems from some type of childhood or adolescent trauma, where food was the only life situation that the person could control, so they sought pleasure and safe haven there.
A helpful exercise for someone wondering if they have a tendency toward food addiction is to honestly answer these two questions:
- If I consume this food/beverage, will I feel out of control?
- If I consume this food/beverage, will I feel shame, blame, or guilt?
If the answer to these questions is “yes”, you should take a step back and evaluate the foods you are eating and seek a change.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Dr. Louise Stanger, a clinician, interventionist, author, and trainer specializing in the grief and loss experienced by the family members of an individual who dies of an opioid overdose. Since nearly all overdoses occur somewhere other than the hospital, there is not much scientific research on the opiate epidemic. We do know that in 2016, 155 people per day died of overdoses, and for every one of those people, at least four family members were affected. In addition to these overdoses, 88,000 people died in alcohol-related incidents in 2016.
Families often approach Louise for an intervention for their loved one after they have tried everything else they can think of, and Louise uses the intervention to encourage systemic change in the addict’s life. Addiction is a disease which is treatable, despite the stigma attached to it that claims otherwise.
Grief looks different for everyone; it could involve shame, casting/placing blame, embarrassment, relief, isolation, anxiety, and even feeling unworthy to mourn their loss. Family members often feel that they did too much to enable their loved one’s addiction or they did not do enough to encourage them to leave the addiction behind. The most helpful thing you can do to help someone experiencing this loss is to be there for them, to call them, bring them meals, help them run errands, babysit so they can have a few minutes to themselves, and listen to them. The best thing to do if you are experiencing this loss is to know that you are not alone and seek help in whatever form you feel comfortable.
After experiencing the sudden death of a loved one, often the first person that family members interact with is the funeral director, coroner, or police officer, so it is imperative that these professionals have some training in dealing with this traumatic grief. Additionally, Louise believes that treatment centers and faith-based organizations must provide programs and support to these families as they cope with their loss.
Our guest on this episode of the Addicted Mind podcast is Colleen Koncilja, a counselor based in the Chicago area who specializes in gambling addictions. Shortly after a casino riverboat became a permanent fixture just blocks away from her practice’s office in Elgin, Illinois, the town recognized that compulsive gambling would become an increasing problem and they gave Colleen’s team funding to assist the population who would suffer from this behavioral addiction.
Problematic gambling, also referred to as compulsive or pathologic gambling, can begin when there is a progression in the amount and/or frequency of the gambling, gambling becomes consuming of other aspects of life, the individual does not do it for recreation anymore but to fulfill a need, and the individual has to start lying about where they have been and what they have been doing. Action gamblers become addicted to the euphoria or high that they feel when they are performing well and other people at the casino are recognizing their success, while escape gamblers are seeking to numb or escape anxiety, depression, grief, or loss by disconnecting with the real world. Much like substance use disorder and sex addictions, problematic gambling provides a behavior for the individual to process their emotional traumas or anxieties.
Though most insurance companies do not recognize gambling addictions as something that their plans should cover, a significant portion of gambling addicts reach out for professional help at the urging of their family members, the criminal justice system, or out of sheer desperation. During this process, the counselor can help the individual process what benefits they feel that they gain from gambling and determine alternate ways to achieve these goals, such as coping skills, accountability relationships, or other resources available.
Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Jonathan Horowitz, founder and director of the San Francisco Stress and Anxiety Center. Jonathan is a clinical psychologist who studied anxiety research in graduate school before transitioning to being a clinician and opening the Stress and Anxiety Center.
It is a misconception that anxiety is always a bad thing; in fact, our minds were built to experience healthy anxiety when our bodies sense that they need to be alert to their surroundings. Anxiety starts to become a problem when we cross the line from heeding the warnings of our anxiety and benefiting from it to worrying about our anxiety and taking steps to try to get rid of it. A significant number of Johnathan’s clients are high-functioning, high-achieving individuals who may be having a difficult time coping with the pressures of their careers. These individuals might develop behaviors like procrastination, avoidance, or even developing an addiction of some kind in order to numb the anxiety that they are feeling. Anxiety can also be the result of giving up an addiction because the individual does not know what to do in place of their previous addiction.
Jonathan’s advice to those dealing with problematic anxiety is to (1) connect your change in behavior to something that is powerfully meaningful to you, and (2) establish goals and values for your life that involve emotional and cognitive steps or milestones. The goals can be achieved through mindfulness meditation training, breath work, cognitive restructuring, or other practices as directed by a clinician. Above all, it is crucial to know that anxiety, whether it is manifested in panic attacks, phobias, or social anxiety, is treatable, so seek the help you need.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, Curt Widhalm shared with us on his area of expertise, teens, and self-harm. Curt has observed two types of teens who are engaging in self-harm behaviors: (1) those struggling to find the opportunity to express their emotions due to their busy schedules, and (2) those whose friend groups are engaging in self-harm behavior for attention-seeking.
In general, self-harm behaviors, which could include cutting, burning, or over-exercise, are quick ways for teens to release their emotions in a very visual way because they are often too busy to adequately learn how to deal with their stress or trauma. They could also act this way because their living environment does not allow them the space to express their emotions or release their negative energy in healthy ways, perhaps due to the demeanors of their parents or complications in their living situation. In Curt’s experience, a main source of stress for teens who engage in self-harm is the feeling that they will never be good enough for their parents, whether their parents are pushy and over-involved or very withdrawn.
Signs that parents can watch for in their teens are emotional and physical withdrawal, explaining away repeated injuries, covering up their arms and legs even in very warm weather, intense emotions such as rage or anxiety, and their teen talking about other people who engage in self-harm. If and when parents notice these behaviors, they often have their teen begin seeing a therapist to address these behaviors. A therapist will primarily aim to establish a good connection with the teen by normalizing their behavior and just listening to them as they begin to open up about their emotions, and they will begin to equip the teen with healthy ways to cope with their feelings in an attempt to have the teen abandon their self-harming tendencies.
To anyone struggling with self-harming behaviors, Curt encourages you to reach out for help by finding someone you can trust who will listen without judgment as you share your feelings. There are healthy ways to cope with your daily stresses and emotions, and it may be helpful for you to take a step back from a few of your activities to provide yourself with more capacity to cope.
On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, my guest is Kay Simmeth, a Marriage and Family Therapist certified in EMDR. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a type of bilateral stimulation that activates both sides of the body and both sides of the brain. This dual action process of tapping on the client’s knees back and forth, listening to music or sounds that alternate between headphones, or feeling vibrations in alternating hands, the frontal cortex and the amygdala are both activated, which allows the client to access the portion of the brain where the trauma is stored and then shift those negative beliefs or cognitions to positive beliefs.
Without being able to access both sides of the brain simultaneously, the client will just continue to feel the negative beliefs related to the trauma and not be able to go any further by consciously and logically thinking about the situation. Doing so through the 8-phase process of EMDR allows the client to “melt” the trauma so that they can still access the memory of the trauma, but the intensity of their emotions and reactions about the trauma become less immediate and significant. The trauma simply becomes an “event” in their lives rather than something that impacts everything they experience. Going through EMDR takes the emotional weight out of the memory in the present and frees the client up for a brighter future.
Kay uses EMDR with 98% of her patients and she has found that the changes her clients exhibit stick more than with other techniques. Through this type of adaptive information processing model, the length of time or number of sessions that the client needs to go through EMDR depends on the proximity, length, and depth of the trauma in their life, but all clients will see change along the way.
Kay’s advice to those experiencing trauma is to remember that they do not have to go through it alone and that there are plenty of resources for them to seek help.
Susanne Jessee is with us today to talk about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS is a relatively new treatment, at least in the United States, for individuals who are struggling with depression.
Depression is often present in addiction and TMS is something that may help people that are struggling with addiction and treatment-resistant depression.
Susanne Jesse is the CEO and founder of Anew Era TMS in Huntington Beach, California.
To start, Susanne breaks down what TMS stands for. Transcranial means “beneath the cranium,” and magnetic stimulation means “stimulation using magnets.” The technology behind MRI magnets is used in TMS. But the big difference between TMS and MRI magnets is that the TMS magnetic technology creates a field of energy that is fairly intense that penetrates beneath the cranium into the brain.
TMS focuses in on the mood center of the brain that is responsible for the depressive symptoms. That area is stimulated to wake up those neurons again so that they are able to fire efficiently and transmit the neurotransmitters across the synaptic gap more efficiently.
If you look at an MRI of a depressed brain, you will see that it just doesn’t light up. The neurons are not firing. After TMS treatment, you can see that it is lit up with all the magnificent colors as it is in people that are not depressed. So that term, depression, comes from the fact that the neurons are depressed. They are not functioning correctly.
What is a person that is treatment resistant? Susanne tells us that a large percentage of the population are non-responders to psychiatric medications. These medications are not an exact science so a patient may have to try many different drugs to find one that works for them.
Susanne explains that her objective is not to take patients off of their medications. TMS helps those medications to work better because the medicine can’t work if your neurons aren’t firing. TMS stimulates those neurons to fire which makes the medication work more efficiently. In some instances, patients are then able to reduce the number of medications they take or the volume in which they receive them.
For patients that have tried psychotherapy, and medications, and they haven’t seen the results that they are looking for, TMS may be very beneficial.
Even though TMS has been used in Europe and Asia for more than 20 years, it is now being used in the United States. This use is mainly due to TMS being approved by the FDA for depression, but it can also be used to treat conditions like PTSD, OCD, anxiety, smoking cessation. It has also been used to address issues like dementia and Alzheimers. This cutting-edge technology has so many different opportunities for treatment that weren't available before TMS coming to the United States.
TMS is completely noninvasive. Patients can drive themselves in, have a 45-minute treatment, and then drive themselves home. The only possible side effects are sometimes a mild headache.
Susanne encourages people to come in for a free consultation and see the equipment. Her team of psychiatrists will do an overall assessment to see if this type of treatment is appropriate for you.
Today our guest is board certified music therapist Amylynn Dimaano. She speaks to us today about music therapy and how music can help us deal with underlining issues in recovery.
What is music therapy? Music therapy is the scientific use of music to effect a change of non-musical goals. It is not a music lesson, and Amylynn is not a music teacher. Music therapy isn’t about to learning music. Her goals are to help people through mental health therapy that are struggling with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, etc.
Music therapy includes elements of traditional therapy as well, such as regulation, relaxation, communication, and accountability. In this therapy, she uses music to open up the wisdom of the individual.
We need to use our entire brain to process music - jazz, rock-n-roll, classical, show tunes - to "hear" music you need to use both sides of your brain. Whereas in traditional therapy we mainly use the analytical side. When we add music to the mix we are automatically engaging the other side of the brain.
Amylynn gives us an analogy: if you've ever broken a bone or been sore on one side of your body, the other side steps in to compensate and help, and adding music therapy is the same type of thing.
On one side of our brains, we’re processing emotions and creativity and impulse control. Amylynn adds that these are the things that make someone struggling with addiction fantastic and challenging to work with. At the same time, we want to access the other side of the brain; this side tells us to slow down and think about our decisions. Our emotional wants are on one side of the brain while the other side deals with the more practical thought processes.
When we affect both sides of the brain, we can effect change in a more helpful and meaningful fashion.
So what does a session with Amylynn look like? As with most therapy, it depends on where that client is at and what their issues are. Amylynn offers individual therapy sessions using the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), named after Helen Bonny. Helen Bonny was an amazing music therapist and psychotherapist who programmed the music for the LSD trials of the late 60’s at the Maryland Psychiatric Institute. Bonny learned over time that people could have this same out of body, inner-wisdom, unconscious connection experiences without any drugs at all if the music were correctly programmed. With that, she spent the rest of her life creating this method. It involves a lot of classical music and relaxation techniques.
Clients are welcomed to lay on a bed in Amylynn’s office, or sit in a chaise lounge, wherever they feel comfortable, and she picks the music program based on what the client is working on, where they are at in their recovery, and what they need.
The GIM program is designed, Amylynn jokes, similarly to an LSD trip, where it takes you in slowly and then eventually opens up your mind, takes you to a peak, and then brings you back to a safe place. It can feel almost like dreaming, but she states that you are always in control. Many people feel changed after that.
It can give us courage that we had not accessed before.
Welcome to this week's Addicted Mind podcast. Our guest today is the wonderfully humorous and informative Liz Dube, and she’s here to talk about healing our sexuality, and finding our sexual satisfaction once we’re in recovery from addiction.
Liz is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist with a private practice in Long Beach and Huntington Beach, California. Most of her clients are looking to increase their levels of intimacy and improving sexual and relationship satisfaction.
How does addiction impact our sexuality? Sometimes, clients meet with Liz before they have found a balance between obsessive and compulsive sexual behaviors, and they’re trying to figure out how to have satisfying sex. And other times, people are in recovery wondering how to have satisfying sex now that they’re sober. To feel uninhibited during sex, they often used a substance to numb uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
Some clients have a lack of comfort in sex, so when they use a substance or compulsive sexual behavior it makes it easier to have a sexual experience, but at the same time, they aren’t always present.
Clients that are used to using a substance to feel more uninhibited during sex may have felt more comfortable communicating their wants and desires, but sober, they can find it scary to tell their partner what turns them on, or even to look them in the eye.
In clients struggling with compulsive sexual behavior, they may have a part of their sexuality that they don't feel comfortable with sharing in a relationship that they care about. It can be hidden in their porn viewing, or maybe they are going outside of their relationship to fulfill the desires that they find uncomfortable to share.
Liz helps clients by asking them what is keeping them from asking for what they want, and assessing the level of intimacy and the level of vulnerability they are having with their partner. And to assess whether or not they have realistic expectations. Sometimes clients are expecting their bodies to react in a way that is unrealistic.
When clients are having sex with people they don't know very well, or they haven’t built a history of trust with, issues with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or an inability to orgasm, can be common. When you don’t know how a partner is going to react, it can be challenging to ask for what you want.
Many people who struggle with addiction may have early attachment trauma, and it is sometimes difficult for them to regulate their emotions to be in an intimate relationship. These intimacy issues start to show up because they have a hard time connecting due to the intense emotionality.
Liz explains that the first step in beginning this journey is to have a casual conversation with the client to get to know what has been going on in their life. Then giving the client permission to be in a place of open curiosity to figure out what they like and if they don't know what they want, then the conversation turns to answer that.
Clients can ask themselves what excites them. What are your fears and worries? Understanding what our expectations are around sex and moving away from what we think sex should look like helps set realistic expectations around sex. Real sex is not like Hollywood movie sex.
Human sexuality is complicated, should be explored organically, and in a safe environment. One of the key ideas is moving away from orgasm focused sex. It should be about exploring each other and enjoying each other. Have a pleasure session with yourself, or with your partner, without an expectation that your body is supposed to respond in any particular way.
TJ Woodward is with us today to talk about a system of care that he has developed called conscious recovery.
Conscious recovery is a groundbreaking and practical approach to viewing and treating addiction. It’s how we see addiction and addiction treatment through the spiritual lens. Your spiritual life is a big part of recovery and finding a place of calm within yourself is a critical stage.
TJ has worked, with remarkable results, for over a decade in spiritual care at top-tier treatment centers, and he has been in recovery for 31 years.
TJ explains that conscious recovery started with a question: What might happen if I were to view all of his clients through the lens of wholeness imperfection rather than looking through the lens to see whats broken.
Typically in western medicine, we look at symptoms and behaviors and try to eradicate them. Addiction is quite different. Once we view addiction as the problem or the client as broken in some way, we have limited the capacity of the client's ability to heal.
In this mindset, we can look at the addiction, not as a problem but the solution to something. Once we view it at the answer, we can start asking the question “What is below that?” Conscious recovery is a program that helps us to get down to the more in-depth causes that are driving the addictive behavior.
When a client sees that they have been using their addiction as a solution, and now it’s no longer working, they can break free from that.
TJ shares his personal story of closing off and shutting down as a seven-year-old boy. Before that, he was a happy child, in awe of the world. Something happened when he was 7, and he closed down and shut off. There was not a specific event that happened but he found himself shutting down, and he did not find relief until he discovered drugs and alcohol at the age of 13.
He recognizes that his addictions were a solution that worked in his life. They didn’t work long term, but they were the band-aid for some deeper wounds. That is what set the framework for how he looks at addiction. When clients understand that, there is a profound shift in themselves, and they no longer see their addiction as the problem, but what was it hiding underneath.
TJ is quick to remind us that conscious recovery is looking through the spiritual lens. He does not deny that there is a physical or mental aspect that needs to be addressed as well. Conscious recovery is meant to assist someone and work with whatever therapy or program they prefer.
In the conscious recovery method, he looks at three root causes of addictive behavior: Unresolved trauma - Almost anyone who is struggling with addiction has had some type of unresolved trauma in their life. Trauma is not always easily identifiable. But recognizing your trauma is very important. Spiritual disconnection - Spirituality does not necessarily have anything to do with God or a higher power. The trauma experienced can cause us to spiritually separate from our essential self. Toxic shame - Once we identify the trauma, and then we experience that spiritual disconnection, we develop a sense that we are broken. Guilt is a sense that you’ve done something wrong. Shame is the sense that I am wrong.
Shame is such a painful emotion. The pain that comes along with shame is so incredible. Most cannot tolerate it for very long. Addiction gives you some relief, even if just for a moment.
In breaking the cycle of addiction, the first step is creating internal and external safety. Some clients need to go to treatment in a sober living environment to feel that sense of external safety. Learning to be in our bodies and to identify whats happening internally, and the connection with the thoughts and emotions, so that we can tolerate being with ourselves, will help to create our internal safety.
TJ encourages anyone looking for the right clinician or therapist to ask questions. Ask how they view addiction, and how they see healing from addiction. It’s not going to look the same for everyone and if you don’t find the right person, keep looking. The main idea is to find someone that creates a safe environment for you.
We end with a message of encouragement to reach out and get help. There are many excellent recovery programs and support groups to choose from. You alone must do it, but you don’t need to do it alone.
We have a fantastic guest today. Dr. Tracy Zemansky is here to speak about the fascinating topic of psychological assessment, and how it can help you or your client on a journey of healing.
What is a psychological assessment? It’s not what we typically see in the movies. It is a way of evaluating a particular part of an individual and trying to understand it more. To get as much information as possible psychological tests, interviews, questionnaires, behavioral observations, and sometimes collateral interviews, which are interviews with people that know the individual well, are used.
Tracy explains that this process is like being a detective looking into someone's personality. Searching with the client, and possibly their therapist, at any concerns that may be getting in the way of their goals.
We give the example of a client that is stuck and may not be able to gain long-term sobriety, or they may not be able to form the long-term relationships they want. Going through the process of psychological assessment may help to find more details that can be helpful.
The tests Tracy uses differ significantly from client to client. A psychological assessment for a client that is working on their relationship difficulties would look very different from a client that is, for instance, struggling with alcohol addiction. Each assessment is created for the individual client.
These tests can be anything from true or false or multiple choice questions which are scored by mathematical algorithms, to Rorschach style inkblot tests to observe how the client reacts to the unknown, and it is also scored in a particular way. How the client interacts in the room during the test is helpful as well.
The results of these tests, the behavior of the client during testing, and what they and their therapist says are all used to getting a broad and revealing picture for the assessment.
Psychological testing cannot predict the future and cannot tell us what caused our pasts. But testing can help us make links which can be useful in therapy. Setting concrete goals and asking questions that can be answered is essential.
Going through a psychological assessment and getting this level of detail can help you set out a roadmap to pursue the life you want in recovery. It can speed up the therapeutic process by pointing out the roadblocks that have been in your way.
We are excited to have mental health therapist, and Air Force veteran, Megan Fenyoe as our guest today as we discuss trauma, addiction, and changing your mindset toward a more positive life.
Megan has been a mental health therapist for over 15 years, primarily focusing in the areas of trauma and substance abuse. As an officer in the Air Force, Megan provided mental health services to veterans and active duty members mostly in the field of substance abuse. Most recently she has worked with patients in a hospital struggling with addiction. While working with patients throughout her career, she has focused on mindset and how your mindset can change the course of our lives.
To help in her personal and professional life, Megan has developed some great mindset tools to help her get “unstuck” in those moments when life gets you down.
We discuss what it means to have a positive mindset. We all have negative thoughts that alter our mood, and we all tend to say more negative than positive things about ourselves. Megan shares an incident she encountered with a guidance counselor who told her not to go to college, and also her experience of going through a painful divorce.
Having many different mindset tools in our “tool-belt” is very important because one method is not going to work for every situation, especially when it comes to addiction and trauma.
When we don’t have these mindset tools to help us through difficult times, we can turn to substances so that we don’t have to feel the pain of the trauma we have experienced. That instant gratification makes our hurt go away, but only for a moment. Finding the tools and the support that works for you is essential.
Our guest today is Pete Finger from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In this episode, he shares his recovery journey and how the support group Smart Recovery helped him to overcome addiction and helped him to enjoy the life he lives today by helping others through the same program that helped him.
Mr. Finger had struggled with alcohol addiction for 20-30 years. Growing up in what he describes as an “addictive family” where cocktail parties were a big part of their lives, he used alcohol to cope with the trauma of abuse by a teacher. His addiction continued to escalate through college and beyond. An intervention at work helped Pete get into recovery.
Pete’s history of trauma is not uncommon with people who struggle with addiction. To cope they find behaviors or substances to help them feel better and it slowly becomes unmanageable until we learn to stop beating yourself up and allow yourself to recover.
Pete was fortunate enough to find a Smart Recovery facility in San Diego called Practical Recovery. It’s founder, Dr. Tom Horvath, developed their program through evidence-based practices and the following four tenants: building and maintaining motivation coping with urges managing thoughts feelings and behaviors living a balanced life These methods have worked well for Pete, and he has been sober for three years.
thefix.com is the website that he used to find a positive place with individual attention and Smart Recovery was what he needed. Pete gives all the credit to Smart Recovery.
Pete is trained as a Smart Recovery facilitator and has been working with their program for three years. Pete gives us an idea of what a typical Smart Recovery meeting looks like: There is an introduction and talk about what Smart Recovery is, and what it isn’t. Then they go around the room for “check-ins” which take almost 100% of the rest of the meeting time. Individuals take turns talking about their current struggles, how their week has been, relationships, and the raw emotions that come along with sobriety.
In these meetings, cross-talk is encouraged. Individuals are encouraged to share their experiences as they relate to others and
Marnie Breecker from the Center for Relational Healing in Los Angeles joined me for the second part of our discussion on relational and betrayal trauma. She walked us through the Six Dimensions of Relational and Betrayal Trauma as well as the steps in the process of partner healing.
The Six Dimensions are:
Shattered Inner World – In this initial dimension, the four core beliefs (the world is benign and a source of pleasure; the world is meaningful, controllable, and just; people are trustworthy and worth relating to; and the self is worthy, lovable, good, and competent) are threatened by the traumatic event(s) of betrayal. This has been compared to the trauma of finding your house burned down and losing all of your belongings.
Life Crisis – The disparity between belief and reality that develops after the discovery of the addiction causes the trauma symptoms discussed in Part One of our discussion with Marnie in Episode 21. This dimension can include wondering who to tell and where to get help, making childcare arrangements, handling other aspects of daily life that have been shaken, and the uncertainty of whether the threat of betrayal continues.
Existential Trauma – In this dimension, the partner loses faith in their own ability to make decisions, questions the core beliefs around which they have created meaning, begins to approach this “new world” with distrust and fear, and experiences damage to the relationship with self. This can be the dimension that takes the longest to heal during the process.
Emotional Trauma – This involves the patterns of emotional abuse (lying, deceiving, manipulating) used by the addict to keep their secret. Emotional trauma can be overt (rage, yelling, etc.) or covert (sophisticated attack patterns in which the anger is less obvious because the addict casts blame or makes the partner feel crazy, which can be known as “gaslighting”).
Sexual Trauma – Neglecting to address the partner’s sexual trauma makes later restoration and healing more challenging, so it is crucial for their feelings to be validated and their responses to be normalized.
Relational Trauma – In this dimension of trauma, the addict must build the skill of empathy and understand that relational healing will take a lot of time and patience. There are no shortcuts to relational healing after the drastic rupture of betrayal that has occurred.
The steps for partner healing are contingent on their basic background: Do they have children? Are they married to the addict who betrayed them? Do they have a history of abuse? Do they have a mental illness that will need to be factored into their healing process?
The first step for partner healing is to reach out for help. This could be difficult because of the fear of what others will think, but the shock and crisis that the partner is experiencing necessitate external help. A primary purpose of this initial counseling is to provide education to the partner about sex addiction and give words to their experiences so they know that they are not the first person to go through this.
The second step is for the partner to seek out resources such as strategies for coping, meeting with a doctor if they are in need of medication, and joining a support group. As long as the addict is also in the recovery process, it is a good idea for their therapist to collaborate with the partner’s therapist in order to provide both partners with the proper context in their communications.
The third step is for the partner to come up with a list of what they need in order to feel safe in the relationship if the individuals have decided to restore their relationship. This list of boundaries and needs as well as consequences for boundary-crossing is helpful for both partners to adhere to during the healing process.
The fourth step is for the partner to identify the losses they have suffered because of the betrayal so that they can adequately grieve or mourn and be able to move on.
Finally, the partner’s counseling and healing process should involve different modalities which will heal the nervous system.
For more information about the “Helping Couples Heal” 2-day workshop focusing on the Six Dimensions discussed in this podcast as well as providing tools to heal the relationship hosted by the Center for Relational Healing, visit http://lacrh.com/workshops-and-groups/.
Our guest today is Marnie Breecker from the Center for Relational Healing in Los Angeles. In this first episode of a two-part series on the topic of relational and betrayal trauma, we will be defining what this type of trauma looks like and its impacts on both partners in the relationship.
As a sex addiction therapist and a marriage and family therapist, Marnie is an expert identifying and assessing the traumatic impact of the discovery of infidelity or betrayal on relationships as a whole and on the individuals involved. She shares with us that there are two types of trauma that affected partners go through: the trauma of discovery and the trauma of their own response to the betrayal.
It is very rare for addicts to come forward for help on their own, so it is likely that the partner has discovered the betrayal either intentionally or unintentionally through their partner’s computer history, text messages, or receipts and bank statements. Upon this initial discovery of betrayal, the partner can exhibit symptoms of depression, shock, anger, hypervigilance, isolating behavior, lifestyle changes such as beginning to smoke or drink, and a general questioning of everything they thought was true before this discovery. When the partner’s expectations are violated, they lose trust in their partner as well as themselves, and they begin seeking safety in a variety of ways because they feel that they cannot trust their own senses.
After the initial trauma of discovery has run its course, partners often go through a time of trauma about their own response to the betrayal, extending their questioning of everything they thought was true as well as noticing ways that their lifestyle may have changed during the process. Common reactions to betrayal include obsession, depression, anger, hypervigilance, and rumination on the betrayal, and these reactions can cause the partners to lose faith in themselves and their abilities to make rational decisions.
Marnie identified the five dimensions of trauma as emotional, sexual, existential, life crisis, and relational, so the healing process must encompass each of these dimensions. When reconciliation begins between the two partners in the relationship, it is important for the recovering addict to put in the effort to support their partner and not exasperate the trauma that they have gone through. There is always opportunity for rupture or repair, and even in the recovery process there are triggers that could unearth aspects of the trauma that have or have not yet been dealt with.
Though this is a tough journey, it is important to remember that it will not always be this way, there are plenty of resources to help heal from relational betrayal, and there is hope.
To find out more about Marnie and the Center for Relational Healing, visit lacrh.org or call (323) 860-9999.
Our guest today is Chris Shorrock, a psychologist in private practice in Medicine Hat. Our point of discussion is the opioid addiction and opioid epidemic, and Chris understands this topic very well.
He’s got experience in treating addicted disorders in different treatment centers that he’s been working with after being a registered psychologist. He’s also worked at the methadone maintenance treatment program. So we can certify he’s got first-hand experience dealing with opioid addiction.
An opioid is a powerful form of painkiller that’s known to suppress very intense pain. Nothing can compare to how effective opioid can be at masking or lowering pain. It must be noted that there’s a considerable difference between opioid and other forms of drugs like cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, etc. However, opioid does not in any way help to heal a particular disease but really what it does is it numbs your feelings so you won't feel pain intensely.
It's been puzzling to psychology practitioners to understand why opioid patients become so addicted even after healing. Recent research has shown it is the turn-on of addictive genes and it goes from using the drug to numb pain to abuse and ultimately addiction, which is hard to overcome.
When you think of opioid addiction, your mind goes straight to the homeless on the streets, but there are people of all socio-economic status, race, a religion that are dealing with addictive disorders with an opioid. Some people can be from wealthy families, and that can make the issue much more difficult to treat because there's always a form of denial with them.
Opioid addiction is now an epidemic. People are dropping dead today than any other time in history. A probable cause of this is that now opioids are produced chemically. Fentanyl is a fully synthetic compound, which means it's not using parts of the opioid poppy or plants anymore. Refining opioids made them even more powerful and refined down, which is useful but can dangerous.
With these new drugs, some addictive properties were underreported and overprescribed. Oxycodone was changed to Oxyneo to try and become tamper-resistant such that you couldn’t snort, or crush them, or inject them. It is so powerful that changing the mode of ingestion made it a whole different drug. It's effective in suppressing pain but incredibly dangerous, and this is what led to allegations that the pharmaceutical responsible for it knew about how addictive this drug could become but just gave it out as a safe alternative.
It’s been discovered that taking the same amount of opioid over a given amount of time will start to have a lesser effect which can become an issue even in a regimented regular opioid use in problems like chronic pain.
Although there are other forms of treatment, the oldest and probably the best is taking all the opioid drugs, trade them all in and get a monitored, measured, regular dose of methadone. This can control the withdrawal symptoms, and it can also withdraw a considerable amount of perceived pain. It's not an easy fix, though, but it's helpful. However, one thing that Christopher has found in his practice is that the treatment differs between teenagers and adults. For teenagers, you need to have a form of active outdoor activity that leads to relationships if you want a chance of having a therapeutic relationship with them.
By all means, if you know anyone dealing with any addiction it might be friends, family, or even yourself, just come out of the shadows and ask for help. There are different kinds of support out there, and you only have to make an effort to know what will work for you. Not all routes you use will work, but don't give up, try something different. You can get your life back and live the kind of life you want to ultimately.
In this episode, we talk about sacrificial helpers’ syndrome, great for people who are in the helper profession or volunteer helpers. Sacrificial help syndrome can be defined as people giving more than they have for the people they serve.
Our guest today is Katie Vernoy. A licensed family therapist, a coach, and consultant with helpers based in Torrance, California. As she says, she helps helpers to help better.
Most people who’ve had traumatic experiences that completely changed their lives can end up with this syndrome because they just want others to get through it better than they did and in between that they don't think of taking care of themselves.
For therapists, they put their own needs at bay and focus on what other people need and how they can help them. Working past normal working hours, neglecting own self-care practices, scheduling in clients during personal time, foregoing meals just to help someone out are mostly signs that you're sacrificing yourself too much.
Katie’s experience came about when she was working in public mental health. She worked extra hours, focused more on her staff and clients, and she burned out because she was so passionate about what she was doing to the point of neglecting self-care. After going out solo, she realized it was important for helpers to take care of themselves because if not, eventually, the help they offer won't be available.
Within the profession, it’s often expected of you to be overly benevolent out of the goodness of your heart, so when you ask for money, or set limits and say no sometimes there can be a backlash from the society. It's expected of you to do this. However, part of your helping has to have some limits because you need to empower people to start their recovery on their own. Access if the client’s emergency call is a crisis or if it's possible for them to problem-solve on their own and practice self-soothing techniques. Yes, it’s hard to say no to a client at a critical moment, but learning to set limits helps tremendously in improving your service.
Most often than not, when you started feeling as though your clients should cancel on appointments or grumpy, or you feel fatigued and burned out, it's a sign that you’ve started or are giving too much already. At this point, you can't care much anymore, and it's a clear sign that you should take some time off and do some consultation. Never risk your recovery for someone else’s.
The first recovery of the syndrome is recognizing you’ve got a problem. You should then address it efficiently and start making time for yourself. Set aside some time to do some mandatory extracurricular activities, e.g., meeting up a friend, shopping, surfing, etc. Make sure you hold yourself accountable or find an accountability partner. Accountability will help you make better choices and get some well-deserved rest. You're valuable, take care of yourself.
Welcome to the Addicted Mind Podcast. Today, we are delighted to bring you the wisdom and expertise of Dr. Adina Silvestri, EdD, LPC as she talks about her research on women seeking addiction treatment.
Dr. Adina Silvestri is a licensed Professional Counselor in Richmond, Virginia and the founder of Life Cycles Counseling. One of her specialties is helping women that are struggling with substance abuse recover from shame to find hope and healing.
We are discussing a new immersive VR experience that’s teaching teenagers about addiction. Elvar Sig has transformed personal tragedy into an innovative and generous project, a tool to build awareness and generate conversations. He shares how addiction has been a force in his own life. He walks us through the VR journey he’s created, and what he hopes young people will take away from the experience.
In this episode, we talk with Anthony Ramynke about attachment, empathy, and early childhood experiences. He tells us why early childhood experiences are the root cause bringing people into therapy, and what this means for the process. The therapist’s job is to attune empathically to the client, giving them the building blocks to heal. By creating a safe, intimate relationship – perhaps for the first time in the client’s life – the therapist allows the client to develop new ways of relating to themselves and others.
Jason Groce stops by to talk about sobriety, dual diagnosis, and the recovery support group LifeRing. For 10 years, Jason was an on again off again alcoholic. He would stay sober for periods of time or attempt to moderate. Eventually, stressors would pile up and he would start drinking. He tried support groups but didn’t find them helpful. 3 and a half years ago, a social worker asked him what he was going to do differently. It wasn’t his first time to the hospital, but he was committed to making it his last. He agreed that he needed to find a community to stay sober. LifeRing got Jason’s attention. He attended a meeting, and the format worked for him. The philosophy of secularism and personal empowerment spoke to Jason. He’d always struggled with the spiritual components of other programs, and the emphasis on powerlessness and surrender. Most of all, he liked the more conversational structure of the meeting. Each meeting, participants are invited to share about their last week. It can be directly related to sobriety, but it doesn’t have to be. Crosstalk is encouraged. People interrupt to ask questions, offer support, or share similar experiences.
Two concepts undergird LifeRing’s philosophy: the 3 S’s and the addict self – sober self-conflict. The 3 S’s are sobriety, secularity, and self-help. Sobriety because LifeRing is an abstinence-based program. Secularity because LifeRing promotes models of recovery generated by human effort. And self-help because LifeRing believes that each individual’s journey to sobriety is their own, and the role of the group is to reinforce each individual’s motivation and efforts. The conflict between the Addict Self and the Sober Self represents LifeRing’s belief about the nature of addiction recovery. The process of recovery involves strengthening and reinforcing the sober self. The addict self will always be there, but we can do everything in our power to amplify our desire to live a fulfilled, sober life.
In this episode we also talk about:
- The intervention that led to Jason’s recovery
- Atheism and recovery
- Why LifeRing’s meeting format and absence of an organized doctrine are important to Jason
- The differences between LifeRing, 12-step programs, and other peer support groups
We are talking with Megan Peterson of 2nd Chance Counseling. 2nd Chance is an internet-based addiction treatment provider. They have therapists in every state working to make treatment accessible, flexible, and cost-effective. Duane and Megan talk about the advantages and disadvantages of this new treatment model, who it’s for, and how it came to be.
2nd Chance conducts therapy by video chat. The flexibility this offers creates new possibilities for treatment that is impossible for traditional outpatient clinics. Patients can communicate with their therapist earlier and later. Appointments can be any length the patient and therapist agree on. The flexibility and relative ease of meeting by video instead of in-person mean that appointments can often be set on shorter notice. Patients can utilize their therapist when difficulty arises, instead of waiting until the next scheduled appointment. Most of all, being able to access therapy without traveling eliminates the barriers that prevent people from getting the help they need. Digital communication is a bigger part of our culture than ever, and much of human connection today is digitally enabled.
Part of the work we do to treat addiction is to work through the other preexisting conditions and environmental factors that could contribute to addictive behavior. Those who suffer from a co-morbid condition will notice that addiction recovery is much harder to treat without also addressing the other condition. Recently, we have more insight than ever before how Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) plays a role in Sex Addiction in particular. Today, our guest is Dr. John Sealy, who has been an advocate and forerunner in how ADD and Addiction influence one another. As we learn more and more about the treatment of ADD, we can also change how we treat Sex Addiction.
Dr. Sealy is passionate about ensuring that people get the help they need. He does not treat addiction as a single issue but looks at the whole patient to assess the care they need. Due to the inherent stigma and shame that many sufferers carry around Sex Addiction, it has historically been difficult for these people to receive treatment. Dr. Sealy is working to change that. We are excited to bring to you today all the latest research, methodology, and new insight that will be liberating for many in the recovery process. This will be an episode that is helpful and encouraging to those who are in recovery. Help and hope are available for you.
More to learn in this episode:
- How our understanding and controversy of Sex Addiction has changed since the study was pioneered.
- Understanding the diagnosis of Sexual Addiction.
- The co-morbid conditions that we see playing a major role in Sex Addiction recovery.
- How the unique cognitive hallmarks of ADD make it a likely co-morbid condition for addiction.
- Work with Dr. Sealy: https://novusmindfullife.com
Addictions can infiltrate and influence so many aspects of relationships, and affairs and betrayal are no exceptions. Here to speak to her experiences as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist is Katie Leminux. Katie fell into working with couples in affair and betrayal recovery because she loved to see the huge potential for improvement. Time and again, she realized that addictions of all kinds play into affairs and why they happen or as a result of the trauma.
We as therapists can provide the structure and framework for couples to work through intense, emotional struggles. Katie believes in the power of the Gottman Couple Counseling Model to help couples reclaim their relationship and recover fully from any addictions. Today is your opportunity to see the hope that Katie sees, and to really understand how a complex recovery is really possible.
In this episode we also discuss:
- How Katie “fell into” working with couples.
- The Gottman Couples Counseling Model.
- Changing the language of an affair to make it easier to talk about.
- The essential structures that help couples work through the difficult problems in an affair.
- Therapists have the power to help couples work through trauma as well as the unique types of hurt emotions that stem from betrayal.
- Learn the three phases of reclaiming a hurt relationship.
- The role of addiction in betrayal.
- Strategies that couples use to rebuild their relationship.
Today, I am delighted to bring you the wisdom and expertise of Eli Holmes. Dr. Holmes is a Portland-based Psychologist who is just as passionate as we are about research-based treatment. Today, Dr. Holmes is going to bring to light some of the amazing insights therapists can gain from using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Therapy. The REBT model is perfect not just for individuals struggling with addiction, but also those with emotional swings, obsessive thoughts, and mood issues.
In this episode, we will talk about the fascinating history of REBT and why it is such a powerful tool. We will get to parse out why we have an emotional reaction to certain events, and how we can help our patients cope with emotional reactiveness. As we continue to arm ourselves with the latest techniques and research, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of those battling addiction. You do not want to miss out on today’s episode.
Today we will also learn:
- What is REBT, and why is it effective in addiction treatment?
- Examples of REBT in action.
- The ways that we as therapists can utilize techniques to help our clients to build emotional tolerance.
- The unique emotional challenges we face with addiction therapy.
Dr. Eli Holmes’ email. Contact him with any questions at all!
Every week on the Addicted Mind Podcast, we seek to share methods and insights from mental health professionals that are paving the way to success and recovery. This week, Dr. Nazanin Moali is bringing her insights to the podcast on Moderation Management models as opposed to Abstinence Models. Are you ready to challenge what you know about recovery models? Is there more out there than a 12 Step Program?
Dr. Moali is a Sex Therapist and Addiction Specialist. Through her work with her practice, Oasis 2 Care Center, Dr. Moali has learned that the Abstinence Model for overcoming addiction is just one of the many modes professionals can use during treatment. By keeping the client’s needs and goals at the center of her practice, Dr. Moali has seen success in Harm Reduction as well as Moderation Management. Now, she is taking her knowledge to the next step as she releases episodes of her own podcast, Sexology. Dr. Moali’s knowledge is vast, and we are excited to share her perspective and expertise with you this week.
Also in this episode:
- Defining the difference between Harm Reduction Model and Abstinence Model treatment.
- Diving into an example of how Moderation Management can be used to battle addiction.
- The distinct cultural differences between how treatment models are used in the US and Europe.
- There are advantages to seeking out a private practice for treatment.
- Dr. Moali shares her assessment methods for deciding if moderation model is right for her patient.
- Places clients can go for Moderation Management rather than Abstinence.
- Examples of Harm Reduction models.
Dr. Moali’s Blog Post
Oasis 2 Care Website http://oasis2care.com/
Listen to Dr. Moali’s Sexology Podcast
As therapists, we hear about Motivational Interviewing (MI) all the time. It's a technique that therapists can use to bring forward the ambivalence that a person with an addiction has, towards resolving that addiction. It's well regarded and it's a fairly well-researched intervention for people with addictions, but still, a lot of the people looking for treatment, or even those who have been in treatment, don't really seem to know what it is, or why we would use it in a treatment setting.
Today's guest, Dr Tony Mele, is the Chief Clinical Officer at Sovereign Health. He's on the show today because he came to our agency recently and did an incredible training on Motivational Interviewing, where he was able to really go in depth and look at how Motivational Interviewing actually works with the brain, to bring about change. Listen in to find out more about what Motivational Interviewing is all about and how it can be used effectively, within the treatment setting.
- Dr Mele gives some important information about Motivational Interviewing.
- Dr Mele explains the ambivalence within people with addictions.
- Many people with addictions will describe a loss, when asked about what life without addiction would be like for them.
- MI could be described as a language, to help the patient to begin looking at their own behaviour differently.
- Dr Mele describes in practical terms, how one would converse with a patient, using MI to bring their contradictions to the forefront.
- Dr Mele explains cognitive dissonance, which you will wind up facing, as a therapist using MI.
- If cognitive dissonance doesn't come up in therapy, you will maintain the addiction, so as a therapist, you want the patient to feel the discomfort that it brings.
- Working with the patient in the decision-making process.
- The link between the emotional centre (the amygdala) and the memory centre (the hippocampus) in the brain.
- Addiction produces a positive feeling, so as a therapist, you need to help the people to begin to think differently.
- How MI differs from the 'old school' treatment.
- Dopamine and addicted behaviour.
- The assumptions that are associated with the MI technique.
- There is a fair amount of cognitive skill, which is required on the part of the patient, to effectively use MI.
- Some examples of Motivational Interviewing questions.
Welcome back to The Addicted Mind podcast. This week, we are talking with Dr. Jessica Naughton, a Clinical Psychologists who has years of experience working with combat veterans dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many veterans struggle with addiction that also suffer from PTSD. Now we know that PTSD can be one of the underlying causes of substance abuse since addictions spring up as a way to deal with PTSD symptoms.
So how can we care for veterans as they navigate PTSD symptoms? The good news is that the stigma around mental health disorders is rapidly changing. Now more than ever before, there are people like Dr. Naughton who have the resources to help veterans and their unique experiences of trauma and addiction. Help is here! Listen to see just how much we can do for our Veternas.
- We talk a lot about PTSD, but what exactly is it?
- Trauma for combat veterans cannot be processed in the moment.
- Symptoms were actually an adaptive change to help veterans survive.
- Diving in on why certain people deal with PTSD and others do not.
- Treatment is becoming less stigmatized.
- Dr. Naughton explains why trauma focused and addiction focused therapy is a delicate balance.
- Learn the difference between exposure and cognitive therapy treatments.
- If you or a Veteran you know is struggling, go to the VA. They have the resources and the systems in place to help you.
If you are a Veteran struggling with PTSD, please reach out to The Veteran’s Crisis Line at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/
The Crisis Line Phone number is
Anyone who has worked in the field of addiction recovery will know that recovery is a long road, and often we as therapists and counselors will need to find ways to engage our client’s sense of thought and endurance. The work of Virginia Satir has been extremely influential in addiction recovery, and this week’s guest, Stephen Buckbee, has been using Satir’s methods successfully for years now.
Stephen joins Duane Osterlind on the Addicted Mind this week to explain the transformative power of embracing change. Therapy, he says, is a process that the counselor and therapist can enter into with their client. Rather than striving to “fix” a recovering addict, we have the power to generate a place of safety and self-discovery. Therapy is at its most powerful when the slow change process is fully engaged. The Satir Method is very good at embracing change and paving the way to recovery. Join us this week as we celebrate recovery and empowerment through self-discovery!
Also in this episode.
- How Stephen employs the principles of Virginia Satir’s methods with clients who struggle with addictions.
- A discussion of the foreign elements that begin the process of change.
- This model meets the client where they are at so that they can begin the decision-making process.
- The most difficult obstacle for recovery is forgiveness for past transgressions.
- Moving on from the past into the future of recovery.
- Using the Satir method to help addicts re-focus their thoughts away from the pleasure of addiction.
- The huge importance of a support system.
- The burdens of busy-ness.
Connect with Stephen via email.
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There’s a bit of mystery and uncertainty surrounding Psychiatric Hospitals across the country. They are staffed with caring professionals and the goal of today’s show is to sort of demystify the process of dealing with a Psych Hospital and also understanding some best practices for getting help to the folks who need it most.
Our guest today is someone I have a personal relationship with because he’s my brother, Eric Osterlind! Eric is a psych nurse and he works in Psychiatric hospitals with acute patients. Eric also works in the ER, dealing with their psych cases. Most of the cases Eric works with are acute, so the first priority is to keep the patient safe, and then any treatment would come after the psych team is sure they are safe.
Most of Eric’s patients come in on a 5150 psych hold, which lasts for 72 hours. If they are a danger to others or a danger to themselves, then they can be held on this hold. Reasons for this hold could be that a person becomes suicidal or homicidal, maybe they’ve had a psychotic break, or have somehow gotten to the point where they cannot care of themselves. Listen in as Eric explains the current conditions a psychiatric patient would encounter in a hospital situation.
- Safety comes first in the psych hospital.
- Choose your ER carefully, as it could determine what the outcome is for the patient.
- Unless a situation is acute, it may be best not to call 911 for help.
- Visiting a psych hospital for the first time can be jarring.
- When a patient is in a psych hospital visiting hours are severely restricted.
- Psych hospitals try to mimic reality as closely as hospital, so it’s very different from a medical hospital.
- Upon entering a psych hospitals a patient still has rights, so they are advised of their rights immediately.
- Psych hospitals actually act as an advocate for the patient.
- A 5250 is a 14-day hold that can be mandated by a Doctor.
- The hospital has Patient’s Rights Advocate as a way of checks and balances in the system.
- As a family member, you can approach the care team if your relative is in the gray area. Do not lie to the Psychiatric Evaluation Team, but give them useful information.
- An entire team is available to help the patient in a 72-hour hold - Psychologists, Marriage Counselors, Recreational Therapists, Movement Therapists, Pet Therapists, and others may all be part of the team.
- When dealing with a child patient, take them to an ER with a juvenile (adolescent) psych ward, otherwise, it will take awhile to get transferred
- Always get help - help is available to everyone!
Suicidal? Help is available. Please reach out!
National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Mindfulness. It’s all the rage on the internet, but a lot of people haven’t a clue what it means when they see it. We all have a different image and set of expectations about mindfulness, but what actually is it, and how can it help those on the road to recovery? Is it just a fad, or will adopting a mindfulness practice really make a difference in the way we think?
Robert Cox is a Mindfulness Master, and he has experience and success stories to share with the “Addicted Mind” community this week. Robert is also the host of two podcasts, so he knows a thing or two about making something “heady” like Mindfulness easy to digest. Robert shares the evidence scientists have gathered for the brain transforming power of mindfulness, and then teaches you a few tricks to try it out on your own.
- Robert defines Mindfulness based off of research.
- The subtle difference between mindfulness and meditation.
- Using mindfulness to build resistance to cravings.
- The current mindfulness research for treatment in addiction and autism.
- Changing brain chemistry through mindfulness.
- We can break neuron connections and rewire them by catching it early.
- Anyone can benefit from a mindfulness practice.
- “Chill” App on iPhone to help ground you.
- Learn a simple grounding exercise.
Discover more with Robert’s “Mindful Recovery” and “Listening to Autism” Podcasts.
“Dialectical Behavioral Therapy” is one of the many tools we have tucked away in their tool belt to help people overcome their addiction, trauma, and behavioral disorders. While it might sound complicated at first glance, the true power of DBT comes from its practical applications. This week, we take a close look at DBT and discover a simple, non-judgmental way to understand human emotions. Mindfulness, practical action steps, and a new understanding of the brain combine to make DBT a powerful tool to beat addiction.
This week’s guest is Dr. Debbie Kooyman. Her 20 years of work in Psychology have shown her just how important it is for adults dealing with addiction, abuse, and trauma to be able to take a step back from their emotions and learn how to think again. Dr. Kooyman shares her wisdom in this episode and dispels some misconceptions you might have about DBT.
- Specializes in adults who were abused as children. DBT is a resource for people dealing with addiction as well as those dealing with abuse.
- Dispelling the myth of using DBT. It’s not only for Borderline Personality Disorder.
- A breakdown of the three components: Dialectical, Behavioral, and Therapy.
- How we can move between the competing needs of companionship and alone time.
- Using DBT to give clients concrete tools to beat addiction.
- Normalizing your experiences to conquer addiction.
- The difference between primary and secondary emotions.
- The mindfulness component of DBT—knowing how to pay attention to the moment without judgment.
- Learning to change the way our brains operate.
Dr. Debbie Kooyman on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR5IunjD64Y1VW3dunmCqA
Welcome back to The Addicted Mind Podcast. This week, you will have a chance to explore the amazing work of Virginia Satir with Teresa McClellan. Teresa has been in the field for 18 years, and she’s worked with just about everyone: Couples, families, men, women, co-ed groups, and more! Thanks to her range of experience, she knows a thing or two about how we as human beings respond in therapy, and Virginia Satir’s methods really made an impact on her. Now, Teresa is employing the model for addiction recovery in a men’s prison and seeing amazing results.
Satir was ahead of her time in some of her practices, so this is a chance to really shed some light on the impact she has made. Combined with what we know now about the brain and human psychology as a whole, it is easy to see that Satir’s emphasis on human connection is exactly what an addict in recovery needs to experience. Teresa shares her wealth of wisdom and more this week, so you won’t want to miss it!
- Discover Virginia Satir, and her incredible methods for therapy.
- Growth models rather than the pathology of people and problems.
- Experiential part of the Satir Method.
- Emotions are felt in the body to fill in the gaps.
- How the Satir model and addiction recovery comes together.
- How Satir shows up in more “current” therapy practices.
- Using imagery and experience to allow addicts to be themselves.
To learn more about the work that Teresa and her colleagues are doing, head on over to www.satirpactific.org
If you like the show, you can support it directly on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/theaddictedmind
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The more we learn about the addicted mind, the more we can begin to understand how trauma, disorders, and addictions really are interrelated. Today, we are thrilled to take that exploration to a personal level through the eyes of Janet Whitney. Janet is a Licensed Family and Marriage Therapist, but she is also a devoted mother. No mom would ever want to walk with their child through a life-threatening illness, even less so when it is something as slippery as an eating disorder.
Since she was very young, Janet’s daughter, Hannah, has battled anorexia and eating disorders in a slow fight to recovery. By supporting her daughter through a long healing journey, Janet now wants to share her unique insight into the inner-workings of recovery and therapy.
Recovery from eating disorders and addiction is similar: so similar that Janet has used her own life experiences to inform and shape her own practice. Today, it is time to get out of the theoretical exploration and into the personal. The insights to be learned here are not to be underestimated.
- Exploring the similarities of food disorders and other addictions.
- Janet shares her daughter’s story and struggle with an eating disorder.
- Changing the narrative around eating disorders.
- The time it takes to get through a disease like eating disorders.
- The role of trauma in addiction.
- A close look at the Conscientious Dissenter study to see the effects of starvation in the body.
- Self-care and dealing with your own anxiety while being a safety zone for loved ones.
- The factors that played a role in Hannah’s recovery.
- A call for parents to help their child while they can! Tough love can save their life.
Link up with Janet online
Check out Janet’s book: Facing Your Fears and Following Your Dreams
If you like the show, you can support it directly on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/theaddictedmind
Welcome to the “Addicted Mind” Podcast hosted by Duane Osterlind. Duane is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist who is passionate about helping people overcome addiction. Through years of experience and witnessing the real life change brought about by modern counseling practices, Duane developed a passion for the process. That passion led him to begin the “Addicted Mind” Podcast, built on what he thinks are the most meaningful aspects of beating addiction.
- Research: what is the current evidence about addiction treatment? What brain processes can we use to overcome addiction?
- Treatment: In what ways are we treating addiction? What’s working? What might not be working?
- Recovery: What does it look like for someone to overcome addiction?
Along the way, experience how so many people have been able to create a life that is meaningful to them. Addiction can be beaten. Let’s learn how.
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Learn more at http://theaddictedmind.com/