dual diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis: What is it? Am I a Candidate for Treatment?

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

As the name suggests, dual diagnosis describes patients that have been diagnosed with two different disorders: one being a mental disorder, like depression or bipolar disorder, and the other, a substance abuse problem, which could be alcohol or drugs. Since most people with a mental disorder can have quite easy access to both, it is not unlikely for them to develop a dependence on these substances.

More often than not, a lot of people will actually try to find comfort or a way to numb the pain by drinking or using drugs, so those two walk hand in hand quite frequently. In fact, a national survey done in 2014 revealed that 7.9 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from both a psychiatric disorder and an addictive disorder. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 6 out of 10 addicts also have another disorder – that is a 60% chance that an addict is a dual-diagnosis worthy patient.

It is still not possible to say why mental disorders and addictions tend to coincide more often than not, but there are many theories and studies to try to understand dual-diagnosis patients. It seems as though one affects or triggers the other, no matter which one is apparent first. While children and teenagers with psychological disorders (such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are considered at higher risk of becoming addicted than other children, it seems drug abuse alone can also accelerate the course of mental illnesses. Either can come first when it comes to dual-diagnosis addicts.

Symptoms

Dual-diagnosis patients can be diagnosed with a number of different “combinations” of disorders. Therefore, symptoms will vary a lot from person to person, depending on which substance they are addicted to and which mental disorder they have. While keeping in mind that a lot of symptoms from withdrawal are also common in mental disorders (anxiety, depression, and even hallucinations, for instance), some symptoms or signs to look out for are:

  • Going overboard when consuming drugs and/or alcohol or doing it too often
  • Putting themselves in risky or dangerous situations (especially worse if doing so by impulse)
  • Changing behaviors and routines drastically
  • Noticing symptoms unrelated to the withdrawal of alcohol or illegal substances alone
  • Symptoms that won’t go away after getting treatment for addiction
  • Social isolation or generally avoiding events that used to bring pleasure
  • Family history of either one of the conditions (substance abuse and/or mental illness)
  • Difficulty accepting, starting, or following instructions for treatment
  • Not managing to do daily tasks like proper personal hygiene or groceries
  • Be aware of a change in thought processes: if they become too incoherent, disillusioned, or too dark, bordering or becoming suicidal

It is because so many of the symptoms tend to overlap between disorders that addicts need to receive a proper diagnosis in order to know how to proceed when seeking the right treatment for them. Each disorder requires its own kind of treatment, and not just because they are separate illnesses. One of the main problems is that they affect each other mutually, meaning that if one is not treated correctly, it could bring on symptoms of the other – especially in the case of not treating the mental illness, as it could be the root of the consumption of substances.

Besides keeping an eye on the symptoms listed, in order for you to know whether you might be a dual-diagnosis patient, you might need to visit different types of specialists. While drug or alcohol abuse can be considered a mental illness in and of itself, it requires different approaches to treatment than, say, borderline disorders. For instance, while anxiety can be a symptom of withdrawal, chronic anxiety is different, more persistent, and not just related to substance abuse, so it needs to be treated accordingly.

Treatment and Prevention

Dual-diagnosis cases can be treated in many different ways, and while the diagnoses are an obvious factor to be considered when being treated, other aspects of the patient will dictate which treatment option would be best for them. Age, family history, drug intolerance, type of substance, frequency and amount of use, drugs previously used in treatments – all of this must be taken into consideration.

One of the methods commonly used along with other programs is behavioral therapy. Most of them focus on changing habits and frequent thought processes that might bring a patient to harmful behavior as well. While that alone cannot be the only method applied to help dual-diagnosis patients, it has proven quite effective when included in programs. Additionally, some of the other techniques used are detoxification (when needed), group therapy, and any medical supervision recommended.

Prevention is also possible, and even from an early age. Receiving early diagnosis of a psychiatric illness such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression can help not just to get treated for the disorder, but it can actually prevent the development of a substance abuse problem, as it is almost impossible to prevent exposure. Early exposure, in fact, has proven to be a trigger, so being mindful and careful of that might also lower the risks of someone becoming addicted.

You Can Get The Help You Need With Us

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, dual-diagnosis patients can count with all the help they need when getting rid of their substance abuse problem for good. While it might seem like so much work right now, as you have to deal with two different issues, it is achievable. If you have tried methods before and they failed, this does not mean you are hopeless. Relapse is quite common, especially in dual-diagnosis cases, but they are not a sign of weakness – they just mean you need to keep trying.

We will be more than happy to meet with you and find out what your needs are, so we can work on a plan that will work for you. We offer outpatient programs that are essential for anyone who might need to keep on with their routines, no matter the reason. While dual-diagnosis patients need to look out for two different illnesses and seem to have to do double the work, we also offer a special Recover Strong program, which will additionally help with self-image and self-esteem while also providing a way to improve your social life – one less thing to worry about.

So whether you know this program interests you or you just want to hear more about the benefits we offer, contact us today. Visit our website for all the needed contact information. We are here to help: no matter how many hoops you need to go through, we are here to see you get to where you need to be on the trip to a healthier you.

References:

Sobriety Is The Best Gift I Gave My Family

Counting My Blessings

I am a father, a son, and a brother, I have two daughters of my own. Funny thing being a son, as a son I just thought about what I wanted out of life, what was next for me. As I became a young adult, I never really thought about much more than that, I guess that’s just part of growing up. Now a days, I am father too, I have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old daughter. When I look at my daughters I see all of the amazing possibilities, my oldest loves science, has a great sense of humor, my youngest is just developing her little personality and interests, and man she is full of life. All I see is endless possibilities for them and it is very exciting.  I truly have a great life, I own a business and I love what I do, I make a good living doing it. I have cool hobbies and great friends. I can actually say I am living the dream! The life I lead today is better than I ever dreamed it could be 7 plus years ago, that’s for sure! I could list the gifts sobriety has given me and write paragraph after paragraph, however instead I am going to write a bit about the gifts my sobriety gave to those I love, particularly my father.

Looking Back…

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7 plus years ago, life was very different. I was heavily addicted to oxycodone, Xanax, alcohol, and crack cocaine. I was a father to my oldest daughter in no other way than title. She couldn’t count her dad for anything, no one could. It had been this was since I was 12 years old. It wasn’t so bad when I was 12, but it got worse as I got older. At 30, no one wanted to be around me and I for one don’t blame them. My parents were forced to watch as their son, whom they loved, destroyed himself and anything around him. Now as a dad of young children, I can tell you that when your kids are young their problems are mostly solvable by a hug and maybe a small consequence if a discipline is needed. But for the most part parents can step in and save the day, just as we want to. But as a child gets older they have to solve their own problems and learn to become an adult. Often time that’s when problems start to arise that parents all together can’t solve, addiction being one of them. I have yet to experience what it is like to watch one of my children suffer from addiction and stand by helplessly as they risk death or God forbid die. Just typing it here terrifies me. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my kids.

Cleaning Up My Act

So, 7 years ago, fearing for my life my parents, yet again, spent their hard-earned money to send me to treatment as I suspect they feared the alterative was a funeral. I went to treatment mostly because I was homeless and no one really wanted me on their couch anymore. It wasn’t until a phone call with my dad that I actually started to want to change. I called home feeling the obligation to check in since they were paying for treatment. We talked about the normal stuff and I began to tell my dad that I was doing well and things were different this time, all the stuff I thought he wanted to hear. He stopped me and said he really hopped that was true. There was pain in his voice, deep pain. He then went on to talk about how he missed having a relationship with me, how he had hoped that he and I would have had an adult relationship like he had with his father. He talked about his sister and how her children were doing well but most importantly were happy. He talked about after all his success he sat in his chair at night depressed because his children were suffering and he didn’t know how to fix it. The pain behind his voice cut like a knife. It brings me to tears to write about it, I can still feel the pain like a 1000 pounds of bricks on my chest. He deserved better, he was a good dad, he provided well, played with his kids, made mistakes as all parents do but cared and deserved better as he neared retirement. He deserved a son, a son that called to talk, that he didn’t have to worry about planning an early funeral for, a son that he could trust would be able to be there for him if he needed him, a son that he could think of and feel joy, not pain. It was in that moment that I decided my dad deserved better, I wanted to be that son. People will say you have to do recovery for yourself but that’s not my story. I did it for my dad and eventually I did it for my dad, my mom, and my daughter. Then finally, one day after over a year of doing it for others, I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time liked who I saw and decided I was worth doing it for myself too.

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I can tell you this, I am not a perfect son, father, brother, or friend in sobriety, but my father has his son back. My daughter has a real father who shows up and loves her, when friends see me they want to spend time with me, I bring value to my friendships. Today I have my self back. You could look at my life and see the many overt gifts sobriety gave me: a nice house, a great career, cool hobbies like restoring classic cars or backpacking trips, but the best gifts I ever received in sobriety are the gifts that my sobriety gave to those I love. They gave a father his son back.


To get help for substance use call us today at 1.844.878.3221 or contact us through our website

Harnessing a Family’s Motivation to Change

Much of the research into addiction shows that unresolved conflict within a family is a significant causal factor in the start of symptomatic addictive behavior. Within the family, we develop patterns of behavior and styles of relating that form the basis of our future social interactions and relationships. When a family’s ability to cope with stressors and process traumatic experience breaks down many of its members may begin to exhibit symptoms of substance and process addiction, suicidality, depression, and a host of other challenges. These effects are not limited to the current generation. Often, once this cycle locks in place, its effects may continue into perpetuity unless a family addresses the underlying causes.  On the other hand, when a family can be equipped with the tools and skills to resolve the conflict they can change outcomes not just for the current generation but future generations of the family as well.

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In this article, I will examine the implications of the work of Landau and Garrett as presented in their landmark paper “Family Motivation to Change.”  Their work in Transitional Family Therapy provides many useful insights for any family suffering from addiction. By harnessing the inner strength and resilience of a family system, we can leverage the family’s motivation to change and improve the outcomes for several generations.

Transitional Family Therapy

Doing the work at home will help create a better family atmosphere  

In the Transitional Family Therapy (TFT) model the primary goal is to equip families with the ability to identify the tools and other resources that can enable the family to access their inner strength and resilience so that they can become the source of healing.  In this sense, TFT is an empowerment model of therapy. TFT “views the family as intrinsically competent, resilient, and healthy and the family can be a resource for individuals in times of stress” (Landau, Garrett, 2007). Most often TFT is a therapeutic model wherein the family system itself becomes the primary driver of change.  Change is accomplished through helping a family identify their competencies, strengths, and equipping a family with a belief in their ability to overcome transitional conflicts. Most often this enables a family not only to overcome current challenge but also makes it possible for them to handle future stress to the family system more efficiently, thereby limiting future symptomatic behaviors of individual members, including substance and process addiction.

Stigma still surrounds addiction and those suffering from it.  It is easy to view an addict’s behavior and assume that he or she lacks the willpower to stop, has a character flaw that is driving behavior, or is merely amoral.  While in some cases these observations may have some truth to them modern science conclusively demonstrates that addiction is a brain disease. However, the onset of substance use disorder is often left unaddressed in the research.  The Transitional Family Therapy model views the start of addiction as an adaptive response to a family system being asked to cope with more transitional conflict than it is equipped to handle. Please note that this is not limited to chemical addiction, process addiction, some forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and many other symptomatic responses of individuals may be attributable to this overload.  There is a great deal of research which has studied individual response to stress and has shown that on average an individual can effectively process three to four life transitions at one time. Life transitions can be anything from a job change or new child being born, to the untimely death of a loved one or forced migration due to geopolitical or natural causes. When one faces more than these three or four transitions within a limited timeframe, he or she will begin to suffer deleterious effects to their well being.  A family, as a collection of individuals, will experience the same results.

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When a family system becomes overloaded with transitional conflict, one or more members will begin manifesting a symptomatic response; sometimes this causes the onset of addiction.  This response is an adaptive response to the stress placed on the family system. It can be viewed as an effort (albeit unconscious) by an individual within the family system to keep the family bond intact at times of overwhelming stress and upheaval.  This is done by taking the family’s attention away from the trauma caused by transitional conflict and by drawing the family together to deal with the problems associated with the new behavior. Now the addiction itself becomes the source of family closeness.  When the symptoms of the addiction begin to subside the grief related to past trauma will resurface, which serve to reinforce the “need” for the problem of addiction. Once set this cycle will be transmitted across generations until the time the family can resolve the underlying trauma.  

   The Family Healing Process

Allowing for time to heal and mend can help gain new perspective

When a family can make the transition from viewing the symptoms of addiction as a shortcoming or as isolated incidences with some members of the family and can begin to understand it as an adaptive response to trauma that served to hold a family together they are on their way.  This understanding alleviates feelings of shame which hinder recovery and can create a space within which the current members of the family can better recognize their resilience and strength.

When this transition occurs within a family system not only are the individual members who are suffering the symptoms of addiction able to begin the recovery process but, indeed, all members of the family can start the healing process.  

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Ironically, it is the same strength within a family system that created the initial adaptive behavior (an individual becoming addicted) that ultimately brings freedom from suffering.  To see this, remember that the initial adaptation was an unconscious attempt to ease the pain of the family and keep close family connectedness. By shifting the attention away from the current instantiation of conflict, the ongoing effects of addiction, and instead placing it on the family system as a whole we can address the underlying trauma within the system.  As this work is undertaken by an increasing number of the members of a family, the addiction itself becomes redundant and will no longer be efficacious within the context of the family.

Often there exists the mistaken belief that addiction is a personal challenge to be met by the individual.  On the contrary, research indicates that an addict’s family is an indispensable component of the recovery journey.  A family’s commitment to change is often as significant as the addict’s.

Any member of a family can break the cycle of addiction.  Once decided, bringing the family together is indispensable.  It is ideal to include all members of the family. Doing so harnesses the inherent strength and power of the family support system to heal.  A demonstrable correlation has been shown in studies between family involvement and an increase in treatment uptake rate, and also in individual patients being more likely to complete treatment.  A family’s core strength is in its care, love, and loyalty to each other and it is these strengths that are needed to help the family overcome the cycle of addiction.

It is my sincere hope that this article is informative and encouraging to all who read it.  We at Granite Mountain BHC are dedicated to helping families and individuals break the cycle of addiction.  We are here to help. Please contact us through our website or by phone at 844-878-3221.

Until next  time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell


Landau and Garrett, “Family Motivation to Change: A Major Factor in Engaging Alcoholics in Treatment.”  Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. Vol 25, No. ½, 2007. Pgs 65-83


To get help for substance use disorder today call 1-844-878-3221 today or reach out to us through our website

Creating a Different Outcome

How Will It Be Different This Time Around?

If you or a loved one has been through treatment for substance use disorder one or more times in one or more different facilities, and have yet to find lasting recovery, you are most likely asking yourself what will be different this time. This is a question which can plague the thoughts of those attached by bonds of affection to an addict. While there is no simple answer to this question I do believe I can give some helpful suggestions which can greatly increase the likelihood of success. 

When dealing with any disease of the brain, such as addiction, it is very challenging to know how to help a loved one “fix” their problem.  One reason for this is that brain science is still very much in its adolescent period. Our understanding of the brain and its functions is growing rapidly, but it has only been in  the relatively recent past that we have been able to begin to understand its functioning. This is as true with our understanding of addiction as it is for any other brain disease, as a result we are in the very beginning of our ability, as a community, to offer comprehensive solutions for those suffering from addiction.

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Another aspect of the difficulty is that addiction is characterized by problems of perception.  Addicts suffer from high levels of delusion, cognitive dissonance, and other perceptual challenges that can make self-report and consistent decision making challenging, at best. The behavior patterns that can follow from these perceptual challenges can make assessment and treatment hard to manage for an individual.  

Third, and not unimportantly, the social stigma surrounding addiction can make it hard for an individual to feel confident in seeking needed help.  This is true certainly true leading up to the initiation of treatment. It is also true during recovery, when an addict may be suffering internally but is unwilling or unable to ask for the help he or she needs.

Commitment to Change

“Nothing Changes Until You Change Something”

Having a commitment to change is indispensable for the addict themselves. Much has already been written about this elsewhere. For our purposes today I am talking about the families commitment to change.  Often within a family afflicted with addiction there are dynamics that exist that are preventing each member from experiencing happiness and contentment.   Living with an addict and trying to cope with his or her behavior is most often a tremendous strain on loved ones.

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One such dynamic that can develop is a tendency to treat information and secrets as a form of emotional currency.  When this is present within a family unit, trust and connection are the price paid. Left unchecked this can result in one or more members of the family suffering some form of attachment disorder. Instead of secrets and individual alliances transparency and togetherness need to be the aim.  Finding time and methods to communicate with one another honestly and transparently is vitally important for both the addict and his or her family.

Another form of trouble can be enabling behavior of members of the family toward an addict. This can take many forms but the simplest may be providing material support in the form or financial assistance (for rent, phone, car, other bills, etc).   In my experience very few addicts recover while they are still able depend on others for material support. For long term recovery it is indispensable that recovering addicts feel the full weight of responsibility for their lives. Of course we want to encourage this to happen in safe ways, that said, its importance cannot be overstated.  

Above are just two examples of the ways in which an addict’s behavior can impact a family, and the healing that needs to take place for a family to begin moving in a healthier direction together.  These changes can be quite difficult, especially if long standing patterns of behavior are present. Both individual and family counseling can be a great help. There are also many support groups, such as ALANON and ALATEEN, for the families of addicts that can be incredibly helpful.

Creating a Life of Meaning and Connection

A Happy Life Is A Life With Meaning and Purpose

Years of active addiction causes a hyperactivity within the stress and avoidance centers of the brain (primarily within the amygdala, and ventral hippocampus).  Practically speaking this means that within an addicts brain stress is felt more acutely than in the brain of an average person. There is no greater stress for humans, as social animals, than exclusion.  Throughout the years of active addiction addicts have lived lonely lives. This, of course, is primarily driven by their own behavior. The brain can heal itself, through a process of neuro-regeneration, but this takes time.   It is crucial then, especially in early recovery, that an addict is able to create a lifestyle that is centered around connection and community. This of course, can take many forms. Involvement with a 12-step fellowship or other recovery community is a great start.  Ideally though, the move toward connection should not end there. Family involvement, meaningful work, volunteerism, and social hobbies can all be utilized to create connection, community, and meaning in the life of a recovering addict.

Moving Toward Impactful Aftercare

Treatment Is Just The Beginning To A Life Long Journey Into Long-Term Recovery

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Addiction is most often accompanied by one or more underlying co-morbidities. Most often unprocessed trauma or a mental health condition. It is imperative for long term recovery that these co-morbidities be addressed with a professional on an ongoing basis.  Treatment in most facilities lasts for between 30 and 90 days. This is truly not enough time to fully treat any trauma or mental health challenge. Increasingly, treatment centers are taking an active role in helping patients connect with professionals within a patient’s local area to continue the work that is started while under the care of the facility.  If a patient or the family is not given these resources from a facility they need to take it upon themselves to seek them out. Even in cases where there is no co-morbidity present it can be wise to continue treatment at a lower acuity level. This can take the form of out-patient treatment, or work with a local addiction specialist.

While the above should not be considered a comprehensive picture of how to make treatment succesful it can be regarded as creating a helpful starting point. Each individual and each family will have their own needs and consultation with one or more professionals is advisable. That said if:

  1. If the family moves together in the direction of long term health

  2. The addict can create a life of connection and community

  3. And, a meaningful aftercare plan is put in place and executed

Then, you will be well on your way toward lasting recovery.  If after reading this you have any questions or you feel that we, at Granite Mountain, can be of any assistance to you and your family please do contact us through our website or by phone at 844-878-3221 we are here to help.

Until next time
Your friend in service,

Rob Campbell


If you or someone you love is in need of help for substance use disorder don’t hesitate to call us. Reach out to us today to get the help you need and the life you deserve.

Transforming Your Life With Exercise

In as little as three to four thirty minute sessions of aerobic exercise per week Dr. Suzuki’s research indicates that an individual can significantly alter their brain at three levels. 

1. Exercise Increases Your Mood

“Exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain today.”

This is how Dr. Wendy Suzuki begins her talk on the power of exercise as a prophylactic to all manner of brain disease and disorder. Dr. Suzuki, who had been a neuroscientist focused on memory changed the entire course of her research when she inadvertently began doing exercise research on herself. She is now a foremost expert on the transformative impact on the brain of exercise.

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In as little as three to four thirty minute sessions of aerobic exercise per week Dr. Suzuki’s research indicates that an individual can significantly alter their brain at three levels. First, there are the immediate impacts on mood. A single workout will signal the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin which not only boosts an individual’s mood but will also increase their ability to shift and focus their attention. These immediate impacts will last for at least two hours. Secondly, if an individual makes fitness a part of their daily life this decision will actually alter the anatomy of their brain and the way that it functions on a long term basis. That is to say that, regular exercise creates neuroregeneration in measurable amounts. Third, regular exercise has been shown to have protective effects on the brain. Exercise protects an individual’s brain from the impact of neurodegeneration and the effects of aging.

2. Exercise Can Help Make Changes In Your Brain

At Granite Mountain BHC we employ our Recover Strong therapeutic model in an effort to take advantage of these effects. Several times each week we begin our day in the gym. We exercise for forty-five to sixty minutes as a community. We move from this right into more traditional therapy. We do this to take advantage of the effects noted by Dr. Suzuki. When brain chemistry is at a peak in terms of being conducive to neuroregeneration and the processing of new information, we engage in therapy and learning. We do this day after day, in order that our clients may engage in a process of self discovery and heal their own brains. Substance use disorder is more than the chronic overuse of a mood altering chemical. At the very least what we can say about it is that it is a disorder of the brain. Traditional therapies, especially those that focus on the processing of emotional states are beneficial. Undertaking them within a framework that maximizes brain growth and repair from a biological level is what we have found to be most effective. At Granite Mountain we are always evolving. As our own research and the research of neuroscience continues to evolve our programing will evolve in lock step. Our purpose is to bring to bear the most recent revolutionary ideas in the treatment of substance use disorder and other behavioral health concerns.

I hope that the reader will find the above linked video as inspiring as I have. For all of us the beneficial effects of exercise are too numerous and too profound to ignore. Once again, in the words of Dr. Suzuki, “exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain today.”

 

Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell
VP of Communications & Market Development


If you or somebody you love is in need of help for substance use disorder, give us a call today at 1.844.878.3221

Changing the Stigma of Addiction

In the above video clip Michael Botticelli makes a compelling argument for the necessity of changing the stigma attached to addiction. In it He makes an impassioned plea from personal experience. At one point in the clip he makes the statement that he feels more comfortable coming out as a gay man than being transparent about his history of addiction. This he feels after more than twenty years in recovery. Those of us who have addiction in our lives either actively or in our past don’t need to be told this. We know first hand about the stigma of addiction.

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I have not had a drop of alcohol in my body for more than nineteen years and still find myself hesitant to disclose my recovery to people outside the recovery community. I want to be clear, I am in no way ashamed of my past. Perhaps it sounds paradoxical but, the single greatest thing to ever happen to me is that I became an alcoholic. How many people move through their lives feeling not quite right, being sad, isolated, or alone but don’t know why? I felt all these things and more. When alcoholism finally brought me to my knees, and I had nowhere to turn I found my answer. Through treatment and membership in a 12 step fellowship I was able to understand why I felt the way I did. I was also offered a solution. I have accepted that solution and have since been able to enjoy a life beyond my wildest dreams. A life of purpose, meaning, and connection.

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I do not bring this up to be self congratulatory. On the contrary I want to illustrate what is possible for every single person suffering from a substance use disorder if they are able to access treatment and recovery. In his talk Mr. Botticelli makes the point that the stigma attached to addiction is the single greatest hindrance to people who need help getting it. As a community we need to begin to recognize addiction for what it is. A brain disease, a medical condition. If we are to come to grips with our current opioid epidemic we need to begin to treat those afflicted as what they truly are, sick people who need help. There is no doubt this can be hard to do, but it is necessary.

I agree with Mr Botticelli that in order for this to happen those of us who have overcome this disease need to be open about that fact. This may enable those around us to begin to form a different viewpoint about addiction. They may be able to see that as Mr. Botticelli states, “people are more than their disease.” Moving forward I am committed to being open and candid about my own recovery with anyone who asks. I will weather the inevitable questions, the confusions, the awkward attempts at “protecting” me. I will do this not for myself, but as an example that addiction does not define a person, that as with most other diseases we can and do recover.

 

Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell
VP of Communications & Market Development


If you or someone you love is in need of help for substance use disorder please give us a call today. We understand and we are here to help.


 

https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_botticelli_addiction_is_a_disease_we_should_treat_it_like_one#t-570345

 

Transitioning Into Recovery, A Family Perspective: Part III

In the first two parts of this series we have examined how to approach the subject of treatment with a loved one suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. Further we looked at how to help that individual make the transition into treatment. In the previous two pieces (which you can find here and here) I tried to make many helpful suggestions and to provide some insight into the potential pitfalls. In this article I would like to make some good general suggestions on how to help a loved one transition back into home life and their native community upon completing a treatment program. Getting sober is one thing, but of course the real goal is having someone stay sober. While we can’t do it for them, as the family of an addict we have a role to play in helping them stay sober. This article should is in no way meant to replace working with a professional. Every individual situation is unique and no one article could possible address every unique iteration of sobriety or family dynamics.

Returning To Your Home Environment

For many addicts returning home from treatment can be a shock to the system. For the past several months they have been sequestered in a supportive community with both staff and peers committed to their recovery. The individual has been receiving as much as six hours of daily therapy, in addition to their engagement in a 12 step fellowship. Upon graduation they return home and without a proper after care program in place can begin to experience a significant degree of loss. This experience of loss can be a major hurdle for one who is newly sober. For this reason it is often recommended to have the individual enter an aftercare program upon graduation from long term treatment. Aftercare programs take many forms. It can be as simple as seeing a therapist or other professional clinician once a week. On the other extreme it could be a five day a week four hour a day outpatient program. Each individual’s therapeutic need will be there own and any meaningful long term program will make aftercare recommendations to the patient and his or her family. In most cases the facility can and will help coordinate with local service providers on behalf of the patient. The important thing is that whatever the specific plan turns out to be the addict feels therapeutically supported and a part of a larger community of recovery.

Having an After Care Plan…. And Following Through With It

This thought brings us to our next point which is the importance for the addict of engaging in a 12 step fellowship and the recovery community upon arriving home. The old suggestion of a 90 in 90 (attending 90 12 step meetings in 90 days) is advisable but not mandatory. Almost everywhere in this country these days has a wealth of 12 step meetings on a weekly basis. One can find a meeting directory most often by Googling the name of the 12 step fellowship (i.e. AA, CA, GA, HA, NA, etc) and the name of your town. 12 step fellowships are still the largest support network for alcoholics and addicts available. To this day they are also the most effective. The important aspects are to attend often enough to first create the habit of attending. Secondly, attend regularly enough to become a part of the community of support. There are certain aspects of an addicts life that only other addicts will be able to understand. Membership in a 12 step fellowship not only provides a foundation for recovery, but also friendships, fellowship, purpose, and meaning. It is possible to stay sober without membership in a 12 step fellowship. However what is vital to recovery is community, fellowship, purpose and meaning.

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

One of the most important aspects and perhaps the one addicts are least equipped to address is the necessity of creating a life of meaning and connection. How to do this is a difficult question to answer and in much detail lies outside the scope of this article. That being said, I think, I can provide some helpful suggestions. Engaging with family is a very important part of recovery. Include the addict in family life and events as much as is possible. The greater the connection becomes between the addict their family and community the harder it becomes to go back to the old way of living. Substance use takes away many of the things that once made life meaningful. In order to help your loved one think back to a time before their addiction really took hold. What were their interests and hobbies? What did they like to do with their free time? Encourage your loved one to return to these interests, especially those that were community based activities.

Finding Meaning and Remaining Accountable

One of the biggest helps you can provide to the addict is to help them feel fully responsible for their life and recovery. Try not to allow the addict to impose on you for money, or other material support. Encourage them instead to be self supporting as much as possible. Support them mentally and emotionally instead of financially and materially. For recovery to be long term the addict must take the lead and be fully responsible for their own lives. As loved ones we can be supportive and compassionate but must be careful not to assume the responsibility for them. If we allow this we may be hindering their growth.

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

Our last point is to make sure, as much as possible, that the addict is able to have fun. Life is meant to be enjoyed. If our new life is a happy one it will be harder to return to our old way of living. There is no easily definable recipe for fun. However, if you and your loved one work to accomplish the above points and take some time just to enjoy each other and the new life he or she has been given, this should put you on the right track toward a happy, fun, fulfilling life.

Once again this article is not meant to replace working with a professional. Nor is it within the scope to address each individual situation. Rather it is my hope that it has answered some questions, while maybe posing others, and that it has been able to give some comfort to those who are bound to one suffering from substance use disorder by ties of affection.

 

Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell
VP of Communications & Market Development


If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use disorder, give us a call today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about our program.

The Evolutionary Foundation of Movement, and its Efficacy in Treating Substance Use Disorder

More Effective Than Any Protocol

Over the last twenty years increasing amounts of research has been done showing the link between exercise and a reduction in all sorts of symptomatic disorders.  It has long been known that exercise is beneficial for reduction in cardiac problems, diabetes, obesity, etc.  What we are now just beginning to understand is how exercise affects the brain.  Recent studies show that exercise is more effective than any other protocol at treating things such as depression, ADHD, PTSD, Alzheimer’s.  Diseases and conditions of the brain.  Much of this research has been done or inspired by the work of John Ratey.  In his groundbreaking book Spark! How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of Your Brain Dr. Ratey showed a link between a regular program and exercise and increased cognition in school children (among many other groundbreaking facts).  In this article I will briefly introduce these topics to the reader, as well as, highlight how Recover Strong takes advantage of this new science in our work of treating substance use disorder and other behavioral health challenges in our patients.  In the header of this article is a short interview of Dr. Ratey that can serve as an introduction to the Dr and his work.  If like me you find the science fascinating I have included at the bottom a much longer discourse on the science given by Dr Ratey at Google headquarters.

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Over the tens of thousands of years of our species evolution natural selection favored those in the population who were most active.  Some experts estimate that during our evolutionary period the average human ran ten to twelve miles per day.  If you were quick and could run far you ate, if you couldn’t you didn’t.  These simple facts charted a course for our species. Our brains developed along with our bodies and so for millenia have been adapted by and for movement.  Since the beginning of the industrial revolution (an incredibly short time period in evolutionary terms) human beings have been moving less and less, this has never been more true than in our contemporary western culture.  As movement has become less central to our daily lives we have seen an increase in the rates of all sorts of negative physical and mental phenomena.  As an example, currently between 35-40% of all adult Americans are obese.  Many of these phenomena, including obesity, have reached epidemic proportions.

How The Brain Is Effected By Exercise On Multiple Levels

The work of Dr Ratey has shown that exercise affects the brain in three primary ways.  The functioning of the brains systems, from a cellular level, and in terms of stimulation new cell growth.  We will look at each in turn.  When we speak of brain systems we are speaking about things like the attention system, the brain’s ability to pay attention to a task.  The memory system which is the mechanism that determines the brain’s ability to retain and recall information, and the motivation system which determines how much motivation we feel for a task.  These are not the only systems in the brain but should give the reader a good general idea of what we mean by systems.  Dr Ratey states, every study that has ever been done on the subject shows that exercise creates increased activity in the parts of the brain that are responsible for controlling these systems.  Second exercise causes a release of neurotransmitters and neurotrophins into the brain.  These brain chemicals are responsible for cell repair, and creating an environment within the brain which inoculates our brain cells from the ravages of stress, and time.  Dr Ratey , calls this “soup” of chemicals Miracle Grow for the brain.  Just as Miracle Grow fertilizes soil to encourage plant growth so to does the soup of neurotransmitters and neurotrophins encourage brain cell repair and growth.  The newest research (and by far the most exciting to me) shows that exercise creates neurogenesis, or the birthing and growth of new brain cells.  We have the ability through exercise to not only repair our brain but to actual improve our brain.   As exciting as these findings are the most amazing conclusion of the research is this, researchers have found nothing that contributes to the repair and creation of new brain cells than exercise.  Current research shows that exercise is a more effective treatment for depression than medications.  These are just two examples of the far reaching implications of this research.  

The Results By The Numbers

Much of the research done in this area has focused on two magic numbers, 45 minutes and 75% of max heart rate.  These are the dual objectives of any program designed to create neuroregeneration.  When an individual operates for 45 minutes or more at or around 75% of their max heart rate they are able to create within themselves a brain environment which is ripe for neuroregeneration and increased levels of neuroplasticity for a period of 2-3 hours.  This means for 2-3 hours post exercise they are able to learn more effectively, and in effect rewire their brains.  With our Recover Strong program on of our primary aims is to take advantage of this time period.  We begin the day with a work out that lasts from 45 minutes to an hour.  Immediately after the work out we engage in a process group, and then into other therapies which are determined from an individual clinical level.  The emotional and stress reducing impacts of the exercise last throughout the day, which is great.  We are on a daily basis, in effect, engaged in a process of rewiring our own brains.  Combining the controlled exercise experience with more traditional therapies has enabled our patients to engage in wholesale transformations.  The results, in many cases, are so profound that they need to be seen to be believed.  As we continue to develop this one of a kind therapeutic model we are planning to include nutritional elements, and additional cognitive methods to encourage neuroregeneration.  At Granite Mountain we are not try to teach our patients new skills alone.  Rather we are engaged in a process that allows our patients to heal their own brains, and transform their lives.  

 

 

Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell
VP of Communications and Market Development


If you or somebody you love is in need of help for substance use disorder, contact us today.

Why You Should Consider Going Out Of State For Treatment

When it is time to seek help for drug and alcohol addiction there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.  The decision whether to stay close to home for treatment or to go out of state can often be seen as a minor part of the decision.  I would urge the reader to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of this decision carefully.  There are many important reasons to seek treatment away from home and some equally good reasons one may choose to stay close.   In this article we will examine these reasons in turn.  This should serve as a good guide for anyone concerned with this aspect of where to pursue treatment.  

   

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

Getting away from it all

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

First let’s examine the reasons someone may want to go out of state for treatment.  The first reason that comes to mind is that leaving home will separate an individual from environments and relationships that may be toxic  Addiction does not develop in a vacuum.  Whether its proximity to the bars one frequents or many of the relationships that have created emotional and other challenges for an individual, staying close to home can prove problematic for an addict.  If one seeks treatment geographically remote from home they have effectively removed these potential challenges, at least for a time.  This in many cases makes the commitment to recovery easier.  The distance can also help provide individuals with a different perspective on many of the relationships in their lives, helping them to make more health decisions when considering returning home post treatment.  

Proximity as a Barrier to Success

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

Next, if someone decides to go out of state for treatment it becomes much more difficult to decide to leave treatment.  If one is close to home and leave treatment he or she can just go home.  On the other hand if an individual finds themselves in another state they may have to purchase plane tickets, arrange rides, etc.  All of these barrier make the choice to leave treatment more difficult.  Once one has committed to go out of state and have arranged travel these costs are an investment that can not be recouped if they decide not to go or not to stay.  Sometimes these simple barriers are the very thing that encourages an individual to stick it out through the tough times and ultimately find recovery.  

Privacy Concerns

The third consideration is that going away for treatment gives an individual increased levels of privacy.  When staying in one’s home town for treatment it is much more likely that he or she will run into someone they know either in the community or even within the treatment program.  The individual may not be able to determine when and how they will disclose their new way of life to those they know.  These privacy worries can be a major distraction to some clients.  If an individual chooses to go out of state he or she will effectively eliminate these concerns.  

    No Distractions

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

Another consideration are the normal day to day distractions of work and family life.  There is nothing inherently wrong with work and family.  In fact for many these form the very essence of a meaningful life.  That said at the outset of the journey of recovery many find it beneficial to get away from it all so they can focus on their recovery for a time.  If one goes out of state to a brand new environment they can anticipate having far less distractions than if they stay close to home.  Having a period of time where the sole focus of one’s life is their recovery can be immensely beneficial.  

A Greater Chance for Success

All of the reasons mentioned above, and several not mentioned result in one simple fact.  The likelihood of success is greater for an individual who goes away from home for treatment.  Every time research is conducted it is found that individuals who go away for treatment have a much higher likelihood of recovering from addiction.  Recent research indicates that there is a 12-15% chance greater likelihood that an individual who goes out of state for treatment will complete their program.  When dealing with addiction and the pain and suffering it causes why wouldn’t we do everything within our power to maximize the chance for success and lasting recovery?

    Proximity to the Love of Family

Above I have enumerated many of the reasons why one would seek to go to treatment away from home.  I would be remiss if I did not include some of the very good reasons for staying close to home for treatment.  The first and most important reason, the proximity of loved ones and family.  Having family close can be a major source of support and inspiration for someone who is new in recovery.  This is of course assuming that family is safe.  Many facilities offer family programs that range from informational, and inspirational, to truly therapeutic.  If family is near they can participate in these programs with the addict.   

“In-Network” or “Out-of-Network”

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

Cost is of course an important consideration when making a treatment decision. Several insurance carriers prefer to have patients stay “in-network” when seeking treatment.  Networks are often geographically driven (especially in the case of HMO, and state funded insurance).  Staying in-network for treatment can have a profound impact on the cost of treatment.  How important this consideration is to a family is impossible to gauge from the outside and is a decision each family must make in light of their current financial realities.  

As a final thought, the decision of where to seek treatment is multifaceted, there are many important issues that must be considered.  Geographic proximity is a very important one.  I have tried to present some of the reasons for going out of state, and for staying close to home.  Every individual situation is unique and requires careful consideration before ultimately making the very important decision of where to begin the journey of recovery.  There is no one right answer for all.

If you or a loved one is considering your treatment options an would like an open and frank conversation about how to make this decision please contact us we would be happy to help.

Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell

VP of Communications & Market Development


If you or someone you love is in need of help for substance use disorder please don’t hesitate to give us a call today. We understand and we are happy to help.

“The Opposite of Addiction is Connection”

An Inability To Connect

In his Ted Talk from TEDGlobal London, Johann Hari makes the statement that, “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection.” This powerful statement is at once a message of hope to those suffering from addiction and an indictment of the way our culture has treated addicts for the last 100 years. Mr. Hari spent three years studying addiction by traveling the world speaking to individuals on all sides of the issues. What he was left with was an understanding that behind and underneath addiction of all sorts is an inability to connect, to engage in a life of purpose. While I do not agree with everything Mr Hari says during his talk, I am passionate about this idea of connection. The most common experience for any addict is a feeling of isolation and inability to connect in a meaningful way with others and the world around them.

Overcoming The Mental Challenges

In order to overcome addiction and transform our lives we need to do many things. First we need to be in a community that encourages connection and commitment. Many addicts find this community in treatment. In this safe community we can take the next step which is to address the root causes of the lack of connection. For many this will be some form of trauma they have suffered which causes their lack of connection. For others it is underlying behavioral or mental health disorders. Therapeutic measures can be utilized to great effect in both sets of circumstances. Once an individual has begun this work the next step is to find a life of purpose that they can show up for. There are as many ways to find a life of purpose as their are individuals. The challenge for many who suffer from addiction is they don’t know how to go about it.

Constantly Seek Purpose

At Granite Mountain BHC we first find purpose in the gym, and in the commitment to our peers not to quit. We build from this initial purpose by drawing parallels from our experience in the gym to the rest of our lives, and by creating meaningful connections within our Granite Mountain community. If I can meet and overcome challenges during the Recover Strong group, maybe I can push through when I’m having a bad day at work, or my relationships are difficult. Our clients are able to transform their lives through the three pillars of commitment, connection and community. At Granite Mountain they are able to experience connection with their peers, staff, and themselves. This connection is at the heart of their purpose as they strive to better themselves and the community they are a part of. After their time with us they are then able to take these three pillars back to their community of origin and continue building upon this foundation, a life of meaning and purpose.

Please take a moment to view this inspiring video, and perhaps re-conceive what you think you know about addiction.

 

Until next time,

Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell

VP of Communications and Market Development


If you or someone you love is in need of help for substance use disorder please give us a call today. We understand and we are here to help.