When It Comes To Addiction Treatment: Stay To Closer To Home… Or Travel Out Of The Area For Treatment?
Here’s the scenario: Either yourself or a family member (or loved one) has made the COURAGEOUS decision to seek out professional treatment for their alcohol or substance abuse addiction.
Now the question becomes: Should this person seek out treatment close to home… or are there benefits to traveling out of state for treatment?
This is a question that comes up on almost every call we receive at our treatment center
There are many logical benefits to consider out-of-city (or even out-of-state) treatment centers, to include:
Experiencing a true “fresh start”
Creating distance between the person & areas where they “used”
Removing “easy access” to substances
Building new, healthy habits in a new environment
… and many more.
All of these are valid to an extent.
In addition to the “common sense” benefits listed above, there are scientific & psychology-backed theories supporting a change in one’s environment while undergoing substance abuse treatment.
Now… before I continue… 12-Step advocates (which includes myself) may be thinking: A change in environment is not the ONLY solution (or variable to consider) in long term recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse disorders.
The PERSON must undergo a profound inner change for success which is not (necessarily) ONLY accomplished by changing the environment he/she is in.
That said… let’s look at some of the psychology-based theory behind why this change of environment is (in my and other professionals’ opinion), a very good plan.
We can’t talk about any recommendations on early treatment choices without covering two primary hurdles every substance abuser grapples with in early in recovery: 1) Cravings and 2) Triggers that lead to cravings.
A craving, simply defined, is a strong (almost overpowering) urge or desire for something.
A trigger is defined as a cue… possibly a person, place, thing, could be a smell, certain lighting, tv show, or anything… that brings about a memory of something.
So let’s combine these two nuisances and look at their role in a person in early stage recovery from a substance use disorder.
The Cue Reactivity theory proposes that a craving “is viewed as a multidimensional response to a variety of stimuli paired in the past with substance intake” (Kouimtsidis, 2000, p.299). [Which is a fancy way of saying: When a person with a substance use disorder encounters something (a cue) that is attached someway (a memory) to that person’s history of using… there can be a complex response to it.]
Examples of this reaction caused by a craving can be:
A sudden, irrational, & overpowering urge to use
Obsessive thoughts about a substance or use for a period of time
Increased heart rate
Feelings of euphoria or dysphoria.
The point is: Cravings are strong & extremely complex.
In fact, in early recovery, they are one of the most common causes of relapse.
They can be so all-encompassing, they’re routinely compared to “temporary insanity”, where all logical & rational thought disappears and the person seemingly loses control of their decisions/behaviors, making unpredictable/illogical choices such as going back to substance use and risking death.
And here’s the thing: Triggers can and will happen anywhere… and in some of the most unexpected ways.
A change of environment helps to reduce/limit them, but it doesn’t prevent them completely.
Circling back to the common-sense part of this concept… people in early recovery have a better chance of long-term recovery if they are able to avoid triggers and limit cravings as much as possible while they build the necessary skills and resources to abstain from mood-altering chemicals.
So yes, it is our opinion that it’s a healthy decision to ensure the person suffering from addiction removes themselves spacially & geographically (out of town) and create enough space between them & their usual “triggers”.
A treatment center that specializes in substance use disorder treatment, which includes a reputable, clinical component can help the sufferer manage both their reaction to triggers, as well as strong cravings.
In fact, this is a vital part of a successful treatment program whose sole focus is long term recovery for the sufferer.
Finally… you simply need to ensure they enroll in a safe and reputable treatment facility’s program.
Please feel free to call us at … or email us at … with any questions you may have about substance abuse treatment.
Kouimtsidis, C. (2000). Role of craving in substance misuse. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 13(3), 299-303-299-303.
Spotting the signs that your loved one could be using could help save their lives
Addiction can be defined as self-induced changes in the neurochemistry of the brain that result in negative consequences and unhealthy behavior. Many individuals employ various methods to change their neurochemistry in healthy ways such as meditation, exercise, certain forms of therapy, and others. Most people will even engage in some activities that cause changes in neurochemistry and are neutral such as, social consumption of alcohol, social gambling,eating, and many others. It can be challenging to identify when a loved one’s behavior has progressed from health behavior into addictive behavior.
Addiction to a substance differs from social usage in important ways. First, addictive behavior results in negative consequences and unhealthy behavior. Second, addiction (when it is chemically based) is typically accompanied by increased tolerance for and dependence on a substance or substances. Further, addicts typically express feelings of being out of control running parallel with a feeling that they don’t know how to stop. It is worth noting here that in the early stages of addiction it is often the case that the addict is suffering from high acuity levels of delusion and cognitive dissonance that inhibit their ability to properly self-diagnose and take personal responsibility for their actions. Addiction is a lethal disease and the earlier it can be identified and addressed the better, as the likelihood of recovery is then increased. It is never too early to begin addressing a loved one’s behavior. Honest conversation with friends and family is indispensable.
In this article I will present three early warning signs that can help identify an addiction in a loved one. This list is not meant to be comprehensive. If you are concerned with a loved one consultation with a professional is advisable.
1. Behavioral Changes
The first category we will consider are changes in behavior. Be on the lookout for:
Increased mood swings
Increased secrecy or demands for privacy
Dramatic changes in sleep patterns or energy levels
Lying and other deceptive behaviors including stealing
Dramatic change in disposition (introvert suddenly becomes an extrovert or the opposite)
You know your loved one well. If he or she is a family member you may have lived with him or her for many years. If you notice major deviation from the behavioral norms he or she has expressed over the years this is cause for concern. There are of course many potential causes in change in behavior, that said, at the very least you owe it to your loved one to investigate the possible causes of the change and will want to begin paying closer attention. If you observe that these changes in behavior are happening in concert with the sort of changes discussed below you have cause to be very concerned.
2. Social Changes
Social changes can take many forms but it is almost always the case that they are an escalation from behavioral changes. This is not to say that one will necessarily notice the behavioral manifestations first. Yet, if you do notice social changes in your loved one this ought to be considered as a progression in severity. Examples of these are:
Absenteeism from work or school
Loss of interest in hobbies and other pursuits
Inability to meet family and social obligations
Sudden change in friend group
Over time active addiction will consume increasing amounts of an individual’s time and attention. This renders the individual unable to maintain involvement in and connection to the activities that used to provide meaning to his or her life. During this stage of active addiction the consequences of one’s actions begin to accumulate. Loss of job, poor grades, loss of friends, and others can be anticipated. Often early in this phase their will be stories and justifications the addict will express in an effort to explain the results to themselves and to others. Over time these stories will become less plausible. Often when questioned the addict will become angry and attempt to escalate the situation rather than address the issue head on.
3. Physical Changes
If your loved one’s addiction has progressed to the stage where there are obvious physical changes to their person he or she is in a serious condition which needs to be addressed immediately. Delay at this stage may prove catastrophic. Be wary if you observe any of the following:
Rapid fluctuation in weight
Skin has a grey or yellow hue
Limited responsiveness to stimulation
Persistent itchy skin, excessive scratching
Trembling in hands
Dilated or constricted pupils
“Track marks” marks left by persistent injection
Any of the three above observable categories of change are a cause for concern and should be addressed. Two or more is highly suggestive of active addiction and all three is substantially conclusive. It is never too early to begin honest dialogue if you are concerned with a loved one, and it is never too late to intervene. It is always better to overreact to these warning signs than to under-react.
While addiction is a serious and deadly disease it is treatable and many people do recover and go on to lead fulfilling lives. If you are concerned that a loved one is struggling with addiction consult with a therapeutic professional, treatment center, intervention specialist, or all three. There are many tools at your disposal in trying to help a loved one into recovery.
If you are concerned and need help please reach out to us at Granite Mountain BHC through our website or by phone at (844)878-3221 we are here to help.
Until next time
Your friend in Service,
If yourself or somebody you love is struggling with substance use disorder please call us today! We understand what you are going through and are here to help.
It can often be challenging speaking to a loved one about their substance use. In the past, when we have tried to do so we have most likely met with resistance, denial, and anger. These past experiences and the inertia of the current state of affairs can sometimes make us hesitant. We are watching our loved one slowly descend into the depths of addiction, we feel we have tried all we can to help and yet it seems to not have had an impact. In desperation we have begun investigating treatment options but now don’t know how to approach our loved one on the subject. Caught between fear, desperation, and sadness it can be hard to know how to proceed. In the following article I have attempted to compile a list of tips that can make the seeming mountain into a molehill. This list can be used as a reference point for facilitating open and honest dialog. Any one of the following will prove useful, the more of these tactics one is able to employ the more likely a positive outcome becomes.
1. An Invitation To Interrogate The Truth
Fault finding and blame are to be avoided. Instead we ought to try to invite our loved one, if possible, into a conversation that interrogates the truth and attempts tp create a shared reality.
Communication between any two people can be challenging. Argument and misunderstanding arise when we argue over reality. Effective communication takes place when two people are able to interrogate the truth of a matter. Each has a view of the truth that is filtered through their subjective experience, beliefs, emotions, and values. Neither parties view of the subject is objective, neither is wholly right. In order to create understanding we must invite our partner into a dialogue that interrogates the truth, rather than disputes it. When we are able to interrogate the truth together we have an opportunity to create a shared truth that both can agree on.
First, this should, if possible be a planned conversation. In a time of crisis it is better to have the conversation than not. That said, we should plan to have this conversation at a time when all parties involved will be relaxed, not pressured for time, and are in a good place emotionally. Also, if possible, this conversation should take place in a location that the addict is most likely to feel safe and comfortable. One can begin by saying something like the following:
“I would like to better understand how you’ve been feeling lately…”
“I have become concerned that life is not headed in a positive direction for you, how are you feeling?”
“Can you help me understand…..”
We want to stick to open ended questions that invite explanation from the other party. Avoiding blame, and other tactics that create defensiveness is imperative.
2. Utilizing Authentic, Honest Communication
When emotions are running high, hurt and misunderstanding pervade, and we are feeling raw and rundown, argument, fault finding and blame can be easy to fall into. It takes a high level of emotional intelligence and preparation to avoid these. What the situation calls for is authentic and honest communication. We are attempting to create understanding. We need to share from our side of the street. How we feel, what our experience has been, our view on the situation. As a great friend of mine once shared with me, “we need to stay within our hula hoop.” What he meant by this is that my thinking and my words need to remain focused on my personal experience of a situation while remaining open to acknowledging and validating the other parties claim to their own experience. If we imagine spinning a hula hoop around our hips, I need to be responsible for the part of the shared experience that is taking place within the space of the hula hoop. It is my responsibility to reflect this experience clearly, authentically, and with compassion.
3. Creating A Shared Truth
The point of the proceeding is to bring your family to a shared reality. Within which each party in the conversation feels heard, valued, and validated. We are working to avoid arguing over the truth, the facts of the matter. Rather we are working to create an atmosphere of authenticity, and shared truth. If we have done this (in some cases for the first time) we have begun to feel increased empathy and compassion for one another. Use this as a check on your progress. Ask yourself, what does the body language of the participants tell me? Is it open and relaxed? Closed and stressed? Is there eye contact or avoidance behavior? If you have been successful you are well on your way. If not, there are other tools which can be employed which are discussed below.
4. Speaking With Kindness And Connection
Dealing with an addict and the aftermath of their behavior can be extremely challenging. It is easy to allow the addicts behavior to affect our mental and emotional states to the point where we ourselves become withdrawn, angry, and bitter. If this happens it is important to recognize it and to address it within ourselves. We cannot help another if we are not firsts taking care of ourselves. Work to ensure that your emotional needs are being met, you are getting plenty or rest, and are taking care of yourself physically. It is important that you have an outlet to release the emotional pressure living with the addict is creating. Consulting with friends, family members whom are not directly impacted, or membership in a support group can be incredible resources for coping with the situation.
5. Help The Addict Understand The Toll Their Use Is Taking
Addiction is characterized by an inability to perceive accurately the impact one’s behavior is having on those around them. Speaking as an addict myself, I was unaware of the extent to which my choices and behavior was having on those around me. From the outside this may seem incomprehensible yet, it is true. Expressing honestly, and without blame the full scope of the impact that an addicts behavior is having on those he or she loves can be a powerful tool. It is often wise to spend some time prior to expressing this to an addict writing down one’s thoughts on the matter. This will help to ensure that the conversation can happen without rancor or blame. Simply, we want to aim at taking responsibility for our own emotional reality. Additionally, we want to be able to highlight the actual cost associated with living with an addict. For example, I often find myself speaking to mothers and fathers who have become so occupied playing the role of banker, nurse, policeman, that they no longer are able to simply be a parent to a son or daughter.
6. Understanding Leverage
Using “leverage” can be a very effective way to obtain ascent from one who needs treatment. Using leverage amounts to the removal of material support provided by the family to the addict until such time as the addict enters or successfully completes treatment. For example if the family is paying the addicts rent. The continued support of rent can be used as leverage to obtain the addicts assent to enter treatment. Removing material support from an addict can be a powerful tool to motivate a decision to enter treatment.
For many this is their first port of call when trying to help a loved one into treatment. I disagree with this approach. In my experience this sort of consequence driven communication should be used as a last resort. I believe this for several reasons.
First, addicts more than most people crave connection, utilizing leverage or other consequence models of communication inherently create opposition rather than connection. Your loved one is suffering from a brain disease that lies outside their ability to control or comprehend. He or she feels isolated, alone, and desperate. This is true whether or not he or she is able to verbalize these facts. As stated above inviting one into a conversation which shares truth, is full of honest communication, authenticity, and kindness, is to be preferred as it will inherently create connection.
Second, once a consequence is expressed it must be upheld. This has the potential to create increased hardship for the family as a whole. As it now has the dual role of dealing with the addicts behavior and with managing whatever consequences were agreed upon.
If a family elects to utilize a leverage conversation, my preferred language is as follows.
“We can not force you to go to treatment. You are a grown person and you have a right to make choices for your life. However, if you choose not to go to treatment the life you currently know, ….(a detailed explication of material support provided by the family that is at risk should be given) is over, and will not return until you go to treatment.”
7. Utilizing a Professional
Often times loved ones find an addict wholly unapproachable, or unresponsive to our pleas. In these cases it may be necessary to enlist the services of a professional. Many clinicians, therapists, and social workers can provide intervention services. Better still a professional interventionist can be utilized by the family. Interventionists are professionals who have received specialized training on how to help families facilitate these sorts of conversations and help addicts find a new life through therapeutic placement. Professional interventionists help facilitate these conversations with families multiple times a month and as a result possess a wealth of helpful experiences that can be brought to bear on your personal situation. Referral to an interventionist can be obtained from ones doctor, helping professional, or treatment centers.
Remember that the effort to help a loved one get the help they need is not always an event. Often it is a process, sometimes a long one. Be prepared that the first effort may not be a “success”. Stick with it, your loved one’s life may hang in the balance. I was taught many years ago, “no good effort goes unrewarded.” I believe this is true in life in general and in helping addicts in particular.
It is my hope that the above provides a family in crisis with a good starting point to facilitate a conversation with their loved one. It is always advisable in such situations to consult with one or more professionals. If we at Granite Mountain BHC can be helpful to you please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or through our website.
Until next time Your friend in service, Rob Campbell
If you or someone you love is in need of help for substance use disorder give us a call today at 1-844-878-3221
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 doesn’t need to be told this. We know first hand about the stigma of addiction.
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.
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 confusion, 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.
Fourteen months ago today marked a new epoch in the history of Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare. At the time we were very near the bottom. As an organization we had lost our way. This was true financially, clinically, and most importantly spiritually/morally. We had begun Granite Mountain with the pure intention of wanting to help those suffering from a disease, we understood only too well from personal experience, to a solution and a life of freedom. Over several years this intention had been subverted through a combination of personal shortcomings and the environment pervasive in the treatment industry at the time. It was at this point that the founding partners threw their hands up in desperation and looked outside the organization for a solution.
In December of 2016 the beginnings of that solution was found in the hiring of our CEO Jason Turner. Jason came to the organization with a list of demands. Not demands for himself, rather a list of principles that would become the guiding force of Granite Mountain BHC. Principles like community, connection, commitment, and transformation became the bedrock and guiding lights of Granite Mountain. We would, going forward, strictly adhere to the guiding principle of “doing the right thing for the right reason”. This simple idea would guide all future decisions both big and small.
Jason first re-imagined the therapeutic experience, with the introduction of the Recover Strong program. A one of a kind strengths based approach to the treatment of behavioral health disorders including substance use disorder. As a team we then transformed the entirety of the client experience and re-conceived the basic nature of client staff interactions. Discarding the basic assumptions of this relationship pervasive in the behavioral health field one of behavior modification and compliance. Instead we focus on accountability with kindness and confrontation with curiosity. This has revolutionized the day to day experiences of both clients and staff.
In the fall of 2017, with the therapeutic model on a firm footing and clients experiencing wholesale transformation in their lives the team knew they needed to transform the business operations and market development sides of the organization. That is when Jason and I first began speaking and how I became involved with Granite Mountain. (the full story of these organizational transformations is a story that needs to be told. It’s telling however, is beyond the scope of this article. Be on the lookout for our soon to be released video series on YouTube that chronicles this story and the full scope of our organizational transformation.)
Bringing Everything Together
These are all still works in progress. We are not where we want to be yet, but we are far closer than we were. We have many setbacks as we chart a new course for our organization and hopefully the industry as a whole. We also enjoy many sparkling successes. It is one of these successes that has motivated me to write this article for you today. When I first came on board we were operating out of an old business plaza. It had what we needed at the time, but was not a location from which we could really grow into ourselves. Our clinical team was separated by geography from our Recover Strong program, both were separated from our housing. In short it was not ideal. We have recently relocated to Prescott Valley, and as you will see from the images attached to this article, have found our home.
Our Recover Strong program is now at the literal as well as existential heart of Granite Mountain. Clients come to the center in the morning and can receive all their programing in one location. Our staff and clients can meet each day in one location and our open door policy is ever evident as clients and staff connect as fellow community members building bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime. Our new building looks as if it was purpose built for us, though it was not. For us, it is proof positive that doing the right thing for the right reason has its benefits.
We will soon be having a grand opening and hope all will attend (if you are interested in attending please message us) and share our joy and excitement as we begin a new chapter for Granite Mountain. Become a part of our community, and witness the transformation of our individual clients, staff, and our organization. It is going to be one heck of a ride!
I leave you with this thought, that was given to me by one of my mentors, “the best is yet to come”. This is true for us and for you. Until next time my friends.
Your friend in service, Rob Campbell VP of Communications & Market Development
If you would like to speak to a professional about treatment for you or your loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!
One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with any addiction is admitting or identifying when the addictive cycle has gotten a hold of an individual. This is especially true when the individual is a loved one. We all want the best for our loved ones, and hate to think of them as having a personal problem especially one they may not be able to solve on their own. This tendency to want to see the best in those we love is a very natural tendency. However when dealing with addiction it makes the identification of a potential or actual addiction issue even harder for one to spot. Simply said, we do not want to see what our senses are showing us. At extremes this can become denial of the reality in front of us. This is harmful to ourselves, our ability to function as well as not being helpful for the addict.
Breaking The Stigma Of Addiction
Added to this is the persistent nature of the cultural stigma associated with addiction. Even today some in our community view addiction as a moral failing on the part of the addict. This is an outmoded view of substance use disorder and has no clinical or medical support. If however we were taught this view of addiction it can be easy to view our loved ones as failing in some respect or as having a moral or constitutional shortcoming. If you gain no other insight from this article please believe these words, addiction is not a shortcoming it is a disease. Your loved one is suffering. If a loved one had cancer that was ravaging their body we would not look down on them as lacking the moral fiber to overcome the cancer. Rather, we would look upon them with empathy and compassion. While at the same time firmly insisting that they seek every known medical remedy for their disease. I urge every reader who has a loved one suffering from addiction to take this same point of view.
Spotting The Signs Of Opioid Addiction
As with cancer, the sooner we can identify a potential substance use disorder as it develops the easier it will be to solve the problem and help the individual to a full and speedy recovery. Unlike with cancer and other bodily diseases wherein the sufferer once diagnosed freely admits they have a problem. Substance use disorder is characterized by the seeming inability of the suffer to admit they have a problem. Due to this challenge I have undertaken in this article to list several early signs of an additive cycle. Please find below a descriptions of many of the early signs and symptoms of addiction. These should prove useful for the loved ones of anyone currently using opioids and other addictive substances.
Unexplained or excessive absences from work or school
Negative consequences at work or school
Hyper emotional behavior
Loss of interest in hobbies, activities that used to be important to the individual
Withdrawal from friend and family relationships
Important engagements are not attended
Important commitments are not fulfilled
The individual continues to use in the face of consequences
Drugs , alcohol, and using behavior is a consistent topic of conversation
Disrupted sleep patterns (Sleeps far more or far less than usual)
Increased levels of secrecy about activities and lifestyle
Minimization of responsibility when questioned about life circumstances
Excessive itchiness of skin
Persistent sniffles or runny nose
Rapid weight loss
Inability to deal with normal levels of stress
The individual looks paler than usual
Loss of control over the amount of a substance (including alcohol) consumed
The above list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible scenario. It would be impossible to create such a list as the behavior patterns of people vary. Instead it is meant to give a rough picture of the emotional, mental, and behavioral changes that can be an early sign of substance use disorder. If you are concerned that a loved one may be suffering from addiction seek a consultation with a qualified professional immediately. The old saying of, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is never more appropriate than when dealing with addiction. If in reading this article you find yourself wondering if you or someone you love has a problem please reach out to us right away. We can provide a no obligation no cost substance use disorder evaluation that may save years of heartache for your loved one and your family, and in many cases may save his or her life. We are here to help.
Your friend in service, Rob Campbell VP of Communications & Market Development