3 Lessons Learned Coping with A Loved One’s Addiction

Looking Back On The Trouble and Turmoil

Several years ago we had two members of our family hit their respective bottoms in rapid succession. For me, this was a brand new experience. Of course, I had put my family through the turmoil, horror, and pain of dealing with the consequences of my own alcoholism 12 years earlier.  Until I had the experience first hand of watching a family member go through their struggles with addiction, I didn’t have the empathy or compassion necessary to really understand the anguish I had caused those that loved me. For me personally, this was a very challenging time while at the same time it gave me a deeper appreciation of the pain caused by addiction to those who are bound by affection to an addict.  This has been an inspiration in my work and in my personal life. Below is a bit of that story.

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At the time I was working for a Fortune 100 company managing an office of approximately 65 salespeople and staff, I had a young family with a wife and daughter, as well as, many community and recovery based commitments. The first thing I learned during this time is that life is not put on hold so that you can better meet the challenge.  On a typical day, I would talk to 3 generations of my family about our loved one before making it to my office in the morning. I would help my Grandmother try and understand that addiction is a disease that her loved ones were suffering from and that there was nothing she could do to change that, and most importantly that it wasn’t her fault. I would try to counsel my mom on how best to set limits and support her resolve to do so regarding family. On most days I would talk to 2-3 more relatives all before attempting to get through my workday productively and show up in the evening for my family. I was often left feeling like the guy in the old Vaudeville act where he runs up and down the stage spinning plates on sticks. The minute he seems to get them all spinning one begins to wobble, so he runs down to the other side of the stage and sets the wobbler spinning again. He breathes a deep sigh only to need to sprint to the others side of the stage to catch the next plate which has begun precariously wobbling itself. The strain was causing me to start to wobble.

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Many days I found myself too emotionally drained to be productive or present. Often I had trouble falling asleep at night. I would lie in bed worried about my family, and unable to let go of the stress and strain.  I wasn’t exercising enough, and my eating habits weren’t great. In short, I wasn’t taking care of myself.

Getting The Right Help, And How It Happened

After being in long-term recovery for many years, I still found myself overwhelmed by the stress of coping with a loved one who was suffering from addiction.  I found it extremely hard to balance the demands of life during this time of crisis and transition. The great news is both my family members were able to get the help they needed.  They are both now in long-term recovery themselves and are doing great. Our family moved forward together and now are closer than ever. The experience taught me, and I’d like to share some of that with you.  Please find below a short list of lessons learned, and things I might do differently if this were to happen again.

  1. Absolutely, manage your own self-care. Take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. As much as possible get enough sleep. Exercise regularly for both the physical and psychological benefits.  Eat well. In short, do everything you can to make sure your needs are taken care of. To take care of anyone else, we must take care of ourselves.

  2. Pursue your own healing. Addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Most likely if a family member is symptomatic with addiction there is unprocessed trauma or stress within the family system.  If true, this is affecting all members of the family. We may find ourselves so preoccupied with our family members that we are unaware of the true nature of our own emotional and mental state.  Engaging in your own process of healing not only will help you personally but may also serve as an example to your loved one.

  3. Know your own limits and stand up for them.  When a loved one is in crisis, it can be easy to fall into a mode of perpetually responding to them and their behavior.  We love our family and want to take care of them, this is natural. It is important though that we try not to take on a level of responsibility within the situation that hinders our ability to carry on with our lives.  

Create a plan for how the family as a system will deal with an emergency. An excellent suggestion is to ensure that every family member has a “buddy” they can call in a crisis. This provides both that no one need handle a crisis individually and that no one individual within the family ends up inundated continuously by the crisis.

Have someone outside of your family that is unaffected by the current circumstance that you can lean on for support. Sometimes we need an objective voice, other times we need a shoulder to cry on. Identify someone in your circle that you can rely on in this way and let them know who they are. This person can become an integral level of support for you.

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I hope that these three lessons I learned can be helpful to others. My story might be inspirational to some readers that they too can weather the storm of addiction.  That there is light at the end of the tunnel.

At Granite Mountain, we are here to answer any questions or concerns.  Please contact us through our website or by phone at 844-878-3221. Reach out anytime, we are here to help.

Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob


To get help for substance use disorder today contact us today

Bouncing Forward

How Families Can Become More Resilient in the Face of Adversity

Beginning in the early 1980’s researchers began studying individual resilience. That is, an individual’s ability to withstand and recover from traumatic experiences.  Before this research, it was common to view people through a deterministic lens. The traumatic experiences he or she had survived informed and primarily determined the sort of person he or she would become.  In this view, if one were the victim of child abuse, they would go on to become a perpetrator themselves. Over time many experts recognized that this presumption was not born out in actual practice. Most who were the victims of abuse did not go on to become abusers, most people who survived great disasters natural or human-made went on to thrive in life.  This observation contradicted the established deterministic view and caused a surge of research into what is now known as human resilience. Viewed through the resilience lens an individual who has survived trauma is not regarded as “damaged” rather they are seen as having been challenged by life and as having the innate abilities to foster their healing. An entire new discipline within psychology is growing around these ideas.  

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Around the turn of this century, psychologists began looking into resilience within a family system.  This work has expanded our understanding of what constitutes a thriving family system in adverse situations.  Resilience within a family system enables the family to face and successfully respond to challenging circumstances and to grow as a family through these experiences.  The family resilience framework views each family member not only in regards to his or her capacity but also in light of his or her potential impact on the strength of the family as a functioning system.  Resilience is a skill that can be learned and refined within individuals and family systems. In this article, I will present a framework of skills and attitudes which if practiced can maximize a families ability to confront and overcome challenging crises situations, thereby assisting the family in facing their current and future challenges more successfully.  

Based on the work of Dr. Froma Walsh we will consider three broad categories of processes involved in a family resilience framework: family belief systems, organizational patterns, and communication processes.

Systems of Belief

Talking about the narratives we tell ourselves

The stories we tell ourselves about our past, our present, and our future shape what we believe about ourselves as individuals, how we approach the world around us, and what options we feel are open to us.  Similarly, the stories a family tells one another about the family and its history shape the families systems of belief. This family belief system dramatically influences how the family views their shared history, their current situation, and their possible futures.  What a family believes will be a primary determinant in how they approach times of extreme stress.

Making meaning out of adversity

Looking past crisis to see what’s going on

Whether a family views a crisis as permanent, inevitable, and insurmountable or as temporary, comprehensible, and manageable may only be a matter of the stories the family decides to tell themselves about the event.  The shared story has a profound impact on the families ability to overcome the challenge and remain a connected family unit. Experiences are just that, things that happen, the meaning we decide both individually and collectively to ascribe to the state of affairs will largely determine how we can move past them successfully.   

Successful family systems have a sense of adversity as a shared experience and share a belief in the family’s ability to overcome the challenge together.  By relying on the family system, individual family members increase their ability to meet a crisis successfully. Also, by contextualizing and normalizing the distress of the family, the individuals can see their reaction and challenges, as well as, those of other family members as reasonable in the context of the current difficulties.  The understanding of crisis within the context of the family’s evolution allows them to see challenges as meaningful, understandable, and manageable challenges rather than viewing them as incomprehensible and insurmountable. By understanding obstacles as a shared challenge, normalizing the shared adversity, and understanding crisis as an essential experience within a family’s evolution we become better able to understand the experience and move toward exploring a more robust set of options for how to manage the situation. 

Keeping A Positive Outlook

Maintaining a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook for the future can be very challenging, this is never truer than in the face of great adversity.  If a family can maintain a positive outlook, it has a tremendous impact on the family’s ability to move through trouble successfully. The highest functioning families have been found to hold more optimistic views of life in general and appear more able to maintain this point of view during times of high stress.  

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By encouraging family members in times of stress, affirming for one another the strengths inherent in the family, a family system can bolster the positive attitude needed to overcome the current challenge.  Encouragement can counter the sense of hopelessness during these times and enable family members to act with courage and perseverance in surmounting a challenge. A focus on strengths and perseverance are calling cards of resilience.  

I have seen this demonstrated in my own life.  My wife was thirty weeks pregnant with our second child at the time that her water broke, this is far too early and was an immediate medical emergency.  My wife was on total bedrest for thirty days at the hospital to forestall delivery. Throughout this period of stress, she experienced the full range of emotions, as one would imagine.   We are fortunate to live in proximity to family and many friends. Over the thirty days I watched as each visitor affirmed for my wife that she was capable, they reminded her of other experiences she had been through that were very challenging and how she had surmounted those obstacles, and always encouraged her to continue to stay strong.  When she reflects on this experience, she reports how during times of greatest despair she would recall these conversations and how they provided the strength to make it through one more day.

Additionally, my wife will recount that her commitment to only focusing on the elements of the experience that were controllable enabled her to stay focused on positive actions she could take.  The research shows this is much more than a mental trick. Having a positive mindset is not about fooling oneself about potential risks or realities of a particular circumstance. Instead, it is about dwelling in the possible.  That is, the ability to take a realistic appraisal of a situation, what are the possible outcomes, and then focusing time, energy, and effort on creating the best possible resolution for a given set of circumstances. In the case of our family it wasn’t that her positive attitude and perseverance changed the outcome of my sons birth, but these traits enabled Aimy not to give up,  Her strength, in turn, inspired the rest of our family, allowing all of us to experience both the challenge and the good of the experience. When we look back on this time now we think of it not primarily as a challenging time; rather our family story is one of love, connection, and strength. We all agree that it was one of the most important experiences we have shared and that it brought us together as a family, and to top it off we were able to add another member to our family.

 

The Importance of Transcendent Belief and Affiliation

Finding a power to propel you

Traditionally most people were able to tap into inner resilience through religious affiliation and practice.  Many people still do, for those that don’t actively participate in a spiritual tradition, it is essential to understand what the mechanisms are within these traditions that allow people to tap previously unseen strength and resilience.  Research has found that attachment to ritual tradition, connections to a congregation, and a belief structure that extends beyond one’s specific place and time are the crucial elements.

Ritual traditions have been prominent in every culture of which we are aware.  Rituals are employed to mark the significant transitions in life, moving from childhood to adulthood, partner coupling, the birth of children, death, and many others.  If not members of a tradition which includes these types of rites and rituals it can be crucial for a family to make a conscious effort to develop personal family traditions that celebrate these transitions.  Familial rituals can ease the stress associated with a change allowing members of the family to embrace significant life events instead of associating stress and negativity with these times.

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We have many sayings in common usage that illustrate the understanding that connection and community are essential elements of human life.  “It takes a village,” “strength in numbers” for example. In times of high-stress deep connections to a community provide relief from stress and other negative emotions associated with the current crisis.  We don’t feel alone and have opportunities to be involved in the lives of others taking the focus off our problems.

Religious traditions provide a framework of belief that extends beyond our circumstances and gives individuals the ability to understand their challenges within a broader context.  Being able to take this more comprehensive view helps to lessen the perceived stress of a crisis. When families are overwhelmed with crisis transcendent beliefs, and broad community connections enable them to imagine a better future, cope with stress, and encourage a full sense of their ability to move forward into the future.  These are crucial elements of resilience.

This concludes part one of this multi-part series.  In part two I will examine how our understanding of family structure, connectedness, and a families social and economic resources impact resilience within a family system.  

If we can help answer any questions or concerns please 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.


For those seeking help for substance use disorder don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.

3 Early Warning Signs of Active Addiction

Spotting the signs that your loved one could be using could help save their lives

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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)

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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

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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

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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,

Rob


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.

7 Tactics to Discuss Treatment With a Loved One

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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.

“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.

What To Expect During The Alcohol Detox Process

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

We have received many questions lately through our website, social media, and intake line related to the process of alcohol detox. As a result I thought I would write an article laying out the detox process as it relates to alcohol use disorder. I will endeavor to cover the stages of detox, the symptoms associated with each, and some tips on how to make the process easier. 

I would like to start by stating some facts which are germain to the topic.

  1. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.  Almost 90,000 people a year die of alcohol related deaths in this country

  2. 1 out of every 3 emergency room visits in the United States is related to alcohol use

  3. More than 17.6 million Americans suffer from some form of Alcohol use disorder

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

The above statistics make clear the scope and nature of the social problem that alcohol use disorder presents. It affects every community in our country, and many families. If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol use disorder know that you are not alone, and that help is available if you want it.

When an individual who has been drinking excessively decides that it is time to stop drinking it is seldom wise to undertake this process alone.  Rather it is advisable to place yourself under the care of a doctor or other medical professional.  It is perhaps because of the wide acceptance of drinking in our society that many underestimate the severity of the alcohol withdrawal process, thinking it “won’t be that bad”. Conversely the alcohol detox process can be one of the most challenging both mentally and medically speaking.  The withdrawal process from alcohol is most often characterized as having three distinct phases. They are:

  • Phase 1 typically begins from 6 hours to 24 hours after an individual last consumes alcohol.  The severity of the the symptoms during this phase will be determined by how long and how much alcohol a person has been consuming.  The typical symptoms of the first phase of withdrawal can include; nervousness, anxiety, headache, nausea, vomiting, tremors, loss of appetite, tremors, and mood swings.

The first phase of withdrawal can last for anywhere between 24 and 72 hours. 

  • Phase 2 typically sets in from 24 to 72 hours after an individual last consumed alcohol.  The typical symptoms of this phase can include; increased levels of mental confusion, irregular heart rate, difficulty breathing, muscle rigidity, increased blood pressure, and in some cases hallucinations.  It ought to be clear that this phase is potentially much more dangerous to an individual, and often requires one be under the care of trained medical staff.

  • About one out of three people enter into phase 3 of withdrawal from alcohol.  This phase is called Delirium Tremens (DT).  A person can enter DT anywhere from 3 days after cessation of drinking to as long as 2 weeks after last consuming alcohol.  This phase of withdrawal is the most dangerous and absolutely requires an individual to be in some form of inpatient treatment.  Some of the symptoms include; disorientation, dissociation, hallucination, Grand Mal seizures, and in some cases death.

If you or a loved one are considering cessation of drinking, consult with a medical professional and seek treatment. There are many medications available to help ease the symptoms of detox from alcohol, and a trained medical professional can help you to make sound decisions as to their potential to help. 

The withdrawal process from alcohol can be dangerous and the decision to undertake the process can be frightening.  However, if you or a loved one is in a position where life is becoming impossible it is important not to let the fear of detox keep you from transforming your life.  Many of us have been through it and when we look back believe it was the most important decision we have ever made.  It is my hope that this short article has answered many of the questions the reader may have regarding the process of detox.  If after reading this you still have questions or concerns please reach out to our team.  We are happy to help whether you utilize our services or not.  The most important thing to us is that you or your loved one gets the help they need.

 

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!


1. CDC, Fact Sheets: Alcohol Use and Your Health (2018), https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm.

2. Lisa Mahapatra, 1 out of 3 ER Visits Are Alcohol Related (IBT: 2013), http://www.ibtimes.com/1-out-3-er-visits-are-alcohol-related-heres-what-patients-drank-charts-1395699.

3. NCADD, Facts About Alcohol (2015), https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/alcohol/facts-about-alcohol.

Here We Grow Again

A New Year, A New Center

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!

How to Identify Opioid Abuse and Addiction in Your Household

Identifying The Issue

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

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

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

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.  

granite mountain behavioral healthcare

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.

  1. Unexplained or excessive absences from work or school

  2. Negative consequences at work or school

  3. Hyper emotional behavior

  4. Loss of interest in hobbies, activities that used to be important to the individual

  5. Withdrawal from friend and family relationships

  6. Important engagements are not attended

  7. Important commitments are not fulfilled

  8. The individual continues to use in the face of consequences

  9. Drugs , alcohol, and using behavior is a consistent topic of conversation

  10. Disrupted sleep patterns (Sleeps far more or far less than usual)

  11. Persistent financial problems (never enough money)

  12. Increased levels of secrecy about activities and lifestyle

  13. Minimization of responsibility when questioned about life circumstances

  14. Excessive itchiness of skin

  15. Persistent sniffles or runny nose

  16. Rapid weight loss

  17. Consistent defensiveness

  18. Inability to deal with normal levels of stress

  19. The individual looks paler than usual

  20. 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