Dual Diagnosis Treatment

dual diagnosis treatment

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

What is Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis, aka co-occurring disorders, is a term used for individuals who struggle with both a mental disorder and alcohol or drug abuse. With dual diagnosis, either disorder can begin to appear first. People who struggle with a mental health condition will sometimes turn to drugs and/or alcohol as a form of self-medication. In turn, people who have an alcohol or drug dependency can worsen the effects of an underlying mental health condition.

If somebody is diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, they need to treat both conditions with each illness requiring a treatment plan of its own. If a treatment is going to be effective, the person needs to quit using alcohol or drugs. Finding the kind of integrated care necessary to overcome dual diagnosis can be challenging due to the completely different cultures of the mental health and substance recovery fields.

Symptoms of dual diagnosis are unique

The signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis will vary based on the type of mental disorder that is diagnosed and the drug of choice that accompanies it. To help you better understand, let’s say you know somebody who is struggling with alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder, the symptoms here will be different than those of an individual who is struggling with a heroin addiction and depression. The one thing that most dual diagnosis patients have in common is that they find it incredibly difficult to cope with their disorders and function on a day-to-day basis. Most often people with dual diagnosis struggle with:

  • Unemployment or an inability to maintain a job
  • Poverty
  • Maintaining a functional relationship
  • Chronic health complications
  • Legal issues
  • Mood swings and uncontrollable emotions

If you didn’t already know, your loved one’s personal struggles will make it nearly impossible to depend on them. They may have episodes during family gatherings, be unable to take care of themselves and hinder their family’s ability to live a normal life. When the drug problems and emotional issues of your loved one begin to affect other people in the family, it is time to seek out treatment.


How to Treat Dual Diagnosis?

Integrated intervention is one of the best ways to treat dual diagnosis effectively. Integrated intervention is when an individual is treated for both their mental illness and drug addiction. In the 1990’s, patients were refused to be treated for their mental illness until they were able to conquer their drinking problem. This way of thinking is outdated to say the least, and doctors know that to cure a patient, effectively, both issues need to be addressed.

You and your treatment provider should work together so you both understand how each condition affects the other and how to make the treatment as effective as possible. Everyone will need their own unique treatment plan, but here are some common methods used today:

Detoxification – Detox is one of the first major hurdles for somebody with dual diagnosis. As you might expect, inpatient detox is typically more effective than outpatient as far as safety and sobriety. When a patient goes the route of inpatient detox, they are monitored at all times by a trained staff member; this can last for up to seven days. In some cases, the staff member will attempt to wean a person off the substance by administering tapering amounts to lessen the impact of withdrawal.

Inpatient Rehab – Inpatient rehabilitation is often the best treatment for somebody experiencing a mental disorder and showing patterns of drug dependency. With inpatient rehabilitation, they can receive medical and mental health care around the clock. A good treatment center will provide medication, support and therapy to help treat an individual suffering from dual diagnosis.  Intensive Outpatient Programs can also be a very effective treatment for addiction.  Thrive Treatment℠ is a IOP program with great ratings.

Sober Living – Essentially the same thing as a group home or sober house, a residential treatment center whose main objective is to help the newly sober avoid relapse. Since these homes are often not run by a licensed professional, the level of quality care will vary. Many of these homes have been criticized, so do your research before you choose one.  The Last House is a great example of a highly reviewed sober living that works.

Psychotherapy – This can be a big part of treating a dual diagnosis patient effectively. More specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy teaches people how to cope with and alter ineffective thinking patterns.

Self-help & Support Groups – The feeling of dual diagnosis is one that is challenging and isolating. In support groups, members can share frustrations and celebrate achievements. People with dual diagnosis can find others with the same affliction and receive referrals for specialists as well as recovery tips from peers. In a support group, everybody has the same goal: to get better. This kind of setting will provide individuals with a clean space that can support the growth of healthy relationships.

Receiving the treatment you or your loved one needs to cope with dual diagnosis can be difficult. Most rehabilitation facilities work with a variety of addictive behaviors, but don’t usually provide the necessary treatment for the underlying mental disorders. Traditionally, substance abuse and mental disorders have always been treated separately. Recently, addiction experts noticed the importance of integrating the treatment of substance abuse and mental disorders to form a single recovery program. The treatment of dual diagnosis should be its own discipline, combining components of substance abuse treatment with the best practices in psychiatric care.

If one of the two dual diagnosis disorders is left untreated, both will usually get worse. The combination of two separate disorders can lead to a poor response to treatments and an increased risk of other serious medical complications.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dual diagnosis, they’re not alone. Based on a national survey on drug use and health, more than eight-million people in the U.S. alone suffer from mental disorder and substance abuse simultaneously. Admitting that there is a problem is the first and most important step towards recovery. The next step is to get you or your loved one the quality care they need to get better.

Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

It is very common for those who struggle with substance abuse to also struggle with an additional mental illness or disorder. One of the more common dual diagnoses with Substance Abuse is Bipolar Disorder.  More than half of those seeking treatment for Bipolar Disorder are also in treatment for substance abuse.

It’s important to understand Bipolar Disorder, identify it and treat it affectively. Of course, life is full of ups and down and part of being human is experiencing a range of emotions. However, Bipolar Disorder (a.k.a Manic Depressive Disorder) is characterized by extreme and unusual shifts in mood, emotion, and productiveness.

Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder about 3 percent of the U.S. population have. This mental illness usually surfaces in adolescence and in early adulthood and is a lifelong illness. Similar to substance abuse treatment, Bipolar Disorder must be carefully treated and supported throughout a person’s life.

Diagnosing someone with Bipolar Disorder can be complicated. Many times, people will be diagnosed with something like Depression before getting properly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This delay in diagnosis can postpone or prevent treatment.

Studies show that about 60% of those with Bipolar Disorder will abuse drugs or alcohol. If Substance Abuse goes untreated, it makes the road to recovery from Bipolar nearly impossible. When someone abuses drugs and/or alcohol, it affects mood and behavior which can also mimic symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. This is why detoxing from substances is an imperative piece in the beginning stages of treatment.

Thrive Treatment℠ Center understands how crucial it is to provide a safe and superlative detox in order for treatment to be successful and long term. Once someone with substance abuse has fully detoxed, highly qualified psychiatrists and therapists can accurately diagnose patients.

The following characteristics could be symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and or Substance Abuse:

Sudden mood change.

Periods of unusual personality change like hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.

Significantly decreased need for sleep.

Racing speech, flight of ideas, impulsiveness.

Poor financial choices.

Difficulty sleeping; early-morning awakening

There are many other symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse.

Having a Dual Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse can make treatment more difficult. In order to provide ample treatment, substance abuse treatment should occur at the same time as Bipolar Disorder treatment and in the same program.

Some of the treatment plans offered include medications and different forms of therapy. The most successful therapy modalities used are Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy and Trauma Therapies.

Recovering from Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse is very possible and treatment is effective! Thrive Treatment℠ Centers are a great place to recover and staff can guide clients to the road of recovery from Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse.

bipolar disorder and substance abuse

Anger Management in Recovery

anger management

Anger Management

by Claire Godden

“I don’t need anger management. I need everyone else to stop pissing me off”

The topic of Anger Management during recovery must not be overlooked. An addict may be using substances to control or mask anger or to numb feelings in general. But numbing and, therefore, avoiding the feeling means you will never break the cycle of anger, reactive outburst, negative consequence and subsequent fallout. Anger unchecked will destroy your relationships and your health. Handled constructively however, you can build your sense of self-worth and greatly improve relationships with others. Anger is a normal, healthy, human emotion and you absolutely can learn to manage it. The reality is that your reaction to events around you is yours and your alone.

Results of Anger

Why should you control your anger anyway? Shouldn’t you be free to express yourself?

Outbursts of anger will lead to others fearing and avoiding you. You could permanently lose important relationships or even your job. All of this in turn can lead to guilt and anxiety, both of which can lead to, or worsen, depression. Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, headaches, and fatigue can also occur. Anger weakens your immune system. Even worse, you are putting yourself at higher risk for a stroke and heart disease.

“He who angers you conquers you” – Elizabeth Kenny

So, where to start? First, learn what triggers your anger

Anger exists because of frustration, pain, or fear. You may also be turning anger at yourself outward and blaming everyone else for things that don’t go your way. You’re frustrated because you procrastinated about job-seeking or writing an essay for college. Someone is not listening to you or doing things the way you would like them to. Your computer won’t work properly and you can’t figure out why. You feel that someone has disrespected you. You are afraid someone is deserting you or cheating on you. You’re sick and tired of your co-worker’s attitude. Your parents are asking you to do things you don’t want to do. The list can go on and on. It may take you time to practice not reacting the way you always have to situations you don’t like, but it can be done.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is about being aware of your own emotions and learning to regulate those emotions and your behavior. It is also about practicing helping others regulate their behavior and being able to read and interpret others’ emotions. EI also looks at awareness of how different social interactions affect you and how you affect the mood of any social interaction whether individual or group. You can build your emotional intelligence by paying close attention to people’s verbal responses, body language and mood when you are around them. Learn to really listen to the other person and don’t interrupt. Listen without judgement. Put yourself in their shoes and be empathetic by tuning into the other person’s feelings, thoughts and attitudes. Practice being humble. You don’t need to seek accolades for a job well done or brag about it to others. Practice being quietly confident in whatever you have achieved. The results will speak for themselves in time. Increasing your emotional intelligence will help you achieve a calmer, less frustrated existence.

Alternatives to anger and things you can do to be more calm in general

It is possible to deal with anger in a constructive way. You do not need to deny that people or situations make you angry. Acknowledging that they do so but quickly stopping that urge to react immediately is key to anger management.

*Replay an incident in your mind where your anger was out of control. Think about the effects of your emotions on the other person or people and think about how you could have handled it differently. If you re-write the script with constructive action or a calmer reaction on your part, how does it change the other person’s responses? How does it change the aftermath? Do this regularly later on in the day after an angry outburst and you will train yourself to react less aggressively and more logically.

*Take up a hobby that induces calm and that you can practice regularly. Art, writing, yoga, music, gardening, cooking, reading, You may find that you can go to this calm place in your mind when you feel angry outbursts coming on.

*Exercise. If you don’t currently exercise, start with something you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. Maybe just walking the dog at a good pace or jogging around the block. Exercise relieves stress and anything is better than nothing. If you make your goal unattainable, you will likely cause more frustration when you find that you cannot keep it up. Twenty minutes walking the dog is 20 minutes that you weren’t sitting watching TV or fuming over something that happened that day.

*Sleep. We all know that getting enough sleep is good for us. Make sure your room is dark with no distracting lights and no TV on all night. Trying reading before you sleep but not on electronic devices as the light promotes wakefulness making the brain think it’s daytime. Try to keep a regular bedtime, too.

*Avoid certain people if necessary. Avoidance doesn’t work for the long-term, of course, but you may find it helpful to avoid certain people while you are practicing managing your anger.

*Don’t expect things to change overnight. Just as it took you time to learn to react this way, it can take time to unlearn and re-learn.

*Thinking more positively in general. Try to be more aware of your thoughts in general. Do you find your self-talk to be on the negative side? Do you think the worst of people. Is everyone out to get you? Turning around those thoughts that don’t necessarily lead to angry outbursts can instill a steady sense of well-being and can help reduce your feelings of hostility to others in general.

As you reduce and eventually stop having angry outbursts, you will find that you earn more respect from others, develop a stronger sense of self-worth, and feel better physically. You will project calm, control, and confidence to those you interact with.

“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist” – Indira Gandhi

anger management

Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse

Experiencing anxiety in life is inevitable. But it’s not all bad. Anxiety is a survival skill. In fact, anxiety played an important role in ancient humans. Thousands of years ago, when Homo Sapiens inhabited the earth, anxiety was used when taking action during immediate danger and problems. For example, a lion may appear in the plains and anxiety would be used to run and find safety.

Today, anxiety is still used as a tool. It can help motivate you to accomplish your assignments, to work hard, and to be cautious in various environments.

However, anxiety and anxiety disorder are different things. Anxiety disorder involves excessive worrying and fears that are intense, may last for long periods of time, and is impairing to areas of life.

Although there are different types of anxiety disorders with specific symptoms, they all have these same general symptoms, which include panic, fear or uneasiness, sleeping difficulties, difficulty staying still, cold, sweaty and numb extremities, trouble breathing, heart murmurs, stomach discomfort, muscle tension and dizziness.

There isn’t one initial cause for anxiety disorder. In reality, it’s more of a combination of biological dispositions/ genetic makeup and trauma/ environmental stress.

The five major types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social phobia. Although these mental illnesses are similar and all fall under the anxiety disorder umbrella, they do have differences in treatments and symptoms.

Although anxiety disorder can affect anyone, women and non-Hispanic whites are more likely to experience this mental illness.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. but less than 43% actually seek treatment. There are many reasons as to why people with anxiety disorder do not seek treatment. For example, mental health stigma can contribute to not seeking treatment out of shame or embarrassment. Another reason being that many people with anxiety disorder may lack insight, awareness or the tools to seek treatment.

anxiety disorder and substance abuse

It’s not uncommon for those with substance abuse problems to also suffer from one or more psychiatric disorders, like anxiety disorder. Many studies show that those diagnosed with either substance abuse or anxiety disorder are at an increased risk for developing the other. Both illnesses work together to exacerbate the illnesses symptoms.

Fortunately, anxiety disorder and substance abuse is treatable with psychotherapy, medication, mindfulness and overall health!

I’ve personally struggled with anxiety disorder and substance abuse since before I can remember. It wasn’t until I began treatment for an eating disorder ten years ago, that I realized how long I had been struggling and how I didn’t see it because it was my norm. This made me realize how possible it is for those with anxiety disorder to go their whole lives without seeking treatment, even if they experience impairments.

It was terrifying seeking treatment for many reasons. For one, I was young and not many people my age around me were openly struggling with addiction and mental illness. Two, my family and the culture I grew up in reinforced a mental health stigma, making it shameful for me to be vulnerable and ask for help. Three, treatment is expensive. By the time I was nineteen, I was working three jobs to help pay for individual therapy, eating disorder anonymous meetings, nutritionists, group therapy, etc. Although, I had barriers to recovery, I did have enough support and privilege to keep me going.

Along my recovery I was diagnosed with OCD, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Once I began taking medication, educating myself more on these illnesses, exercising, while still going to various forms of therapy, I felt my recovery reached a new level of redemption.

I still struggle and still have anxiety disorder symptoms and still have eating disorder tendencies, but my recovery is the most important thing to me and being on this path feels so much more cathartic and meaningful than being imprisoned by unhealthy habits.

Thrive Treatment℠s Intensive Outpatient programs can make it possible for you to succeed, no matter what barriers may be present. They have a strong emphasis on affordable recovery because everyone deserves to recover and to receive the upmost care. At Thrive, staff work to empower individuals to become their own recovery advocates and give you the tools necessary build a successful and personalized road to recovery.

road to recovery

ADHD in Recovery

Managing ADHD in Recovery

ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is one of the numerous psychiatric disorders I have encountered. Through these encounters I have seen the impact that this disorder has on someone’s mental well being and those around them.

Managing ADHD is hard enough on its own and throwing recovery into the mix can be a lot to handle.

Whether you have ADHD in recovery, struggle with ADHD alone or perhaps you know someone seeking sobriety with ADHD, it’s important to understand what this disorder is and how it impacts individuals and loved ones.

ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders and is described as difficulty with sitting still, trouble focusing, being messy and disorganized, being easily distracted or forgetful, and being impulsive.

The impacts alone of ADHD are significant in those diagnosed and those around them. ADHD can negatively affect education, employment, relationships, finances and quality of life. Likewise, addiction and substance abuse can negatively affect those same areas.

Many times those with addictions also struggle with mental disorders like ADHD and there is an additional risk for substance abuse in someone diagnosed with ADHD. There are various reasons that those with ADHD are more susceptible to addiction, one of them being that people with ADHD become hooked on other substances as a means of coping with the symptoms that ADHD present.adhd in recovery

It can be hard to manage ADHD symptoms and recover at the same time. However, Thrive Treatment℠ Center has expert staff that provide treatment for dual diagnoses. At Thrive, experts focus on treatment of both addiction and ADHD simultaneously. The treatment programs focus on modifying destructive thoughts and behaviors with therapies like DBT and CBT, building self esteem and motivation through trauma-focused therapy, controlling symptoms and identifying triggers with Mindfulness modalities and educating loved ones through family therapy.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and ADHD, please call Thrive for help and for additional resources.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”– Nelson Mandela

Chronic Relapse

chronic relapse

Chronic Relapse

Author: Claire Godden

Addiction in itself is a chronic brain disease and anyone who is attempting sobriety is at risk for relapse. But what makes some of us stay in recovery while others relapse over and over again? The cycle that is chronic relapse happens for a variety of reasons and can mean that the underlying causes of addiction have either not been fully addressed or treatment needs repeating in order to work properly.

Recovery is a lifelong commitment and relapse is a common and expected part of the process for some. It’s important to remember that chronic relapse does not mean that time in treatment has been wasted. It does not mean that the addict is a failure. It just means that treatments must be repeated or modified in some way to better focus on the triggers that keep leading to relapse.

Reasons for chronic relapse are often the same ones that led the person to addiction in the first place. Issues such as stress, anxiety, boredom, depression, traumatic experiences, and co-occurring mental health disorders must be addressed fully for the individual to have a solid chance at long-term recovery. Chronic relapse is also seen more often when there is a higher level of dependence on the drug and when withdrawal symptoms are worse.

Addiction treatment must also be a two-way street. The more you fully engage in the various therapies and work hard to follow your prescribed plan of action, the better chance you have of staying sober. Clients must stay in treatment as recommended by their team of therapists. Failure to stay in the program for the duration leads to a greatly increased risk of relapse. Also, if you are not honest with yourself or with your therapist, important factors that lead to the initial addiction and now the relapse, will be left untreated.

In order to brave the world without the use of drugs or alcohol, new life and coping skills should have been acquired during treatment. A good treatment program will help the individual gain valuable tools for dealing with the things that drugs previously allowed them to avoid. Patience, hope and belief that it can be done are key when you are learning how to live every hour of every day in a new way. Home and work life, social life, and relationships with family and friends must all be addressed and assessed. Reactive behaviors have to be recognized and managed and new, constructive, hobbies and pastimes may be introduced or reignited. Substance use and abuse has been part of your everyday life and to suddenly stop, means you must consistently replace the destructive activities with others that are positive and productive.

There are signs one can watch for that indicate relapse may be on the horizon. Some of these signs are feeling more depressed or anxious, having trouble sleeping, beginning to avoid people, and no longer actively working to stay healthy and engaged in life. If you feel you are heading for a relapse, reach out to your support system whether it’s a trusted family member, your sponsor or your therapist. If cravings are imminent, remove yourself from the people or from the place that is triggering the cravings and make yourself wait it out. Some say 10 – 15 minutes is enough for cravings to go away. Others will say it could take 1 – 2 hours for them to subside. When you begin to recognize that you may relapse, you must think about the behaviors that got you into treatment in the first place. You must look at everything you’ve gained while sober. If you “slip” – an unintended one-time use of a drug or alcohol – you can see it as disastrous and fall back into full-blown addiction because of the guilt and shame of it all or you can view it as a powerful learning opportunity.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be incredibly helpful throughout the entire recovery process and is used to combat negative and distorted thoughts. It can be particularly useful if you slip and begin, for example, thinking about how you “failed” and about what you should or shouldn’t have done to avoid it. This negative thinking will only keep you in that moment replaying your mistake in your mind. You cannot move forward and learn from what you did if you don’t change your thinking. You must look at and analyze what you did it to learn from it but then also look at all you have achieved so far during treatment and all the good things that have happened while you have been sober. Focusing on the positive and the gains you have made is far more beneficial to you than sinking into despair when you experience a slip in your sobriety.

Some key factors to sustaining sobriety and preventing chronic relapse are:

• Support – from your sponsor and other positive peers, family or friends – particularly in the early stages of recovery.
• Hope and belief – the brain can adapt and re-adapt but you have to allow plenty of time for it to do so.
• Learning and maintaining new strategies for everyday life.
• Learning and maintaining new strategies for what to do and how to cope when the unexpected happens.
• Staying motivated – again, support from another person or group may be particularly helpful here.
• Continuing therapy for the addiction and/or continuing other treatments for any
co-occurring disorders.
• Staying fit and healthy – looking and feeling good lifts our mood.
• Avoidance of certain people and situations/places.
• Getting organized and keeping busy – fill your life with healthy activities and hobbies.
• Not getting too comfortable with your recovery status – just like driving, stay alert to the dangers.
• Staying connected – stay in regular contact, including regular face-to-face contact where possible, with people who are committed to supporting you long-term and who are positive influences.

One of our primary therapists here at Thrive Treatment℠, Samantha Levy, says that connections and community are what keep us healthy and whole human beings. She says relapse happens when we slip away from ourselves, from our program, from our people. It happens when we stop talking about what’s not working and stop doing what is. Samantha says you cannot get and stay sober unless you have the will and the want. Fear gets in the way of us believing in ourselves, in something better. It’s easy to stay where we are and in what we know. It’s challenging to take a leap into something new and strange. It is 100% scary. If you stick through it, the bad stuff ends and you will find that there is light on the on the other side. You just have to keep going. She says that sometimes we don’t hold on long enough and that’s where relapse happens – before we’ve had the opportunity to see the light. Time can lead us into a false sense of security where we forget the bad things

Our Clinical Director, David Pavia, says this about chronic relapse:
I don’t think there are any shortcuts in life or sobriety. Confronting yourself is the key. Being willing to be accountable to others is also a big factor. Living in an environment that demands that is a great start. The hardest thing to figure out is whether you will be able to get that out of meetings and sponsor commitments alone or if you need more structure and peer accountability. Individual and group therapy is also a very good idea and all of these things work best together for many reasons. Twelve-step groups, sponsorship, psychotherapy, sober living. are all best done early on in sobriety if you want to give yourself the best chance at staying sober and reaching your best self.

Above all, stay optimistic and hopeful.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mindfulness and Yoga in Recovery

The importance of mindfulness and yoga in recovery

I may be biased, but I believe two of the most important tools in the process of recovery are mindfulness and yoga. What better way to slow down the insanity of our more fast-paced-racing-thoughts kind of minds than by listening to the sound of our breath, flexing our mental and physical muscles and increasing our awareness and focus on the present moment.

Here are just a few of the many reasons why I believe that mindfulness and yoga are essential components of recovery:

Responding vs. Reacting: When we take time to meditate, or to mindfully move through a yoga practice, we are giving ourselves the pleasure of pausing, slowing down, dropping in. How often do you find yourself doing this each day? You don’t have to be an addict to understand the crazy nature of living life on autopilot and at times, being a prisoner to impulsive thinking. Mindfulness and yoga invite us to observe and be, rather than react and do. Furthermore, the practice of ujjayi (“victorious breath”) breathing in yoga can help us move from our sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) to our parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”). Living more in the rest and digest state lowers cortisol, the stress hormone, and has great medical and psychological benefits.

 Greater amounts of Gaba: Gaba is a feel good neurotransmitter in the brain, that reduces anxiety and depression. Lower levels of gaba (gama-aminobutyric acid) can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression. As noted in this Boston University study, the practice of asana, the yoga postures, can help to increase the amounts of gaba in our brain, resulting in a decrease in anxiety and depression. Mindfulness and yoga offer us an organic path to a lightness of being.

 Quiets down your inner critic: Have you ever tried to balance on one leg, listen to the quality of your breath and engage in self-defeating dialogue at the same time? Not impossible, but incredibly challenging. Yoga gives us the opportunity to focus our attention on exactly what we are doing in the here and now, leaving little space for the “shit talker” that often times takes up way too much space inside our head. Partnering mindfulness and yoga with coping skills like positive self-talk and affirmations are fundamental elements of recovery.

In fact, if you take a closer look, there are quite a few parallels between the practice of yoga and the process of recovery: both require that we remain grounded. There is no space for comparison or competition. Patience is essential.  Stretching outside our comfort zone is key. Playfulness and laughter are encouraged. Finding the right balance can be tricky—support is necessary. And of course, we must always, always remember to breathe.

-submitted by Samantha Levy MFT

A New Definition

As I thought about what to write for my first official Thrive Blog post I pondered what is the core of what we do and why? Every time a client arrives I ask them the question “Why are you here, and what do you want”?  Asking myself the same question, I answer, I am here because I have had a life changing experience with my own path of recovery and I want to be a part of someone else’s journey. What do I want? I want you to enjoy this blog post…. Hey, if I ask my clients to be rigorously honest, I have to be too right? What do I also want? I want the people that walk through our doors to have the hope that they don’t have to live the life they were living before they got to us. Often, they show up with the narrative that they are “bad people who are doomed to live a sad life “ They think, they have tried to change before and failed, they will probably fail this time too. They think, their addiction is their identity, and they can’t possibly live without drugs and alcohol. They think they have a better idea. I thought the same thing about myself at one point, so I am honored to be here to show them they can have recovery, mended relationships, and love themselves.

Whether a client shows up because they themselves are desperate to get help or a parent/the law is making them doesn’t exactly matter to me. (Even though it sure is nice when they want to be there!) I believe that each human being, addict or not wants to love and be loved. I don’t know where in our time line these wires get crossed, but if we take the beautiful invitation to heal, everyone can with action and willingness. When I ask anyone what they want, I’ve never heard “I want to be homeless, my family to be disappointed in me, be in a prison of my mind and a slave to substance abuse” So how does this happen? How do we give in to these dark behaviors and lose ourselves? As a family or non-addict member of society you think, how could someone do this? Can’t they just stop? What is wrong with them? There are a bunch of answers and reasons “Why”. We could simply say Addiction, mental illness, the lack of spirituality or community. There are many theories and definitions.  There is no perfect recipe as to what makes someone become an addict but once you know you are one, there is a solution! We can live on the merry go round of why forever or we can be in acceptance and take action.

Someone can approach us offering 1 billion dollars to get back yesterday, and that would be impossible. Yet, we can be consumed with self-pity and the thought if I only didn’t do “that”, then it would be okay. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is “We do the best we can, till we know better, than we do better”.  When you arrive in treatment- guess what! You are trying to do better, whether you want to be there or not, you’re sitting across from me. A lot of the time, they don’t see that. They carry shame with the fact that they are there and judge themselves for being an addict. The stigma of a using addict is quite grim. They are often held up to the standard of being, liars, cheats and people that just can’t cope. Which is usually a deserved definition from the wreckage we create. With that being the definition who the hell would wanna be an addict?

I have a different definition that is also true. To me an addict in recovery is the most courageous, beautiful, authentic kind of person. They are forced to get to the bottom of their souls, get help and have the possibility of completely doing a 180, recovering whom they really are.  With connection, support and hard work they transform. With this new bright light within they help each other asking for nothing in return. To feel the pain and self-hatred of addiction to the shift of perception of gratitude is by far the most profound experience I have ever had. There is a path to recovery that works. I never thought in a million years I would like myself let alone love myself. Can you write yourself a love letter? If your head is telling you to not reach out and connect, can you anyway? To me this is the answer. Whatever you think people won’t understand, they will. If you think you are the only one, you’re not. I believe inside of us there is a hero and villain. If our lives were a movie, what kind of movie would we want to watch? Don’t we want to see a hero prevail and overcome their battle? Each day we have that choice. Even if someone is acting out, believing the voices in their head that says they aren’t enough, and it won’t ever work out, the hero holds on. The delusion created, the stories we tell ourselves are just that. If we show up, there is a chance to not only a higher level of consciousness but also the infinite possibilities that this human experience has to offer to us.

Recovery isn’t guaranteed. It is precious and ever changing. There are ebbs and flows. It is in the low, darkest hour of our minds that if we just stay, get honest, ask for help, I know we got a shot. Everyone. There is no lost cause. One of my favorite little saying is: I for illness, WE for Wellness.  Together we can heal the root, create a new narrative, shift our perception, and live a life we never thought we could.

Elissa Rosenthal

Program Director

Thrive Treatment℠