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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Trauma and Addiction

Working Towards Understanding and Empathy

Addiction is a concept that can be extremely difficult to understand, for both those in it’s grasp and those observing it’s destruction. Understanding and treating addiction can be overwhelming and complex. Oftentimes we don’t know where to begin. In my experience over the last ten years working in the mental health field, I’ve learned about the important role that trauma plays in developing addiction, whether that be to a substance or destructive behavior. As a result, I’m a firm believer that one can’t find themselves addicted without first experiencing some level of trauma.
CREATES THE PERFECT STORM”Oftentimes we view trauma as something dramatic and in your face. We conjure up images of war, death and violent assaults. But the reality is that the majority of trauma is much more insidious and understated. Having a parent who sent you the message that nothing you did was ever good enough. Never feeling like you really fit in growing up. The loss of a serious romantic relationship. I’ve heard trauma described as “anything less than nurturing”. If that is true, we have all experienced trauma at some point in our lives. And if this trauma hasn’t been processed, we are walking around with an open wound.
Trauma can be far reaching in its influence on one’s life. Trauma can impact our beliefs about ourselves, the quality of our relationships, even how our brain biology works. It can lead to feelings of low self worth, chronic hypervigilance and can result in self destructive behaviors. Addiction can be understood as an attempt to cope with the discomfort of trauma, to escape and deny the painful reality of what one has experienced, to create a false confidence when inside one is falling apart or questioning their worth. Addiction is utilized as a chemical solution to a soul problem. And trauma creates the perfect storm for desperation to feel better, any way that we can. Thus, the addiction isn’t necessarily the problem, but the attempted solution to the real problem. And if we aren’t treating the real problem, our trauma, we aren’t treating our addiction.


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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Online Addiction Treatment

I was recently introduced to a new and innovative way to combat addiction and that's with telehealth technology. What's so special and innovative about this? Well, there are many reasons, but here are five.

First, some people may not feel they are in need of or fully ready for residential treatment. They may need it, but not be willing and online treatment provides a foot in the door so that such people can begin the process of healing. Online addiction treatment may just give them a glimpse into all the work they need to do and how much professionals can help them. When this is realized, they could step up to a high level of care. 

Second, many people who graduate from a residential facility need additional help. Online addiction treatment can carry on long after residential or IOP treatments. Brighton Recovery Center's online addiction treatment program even provides different levels of treatment withing itself. This means that a recovering addict can determine how much or how little online treatment they need. Of course, this should be planned out with the advice of their therapist. 

Third, convenience. It can be difficult to find quality help in rural areas. Sometimes, even getting to a good meeting could mean an hours drive there and back. And what if you don't have a car or license? With online addiction treatment, you can participate in meetings, groups, and individual therapy without leaving your home. This adds a level of convenience that people need. It also means that you have no excuse for not showing up!

Fourth, doing things online can be more familiar and comfortable to Millennials than having to go to an office and meet in person. Because of this, anxieties that rise from meeting in person are also reduced. 


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

What are Boundaries in Recovery?

Early in the process it can be frustrating to figure out what a boundary is, how to create boundaries that will be effective, and most importantly, how to reinforce our boundaries when they are threatened or violated. Like any new skill, it may take several clumsy but well-meaning attempts before we begin to learn how to apply even the most basic principles. The important thing to remember is, as with any skill, the more we practice, the easier it gets and the more proficient we become.

A common misconception, which often goes unchallenged, relates to the idea that boundaries are meant to somehow teach a lesson to the one with the addiction. We mistakenly believe that the more harsh our consequences and the more strict our expectations, the more they will see how serious we are and “snap out of it.” It doesn’t take long to realize that, sadly, the monster which is controlling them has no interest in learning anything from us at all. Therefore, our efforts must be turned towards protecting ourselves and those in the path of their destruction.

Do not try to go about establishing boundaries in recovery on your own for the first time. Let those who specialize in this deadly disease guide you through the process until you feel comfortable enough to stand on your own.

For more on setting boundaries, check out this great resource

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Choosing Recreation Therapy

By Will Lindsay Joseph Campbell, a writer whose work covers many aspects of the human experience, has a famous quote that states, “I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life, as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” These words have been important in many aspects of my life and are a big reason why I chose Recreation Therapy as a field.

My life from a young age was filled with adventures; I started skiing with my dad at the age of 4, rock climbing at the age of 6, and spent nearly all of my childhood in the woods. These adventures taught me more about life than any other experience, things like learning how to plan ahead, the value of determination, self-reliance, an all of the other psychological skills associated with a full life of experience. I started working in the outdoor sports industry at age 14 and always found ways to teach not only the physical skills of skiing and snowboarding to others, but those same psychological and emotional skills I had learned to appreciate. My students weren’t just learning to ski, they were learning how to live. [dt_quote type="pullquote" layout="left" font_size="h2" animation="none" size="4"]Recovery is a lifestyle, not a life sentence.[/dt_quote]After I moved to college I found myself struggling with the transition into young adulthood. I grappled with the stress of paying for school, working full-time while attending classes full-time, and much more complicated social situations. I found an escape in recreation and leisure, but also found that I could apply the same lessons to my life outside of those activities. It wasn’t until I was much older and working in the mental health field that I found Recreation Therapy. Suddenly I knew what my path was in life and how I could make a difference in the world. When I started working at Brighton Recovery Center, all of my life’s experiences suddenly coalesced into a perfect recipe for the type of Recreation Therapy program I had always wanted to be a part of.

Recreation Therapy is More than Having Fun

I have always seen Recreation Therapy as capable of much more than teaching people how to have fun or simply distract themselves from life. Rather, the aim is to get participants to engage in an activity that shows them how they can face life on their terms and construct the tools to get through the tough times. Recreation Therapy is much more than just showing someone they can have fun sober; it is showing them that they can be present in their life despite the unpleasant times, and that those unpleasant times are important to growing.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Surviving the cartel and the addiction!

I recently had the honor of interviewing a brave recovering addict, who was sold to the cartel and only recently escaped. Her story was so amazing and is a testament to what a person can overcome. Now she is in recovery and has made great strides in her individual improvement and self-care. Fighting addiction is no easy matter, but it can be done, and you can win. 

You can read the full story of her capture, escape, rehab treatment, and addiction recovery here

Here are some more memorable quotes from the story:




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