The Meadows Blog

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Straight Talk from a Counselor

Addiction Treatment Addiction Treatment

By Amy Levinson, MPA, MA, LASAC, CSAT Candidate Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” –Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 500 BC

We as a community of helpers and healers have come so far in this modern era of ours. At The Meadows and Gentle Path at the Meadows, we incorporate the best and brightest evidence-based and creative practices in the fight against addiction. That is why we are consistently ranked among the top treatment facilities in the world.

The neurobiological and cognitive basis of addiction and mental health is exploding with findings that we can work with to teach that addiction is a disease of the brain, and one that is treatable. Relational trauma-based models, such as Pia Mellody’s developmental model of early childhood trauma, provide a map and language applied to explore the early primary relationship of wounded patients. At The Meadows and Gentle Path at the Meadows we deliver cognitive-behavioral, motivational interviewing, Narrative, Multicultural, Family of Origin, experiential, Solution-Focused Therapy and other modalities. Our talented counseling staff utilizes a diverse and broad range of techniques—individually tailored—which emphasize our own strengths as healers. Self-help access and 12-step work allow our patients crucial information, fellowship, support, and a framework to ‘know, grow and bond’ in the real world. These things create a reduced dependency on therapists and supports recovery outside of the four walls of a treatment center.

So why then do I get grumbly when the behavioral health field looks so bright and shiny, and our patients are maintaining recovery? When I step back and look at the society I am sending my clients back into, I feel joy in their recovery progress but fear that even though the initial battle may be over, the war has just begun.

Certainly, we send our patients out armed and prepared and with intentionality in the art of strategic combat against addiction. We teach that inherent obstacles to success lurk right outside the front door or inside on a small screen at home. Here at The Meadows, patients get breathing room from the demands of society. The beauty of the Sonoran desert allows for the development of an intimate connection with nature and enough peace and quiet to strengthen a bond with their higher power that may have been put on a shelf in the ‘real world.’

The challenge I see and feel with all my heart and mind when patients leave is the ever-present loud humming of the fictionalized narratives of our era. I see a socially constructed hyper-pitched drone in our ears in ever-increasing volume from morning until bedtime. What is this you may wonder? It is the dialogue of a society that focuses on the glorification of substances, the trumpeting of ‘mood altering’ of all kinds, and the portrayal of perfectionism in physical form. And it is the incessant focus on self-worth as a reflection of what you do, what you have, where you live, where you come from, your gender, race, orientation, and culture.

This amorphous blob that I call society gives us 24/7 mixed messaging about what we are supposed to ‘be.’ It’s in social media, on film, television, radio, the phone, in the home, on billboards, in the dentist’s office magazines, everywhere you look. It’s feeding and selling us a false illusion of desirability, turning us away from what’s important—the internal, the spirit-mind-body connection—the things we counselors work so diligently to assist patients in building a conception of and practice around.

When I tell clients that “doing nothing” is a recovery technique, and encourage them to turn off the media, get a dumb phone, don’t watch television, turn off the computer, eat organic, drop the coffee habit, slow the heck down, that’s when the shock sets in. I see in people’s eyes that fleeting thought—why bother; she wants me to go back to another century—a sense that in order to be in recovery, one must give up being a part of our era.

The truth is the structure of early recovery after treatment looks challenging, and it is. It’s about making recovery the priority, no matter what. As time goes by, and that ‘psychic change’ that Bill W talked about happens—the changing of our ‘insides’ through self-insight, and behavior change based on the concept of ‘know thy enemy; the addiction and all that supports it,’ — then it gets easier.

The great psychotherapist Irving Yalom knew that ‘instillation of hope’ is the number one therapeutic factor, so we continue to instill, instill, instill, knowing that it’s a worthwhile battle, the fight of your life, and every human is inherently worth it. As Andy Dufrane said in the movie The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things…Get busy living, or get busy dying.” As counselors, we are here to tell, show and support you on how to do this in the real world.

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Every journey begins with one step.

You can learn more about The Meadows by logging on to www.themeadows.com or calling our admissions team at 800-244-4949. For information on Gentle Path at The Meadows, please contact us at 855-333-6076 or go to www.gentlepathmeadows.com.

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