The Meadows Blog

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, was recently mentioned is an interesting article in the Contra Costa Times. The article was a review of a conference at UCLA where Dr. van der Kolk presented. Dr. van der Kolk discussed what trauma is "doing to America's youth." The writer described this conference focusing on trauma and brain science as "fascinating." To read this article, go to:

Friday, 01 April 2011 20:00

Celebrity Addiction – Part 2

(This is part two of a two part blog post. If you would like to read part one please go here: Celebrity Addiction Part 1)

This raises the question: Has the media gone too far? Since television and movies became mainstream in America, teens have tried to emulate the speech, dress, and behavior of their favorite celebrities. And now, scientists have even found a correlation between celebrity worship and depression/anxiety. Does depression lead to addiction, or does addiction lead to depression? Or does it matter? The bottom line: A generation of teenagers feels entitled to become famous. For what they will become famous has become irrelevant. Teens believe that becoming famous is a cure-all for all of life's challenges. Our society is raising a generation of narcissists whose only sense of self rises around entitlement and fame. Healthy relationships will be replaced with illusory relationships that lack intimacy and real connection. Teens will continue to seek temporary relief in substance abuse and celebrity worship to ward off the pain that normal adolescence brings. This practice of "numbing" is dangerous and will result in a generation that is unable to function in the real world.

Another difficulty many adolescents face today is eating disorders. Television, Hollywood, magazines, the Internet, and the fashion industry portray slender women much more often than women with normal body types. Children and teens then develop distorted images of what a body should be. Once these idolized perceptions are accepted as truth, thought distortions may develop, which can lead adolescents to self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, self-injury, and excessive exercise.

How can we prevent our teens from idolizing tragic celebrity figures of fantasy and deception? How can we reduce substance abuse and eating disorders among teens? Self-esteem is a major buzzword. Low self-esteem can increase the odds that a teen will look to numb or suppress discomfort, frustration, or pain. When a child is comfortable in his own skin, he can reach inward for well-being and strength rather than relying on outside sources to dull the senses. Having an open dialogue with your teens, without judgment or criticism, allows them to feel more comfortable discussing substance abuse, peer pressure, and sex. They will feel heard and understood, which will allow them to trust you with their deepest and darkest demons. Otherwise, they may look for validation elsewhere, joining groups or gangs where drugs and alcohol are the norm.

Another solution to this growing epidemic might be getting to know our neighbors. Creating deeper bonds within our own circles might alleviate the need to search for outside validation.

There are numerous causes of addiction, such as trauma, a genetic predisposition, peer pressure, a divorce, or a significant loss in one's family. Celebrity addiction is not as dangerous as drug or alcohol addiction, but it is another way that teens avoid what is really going on in life. It can prevent or delay teens from forming identities; rather, they opt to emulate a false self based on a favorite idol. Such a teen will never develop a true core self. If your teen shows warning signs, such as isolation, eating changes, depression, excessive sleep, or new acting-out behaviors, seek professional help. It could be a sign of addiction or an eating disorder. A professional can assess if there is a serious problem.

We all want to be loved for who we are, not for who we wish we could be. Being aware of the signs of celebrity addiction is a proactive way to curb negative behaviors before permanent damage occurs.

For the 7th year, The Meadows is pleased to co-sponsor the Annual International Trauma Conference - Psychological Trauma: Neuroscience, Attachment, and Therapeutic Interventions. This groundbreaking conference will be held in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 to Saturday, May 21, 2011. This conference brings together leaders in the field of trauma to examine cutting-edge treatment interventions for various trauma-based symptoms. For more information or to register for the 22nd Annual International Trauma Conference go to:

Sunday, 27 March 2011 20:00

Introducing Michael Cooter, MSSW, LCSW

The Meadows is pleased to introduce Michael Cooter, MSSW, LCSW, as its new Coordinator of Counseling Services. Michael has extensive experience working in the fields of addiction and trauma. He served as a primary, workshop, and weekend/evening counselor from 2002 to 2006 at The Meadows. He also co-facilitated PIT training with Pia Mellody. After leaving The Meadows, he had the opportunity to work for a Department of Defense contractor; while treating PTSD in active duty members of our armed forces, he used The Meadows' Model as a framework. Michael also has worked with individuals and families in his private practice in Phoenix.

Note from Michael:

I am very excited to be returning to The Meadows as Coordinator of Counseling Services. I have a strong belief in The Meadows' program and its efficacy in helping people heal their wounds. I believe that developmental immaturity drives all addictions and compulsive behaviors. It is with great pleasure that I do this work every day with a skilled team of clinicians.

As Coordinator of Counseling Services, I have the opportunity to work with primary and family counselors, as well as directly with patients. Another key component of my position is to ensure communication with referring professionals. As a prior referent of The Meadows, I am well-aware of the importance of thorough communication between counseling staff and referent.

Friday, 25 March 2011 20:00

Celebrity Addiction, Part 1

(This is part one of two parts)

A frantic mother tells her therapist that her 15-year-old daughter has quit the cheerleading squad, no longer dreams of going to college to become a lawyer, and has replaced her childhood friends with friends Mom has never met. Her daughter has been isolating, reading the latest celebrity gossip magazines, and becoming more rebellious at home. Clearly her daughter is pulling away, which can be a hallmark of addiction or depression - or simply an adolescent trying to form an identity.

When you think of addiction, you think of drugs, alcohol, or even an eating disorder. The newest addiction teenagers are facing is called "celebrity addiction." One-third of Americans are dealing with this phenomenon, which is linked to depression, anxiety, body-image problems, and addiction. In no way is this author comparing the ravages of substance abuse to celebrity worship. Rather, I look at today's teenagers with a different set of eyes.

According to studies, many teenagers believe that emulating the lifestyle of a favorite celebrity is one of the few ways to form an identity; if one doesn't reach the same level of stardom, she will be a worthless nobody. This demonstrates a dramatic shift in the way teenagers perceive success. Research reveals that teenagers would rather surround themselves with celebrities - or become one - than become a more intelligent human being whose life will benefit the world around them. We are raising a generation of adolescents who would rather become Kim Kardashian than a human rights activist.

This type of value system drives the entourage that idolizes Charlie Sheen. You have to wonder what it means when Sheen claims to be above surrender to the disease of addiction, and then more than 74,000 people apply to be his social media intern. Recently Sheen has started booking a national speaking tour to spread his message. What does this tell our teenagers? Is Sheen spreading the message that a person doesn't have to abide by rules of modern society? Are teens going to believe that they can be the nation's highest-paid TV actor, say outlandish things via all media, get fired, and lose access to their children... and yet still garner enough attention to stay in the headlines? Teens not only mimic their favorite celebrities by copying their hairstyles and fashions; they are inclined to mimic their addictions as well. Addictions are viewed as glamorous, and celebrity addicts are viewed as getting everything they want while indulging in self-destructive behaviors. This is a dangerous mindset to copy.

Unfortunately, we too often see or hear about celebrity excess: smoking, drinking or drug use, constant parties, and sexually acting out. Simply put, teenagers are witness to celebrity addicts that appear to be above the law and invincible. This mindset leads teenagers to assume that there will be no consequences for their negative behaviors, because they see celebrities get away with such behaviors. This mindset is not new to our society.

Many musicians and actors have died tragic deaths from addiction; it's a pattern that continues due to today's increasing drug epidemic. Musicians Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison glamorized the use of drugs and alcohol during the 1960s. More recently, Michael Jackson, an icon for decades, died due to drug addiction. His death was seen in the headlines more than news stories about serious events occuring throughout the world.

Teenagers have been basing their behavior on celebrity behavior for a long time. Adolescence is often a time of soul searching and finding an identity. It can also be a very vulnerable and impressionable time. However, today's approach to identity formation has crossed the line. Teen idolization is becoming a medical issue. Teens are undergoing surgery at younger ages and at alarming rates. It is not unusual for a teen to have a first plastic surgery augmentation around age 16. The desire to replicate Angelina Jolie's pouty lips and Kim Kardashian's backside shows how the physical attributes of celebrities pressure teens to want to change. This desire to look different creates self-esteem issues that will affect teens for their entire lives.

By James Dredge, CEO, The Meadows

This year we are celebrating our 35th anniversary; through these years, we have been afforded opportunities to profoundly improve the lives of thousands of patients throughout the world.

As part of our 35-year celebration, we have launched a new and robust Web site, blog, and Facebook presence. Over the upcoming months, we will offer new and expanded series of free lectures, alumni conferences, workshops, retreats, and experiential training.

To find out about upcoming events or to get the latest scoop on what's going on at The Meadows, please check us out at,, or on Facebook.

In this issue, you will find interesting insights about our heritage, the moving dedication of our lecture hall to John Bradshaw, and the introduction of some new treatment staff members.

We value your opinions, so please submit your comments and suggestions at

Thanks again for your continued support!

Jim Dredge

Time is running out to sign up for The Meadows lecture in Chicago on Friday, March 25, 2011. Dr. Jerry Boriskin will be speaking on Complex PTSD and Co-occurring Addictive Disorders: Demystifying Demons and Developing Multidimensional Treatment Skills. For more information or to register, go to:

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 20:00

Pia Mellody on E-Harmony

In a rare interview with Pia Mellody, Senior Clinical Advisor at The Meadows, she talks about the signs of love addiction. You can read this intriguing interview at Eharmony Advice:

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 20:00

John Bradshaw Interview

In a very personal interview, John Bradshaw talks his own recovery and the underlying cause of addiction in an article titled, The Role of Family In Addiction.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 20:00

Treatment in the US vs UK

Jim Dredge, CEO of The Meadows and Pia Mellody, Senior Clinical Advisor were interviewed by the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph to discuss addiction treatment offered in the United States compared to the United Kingdom. To read more about this story, go to:

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