The Meadows Blog


Addiction (27)

Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:00

Adolescent Substance Abuse

For more than 35 years, The Meadows has explored the underlying issues of patient trauma. Clinicians and professionals trust us more than any other treatment program because of our impeccable reputation for quality, integrity and long-term recovery. Every year, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey measures drug, alcohol, and tobacco use and related attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. ASAP, the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, summarizes the MTF survey each year for parents and professionals:

Illicit Drug Use

Illicit drug use among teenagers remains high, largely due to increasing popularity of marijuana. Marijuana use by adolescents declined from the late 1990s until the mid-to-late 2000s, but has been on the increase since then. In 2013, 7.0 percent of 8th graders, 18.0 percent of 10th graders, and 22.7 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month, up from 5.8 percent, 13.8 percent, and 19.4 percent in 2008. Daily use has also increased; 6.5 percent of 12th graders now use marijuana every day, compared to 5 percent in the mid-2000s.

Rising marijuana use reflects changing perceptions and attitudes. Historically, as perception of risks goes down, use goes up (and vice versa). Young people are showing less disapproval of marijuana use and decreased perception that marijuana is dangerous. The growing perception of marijuana as a safe drug may reflect recent public discussions over “medical marijuana” and movements to legalize the drug for adult recreational use in some states.

New synthetic drugs are a cause for concern, but their use is not increasing. Synthetic marijuana (also known as Spice or K2)—referring to herbal mixtures laced with synthetic chemicals similar to THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana—was added to the MTF survey in 2011, when 11.4 percent of high school seniors reported using it in the past year; in 2013, it had dropped to 7.9 percent. These mixtures could be obtained legally until 2012 and are still wrongly perceived as a safe alternative to marijuana. The synthetic stimulants known as “bath salts” were added to the survey in 2012; in 2013, just 0.9 percent of seniors had used these drugs in the past year.

Nonmedical use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines remains a significant part of the teen drug problem. In 2013, 15.0 percent of high school seniors used a prescription drug non-medically in the past year. The survey shows continued abuse of Adderall, commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, with 7.4 percent of seniors reporting taking it for non-medical reasons in the past year. However, only 2.3 percent of seniors report abuse of Ritalin, another ADHD medication. Abuse of the opioid pain reliever Vicodin has shown a marked decrease in the last 10 years, now measured at 5.3 percent for high school seniors, compared to 10.5 percent in 2003. In addition, 5 percent of seniors report abuse of cough products containing dextromethorphan, down from 6.9 percent in 2006, the first year it was measured by the survey.

Positive trends in the past several years include reduced use of inhalants and less use of cocaine, especially crack cocaine. Past-year inhalant use by younger teens continued a downward trend in 2013, with 5.2 percent of 8th graders and 3.5 percent of 10th graders reporting use. Five-year trends of past-year cocaine use across all grades showed a drop as well. Other drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy (MDMA) and hallucinogens, are holding fairly steady.


Alcohol use among teens remains at historically low levels. In 2013, 3.5 percent of 8th graders, 12.8 percent of 10th graders, and 26 percent of 12th graders reported getting drunk in the past month, continuing a downward trend from previous years. Significant declines include sharp drops from previous years in daily alcohol use by 10th and 12th graders (0.9 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively, in 2013). In 2013, 22.1 percent of high school seniors reported binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks)—a drop of almost one-third since the late 1990s.


Fewer teens smoke cigarettes than smoke marijuana. Cigarette smoking by high school students peaked in 1996–1997 and has declined continuously since then. In 2013, 16.3 percent of 12th-grade students surveyed by MTF were current (past-month) cigarette smokers—the lowest teen smoking has been in the history of the survey. By comparison, 22.7 percent were current marijuana smokers.

Other forms of smoked tobacco are becoming popular, however. The use of hookah water pipes and small cigars has raised public health concerns and has recently been added to the MTF survey. In 2013, 21.4 percent of 12th graders had smoked a hookah at some point in the past year, an increase from 18.3 percent in 2012, and 20.4 percent had smoked a small cigar.

Learn More

Complete MTF survey results are available at

The treatment program at The Meadows can help you create a life of recovery, peace and healing. We have helped over 45,000 clients to date, through workshops and inpatient treatment programs. To learn more about our treatment programs, call us at 800-244-4949 or contact us here.

To learn more about Dawn at The Meadows our groundbreaking, intensive, experientially-based, inpatient treatment program for emerging adults ages 18-26 who struggle with emotional trauma, addiction, or dual diagnosis concerns, please click here or call us at 855-333-6075.

Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

This October marks the fourth annual National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. President Obama issued this observation to highlight the role that substance abuse prevention plays in promoting safe and healthy communities for parents, youths, schools and community leaders across the nation.

Why Acknowledge Substance Abuse Prevention Month?

In President Obama’s proclamation designating October as prevention month, he stated that the consequences of substance abuse diminish achievement in our schools, create greater risks on our roads and in communities, and cut lives short.

Alcohol and drug abuse hurt too many Americans and the consequences are profound.

Chronic substance abuse can affect almost every aspect of your life, including:

  • Safety—car accidents, overdosing
  • Health—stress on organs
  • Neurological and emotional effects—depression, memory loss, mood swings
  • Legal—attorney and court costs, suspended driver license
  • Family—conflict, divorce, homelessness
  • Financial—loss of employment, alimony
  • Social—poor pier relationships, academic difficulties

As of 2013, almost 18 million Americans were classified as having alcohol dependence or abuse problems, and 23 million Americans were classified as illicit drug users. Americans ages 12 to 20 account for 11% of the country’s monthly alcohol consumption ("October Is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month." NCADD. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.). Prevention strategies for underage alcohol and drug use are the best approach to reducing the toll it takes on individuals, families and communities.

The President’s Drug Control Strategy promotes the expansion of national and community-based programs that reach out to young people at school and on college campuses as well as in the workplace. These programs provide information to help educate young people about making healthy decisions now and in the future. Research has found that every dollar invested in school-based substance use prevention programs could potentially save up to $18 in costs related to substance use disorders ("October 2014 Is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month." The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.).

This month has been a time to pay tribute to those who work tirelessly to prevent substance abuse in our communities and to remember those who have lost their lives to drugs and alcohol. There is still time to help prevent youth substance abuse this month locally by finding events near you.

The Meadows Can Help

At The Meadows, we understand the seriousness of substance abuse addiction. Our substance abuse treatment options range from detoxification to an intensive, inpatient psychotherapeutic program that addresses the symptoms and causes of addiction.

The idea of overcoming substance abuse addiction may seem overwhelming, but recovery is possible at The Meadows. Our multidisciplinary staff is trained to help individuals overcome their drug addiction in a safe and nurturing environment.

To begin your path to recovery and good health, contact an Intake Coordinator at 800-244-4949 or visit our Contact page.

This article first appeared in the October 2014 edition of Together AZ; reprinted with permission.

Depression Treatment

By Joyce M. Willis, LPC

On August 12, 2014, the day after Robin Williams committed suicide, I was talking to my neighbor about this tragic death. My neighbor stated, “What a fool, he had everything and any resource money could afford.” My reply: “We never know what is going on in someone else’s life and it is not up to us to judge his last moments. He must have been feeling despair, loneliness and hopeless at the moment.”

My neighbor, knowing that I am a mental health therapist, politely conceded, knowing this was not a topic I would change my opinion on. The truth is that in that last moment before someone takes his own life, he is in the darkest moment of his life and thinks this is the answer. In this article, we will explore depression, addiction and how they tie together. Most importantly, we will explore hope and recovery.

The one glaring truth that comes to light after Robin Williams’ suicide is that depression, addiction and suicide do not discriminate. Depression and addiction are not diseases that are more likely to occur in the poor or the rich. The truth is that depression and addiction are human diseases; no matter whether you are rich, poor or middle class. Robin Williams’ death does bring up the connection between creativity and mental illness. A study completed earlier this year by the British Journal of Psychiatry found a connection between creativity, comedic ability (whether it be writing or performing) and depression. Often, comedy is a way to escape the pain and depression. Yet, we cannot escape; we need to work through to get to the other side. Robin Williams was not the only comedian or artistic, creative person to suffer from depression and substance abuse. He is one of many entertainers who took his life, either intentionally or incidentally. As Alice Walton points out in the website, Robin Williams spoke about this himself. Williams spoke about how it is important to be funny when you’re speaking about painful subjects. He spoke about how humor was a tool to obliterate the pain. In the history of entertainment, we have seen many co- medians and entertainers die from addiction via accidental overdose and from suicide often caused by both addictions and depression... Kurt Cobain, Ray Combs, Richard Jeni, Dana Plato, Freddie Prinze...the list goes on. Comedians often make us laugh, so we cannot see how much they hurt. Those of us who have suffered from depression or addictions often do the same. We put on masks of humor or smiling so others cannot see the pain beneath. It is when we are able and willing to open up and make connections that we can begin to enter a life of recovery and of hope.

As I stated, addiction and depression do not discriminate; these diseases enter many lives for many reasons. There is a close relationship between addiction and substance abuse.

How did either or both start?

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Straight Talk from a Counselor

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.

Contact Us Today

Every journey begins with one step.

You can learn more about The Meadows by logging on to 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

Shelley's Corner: A Series on Emotional Trauma, Addiction, and Healing

Dr. Shelley Uram is a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. As a Meadows' Senior Fellow, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and provides ongoing training and consultation to the treatment staff at The Meadows.

Welcome Back To Shelley's Corner

Many of you readers are, or have been involved with 12-Step programs. One of the most important foundations of the 12-Step way of life is the recognition of a Higher Power and aligning one’s life with it. This can prove to be enormously helpful in our lives taking on a new and far healthier/happier direction.

Something that can be very useful in the process of turning our will and lives over to the care of our Higher Power, is identifying to whom and what we are currently turning over our power.

The more obvious ones would be the alcohol and drugs upon which we have become dependent, but there is a much broader array of people, values, ideas, habits, etc. that many of us make our Higher Power. These can be subtle.

For example, how many of us hold getting or keeping the approval of certain people as very, very important to us? It could be a relative or a friend. How about having a certain appearance? How about ideas on which you place extreme importance? Take a careful look at the regard you give these things. If you are really honest with yourself, you might find that you actually hold many people, ideas, habits, etc. as a Higher Power. Do you do it consciously? Not usually.

Does this mean you have to throw out of your life these people, values, ideas, habits, etc? No! What is important is to recognize what you are doing, and then if you choose, take back your power.

Once you become aware of “plugging into” other things as your Higher Power, that’s the time to question and possibly challenge it. You then have even more of you available for your true Higher Power.

Thanks for sharing this time with me,

Shelley Uram, M.D.

© Shelley Uram 2014

Shelley's Corner: A Series on Emotional Trauma, Addiction, and Healing

Dr. Shelley Uram is a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. As a Meadows' Senior Fellow, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and provides ongoing training and consultation to the treatment staff at The Meadows.

Welcome Back To Shelley's Corner

There’s something I’ve noticed at The Meadows over the years – many of you that have been inpatient or attended workshops have struggled with incongruence between your heart and your mind.

What do I mean by this?

Your mind is being “commanded” by thoughts, judgments, desires, cravings, and decisions based on “stinkin’ thinkin.’” This is the natural state of a mind operating by its own steam. Unfortunately, since most of the human brain has its function driven by survival and fear-based wiring, if you don’t empower your higher functioning brain to run the show, you end up unnecessarily suffering.

Now, the intelligence in your heart has little or nothing to do with ancient and raw survival wiring. The language of the heart is heavily influenced by your connection to your very essence, or Higher Power. Unfortunately, humans have a much more difficult time “hearing” this voice, as it speaks in a whisper when compared to the screech of the survival instincts.

Why does any of this matter?

If your heart and mind are not running in congruence with each other, your personal will has no idea which path to follow. Addiction is almost always a product of this.

Those of you who have attended 12-Step meetings may have noticed that until someone becomes clear that the 12-Steps is their path, they struggle with their personal will flopping back and forth between the shallow commands of the mind, versus their spiritual direction.

By the way, I am not meaning to say that the language of the heart is only to be found through 12-Steps; I use this only as an example. There are many paths leading to the heart ultimately directing the mind.

Until next week,

Shelley Uram, M.D.

© Shelley Uram 2014

While you may not have heard about synthetic cathinones or synthetic cannaboids, many teenagers and young adults have, and it's become a growing issue for their health and well-being. In fact, nearly one in nine high school seniors have gotten high on synthetic drugs, such as “K2” or “Spice,” second only to the number of teens who have used marijuana.

“Monitoring the Future,” the nation’s most comprehensive survey of teenage drug use, found 11.4% of the high school seniors questioned had used the synthetic substances, often packed as potpourri or herbal incense and sold in convenience stores, which mimic the effects of marijuana.

At convenience stores, smoke shops, and similar type establishments, synthetic cathinones are often sold as “bath salts” or “jewelry cleaner.” On the packages, these substances are labeled “not for human consumption” to hide their intended purpose and avoid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory oversight. However, these dangerous substances are steadily growing in abuse by teens and young adults.

What They Are

Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug whose purpose is to imitate cannabis. The cannabinoid compounds present in synthetic marijuana act on the same cell receptors as those affected by THC in natural marijuana, however the similarities often end there. Manufacturers take herbs, incense, or other materials that mimic leaves and spray them with lab-synthesized liquid chemicals.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration indicates that the chemicals used in synthetic pot offer no medical benefit to users and these substances actually have a higher potential for abuse among users.

Bath salts are crystalline powders, typically taking the form of a white or brown powder, similar in appearance to Epsom salts, thus the name. These powders, which are sold in small plastic or foil packages, have similar effects to stimulants like cocaine, meth, or MDMA.

Research has shown that synthetic cathinones, such as bath salts, have an extremely high abuse and addiction potential. Compounding the situation even further, bath salts contain chemical compounds that were never developed for human consumption that can create their own dangerous effects as well. Very little is known how the body processes these chemicals and what the long term effects will be.

Rapidly Emerging Threat

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the contents and effects of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones are unpredictable due to a constantly changing variety of chemicals used in manufacturing processes devoid of quality controls and government regulatory oversight.

Health warnings have been issued by numerous public health authorities and poison control centers describing the adverse health effects associated with the use of synthetic drugs.

Similar to the adverse effects of cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine, synthetic cathinone use is associated with a variety of health issues such as:Synthetic Drugs

  • Increase heart rate and blood pressure
  • Chest Pain
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Violent Behavior, which causes users to harm themselves or others

Synthetic cannabinoid side effects meanwhile can include:

  • Severe agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia (fast, racing heartbeat)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Tremors and Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions

Reports of severe intoxication and the dangerous health effects associated with synthetic drugs make this a growing public safety and health issue. How these substances react with other drugs, whether prescribed or illegal, make the side effects even more serious and difficult to treat.

Why Young Adults?

Alarmingly, these drugs are shown to be popular with young people. Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicated that, of the 11,406 ER visits associated with synthetic pot, 75% were between the age of 12 and 29.

These substances appear to be popular with teens and young adults due to their accessibility. Synthetic substances do not require stealing prescriptions, or the risks associated with purchasing illegal substances from a drug dealer.

Also readily available for Internet purchase, synthetic drugs represent a dangerous trend in substance abuse. Despite recent temporary bans of selected ingredients by the U.S. Drug Enforcement administration (DEA), many synthetic drugs remain legal due to the hundreds of formulas in existence. And because they are often legal, many young adults may not perceive these substances as dangerous.

We Can Help

Synthetic drugs are especially problematic for those who already have addiction issues and/or other mental health conditions. These substances are extremely addictive, and the effect of the comedown and/or withdraw, especially in the case of bath salts; can be dangerous for the user as well.

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, please contact The Meadows at 800-244-4949. If you are a young adult struggling with these substance abuse problems, please visit Dawn at The Meadows or call 855-333-6075 to learn more.

Drug Enforcement Administration
National Institute on Drug Abuse
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