Being #fearless doesn’t mean that you are never afraid.
Being #fearless means that…
What does being #fearless mean to you, and to your recovery? Tell us in a short essay (500 words) or short video (2 minutes), and we may feature you on our blog or Facebook page! Email your submissions to email@example.com, or share them on Twitter and mention @AndreaSauceda in your tweet.
Note: The following is a partial transcript of a Facebook Live Presentation Dan Griffin, MA, Senior Fellow at The Meadows, did on August 26, 2016. You can find the recorded video version on his Facebook page.
First and foremost, let me be very clear about what I mean by “the illusion of men’s anger,” because I can already hear some people saying, “The illusion of men’s anger?! My father’s anger, my mother’s anger, my husband’s, my partner’s anger is not an illusion, Dan! It’s not an illusion when the person is yelling at me, it’s not an illusion when the person is hitting me, it’s not an illusion when the person is acting violently toward me.”
I absolutely agree with you. That is not the intention of this conversation.
The purpose of this conversation is to get at the root of what’s behind men’s anger and to share thoughts on how we can all interact with one another in a more authentic way.
This is a personal topic for me. I’ve been an “angry man.” I’ve had a lot of problems with anger. But, has anger really been the issue for me? That’s the question I really think all men should ask themselves if they want to be able to heal the impact that anger has had on their relationships—their relationship with self, their relationships with others, and their relationships with the community.
I am far from perfect in this practice, but I hope that what I’m learning about myself and my anger might be helpful for some of the men—and some of the women—out there.
The truth is I’m not angry.
I act angry, but often, what I really am feeling is fear. Or, I’m feeling insecure, or I’m dealing with other feelings and they are coming out as anger because I haven’t allowed myself to feel things or taken the time to process what’s really going on.
This is important because as men we are often backed into a corner with our feelings. We’re told that the only feeling that’s socially acceptable for us, the only one that you’re not going to be shamed for is anger. “Yeah, he’s angry, but at least he’s not crying like a little baby. “
He’s acting angry because there’s no space for him to talk about his fear.
Why does that matter? We talk a lot about anger management, and we talk about the problems men have with anger. I don’t think the solution to men’s problem with anger is teaching them “anger management.” I think the solution is helping them to have a better connection to self, better connections to others, and the space and permission for authentic emotional expression.
I care deeply about my relationships. But, I didn’t have the best model for how a man can be open and vulnerable in relationships so I’m still learning how to do that. What I’m beginning to realize is that anger has never really been the issue for me. The issue is how deeply I experience and feel things—how emotional I am, how quickly I feel sad, how quickly I feel afraid, how quickly I feel insecure. The more that I can stay true to those feeling and experiences, the easier it is for me to navigate.
Although, if I allow myself to feel afraid, and to express that to others, I still have to deal with the shame that comes along with the fear. Like a lot of men, I didn’t really have anybody when I was growing up who told me that it was okay for a man to feel afraid and that it was okay for a man to feel sad. So, I have to work through all of this shame and stuff I have in my head about that.
But, the more I feed my authentic self, the more the anger dissipates. That’s not “anger management;” that’s emotional congruence. It’s emotional authenticity. We don’t “manage” the anger. The anger just dissolves. The anger dissipates when it’s just smoke that hides my true self.
So, for men, the challenge is for us to be able to find permission to be the men we really are.
Who are you? Who are you in each of your relationships, who are you in each of your experiences? Are you aware of how you’re feeling? Can you take a deep breath? Can you look below the surface of what’s beneath the anger?
When you feel the anger rising, can you stop before you say or do anything, and find the space to recognize your true feelings? If you feel afraid, can you say to yourself, “I feel afraid, and when I feel afraid I feel weak, and when I feel weak I feel ashamed?” And can you recognize that deciding what to do with those feelings is nobody’s problem but yours?
When I feel sad, I feel ashamed and I feel embarrassed. I feel like there’s something wrong with me as a man—but that’s not true. That’s the illusion of men’s anger.
When men act out in anger there’s no illusion to it. It can destroy; it can hurt; it can damage. The illusion is us thinking that if we just manage men’s anger, it’s going to get better—that if we just create programs that are about men having to control their behavior, it’s going to get better.
Things will change when…
If you struggle with anger, take some time to just take a deep breath and notice what other emotions are coming up. Find someone you trust that you can talk to about those challenges you are feeling on a regular basis. Someone who will understand when you say that you noticed how afraid you were feeling or how shame came up for you and will respond with compassion and understanding.
And then when you do act angry, you can go back and you clean it up because you took the time to reflect on what you were really feeling and to see the illusion of your anger.
It’s not about doing it perfectly, it’s about doing it consciously. That’s the gift.
If you’re a mental health professional or clinician who’d like some tips on how to address the unique needs of men in trauma treatment, be sure to sign up for Dan’s FREE webinar on The Man Rules & The Principles of Recovery. It’s happening on September 14, 2016; 11 a.m. – 12:30 Pacific (2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern).
If you’re a man in recovery, who’s ready to take it up a notch, and transform your experience of recovery register for A Man’s Way Retreat at the Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows. During the five-day intensive, Dan will lead you through activities, group sessions, and mindfulness exercises focused on taking your recovery - and your life - to the next level. The next session is coming up October 3 – 7, 2016. To register call 800-244-4949, and ask about the limited-time 25 percent discount offer!
Michael Phelps was 15 years old at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. It was there that he set his first world record. Since then, he’s won 22 medals — 18 of them gold. As the most decorated Olympian of all time, he has reached some of the highest heights possible for any athlete.
But, he’s also reached some of the lowest lows. In his recent, nearly 30 minute interview with NBC Sports’ Bob Costas, he describes in some detail his struggles outside of the pool with alcohol, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Midway through his interview with NBC Sports’ Bob Costas, Phelps said,
“I went through this process where we tried to connect with our inner child, and I had so many vivid memories of me at the age of 7, 8, 9… I think it was kind of cool to realize, the kid is still gonna come out in us, and that’s who we really are… Once we brought all of that stuff out, I literally felt like a new person.”
The Survivors Workshop — the same one Phelps went through as an inpatient at The Meadows—is available to anyone interested in uncovering how their early childhood experiences affect their day-to-day lives. Participants in the Survivors workshop get a chance to process and release the negative messages and emotions that are rooted in painful past experiences allowing them the freedom to embody their authentic selves.
For more information call 800-244-4949 or contact us online.
America in the late Summer and early Fall. Among the sounds of lawn sprinklers, children laughing and playing outside, and bees buzzing by, you can often hear…
“Let’s Go, Guys!”
“We Got This!”
“C’mon you idiot, what the [redacted] are you doing?!”
…being shouted from living rooms all across the land.
Football is back.
And, this year, the shouting and celebration will likely start even earlier, as millions tune to watch the Summer Olympic Games in Rio beginning August 5.
In 2015, NFL games made up 45 of 50 most-watched TV shows in the fall season. And, the Summer Olympics, which only take place every four years, are also sure to draw in similar numbers of viewers. It’s plain to see that there’s something about athletics that deeply resonates with many people.
Although each sports fan probably has his or her own personal reasons for loving their game, there are some common cultural touchstones across the (score)board. In these intense match-ups between opponents, we see stories of people finding and exceeding their limits, working through pain and injury, and falling down and getting back up. Many of us probably see parallels between these stories and our day-to-day lives.
As we watch our athlete-heroes sprint, tackle, throw, hit, cycle, swim with incredible speed, strength, and agility, they may appear to us to be invincible—maybe even superhuman. But, the truth is that outside of the arena, many athletes struggle with the same kinds of feelings and impulses we all do; many even battle mental disorders and addictions.
“In sports, there’s a lot of people out there suffering and they don’t even know it. That’s because they can’t identify with mental illness. These people just feel like they’re just having a bad day or that it’s just weakness,” says New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall in 2015 article for theguardian.com. Marshall was diagnosed with a personality disorder in 2010 and now advocates for others struggling with mental illness through his Project 375 Foundation.
For some athletes, their sport becomes a smoke screen that hides deeply rooted trauma and behavioral health issues. And, the higher the level an athlete reaches, the less likely they are to ask for help. Mental illness is often wrongly associated with weakness, and weakness is a trait that is unacceptable to most athletes. It’s also often unacceptable to their coaches and their fans, which makes talking about the problem even harder.
Elite and professional athletes like Brandon Marshall and Michael Phelps, who has also recently come forward to public discuss his own mental health struggles, are playing a critical role in helping to break the stigma surrounding mental illness in the sports community and in our society at large.
Even though ultimately, athletes are responsible for their own performance in the arena, they don’t get there without help. Coaches, trainers, managers, agents, family, and friends all play a role in helping them develop the skills and the get the support they need to reach their full potential. Why can’t we start to look at treatment for mental illness the same way?
If there’s an addiction, a mood disorder, or a personality disorder that’s holding you back, you don’t have to feel ashamed and you don’t have to be afraid to reach out. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. In fact, speaking out in an environment where you fear you will not be well-received is the opposite of weak—it takes real guts and courage. And, you might be surprised by how people react. Once he came forward, other people in the league starting speaking out about their own struggles and asked him where to turn for help.
Treatment programs, like the ones we offer at The Meadows, are designed to help you heal your hidden emotional injuries, and practice and develop skills for moving forward with your life and reach your full potential. Don’t get sidelined by mental illness. Give us a call today and get back in the game, at 800-244-4949.
By Jean Collins-Stuckert, Clinical Director at The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows
As we were walking thru Croix-de-Bouquets, a metal workers village outside Port Au Prince where artisans transform used oil drums into beautiful art, I came across a metal sign that said “Haiti Rising.” It stays with me. Haiti is rising but struggling to get on her feet. Already one of the world’s poorest countries, it is fraught with corruption, poor healthcare, and poor educational systems. All of this was compounded by an earthquake in 2010 which claimed a quarter of a million lives. Six years later, the country is still struggling to recover.
The Meadows recently sent a handful of professionals to Haiti to present current information on trauma and addiction at a conference in Port Au Prince. The Meadows partnered with the University of Notre Dame and sponsored the conference on Psychotherapy and Spirituality. I was fortunate to be selected among many volunteers to join this well-appointed group.
It was my first experience in a third world country. I was stunned, vacillating between being on the verge of tears to feeling detached. It was too much to take in at times. It has taken me awhile to sort out my conflicted feelings about this divergent country.
Haiti is a contradiction. It is so close—only a one and a half hour flight from the U.S.—but so far away. Haiti is a dichotomy of crushing poverty and amazing resilience.
Rising out of the rubble in Haiti are fierce heroes and sheroes making a difference on both a large and small scale. There are dynamic leaders on the ground, selflessly working to develop amazing organizations. Nancy Sobel, for example, founded the Global Adolescent Project (GAP) assisting orphaned teens. She is a force of nature. Selena Jenkins and Sean Penn formed the Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization (JPHRO) that is responsible for creating sustainable programs on six different fronts. The Association for the treatment of Alcohol and Other Addictions (AAPAC), the one and only Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for substance abusers and their families, was founded by two Haitian women, Maggie and Gaetane.
I also include our humble leader, The Meadows CEO Sean Walsh, in this category, who has adopted two sons from a Haiti orphanage. He has great passion for improving conditions and increasing awareness about trauma and addiction in Haiti. He organized and led our team.
I learned more than I taught on the journey. I attended a presentation from one Shero calling for all Haitians to clean up their piece of the polluted planet. Haiti has beautiful landscape contrasted with cement rubble from the earthquake and littered with garbage. She introduced me to a term I hadn’t heard before, “horizontal violence.” She used the expression “You can’t trust a Haitian,” as an example of horizontal violence. She used a bucket of crabs, crawling over one another in order to elevate themselves as a metaphor for horizontal violence. This concept is, of course, not unique to Haiti, but it is problematic. She pleaded with Haitians to lift one another in an effort to elevate the community.
Our team quickly became friends with a handful of Narcotic Anonymous (NA) leaders who were bringing the message of hope and recovery to Haiti, creating relationships, and connecting people with the proper organizations. There are many caring professionals in Haiti attending to pragmatic needs such as food, shelter, and medical care. There are also many who are attending to the needs of their souls by bringing counseling, music, dance and art. Sometimes these organizations are unaware of one another.
These extraordinarily generous people created within me inspiration along with self-doubt, making me wonder what I have done with my life. I’m left feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, in a good way. My brief time in Haiti has created a discomfort that I’m hoping will propel me into more altruistic service.
I attended a 12 step meeting in a foreign land and listened to people share in Haitian Creole and yet I felt at home. Far away and yet at home: another dichotomy.
I was also conflicted residing in an air-conditioned resort with a pool while the masses were withstanding unbearable heat.
I felt combined joy and pain as I observed beautiful majestic women carrying large objects on their heads with such grace in the midst of squalor. Haiti is 95 percent black, so it was rare to see someone white outside of our small group. It was one more way in which my world was a contradiction.
We visited bright university students sitting in classrooms made of fabricated walls with slats for ventilation without air conditioning in 95 percent heat with high humidity. I was so impressed. They were attentive, respectful, and remained after class was dismissed to ask questions about addiction and how they could help their families. Family is a strong value in Haiti. Opportunity occasionally presents itself and when it does most Haitians will take full advantage.
Our last stop was the Apparent Project, through which parents determined to keep their children out of orphanages were making amazing art to earn a living. They were transforming rubble into pottery and making beautiful beads out of garbage. (You can check them out at http://apparentproject.org.)
I don’t miss mosquito nets, being drenched in 100 percent deet, being overly cautious of the food and water, “American pizza” which translates into pizza made with American cheese, the chaotic traffic and feeling like a mark at times. I do miss the openly affectionate warm beautiful people I met while there.
Since returning, I am hyper vigilant of my self-centeredness. I have conflicted feelings. I feel a bit squeamish, a form of survivor’s guilt I suppose, combined with deep gratitude. Simultaneously, I feel incredibly blessed and guilty about the size of my home, my walk-in closet, my job, my vehicle. I have a different perspective on “problems” in the face of true human suffering— what some might call rich white people problems. I feel good about what I did and feel bad about what I haven’t done. I have received much more than I have given; I am in a process of transformation that won’t be complete until I take action. I am changed.
It was an enlightening adventure. I am proud to work for a man and an organization that truly places people before profit and thinks beyond their small piece of the planet. They have had a hand in Haiti Rising.
By David Anderson, Ph.D., Executive Director at The Meadows
We experienced yet another heart-warming Patient Commencement Celebration last Wednesday morning, as seven soon-to-be-leaving patients expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Meadows staff, the community and their peers for helping them along their journey through life-saving treatment, recovery and transformation.
At the end of the commencement, as we always do, we formed a big circle, observed a few moments of quiet Reflection, and then said The Serenity Prayer. At the end of the prayer, as we always do, each patient and staff member extended his or her right foot and Repeated loudly, “R, R, R!”
As we were walking out I overheard a couple of newer people who were in the audience say “I have no idea what R! R! R! means!”
Well, for those wondering, the letters stand for Reality, Respect, and Responsibility—three crucially important building blocks of true Recovery (and all in keeping with our underlying Meadows Model).
These are three great “R” words.
But we have other “R” words, too:
Rites of passage (like commencements and graduations)
On the coins that we provide to graduating members of our military, in addition to Recovery, we have three more R words: Reveal, Resiliency, and Renew.
And if you spend any time in our Brain Center, you soon come to Realize that a basic component of our Meadows program is nervous system Regulation.
Each of these “R” words comes with a story, a commitment, and a history here at The Meadows; each are worked into the warp and weave of our programming.
And here are even more: as we head into the three major months of summer, many of us will be taking vacations and Recharging and Recreating.
So the next time you need to Refresh or Recommit to Recovery, do the Meadows hokey-pokey, put your right foot out, and say, “R! R! R!”
R! R! R!
By Claudia Black, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Clinical Architect of the Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows
Triggers are specific memories, behaviors, thoughts, and situations that jeopardize recovery - signals you are entering a stage that brings you closer to a relapse. The process is much like riding a roller coaster that loops over itself. Once the roller coaster car gets to a certain spot in the track, a threshold is met, there is no turning back, and it starts the downward loop. Just as gravity has a motivating effect on a roller coaster, brain chemistry has a similar effect motivating triggers. When people use substances or engage in escape behaviors the brain releases neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and dopamine that trigger the brain’s pleasure/reward center; or it may release serotonin which lessens anxiety and depression.
Willpower alone is not a defense against a relapse. Recovery is achieved, maintained, and enjoyed through a series of actions. Learn to identify your triggers, and with each one identify a plan that anticipates and de-escalates the power of the trigger. With that, your reward is another day of sobriety and endless possibilities.
Romanticizing involves a tunnel focus only on the positive feelings you associate with the behavior. It is glamorizing using behaviors and in the moment totally forgetting about the negative consequences.
Getting overwhelmed at times is to be expected, but it’s very easy to slip into romanticizing without any insight as to how you got there and at that moment you enter a slippery zone, touching the trigger. While romanticizing is in and of itself a trigger, it is often in tandem with an external trigger such as noises, sights, sounds or even tastes. You could be watching a movie and the next thing you know it is depicting the power of alcohol, drugs and sex in a positive way and you are off into romanticizing. Or you’re listening to the radio and an advertisement for a drug comes on, and you think about your pain pills as the commercial goes on to tell you how much better you’ll feel, and off you go. Or you’re watching a ball game on TV and as you watch you can almost smell the popcorn and peanuts and you see the spectators drinking large cups of beer and everyone is smiling like it’s only a good time.
Take a few moments to think about how you romanticize your addictive behavior: What do I find yourself thinking about? What is the romanticizing covering up? What am I forgetting to take into account?
Recovery is the ability to tolerate your feelings without the need to medicate, engage in self-destructive or self-defeating behaviors and thoughts. Addicts have used their behaviors and substances for years to separate from their emotional states. And there is so much to feel about—guilt for how your behavior has hurt others; sadness for your losses; anger with yourself; fear of what is in front of you; shame for thinking you are inadequate, not worthy. You can act out in response to every feeling imaginable.
Any person or situation can trigger threatening feelings. You are upset when you realize your friends are reluctant to include you on a weekend outing because you created a scene last time. You want the people you work with to like you but you are anxious that you will be rejected, or not welcomed. Your sister won’t let you babysit her kids anymore and you feel guilty, sad and angry. You just met with your ex-wife and you walk away angry, like always when you see her.
You are working hard in your recovery and you know you are doing pretty well, but it still isn’t easy to have these feelings and not be reactive. You lessen or get rid of feelings when you own them, talk about them, or in some cases engage in problem-solving. It is when you try to divert, ignore, and numb that you get into trouble. Feelings are a part of the human condition and you can’t escape them, so the goal is to learn how to tolerate the feelings.
Recognize the gifts that come with feelings. Feelings are cues and indicators telling you what you need. Loneliness tells you in your humanness you need connection, fear can offer you protection, sadness offers growth, guilt is your conscious, offering direction for amends. It is critical for you to have this insight, and more importantly to start to take ownership of recognizing the feelings when you have them. It is vital to learn how to be with the feeling and how to appropriately express it. It is also necessary to find safe people in which to share your emotional experiences.
So when you recognize your feelings ask yourself …
What do I need? What feelings are ones I go to any length to avoid? What is the price you pay for hiding or masking those feelings?
Coupled with the trigger of feelings is the fact those feelings are often associated with loss. By the time you get to recovery you have had multiple losses in your life, often losses related to childhood, many times due to being raised with abuse, addiction, mental illness, etc. While you may have experienced trauma within your original family, the pain of loss may be from a specific situation; You may have experienced the loss of relationship with your parents or children; or the death of friends, family; or abortions, career or work opportunities missed. As an addict, you are likely to have losses related to health issues. Perhaps you have Hepatitis C, or HIV, or injuries due to accidents.
The goal is not to dwell on your losses, but to not live in the pain and anguish of them which is what happens when you don’t acknowledge them and what they mean, triggering you back to your using behavior. With some loss, you can only grieve, and ultimately come to find some meaning from your experience, with others in time, you can attempt to repair damaged relationships.
Resentment is also a feeling but I think it warrants its own place as a significant trigger. Resentments are often built on assumptions, When you don’t look at me I assume you think you are better than me. When you don’t include me in a social gathering, I am assuming you think I am not good enough to be with you and your friends. They are also built on entitlement, which is a form of unrealistic expectations and impatience. For example:
I have been in recovery six weeks now. I resent the fact that my wife still doesn’t trust me. Now that I am clean and sober my boss should give me that promotion I deserve.
The attitude in both examples is not just that you should be rewarded for doing well, but that you should be rewarded for the sacrifices made. After all, you have given up your alcohol, your drugs, and/or the addictive behavior and therefore deserve to be rewarded. The problem here is that you are still more connected to the loss than to the gifts of sobriety. Ways to move from resentments are – when assuming, check it out; put yourself in someone else’s shoes (it may allow expectations to be more realistic); identify and own the feelings the resentment is covering (often it’s a cover for feelings of inadequacy and/or fear); be willing to live and let live.
Some questions to consider:
What does it mean for me to hang onto resentments? What would it mean to accept that I have been hurt or wronged and that I can no longer change that? What does it mean to take responsibility for my own feelings? Ultimately who pays the price for hanging onto resentments? Today am I willing to let go of resentments?
You need to identify specific triggers that are people, places, and situations that are high risk. Slippery people could be your ex-lover, certain family members, past using/party buddies. A slippery place might be a bar you used to frequent, a casino or an area in your community where you cruised. Slippery situations could be an emotionally charged social gathering, such as a wedding, a family event, or vacation setting. In essence, any place that triggers a positive association with the use of your drug of choice.
Medication may be also a trigger for which you need to be accountable. While there are situations where medication is needed, you are at high risk of abuse. You need to be proactive in how you are going to cope with this situation because it is likely your brain is going to remember a good feeling, saying more is better. Just because you are agitated, doesn’t mean you need a prescription pill. Again, there are situations where medications are necessary, but self-diagnosis and/or self-prescribing only create a recipe for disaster.
What are the people, places or situations that are potential triggers? What creates the greatest safety for me to not get triggered? What triggers can I avoid? If I can’t avoid a certain place, can I lessen the contact or time? Is going into this slippery situation worth the risk?
While some decisions around triggers are absolute, others are not necessary for your entire life. Know your triggers and make a plan accordingly. In the face of a trigger, what do you need to do? What do you need to tell yourself? Who can you reach out to for support and or problem solving?
1) Practice staying in the present, don’t sit in the past or project into the future
2) Validate the gifts of recovery for the day – practice gratitude daily
3) Identify, build and use a support system – you need to stay connected. History and experience has proven time and time again, that recovery is not a solitary process, and cannot be sustained in isolation.
4) Trust your Higher Power is on your side
Whether you are new to treatment or transitioning from inpatient treatment, you may need a program that helps you to build skills for maintaining your sobriety. In addition to its “mainstream” intensive outpatient program, The Meadows Outpatient Center offers a program designed specifically for young adults, ages 18 – 26. The Claudia Black Young Adult Outpatient Program is designed to foster the development of the individual while helping them build skills to prevent relapse as they transition into a more fulfilling and self-sufficient life. Call today for more information: 800-244-4949.
An expanded interview with Michael Phelps recently aired on NBC’s Dateline: on Assignment.
In the interview, Phelps talks about his struggles with self-loathing, binge-drinking, and apathy before his time at The Meadows. He also talks about how resolving some painful issues with his father during Family Week was a huge step in his recovery. His coach says he’s in the best shape mentally, physically, and emotionally that he’s ever been.
Watch the full interview at the 29-minute mark here.
Most psychiatrists and behavioral health professionals agree that addiction is a complex disorder caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. It can also vary in intensity; The DSM-5 defines addiction as a spectrum disorder that can be categorized as “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” Many other mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety, can be described in much the same way. Because there can be so much variation in the causes and severity of an individual’s disorder, there are varying levels of treatment to meet patients’ differing needs.
Generally speaking, behavioral health and addiction treatment programs can be described as inpatient, outpatient, or intensive outpatient (IOP). The biggest differences among each of the three are in the complexity and severity of the conditions they treat, the length of the programs, and the patients’ living arrangements.
Before you make a decision about treatment, it’s important that you are fully assessed by a qualified professional—a therapist, addiction counselor, psychiatrist, or maybe even one of our Intake specialists. They can give you feedback and help you decide what might be best for you. It is crucial that you make your decision based on what you truly need to be able to reach and maintain recovery. Entering a treatment program that does not match the level of severity you’re experiencing in your illness can put you at a greater risk for relapse and a greater risk of serious harm. Addiction and mental illnesses can be deadly diseases.
Inpatient treatment programs, also sometimes called residential treatment programs, aim to treat the most severe and complex addictions and disorders. They are full-time programs that are usually anywhere from 28 days to 6 months long. They provide patients with a controlled environment in which they can begin untangling the web of physical, emotional, and interpersonal havoc that their out-of-control conditions have wrought.
In an inpatient treatment facility, patients have no access to drugs or alcohol; so, the chances of them relapsing while they are in treatment are extremely low. They live at the treatment center—away from work, friends, and family— so that they can focus exclusively on working through their emotional trauma and behavioral and on developing new coping skills to help them succeed in their recovery.
A good inpatient treatment center will also offer 24-hour access to medical care. (The Meadows’ programs, for example, are certified by the Joint Commission, due to their commitment to excellence in providing medical services.) They also will have experienced well-qualified and credentialed psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists available to assess patients, develop individualized treatment programs for them, and meet with patients individually and in group settings.
It is also ideal for inpatient programs to have a family component, to extend the healing process to throughout the patient’s family and help them learn how to build a stronger support system for one another. The Meadows has a Family Week, for example, where family members are invited to join the patient on campus and work with them through group and individual counseling sessions.
Outpatient treatment programs are part-time programs usually requiring 4 – 10 hours per week of meetings including individual and group therapy that focus on the development of real-world coping skills for maintaining sobriety. Outpatient programs typically last for three to six months.
Patients who are in an outpatient program can continue to work, attend school, and even live at home; though, sometimes it is recommended that patients stay in transitional, sober living housing where they can get additional support from their peers in recovery and get away from any undue influences enabling their addictions. Meetings and counseling sessions at an outpatient center are typically held at night or in the early morning so that people can continue on with regular daily schedules.
Outpatient treatment is not the right choice for everyone. Addiction professionals typically do not recommend outpatient treatment to those who face a high level of danger from their particular disorders. Outpatient treatment can, however, be a good option for someone with a mild addiction, or for someone “stepping down” from inpatient treatment. Many people in recovery choose to transition from inpatient rehab to an intensive outpatient or outpatient program so that they can practice applying the skills they learned in inpatient treatment to the real-world while still getting the extra support and guidance they need.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) fall somewhere between inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. The main difference between an outpatient program and an intensive outpatient program is the amount of time spent in treatment and related activities each week. Many IOPs require at least 12 hours per week, sometimes more. The Meadows IOP, for example, requires three hours of group therapy per day, four days per week; an individual therapy session each week, and an hour long psychiatry session each week.
IOPs are great for people who need a higher level of care than a non-intensive outpatient program can provide, but whose conditions aren’t quite severe enough to require an inpatient program. They are also great for those who are transitioning from an inpatient program and into full independent living.
Both inpatient and outpatient programs offer services such as individual counseling sessions, therapeutic groups, 12 step meetings and family therapy. A good IOP will also offer a number of additional support services, like weekly individual meetings with psychiatrists, small groups lead by experienced and well-trained therapists, expressive arts, yoga, and more.
Addiction, depression, anxiety and other behavioral health disorders are often described as chronic illnesses; Recovery from them is a continual process. It is not unusual for a person on the severe end of the spectrum to need to complete both an inpatient and an outpatient program. It is also not unusual for a person on the “mild” to “moderate” to scale to need only an outpatient program.
The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about what your needs are. It can be difficult to leave your friends, family, or job behind for a month or more to enter inpatient treatment or to move into sober living housing for an IOP. But, as hard as making that change can be, living with an addiction or disorder if often even harder, both on you and on the people you love. Make sure you get the kind of treatment you need and deserve.
The Meadows has four different inpatient programs in Wickenburg, Arizona helping people overcome drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction, eating disorders and many other mood disorders and personality disorders. The Meadows also has an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in the beautiful McDowell mountains of Scottsdale, Arizona, that is perfect for those transitioning from inpatient treatment or entering recovery for the first time.
If you need help but aren’t sure where to start, please call one of our Intake coordinators today. They can help you determine which program may be right for you. 800-244-4949.
“I checked myself in because I think I was at point in my life when I needed something to change…”
These were the words of Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, in an interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show. But, they are also the words of so many people in recovery as they look back on a very difficult time in their lives, and their decision to enter treatment.
Watch the interview here.
Even people who have achieved tremendous success in their lives can have a lot of hidden pain. When left unaddressed, that pain can—and often will—lead to problems with drugs, alcohol, pornography, sex, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral health issues.
Our treatment programs specialize in helping people find the root causes of their daily emotional struggles and develop healthier coping skills for the immense pressures and scrutiny they often face. If you feel that you, or a loved one, are racing toward disaster, give us a call at 1-800-244-4949.