The Meadows Blog

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 12:47

PTSD in Children of Alcoholics

In addition to the basics of food and shelter, children also need stability, consistency, and emotional care in order to thrive. Typically, at a young age, children form an emotional attachment with their caregivers and this has an influence on their development. The most important emotional attachment for a child is usually their parents. Children learn from their parents how to behave, how to function in life, and how to form other healthy relationships. When children grow up in unstable environments, it can disrupt normal development and lead to difficulties, such as mental health conditions.

Published in PTSD & Trauma
Monday, 11 July 2016 00:00

The Gift of Recovery

When Terri arrived at The Meadows, after struggling for some time with alcohol addiction, she realized that she would never get sober unless she dealt with the trauma she experienced during her very difficult childhood. She credits The Meadow’s Survivors Week and EMDR therapy with her helping her turn the corner into real recovery from alcoholism.

The Meadows treats all phases of alcohol addiction. From detox to our primary treatment program, we help people build the foundation for long-term sobriety.

If you are in the midst of a struggle with alcohol addiction, recovery may not seem possible, but it is.

Our program has helped many people give up alcohol for good while making key changes in the way they live, face problems, and relate to others, in order to decrease the likelihood of relapse.

For more information about how we can help call us at 800-244-4949 or send us a message through our website.

Published in Addiction
Monday, 20 June 2016 00:00

Personalized Treatment for Alcoholism

Steve attended five different treatment centers in an effort to overcome his alcoholism. The Meadows is the program that finally worked for him.

He credits his recovery to the individualized care and treatment he received from the outstanding staff, and the courage and strength the gained along with his peers during group therapy.

If you’re struggling with alcoholism and multiple relapses, maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at what’s fueling your self-destructive behaviors. The Meadows programs start with a thorough clinical assessment by a team of professionals to uncover your underlying emotional trauma and any co-occurring conditions that may be complicating your recovery. We then develop an individualized treatment plan, just for you.

Call us today at 800-244-4949.

Published in Drugs & Alcohol

Football plays an important role in the lives of many Americans. Friendships are forged through small talk about the strengths and weakness of prominent players. Families gather in their living rooms and bond while cheering on their favorite teams. Social connections are strengthened through tailgating, Super Bowl parties, and impromptu touch football games in the backyard. Unfortunately for some, just as football plays a prominent role in our lives, alcohol often plays a prominent role in football celebrations. Can you still enjoy football and its related activities as a recovering alcoholic?

Helpful Tips

Jim Corrington, Director of The Meadows Outpatient Center and devoted Arizona Cardinals fan, says that you can, as long as you have a solid game plan.

1. Hire a Good Coaching Team: Consult with your sponsor.

Your early recovery is about survival. If you’re in your first year of recovery, you likely have not completed all 12 steps, and are extremely vulnerable. You often are not even aware of how vulnerable you are. You may not be spiritually fit enough yet to attend events where alcohol is available and where you might be surrounded by people with whom you are likely to fall into old patterns of behavior.

Good sponsorship is so important in this stage. Consulting with a sponsor before attending any potentially risky events, and making a plan together is a must. If you like football, a good sponsor can help you find other people in recovery who throw alcohol-free football parties.

Things may be different after you have a year or more of sobriety under your belt, but not always. More information about choosing a sponsor can be found on the Alcoholic Anonymous website.

2. Build a Good Defense: Avoid alcohol-related stimuli.

In recovery, it is often said that you should be able to go anywhere and do anything if you are “spiritually fit.” But for those in the beginning stages of their recovery that is a big IF. Jim likes to say that “If the room you are in doesn’t have any alcohol or drugs in it, it is impossible for you to use or drink.”

It’s important for those just beginning the next phase of their recovery to try to avoid stimuli that may lead to thoughts about drinking. This may be especially difficult for football related parties and activities, given how intertwined they often are with alcohol and messages about alcohol. Alcohol-related stimuli can include stadium signs and displayed advertisements, music, commercials, sitting in an area of a stadium where others are drinking, parties that serve alcohol, tailgating, etc. There are some small steps you can take to try to avoid these, though. If you are watching a game on TV at home and a beer commercial comes on, change the channel. And, if you’re planning to attend a game in a stadium, ask about alcohol free seating sections. (The Arizona Cardinals stadium, for example, has two alcohol free sections.)

Also, use extreme caution if you are thinking about attending a “Normie” party, which can be dangerous in early recovery. Sometimes, once a person leaves rehab, they become overwhelmed with the desire to feel “normal” again. You have to remember that you are not “normal” in your relationship to alcohol. You have a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disease that requires total abstinence from all addictive substances for life, one day at a time. This doesn’t mean that you can never have fun again. It just means that it may take some time for you to redefine what “fun” means.

3. Build a Good Offense: Find sober buddies.

One of the smartest things you can do to stay sober is to seek out others who are also in recovery and love doing the same things you do. There are many recovering alcoholics who still enjoy football with their friends, and love organizing sober football parties and sober tailgating events.

AA meetings are a great place to start building up your network of sober friends. There are also several recovery-focused social networks online. If you’re a Meadows Alumnus, you may have the option of attending Inspired Recovery meetings in your city.

The Meadows Outpatient Center in Scottsdale, Arizona also regularly hosts meetings and events that are free and open to those in recovery and their families. As a matter of fact, we’re excited to announce that on February 7, we’ll be hosting our first ever Sober Super Bowl party!

We Can Help

If you think you or someone you love may need help breaking free from alcohol or drug addiction, give us a call. The Meadows Outpatient Center is a safe and nurturing community where patients are guided on their journey of recovery by examining the underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring disorders. The goal is for these individuals to gain the courage to face difficult issues, including grief and loss; heal from emotional trauma; and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery. Contact us or call us at 800-244-4949.

Published in Addiction

By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows

After news of the sudden death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, I was amazed by the impact this incident was having on people. I read post after post from my friends on Facebook about their sadness from the loss of such an incredible talent and the shock that his life came to a tragic end from suicide. The media has been full of reports about Mr. Williams’ battles with alcoholism and depression over the years. How could this happen? How do we make sense of this talented, funny man being so depressed that his only choice was to end his life? This unfortunate event moved me to reflect on my personal story in hope that it might resonate with at least one reader and encourage that individual to seek help.

According to Oltmanns and Emery (2007), alcoholism and depression are related phenomena and approximately 40 percent of people who suffer from alcoholism have experienced major depression at some point during their lives. The authors additionally state that anxiety and alcoholism are likewise associated and “people who have an anxiety disorder are about three times more likely to have an alcohol use disorder than are people without an anxiety disorder” (Oltmanns & Emery, 2007, p. 188).

I can see these statistics ringing true within my family dynamic. Depression and anxiety run alongside the alcoholism for my siblings and parents. For those family members who choose to drink alcohol, their depression and anxiety becomes glossed over and ignored because the fallout from their drinking overshadows other mental health issues. However, the presence of depression and anxiety became very known to me after I made the decision to quit drinking. Once I was no longer numbing the pain with alcohol, I was left to deal with the depression and anxiety.

During the past twenty-five years in sobriety, I have had times in my life when I have been functional, where depression and anxiety have not interfered with my being. However that hasn’t always been the case. I have struggled with either depression or anxiety during times of major life stressors. For example, when going through a divorce at the age of 23, I experienced severe depression to the point that I could not eat or sleep. I also experienced other somatic symptoms such as aches and pains in my body, headaches and eye aches. Concentrating was very difficult, which made it impossible for me work. At that point, it was necessary for me to take a couple of months off from my job to, as I put it, “clear my head.”

After the depression had subsided, my grandmother shared that during my depressed period it was difficult to have a conversation with me. She told me that if I was asked a question, either I wouldn’t answer it at all or I would answer something else. Obviously, my head was not clear!

I turned my attention inward, practicing a ruminative style of dealing with this life stressor (Oltmanns & Emery, 2007) by asking myself questions over and over, such as “Why did he leave?;” What did I do wrong?;” and “How could he have done this?” I had no job, no husband, and was humiliated by his affair. I felt hopeless—a classic symptom of depression.

I again found myself in a similar experience twelve years later with my second husband after learning about his sex addiction. I experienced many of the same somatic and psychological symptoms of depression; however, this time anxiety also created havoc in my life. I was unable to sleep, consumed with worry about every aspect of my life and contemplated over thoughts of him with other women. The more I tried to repress my thoughts, the worse they would become. It felt as if my mind was racing all of the time, and I couldn’t focus on what I needed to do. I knew these thoughts were not rational, and it made me feel stressed and crazy.

The situation once again affected my job performance. Somehow, this time I managed to go to work every day, but nearly lost my job when the irritability reached a high threshold and I exploded at my boss. Luckily for me, I had a long work relationship with her, and she knew “I wasn’t myself.” This was the wake-up call that got me into therapy.

When I started therapy, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. I was started on an SSRI and received interpersonal therapy that focused on current relationships. I came to realize that since I had stopped drinking at the age of 23, I had been vulnerable to anxiety and depression every time a major life stressor occurred.

So, why did I have these vulnerabilities? Oltmanns and Emery (2007) refer to a twin study that has shown “environmental factors influence the expression of a genetically determined vulnerability to depression” (2007, p. 151). In my case, depression and anxiety, as well as alcoholism, are generational. It is very likely that I have a genetic vulnerability to these mood disorders. When life stressors occur, I experience depression and anxiety because of this genetic vulnerability. Without the life stressors, perhaps I wouldn’t have experienced the anxiety and depression.

Like many people in recovery, getting sober did not resolve my life’s difficulties. It stopped the drinking, but not the pain and suffering that depression and anxiety create. I believe that many people in AA who suffer from depression and anxiety continue to do so because it goes untreated. Unfortunately, there are many people in AA who believe it’s inappropriate to go to therapy or take medication. This idea is not supported in AA literature, but has taken hold in some parts of AA, which inhibits many people who need help with depression and anxiety from getting the help they need.

What does Alcoholics Anonymous say about getting outside help from a counselor or therapist?

The answer to this question can be found in the AA pamphlet called, “Questions and Answers on Sponsorship.” This pamphlet can be found here.

Below is a quote taken from page 14 of this conference approved pamphlet:

“An A.A. sponsor does not offer professional services such as those provided by counselors, the legal, medical or social work communities, but may sometimes help the newcomer to access professional help if assistance outside the scope of A.A. is needed.”

What does AA say about taking anti-depressants or other medications for mental health issues?

AA addresses this issue in their pamphlet called, “"The A.A. Member: Medications and Other Drugs" which can be read online here.

This quote was taken from page 6 of this conference approved pamphlet:

“A.A. members and many of their physicians have described situations in which depressed patients have been told by A.A.s to throw away the pills, only to have depression return with all its difficulties, sometimes resulting in suicide. We have heard, too, from members with other conditions, including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, epilepsy and others requiring medication that well-meaning A.A. friends discourage them from taking any prescribed medication. Unfortunately, by following a layperson’s advice, the sufferers find that their conditions can return with all their previous intensity. On top of that, they feel guilty because they are convinced ‘A.A. is against pills.’ It becomes clear that just as it is wrong to enable or support any alcoholic to become re-addicted to any drug, it’s equally wrong to deprive any alcoholic of medication, which can alleviate or control other disabling physical and/or emotional problems.”

In 12-step meetings I do talk about my battles with depression and anxiety because I feel it’s important to let other alcoholics know that they too can receive help and live happier, more productive lives. Just because alcoholism, depression and anxiety are often co-morbid, does not mean that a person has to live a life of sobriety battling depression and anxiety. I know from firsthand experience that with the proper treatment, a productive, happy life is possible.

We Can Help

If you suffer from depression or anxiety, there is help, regardless if you are already sober from addictions. Sometimes when people are sober from addictions, they think they “should” be able to handle life’s ups and downs. There is no shame in asking for help. For more information, please call 800-244-4949 or contact us here.

Published in Drugs & Alcohol

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