On March 25, Dr. Jerry Boriskin gave a marvelous presentation titled "Complex PTSD and Co-occurring Addictive Disorders: Demystifying Demons and Developing Multidimensional Treatment Skills."
An expert in the field of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Dr. Boriskin has garnered the support of a large group of professionals who gathered on a cold Chicago day to hear him speak. Providing an intense look at the complexity of treating PTSD and co-occurring addictions, Dr. Boriskin shared a documentary on a military case subject. Visibly moved, attendees gained a new appreciation for our military personnel.
The group then employed "group thinking" to come up with clinical solutions to a particularly challenging case. The results were varied and fascinating.
The day was a tremendous learning opportunity; most remarkable was Dr. Boriskin's evident passion for his field.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of PTSD, please call The Meadows today at 800-244-4949.
By Jenna Pastore, National Community Relations Representative
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:
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.
COMPLEX PTSD AND ADDICTIVE DISORDERS: WHY SIMPLISTIC SOLUTIONS DO NOT WORK
By Jerry Boriksin, PhD
The logic is easy but seems to elude the most brilliant of minds: Some complicated conditions require multiple approaches delivered skillfully and in the proper sequence. A single solution, no matter how powerful, tends to fail when up against sufficient intensity and complexity. To put this into simpler language: If a tornado leveled your home, you wouldn't rebuild by simply calling a plumber. You would need to call in a team of craftspeople - in the right sequence - in order to repair the damage. Calling in the roofer before restoring the walls would be absurd.
Individuals who have sustained severe emotional damage or multiple traumas, or who had their foundations damaged by early childhood neglect or abuse, tend not to do well with singular, well-intended, or even well-delivered therapeutic approaches. Repeated attempts and failures reinforce the hopelessness and futility that are central to the inner beliefs of those who suffer. Essentially, they believe they are broken beyond repair. This is what we refer to as nihilism (i.e., "I am hopeless and there is no meaning, no escape... nothing will work"). The result is often a resumption of self-medicating: indulging in drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior, bad relationships, etc. Addiction is a frequent cohort of pain, futility, and hopelessness.
Researchers have been trying for decades to develop singular, powerful treatments for the cure of PTSD. Whereas the treatments are better, even the best treatment techniques fail when facing complex PTSD with co-occurring conditions. Very often, immersion in a safe, sane environment is needed in order to gain some traction. This is why we often need a higher level of care to start the process of rebuilding.
The very first foundations are:
2. Restored sleep cycle. Once this foundation is secure, additional techniques can be employed. However, it is important to recognize that we are dealing with complex problems. We need multiple approaches - delivered skillfully, cooperatively, and rationally - with several specialty artists who can work comfortably with the necessary complexity, honesty, and skill.
While science has helped and will help us further, no magic, medicine, or technique will rebuild the damage inflicted by severe childhood abuse, war, and subsequent disasters. We need to utilize a team with a wide range of tools and skills. We need to embrace the complexity, rather than deny its reality. So, sobriety first, sleep second; then the rebuilding can begin. Do not minimize how much structural work is needed; almost any building can be rebuilt, but it requires a team with many disciplines and several tools, all used in a synthetic, not simplistic, fashion.
LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA IN ARIZONA
by Jerry Boriskin, PhD
Arizona Legalizes Medical Marijuana: www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20022928-10391704.html
The following Time Magazine article, "How Marijuana Got Mainstreamed" looks at the issue from a national perspective: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2030768,00.html
As a professional who treats individuals with PTSD and other co-occurring conditions, I want to encourage you to be careful in separating hype, culture, science, and fact in making decisions about using marijuana as a tool, distraction, or method of coping with emotional and/or physical discomfort. Perhaps the most important thing to know is the difference between a drug and a medicine. Cannabis may in fact have some medicinal ingredients; separating the medicine from cannabis" 400 other chemicals will require additional science, some of which is already under way. I list below my key concerns:
1. You might feel mellow when you smoke or consume cannabis, but your ability to learn, drive a car, or function in a relationship may become more impaired than you would ever dream. There is evidence that young brains, not fully developed, may be permanently injured or altered by marijuana use.
2. Self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, and/or marijuana can make things much worse, not better. We know that alcohol increases depression and the risk of violence. The negative impact of cannabis is more subtle for most, and dramatic for a few. For some individuals, anxiety is relieved temporarily but increases over time. Some long-term users develop full-blown panic attacks.
3. Regular use of cannabis can increase the risk of schizophrenia, a serious psychiatric disorder. Modern marijuana tends to contain higher levels of hallucinogens than did the pot of the 1960s. We also believe that marijuana increases the risk of the onset of bipolar disorder. We do not fully understand all the causative factors for these serious illnesses, but genetic and environmental risk factors do exist. The use of marijuana appears to increase the risks.
4. Cannabis is addictive. There are some disputes regarding the formal definition of "addiction," but recent evidence indicates that cannabis meets the criteria of an addictive substance. Those of us who treat addictions have seen many older and sober patients who have been addicted to marijuana for decades; one of the most common observations is "I don't know how I lost the last 20 years. I got nothing done."
5. Smoking marijuana may mask symptoms of PTSD - delaying treatment, recovery, and natural mastery of powerful symptoms.
6. Self-medicating is not the same as treatment. When you self-medicate, you cannot control the content, quality, or dose of what you consume, and you are at great risk of becoming impaired, addicted, or out of control in ways you might not see for a long time.
Bottom line: If you are a trauma survivor, you should be aware that self-medicating for PTSD and other psychiatric disorders is risky. I am an advocate of your good physical, emotional, and interpersonal health. I urge you to avoid self-medicating with alcohol as well as cannabis; staying sober and clear-headed will help you recover from the symptoms that bring you to our doors.