The Meadows Blog

Friday, 16 September 2016 00:00

Recovery Requires Shining a Light on Trauma

By Peter Charad

It's one of those memories that feels like it happened yesterday.

Tuesday evening, October 5, 1976, I had checked into the Sheraton Hotel in Hong Kong. As I arrived at my room I heard the phone ringing.

I was excited as I assumed it was my Hong Kong pals phoning to tell me what the arrangements were for the evening.

I have never been able to describe the feeling when, as I picked up the telephone, my ex-brother-in-law told me that my brother had taken his own life.

Colin was the family hero; my personal hero. My belief was that when all else failed he would be there to catch me⎯and he was gone!

I couldn't breathe, I felt nauseous, and then an enormous, scary howl screeched out of me. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I felt so alone and in dire stress; completely out of control.

A colleague had been phoned before I was phoned and very shortly arrived at my door with a bottle of XO Brandy. He poured out a very large glass for me. Those powerful feelings began to subside.

Early the next morning I bought the first 10mg Valium tablets, of many to come, and booked my journey to Johannesburg for the Friday funeral. There was no direct flight so I was booked to leave in the evening via Australia, a 37-hour journey that I survived on alcohol and Valium!

I made it to the funeral and returned back to Hong Kong two days later to continue on as if nothing had happened. The reality was that it hadn't happened on a “feeling level.” I had gone way up into that space where I couldn't feel hurt anymore and I continued to live up there for another 12 years surviving on alcohol and drugs.

I entered a treatment facility in November 1988 to help me stop using these substances. It worked; I was there for five weeks and thankfully haven't found it necessary to use alcohol or any other substance since.

However, little did I know that all the feelings I had numbed before, over and over again for those 12 years were waiting to be felt and processed. It was overwhelming at times; I did not think I would get through it. But, little by little, those enormous feelings began to ease and slowly, after three and a half years of sobbing and screaming I began to surface feeling calm⎯not high, just calm.

It allowed me to emotionally bury my late brother with love and then start healing from all the pain and find the real person under all of that trauma. I am so grateful that I stayed and found mentors who shone lights for me when everything looked so dark.

Share Your Story

In honor of National Recovery Month, we want to hear your story and share it with others. 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 asauceda@themeadows.org, or share them on Twitter and mention @AndreaSauceda in your tweet.

Published in Treatment & Recovery
Thursday, 15 September 2016 00:00

Being Fearless in Recovery Means Being Vulnerable

By: Rachel Margolis

My immediate thought about the word "fearless" is of one being without fear. For years, I have been literally frozen by fear and pain from childhood trauma that rolled into adulthood. As a child, displaying any feelings at all prompted being shamed by my caregivers, who I was afraid of most of all. I dived into addiction in order not to feel that fear and pain. Eventually, I was unable to feel anything without feeding my addiction - and that soon ceased to work. The result? I found myself not even able to get out of bed. I wasn't afraid of dying - I was afraid of living. I couldn't feel anything and didn't want to.

During my stay at The Meadows this year, I learned to identify my feelings and "sit with them" opposed to minimizing, denying, and avoiding them. I was full of fear as I faced the darkest parts of my life and I did something so painfully difficult for me - I asked for help each step of the way. I took the risk to be vulnerable and trust people - my peers, my therapists, and my Higher Power. When I reached out for help, I found the "fear" became "less"!

Being fearless in recovery to me is taking the risk to be vulnerable - willing to be seen and to see and accept others where they are. Being fearless is putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward with openness, honesty and willingness, even when it's painful. It's being perfectly imperfect and accepting the humanity of myself and others - while striving to be the best me I can be, which will always be enough. I have discovered that my addiction and trauma are stronger than ME, but not stronger than WE! With that WE strength I know I can walk through the most challenging times that I might face.

Share Your Story

In honor of National Recovery Month, we want to hear and share your story. 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 asauceda@themeadows.org, or share them on Twitter and mention @AndreaSauceda in your tweet.

Published in Treatment & Recovery

Jim Dredge, CEO of Alita Care, LLC, has announced that Kyle Wescoat will join the company as Chief Financial Officer. Wescoat’s responsibilities as Alita Care CFO will include oversight of the Finance and Information Technology operations for both Sunspire Health and Meadows Behavioral Healthcare.

Wescoat comes to Alita Care with more than 25 years of CFO experience in a variety of well-regarded public and private companies, including Emulex, VIZIO, and Vans. He also has previous experience in the field of behavioral health as the former Executive Vice President and CFO of Aspen Education Group and as CFO of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare. Wescoat received his undergraduate degree from Drexel University and MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan.

“Kyle has proven himself to be a tremendous CFO and organizational leader in a variety of settings. He brings with him a remarkable set of skills and experiences that I believe will benefit Alita Care as we continue to evolve our 15 differentiated programs for treating addiction and other behavioral health disorders,” said Dredge. “I look forward to working with Kyle to create more high-quality treatment options for patients and their families, clinical referral sources, and payors across the country in the rapidly changing behavioral health environment.

Wescoat is also active in his community. He has maintained a long-time involvement with Hoag Hospital Presbyterian and serves as Chairman of Hoag Irvine’s Executive Advisory Board. He also serves on the President’s Advisory Council at Drexel University.

“I appreciate the confidence of our new investor (Kohlberg and Co). I think Alita Care is uniquely positioned to offer a care continuum not found in any other neurobehavioral health company,” Wescoat said. “ I am excited about the innovative ways Sunspire is addressing the in-network market, and Meadows Behavioral Healthcare remains the highest quality provider of trauma-based therapy and eating disorder treatment available anywhere. “

Published in News & Announcements
Thursday, 18 August 2016 00:00

Trauma from Natural Disasters Can Linger

Trauma that arises from natural disasters—like the horrific flood that has devastated much of Louisiana this week—can have a heavy emotional toll on those who are directly affected, including survivors, rescue workers, volunteers, bystanders, and witnesses. Mild to moderate stress reactions are normal and expected for anyone involved. Although their reactions, emotions, and behaviors may seem extreme at the time, they generally don’t turn into chronic disorders.

For some, though, the trauma can be so overwhelming that it more or less “rewires” the person’s brain, putting them in a state of hypervigilance and/or helplessness for many months or years beyond the event leaving them with the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or severe anxiety and depression.

When Does Stress Become a Stress Disorder?

Peter Levine, a renowned trauma expert and Senior Fellow at The Meadows, defines trauma not by the event, but by the person’s reactions to it and their symptoms. Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, shootings, and massive violent attacks are events that typically come to mind when people think of traumatic events. Many might also include being involved in a serious accident, being a witness to a serious accident, or being the victim of or witness to a serious crime as “trauma.”

Some people will be more severely affected by a traumatic event and struggle for varying periods of time based on the nature of the event and their own temperament. Some of the warning signs that someone is experiencing levels of stress beyond what is normal and expected after a traumatic event and may be struggling with PTSD include…

  • Dissociation (amnesia, feeling as if he world is not real, losing your sense of identity, taking on a new identity, feeling disconnected from your body)
  • Flashbacks (vivid “screen” memories, night terrors, repetitive reenactment)
  • Panic attacks, violent impulses, inability to concentrate
  • Paralyzing anxiety, constant worry, severe phobias, obsessions, fear of losing control
  • Problematic drug and alcohol use, sexual acting out, eating issues, and other forms of self-medication
  • Delusions, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts

Any of these symptoms indicate that the person likely needs help from a mental health professional or treatment program.

When to Get Help for PTSD

It’s not possible to predict when or if someone who has experienced a traumatic event will develop PTSD. Some people will seem fine at first—maybe even strangely fine—only to be overcome with the disorder some time later. In general survivors of natural disasters should see a therapist or mental help professional if acute stress symptoms don’t subside after a month, or if they feel that their thoughts and emotions, and their lives, are spiraling out of control.

If a treatment program is needed, it might be helpful to look for one that offers not only talk therapy but also EMDR, Somatic Experiencing©, and the latest neurofeedback techniques for treating trauma. A comprehensive, brain-based approach can help PTSD sufferers recover more fully and return to “normal” more quickly.

Published in Trauma

By Joe Whitwell, MAC, LAC, CCTP

“HELLLOOO!!! Welcome to The Meadows Intensive Outpatient Program!” shouts Director Jim Corrington as he jumps from behind his desk to greet me.

Jim is a large man, well over six feet tall and follically-challenged—yep, he’s bald. Like a proud father Jim’s grin is a mile wide as he introduces himself and then gives a bit of the history of the IOP in Scottsdale.

Spaces Designed for Healing

The second person (ish) I am introduced to is “Huggy” the bear. Huggy is a large overstuffed bear that usually sits in the middle of the entrance when not traveling to each of The Meadows’ campuses. Huggy is always ready for a large embrace if your arms manage to fit all the way around.

As Jim continues my tour he explains—and it is easy for me to see—that the foyer is designed to greet me in much the same way patients greet Huggy. It is a large round space with a sitting area in the center, giving it the feel of an “embrace” for those entering the building. It makes each patient and guest feel welcome and lets them know that they are entering a place of safety and comfort.

An Outstanding Outpatient Staff

As we make our way around the building, I meet each staff member one by one. I am surprised to hear there are more than 60 years of combined recovery experience among them. Jim proudly introduces each person and explains their specialty and how they were hand-picked for their skills. There are trauma therapists, a sex addiction therapist, an addiction specialist, and an art therapist who also happened to own her own art gallery!

There is a psychiatrist here every week and a therapist specially trained in treating young adults. There is also a full-time nutritionist who helps patients plan meals and sits and eats with them daily to talk with them about nutrition in everyday life. I am told that she is available to all of the patients to sit with for chats about food or anything else I am interested in learning.

Transformative Group Sessions and Neurological Therapies

I am taken through a set of tall glass doors and enter into an area that is very quiet and very calm with soft music playing overhead. Jims explains in his softer “indoor” voice that there are groups, individual sessions, art therapy, and yoga all happening behind the closed group room doors.

Jim then leads me down a hallway pointing toward one-on-one session rooms. Each room has The Meadows Model and beautiful artwork on the walls. Each room also has an EMDR light bar and very comfortable looking chairs.

Our next stop is the Brain Spa. It’s at the end of the hallway. Inside there are patients lying down listening to what I think is music but actually turns out to be a state-of-the-art recording with frequencies of sound designed to change their brain waves. I don’t quite understand how it works, but I know that I would love to lie down in one of those cushy chairs and listen.

I meet the Brain Spa technician and she tries to explain another of the neurofeedback therapies to me. She shows me a laptop with electrodes that connect to your head with sticky stuff. The program on the laptop plays music and flashes lights. The technician says it does something to my brain waves—I still don’t really get it, but she very nice, and really seems to know her stuff, so I decide I’ll give it a try as part of my treatment.

We end the tour by taking a look at the group rooms with their new furniture, big screens mounted on the walls, and computers and DVD players. In the back of the building is a large room where I learn that lectures and yoga take place, and where on the weekends they show recovery movies and eat pizza.

There is also a small kitchen with tables that I can use if I need to.

This place is amazing. It is new, and clean, and everyone is so nice! I cannot wait to sign up, get down to business and start my healing.

“Thanks, Jim! Thanks, everybody!” I yell as I head out the door. It’s hard leaving Huggy behind (ha), but I know I will be back. This place ROCKS.

For More Information

The year-round beautiful weather of Scottsdale, Arizona makes The Meadows Outpatient Center the ideal place to begin or continue your journey of recovery. In a safe and nurturing environment, our patients are guided along their journey through an examination of the underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring disorders. We help people find the courage to face difficult issues, heal from emotional trauma and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery. Read more about our programs on our website, or give us a call at 800-244-4949.

Published in Treatment & Recovery

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