By Dr. Georgia Fourlas, LCSW, LISAC, CSAT, Rio Retreat Center Lead Therapist
There is an indescribable beauty in watching participants move into a deeper level of intimacy after struggling through the destruction of sexual addiction.
Mental health professionals can improve treatment through trauma-centered and gender-responsive approaches
When men seek treatment for addiction, depression, and mental health disorders the outcomes are often quite positive. However, there is still room for improvement, since the risk for relapse after treatment is still somewhat high. Dan Griffin, an American sociologist who has studied gender and recovery and trained at Hazelden as a chemical dependency counselor, thinks that the men would be more likely to maintain recovery if treatment programs take a more trauma-centered and gender-specific approach.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s release of Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health at yesterday’s Facing Addiction Summit was an unprecedented moment in our country’s fight against addiction and substance misuse. It is the first time in history that a U.S. surgeon general has issued a report focused on drug and alcohol addiction. The report comes at a time when more and more Americans are struggling with the effects of addiction to opioids and heroin. One person dies every 19 minutes from an opioid or heroin overdose. And, the statistics related to other addictions are no less grim. One in seven people in the United States will face a substance misuse disorder, and only 10 percent will get the treatment they need to overcome it.
Meadows Senior Fellow Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is world-renowned for his work pertaining to the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), childhood trauma, and abuse.
In a video interview on bigthink.com, Dr. van der Kolk explains how the emotional and relational difficulties faced by war veterans shaped the diagnosis of PTSD and how the effects of trauma are major contributing factors.
We are so proud to welcome Kevin McCauley, MD to our team of Senior Fellows!
Dr. McCauley is a graduate of Drexel University College of Medicine and was a U.S. Naval Flight Surgeon for HMH-363 Red Lions Marine Heavy Helicopter squadron and VMFAT-101 Sharpshooters fighter/attack training squadron. He has also served as the Director of Le Mont Michel, a sober living/recovery management program in Sandy, Utah from 2009-2013, and is a co-founder of the Institute for Addiction Study. His film “Pleasure Unwoven” won the 2010 NAATP Michael Q. Ford journalism award.
An online survey conducted by the American Psychological Association recently found that more than 50 percent of Americans feel stressed out and anxious about this year’s presidential election.
Dr. Georgia Fourlas LCSW, LISAC, CSAT, Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows
I live in Arizona so I do not get the benefit of seeing the beautiful fall foliage colors that some of the other parts of the nation enjoy. However, I see plenty of pics of autumn colors posted all over social media from friends across the country.
We are grateful every day for the opportunity to change lives and give hope those struggling with trauma, addiction, or mental health issues. As a token of our gratitude, we are offering to cover airfare for individuals admitting to inpatient treatment at any of our inpatient programs:
In her #Mindful Monday presentation on Facebook, Meadows therapist Joyce Willis reminds us what forgiveness is and what it is not:
“Forgiveness is about bringing peace to ourselves. Forgiveness is a way to end suffering for ourselves and others and to bring dignity and harmony back into our lives. It is fundamentally for our own sake, and for our own emotional health. It is one tool that we can use to let go of the pain that we carry.”
In AA’s Big Book, the 4th step calls on people in recovery to search out ‘the flaws in our make-up which cause our failure,’ and understand that ‘self, manifested in various ways, is what has failed us.” The book goes on to identify the number one failure of self as resentment.
However, for people who have been abused or mistreated, resentment is perfectly reasonable feeling to have toward the perpetrator (or perpetrators.) When people with histories of emotional trauma approach this step in their recovery, they can sometimes feel stuck. Some interpret this step to mean that they have to find a way to accept some responsibility for what happened to them—that they have to somehow find their part in allowing themselves to be victimized.
This notion can most certainly be counterproductive to trauma survivors’ processes of healing. And, it can intensify the shame and self-blame that likely fed their addictions and behavioral health issues in the first place. That’s why there has to be some nuance and balance to interpreting this step for those who have experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse.
No one is responsible for someone else’s decision to abuse them. In order to heal, it’s not the abuse that the survivor has to accept responsibility for but for the ways in which they may have acted out as a result of their feelings related to that abuse. If a trauma and abuse survivor realizes through their work in recovery that they have behaved in ways that were harmful to themselves or others, they can ask themselves “What other choices did I have? Could I have done better given the circumstances?”
All in all, forgiveness is not about absolving the abuser of guilt or letting them “off the hook.” Instead, it’s about letting go of feelings and beliefs that prevent a survivor from living the full, connected, and authentic lives they deserve.
Forgiving is not easy. It is not something you can do in an instant. You can’t simply decide to forgive and then expect all of your anger and resentment to instantly disappear; it is something that you will have to work through over time, by letting go of a little bit of your anger each day.
You may need more than meditation to help you let go of resentment, especially if you have been abused or mistreated. Therapy and self-care can also be crucial to forgiveness, but meditation can play a key supporting role in the process by helping you cultivate your capacity for love, compassion, and healing. Meditation can help you access and accept the past as it is, and help you gain a deeper understanding of the thoughts and beliefs that are blocking you from having a full emotional life and reaching your full potential. More on Mindfulness and Meditation
Check our Facebook page every Monday for a new guided meditation led by one of our experts. Coming up on Oct. 31, Joe Whitwell, MAC, LAC, CCTP and Therapist at The Meadows Outpatient Center will present a mindfulness talk and exercise on Anger.
And, for a more intensive experience, consider registering for or 5-day Mind & Heart: A Mindful Path to Wholehearted Living workshop. For more information call 866-494-4930 or reach out online.