The Meadows Blog

When bystanders pulled Stanford University swimmer and Olympic hopeful Brock Turner away from the woman he was sexually assaulting behind a fraternity house dumpster, he laughed.

When the judge in the resulting sexual assault trial handed down a sentence much more lenient than the recommended six years of jail time, citing the “severe impact” he feared a harsher sentence may have on the 20-year-old, many felt that he might as well have laughed.

Both reactions to Turner’s crime make light of the traumatic and often devastating impact that rape and sexual assault has on its victims. The Brock Turner case opened up many fraught and painful discussions about rape culture and the way that society tends to blame victims of sexual assault and normalize sexual violence.

Many of those same wounds are being reopened this week with the news that Turner will be released from jail after serving only 3 months of a 6 months sentence. The news is not surprising—most expected him to only serve part of his sentence on a presumption of good behavior—but, for many, it’s serving as an unwanted reminder of their own sexual traumas and the ways in which their pain was silenced, ridiculed, or ignored.

The Long-Lasting Impact of Sexual Assault

Researchers aren’t sure why, but rape seems to have a more severe impact on a person than other types of trauma. It’s normal to feel some symptoms of traumatic stress for a few weeks after any experience with violence. Those who develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), however, can continue to experience problems with sleeping, nightmares, panic, severe anxiety and depression that last for months or years. As time goes on, if the person does not receive treatment for the disorder, the symptoms can get worse and worse, and even become debilitating.

People can develop PTSD after any number of horrific events including combat, car accidents, and life-threatening injuries, but rape victims have been found to be more likely to struggle with long-term psychological and physiological issues. They also have a higher risk of developing PTSD and related disorders.

In addition to PTSD, women who were raped have also been found to be more likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction, pain during intercourse, menstrual problems, and inhibited arousal.

Why Does Rape Have a Stronger Impact Than Other Types of Trauma?

Though no one has yet been able to determine the reason why rape has such a heightened traumatic impact, some theorize that both brain chemistry and rape culture play a role.

Cortisol, a hormone that is released in times of stress, was reported in a 2011 study to be found at higher levels in rape victims than in those of people otherwise traumatized.

The exact reason is unknown, but some researchers believe that it could be that the physical closeness of rape prompts the body to respond differently to rape and sexual assault than it does to other types of trauma.

Another possibility is that rape victims’ levels of cortisol are elevated due to the level of shame they experience—shame has been found in some studies to be linked to higher levels of cortisol. If the shame theory holds true, it further illustrates the importance of changing the way we treat rape and sexual assault victims as a society.

Recovery from Rape and Sexual Trauma

Many women who are traumatized by rape experience a secondary traumatization through the harsh scrutiny, blaming, and shaming they receive from law enforcement, family, peers, and others are often reluctant to ask for any further help. Men who are raped or sexually assaulted may be even more unlikely to report the crime or ask for help from the resulting trauma, due to stigmas related to men, sex, and powerlessness.

More must be done to help lift the burden of shame from both male and female victims of sexual assault, and raise awareness about treatment options for PTSD and other mental health issues that often result from the emotional trauma of sexual assault.

If you’d like to talk to us about treatment options for sexual trauma and related disorders, please give us a call at 866-330-1925. Our specialists are glad to answer any questions you may have and understand the importance of keeping your call strictly confidential.

Thursday, 25 August 2016 00:00

Marijuana Addiction is No Joke

Can a person really become addicted to marijuana?

You never hear of any dying from daily pot use. You certainly don’t hear about it in the same way you hear about deaths and other tragedies caused by alcohol and other “harder” drugs. And, there are some serious medical conditions for which marijuana is now believed to be an effective treatment. Additionally, the movement to legalize marijuana seems to be growing—25 states have legalized medical marijuana, while four states plus Washington, D.C. have gone even further and legalized recreational use of pot.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well…The big deal is that like any substance or activity that has the ability to alter your mood or neurological responses, marijuana can be addictive. And, like all other addictions, it can have a devastating impact on your life.

Nowhere to Turn

When people do start to feel that their marijuana use is interfering with their lives and relationships in a negative way, they often have trouble asking for and getting the support they need. Molly Hankins, in a personal essay for Nylon magazine, put it like this: “Being a junkie or an alcoholic who turns themselves over to a 12-step program, the sober lifestyle, God, whatever, registers at the David Bowie end of the addiction spectrum. Being addicted to weed barely registers as laughable and there’s no one in my life I feel comfortable talking to about it. As the era of marijuana prohibition in this country seems to finally be coming to an end, what is the popular discussion surrounding appropriate use? How much is too much? How do I stop if I want to but can’t?

Among the many excellent pointsMolly makes in her essay, her point about the need for a discussion around marijuana and addiction really hits home. The low rate of fatalities directly related to marijuana use, as opposed to heroin or alcohol use, for example, may have contributed to a general societal complacency around Marijuana addiction.

It’s important to note that even though weed may not be as fatal, statistically speaking, as heroin or alcohol, depression is often co-occurring condition that goes along with marijuana addiction. And, withdrawal from marijuana can exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many people—like “Jake” who wrote a letter to Scientific American in 2012 describing his marijuana addiction—often end up having suicidal thoughts.

This means that the drug can, in a way, be indirectly tied to some fatalities. The drug may not be directly responsible for deaths related to suicide, but it certainly doesn’t help to prevent them. Here’s how Jake describes his experience:

“Over time, the proportion of high time to clean time became steadily more heavy on the high side. I went through several periods of suicidally. During my last six months of use the possible necessity to kill myself always seemed just a week or two away. My plan while I was at school was to jump off of a nearby parking garage. At home, I would use my dad's shotgun to shoot myself in the head. I didn't want to feel what I felt when I wasn't high. Luckily, I always got high before I was ready to actually kill myself.”

How Much is Too Much?

For those who become addicted to marijuana, "recreational use" of the drug slowly stops being fun or relaxing. The need to smoke in order to cope with life’s ups and downs and the need to hide how much you’re smoking (or ingesting) from others can have the same isolating and disruptive effects on a person’s life as any other addiction. Here are a few of the signs that someone may be dependent on the drug:

1. Craving
People who are addicted to pot often think that they aren’t "really addicted" if they don't smoke it every day. While it’s true that marijuana addicts can go a few days between smoking again before they suffer any symptoms, it’s important to note that that’s because the chemicals in marijuana can stay in a person’s system for days. Once all of those chemicals are out of their system, subtle but serious withdrawal symptoms can start to set in. The first sign is a craving powerful enough to drive the addict to use the drug again.

2. Irritability and Depression
People who are addicted to marijuana find themselves becoming increasingly irritable and depressed if they go many hours without another hit. Often they don’t recognize the connection between their mood changes and the drug. After several days without the drug addicts can begin to develop severe depression accompanied by frequent crying spells. Many in recovery from marijuana addiction say the experienced a rapid and immense drop in self-confidence and self-esteem along with intense feelings of worthless and anxiety. Some even developed suicidal thoughts.

3. Loss of Ambition
While some pot users may continue to function at their jobs and their personal lives, addicts may end up accomplishing a lot less than would if they were not addicted to the drug. People who were once active and ambitious may stop participating in work, school or social functions, and lower their ambitions or drop them altogether.

4. Physical Changes
Withdrawal from marijuana can also include physical symptoms like nausea and loss of appetite. People in withdrawal often also report having sleep disturbances and nightmares that can continue over a period of months.

How Do I Stop If I Want To But Can’t?

Many people with addiction and substance use problems are afraid to ask for help because of the stigma associated with the disorder. This can especially be true for those struggling with marijuana addiction. Since many harbor the belief that marijuana is a completely harmless drug, many addicts might assume that their friends and or family members will dismiss their concerns, especially if they are marijuana users too who don’t feel that they have experienced any ill effects from the drug.

So, it’s especially important for those who fear that they may be dependent on pot to know that they are not alone - many people struggle with this particular drug in the same ways that they do. They are not imagining things—marijuana addiction is real and it can be treated. And, They are not weak - anyone can become addicted to marijuana.

Help for Marijuana Addiction

If you think that you or a loved might have a problem with marijuana, reach out for help from a therapist and a local Marijuana Anonymous (MA) group.

If the addiction is severe and is accompanied by other disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder—and it often is— inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment may be needed. If so, look for a program that provides treatments that can begin to heal both the emotional and neurological aspects of addiction through trauma work, experiential therapies like equine therapy and art therapy, and brain-based therapies like biofeedback and neurofeedback.

Our specialists at The Meadows would be happy to answer any questions you might have about addiction treatment. Please call us anytime at 800-244-4949 or chat with us through our website.

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.

By Dr. Jon Caldwell, D.O., Ph.D. Chief of Psychiatry at The Meadows

Note: This post was originally published on The Meadows is proud to be a TRICARE Preferred Provider of behavioral health and addiction inpatient services in the West Region. Call us today at 800-244-4949.

Trauma is part of the human experience. Being alive comes with the inevitable risks of stress, injury, sickness, loss, and death. There’s no escaping it. Critically though, these threats to health and life are perhaps most pronounced for individuals who serve in the military. Few other circumstances in modern times make these threats more real than military service. Military service members are required to complete their mission while facing significant risk and threat.

Constant Threat and Chronic Stress

Fortunately, humans are equipped with a highly functional nervous system that, under typical conditions, can successfully deal with most stressors and threats. For example, relatively common experiences like nearly running over a piece of garbage on the freeway, an argument between two people in a retail store, or being disappointed by a loved one are stressful and somewhat threatening situations that are usually managed effectively by most people’s nervous systems.

In circumstances like these, most people feel a temporary surge of adrenaline and hyper awareness to the potential threat; their nervous system prepares them for “fight or flight” and mobilizes the necessary resources to effectively deal with the situation. In relatively short order, the fight or flight reactivity usually subsides naturally, and they are able to return to the flow of their lives: driving, shopping, and social engagement.

However, under extreme or chronic conditions of stress and threat, as is common in military service, the nervous system can become overwhelmed. In fact, the chemical and physical make-up of the brain-body stress response system can be altered by experiences of extreme or chronic stress (i.e., trauma). For many service members, this can result in decreased “resiliency”, or the capacity to effectively manage everyday life circumstances. This shift in resiliency can occur immediately after the experience of trauma, but very often it can occur down the road, sometimes years later.

What is PTSD?

For some service members, the trauma-related changes to the nervous system progresses to the point where he or she qualifies for the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The diagnosis of PTSD is made when a person was directly or indirectly exposed to an extremely stressful or threatening event or series of events that resulted in symptoms of intrusion (e.g., disturbing memories, nightmares, flashbacks), avoidance (e.g., avoidance of thoughts, people, places, and things associated with past trauma), negative alterations in thinking and mood (e.g., self-blame, guilt, shame, isolation, withdrawal, depression), and alterations in arousal and activity (e.g., insomnia, hypervigilance, irritability, anger, self-destructive behavior).

These trauma-related symptoms are very distressing. But, for a variety of reasons, many service members don’t seek help and, despite their best efforts, are unable to manage the symptoms on their own. Therefore, it is common for these individuals to cope with their symptoms by turning to addictive behaviors, like alcohol and drugs, pornography and sex, gambling, video games, and disordered eating. Of course, while these behaviors may temporarily modify unpleasant trauma-related symptoms, they frequently result in more distress and added functional limitations.

What PTSD Looks Like

The everyday situations mentioned above will be used here to better understand the experience of PTSD. For many service members, a piece of garbage on the freeway would likely elicit thoughts, memories, or flashbacks about Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). This experience could easily result in driving-related stress and hypervigilance, intrusive memories or flashbacks, poor concentration while driving, fear and avoidance of driving, or anger and road-rage.

When encountering an argument between two people in a retail store, a service member who is affected by past trauma might experience a pronounced fight or flight response. If it is a fight response, he or she may experience intrusive memories or flashbacks of previous violent encounters and surges of adrenaline in preparation for defending oneself or attacking others. If the individual has a flight response, he or she may experience overwhelming urges to leave the store, avoid that store and similar retail stores, and retreat further from public places and crowds.

If a military service member who is affected by trauma is disappointed by a loved one, he or she may escalate quickly to irritability and anger, perhaps reacting by yelling, throwing things, or becoming violent. Alternatively, the anger might secretly fester into resentments that result in addictive acting out behaviors. On the other hand, being let down by a loved one might result in painful feelings of being misunderstood, guilt and shame, self-loathing, sadness, and depression.

As these vignettes illustrate, services members can have pronounced nervous system reactivity in response to everyday situations as a result of their history of traumatic experiences. This reactivity takes them out of the present moment flow of routine life and leaves them feeling uncomfortable in their own skin and disconnected from other people. In this state, they are more likely to resort to addictive and unhealthy behaviors. Sadly, many service members suffer in silence, and some don’t get help before it’s too late.

Help is Available

Fortunately, it’s never too late to get help, and there is hope! Appropriate treatment can help to identify past traumas, current symptoms, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Additionally, treatment can help reduce nervous system reactivity and restore its natural capacity for self-regulation. Treatment can help affected service members to let go of shame and self-destructive behaviors. Restoration of resiliency means that service members will once again feel confident in their abilities to manage everyday life situations. Lastly, service members who receive appropriate treatment can reestablish safe connections to peers, loved ones, and the world around them – they are able once again to enter the flow of life and experience all that it has to offer!

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.

Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00

Start Your Comeback

In one way or another, to the outside world, you are a picture of success. Chances are you have several things in your life to be grateful for. Maybe you are a leader at your company or in your industry. Maybe you have a great spouse and great kids who you are sending to the best schools. Maybe you have the nice car, and the nice house and the vacations and all of the other spoils that make up the American Dream.

But, in spite of all of this, something doesn’t seem right. You keep making the same mistakes in your life and relationships over and over again. You’ve noticed that you often can’t concentrate, are highly irritable, or are inexplicably sad. You’re starting to wonder if you eat too much (or too little), drink too much, rely too heavily on sleeping pills at night, or watch too much pornography. You’re starting to worry about people finding out your “secret,” and about losing your spouse or partner, your friends, your job, or your livelihood.

Or maybe you’re in recovery, but feel like you’re starting to slip. You know you need to do a little more therapeutic work to get to where you want to be in life.

“What is going on with me?” you wonder. “And, what can I do about it?”

Book Your Stay at The Rio Retreat Center

The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers intensive workshops that can help you through either of the above scenarios and many more. The workshops are designed and led by some of the nation’s top behavioral health experts. In a relaxing and restorative setting, you will explore the root causes of your troubles and begin to resolve the negative thoughts and feelings from which unwanted and self-defeating behaviors arise.

If you are struggling to achieve your goals and enjoy your life in the same one you once did, we want to help you stage a comeback. So, from now until September 30, we’ll give you 25 percent off the price of a Rio Retreat Center workshop when you book overnight accommodations at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse.

Bunkhouse Benefits

The Rio Retreat Center is about an hour away from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Those who stay at the on-site Bunkhouse have the added benefit of free transportation to and from the airport—no need to worry about the hassle of renting a car!

The rooms at the Bunkhouse are purposely free of the distractions that often accompany hotel lodging such as TVs and phones. This helps makes your stay more conducive to the process of healing and recovery. Bunkhouse occupants also have access to the swimming pool during certain hours.

Make Your Reservations Today!

Space in the Bunkhouse is limited, so don’t hesitate to book your workshop and your room. Call 800.244.4949 today. You must mention this blog post when booking your stay in order to take advantage of the special offer.

Special Offer Details

Book a room at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse and receive 25% off the price of your workshop.

  • Workshop participant must book single or double occupancy in our bunkhouse at normal rate
  • Rio Retreat Bunkhouse accommodations include round-trip transportation from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, Sunday evening snack and all meals through noon on Friday and all complimentary activities
  • Workshop registration must be completed and payment made by September 30, 2016
  • Workshop attendance can occur any time before December 31, 2016
  • Offer applies to most workshops offered at the Rio Retreat Center (see note)
  • Workshop registration is subject to availability
  • Participant must be clinically appropriate for the workshop
  • Travel expenses are the responsibility of the participant


  • Discount does not apply to these workshops: Discovery to Recovery, Family Workshops and Couples Workshop.
  • Rio Retreat Bunkhouse has lodging available on a first come, first served basis.
  • This blog post must be mentioned when registering to receive the discount.

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.

Michael Phelps rehab

Watch The Interview Here

Inner Child Work at The Meadows

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.

Register Today

For more information call 800-244-4949 or contact us online.

You often hear people say that Americans live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. We tend to view being famous— or even just generally well-known— as the height of achievement. We sometimes also assume that once you’ve reached the height of fame you leave all “regular people” problems behind. “If you’re a celebrity, you have a lot of money, and if you have a lot of money, you can make any problem go away,” is often the belief.

Then, when celebrities hit a rough patch in life and fall, proving themselves to be all too human, we can be less than empathetic: “They have everything! Why would they risk throwing it all away like this? What do they have to be depressed about?” the water cooler chatter often goes.

Michael Phelps’ recent feature story on ESPN’s SportsCenter, is a touching and important reminder that no one is completely immune from the effects of childhood trauma. No amount of talent, money, or recognition can take away the pain that’s rooted in your past. As a matter of fact, oftentimes the spoils of success can further complicate those issues. “I have all of this, so why am I so deeply unhappy? Why do I still feel worthless? Why do I only want to drink more (or party more, hide away more, or work more) even though I know it isn’t healthy?”

michael phelps

Watch the video here

The bad news is that no matter who you are, you can get caught up in the downward spiral of depression and addiction. But, the good news is that no matter who you are, you have the power to overcome your depression and/or addiction. Sometimes, all it takes is the courage to stand up, like Michael Phelps did, and admit that you are struggling and that you are scared. There’s nothing shameful about asking for help.

If you think that you or someone you love needs help right now, give us a call at 800-244-4949.

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.

Athletes Inspire Us

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.

The Sports World’s Most Hidden Injuries

“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 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.

Breaking the Stigma ad Taking the First Step

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.

Spending time in treatment is something many people don’t want to talk about. And, understandably so—There is, unfortunately, still a stigma often attached to those who struggle with addiction or mental health issues and ask for help. This can be especially true among those who are considered “high achievers.” Executives, entrepreneurs, successful entertainers, and elite athletes all tend to fall within this group.

So, it’s quite remarkable that, since early Spring, Olympic gold medalist and swimming superstar Michael Phelps has been talking very openly and candidly about his emotional difficulties and the treatment he received for them.

In an article recently featured in ESPN The Magazine, Phelps said, "I didn't give a s---, I had no self-esteem. No self-worth. I thought the world would just be better off without me. I figured that was the best thing to do—just end my life."

This mindset is where Phelps was just a couple of years ago. Rock bottom. And, yet, somehow, he went from there to, just a few weeks ago, placing first in the 200m butterfly during the Olympic swimming trials with a time only three seconds shy of his 2009 world record and qualifying for his fifth U.S. Olympic team. It’s a remarkable story of how showing humility and courage in the face of trauma and pain can help anyone make a personal comeback.

We can’t wait to hear more of Michael Phelps’ comeback story in his upcoming segment on ESPN’s SportsCenter. It’s set to air July 31, 2016 at 11:30 a.m. EST. We’ll be tuning in here at The Meadows and cheering on Michaels’ comeback to the pool, and to his new life.



Everett Collection /

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