The Meadows Blog

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.

The Meadows is 40 years old this month! Our first patient was admitted on June 18, 1976 . We’re proud of how much we have grown and expanded in the years since, and of the thousands of patients and families whose lives have been forever changed by our programs.

To celebrate, we’re offering a discount on all of The Meadows programs: The Meadows, Gentle Path at The Meadows, The Claudia Black Young Adult Center at the Meadows, and Remuda Ranch at The Meadows.

When you admit to The Meadows between now and June 30, you’ll pay $45,500. That’s 20 percent off the regular price. It’s a great deal for the quality and level of service you’ll get at one of the nation’s most established and well-respected behavioral health and addiction treatment centers.

Call 800-244-4949 today to take advantage of this offer. Spaces are limited.

Dan Griffin, MA is a Senior Fellow at The Meadows and an expert in men’s trauma and recovery. The following essay was published on his website in 2015. You can learn more about Dan’s workshop at The Meadows, A Man’s Way™ Retreat, by calling 800-244-4949. You can also find his books online.

I hated my father for a very long time.

Of course, when we are honest with ourselves most of our hate comes out of deep hurt. And that is exactly what it was for me: I felt deeply hurt that my father was never quite able to be the man that we seemed forced to celebrate every Father’s Day. He was never quite able to be the father that I needed. If he made it through the day’s “celebration” without getting drunk and/or yelling or berating one or all of us it was a good day.

I do not say this to defame or castigate my father. He was a much more complicated man than his alcoholism or his abusiveness. He was brilliant, talented, creative, funny, a good provider, and even sensitive.

Though I can probably count them on both hands, there are times when my father showed up as the father I believe he truly wanted to be. The man beneath the armor.

But it would be disingenuous to act as if there was not a much darker side to my relationship with my father.

Changing Our Stories

Inextricably connected to my ability to be a father has been the healing work I have had to do around my relationship with my father who, sadly, lost his own battle with chronic alcoholism twenty years ago, at the age of 54.

His tale is one that has been told far too often, written in the Book of Men and Masculinity throughout the ages. These tales lack a Hallmark ending and no two dollar card can make it all okay.

As a man in long-term recovery from his own addiction, I am not only changing my story but I’d like to think I am even changing my father’s story.

The more I have been able to free myself from the pain and hurt of my fractured relationship with my father the more I have been able to see him as a human being who was full of suffering, trapped in the armor of masculinity in which he ultimately suffocated.

The Process of Forgiveness

The process of forgiveness in my own relationship with my father has not been about forgetting him or even “the good, the bad, and the ugly” experiences, but simply letting go of the hurt. The more I have been able to let go, the more I have been able to emerge as my best self.

It has not been perfect. There are vestiges of the best parts of my father and the worst parts of my father still inside of me. There will always be. For that I am actually grateful; all of those experiences have helped to create the man – and father – I have become.

A lot of what I learned about how to be a father I learned from my father. I learned a lot about what not to do and how not to be. Every young man watches the men around him to figure out how to be a man. How to treat women. How to treat kids.

My father was not a horrible person. He was just a very sick person. He had a lot of childhood trauma that I had no idea about until after his death. My father didn’t talk about his daily life so there was no way he was going to open up about some of the most painful experiences of his life. So he just went into the basement and listened to his country albums. Or spewed the toxic poison of his pain all over the people who loved him the most.

The Sad Reality of Men with Trauma

Such is the sad experience for so many men with trauma. I found a worksheet from his time in treatment where he stated so simply, “I’ve never thought anyone would even care about my problems.” My heart broke when I read those words while cleaning up his office shortly after his death.

The real truth? I miss my father. Not a week goes by that I do not think of him and what we could have had. I talk to him all of the time. I have spent the past twenty years asking him to be the father he never could be while he was alive as I have navigated the inevitable trials and tribulations of life.

My relationship with my father has transformed over the years since his death as I have matured. As I have gotten glimpses into my own darkness. As I have come to realize how people experience me versus how I want to come across. All of that has brought me closer to the father I never met.

I think about the father he wanted to be versus the father he was. I think about who he was in his heart of hearts. That is the father I celebrate – and grieve – on Father’s Day. The truth is, I never hated my father. I just hated the fact that I never really got the chance to meet him.

Thursday, 16 June 2016 00:00

Identify Your Triggers to Avoid Relapse

By Claudia Black, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Clinical Architect of the Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows

The following is an excerpt from Claudia Blacks Audio CD “Triggers.” You can find it in The Meadows online bookstore or on

Triggers are specific memories, behaviors, thoughts and situations that jeopardize recovery - signals you are entering a stage that brings you closer to a relapse. The process is much like riding a roller coaster that loops over itself. Once the roller coaster car gets to a certain spot in the track, a threshold is met, there is no turning back, and it starts the downward loop. Just as gravity has a motivating effect on a roller coaster, brain chemistry has a similar effect motivating triggers. When people use substances or engage in escape behaviors the brain releases neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and dopamine that trigger the brain’s pleasure/reward center; or it may release serotonin which lessens anxiety and depression.

Will power alone is not a defense against a relapse. Recovery is achieved, maintained and enjoyed through a series of actions. Learn to identify your triggers, and with each one identify a plan that anticipates and de-escalates the power of the trigger. With that, your reward is another day of sobriety and endless possibilities.

Five Common Triggers

Romanticizing the Behaviors

Romanticizing involves a tunnel focus only on the positive feelings you associate with the behavior, it is glamorizing using behaviors and in the moment totally forgetting about the negative consequences.

Getting overwhelmed at times is to be expected, but it’s very easy to slip into romanticizing without any insight as to how you got there and at that moment you enter a slippery zone, touching the trigger. While romanticizing is in and of itself a trigger, it is often in tandem with an external trigger such as noises, sights, sounds or even tastes. You could be watching a movie and the next thing you know it is depicting the power of alcohol, drugs and sex in a positive way and you are off into romanticizing. Or you’re listening to the radio and an advertisement for a drug comes on, and you think about your pain pills as the commercial goes on to tell you how much better you’ll feel, and off you go. Or you’re watching a ball game on TV and as you watch you can almost smell the popcorn and peanuts and you see the spectators drinking large cups of beer and everyone is smiling like it’s only a good time.

Take a few moments to think about how you romanticize your addictive behavior: What do I find yourself thinking about? What is the romanticizing covering up? What am I forgetting to take into account?


Recovery is the ability to tolerate your feelings without the need to medicate, engage in self-destructive or self-defeating behaviors and thoughts. Addicts have used their behaviors and substances for years to separate from their emotional states. And there is so much to feel about—guilt for how your behavior has hurt others; sadness for your losses; anger with yourself; fear of what is in front of you; shame for thinking you are inadequate, not worthy. You can act out in response to every feeling imaginable.

Any person or situation can trigger threatening feelings. You are upset when you realize your friends are reluctant to include you on a weekend outing because you created a scene last time. You want the people you work with to like you but you are anxious that you will be rejected, or not welcomed. Your sister won’t let you babysit her kids anymore and you feel guilty, sad and angry. You just met with your ex-wife and you walk away angry, like always when you see her.

You are working hard in your recovery and you know you are doing pretty well, but it still isn’t easy to have these feelings and not be reactive. You lessen or get rid of feelings when you own them, talk about them, or in some cases engage in problem-solving. It is when you try to divert, ignore, and numb that you get into trouble. Feelings are a part of the human condition and you can’t escape them, so the goal is to learn how to tolerate the feelings.

Recognize the gifts that come with feelings. Feelings are cues and indicators telling you what you need. Loneliness tells you in your humanness you need connection, fear can offer you protection, sadness offers growth, guilt is your conscious, offering direction for amends. It is critical for you to have this insight, and more importantly to start to take ownership of recognizing the feelings when you have them. It is vital to learn how to be with the feeling and how to appropriately express it. It is also necessary to find safe people in which to share your emotional experiences.

So when you recognize your feelings ask yourself …

What do I need? What feelings are ones I go to any length to avoid? What is the price you pay for hiding or masking those feelings?


Coupled with the trigger of feelings is the fact those feelings are often associated with loss. By the time you get to recovery you have had multiple losses in your life, often losses related to childhood, many times due to being raised with abuse, addiction, mental illness, etc. While you may have experienced trauma within your original family, the pain of loss may be from a specific situation; You may have experienced the loss of relationship with your parents or children; or the death of friends, family; or abortions, career or work opportunities missed. As an addict, you are likely to have losses related to health issues. Perhaps you have Hepatitis C, or HIV, or injuries due to accidents.

The goal is not to dwell on your losses, but to not live in the pain and anguish of them which is what happens when you don’t acknowledge them and what they mean, triggering you back to your using behavior. With some loss, you can only grieve, and ultimately come to find some meaning from your experience, with others in time, you can attempt to repair damaged relationships.


Resentment is also a feeling but I think it warrants its own place as a significant trigger. Resentments are often built on assumptions, When you don’t look at me I assume you think you are better than me. When you don’t include me in a social gathering, I am assuming you think I am not good enough to be with you and your friends. They are also built on entitlement, which is a form of unrealistic expectations and impatience. For example:

I have been in recovery six weeks now. I resent the fact that my wife still doesn’t trust me. Now that I am clean and sober my boss should give me that promotion I deserve.

The attitude in both examples is not just that you should be rewarded for doing well, but that you should be rewarded for the sacrifices made. After all, you have given up your alcohol, your drugs, and/or the addictive behavior and therefore deserve to be rewarded. The problem here is that you are still more connected to the loss than to the gifts of sobriety. Ways to move from resentments are – when assuming, check it out; put yourself in someone else’s shoes (it may allow expectations to be more realistic); identify and own the feelings the resentment is covering (often it’s a cover for feelings of inadequacy and/or fear); be willing to live and let live.

Some questions to consider:

What does it mean for me to hang onto resentments? What would it mean to accept that I have been hurt or wronged and that I can no longer change that? What does it mean to take responsibility for my own feelings? Ultimately who pays the price for hanging onto resentments? Today am I willing to let go of resentments?

Slippery people, places or situations

You need to identify specific triggers that are people, places, and situations that are high risk. Slippery people could be your ex-lover, certain family members, past using/party buddies. A slippery place might be a bar you used to frequent, a casino or an area in your community where you cruised. Slippery situations could be an emotionally charged social gathering, such as a wedding, a family event, or vacation setting. In essence, any place that triggers a positive association with the use of your drug of choice.

Medication may be also a trigger for which you need to be accountable. While there are situations where medication is needed, you are at high risk of abuse. You need to be proactive in how you are going to cope with this situation because it is likely your brain is going to remember a good feeling, saying more is better. Just because you are agitated, doesn’t mean you need a prescription pill. Again, there are situations where medications are necessary, but self-diagnosis and/or self-prescribing only create a recipe for disaster.

What are the people, places or situations that are potential triggers? What creates the greatest safety for me to not get triggered? What triggers can I avoid? If I can’t avoid a certain place, can I lessen the contact or time? Is going into this slippery situation worth the risk?

You Have Options in Recovery

While some decisions around triggers are absolute, others are not necessary for your entire life. Know your triggers and make a plan accordingly. In the face of a trigger, what do you need to do? What do you need to tell yourself? Who can you reach out to for support and or problem solving?

1) Practice staying in the present, don’t sit in the past or project into the future

2) Validate the gifts of recovery for the day – practice gratitude daily

3) Identify, build and use a support system – you need to stay connected. History and experience has proven time and time again, that recovery is not a solitary process, and cannot be sustained in isolation.

4) Trust your Higher Power is on your side

Need Help Achieving or Maintaining Sobriety?

Whether you are new to treatment or transitioning from inpatient treatment, you may need a program that helps you to build skills for maintaining your sobriety. In addition to its “mainstream” intensive outpatient program, The Meadows Outpatient Center offers a program designed specifically for young adults, ages 18 – 26. The Claudia Black Young Adult Outpatient Program is designed to foster the development of the individual while helping them build skills to prevent relapse as they transition into a more fulfilling and self-sufficient life. Call today for more information: 800-244-4949.

Lori was in a deep, dark depression after her marriage of 27 years ended. She was filled with fear and was experiencing suicidal tendencies. The Meadows helped her learn to sit with her pain, process it, and find hope for the next chapter of her life.

Learning how to accept and release negative emotions is one of the keys to overcoming depression, addiction, and other disorders. At The Meadows we give you the tools you need to find your balance and your inherent self-worth. Call today for more information at 800.244.4949.

The following letter was written by a woman who attended The Love Addiction/Love Avoidance workshop at The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows. At the end of the workshop, participants were asked to write a goodbye letter to their love addiction and to the walls they had put up around themselves as a result. You can learn more about the workshop by calling 800-244-4949 or by sending us an email. Those who register before June 30 will receive a 25 percent discount!

Dear Soul-Sucking Newly Identified Issues,

First, I'm going to dismantle my wall one brick at a time. I will remove each brick and grind it into dust. I will then reform the dust into something useful, like a bird bath that I will place in my garden where the wall used to stand. I know I will occasionally feel the need to start a new wall, but I will only need to remind myself that maybe a short, temporary fence can serve the same protective purpose. A fence is something that two people can lean on and talk across until they both decide that any kind of barrier is unnecessary.

While I am dismantling my wall, I am also kissing the fantasy goodbye. Rumor has it that men are mere humans, unable to leap tall buildings, and that their ability to read my mind and fulfill my every wish without a word from me has been overstated by both Hollywood and Harlequin. Given that I've been duped by mass media once again, I'm going in search of a better story. There's something to be said for that thing called reality programming! Instead of holding out for the glass slipper, I'm putting on my hiking boots and starting the search for this creature they call a perfectly imperfect human man. You can no longer keep me captivated with stories of happily ever after. I'm willing to strive for "really good" after a lot of hard work, knowing that some days are still probably going to suck.

So, Fantasy Life, I say this: Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to reality I go.

R. T.

Wednesday, 08 June 2016 00:00

Don't Give Up

Thomas was very sick, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After trying other treatment programs, he thought that maybe happiness and sobriety were just not in the cards for him. At The Meadows he learned how trauma, shame, and guilt keep people stuck and prevent them from being able to maintain their sobriety. He also learned how to let go of that shame and guilt and to have hope again.

If you need help with addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, emotional trauma, or other mental health issues, please call The Meadows today at 800-244-4949

Congratulations to Patrick Carnes, PhD, Senior Fellow and clinical architect at Gentle Path at The Meadows. He has received the prestigious 2016-2017 Fulbright - Canada - Palix Foundation award in Brain Science with additional support from The American Foundation For Addiction Research (AFAR).

Dr. Carnes now joins the ranks of the many Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer Prize winners and other distinguished scholars who have received this award. He will also serve as a Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Alberta in 2017.

He will use his award to conduct a groundbreaking and unprecedented research study into the genetic factors associated with sexual addiction. More than 1,000 people (500 sex addicts and 500 non-addicts) from various centers across the U.S. and Canada will take part in the study. The study seeks to answer the following questions:

  • What genes are linked to sexual addiction?
  • How do these genes compare to the genes linked to alcoholism and drug addiction?
  • Are there specific clusters of genes that predispose sexual addicts to behave in certain ways? In other words, can we predict whether an addict will become compulsive about adultery or pornography or voyeurism, etc.?
  • What psychological disorders are linked to the different types of sexual addiction? For example, if a person is anti-social, is he more likely to compulsively pay for sex, engage in voyeurism, or pursue anonymous sex?

A full-genome genetic analysis of all participants will be conducted via saliva specimens. Advanced statistical techniques will be used to identify the genes that are linked to various types of sexual addiction, and to link genetic patterns to psychopathology and sexual addiction type.

This study could lead to many exciting developments that would vastly improve treatment and access to treatment for those who struggle with sex addiction. It could, for example:

  • Lead to a screening tool for those with a sexual addiction, much like those available for alcoholism.
  • Show definitively that sex addiction involves the same brain pathways as other addictions.
  • Facilitate coverage of sex addiction and reimbursement or treatment by health insurance companies
  • Reduce stigma and lead to more prompt and effective treatments for those who are struggling with the disorder.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Carnes and in supporting his efforts to lead us to a greater understanding of sex addiction and an improved ability to offer effective treatments for those whose lives have been shattered by the disorder.

Monday, 06 June 2016 00:00

The Meadows Celebrates 40 Years

On Friday, June 24, 2016, The Meadows will celebrate its 40 years of excellence in helping patients struggling with addiction and behavioral health disorders. An open house event will take place at The Meadows Outpatient Center in Scottsdale, Arizona from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. MST.

There will be several guest speakers on-hand to talk about The Meadows’ legacy and its impact on the gradual acknowledgment throughout the behavioral health community of childhood trauma as a key factor in addiction and other disorders.

A Legacy of Growth

The Meadows was one of the first addiction treatment programs in Arizona. When the first patient was admitted on June 18, 1976, the program was focused primarily on alcoholism and was geared toward men.

In the 40 years since, The Meadows has expanded to treat both men and women with a wide variety of addictions, trauma, and mental health issues. It has also added several specialty programs including Gentle Path at The Meadows for men struggling with sex addiction; The Claudia Black Young Adult Center for people aged 18 – 26 with addiction and behavioral health issues; Remuda Ranch at The Meadows for women and girls with eating disorders; and The Meadows Outpatient Center for those who need treatment in an intensive outpatient setting. They also recently opened the Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows where they host five-day intensive workshops exploring a wide range of emotional growth, relationship, and personal growth topics.

A Legacy of Innovation

Throughout the years, The Meadows has also stayed on the cutting edge of treatment modalities. From the beginning, they were one of the first to recognize childhood trauma as a root cause of addiction and behavioral health disorders and pioneered treatment methods for helping patients overcome their trauma and harmful self-beliefs. Still, to this day, they are often among the first to add the latest, scientifically proven methods for helping patients regulate their emotions and overcome their addictions and disorders—methods like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing®, and most recently, neurofeedback through their cutting-edge Brain Center.

“It is hard to find an area of mental health or addiction recovery that hasn’t been influenced in one way or another by The Meadows,” says Sean Walsh, Chief Executive Officer. “When I think of the thousands upon thousands of patients and families whose lives have been forever changed as a result of The Meadows it is an overwhelming and very humbling experience. The Meadows history and legacy inspires me to strive every day to ensure we are pursuing excellence and that we do all we can to be a source of hope and light to those we are honored to treat.”

To RSVP for the 40 th Anniversary celebration, contact Shannon Spollen at

Monday, 06 June 2016 00:00

Breaking Free from Love Addiction

Terrie was a child born from an extramarital affair. Growing up, she felt like she was unwanted by everyone in her family except her mother. As an adult, she found herself reaching a low point in her life, and tried working with several different therapists. Because of her family history, and because of her skill as therapist herself, she was able to mask her true feelings really, really well. So, her attempts at individual therapy failed.

Feeling hopeless and desperate for change, she went to The Meadows. Learn how the program helped her find her power and break free from false beliefs and love addiction.

Contact The Meadows

Intensive Family Program • Innovative Experiential Therapy • Neurobehavioral Therapy

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