Next Webinar

April 24th, 2024
12 pm-1 pm MT

Working Below the Surface:

Understanding How to Use the Tool of Motivational Interviewing to Decrease Ambivalence and Increase Growth in Addiction Treatment

Presented by:
Dianne Asher, LCSW
Lead Counselor
Harmony Foundation, Inc.

Learn more & Register

Past Webinars

The Role of Attachment in Addiction, Trauma Disorders, and Treatment

*This presentation is no longer eligible for a CE credit

Addiction is often referred to as a disease of isolation because the progressive nature and consequences of one’s addiction eventually result in one being isolated. However, one could contend that addiction is the result of attachment wounds that create relationship patterns that make an individual feel alone, which causes them to lean into substance use and process addictions as a way to connect and regulate their feelings of loneliness. Accordingly, the antidote to addiction is connection. In this presentation, you will learn the theoretical basis for this belief and how to change your practice to address this problem.

Presented by:
Dennis Ballinger – Clinical Director
Momenta Recovery

Dennis Ballinger is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Addictions Specialist in Colorado.  He is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and an Approved Supervisor and Approved Supervisor of Supervision through AAMFT.

Dennis has over 25 years of experience providing counseling to individuals, couples, and families who are struggling with co-occurring disorders.  He has been trained and certified in a number of evidence-based practices, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Functional Family Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Hypnosis for the treatment of Trauma, and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, in addition to many others.

Dennis has trained over 50 individuals working towards their master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and has been a consultant to hundreds of therapists, case workers, and other professionals. He has presented on topics to other professionals and community members throughout Colorado and the Nation on issues that relate to co-occurring disorder treatment, family therapy, trauma, and attachment disorders.

Family Dynamics and the Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders

The family is our integral unit of resilience and survival in times of stress and the core stabilizer of our communities. Disruption of families by trauma and stress precipitates significant problems such as addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other serious physical and mental illnesses. Connectedness and attachment to family and culture of origin correlate with reduced risk-taking behaviors and violence. Facilitating family, cultural, and community ties can, therefore, be protective against the effects of trauma.

Family dynamics and research studies illustrate the effectiveness of including family members and professionals for effective collaboration for the prevention, treatment, and aftercare of co-occurring disorders. Working with family motivation to help loved ones and themselves attain healthy lifestyles must be the cornerstone of an effective, collaborative continuum of care.

In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, ARISE Network founder and president Judith Landau, MD, DPM, LMFT, CFLE, CIP, CAI, CRS and ARISE senior trainer, supervisor, and interventionist Michelle Holcomb, PhD, LPC–S, CAI discussed the role of the family as key members of the collaborative team to address co-occurring mental health issues. 

Dr. Holcomb started with some food for thought. She asked webinar participants to consider

  • How does a person’s experience interacting with their community/environment impact their overall well-being?
  • What if these interactions are traumatic?
  • How does an individual’s genetic make-up directly impact their overall well-being?
  • How does a family impact the well-being of an individual struggling with a mental health and substance use disorder?

Dr Landau then explained that our society faces “growing regional and global concerns from opioid epidemics and the COVID-19 pandemic to the re-emergence of intolerance, human trafficking, global climate change, terrorism, and random acts of violence.” 

People are especially vulnerable during times of change. “On average, traumatic events result in a 30 percent increase of stress-related issues such as PTSD, cardiac arrhythmias, or pulmonary disease; attachment disorder, depression, and suicide; as well as onset or relapse of substance use disorder, behavioral compulsions, or other mental health issues,” Landau said. “The stress families feel with transitions can manifest in physical symptoms. We each have a distinctive stress response. Over 90 percent of visits to primary care are somatic stress.”

Traumatic events have an impact not only on individual people but also on their families. An individual healing journey is influenced by family ties. Dr. Landau explained how:

  • Families are a valuable resource and source of support for the management of illness
  • Families provide a more accurate picture of the individual’s symptoms, compliance, etc., than the individual alone
  • Families are the primary source of many health-related beliefs and behaviors
  • If the family is not included in the collaborative team, they become a liability rather than a resource

In the second part of the webinar, Landau and Holcomb talked about co-occurring disorders (also known as dual diagnosis), which consist of two or more of the following:

  • Substance use disorder
  • Behavioral compulsion
  • Physical illness
  • Mental illness

For treatment to be effective, it must address a patient’s conditions concurrently, not consecutively. Co-occurring disorders are so prevalent that “dual diagnosis is an expectation, not the exception,” explained Dr. Holcomb.

Co-occurring disorders require multidisciplinary collaboration, but that is often not available. “Specialization has resulted in fragmentation of treatment,” Holcomb said. “Often, the focus is on isolated body parts rather than the whole individual. People are seen as individuals in isolation, rather than as members of a unique social, environmental, and cultural context, but concurrently, advancements in Western understanding have resulted in more holistic approaches to healing and wellness.”

A typical example of that fragmentation is obesity, where many experts treat aspects of the condition without collaborating. The nutritionist treats dietary habits, the fitness coach addresses exercise habits, the endocrinologist may explore the underlying endocrine disorder, etc. in competing and typically non-collaborative services.

A patient might find short-term weight-loss success through an intensive exercise program, weight-loss medication, surgery, or dietary changes but, as with any complex, chronic, relapsing disease or addiction, rarely are those short-term successes sustained,” Dr. Landau explained. “Without addressing the emotional, psycho-social triggers of any complex, chronic, or relapsing disease, acute flare-ups can be expected repeatedly and frequently. Conversely, without addressing the medical issues, acute flare-ups and relapse are also inevitable.”

Collaborative care improves outcomes significantly. A treatment study revealed that “60 percent of patients receiving integrated care achieved substance abuse remission but only 20 percent of those receiving separate addiction and mental health treatment,” Landau told the webinar audience.

Families need collaborative care, too. “If there is an intergenerational history of substance misuse and mental illness, the family is likely to have developed dysfunctional patterns. Hyper-vigilance and fear of social stigma may delay their seeking treatment,” Holcomb said. “To meet these treatment challenges, we need to provide continuing care rather than episodic treatment. We need interdisciplinary collaboration to handle the complexity of the multiple challenges, and we need adequate training in collaboration and involvement of colleagues from other disciplines to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.”

Landau and Holcomb presented their definition of effective, multidisciplinary collaboration:

  • The coordinated efforts of conventional, complementary, and alternative practitioners working with the individual and the family.
  • The goal is long-term biopsychosocial, cultural, and spiritual health.
  • The basis is trusting the individual and family’s intrinsic capacity for healing.
  • The goal can be realized when all are connected with resources that enable them to access their inherent resilience, strength, and competence.

“The most significant predictor of treatment success is the provision of an empathic, hopeful, continuous treatment relationship in which integrated treatment and care coordination are provided over time,” they emphasized.

Families need to be integrated into the collaborative approach because they are “a valuable resource and source of support for the management of any illness, and families provide a more accurate picture of the individual’s symptoms and compliance than the individual alone. Without involving families in healing, we lose our most important resource.” 

In conclusion, Dr. Landau briefly introduced Transitional Family Therapy (TFT), an evidence-based therapy that helps access and facilitate family and community links to build a matrix of healing in families and communities by enhancing relational resilience.

Key actions of TFT are

  • Empower family, community, and natural support system
  • Reinforce connection to family and culture-of-origin
  • Focus on individual, family, and community healing and recovery versus pathology
  • Resolve unresolved grief and trauma
  • Moblize and reconnect the extended natural support system

Harmony Foundation has long utilized a holistic approach to healing addiction and co-occurring conditions such as trauma, depression, and anxiety. All staff at Harmony have been trained in trauma-informed care. Realizing that addiction is a biopsychosocial and spiritual disease, Harmony’s treatment program promotes physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, empowering patients to embark upon a lifelong recovery journey.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, or you have questions about our programs, call us today at (970) 432-8075 to get the help needed as soon as possible. Our experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Overcoming Leadership Challenges in Behavioral Healthcare

What is the most significant leadership and ethical challenge facing behavioral health? How do you prevent burnout? What do you do to reduce turnover? How can you achieve a healthy culture?

In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, Maeve O’Neill, MEd, LPC-S, CHC, CDTLF,  looked at questions concerning ethics, compliance, and leadership in behavioral health, using the research-based work of Brené Brown, who has extensively studied the topics of courage, vulnerability, shame, empathy, and leadership. Brown’s presentation on the power of vulnerability is one of the most-viewed TED talks, with over 60 million views. 

O’Neill has worked in behavioral health for 35 years. Her first ten years were in direct clinical service with all populations, ten years in program management with all settings, and the last 15 years in executive leadership with national organizations specializing in Ethics and Compliance. She is currently the Director of National Compliance at Circa Behavioral Healthcare Solutions.

The webinar explored strategies to engage staff proactively and mitigate burnout risks. O’Neill looked at tools and insights needed to foster a positive organizational culture, emphasizing the importance of ethical practices and compliance within the workplace. 

O’Neill presented a roadmap using the work of Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead” program to engage staff, empower teams, and enhance organizational culture. 

O’Neill began by talking about healthcare worker burnout, explaining that “burnout is the result of chronic workplace stress due to an imbalance between job demands and resources.” It is characterized by “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism, and reduced professional efficacy.”

Actions leaders can take today to support team members’ well-being and retention may include adjusting expectations, shoring up staffing, and getting rid of stupid stuff. A 2020 paper on practices for improving the well-being of clinicians recommended periodic assessments of the following:

  1. Clinician well-being, using one of several validated instruments
  2. Departmental or business unit-level leadership qualities
  3. The efficiency of the practice environment
  4. Culture and trust in the organization
  5. Organizational cost of clinician burnout
  6. Workforce recruitment and retention

Part of creating a culture of trust could be establishing a chief wellness officer position. The role of such a well-being manager should involve “creating a workplace environment where all individuals thrive,” said O’Neill. “Workplace well-being must be a whole-person approach encompassing mental, emotional, physical, social, and financial elements. Leaders need to show up with an open mind and find innovative ways to nurture the well-being and growth of their employees.”

A work culture of “blame and shame, burn and churn, or command and control” is to be overcome. O’Neill introduced Brené Brown’s books Atlas of the Heart, which describes human emotions and experiences and the language used to understand them, and Dare to Lead: “When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions.”

William White’s 1987 classic The Incestuous Workplace also analyzed workplace dilemmas such as corroding trust, lack of innovation, a shame and blame culture, and other “barriers to courage.” 

The Brené Brown approach includes skill sets such as “Rumbling with Vulnerability” and “Living into our Values.” Leadership should take risks and inspire, explained O’Neill. Feedback should be understood as a function of respect. “When you don’t have honest conversations with us about our strengths and our opportunities, we question our contributions and your commitment. Above else, we ask you to show up and dare greatly with us.”

A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and who has the courage to develop that potential. Brown teaches that “daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things.”

Harmony Foundation is one of the longest-running and most successful addiction treatment centers in the world. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, or you have questions about our programs, call us today at (970) 432-8075 to get the help needed as soon as possible. Our experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Wholehearted Journey to Ethics, Compliance and Leadership

*This presentation is no longer eligible for a CE credit

In this presentation, participants will embark on a transformative journey toward ethics, compliance, and leadership, drawing on the insightful research of Brene Brown. The session offers a robust exploration of strategies to proactively engage staff and mitigate burnout risks. Moreover, it equips leaders with the tools and insights needed to foster a positive organizational culture, emphasizing the importance of ethical practices and compliance within the workplace.

Presented By:

Maeve O’Neill, MEd, LPC-S, CHC, CDTLF
Circa Behavioral Healthcare Solutions

Maeve has worked in behavioral health for 35 years, the first 20 years in the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia area, in Texas since 2006, and the last 15 years nationally with jobs covering multiple state locations. Her first ten years were in direct clinical service with all populations, ten years in program management with all settings, and the last 15 years in executive leadership with national organizations specializing in Ethics and Compliance. As a former Behavioral Health Surveyor with The Joint Commission and a long career committed to excellence, she has a passion for quality and safe care as well as happy and healthy staff. Combining all her experience and education, she most enjoys facilitating staff, team, and leadership educational support and development programs for behavioral health professionals to engage staff, empower teams, and enhance organizational culture focused on resilience, regulation, and reliability utilizing the research-based work of Brené Brown. Maeve believes this is the roadmap to prevent burnout, detect turnover, and correct cultures to ensure healthy and happy staff who are ethical and compliant to provide quality and safe care.

Most importantly, Maeve is a parent to 2 young adult children, Aidan and Delaney, who are guides and supports on the journey and inspire her the most. She currently serves as the National Compliance Director at Circa Behavioral Healthcare Solutions.

To learn more about Circa Behavioral Healthcare Solutions, visit:

The Intersection of Behavioral Health and the Justice System

“The large number of individuals with substance use disorders involved in the nation’s criminal justice system (CJS) represents a unique opportunity, as well as challenges, in addressing the dual concerns of public safety and public health,” wrote Belenko, Hiller, and Hamilton in a 2013 study on treating substance use disorder (SUD) in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, only a small number of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it while involved with the CJS. 

In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, Jessica Swan, MCJ, MAC, looked at how society responds to justice, mental illness, and substance use disorder. Swan is the executive director of Recovery Consulting. She has extensive experience in clinical addiction counseling, research, development, training, evaluation, and reporting for legal professionals, non-profits, governmental agencies, and communities nationwide. She writes addiction recovery curricula for treatment programs, offers counseling for individuals and families with SUDs, and provides addiction recovery consulting for organizations.

First off, Swan looked at how justice can be defined. As it turns out, it’s not that easy to define. Justice involves “concepts of fairness, equality, freedom, moral behavior, lawfulness, and order,” explained Swan. But we also have to consider the “specific context of time, culture, status, power, and demographic influences such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, and socioeconomics.”

Americans frequently think of justice as punishment, retribution, and correcting “bad” behavior, though. Overall, justice should not just be seen as a collection of laws but as the aspirational goal of justice for all with agreed-upon moral and ethical standards—a way of organizing society.

Swan then talked about justice and health—as “fairness in how people are treated and their ability to achieve the highest attainable standard of physical, mental, and social well-being. Justice is about the law but also about democracy, and it has the potential to be about health.”

Swan explained that five social domains determine health: healthcare access and quality, economic stability, social and community context, neighborhood and built environment, and last but not least, education access and quality.  

The determinants have a significant impact on the demographics of the justice system. The vast majority of the US prison population is male, with drug trafficking the most common crime by a wide margin. A significant share of the prison population is repeat offenders. 

In 2021, 67 percent of the federal prison population was either African-American or Hispanic. Only 30 percent were non-Hispanic white people, who make up 59 percent of the general population. African Americans or Hispanic people comprise only 13 and 19 percent of the US population, respectively.

Many of the prisoners were using drugs and alcohol when they committed their offenses, and many of them have a substance use disorder. Many people in the prison system also present with serious mental illness. However, “research shows that people with mental illness are not more violent than people without mental illness,” Swan said. 

As addiction professionals know well, there’s a strong correlation between substance misuse and mental health disorders. “Adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders make up about two in 100 adults in the US but 15 in 100 adults arrested,” Swan told the webinar participants.

While many of them clearly need help, their mental health conditions actually have a very negative impact on their treatment by the justice system. “People with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are less likely to post bond, experience longer rates of incarceration, and are more likely to be placed in solitary confinement where symptoms dramatically get worse,” Swan said. 

While the focus often remains on punishment and retribution, decades of scientific research have shown that “providing comprehensive substance use treatment to criminal offenders while incarcerated works, reducing both drug use and crime after an inmate returns to the community.” Nevertheless, only seven percent of incarcerated people with co-occurring mental health and SUDs receive services for both problems. “Treatment during incarceration can reduce the risk of an overdose after release by 85 percent,” Swan reported. 

Without adequate treatment services, the risks after release from prison remain high. Such individuals are 62 percent more likely to die by suicide and 40 times more likely to overdose than the general population.  

In conclusion, Swan discussed possible solutions. “Incarcerating instead of treating is not a solution. That is justice solely as retribution when mental health and substance use disorders are the actual problems.”

Targeting the underlying issues includes known solutions such as better access to healthcare, improving community well-being, reducing early exposure to violence and accessibility to alcohol and drugs, and actively engaging in efforts to reduce racial inequality in the justice system. Other known solutions are enrolling people in Medicaid as they leave jail and prison, connecting people to services prior to leaving, and providing medications upon departure. 

Harmony Foundation is one of the longest-running and most successful addiction treatment centers in the world. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, or you have questions about our programs, call us today at (866) 686-7867 to get the help needed as soon as possible. Our experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Justice, Treatment, and Recovery: The Intersection of Behavioral Health and the Justice System

*This presentation is no longer eligible for a CE credit

Join us to gain insight into the US’s Justice System and how we respond to mental illness and substance use disorders. We will consider: What is Justice? And how does this relate to mental illness and substance use disorder? We will inspect the numbers and what they tell us about our responses to mental illness and substance use disorder. Additionally, we will discuss what types of treatment are being integrated into the corrections system, their effectiveness, and the alternatives to incarceration. Continue reading “Justice, Treatment, and Recovery: The Intersection of Behavioral Health and the Justice System”

The Truth About Cannabis Addiction

Although the use and possession of cannabis continues to be illegal under federal law, so-called “medical” and recreational marijuana use has become increasingly widespread in the United States after 38 states and Washington, DC legalized “medical” cannabis, while 23 states and DC have legalized its recreational use. 

Today, a majority of US states permit the sale of so-called “medical” marijuana for various ailments, although the federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana as a medical treatment—in fact, the FDA continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Because of the continued legalization across the country and the assumption of medical benefits, however, risk perception has plummeted.

In Colorado, cannabis has been legal for “medical” use since the year 2000 and for recreational use since late 2012. In November 2000, 54 percent of Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, allowing the use of marijuana in the state for approved patients with written medical consent notes (doctors cannot actually prescribe “medical” marijuana in any state because it is not an FDA-approved medication). California was the first state to legalize “medical” marijuana in 1996. Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize its recreational use back in 2012.

While many Americans, including some physicians, believe in the unproven health benefits of cannabis—some of which may or may not exist—few people know the danger of addiction and other mental health impacts of marijuana use. Recent research estimates that approximately three in ten people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder. For people who begin using cannabis products before the age of 18, the risk of developing a marijuana addiction is even greater.

Few people are aware that the legalization is primarily driven by well-organized multi-state operators selling largely unregulated and unsafe commercial products. Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat CEO Ben Cort has been raising awareness of these issues for years. In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, Cort explained how the potent products the marijuana industry is selling in the 21st century are a far cry from the weed people smoked in the 1970s. The reason is the THC content of today’s cannabis products.

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. It has over 480 constituents, with THC (delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol) being the main ingredient producing its psychoactive effect. 

As Cort explained during the webinar, the THC levels in cannabis products have dramatically increased in the last few decades from less than one percent THC in the seventies to well beyond 15 percent in recent years. And that’s just the plants—concentrates can reach much higher levels of THC. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Solvent-based products tend to be especially potent, with THC levels documented at an average of about 54–69 percent and reported to exceed 80 percent, while non-solvent-based extraction methods produce average THC levels between 39–60 percent.”

“The average cannabis product sold in Colorado in 2016 had a THC content of 63 percent,” Cort said. He doesn’t really want to talk about the plant anymore because the people who are treated at Foundry for cannabis use disorder (CUD) have not been smoking the pot passed around in the 1970s.

“Concentrates are everywhere and are not just being used by the fringe; they are mainstream, and they are what many people picture when they talk about marijuana,” Cort wrote in his 2017 book Weed, Inc. “You are going to think some of this must be talking about hardcore users on the edge, but it’s not; concentrates are everywhere and have become synonymous with weed for this generation of users.” 

Boomers and Gen X Americans grew up when cannabis was far less dangerous while the risks of cannabis use were publicly exaggerated. Now, the opposite is the case: risk perception is at an all-time low while the product has become much more potent and consequently much more dangerous. 

“We now have a generation that believes cannabis is not harmful and not addictive, but cannabis use disorder is very real and not that easy to treat,” Cort said. “To downplay the significance of addiction to THC shows a lack of understanding of addiction as a whole. Addiction isolates us, destroys our families, and guts our communities from the inside. It keeps us from connecting with one another. Addiction gets in the way of living our best lives.”

THC addiction often requires long stays in treatment and antipsychotic medications, and many patients require a physical detoxification. Traditionally, about ten percent of cannabis users were expected to develop an addiction to THC but that rate appears to have gone up to 30 percent, with dramatically increased potency being the main suspect. 

Cort pointed out that the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists several specific symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome, including irritability, anxiety, depressed mood, and insomnia. He presented the results of a 2020 study that found the prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome to be 47 percent, with frequent users exceeding even that. “Cannabis withdrawal syndrome appears to be common among regular users of cannabis, particularly those in outpatient and inpatient settings and individuals with substance use disorders,” the authors wrote. “Clinicians should be aware of the high prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome to counsel patients and support individuals who are reducing their use of cannabis.”

In his experience, symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome typically peak after 3–4 days, with a strong resurgence of physical symptoms after two weeks. “Normalized use of cannabis by family members makes it hard for some members to relate and feel supported to stop using,” Cort told the webinar participants. “At Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, we treat families in which cannabis use complicates the ability for people to enter and sustain recovery.”

Harmony Foundation has long utilized a holistic approach to healing addiction. All staff have been trained in trauma-informed care. Realizing that addiction is a biopsychosocial and spiritual disease, Harmony’s treatment program promotes physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, empowering patients to embark upon a lifelong recovery journey.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction or have questions about our programs, call us today at (970) 432-8075 to get the help needed as soon as possible. Our experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

21st Century THC

*This presentation is no longer eligible for a CE credit

Recent political changes in relation to marijuana are only part of the story. The publicized and politically charged world of drug policy has undergone immense changes over the past several years, and those changes manifest not just in policy but also in the physical makeup of the cannabis plant and products derived from components of the plant. Not only has the perception of the plant changed, but the actual plant itself has undergone dramatic changes as it has been industrialized and brought into a commercial market. As public opinion has softened towards cannabis, the effects of consuming today’s marijuana remain poorly understood. With increasing acceptance, often driven by corporate interests, use has been rising steadily among all demographics. Many have grown up in settings where cannabis use is the norm and cannabis use disorder is accepted as typical behavior. Cannabis use disorder is on the rise, and the changing makeup of the plant and its derivatives makes treatment more complex and challenging. Given these realities, the need for continuing education regarding the evolution of cannabis and new forms of consumption, as well as potential downsides, is extremely important. A more holistic understanding of today’s marijuana will position us to have more relevant and potentially helpful conversations with those we serve. This conversation will be had in a respectful and nonpolitical manner, promoting sound science while considering the practical reality of discussing cannabis in 2020 with a population that genuinely believes “it’s just weed.”

Ben Cort – CEO
Foundry Treatment Center

Ben’s passion for recovery, prevention, and harm reduction comes from his own struggle with substance abuse. Sober since 6/15/96, Ben has been a part of the recovery movement in almost every way imaginable, from a recipient to a provider to a spokesperson.

In 2007, Ben left his position as an HR director inside of a Denver-based S&P 500 firm to help start the Colorado-based nonprofit Phoenix Multisport, now “The Phoenix”. As an original board member and then their first full-time employee, Ben was instrumental in building this organization that has received frequent national recognition for their innovative approach to building sober communities around sport and healthy activities.

In 2012, Cort joined the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH), where he ran the marketing, business development, and admissions departments for their substance abuse treatment services known as CeDAR. He left that role in 2017 to consult inside the treatment community, athletics, and organized labor. Throughout this time, Ben has remained active in the discussion around marijuana, assisting several state’s efforts to hold back.

Big Marijuana and always advocating for recovery. These efforts keep him close to the national discussion and make him a frequent guest in the media. Ben has earned a reputation as being pro-logic and recovery-oriented rather than anti-anything. Cort is considered a subject matter expert on ethical treatment practices, having written a widely adopted curriculum on the subject and frequently discussing the topic on national platforms and media. He is also utilized by professional sports leagues, clubs, and collegiate athletic programs to determine appropriate treatment for their athletes, coaches, and their families as
well as develop recovery-oriented policies.

Ben is a Jr Fellow at the University of Florida inside of their drug policy institute, a board member for NALGAP (National Association of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender Treatment Providers, and their Allies), a Board member at SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and faculty at numerous institutes. He is a published author (Weed Inc, HCI/Simon and Schuster 2017). His TED talk “Surprising Truths about Legalizing Cannabis” has been viewed over 2 million times. In November 2019, Ben moved from a consulting role with the Foundry Steamboat Springs to interim CEO. When not working or hanging out with his wife and three kids, Ben can be found chasing trout with his flyrod or buried deep in a book.


For More Information about Foundry Treatment Center, visit their website: Addiction & Mental Health Treatment | Foundry Steamboat (



Ben Cort Ted Talk – 2017

An Integrated Approach to Healing Families With Addiction

The effects of a substance use disorder (SUD) are felt by the whole family,” wrote Lander, Howsare, and Byrne in their 2013 study on the impact of substance use disorders on families and children. “The family context holds information about how SUDs develop, are maintained, and what can positively or negatively influence the treatment of the disorder.” In addition, “understanding the current developmental stage a family is in helps inform assessment of impairment and determination of appropriate interventions.”

Kevin Petersen, MA, LMFT is the author of the books: Chronic Hope: Parenting the Addicted Child and Chronic Hope: Families & Addiction, which share an integrated, holistic approach to healing families in crisis due to addiction and codependency. In 2020, he established The Chronic Hope Institute to help families in crisis through family addiction coaching. 

In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, Petersen shared a step-by-step approach for working with families and helping them heal from addiction and codependency. 

Since he grew up in a house with addiction himself, Petersen is very familiar with the impact of addiction on the family dynamic on a very personal level. His mother was addicted to prescription drugs, and he himself started using drugs and alcohol at the age of thirteen. 

“I did drugs and alcohol at a young age,” he wrote in Chronic Hope: Families & Addiction. “The question for me was always, ‘How do I make myself feel better? How do I make myself numb?’ Today, children whose parents are addicts may turn to porn, gambling, shopping, or high-pressure academics.”

“From the outside, we were a normal, successful family, but on the inside, it was ‘every man for himself,’” he recalled during the webinar. Petersen began his own journey of recovery in May 1991 and has been sober ever since. 

First off, Petersen talked about how to engage with families that are struggling with drug and alcohol misuse. Therapists should look out for certain signs in client families: “Does the family seem defensive or show signs of denial? Is it apparent that boundaries are poor? Do they have reservations, or are they ready for a different approach?”

Petersen emphasized that it is important that the whole family is ready to make changes. “No therapist can get someone sober,” he told the webinar audience. Families need to learn that sober means more than abstaining from substances, “it’s about quitting drugs and alcohol and living a new way of life.”

Clients and their families need to understand that addiction has three aspects: physical, mental, and spiritual. Petersen then outlined a “Plan A” for recovery with the following components:

  • Boundaries: drawing a hard line around behaviors
  • Accountability: how boundaries will be enforced
  • Structure: what will happen if boundaries are met or not met

There need to be clear boundaries for use (no drugs or alcohol); work and school (weekly accountability reports); and behavior (no disrespectful behavior, language, or violence with weekly meetings to review compliance). 

If this approach does not achieve the intended outcome, a more intense “Plan B” should be considered: treatment in a professional rehab facility. The family needs to learn about available levels of care depending on the needs of the client: medical detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and sober living homes. 

Families also need to address any codependency and enabling behaviors. Codependency is a psychological or emotional reliance on another person in a self-destructive or otherwise harmful way. It often includes enabling behavior, i.e., rescuing the addicted person after they make bad choices. Both behaviors occur frequently in families with addiction. 

Families should always remember that “addiction affects the whole family, not just the addict,” Petersen said. “The entire family system has to change in order not to repeat the past.” Family members are not responsible for their loved one’s addiction, but they are responsible for how they respond to it. “When the addict is a teen, it’s critical for both parents to agree to boundaries, accountability, and structure.”

Recovery is a lifelong process, and people should always remember that “just because the addict is in treatment doesn’t mean everything is okay.” 

Harmony Foundation is one of the world’s longest-running and most successful addiction treatment centers. We offer a family engagement workshop to all families of current and former clients. It provides education to family members about the disease model of addiction and gives family members a place to express themselves and begin the healing process.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction or have questions about our programs, call us today at (970) 432-8075 to get the help needed as soon as possible. Our experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.