Doctors, and Nurses, and Pilots, Oh My! Working with Impaired Professionals

*This presentation is no longer eligible for the 1 CE credit*

Some treatment centers claim to offer “Professionals’ Programs/Tracks” that focus on the high functioning professional who often have career licensing issues. In reality, what does it really mean to offer a Professionals Program? Elements of these programs can vary widely and understanding their purpose is equally important when referring or choosing a to participate in a Professional’s Program. This presentation will provide an overview of the traditional rationale for a dedicated addiction treatment program for professionals, the clinical design of a “true” professional program, and a solution-focused approach to common barriers that prevent professionals from seeking treatment. Continue reading “Doctors, and Nurses, and Pilots, Oh My! Working with Impaired Professionals”

COVID-19: Keep Connecting During The Pandemic

The current global coronavirus pandemic has presented serious challenges for people in recovery from addiction. Self-isolation, the threat of unemployment, no access to 12-Step meetings, and deep anxiety about an invisible disease spreading across the country—these are all possible relapse triggers.

While these risks should certainly not be underestimated, they could also be treated as an opportunity to strengthen recovery efforts.

“We are clearly facing a very difficult situation at the moment but just like everything else in life, this too shall pass,” says Michael Arnold, alumni community relations manager at Harmony. “I believe we now have a great opportunity to work on ourselves while also being of service and reaching out to help others.”

Connection is crucial for a sustained recovery and nothing disconnects like a lockdown in a pandemic—or does it? With stay-at-home orders across the US, meetings and counseling sessions for those who struggle with addiction have now largely moved online.

“With the help of modern technology, we have the chance to be more connected than ever before,” says Arnold. “The time COVID-19 is giving us at home is actually the greatest gift that our recovery can receive. If you are concerned about being isolated at home, pick up the phone, tablet, or use your computer to reach out to someone. When we choose to connect with people we are helping our own recovery just as much as we are helping the person on the other end of the link-up.”

These types of resources are incredibly valuable right now, say addiction professionals, mental health counselors, and individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. “The peer support group means so much to me,” says Harmony alumna, Spring B. “It’s essential for recovery especially in this period of time to stay connected. It’s super nice to see all the alumni. This group gives me an invisible link to people that understand and support me.”

If you are unsure how to proceed, Alcoholics Anonymous has provided a web page devoted to online options. Narcotics Anonymous offers similar information on its website.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I had been in this situation when we didn’t have access to virtual meetings,” a New Yorker who participates in Alcoholics Anonymous told CNBC. The 26-year-old woman from Brooklyn was 62 days sober at the time and planning to attend 90 meetings in her first 90 days of sobriety. She said a recent meeting she attended through video conferencing had over 1,000 participants.

“It’s so cool that technology enables us to attend meetings with friends in recovery that do not live anywhere close to us,” says Harmony’s Michael Arnold. “Even while we are physically isolated, we have the opportunity to be of great service to one another. When we come together, we can recover. I invite you to see this present moment of crisis as the best time to work on your recovery. Embrace this pause in life and fully engage in your journey of recovery.”

Harmony Foundation continues to serve clients during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak and is taking new precautions to ensure staff and client safety. These include strict hand-washing protocols, heightened and ongoing disinfection of all areas at facilities, as well as updated admission assessments to consider previous travel, potential exposure, and health status. All new admissions will have additional medical screening upon campus arrival.

The Prevalence of Substance Misuse and Addiction in Sports

Jessica Joiner, LCSW, LAC, has over a decade of experience working with those suffering from addiction, complex trauma, and co-occurring disorders. She uses her experience along with the extensive skills gained to address the many issues that arise for athletes.

In her workshop hosted by Harmony Foundation, Joiner discussed the prevalence of substance misuse among athletes, various ways of identifying “red flags,” and evidence-based interventions that can be helpful in combating the misuse of drugs and alcohol.

As Joiner explained, there are three main reasons athletes misuse substances: pain resulting from injuries, stress from incessant pressure to win, and the desire to enhance performance artificially. Over the years and decades, these reasons have stayed the same but the drugs involved are now more sophisticated than ever, with more options.

The statistics paint a grim picture. Substance misuse is prevalent in high school: approximately 19 percent of males and 14 percent of females binge drink in high school. 21 percent of teens use marijuana and up to 6.6 percent have used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

It gets worse in college where 42 percent of students admit to binge drinking, 28 percent use cannabis, and around 11,000 NCAA athletes admit to taking PEDs. There is a strong correlation between concussions and alcohol use. “Having a concussion is actually predictive for alcohol use,” said Joiner. “If a high school student is entering college with a history of concussion, and we know about the correlation, we could put some measure in place to intervene before things get out of control. We don’t want them to get overwhelmed by the pressure of performing and the grades required to continue.” It’s much better to support them on the front end before things get out of hand.

Should players get drafted into the National Football League, the pain from injuries, the pressure to win, and the temptation to use PEDs get even worse. In the NFL, 51 percent of players use opioids and 71 percent of those athletes admit to misusing them. Many of the pills are not prescribed by medical doctors: 68 percent say they got them from other sources.

It takes only a few days to get addicted to opioids, Joiner warned, and professional athletes have easy access. Professional athletes tend to play through the pain and then “fix it” with opioids and other substances after the game, putting themselves at risk for greater injury and addiction.

Joiner then went over the possible consequences of such risky behavior, which include the impact on performance, health, relationships, and career—and in the worst-case scenario, death.

While substances were initially taken to enhance or maintain performance, escalating use will eventually compromise performance and wreak havoc with the athlete’s health. As is the case for all people with substance use disorder, addiction has “a definite negative impact on relationships.” If there is no intervention and treatment, players may end up with legal problems, a league suspension, or just get kicked off their team.

There are many examples of athletes falling into this trap. Former Boston Celtic Chris Herren struggled with substance misuse for much of his NBA career. While playing for the Celtics, Herren started to use opioid painkillers. In December 2007, he was charged with possession of heroin in Rhode Island and in the following June, Herren overdosed on heroin in Fall River, Massachusetts. According to the attending paramedics, he was clinically dead for 30 seconds.

Abby Wambach—widely considered the best female soccer player ever—was arrested for driving under the influence in 2016. Following the incident, Wambach published an autobiography revealing that she had misused prescription drugs and alcohol for many years.

After going into recovery, Herren started raising awareness of drug addiction and has now spoken to over one million students, athletes, and community members, promoting frank discussions about substance use disorder and wellness.

In the webinar, Joiner, too, stressed the importance of prevention and early intervention to attack this problem. Prevention should include educating everybody involved to raise awareness of mental health issues that often drive substance misuse, so parents, teachers, and coaches learn to recognize red flags. “From the outside, it often looks like they have everything”, explained Joiner. That’s why depression and anxiety disorders are often overlooked. Testing, screening and other interventions should be used in a supportive, not punitive way.

“We should stop just being reactive and be more proactive,” Joiner said. Coaches and trainers of athletes should not wait for a crisis to unfold and athletic programs should provide adequate mental health services for players (and other students). Treatment should not be perceived as punishment for bad behavior but as a concerted effort to heal psychological problems. “We need effective collaboration between therapists, doctors, school departments, and the community that facilitates integrated care,” Joiner said. Currently, too many people fall through the cracks because many athletic departments don’t provide nearly enough mental health professionals. Ultimately, a culture shift is required: our society’s approach to athletic injuries and mental illness needs to change significantly and we need more trauma-informed and stigma-free care—and not only for athletes.

Self Care is Preventative Care – Burnout Prevention Program

*This presentation is no longer eligible for the 1 CE credit*

 

We’ve all heard it, you’ve probably said it: You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? Is your cup empty? Is your cup full? Is your cup broken? As a professional, I know you are passionate about giving to others but there is only so much to give before burnout is a reality. In this training, you will be reminded how critical your self care is and most importantly how you can implement self care on a consistent basis in order to prevent burnout. Through quality and consistent self care, we can prevent things like stress and burnout and create more work/life balance which is essential for your overall wellness and the wellness of others. Becky Lauridsen, LPC and founder of IOME will give a presentation and hands on training for you to achieve Guilt Free Self Care. “You deserve the best because your loved ones deserve the best of you, not what’s left of you.” – Becky Lauridsen Continue reading “Self Care is Preventative Care – Burnout Prevention Program”

WestBridge Treatment Center

Welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series. I’m Gina Thorne and I’m really excited today to be joined with Barbara Ryan, who’s the outreach and provider specialist for WestBridge, out of Manchester, New Hampshire. Welcome.
Really happy to have you on campus today and I’m glad the weather turned out because we’ve had some sketchy weather lately, so it’s great to have you here visiting the Rockies. I don’t know, is this your first time at Harmony?

Continue reading “WestBridge Treatment Center”

The Evolution of Modern Medicine Has Made the Spiritual Foundation of 12-step Recovery Obsolete…Fact or Fiction?

*This presentation is no longer eligible for the 1 CE credit*

A cursory review of the disease model of addiction and the scientific basis of the disease of addiction and how it relates to the neurobiology of the frontal and prefrontal cortex and the meso-limbic system will be reviewed. There will be further information presented on the neurobiology of wisdom and how it relates to healthy prefrontal cortical activity along with some of the latest research on the positive benefits of spirituality and how this can be documented with technologies to document brain functionality and recovery. This leads to a direct correlation to the actual proven benefit of the spiritual foundation of 12 step recovery. Continue reading “The Evolution of Modern Medicine Has Made the Spiritual Foundation of 12-step Recovery Obsolete…Fact or Fiction?”

The Prevalence of Substance Abuse and Addiction in Sports: What Do We Do About It?

*This presentation is no longer eligible for the 1 CE credit*

This workshop will discuss the prevalence of the use of substances among all levels of athletes and the risk factors associated with using. We will discuss various ways to identify ‘red flags’ of abusing substances, as well as evidenced based interventions that can be helpful in combating the misuse of drugs and alcohol among athletes. We will show how addressing substance abuse problems in conjunction with the underlying issues that may be contributing to their use (i.e., mental health, pressure, identity, etc.) is imperative to their overall health and well-being, and it is an important component of having an integrated health approach. Continue reading “The Prevalence of Substance Abuse and Addiction in Sports: What Do We Do About It?”

Magnolia Medical

Hello everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series. I’m Gina Thorne and I’m pleased today to be joined with Soroosh Ehteshami. He’s the Chief Operating Officer for Magnolia Medical Center or Magnolia Medical Group in Denver, Colorado. And we’ve had the pleasure of having you on campus today to visit Harmony and we’re so grateful for that. Thank you. 
Continue reading “Magnolia Medical”

Soul Reflection Healing Arts

Hi, everyone. This is Gina Thorne with the Harmony Foundation podcast series, and I’m really happy today to be joined with Megan Ramos, who is the owner and practitioner of Soul Reflection Healing Arts in Boulder, Colorado. Welcome.
It’s good to have you here, and really glad that you had the chance to come up to Harmony and visit with us and give us a chance to learn a little bit more about your practice and to see how people can possibly use your services. It’s great to have you here. In doing my research around your background and your practice, you are a trained somatic psychotherapist and also trained in energy medicine, which is really a great combination. Can you share more about your area of specialty and what someone could expect when working with you?
Continue reading “Soul Reflection Healing Arts”