Next Webinar

Wednesday, August 31, 12pm – 1pm MST

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Past Webinars

Understanding Intervention and Structured Family Recovery®

*This presentation is no longer eligible for a CEU*

Intervention is not what you see on tv. At least not a good intervention. Intervention is a loving, caring experience that doesn’t have to be confrontational. It should be designed to preserve the client’s dignity at all costs. Structured Family Recovery® is the culmination of good intervention and good treatment. It is about creating a recovery support team out of a family to improve outcomes and bring a family together in ways they never imagined. Continue reading “Understanding Intervention and Structured Family Recovery®”

Harmony Alumna Shares Inspiration Behind New Treatment Scholarship for Dads

Danielle C. started her recovery journey at Harmony Foundation more than nine years ago. She had struggled with severe drug and alcohol addiction for more than eight years and had been to several other treatment centers before.

“When I hit yet another bottom, my dad Richard helped secure me a bed at Harmony where I finally began my path to lasting sobriety,” she remembers. “My dad, however, was not so lucky. He struggled with alcoholism my entire life, and in February 2016, he died from the disease. It was heartbreaking that my dad could not find the freedom he helped me find at Harmony.”

While working the 9th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous last year, Danielle realized there were large financial amends she had never made to her father for money she had wasted during her drug addiction. “Wondering how to make amends, I could not think of a more profound way than to help someone else’s dad find the recovery my dad never did,” she says.

In honor of Richard’s memory and gratitude for her own life in sobriety, Danielle established a new scholarship fund at Harmony for fathers seeking recovery. “I hope these funds will help some dads find healing from addiction and become the loving fathers they’ve always wanted to be.”

Danielle’s parents divorced when she was only five and she split her time between two homes after that. As in many cases of alcohol use disorder (AUD), Richard’s disease was progressive.

“Drinking after work was seemingly a normal behavior for businessmen like him, but as the years went on, I watched his drinking get worse,” Danielle wrote on the Guardian Recovery Network. “He started passing out on the couch nightly, his arms folded, head slumped over his chest. I had trouble waking him sometimes and would fear he wasn’t breathing. When he would rouse from his slumber, he would often stumble, falling over onto the coffee table or worse, staggering directly back into the kitchen for another drink.”

Watching her dad deteriorate before her own eyes was extremely painful for Danielle who had started to misuse alcohol herself at an early age. Richard drank as soon as he got home and his daughter became somewhat of a caretaker for him.

“There were many times I tried to broach the topic of his drinking with him, tried to get him to admit his problem and get some help but these discussions were almost always met with defensiveness and red-hot rage,” Danielle remembered. “He disowned many friends and family who had confronted him about his drinking. In my young adulthood, I became skilled at biting my tongue, staying silent, and pretending like last night didn’t happen.”

Alcohol use disorder is a devastating disease that often runs in families. Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the AUD risk. Genes alone, however, do not determine whether someone will develop an AUD. Environmental factors and life events—especially trauma—play an important role as well.

However, Danielle has become the living proof that genes and family history do not necessarily determine your fate. Although her addiction was really bad, she managed to turn her life around.

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.

If you would like to donate to Harmony Foundation visit our website to see the many ways to give.

Family Peer Support at Harmony

Addiction is often referred to as a family disorder, meaning every member of the family is impacted by it one way or another. Addiction affects the family dynamic in multiple ways. Each family member typically serves an important role. An active addiction of one member—be it a parent, a child, or a spouse— frequently changes existing roles completely, leaving the family in a state of dysfunction. As the addiction continues to worsen, family dynamics tend to become more and more dysfunctional.

Since the entire family dynamic is affected, involving families in addiction treatment improves outcomes. “Research suggests that behavioral health treatment that includes family therapy works better than treatment that does not,” explains a brochure of the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “For people with addiction, family therapy can help them decide to enter or stay in treatment. It can reduce their risk of dropping out of treatment. It also can reduce their continued use of alcohol or drugs, discourage relapse, and promote long-term recovery.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, offering workshops for families has been difficult for treatment providers. Harmony Foundation’s family education workshop—led by a licensed therapist—had to be moved online to keep everybody safe from infection. The workshop has two goals. The first is to provide education to family members about the disease model of addiction and how it can help them come to understand their loved one’s condition. The second is to give family members time to express themselves and begin to heal their own pain, while also engaging in self-examination.

In addition to the family education group, Harmony offers a virtual non-clinical family peer support group. Harmony Foundation’s Marlyce Bowdish is currently leading this additional group. In many ways, she is the ideal person to facilitate it. Her daughter went to Harmony and Marlyce is in long-term recovery herself, so on Zoom calls with family members, she can provide priceless insights into addiction as a family disease.

Bowdish is passionate about being able to support people in recovery and their loved ones. “It’s almost like I got the secret sauce,” she says. “I can tell people things on that call that they have no other way of getting insight into. It’s really valuable information and spurs amazing conversations.”

After introductions and a brief outline of the ground rules, Bowdish usually invites participants to share, and often they have many questions. “There may be loved ones on the call who have a family member in rehab at Harmony at the time of the call or family members who have somebody who has been in recovery for years,” says Bowdish. Those veterans often help the new people who are not sure what to expect. “A new person might ask ‘what do I do?’ or ‘what do I talk about?’ and then the whole group chimes in.”

“Somebody may share how their husband came home and they asked too many questions which could be a trigger risk and then I explain why this should be avoided,” explains Bowdish. “Other people may learn on the call that their loved one has a case manager whom they haven’t heard about from the client. Some participants would like to talk about plans for continuing care after discharge from rehab. There are usually all kinds of recovery topics.”

Clients and their family members who stayed with the meeting for a while later often say how much it helped them through a difficult period in their lives and how grateful they are that this group was there for them. “The wisdom you get from this group is incredible,” says Bowdish. “It’s quite amazing to witness the growth of people from when they came on to who they are now. In the beginning, they ask ‘what is a boundary?’ and six months later they can explain it to others with personal examples. That’s huge.”

Any family member or loved one of Harmony alumni is invited to participate in this free online peer support group.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, or you have questions about our programs and workshops, 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.

Can You See Us?

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

The term, “I don’t see color” is often used by individuals to describe their views on diversity but this phrase can be detrimental in therapeutic settings when treating persons of color. The ability for providers to “see” color allows for the development of culturally competent programming and is the critical factor of developing a therapeutic alliance. Continue reading “Can You See Us?”

Acudetox: An innovative tool for those detoxing from drugs and alcohol

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol is one of the most commonly used forms of acupuncture in the United States. A 2012 survey by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported that more than 600 licensed addiction treatment programs include acupuncture as a therapeutic tool. One of them is Harmony Foundation.

“NADA is a simple, non-verbal treatment that involves needle insertion at five ear points called Shen Men, Sympathetic, Kidney, Liver, and Lung,” explains Marianne Dungan, director of nursing at Harmony. “The treatment can help ward off even severe cravings and process trauma, grief, anxiety, and anger. Many clients also report sleeping much better after treatment sessions.”

According to NADA, the many benefits of ear acupuncture include:

  • Reduced cravings for alcohol and drugs, including nicotine
  • Minimized withdrawal symptoms
  • Increased calmness, better sleep, and less agitation
  • Relief from stress and emotional trauma
  • An easier connection with counseling
  • Discovery of inner quiet and strength

“Minimizing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings means rehab patients get out of detox quicker,” says Dungan. Relief from stress and trauma is a crucial aspect of this treatment. “Most addictions are driven by underlying mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety, and depression, so addressing those issues with acupuncture enhances their addiction treatment.”

“Traditional Chinese medicine is used to treat disease itself rather than only symptoms,” wrote Ning Ding, Linzhi Li, et al., in a 2020 study on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. “Acupuncture, accepted by the majority of patients, offers a new option to help patients solve mental issues caused by traumatic events. There are growing clinical and experimental evidences for promoting acupuncture to be applied for different mental health disorders.”

2017 research found that the NADA protocol when combined with traditional treatment methods improves quality of life enjoyment and satisfaction (QLES), feeling better about oneself and improved energy, the likelihood of employment upon discharge, and decreased alcohol use at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups.

“Improvement in quality of life scores and symptoms associated with depression could be attributed to the physiological effects associated with acupuncture including changes in the production of neurotransmitters which influences the body’s regulator system and chemical balance,” wrote the authors.

NADA is effective, cost-efficient, and drug-free. “Clients sit quietly for approximately 30 minutes allowing the treatment to take effect,” explains Dungan. Before she began performing the treatment on clients, the registered nurse was fully trained as an acupuncture detoxification specialist.

“It doesn’t necessarily work for everybody, but it’s not a harmful intervention, so why not give it a try?” says Dungan, “Every week, I’m actually surprised how much it can achieve.”

NADA is part of the holistic approach to healing trauma and addiction utilized at Harmony Foundation. All our 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 journey of recovery.

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.

The Mental Health Impact of Perfectionism and Workaholism

“Workaholism is a soul-destroying addiction that changes people’s personalities and the values they live by,” wrote Barbara Killinger Ph.D. on Psychology Today in 2011. “It distorts the reality of each family member, threatens family security, and often leads to family break-up. Tragically, workaholics eventually suffer the loss of personal and professional integrity.”

In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, Khara Croswaite Brindle—a licensed professional counselor and the owner of Croswaite Counseling—looked at the pitfalls of perfectionism and workaholism. As a self-identified “perfectioneur” (perfectionist entrepreneur), she once was running herself into the ground for success. As a therapist, she taught people about self-care and balance on a daily basis yet was unable to do it for herself. She now helps clients to get from workaholic to well-balanced.

First off, Khara invited her webinar audience to describe a perfectionist. Self-critical, lost in detail, and afraid of making mistakes were some of the answers. Perfectionists “want to be known for the quality of their work,” explained Khara—an immediate link to workaholism.

Perfectionism is linked to high expectations of oneself and has really taken off as a phenomenon since the 1980s—the age of “Reaganomics.” Khara uses the Enneagram personality test to discover how her clients relate to other people. The Enneagram is a typology system that describes human personality as nine interconnected personality types.

Researchers have noted that members of the “millennial and Gen Z generations show higher rates of perfectionism,” Khara said, an indication that the problematic personality trait is becoming ever more widespread. There is a lot of pressure on those generations to do their best, to get into a top college, to have a successful career.

This brings us to workaholism, a kind of hustle mentality that glorifies overwork. Dr. Killinger defined workaholics as work-obsessed individuals who gradually become “emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success.”

Smartphones have now taken workaholism to a whole new level. People can be tethered to their workplace 24/7, reading work emails on vacation, during weekends, and in the middle of the night. Khara presented a book by award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee called Do Nothing: Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing and Underliving, in which the author recommends investing in “quality idle time” and spending face-to-face time with friends and family as a counter to workaholism.

Another title on Khara booklist is Chained to the Desk in which psychotherapist Bryan E. Robinson categorized workaholics into four types which Khara likes to call churners, dreamers, sprinters, and plodders.

Out of the four, the churners are the classic, most recognizable workaholics. They work and work, they get stuff done and reap a lot of praise for it. The second category is comprised of the “attention-deficit workaholics” or dreamers. “They are the innovators with big ideas,” Khara said. Often others have to implement their ideas. The third type is the “bulimic” workaholic. Khara likes to call them sprinters. They typically exhibit a “start-stop” pattern at the workplace. Last, but not least, the plodders take their time, they don’t rush anything. “Their perfectionism shows up in nitpicking. If it’s not perfect, they’re not done,” explained Khara.

The Mental Health Impact

The mindsets described above frequently induce cognitive distortions familiar to practitioners of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). There tends to be a relentlessly negative inner critic and a lot of black-and-white thinking. For some this may even lead to suicidal ideation: if I cannot have it, I might as well give up living.

Pressure and stress may lead to attempts at self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Since this behavior is a major driver of addiction it often creates more anguish and pain down the road, as “it addresses the symptoms but not the problem.” Workaholics and perfectionists “struggle with self-care,” Khara told the webinar participants because they don’t think they can invest enough time in such activities.

This in turn frequently leads to burnout, a state of physical or emotional exhaustion. A 2020 FlexJobs/Mental Health America survey suggested that “75 percent of people [in the US] have experienced burnout at work, with 40 percent saying they’ve experienced burnout specifically during the pandemic.”

Symptoms of burnout include irritability, sleep disruption, weight gain or loss, stomach problems, and even cracked teeth—thought to be the result of stress caused by the pandemic and work-related stress. “2020 saw more cracked teeth than the six years prior,” said Khara.

And finally, the combination of perfectionism, workaholism, and the pandemic has led to a significant increase in anxiety disorders.

Treatment Strategies

The cognitive distortions of perfectionism and workaholism can be addressed with reframing or restructuring. Instead of succumbing to negative thinking patterns, people can simply ask themselves, “Is there another way to look at this situation?” or, “What are some other possible reasons this could have happened?” Pointing out alternatives can help people see things from a more positive point of view.

Khara recommends using client-appropriate language. Workaholics typically have a hard time engaging with “hearts-and-flowers” language. “They don’t want to go from ‘I am a piece of crap and need to be more productive’ to ‘I’m a wonderful person.’ That’s too much of a stretch for them. When reframing, try to be as realistic as possible.”

The same applies to self-care. “If we ask them to take a seven-day vacation, they will say no. That’s not a financial strain, it’s the productivity strain,” Khara said. “It’s the 500 emails they will have when they get back. It’s ‘I’m in the middle of a project.’ Instead, I want them to embrace 5–10 minutes of something.”

Five to ten minutes of walking. 5–10 minutes of music. “We notice there is a lot less resistance to this strategy that way—putting a smaller timeframe on it.” This is more manageable, especially in this culture of being busy.

What would a meditation look like or a few minutes of mindfulness? Perfectionists and workaholics need to be more aware of their damaging behaviors. Daily identification of behaviors and activities that are expending valuable energy and those that create value, growth, and opportunity is key to a healthy work-life balance.

Part of that is the ability to say “no.” No to more work on your plate. No to too many long hours in the office. Take a break from your inbox. Engage in self-care.

“No is a complete sentence,” Khara said. Sadly, for many of us, it is hard to say.

Harmony Foundation is one of the longest-running and most successful addiction treatment programs 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.

One-year Death Rate of Opioid Use Disorder Similar to Heart Attacks

“Hospitalized patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) die at a rate comparable to people who suffered heart attacks within a year of hospital discharge,” according to a new study from Oregon Health & Science University.

The study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that almost 8 percent of patients with OUD died within 12 months of being discharged. The authors say their findings highlight the need for addiction care in the hospital, as well as generally improving health systems for patients with substance use disorder (SUD) who also have other medical conditions.

They concluded that “hospitalized patients with OUD are at high risk of death, from drug and non-drug-related causes, in the year after discharge,” and suggested that “future research should consider not only overdose, but a more comprehensive definition of drug-related death in understanding post-discharge mortality among hospitalized patients with OUD, and care systems should work to mitigate the risk of death in this population.”

A severe opioid use disorder is a life-threatening disease, requiring comprehensive addiction treatment. Overdose deaths—largely driven by opioid misuse—soared to a record 93,000 last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US government reported in July. That latest estimate far eclipses the high of about 72,000 drug overdose deaths reached the previous year and amounts to an alarming 29 percent increase.

A comprehensive treatment plan may include the prescription of three FDA-approved drugs as part of medication-assisted treatment or MAT. Medications used for the treatment of opioid use disorder are buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex), methadone, and extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol). Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat OUD, and for “some people struggling with opioid addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. “MAT is also used to prevent or reduce opioid overdose.”

Harmony Offers HOPE

As a modern treatment provider, Harmony has offered clients with OUD medication-assisted treatment for a number of years. Harmony’s Opioid Programming Experience (HOPE) is a combination of education, counseling, and the use of medication in early recovery. HOPE expands MAT to include medications that alter the physical response to opioids, reduce cravings, and give the patient time to heal from the psychological, social, and spiritual wounds of addiction.

At Harmony, HOPE begins with thorough medical and psychological evaluations. Collaboration with the patient, members of the interdisciplinary team, and, when appropriate, family and referral sources, determine the most effective treatment plan. All HOPE clients are invited to participate in weekly support groups led by a professional addiction counselor. These groups address the unique challenges of early opioid recovery, including uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms, cravings, and strategies to avoid relapse. In this setting, clients support each other and are educated about the process of recovery.

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.

Keep It Simple!

Michael Maassel has been cheering up and inspiring the recovery community every Monday morning since the horrendous early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s an important mission during a pandemic that has been such an emotional drain for so many people in recovery from addiction.

In May 2020, she launched the popular “Monday State of Mind” podcast. Inspired by her own sobriety and wellness journey, the director of alumni and recovery support services at Harmony wants to spread the wealth of knowledge of how you can take the fundamentals of recovery and apply them in your life whether you are in recovery or not.

In episode 84 of “Monday State of Mind,” Michael talked with her colleague Chris Conn, donor relations manager at Harmony Foundation, about how to keep your recovery real and simple. Many people are unsure how to present their recovery in the wider community. How to refuse an alcoholic beverage at a family gathering, public event, or party? How to handle the often awkward moment when somebody offers you a drink?

No need to overcomplicate the issue, says Chris Conn. “Our culture has become much more accepting,” he says. Recovery from addiction “no longer freaks people out.” Many people will now appreciate your sobriety and simply say “cool” when you tell them about it. Often, they are impressed with you making a change like that.

Chris himself was brave enough to break the news in a job interview. When asked why he had moved from Minnesota to Colorado his reply was “I moved out here to get sober.” He was really nervous about his forthright answer but the interviewer wanted to know more and Chris believes his honesty actually helped him get the job. “At that moment I was authentic,” Chris recalls and they liked that “I put that much work and effort into changing my life.”

Sobriety is no longer just for people with addiction, either. “There are lots of people who are choosing to lead an alcohol and drug-free life for many reasons,” says Michael. “It’s becoming very acceptable socially” and that works in your favor if you are in recovery.

It’s also okay to use a little humor to deal with awkward situations. Chris remembers answering questions like “Why are you not drinking?” with “every time I drink, I break out in handcuffs.” And if there was laughter, he would follow up with “seriously, I end up in jail if I do this.”

It’s not always easy. Michael recalls how in early recovery she was sometimes afraid of losing friends if she didn’t drink—if people found out her truth. Chris went through the same phase but then realized if “somebody wants to dissociate from me because I stopped using drugs and alcohol, they were not a healthy person for me to be in my life from the get-go. People that love me the most accept me for who I am.”

Not only did Chris disclose that he had been addicted to substances, but he also came out as a gay male. In the end, only two people dropped him from their lives because of that. “I realized, I’m better off with that. The same goes if you’re disclosing that you’re an alcoholic or an addict,” he says. “If somebody drops you out of their life because you’re taking charge of your sobriety, I feel, that person shouldn’t have been in your life to begin with.”

On the other hand, there’s no obligation to “recover out loud” like Michael and tell everybody about your sobriety. Everybody is different. You can simply just say “I’m not drinking right now.” It’s perfectly alright to keep it brief and to the point.

Remember, recovery is one day at a time. It’s perfectly legitimate to tell people it’s for health reasons such as trying to get fit. Keep it simple and stay sober!

Harmony Reaching Out to the Wider Recovery Community

The opposite of addiction is connection, they say, and for more than 50 years, Harmony Foundation has helped people with addiction reconnect, promoting their physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Our alumni program plays an important role in that endeavor. Harmony doesn’t just keep in touch with its alumni, we also like to integrate with a wider community of like-minded organizations.
“Harmony continually reaches out to the recovery community in Colorado and beyond,” says Michael Maassel, Harmony’s director of alumni services and co-president of Treatment Professionals in Alumni Services (TPAS).
At a recent TPAS event, she shared with fellow alumni services how to work with local organizations in order to stimulate creative ideas for more effective programming, service work, and engaging with the larger community.
Back home in Colorado, Michael is doing just that. “For example, we’re collaborating with Colorado Artists in Recovery,”  she explains. CAiR offers a variety of workshops to fuel the creative spirit. It utilizes recovery-oriented principles to provide a safe, encouraging, and inclusive environment for people affected by substance misuse and mental health issues.
“We’re also working with the children’s program of the Hazelden Betty Ford Center,” says Michael. In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, Lindsey Chadwick, the program’s manager, explained how addiction affects the children in the family of the addicted person and what therapists can do to help children heal from the trauma of addiction.
“Generally, we’re connecting our alumni with other recovery-focused groups and organizations,” says Michael. “We really want to diversify their recovery, engage their own, individual personality, and give them as many tools as possible to be successful.”
At the moment, Harmony is working with three recovery residences in Colorado to help them with their missions. One is Purpose House Sober Living in Fort Collins where Harmony operates a recovery center.  Purpose House offers men in early recovery a safe and supportive living environment to increase their chances of creating a life of happiness and purpose in long-term sobriety.
Amethyst House in Loveland which is part of Recovered Humans provides a safe and sober environment for women in Colorado. Route2Recovery provides sober living accommodations, recovery peer coaching, and family coaching.
As a special gift for the holiday season, Michael asked all three to create Amazon registries for things they need for their sober living facilities. “The holidays can be tough for people in recovery,” she says, “and we wanted to make this time of the year a little easier for them.”

She chose this online method to enable more alumni to participate in this service project. “This way, it’s not just people in Denver or Colorado who can be part of it,” says Michael.
The registry links are:

“The great thing about this is they get supplies sent to their doorsteps for a whole month, it’s like getting little surprise gifts day after day, making it easier for new arrivals who may not have shampoo or razors, or laundry detergent. And it’s a great way to say thank you to sober living homes who were an important part of the recovery of many of our alumni.”
Reconnecting to a life of purpose in recovery is a life-long journey. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, do not delay getting treatment because of the holidays. 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.