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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Equine Therapy Offers an Innovative Way to Treat Substance Abuse

Beating drug and alcohol addiction requires changing your entire life perspective. There's no quick fix for a substance abuse disorder, since you need to learn new ways to cope with your emotions and manage stress. Equine therapy is growing as a form of addiction treatment because it offers a way to apply the lessons learned in individual and group counseling to real world environments.  

Equine therapy is a type of experiential therapy, a hands-on form of therapy that helps people work through negative feelings and repressed emotions by letting them engage in enjoyable activities. Art therapy, music therapy, and wilderness therapy are other examples of experiential therapy used to treat drug and alcohol addiction.

At English Mountain, equine therapy is used to identify treatment issues, help clients bond as a group, and encourage those in the early stages of recovery to experience the power of a relationship built on open communication. "We offer both individual and group sessions," equine therapist Julie Jerrolds LPC, MHSP said. "There are typically six to 15 people in a group at a time. Group sessions are two hours. Individual sessions run about 45 to 55 minutes."

According to Jerrolds, equine therapy can be used in a variety of ways. Some of the lessons a client might take away from the experience include:
  • Building healthy relationships
  • Developing self-esteem and a sense of self-worth
  • Setting appropriate boundaries
  • Utilizing grounding techniques to manage anxiety
  • Developing mindfulness to cope with stress
  • Working through issues related to past trauma
  • Exploring feelings about addiction-related behavior

Jerrolds believe that horses are the perfect animals for addiction therapy because they are skilled in the art of non-verbal communication. In a therapy session, the client learns to be more conscious of how non-verbal communication affects the development of their relationships as they observe how the horse responds to their gestures and movements. "People are often unaware of the way in which they communicate non-verbally," she said. "Horses are able to provide feedback to the person exactly how they are sharing information non-verbally and with the help of an equine therapist they can interpret the way they interact with others. Often times the way they are communicating with a horse within a therapy session reflects the way they communicate with people."

Equine therapy for addiction involves no horseback riding. Sessions take place on the ground, using the horse’s nature as a social animal to impart lessons about communication, relationships, and emotions. Clients may walk with, talk to, brush, or help care for the horses alongside their therapist.

"The experiential way in which a person can practice mindfulness, connection, building relationships, setting boundaries and working through trauma helps build the brain," Jerrolds said. "It also helps the body to remember what it feels like to be connected while being present, open minded, and willing in the moment. For some people, this is the first time they have experienced a true physical and mental connection."

Equine therapy is not a required part of English Mountain's addiction treatment, but it can be beneficial for anyone who is interested in hands-on holistic treatment approaches. You don't have to have any past experience with horses to benefit from equine therapy, as long as you're willing to be open to this treatment approach. "I typically see people individually who have a history of trauma," Jerrolds said. "Working with the horses helps provide feedback on how the person interacts with others and themselves."

Jerrolds has been a therapist for 21 years and has been providing equine assisted therapy for the last seven years. She is certified in the Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) model for equine therapy and equine-assisted eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

For Jerrolds, every day brings new challenges as she works with clients to help them begin their journey to sobriety. "The most rewarding part of my job is watching people make positive
changes in their lives," she said.

By Dana Hinders

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gender-Specific Treatment for Women: Offering Help Targeted to Their Needs

Researchers have discovered that there are differences in the way women and men experience substance abuse.

Women are more likely to become addicted to certain types of drugs and experience different biological effects. They may also experience different barriers to seeking treatment than men. Since gender plays a different role for them in substance abuse, women may feel more comfortable seeking a gender-specific treatment program.

Gender Differences and Substance Abuse

  • Men and women are equally at risk for becoming addicted. However, when women consume addictive substances, they tend to move from being a casual user to a dependent user more quickly. This is called telescoping.
  • Women may find it more difficult to quit using addictive substances.
  • Women may also be at higher risk for relapse.

Women and Alcohol Abuse. The results of the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that the vast majority of Americans (86.4 percent) over the age of 18 had tried alcohol at least once during their lifetime.

  • 70.1 percent drank during the past 12 months
  • 56.0 percent drank during the past month

When a woman drinks alcohol, she is more vulnerable to its effects than a man. She naturally carries more body fat, which retains alcohol. A woman's body also contains less water to dilute alcohol content. As a result, her organs will be exposed to alcohol to a greater degree.

Women and Opiate Abuse. Since women are more likely than men to have chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, more prescriptions are written for them for opioid pain medications. They're also more likely to go to the emergency room for opioid abuse.

Women and Stimulants. Women and men use stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines at about the same rate, although women report starting to use cocaine earlier than men. Research has indicated that women become dependent on stimulants more quickly than men and are more likely to relapse after quitting.

Women and Nicotine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 15 percent of US adults smoke (2015). This figure adds up to approximately 36.5 million people.

The health risks of smoking are well known. Research has shown that smoking reduces life expectancy by more than 10 years compared to people who have never put a cigarette to their lips.

Quitting smoking can be difficult for women due to concerns about gaining weight if they give up the habit. A doctor may suggest a low-fat diet and boosting physical activity when quitting, but this may not be practical in all instances. For best results, a woman who wants to quit smoking should find a way to focus on the improved health benefits she will gain.

Research studies have shown that hormone levels influence success rates for women who wish to quit smoking. If the quit date is timed to start shortly after a woman's menstrual period ends and before ovulation, she is more likely to abstain from cigarette smoking. Women who quit smoking after ovulation in the days leading up to their menstrual period find it more challenging to stay away from cigarettes.

Researchers theorize that higher estrogen levels during the early stage of the menstrual cycle improve mood and decrease anxiety, making it easier for a woman to cope with the challenges associated with the early stages of smoking cessation.

Barriers to Women Seeking Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Women are more likely than men to report that they experience barriers when either seeking out or following through with a drug or alcohol treatment program.

  • Economic Factors. Affordability is a major factor keeping women from getting help for drug and alcohol addiction. A number of women report they don’t have the financial means to take time away from work to focus on recovery.
  • Family Responsibilities. Women also report having to care for their children and/or other family members as a barrier to getting addiction treatment. They may have difficulty making arrangements to have someone care for their children. Some women may have concerns about losing custody of their children if they seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.
  • Stigmas About Seeking Help for Addiction. It can be challenging for some women to seek help for addiction, especially in cases which include instances of trauma or abuse. A woman may feel a sense of shame on anxiety about going to treatment if she doesn't feel ready to address underlying issues surrounding her addiction.

Gender-Specific Treatment for Women

Traditionally, addiction treatment models were based on men's needs and may not work well for women, who often wish to discuss relationships with family members and friends as relates to their drug and alcohol use. Women who have experienced trauma and violence, especially sexual violence, more than likely feel more comfortable discussing these issues in a group therapy session comprised of women only. A gender specific treatment program for women gives them the opportunity to develop trust with their therapists and other clients and feel comfortable getting to the root of their addiction.

English Mountain Recovery offers gender-specific recovery programs for female clients. It’s a safe environment where the focus is on healing.

By Jodee Redmond


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Can Surgery Increase Your Risk of Opioid Addiction?

If you have been told you need to have surgery, you trust that you will be anesthetized during the procedure. Afterward, you know that you can expect to experience some discomfort. Before you even leave the operating room, you will likely be given a pain medication to keep you comfortable for several hours after your anesthesia wears off.

During your stay in the hospital immediately following the procedure, most patients expect to be given enough medication to be kept relatively comfortable during the first few days of healing. While you may be apprehensive about “going under the knife,” do you also worry about the possibility of becoming addicted to opioid pain medications afterward?

According to the results of a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, patients who undergo a number of common surgical procedures are at higher risk for becoming chronic opioid painkiller users.

Stanford University Study Looked at Common Surgeries

The researchers studied insurance claims made by 641,941 surgical patients and 18,011,137 non-surgical patients. None of the patients in the study had filled a prescription for opioids within the previous 12 months.

The surgical patients underwent the following procedures:

  • Total Knee Replacement
  • Total Hip Replacement
  • Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy (minimally invasive gall bladder removal)
  • Open Cholecystectomy (traditional gall bladder surgery — large incision)
  • Laparoscopic Appendectomy (minimally invasive appendectomy removal)
  • Open Appendectomy (traditional appendectomy - larger incision required)
  • Cesarean Delivery
  • Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)
  • Cataract Surgery
  • Transurethral Prostate Resection [TURP] (treatment for urinary problems due to enlarged prostate)
  • Simple Mastectomy

These procedures were chosen because, with the exception of the total knee and hip replacement surgeries, they are not performed to relieve pain or thought to put patients at risk for long-term pain. All participants in the study were adults between the ages of 18-64 and participated for two years before surgery and one year after their procedure.

Study Results Show Increased Risk of Opioid Use After Surgery

The study results indicate that the patients who underwent the 11 types of surgery were at a slightly increased risk of becoming chronic opioid users. Chronic opioid use is defined as patients who filled 10 or more prescriptions for this class of drug or who received more than a 120-day supply in the first year following their surgical procedure, excluding the first three months after the date of their procedure.

These results do not suggest that patients should refuse to undergo necessary medical procedures due to concern they might become addicted to opioids. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks and to have a plan for addressing them.

Higher Risk Among Women Who Have Undergone Cesarean Sections

Women who have given birth via Cesarean section have higher instances of long-term opioid use, according to the study. Their risk was 28 percent higher than the control group.

Other risk factors that contribute to increased risk of long-term opioid use are being male, taking an antidepressant or abusing drugs. Seniors are also at risk for long-term opioid abuse.

Talk to Your Doctor About Pain Management After Surgery

If you or a loved one will be undergoing surgery, talk about plans for managing pain after the procedure. Ask questions about what medication is normally prescribed and for how long. If there are concerns about needing more pain relief than normal, ask before the surgery.

Keep in mind that having extra pills in your home “just in case” you may need them can be dangerous, too. They can fall into the hands of someone for whom they were not prescribed. There are other options for treating pain other than opioid medications, and your doctor should be able to discuss a plan for including them in your post-surgical pain management.

If you have concerns about opioid pain medication, either for yourself or a loved one, English Mountain Recovery can help. Our residential treatment program allows clients to focus their complete attention on getting well.

By Jodee Redmond


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How Addiction Affects the Entire Family

How addiction affects the family
When one person in a family becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, their substance abuse issue doesn't exist in a bubble. It affects the entire family, causing a number of interpersonal problems. It's not a stretch to say that addiction is a family disease, since it changes the relationships the family has with the addict and each other.

The Addicted Person Becomes Isolated from Rest of the Family
The person with a substance abuse problem will likely find that they are increasingly isolated from the rest of the family over time. As the addiction progresses, it becomes more difficult for the addict to keep up with work and family responsibilities. Over time, a person with an addiction will gain a reputation for being unreliable.

Someone with substance abuse issues is likely to make promises to family members and then break those promises. An addict may agree to stop using or seek help but fail to follow through. He or she may ask for financial help, food, or a place to stay, Just this onceor for the last timebut continue to ask the family for support.

If they start borrowing money from family members due to financial issues caused by their addiction and dont pay it back, this type of behavior wont bring them closer to family members. Instead, it will lead to resentment, conflict and further isolation within the family.

A Spouse or Partner of Addict May Become Codependent
An addicts spouse or partner is living in a very close relationship with someone who is not in an emotionally healthy state. A person who is abusing drugs or alcohol is using chemicals as a coping mechanism. The familys resources are being used to support the addiction, which may be creating or contributing to financial hardship.

The spouse could be experiencing some or all of the following as a result of living with someone who is an addict: denial, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety or hopelessness. When an addicts spouse becomes the primary supporter and rescuer, they are in a codependent relationship.

This pattern isnt healthy for either person. The helper-spouses self-esteem is caught up in helping to lower his or her spouses suffering. As a result, they enable the addict by taking careof them. This type of person is often very loyal, even if they have been let down multiple times.

Children with Addicted Parents
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, children who grow up with addicted parents are more likely to develop depression or anxiety and to begin using drugs or alcohol at an early age.

Children who grow up in a home where one or both parents have a substance abuse problem may develop skills necessary to deal with a higher level of stress than their peers. In the best cases, they grow up with good judgment, the ability to tolerate uncertainty, and the willingness to take on responsibility.  

A child whose parent has a substance abuse issue will likely be overprotective of their parent. Even though the child may be well aware that the parent has a drug or alcohol problem, the child may feel that it is his or her duty to defend the parent to extended family members or anyone who may be critical. Taking on this enormous responsibility can cause great emotional stress for the child.

Someone who grows up in that type of stressful home environment may extend their need for hyper-vigilance toward their own children as an overprotective parent. They may have trouble allowing the child to become independent; instead, they become a controlling parent.

Addiction in Blended Families
As blended families become more common, more people with a substance abuse problem will be stepparents. Even in ideal circumstances, blending two families is challenging. The biological parents need to be able to communicate effectively on issues involving the children. Ideally, their new partners will feel included as part of the team.

When a stepparent has an issue with addiction, the children may have difficulty getting close to him or her. The children may be noticing signs of addiction (mood swings, difficulty paying attention, stepparent going out with new friends, missing money or household items), which can lead to extra stress in the home.  

Children living in a blended family situation may feel as though they dont have any control over their living arrangement. If a child doesnt develop close ties to either biological parent or one of the stepparents, he or she may look to peers as substitutes. This situation can open the door to substance abuse for a young person who wants to fit in with their surrogate family.

A stepparent living in a household where a child (of any age) develops a substance abuse problem may not have very much patience with the situation. If the child is a minor, the stepparent may want the child to go live with the other biological parent. The stepparent may want adult children in this situation to move out of the family home. The biological parent may see the situation differently, and want the adult child or children to stay at home. This is not a situation that is easy to resolve, and its one where the biological parent is likely to feel they are being put in an impossible position.

Effects of Addiction on Extended Family
The effects of addiction can extend beyond the immediate family. Extended family members may feel also uncomfortable around the person who has a substance abuse issue due to their behavior. Depending on the occasion, these family members may feel embarrassed, ashamed, angry, concerned or even guilty when attending family functions where the addict is present.

By Jodee Redmond