New Directions for Women would like to share the final installment of our five part series interview on Overcoming Addiction: Hope with Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment with Dr. Joe Terhaar. For the conclusion of this compelling interview Flood and Terhaar further discuss the impact of the Seeking Safety curriculum and the healing of women.
Flood and Terhaar also speak about the impact that women have in treatment when it comes to relationships, addiction, treatment, and trauma. CEO Becky Flood and Terhaar also examine the importance of including the family during treatment and how New Directions for Women treats not only the woman but the whole entire family.
Please listen to the final portion of this interview by clicking on the widget above. New Directions for Women hopes that you have enjoyed this interview series. Below is a transcription of the final part of this interview for you to read:
Terhaar: Welcome back. Welcome back. I’m just jumping up and down on my chair here. I am! Because I am so thrilled to have Becky Flood here New Directions in California. Folks, go look it up on your search engine. Those people who you love in your life who are women who are struggling with addiction, look up New Directions, and do what you can to help them to get to New Directions because look at the dilemma that was just broken. Becky just so articulately talked about how the dilemma is broken there. The dichotomy between: do you work on the addiction recovery first, knowing that there’s trauma? Or do you work on the trauma and then come around to working on the addiction? Well if you work on the addiction first then the trauma is going to emerge later and it will undermine the recovery. I gave a recent case example of that. On the other hand, if you focus on the trauma and you don’t have sufficient support and structure for recovery then the re-emerging trauma will be overwhelming, and it will undermine the very minimal supports that are being provided. And what New Directions has done is provided sufficient structure and support to address both the addiction recovery, and the trauma. This is why they are saving lives. So Becky, let’s talk a little bit about relationships. Women suffer relationship, relational damage in addiction in their primary relationships. Tell us about that and how you address that in treatment and especially how do you help these women transition to healthier relationships upon discharge?
Flood: Well I think through some of the works that we’ve talked about between the experiential work, the CBT, as well as the mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breath work … and also we use a lot of Native American healing processes such as talking circles and medicine wheels as well because we infuse a lot of spirituality into our recovery. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it states that when the spiritual malady is corrected the physical and emotional will take care of themselves and so we focus on all three aspects of healing, believing that when somebody is spiritually fit (and that doesn’t mean religious, but whatever you choose your spiritual path to be) that when one is spiritually connected, they automatically take care of themselves physically and emotionally. As those things heal within the woman she begins to make different decisions about relationship, and relationship means something different to her going forward. Seeking Safety was developed in 1982. Dr. Lisa Najavits used a grant from NIH, the National Institute on Health, but she also had support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse as well, to help develop the Seeking Safety curriculum. Alcohol and drug addiction used to be treated as an acute episode or an acute medical disease. In recent years we have begun to realize that this is a chronic illness and needs to be treated over a lifespan just like diabetes does, just like heart disease does, and that this disease is genetic in nature and has different severities of illness. So one’s treatment episode is not just a sub-landing or an occurrence but treatment needs to be re-engaged at different intervals and different levels of intensity throughout one’s life. I think that what we try to do with our women is have them realize that this is something that they’re going to have to manage as if they were diabetic and they may need to use diet today and insulin tomorrow and so we give them as much a variety and it’s why we treat trauma and addiction simultaneously. With a diabetic you don’t just treat the physical part of the disease but you treat all aspects of the disease. Treatment may change, increase, or decrease over time depending on the patient’s responsiveness to the treatment interventions. So when we only treat one aspect of all that this human being comes to us is suffering from we do them a disservice. If you treat them physically and not spiritually or emotionally they may begin to physically get better but it’s those other aspects that haven’t been treated that cause them to relapse or go backward in their recovery process.
Terhaar: We have to treat the whole person. We have to draw that delicate balance between, ‘yes helping them understand their addiction’ but we have to help them as you said, ‘help them be responsive to themselves’ and therefore you need a treatment center that believes in care that is responsive to the needs of the individual
Terhaar: Like New Directions
Flood: I believe New Directions. I believe that there’s many other facilities as well but I think that in looking at facilities or choosing a facility whether it’s a patient, or a family, or a referral source. It’s just like picking an interventionist that’s credentialed, we need to pick credentialed facilities that are accredited, that are licensed, that are talking about best practices, promising practices, research, and evidenced based care, treating this as a chronic lifelong illness. I think that when you hear those coming from a facility that you’re looking at or choosing it’s very important that it’s one that addressed the entire person, the entire family system, because no individual suffers from a chronic illness, whether it’s diabetes, cancer, or heart disease by themselves. The entire family suffers, and the entire family needs to be supported.
Terhaar: Boy. I intentionally put that long pause in there because what you’re saying is so important. Tell us a little bit more, we’ve got about two minutes left, about how you help women make that transition back to their community and what kind of therapy and support are typically involved?
Flood: Well there’s many things, that again, are being talked about in recent years when you talk about a chronic illness and for many chronic illnesses we have what’s called monitoring. They monitor people that have been diagnosed with cancer or diabetes and we are now providing monitoring services, case management, wrap around services, in-home counseling services, coaching services, and recovery coaches. These are all of the terminologies that you will hear today in reference to how one transitions from a residential level of care, to a partial hospital, to an intensive outpatient, to an in-home environment, and so we at New Directions, we use outside monitoring services, we use recovery coaches, and case management coaches, life coaches, in a variety of ways for our women to transition.
Terhaar: So you don’t just provide high quality care, you really assess what the woman needs in aftercare and help build and incredible bridges so that the great work in recovery that’s been established can continue. Thanks Becky Flood, CEO of New Directions for being our guest today, it’s just been a joy to have you.
Flood: Thanks Dr. Joe for having me, I greatly appreciate it.