Dopamine and the Early Recovery “Blahs” – Here’s What You Should Know

Dopamine and the early recovery process go hand in hand. When you’re recovering from opiate addiction, your brain is going to experience a lot of changes.

Unfortunately, many of these changes can lead to the recovery “blahs.” That can leave you feeling unmotivated, uninspired, and even depressed.

The more you understand about dopamine and the early recovery process, the easier it will be to take active steps to make your recovery go as smoothly as possible.

First, let’s look at why dopamine affects the brain so much when you have an addiction. Then, we’ll talk about how you can beat the early recovery “blahs.”

Dopamine, Drugs, and Your Brain

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter within the brain. It affects everything from sleep to concentration. What it’s most widely known for, though, is mood regulation. When you experience something good, dopamine is released into the brain. This might be something like getting a raise at work to something as simple as having your favorite dessert.

Certain drugs, like opiates, also typically cause a spike in dopamine. It creates a fast sense of satisfaction and gives your brain the message that you should feel rewarded for what you’re doing.

Because certain drugs make people feel so good, it’s not difficult to become addicted. The more you like something and the better it makes you feel, the more likely you are to do it again and again.

Unfortunately, over time, the brain becomes used to the drug and the surges of dopamine decrease. As a result, you might find yourself needing to take more of the drug or doing it more often.

Why You Experience the “Blahs”

Finding yourself in a rut during recovery is normal. It typically comes after a few weeks of abstaining from a substance. For others, though, it can happen a few months into your recovery period.

The problem with the recovery “blahs” is that they can sometimes lead to a relapse. Your brain isn’t getting the same release of dopamine that it once was, and it’s very easy to miss that feeling of pleasure, even if you’ve been off the drug for a while.

When your brain is recovering from that consistent increase in dopamine, it can be harder to feel it naturally from positive events or occurrences in your life. Additionally, you might start to feel the rush of success wearing off.

When you first start on your recovery journey and you’re committed to making a change, it’s easy to get a “high” from that. After several weeks, though, you might not get the same rush from it that you once did—even if that feeling of accomplishment is still there. Life might not feel as exciting to you as it did when you were using.

Beating the Recovery “Blahs”

So, what can you do to counteract dopamine and the early recovery problems you might face?

One of the best things is to find ways to boost dopamine in healthy ways. Create excitement for yourself if you’re feeling low or if it seems like your life is “boring” compared to what it used to be.

You don’t have to make huge changes or plan anything extravagant. Try some of the following things to get a boost of excitement:

  • Start a new hobby.
  • Go for coffee with an old friend.
  • Play a sport.
  • Try a new dish at your favorite restaurant.
  • Go to the spa.

There are endless possibilities for finding healthy ways to increase the pleasure sensors within your brain. When you’re dealing with the recovery “blahs,” these simple things can make a big difference.

If you’re still struggling with recovery and you feel like it’s not getting easier, please contact me.

Opiate addiction is serious, and it takes time and support to get through it. Together, we can work on different ways to make the recovery process easier for you.

Visit here to learn more about how I can help.


Effective Public Speaking: How to Be Impacting as an Executive

When you’re in an executive position, effective public speaking is a necessity.

Moreover, effective public speaking will help you to appear more authoritative, gain you more respect, and allow you to achieve your career goals on a larger plane.

To be an effective public speaker, you need to understand that it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Being clear and concise is important, but so is making sure you’re getting your organic message across.

Furthermore, how you look and sound informs your audience of your message as well. You can come across as inspirational, which is likely your goal. Or, you might come across as instigating, or interrogational—likely things you don’t want.

So, how can you be more effective with your public speaking?

Serve Your Audience

Again, inspiration is often the goal. If you’re trying to move your audience to think a certain way or perform a certain action, your words need to be able to motivate them.

You can do this by considering your purpose. Remember, you’re not writing a speech or giving a presentation for yourself. Stop thinking about what youreally want, and think about how your audience might respond to what you’re saying. What can you say to inspire them?

One way to achieve an inspirational tone is to make your presentation as personal as possible. If you can’t connect with your audience on a personal level, they might tune you out.

Don’t be afraid to share your own experiences—the good and the bad. If the people you’re speaking to can relate to you or what you’ve been through, they’re more likely to pay attention and believe what you have to say.

Practice Every Day

Effective public speaking takes a great deal of time and a lot of practice. Even if you have natural charisma, a good speaking voice, and you can organize your thoughts well, successfully speaking in front of a group of people can be difficult.

To practice, opt to speak in front of groups as often as possible to get better at it. Practice in front of a mirror at home, too. While you don’t want to come across as too “rehearsed,” you do want to make sure you’re confident in the way you’re delivering your message.

If you do make a mistake, don’t sweat it. There’s a good chance no one will even notice but you. Keep going, don’t apologize, and don’t stop to rewind your point. That can easily trip you up and set a negative tone for the rest of your presentation. If you can get through a mistake smoothly, there’s a good chance that no one will remember it even happened.

Pay Attention to Body Language

Public speaking is about more than just projecting your voice. It’s about visualization as well. If you appear closed off, rigid, or uncomfortable while you’re speaking, you won’t appear to be as believable or motivational.

While big gestures, posture, and the way you move your hands are important, it’s equally important to pay attention to the details. Micro-expressions—a term further developed by Paul Eckman—are simple little gestures that you may not even notice about yourself. A sudden twitch of the eye, rapid blinking, a small-but-quick grin, etc., are all examples of micro-expressions. These nuances can say a lot to someone without you actually having to say a word.

In summary, body language is extremely important in effective public speaking, so be aware of how you’re presenting yourself.

If public speaking causes you a lot of stress, or you’re unsure of how to be more impacting, you might benefit from individual counseling.

Feel free to get ahold of me if you’re feeling a lot of pressure or stress due to your speaking responsibilities. Or visit here to learn more about how I can help.

Together, we can work on different ways to not only alleviate that stress but to be a more effective public speaker than ever before.

Executive Social Intelligence Uncategorized Voir Dire Consultation

Voir Dire Selection: Here’s Why It’s Important to Bring the Right Behavioral Expert

Voir dire is the process by which our legal system chooses jurors for a criminal case. The basis of this selection rests in its actual meaning. In Latin, voir dire means “to speak the truth.”

Simplified, the process works by having judges and lawyers ask questions to potential jurors. Essentially, they’re trying to determine who is capable and competent enough to sit on the jury in a particular case.

Unfortunately, the voir dire process isn’t flawless. People are able to lie or appear a certain way on the surface that doesn’t accurately reflect their personality or opinions.

That’s why it’s so important to bring a behavioral expert into the voir dire process.

Common Voir Dire Questions

When a judge interviews potential jurors, they’re usually more interested in logistical questions. Lawyers on both sides of a case, however, will tend to ask more personal questions that could sway a trial one way or another.

While lawyers can’t get too personal, they can ask a person about their background and biases they might have. They also might ask if they know anything about the particular case at hand.

Things like actual and implied bias are common challenges when a lawyer thinks a certain person wouldn’t be a good fit for a jury. Either that person openly admitted thier own bias for or against a certain culture, religion, etc., or they have character traits that would cause someone to think that way.

Why Is a Behavioral Expert Important?

While behavioral experts are most commonly found in clinical environments, there are some that specialize in reading body language and other subtle nuances that can be extremely beneficial to the voir dire selection process, too. Not every clinician or behavioral expert is trained or experienced in these situations; it is essentially a sub-class specialty of the greater field. Within the legal system they are commonly referred to as Jury Consultants or Voir Dire Consultants.

These behavioral experts are more aware of the mechanics of human behaviors and motivations and trained in how to detect them. They know what to look for to see what people are really thinking or feeling. They have superior communication and listening skills, which can really help when it comes to selecting the right jurors for a particular trial. Detailed focus on language, delivery, posturing, pitch, mannerisms, eye movement and minute facial responses called micro-expressions that we’ll look at a bit more later in this article.

Specialists in this arena can help increase attention to things that an attorney or judge might not typically notice. That’s because their focus is typically on the how the respondent answers the question and not only the questions themselves, among other things.

They’ll also be able to pay attention to the other potential jurors when one is being questioned in the voir dire selection process. If someone feels like they’re not being observed closely, they’re more likely to let their natural reactions come through. A behavioral specialist can pick up on these reactions easily and report them back.

To sum up, a behavioral expert can fill in many gaps. They will let an attorney know what an individual might have really been saying or thinking when answering a particular question. And they can help to shape some of the questions before the selection process as well as indicate during the voir dire process when someone is responding to a question in a way of concern or interest.

Micro-Expressions and Jury Selection

Paul Eckman made the term “micro-expressions” popular, but it stands the test of time because it works. The most subtle movements or changes in facial expressions can end up meaning a lot. If an attorney, judge, or someone else in the legal system isn’t able to pick up on them, it could greatly impact the ultimate verdict.

Voir dire selection is a great way to choose the best possible jurors for a case. But, having the right behavioral expert on board will fine tune the process and make it even better.

Please contact me for more information about the voir dire selection. Or, visit here to learn more about the ways I can help.



How to Manage Critical Incident Stress in the Workplace

Critical incident stress in the workplace is typically some type of traumatic event. This could include a death, serious accident, violence, or a crime committed where you work.

If you’ve experienced an event like this at work, processing it and getting through it the right way is the best thing you can do for your mental and emotional health. Remember, you don’t have to be directly involved in the event for it to negatively impact you.

Critical incident stress can be especially traumatic because most people don’t expect it.

Your workplace might have critical incident stress management solutions in place. We’ll cover a few of those in this article. But, if you’re still struggling, you might want to consider seeking out professional help to get through the trauma you’ve experienced.

Critical Incident Stress Prevention and Preparation

No one wants to think about any serious accidents or deaths in the workplace. Yet, it happens, and it’s important to be as prepared as possible. If your place of business doesn’t already have a critical stress incident management plan in place, talk to them about how it might help in case something tragic ever does happen.

With this type of preparation, employees can learn the normal range of emotions and feelings that often occur after such an event. They can also learn certain stress management skills and pick up on resources that can help them to get through it in a healthy and effective way.

There are different agencies specifically designed to help employees prepare for critical incident stress in the workplace. Connecting your business with one of them can help to ensure all employees understand how to handle such an event should it ever happen. It’s a great way to be proactive about the mental health and wellbeing of each employee.

Processing and Grieving After Exposure

One of the most important things you should do after experiencing critical incident stress where you work is to try to process what happened. This is sometimes called a “debriefing” or even a “diffusing.”

It helps to do this shortly after the event happened. It’s easier to express your thoughts and feelings right away, so you can return to a normal routine as soon as possible. And you want to do this as soon as possible, before problematic symptoms can set in.

People who experience traumatic events sometimes have a hard time fully accepting or processing them. The longer you hold onto the event without talking about it, the more you can start to experience harmful symptoms. Some of these include flashbacks, nightmares, appetite changes, increased alcohol consumption, fear, or anxiety.

Give yourself time to grieve over what happened. Usually, a traumatic event in the workplace is some kind of loss. Many companies will offer their employees some type of immediate counseling or at least some time off to go through the grieving process at their own pace.

Seeking Out Trauma Counseling for Critical Incident Stress

Trauma counseling is often beneficial for people who experience a tragic event at work. Sometimes, something as quick as a debriefing simply isn’t enough.

People experience and respond to trauma differently. Some of your co-workers might have an easier time getting back to work and moving on with their lives. Others will have a difficult time, and they won’t be able to move past what happened.

If you’re struggling with how to manage the stress caused by a traumatic event at work, you’re not alone. It’s important to seek out help before the symptoms and effects of the trauma become worse.

When you don’t take action, the symptoms of a traumatic event can start to take over your life, impacting your personal personal and professional endeavors

Feel free to contact me today if you’ve been through something like this, and we can work through it together. Or, visit here to learn more about how I can help.



3 Ways Public Speaking and Body Language Work Together

3 Ways Public Speaking and Body Language Work Together

Public speaking is about more than standing up in front of an audience and reading from note cards. To be an effective public speaker, you have to also be aware of your body language.

Body language is a huge part of the way we communicate and how we’re perceived in conversation. Public speaking is no different.

As a speaker, the way you look will have a great impact on whether your audience actually receives your words or not.

So how do public speaking and body language work together? How can you make sure you’re using body language effectively when you’re talking to a crowd? Let’s look at 3 ways public speaking and body language work together.

1. Micro-Expressions; Body Language

When you first think about public speaking and body language, you might be picturing how to use your hands or how to stand a particular way. While these are important, it’s equally (if not more) important to focus on your micro expressions.

Micro-expressions are split-second facial expressions that you make as you communicate. In fact, they occur within about half of a second. While they might not seem important, they are noticeable to your audience. And, they can have a huge impact on how people perceive you.

When you reveal a micro-expression, it’s considered a “leaking” of your true emotions. So, if you’re not genuine in the things you’re saying, your micro expressions will reveal your true colors. They occur with everyone as they simply happen naturally.

When you focus on your micro-expressions and train yourself, you can increase your overall emotional awareness, and use that to your advantage while you’re speaking.

Check out the research of Dr. Paul Ekman, the man who put micro-expressions “on the map” and changed the way we look at the human face.

2. Neutral Gestures; Body Language

The way you gesture and move throughout your speech will tell the audience a lot about you. It’s important to start in a neutral position with your hands at your sides. You might feel awkward standing this way at first (so it’s good to practice!).

Gesture sparingly. When you do, use defined, clear hand movements to make your point. That will allow your audience to know you feel strongly about certain points, and they’ll be more likely to take those points seriously.

Try to avoid letting your hands “flow” when you’re talking. Large, swooping gestures can be distracting and can take authority away from the points you’re trying to make.

3. Commanding Your Space

Public speaking and body language also go hand-in-hand in the way you control a room. If you’re holding a business meeting or presentation, don’t be afraid to move around to get your point across.

If you’re speaking in front of a large audience on a stage, use a large portion of the stage to your advantage rather than standing in one spot.

It’s easy to let stress impact your delivery, especially in the law enforcement field. If you’re in law enforcement and you’re trying to speak to your unit, to news anchors about a legal matter, or to an audience in the judicial system, respectfully command your space. Standing perfectly still can make you look nervous, and people might assume you aren’t confident in what you’re saying.

Public speaking is often hard enough on its own. Some people get nervous more than others, and it’s hard not to let that shine through.

That’s why taking note of how public speaking and body language work together is so important. Even if you’re nervous to speak in front of people, paying attention to your body language can make you feel more comfortable and confident. You’ll also be able to give nonverbal cues to your audience that accentuate what you’re saying, giving them a positive impression.

If you’d like to learn more about public speaking and body language, feel free to contact me. Or, visit here to learn more about my services.


Medications Used to Treat Opioid Addiction

Medications Used to Treat Opiate Addiction: Here’s What You Need to Know

Opioids often have a strong effect on the brain. That’s why opiate addiction has become such a prominent problem, not only in the United States but all over the world. Navigation the medications used to treat opiate addiction can be confusing. There are many opinions and finding concrete information can be tricky.

The purpose of opioids is to make a patient feel better quickly. They were designed to be used to treat things like pain. That’s why opioids such as morphine are given in hospitals, and codeine is found in many over-the-counter cough syrups.

Because they make you feel good, however, it’s easy to become addicted to opioids quickly. They activate the dopamine pathway in the brain, sending out endorphins that make you feel good. So, even though they can help with pain, they are risky too. Because of this, they should only be used with a prescription.

Unfortunately, the misuse of opiates can also lead to a lot of problems including negative long-term effects when it comes to brain function. However, there are plenty of medications used to treat opioid addiction. But how do you know which ones are safer than others?

Methadone & Opiate Addiction

Methadone is an opioid agonist. That essentially means it’s the same thing to the brain as an opiate. It’s designed to help opioid users get through withdrawal symptoms. Studies have shown that withdrawal can be the hardest part of beginning to recover. If they can’t deal with the symptoms, they’re more likely to relapse and even overdose.

It’s important to understand how methadone works. After all, it’s definitely not without flaws or risks.

Essentially, methadone helps to relieve opioid cravings. It does so by triggering the same receptors in the brain that opioids (such as heroin) also act on. The difference? It does it more slowly. The person taking it doesn’t typically experience the same intense “high” that they do when they take opioids.

While methadone has been used to treat opioid addiction for many years, it needs to be heavily monitored. Only those going through a specialized treatment program should use it.

Methadone is sometimes irreverently referred to as the “life time med” as it is essentially a replacement drug therapy. More commonly you may hear it referenced as a “maintenance medication”. This is because once you begin, it is highly unlikely that you can stop taking it without going into withdrawal.

Suboxone & Opiate Addiction

Another one of the medications used to treat opioid addiction is Suboxone. Suboxone is the brand name for a medication containing both buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine works similarly to methadone. However, it’s a partial agonist opiate – “tricking” the brain into thinking it is a full opiate. Buprenorphine reduces an addict’s urges and can help them to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist or “blocker”. It can help to reverse the effects of opioids in the brain. Medical professionals often use it in emergency overdose situations.

The combination of these two ingredients helps to make detoxing from opioids easier while getting rid of some of the lingering symptoms. It’s a long-term prescription whose research shows that it is most successful when taken for at least six months, if not longer. This runs contrary to what many older model detox centers do – often giving it for the first 3 – 5 days.

Some of the potential side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

Keep in mind that some of the effects you may be feeling could be withdrawal symptoms. Everyone experiences them differently. But, Suboxone can help to make the process easier.

Vivitrol & Opiate Addiction

Vivitrol is another opioid antagonist or “blocker”. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain but doesn’t trigger the release of dopamine. Because they attach to the receptors, they block opioids from “getting in.”

Vivitrol helps to suppress craving and physicians now are using it for opiate, alcohol and even for some types of eating disorders.

Because of how it works, Vivitrol can often help to keep former opioid addicts from relapsing.

One of the risks of Vivitrol is that it’s an injection-based medication and there can be side effects.  Most doctors will start clients on an oral (pill) version for the first few days. This helps to determine if the medication is the best for for the client. Other possible side effects include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Lumps

Vivitrol should be used after the initial opioid detoxification process is complete.

Opiate Addiction Treatment Programs

The medications used to treat opioid addiction work in a variety of different ways to make “coming down” from the addiction easier and relapsing more difficult. Of course, none of them are perfect. Each one has certain side effects to consider.

These medications can be helpful under the right conditions. If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, please contact me today. For More Resources click here.

Over 130 people die each day from an opioid overdose. Getting into treatment now can help to ensure that you or someone you love doesn’t end up being just another statistic.


How to Know the Best Recovery Support for You? – Look at the Options

When you’re struggling with addiction, finding the best recovery support is important. But, with so many options available, how can you know which one is best for you?

The good news? You’ve already taken the first step. Understanding that you need some type of recovery support can be the biggest obstacle many people struggle with.

The next step is to determine the best type of recovery support for your individual needs. Keep in mind, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to recovery from addiction. The more you educate yourself on these options, the easier it will be to find the best fit.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular support options that can help you on your journey toward recovery.

Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s based on several classic Buddhist principles, suggesting that anyone who suffers from addiction has the power to free themselves.

Refuge Recovery is enticing to some people because it’s so different from many other forms of addiction treatment. It encourages people to develop a deeper comprehension of their own minds so they can respond to their own lives with more understanding.

Another major aspect of Refuge Recovery is mindfulness. It encourages people to focus on their body and breath as well as their feelings. If you’re looking for an alternative approach to recovery support, Refuge may be the best option.

12-Step Program

The “traditional” 12-step program is probably the most well-known recovery support option for alcohol and drug addictions. The 12 steps are guidelines to help you overcome addiction from start to finish.

By utilizing a series of steps, people are more likely to stick with the program, since it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. These programs offer a lot of support from other people. They start with admitting your addiction and are intended to end with freedom from that addiction.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery focuses on reversing self-destructive behavior. This method uses a type of psychotherapy known as Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT helps to empower your thinking so you can break your addiction.

SMART Recovery is considered a “self-help” recovery option. It is meant to enhance your motivation to quit while simultaneously helping you to develop a positive, healthy lifestyle.

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery uses a faith-based, Christian approach to help those dealing with alcohol addiction. It follows many of the same principles of a traditional 12-step program but keeps Christ at the center.

This recovery support option has become so popular that it’s developed various branches and specific groups. This includes support groups specifically for military, bikers, inmates, and more.

Finding Help With Addiction Counseling

As you can see, there are many options to choose from when it comes to overcoming addiction. The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on these options. The more research you do, the more comfortable you’ll be when you finally decide what’s right for you.

If you’re really struggling to overcome addiction, addiction counseling can be a big help. Our addiction recovery services can help you to free yourself from the slavery of addiction.

Please contact me today to begin working toward your recovery, living a happy, fulfilling, and meaningful life. Or, visit here for more information about how I can help.

Together, we can work through your recovery options to find the best way to reach your recovery goals. Alcohol addiction isn’t easy to break, but with the right support, a full recovery is possible.


Medication and Counseling: How to Know the Impact on Your Brain

There is no “one size fits all” method when it comes to addiction counseling. Some people benefit from counseling alone. Others also need things like support groups, outpatient services, etc.

Many recovering addicts also benefit from medication. Using appropriate medication and counseling together can be an effective way to treat a substance abuse disorder. When the two treatments are combined, it’s considered a whole body approach.

Managing the depression or anxiety that often comes with early addiction recovery is very important.  Medications that target the brain’s dependence and craving is also important, but a very different issue.

And you need to know the difference.

Why would I need both counseling and medication?

Simply put, it’s because medication and counseling affect different parts of the brain.

Understanding each treatment’s impact on your brain can motivate you towards a better response. It can also give you a better knowledge of the benefits when it comes to addiction counseling.

Understanding Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the general name given to using medications to treat substance abuse disorders. But the name makes it a bit confusing since any medication used to help in your treatment might be thought of this way. And that is not what MAT actually means. Medications that treat anxiety, depression and sleep might also be part of your addiction treatment, but they are not what we call MAT.

Most MAT medications are specifically aimed at helping with cravings the symptoms of active withdrawal. Some function to essentially “trick” the brain into thinking the original substance is still there. Others suppress craving over a longer period allowing the brain to “heal” and grow stronger.

All Medication-Assisted Treatments Are Not The Same

As mentioned earlier, medication and counseling treat different parts of the brain. This is true and some of these may boost your overall chance of success. But it’s important to know that some of these medications are full agonist opiates, some are partial agonist opiates and some have no addictive substances in them at all. Using the right kind of medications, the right way, together with professional counseling can really help you in your recovery  So make sure you ask your doctor to explain what the medications are, the mechanics involved in how they work and all of the potential risks and benefits.

Additionally, ongoing use of some of these medications, sometimes called “maintenance treatment” poses a lot of concerns. These treatments are highly controversial and scrutiny asks whether or not they actually represent a drug replacement rather than a treatment.

What Should Be The Goal

Actual recovery should always be the goal for any physician or counselor helping a patient address addiction through counseling with the use of medication. There is a lot of research out there. Some has shown that the combination of some medications along with counseling can reduce a person’s chances of relapse. But it’s hard to know what research to follow and whether or not the sources you are asking are referring to the same thing.

It’s important and completely okay to ask for clarity. Find out whether they are talking about medications to help with anxiety and depression or MAT medications originally intended for detox and early recovery.

How Medication Impacts the Brain

Using medication for substance abuse treatment helps because it affects the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that controls things like problem-solving and making decisions. It also impacts self-control, which is a huge factor when it comes to addiction.

Using medication to treat a substance abuse problem can help to level out the imbalances in the brain that might be causing you to struggle with addiction.

It’s not a “quick fix,” by any means. Yet, medication can motivate recovery when it’s chemical imbalances that fuel your addiction struggle. Then, counseling can step in to take a more long-term approach.

How Counseling Impacts the Brain

We humans have a “limbic brain.” It is often referred to as an emotional brain. Our limbic system is where we feel empathy and express our emotions verbally and non-verbally.

Counseling touches on this limbic brain by helping you to regulate your emotions. It goes beyond what medication can do.

Most people trying to recover from addiction need counseling for a variety of reasons.  However, the most important benefit of counseling is that it can help you to stay away from drugs on a more long-term basis.

Since counseling touches on your emotions and feelings, it can also help to identify your individual triggers when it comes to drug use. Once you know what they are, you can work through different ways to avoid or manage those triggers.

Counseling can also help you to deal with issues in your past that may have caused your initial drug use and may still be a stressor today. These events don’t cause addiction, but treating addiction is less difficult and more likely to be successful when you address the core conflicts.

Using MAT to Beat Addiction

The easy way to look at it is this; medication helps to quickly balance out the chemicals in your brain, allowing you to make more rational cognitive decisions. Adding counseling to the mix can help you to stay in recovery and work through conflicts and challenges that may hold you back.

Yes, there are many different ways to battle addiction. And using both medication and counseling gives you better odds at coming out ahead. Just remember, medications for mood and medications for withdrawal or cravings are very different considerations.

Combining medications and counseling, along with emersion in a recovery community (12 Step, Refuge, SMART or others), helps different areas of the brain. This level of diversity in your treatment approach may offer you the best chance at beating your addiction and lowering your risk of a relapse.

Where We Stand On Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

When it comes to MAT medications, I tend to be on the conservative side. I believe the least amount of risk paired with the most amount of benefit to be the preferred approach. And as different MAT medications pose very different risks, I am more supportive of some and much less so of others.

In terms of the use of non-abusable mood medications to address anxiety, depression and symptoms that often accompany trauma and PTSD, I am generally very supportive of these. Given that they are taken as prescribed and under the care of a physician who is boarded in psychiatry or addiction medicine.

I work closely with my clients’ prescribing physicians.

One Final Comment

Everyone has an opinion.

Friends, family, sponsors, on the web and so on. These are only opinions. Only some are informed by experience. Many are limited to personal (singular – doesn’t fit for everyone else) or gathered (hearsay, media, etc) information. Please, speak to a professional before you make a decision. Even better, speak to more than one – get a second or third professional opinion.

After all, this is

your health,

your family and

often a matter of your life.

So, take the time to gather the facts and make the informed decision that is right for you.

If you’re struggling with addiction or know someone who is, please contact me today. Or, visit here for more information on my approach to addiction recovery.


Struggling to Teach Children About Death? – How to Answer Their Big Questions

It’s important to teach children about death as it is a part of life. Yet, it can also be a difficult subject to tackle.

Whether they’ve recently lost someone important in their lives, or they just have questions about the concept, having the “right” answers can make a big difference.

As parents, we want to keep our children safe from as much as we can. But it’s vital to teach children about death. Children and grief do go together, even as much as we dislike that combination.

As mentioned, death is a part of life. Teaching your kids that concept as soon as they’re able to understand it will make it easier for them to cope.

Many times, we don’t teach children about death because we aren’t sure what to say or how to answer their questions. So, here are some tools you can use to make the process easier and more effective.

Use Age-Appropriate Language and Techniques

To teach children about death appropriately, it’s important to use language and ideas they understand. In other words, you wouldn’t talk to a preschooler about death the same way you would with your ten-year-old.

Younger children do well with examples. Explaining death as a concept might be too complex for younger minds, but telling your young child that someone has lost their ability to feel, think, move, or play can be easier for them to understand.

By the time your child reaches age five, they may be more curious about death. Especially if someone close to them has recently passed away.

This is a great opportunity to listen to their questions and find out what they’re really struggling with when it comes to the concept of dying.

Don’t waver in your answers. Instead, be repetitive. The more you assure your children of these concepts, the easier it will be for them to understand.

One of the most important things to tell kids of any age is that death is a natural process.

Many times, the first experience that a child will have is a pet dying, or maybe an older relative. To help them move through their grief, answer questions in ways they can comprehend.

Accept Your Child’s Expression of Grief

Young children may grieve differently than adults. They need time to process the concept of death. Additionally, they may need extra time to come to terms with the fact that whoever died is not returning.

When children mourn, they might start to act out with anger or confusion. This is usually because they’re scared. Assure your child that they are safe and loved, offering comfort through security.

Furthermore, patience is key when it comes to dealing with your child’s grief.

They may continue to ask questions throughout the mourning process. To keep talking about death may be highly uncomfortable for you during this time. However, it’s essential to encourage honesty and openness in your child. Doing so will make them feel more comfortable, having a stronger grasp on dying.

Know Your Resources

Death is often unpredictable. However, if you’re worried that your family will be dealing with the death of a loved one soon, please contact me.

I’m happy to offer additional guidance you can use when it comes to helping your child work through their grief. Also, if your family has already experienced a recent death and your child is struggling, I am also available to provide guidance and support.

Please visit here to learn more about how I can help you and your child understand death and dying.


Grief After Suicide: How to Make Sense of the Process

When someone you love commits suicide, the most difficult thing to wrap your mind around is often making sense of the whole process.

Survivors of suicide often have a difficult time dealing with the fact that their loved one is gone. Moreover, grief after suicide can be overwhelming. It can cause intense feelings of guilt, confusion, pain, and so much more.

Unsurprisingly, grief after suicide is often more difficult than when someone passes away naturally. Mostly, because it often comes with so many unanswered questions as well as an unexpected death.

So, how can you deal with grief after a suicide, and start to make sense of the process?

Understand the Stages of a Survivor

Suicide is traumatic for everyone involved. If someone close to you has decided to end their life, it will usually come as a shock. It’s important that you learn how to deal with the process, so you can eventually find peace and healing.

Many suicide survivors can fall into depression—usually stemming from self-driven feelings of guilt. You may start to think you could have done something differently to help your loved one.

Some survivors of suicide even begin to feel responsible for the untimely death of their loved one. As imagined, this type of processing can be dangerous, leading you to think suicidal thoughts as well.

It’s not uncommon for people to start feeling an extreme anger bubble up. They might be angry at the person who committed suicide. Or, they might direct that anger toward other people (or themselves).

Nevertheless, this is another frequent part of the process of healing. Because of the overwhelming force of these emotions, it’s helpful to know what to expect in grief.

Things like denial, shock, a loss of faith, and extreme grief are all often part of the process when someone commits suicide. This process might look different for everyone. Yet, it’s important to know how to get through it.

How to Deal With Grief After Suicide

When you’re trying to make sense of suicide, the most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to go through it alone.

There are many helpful options available. Depression counseling can be very helpful for someone dealing with grief after suicide, for example.

With counseling, you can work through the various stages of grief— from denial to acceptance, and everything in between. A counseling can help you navigate those complicated emotions.

As mentioned before, you may begin to notice symptoms of depression. Affecting your emotional, physical, or mental health, depression counseling can also help you to manage those symptoms.

Lean on Others for Support

Sadly, a suicide happens about every 40 seconds. For this reason, there are many support groups to help loved ones manage the traumatic experience.

Participating in one of these support groups can make a big difference. It’s important to connect with people who have similar, shared experiences.

Also, groups such as these make it easier to open up about your struggles and the kind of grief you’re dealing with. And the support and participation don’t end simply when you “feel okay” again.

People who have been through the process of suicide are often the most helpful to others who are struggling. You can “pay it forward” to others by sharing your story and giving helpful advice on how to move forward.

Perhaps you’re dealing with anger, shame, denial, or depression after your loved one took their life. Please, know that you don’t have to go through this alone. Support is here.

With professional help, you can move forward with your life.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, please contact me today for support. Or, visit here to learn more about how I can help you.