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Is It Time for An Addiction Intervention? – How to Tell

Addiction is serious, no matter what. If someone you love is going through struggles with drugs or alcohol, an addiction intervention can be the best way to kick start the treatment they need.

However, an addiction intervention needs to happen at the right time. If someone you care about feels ambushed or that they’re not being understood, it could end poorly, and they could refuse to get any help.

It’s never easy to see someone you love struggle with drugs or alcohol. So, when can you know if it’s the right time for an addiction intervention? Let’s take a look at some of the signs.

Sudden Behavioral Changes

Let’s face it; you know your close friends and family members. You know how they typically act—their normal behaviors, their personality, their preferences, etc. One of the best ways to tell if it’s time for an addiction intervention is simply to pay attention.

Has their behavior changed? Does something about them seem off? These subtle changes can be a good indicator when it comes to some of the first signs of an addiction. It’s essential to find out whether it’s an addiction causing the shift in behavior or something else. But, sudden behavioral changes are nothing to take lightly.

Stuck in a Fog

Has the person you care about become increasingly “foggy?” Do they have a hard time keeping up with conversations? Do they get confused easily? Maybe they’re struggling at work or school and can’t stay organized or be on time.

These are all vital signs that shouldn’t be ignored. It might be easy to make up excuses for someone, suggesting they’re just tired or stressed. If these signs become consistent, however, they might be turning to drugs or alcohol, and it could be the right time for an addiction intervention.

Isolation from Friends and Family

Common indicators of addiction are when someone stops doing the things they typically enjoy and isolates themselves from the people they love.

An addict often knows that what they’re doing is problematic. They can become ashamed or feel like no one will understand them. Isolation is often more comfortable for an addict than it is to face reality or people.

If someone you care about is spending much of their time alone, avoiding friends, making excuses to stay by themselves, it could be a sign of a bigger problem.

Talk to Someone About It

If you feel worried about your loved one, there’s a good chance someone else is, too. Don’t be afraid to talk to another close mutual friend or family member about your worries.

One of the worst things you can do is to keep your concerns to yourself. Or, to wait until the signs become extremely obvious, and your loved one is even deeper into their addiction.

Instead, pay attention to some of these warning signs to know when it’s time for an addiction intervention. Make sure you understand what the intervention itself should look like. You can choose to perform a “soft” intervention that is a bit more positive with fewer consequences, or a “hard” intervention that may require the one you love to get professional help to overcome their addiction.

It’s okay to be nervous about launching an addiction intervention for someone you care about. But you don’t have to do it yourself. A trusted therapist can help you to understand some of the signs indicating our loved one is dealing with addiction.

If you’re not sure how to navigate an addiction intervention, feel free to contact me or visit my page on addiction interventions to learn more.

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Uncategorized

Am I Drinking Too Much? – Learn 4 Early Signs of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a term that gets thrown around quite frequently when we think people drink too much. But, there’s more to it than that. Genetics, family of origin and many other factors play a role. It can get confusing pretty quickly. So, what are the early signs of alcoholism?

When someone’s drinking gets to the level of what we call alcoholic, the “habit” of drinking turns into a disorder that harms their everyday lives.

There are also different stages of alcoholism, including the early stage, chronic alcoholism, and end-stage. Alcoholism also often comes with various symptoms at each of these stages. During the early stage, signs might be harder to see or more comfortable to brush off as something else.

But, the earlier you catch the signs of problem drinking, the better your chances are for recovery.

Let’s take a look at 4 of the early signs of alcoholism.

Drinking Alone

One of the early signs of alcoholism is drinking in private. Alcoholics are often social drinkers. However, if you find yourself drinking privately or trying to keep your drinking habits a secret, it could be a sign of an even bigger problem.

Isolating yourself from others so you can drink in secret indicates that you have some understanding that your drinking has become excessive.

Many people who have a drinking problem tend to keep drinking throughout the day (alone). Mainly because when they’re not drinking, they feel hungover or sick in some other way.

Making Excuses

Do you find yourself making excuses for your drinking habits? Maybe you tell someone you’ve had a long day, or that you just want to relax. Perhaps you even make excuses to yourself to justify drinking.

When you feel you have to make excuses for how often or how much you drink, it’s typically a red flag pointing to a bigger problem.

Another sign is if someone questions you on your habits. Do you become irritated quickly, or “snap” at them with your justifications? Alcoholics often isolate themselves from family members and close friends because they don’t want to face the reality of a potential problem.

Losing Interest in Other Hobbies

People who struggle with alcohol often lose interest in things that once brought them joy or things they were actively involved in. Drinking becomes your priority over almost everything else.

Have you started to make excuses not to do the things you once loved? Do you find yourself choosing to drink instead of going out and having fun?

Losing interest in your hobbies can be dangerous because you can eventually start to lose interest in any self-care. This approach makes it easier to fall down the spiral of alcoholism quickly.

Feelings of Guilt

One of the most notable early signs of alcoholism is guilt. When you have the wherewithal to know you’re drinking too much, pay attention to the way you feel. Do you feel ashamed of your habits? Do you ever think you should cut back on how much you drink?

Guilt is often a big reason why alcoholics drink alone or in secret. As you can see, most of these early signs connect in some way.

These early signs of alcoholism often go away as the disease takes over, and drinking becomes even more problematic. That’s why it’s so important to notice them early on, so it’s easier to recover and not let alcohol consume you.

It’s All Relative (well, maybe not all)

If there are heavy drinkers or others with addiction in your family tree, then you are at much higher risk yourself. That’s not to say that there are not other factors that weight in; of course there are. But genetic predisposition is high in family trees where others have struggled with addiction too.

If you’ve seen any of these early signs of alcoholism in yourself, or you’re worried about someone you love, don’t hesitate to get help immediately. Visit my alcohol addiction counseling page for details. This approach can help you to deal with the effects of alcoholism, even in the earliest stages.

You don’t have to wait until the problem completely takes over your life. Feel free to contact me for more information or to start getting help today.

 

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Addiction Recovery

Addiction Interventions

Addiction Interventions

Compassionate Intervention Consults (aka “soft interventions”)

So you are trying to decide whether or not to organize an intervention for a loved one? Choosing to confront a loved one about their addiction is a difficult decision and most people are at their wits’ end by the time they start looking at intervention as an option. You need reliable and targeted information to help you determine what’s best for your loved one. And perhaps more importantly, for them to be able to see the severity of their current situation. I have worked in this field, in this city, for over 22 years and I know the resources available locally, within and outside of Texas.

Before You Start

When you start planning an intervention for a loved one struggling with addiction you want to be sure the  professional you work with looks at your family dynamic in its entirety. There are a lot of different certifications, licenses and types of interventionists out there – very few of them are fully and independently licensed and even those who are credentialed rarely are licensed in both mental health and addiction. Fewer still have the precision that comes with years of counseling professionals struggling with addiction or having served for years as the Clinical Director of an inpatient medical detox hospital.

“Recovery is an evolutionary process of the self.

It requires change, commitment, community and time.”

BW Carrettin, 2013

Whomever, you consider – be intentional. Ask questions; interview them. You are trying to do the best you can for the one you care about – it’s okay to be thorough. Here’s a hint/hack for you; if the professional cannot weather a little scrutiny and direct questioning from you, how could they ever be successful in an intervention?

It’s also helpful to keep in mind that getting sober is only a fixed state (think is or is not), but staying sober is a gradual, ongoing process. To fully embrace and maintain true, life-changing recovery requires a commitment to whole life recovery as a way of living. This isn’t accomplished in a single week or even a month or two of treatment in a facility. But it can certainly begin there. The person who is addicted will ultimately need to commit to major lifestyle changes in order to return to enjoying a full life and ongoing success. In the beginning, just getting into treatment is a start in the right direction. While I definitely want those who need it to go to treatment, I want more. My goal is to have them understand for themselves why they need it and to make that choice. They are the only person who can ultimately decide if they will stay sober/clean. I believe it helps if they decide to start the path as well.

A Different Kind of Intervention

In my practice, I provide in-office, compassion-driven intervention consultations and therapeutic services for adults struggling with addiction. Through my practice, I also provide counseling for clients after they complete treatment and work with spouses and families of loved ones in active addiction and early recovery. Through my work I help families prepare to undertake a substance abuse intervention and also find the best possible treatment options for the adult who is in crisis. With over 20 years of experience working with individuals and families in crisis I am uniquely qualified to help you develop the best possible treatment plan for your loved one. My non-confrontational, invitational approach to intervention is proven effective and allows for a family to lovingly, effectively and compassionately encourage a loved one to get the help they need.

Please note, I do not use “tough love” or other adversarial, aggressive approaches. I have seen these work only insofar as, occasionally getting a person to agree to go to treatment and shortly after admitting, leaving against medical advice and relapsing, which can ultimately be life threatening. That is not to say that getting a person into treatment isn’t a first step or that harder approaches have not been successful for some and may be what your loved one needs. But if force is the flavor you intend to use, I am not the best option for you.

“Sobriety is a state of condition. Recovery is a way of living.”

BW Carrettin, 2003

Knowing the Options

I have developed relationships with many hospitals, residential treatment centers, intensive outpatient programs, physicians, and sober living houses over the years and have acquired inside knowledge of all these options. Each year, I dedicate time to personally visiting, evaluating and re-evaluating programs so that I can stay up to date on what they are doing and how they are doing it. This helps me to effectively support you and help you select the most effective programs available for your loved one’s needs. We work together so that you have the best information from the intervention through the treatment process and into aftercare to make it less stressful for you. The goal is to do everything possible to ensure you have the best information and support possible.

My Services

The consulting services I provide are both individualized and comprehensive. I assess each individual’s and family’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan that most effectively addresses their treatment needs. I meet you where you are in the intervention process and tailor a plan that helps you achieve your goals for success. Collaboration is key and I often consult with other professionals and utilize a team approach to develop a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary plan to most effectively meet your individual needs. Additionally, I can follow up with the program while your loved one is in treatment and coordinate aftercare plans for after they have completed a program.

In addition, I am a Nationally Board Certified counselor, fully and independently licensed therapist, licensed addiction specialist, have advanced training in traumatic loss and am trained in critical incident stress management. This means that I am uniquely qualified to assess programs and match individuals to the right type of services for their individual needs. I also work closely with the family after the intervention in order to support you through the treatment and recovery process and prepare you for your loved one’s eventual return home.

If this sounds like I may be the right person for you, please give me a call.

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

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Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery – for Professionals

If you are reading this, you are already taking a step in the right direction. Whether you are struggling with addiction yourself or love someone who is, getting more information is a good place to start. Addiction is a devastating disease that affects not just the addict but the entire circle of family and friends who care about them. And yes, addiction is a disease – a disease of the brain. The actual changes in physiology and neurochemistry are there – it is not a choice. However, just like a person fighting cancer – choice is involved in treatment and follow through. Genetics, lifestyle and and experiences all play a part, but once addiction is awakened, it’s a devil that doesn’t just go away. Lives change in it’s wake. Whether they change in bad ways or healthy ways is the choice an addict has in their addiction recovery – but sometimes that choice cannot even be discussed until the brain has been detoxed from the substance of abuse and begun to heal. Whether alcohol, prescription opiates, heroin, cocaine, marijuana or designer/synthetics – if you are committed to your recovery, or are the loved one of someone struggling with any of these – I’d like to help.

Addiction And The Brain 101

So, in simple terms, by the time addiction is in play – the brain sees the need for the alcohol or drug as an issue of actual survival. Seriously, the same part of the brain that tells you to jump back from the rattlesnake or get out of the way of the oncoming truck is lit up like a bonfire during a craving episode in addiction. This is old brain – old world brain – it’s the part of the brain that essentially makes up the brain of a reptile. We all have it. It’s concern is survival (and aspects around that) and nothing else. And in addiction, it trumps logic, reasoning, emotions – everything. During addiction the reptile part of the brain that usually sits in the back seat, jumps up and grabs the wheel.

colorbrainquoteSo, how on earth can you expect to reason with old brain crisis-response wiring? Ultimately, you can’t. Not while the substance is still in control. Although the survival response comes from the non-dominant part of the brain, when it triggers the life-or-death survival button – it takes over and no argument or heartfelt plea is going to overcome it.

That being said, there are strong windows of opportunity to springboard addiction recovery. Sometimes it’s when an addict has hit an incredible wall of losses, sometimes it’s the edge of losing everything, sometimes it’s a wearing down to a few moments of openness amidst despair – it can come in many forms and no, it doesn’t require hitting “rock bottom”. If the addict is willing – don’t wait. No holiday, or inconvenience is worth an opportunity to get in front of this disease and begin to heal all the lives it is hurting. Whatever the excuse – remember that the risk is ultimately, death.

What The Different Levels of Treatment Looks Like

There are many levels of care and below I have listed from highest to lowest, the more common titles. There may be hybrids and extensions out there – but these are the core:

*Detox – Inpatient
*Residential-Inpatient
*Partial Hospitalization-Outpatient (although some with overnight exist)
*Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) – Outpatient
*Counseling/Psychotherapy
*Community Support Orgs (12 Steps, SMART, Celebrate Recovery, etc) – Outpatient
*Sober Living (this provides housing environment to support any/all outpatient services above and I highly, highly recommend this for no less than 3-4 months in a reputable Sober Living residence)

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Why Discharge Plans and Recovery Plans Are Critical

Far too often, patients are so excited and looking forward to getting out of treatment and back home that they fail to put the amount of focus, investment and commitment into the ongoing plan for their recovery after they leave inpatient treatment. Remember the reptile brain we spoke of earlier? Well, here’s the kicker – he isn’t really restrained until 18 months after the last use. (and for life it’s a risk) But it gets better – it’s 18 months after the last use of any mood-altering substance – not just the one the addict happened to be dependent on. Although the first 60-120 days are likely to show the greatest improvement (longer with meth and a few other substances) – the old brain “reptile” is still going strong and the risk of relapse is great. Perhaps even greater because to the addict and many around them – life is already so much better and so our vigilance relaxes a bit.

After a residential treatment stay, I would encourage most people, especially those in treatment for the first time, to definitely go to an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). This helps to bridge the experiences and tools learned in the secure and protected environment of inpatient or residential with the transition back into the open community where the environment poses many more risks to the recovering addict.

Sober Living Homes

(*in a safe, professional and reputable establishment) are a must in my book. If you want to significantly raise the chances of long term recovery then this extends the intensive support frame during those critical months and gets you ahead of the game. Sober living provides an extension of the organization and security, in part, that an inpatient treatment level gives but allows for the recovering addict to return to work, school and family. Many professionals dismiss this as being intrusive, others do not want to burden their families in their absence and even collegiates will say they don’t want to lose a semester. Stop. Losing all of the progress that has been made with a fast relapse back to use, or worse, is what is at stake. Loved ones, this is your arena too, don’t let convenience keep you from supporting what is necessary. Compassion is not about what is wanted, but what is needed. Be clear about this.

evoNemot12 Step and Community Support Groups

A word about 12 Step and other community support organizations. While I strongly support these the fact remains that they are not a replacement for counseling – and counseling is not a replacement for them. These groups are built as communities of mentors and peers – it is a communal path of support. Counseling is a clinical service delivered by professionals – it addresses emotional, psychological and complex cognitive issues. They are not the same and most long term recovering addicts will tell you they have used both. (be very cautious about a representative of either group who maligns or diminishes the other – this is your recovery path, get what you need from it.)

Why Loved Ones Need Help Too

Parents, partners, family – loved ones. This is called a “family disease” for a reason – it affects the whole family. No matter how strong or removed from it you may think you are – it affects the family; everyone. Many addiction recovery situations are made so much more complicated and jeopardized because of the false beliefs that the addict “is the one who’s sick” or “it’s their problem” – and so the hurt, confusion, resentment and pain just sits and ferments in all those around them. If you are a loved one of an addict – in addiction recovery, in treatment or actively using – you need support and information too, a lot of it. The denial that addicts have in the midst of their disease is less insipid because everyone but the addict sees it. The denial held by the loved ones is much harder because usually very few see it and even fewer will call it out and confront it. The very best gift you will ever give yourself and the addict you love is to get some help – private counseling, a support group of other loved ones of addicts – there are lots of resources out there. If you or a loved is struggling with the disease of addiction and you are ready to make changes and get your life back, I am here and I can help you.grief

Ben Carrettin is Nationally Board Certified, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor with over 20 years of experience. Ben has worked in the arena of addiction/emotional health and the corporate world for many years. He works with both addicts and with the spouses, partners and parents of addicts – ask about his “What Now?” workshops for loved ones or his recovery consults for professionals. If you have reached a point where you are ready for change, Ben is here to help.

Call Now (346)-493-6181

Addiction Recovery Counseling and Support

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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

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Alcohol

Alcohol Addiction Counseling

Alcohol Addiction Counseling

Alcohol has been around since ancient times and has consistently been an accepted part of almost every culture since. Alcohol has a routine and casual presence in society from weddings, to funerals, after work “happy hour” gathers, family vacations and even everyday meals. Despite it’s commonplace in our culture, there is nothing common, simple or easy about alcohol addiction.

For many of us, consumption will likely never result in addiction. For even more us, alcoholism is not only likely – it’s almost genetically guaranteed. It’s typical today to take precautions if we know that diabetes, cancer or cardiac disease is in our family tree – but it’s fairly rare to meet someone who takes the same precautions with the alcohol. Unfortunately, the costs for this oversight is staggering and the battle to regain a healthy and happy life once dependency has been established is not an easy one. Alcohol addiction counseling can be a part of getting you or your loved one back to healthy, happy living.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol Addiction is described as a chronic and progressive brain disease.  A person who is suffering is unable to control their craving for alcoholic substances. They are physiologically impaired and there is no choice involved in this. All disease revolves around a central organ or system that is impaired. Alcoholism is not a weakness and it is not a choice. There is measurable change in the brain and to heal there has to be a significant treatment intervention and a significant period of recovery followed by lifelong recovery maintenance. An alcoholic cannot just stop. Period.

The urge to drink alcohol is so strong, that people suffering from alcoholism find it difficult to even reduce consumption, despite the increase problems that arise. Even when the losses are high and the awareness of the destruction apparent, the strength of the urge to drink usurps the rational mind and plunges the alcoholic back to drinking.

Alcoholism is caused by an unending desire to consume alcohol, which is due to both a physiological and a cognitive dependence. There is also extensive literature describing a “spiritual malady” as also being present. So the body, mind and spirit are all three debilitated. To heal – all three must be treated.

Becoming overly dependent on alcohol can cause major issues for a person, such as resulting in extensive damage to the tissues, and spreading of other diseases throughout the body including heart problems, certain cancers, liver and kidney problems and a host of gastric disorders as well. The physiologic risks go on and on. Keep in mind that the brain takes physiology damage too.

Risks of Alcohol

When a person drinks, the alcohol is absorbed in the body through the stomach and enters the bloodstream. The alcohol flows through the blood and reaches the various organs, tissues, and muscles of the body. Temporarily, the drinker feels pleasant effects, but when taken in excess it can have serious effects on health, even leading to terminal illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, alcohol poisoning, etc. Not to mention the losses of employment, marriage, friends, home, respect and trust of children and even freedom (such as in DWIs and incarceration).

Detoxing on your own from alcohol is extremely dangerous. Going into withdrawals for an alcoholic can be life-threatening and your home is not equipped to handle it – nor is an ambulance guaranteed to make it to you in time. In patient medical detox is necessary and provides more protection and 24 hour monitoring to assure your safety. This is not a situation to tough it through or dismiss casually. Please, do not do this at home – go to an addiction treatment center – there are many options available.

How Does a Person Become An Alcoholic?

There are a lot of opinions on this. Most widely accepted is that a person becomes an alcoholic through consumption. Various factors are included here; drinking to excess, drinking regularly, starting at a young age, etc. After all, alcohol is addictive and dependency can be reached easily. But there are also other factors – such as genetic predisposition. If there are people in my family tree who struggled with alcoholism or addiction then my chances are much greater. There is also a greater risk in family legacies that include certain anxiety and mental health disorders.

Consider it this way; there is a base chance that any human being may have to become dependent. Whatever that chance is for you, it increases if you start drinking as a kid/teenager, it increases again if there was alcoholism/addiction on one side of your family, goes even higher if on both sides of your family, goes even higher if you drink to excess or daily or to sooth your feelings and so on.

There are 6 progressive stages of alcohol consumption:

Euphoria: The feeling of happiness that is experienced after the first drink

Excitement: The drinker starts losing control of his or her feelings and emotions.

Confusion: This is the beginning of the feeling of dizziness. The drinker becomes unable to perceive situations correctly, and his or her responses become slow, unable to take responsible decisions.

Stupor: The person loses all control over motions, and is unable to move or respond.

Coma: In this state, the person is unconscious, and may find it difficult to breathe.

Death: this is the extreme stage of alcoholism, where the drinker may die from respiratory arrest, a situation where the drinker is unable to breathe.

Admitting You Have a Drinking Problem

It is commonly thought that people should stop drinking before or once they reach the Euphoria stage. However, there are many who do not stop – many who find they cannot stop. Before there is any hope of healing an alcoholic has to realize they have a drinking problem, and admit it. People who deny it, find it difficult to accept help and are very unlikely to ever overcome this problem. Families who deny the problems of their loved ones only make the problem worse.

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How Can Alcohol Addiction Counseling Help You?

Various treatment options, alcohol addiction counseling tools and techniques can help you regain control of yourself. After medical detox and residential treatment, out patient therapy is one of the most widely accepted tools to help you reclaim control of your life. A seasoned and experienced counselor will address thinking and behavioral patterns, which led to alcohol addiction, and gradually can help you make and keep better choices, diminish relapse risk and increase development of a healthier, happier and more balanced you. Brief Therapy, Solution-Oriented Therapy, ESI Coaching, CBT, Mindfulness techniques, Motivational Interviewing and a variety of other approaches offer a pragmatic and applicable route to long-term recovery for today’s intelligent and fast-paced professional.

Spouses, Partners and Families Need Support.

The idea that the addict is the one who is sick and the only one who needs to get help is toxic and misleading at best. This is a disease that affects the whole family – whomever those loved ones may be. Whether your addicted loved one is in treatment, headed to treatment, just out or even refusing to go and actively in their disease – you need support too.

I work with many spouses, partners and parents of adult addicts and alcoholics. The suffering and wounds they carry as a result of the disease have to be addressed as well. There are specialized alcohol addiction counseling and support groups for family and friends – and there is also private alcohol addiction counseling. For real and lasting healing to take place for any addict/alcoholic or loved one – you have to get help. A family, marriage or relationship is a complex, unique and delicate system. To help it, we have to help all the parts. You need help too, and you deserve it.

Services We Offer

Our specialized Recovery Consultation service has only one purpose; “to help you free yourself from the slavery of addiction and get you back to living a happy, fulfilling and meaningful life.” Recovery from alcohol is a massive challenge, but also know, that together with appropriate treatment and community support, we can overcome your impulse to drink and get you back to leading the life you want.

Ready for Life?  Call Now (346)-493-6181

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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.