Monday, November 19, 2018

Maintaining an Honest Recovery During the Holidays

By: Susan Davidson, MS, LMFT

As we rapidly approach the holiday season of 2018, planning our gatherings to support a healthy season of recovery is the greatest gift we may give to ourselves and our loved ones. Many of us shudder as we recall ghosts of Christmas past. Whether you are seasoned in recovery or a newcomer, there are strategies that can help us navigate these, sometimes, tricky waters.

1. Put your recovery first. This notion is typically one of the first things to go. We may feel like we owe it to others to go above and beyond due to our undesirable discretions of the past. This increases stress and may diminish our chances for executing a successful plan. Remember, you can’t change the past; however, you can change what you do today. By putting your recovery first, you work to ensure that you are in the best position possible to maintain abstinence from your drug of choice. Abstinence during the holidays is a win-win for you and your loved ones.

2. Create new traditions. Some of the traditions we have followed for years may not be congruent with being recovery-friendly. If one of your family’s traditions has been to serve wine with dinner, it is up to you to decide whether that is going to hinder your recovery efforts. You may make it through dinner just fine; however, if you find yourself frustrated and/or obsessing over the fact that you can no longer have a glass of wine, you may choose to do something different. Give yourself permission.

3. Make the holidays fun. You may be at a place in your life that you just want the holidays to hurry up and get over with so you don’t have to feel sad or self-pity because the holidays will no longer be the same. You can do something different. If you plan fun things, things that you like to do with other people that you like to do them with, you can change your outlook for the holidays.

4. Be honest with yourself. In addiction we became desensitized to the truth. Rather, we deny the truth and become intimately acquainted with lies we tell ourselves and others. One of the coolest parts of early recovery is regaining your sensitivity to the truth. Believe it or not, the truth brings a level of freedom we used to only dream about. Although we used to believe we were clever with some of the “stories” we told about why we needed to “run an errand” at 11:00 p.m., that kind of lifestyle was exhausting. Work to gain an appreciation for the simplicity of the truth.

As we maneuver through the holiday season with a spirit of love and truth, our experiences will undoubtedly be more fulfilling and enjoyable. We will not be focused on the obsessions of our addiction. We can find joy in being sober and having a clear conscience regardless of where life takes us. We may not have the financial resources to buy presents or prepare big meals; nevertheless, we can freely give the gift of honesty, love and new beginnings through the holidays to ourselves and our loved ones. May your holidays be full of love, peace, joy and sobriety.

Susan Davidson is a Clinical Therapist for Pine Grove's Legacy program. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Southern Mississippi, where she majored in Psychology and graduated with the Highest Honors. Davidson also earned her Master's degree from Southern Miss in Marriage and Family Therapy, she is certified in Cognitive Therapy (CBT) and trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Pine Grove Treatment

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bullying and Our Kids

Patricia Calabrese, PMHNP-BC

“What’s happening to our kids?” is a question that I hear all the time. The news is filled with children demonstrating all kinds of violent behaviors that we never encountered in our childhood, behaviors that are typically associated only with adults. There seems to be a line that has been crossed somewhere, assisted by violent video games and movie actors using aggression to solve problems. Consequently bullying has also become more prevalent and more mean-spirited in our society. In the recent past it was not unusual to hear about teasing and taunting, but today it seems more impulsive, more violent, and even more sophisticated as kids use technology to inflict emotional and psychological pain. Solutions are going to need to involve school, home and the kids themselves in order to be effective.

Olweus (1991) describes bullying as involving harmful behaviors from either one individual or from a group, being prolonged and chronic in nature. Today children of all ages (perpetrators, victims and bystanders) are being involved in more violent, relentless and personal forms of bullying. Schools, parents, professionals are struggling with this issue all the time, not only in middle school, but in grade school, high school and college. Bullying is generally categorized into four areas. They include direct-physical bullying (assaults or thefts), direct-verbal bullying (threats, insults, nicknames), indirect-relational bullying (social exclusion, nasty rumors), and cyber-bullying (Hinduja, & Patchin, 2009). Studies indicate that bullying and its consequences are not limited to gender, sexual preference, age or whether or not the child is being bullied or is the bully! The consequences of bullying can be poor self esteem, academic failure, school refusal, hopelessness, anxiety, isolation and suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completions. “In most studies, the most disturbed group were those who were both bullies and victims” (Klomek, 2010). One study (Kim et al., 2009) found that not only children who are bullied but the bully themselves are at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, often times not evident for years later. Professional mental health evaluations of adults might benefit from a childhood bullying assessment in light of these findings.

Klomek (2010) also has studied gender differences in response to bullying. Long-term effects differ by sex. Boys who are associated with bullying seem to have eventual suicidal behavior if they also suffer from prior psychopathology, especially conduct disorders. But girls have suicidal behavior after being bullied, regardless of whether or not that had any prior emotional problems. Studies also find that bullying within relationships have been found to have a much greater impact on emotional stability than overt or direct victimization.

Attempts to try to curtail these problems are difficult and slow, especially when compared with the instantaneous insults that can be twittered or placed on Facebook to a huge, wide audience. A relatively small group of programs are available, and have been used by schools to stop bullying. “Social scientists have found that programs that build from within schools and work both with victims and bullies have more success than programs that ridicule bullies from the outside. One proven strategy is for (school) districts to invest in a school resource officers (SRO), whose main duty is to patrol the halls and connect with the kids” (www.time.com, Oct. 24, 2010 issue).

Intervention is difficult, time intensive, and does not involve a quick fix. Many of the current approaches are aimed at the child being bullied, but the root cause may be with the bully themselves. Children with low self esteem, chaotic lives, or who experience violence will lash out at others. The bully’s violent nature causes others to fear them, and then “just go along” or become a quiet bystander. These bystanders become fearful and then choose to not help the child being bullied, not report the bullying or worse, become a party in the bullying. The latter is exemplified in cyber-bullying, when kids forward nasty messages or photos.

“Where are the adults?” is a central question in this discussion. Adult role modeling of bullying behavior is a major factor in whether or not our children consider bully behavior to be acceptable. “Do as I say not as I do” is no longer acceptable. Some children are not getting the direction they so desperately need at early ages. Adults (parents & teachers) need to model good behavior that instill positive values, strong ethics, and provide a clear message that violence and disrespect will not be tolerated.

Awareness of bullying, whether in a school, on a team, or in a neighborhood is the first step in stopping it. Many children do not tell their parents or teachers for fear that the spotlight will be on them, and the bullying will get worse or more violent. Adults need to be sensitive in addressing the situation. The best intervention comes from someone in more “power” than the bully, and from someone who can truly keep the other children safe, such as a teacher. Bullies, once identified can be “separated” in class, but also need to be monitored in class, after class and on school buses. Treatment for the bully may be warranted, focusing on anger management, home problems, or emotional problems. Secrecy and camouflage from adults is the mainstay of bully behavior. Just protecting bullied children in class cannot be enough, because most bullying then is channeled somewhere else, such as the internet. Teachers need to be constant observers, and apply logical consequences to a specific behavior displayed. If a teacher would give a consequence for cheating on test (i.e., suspension from the basketball team), then they must also give a consequence for bullying. Any behavior will continue as long as it is tolerated by those in authority. Bringing together the entire “system”, such as the class, and empowering the bystanders can work in taking the secrecy and power away from the bully.

Patricia Calabrese, PMHNP, is a graduate of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. Patricia received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland and completed her post graduate studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. Patricia is a licensed mental health nurse practitioner in Mississippi. Patricia joined the Pine Grove Staff in 1992 and currently treats child and adolescent patients at Pine Grove Outpatient Services with special interest in ADHD and parenting education.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Pine Grove Treatment

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Warning Signs of Suicide

Suicide is a devastating act that almost always seems to friends and family members like a bolt from the blue. But people often give clues that they are thinking of suicide. Recognizing the warning signs of suicide could result in a life being saved.

Giving away cherished possession, making a will and being preoccupied with death are red flags for impending suicide. Furthermore, the old saying that people who talk about suicide don’t do it is simply not true. Often such talk is a cry for help before it’s too late.

Another warning sign of suicide is depression. Any of these changes could indicate depression:

- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Poor performance at work or school
- Poor concentration
- Withdrawal

Anyone who is depressed or has been depressed is at risk for suicide. Other risk factors include:

- Alcohol and drug use
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Death of a friend or family member
- Previous suicide attempt
- End of a relationship

If you suspect someone is considering suicide, take the warning signs seriously! Don’t assume it will blow over. Share your concerns with someone who is a position to take charge or contact your local health professional.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Pine Grove Treatment

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

Over 30 million Americans have some type of eating disorder and while each problem is unique, eating disorders do have warning signals.

Here are some signs that might indicate a problem in you or someone you love:

- Fear of being unable to stop eating once you start
- Abusing drug or alcohol before “binge eating”
- Intentional vomiting after meals
- Constant low-calorie or crash dieting
- Compulsive exercise with strict “exercise rules”
- Using body weight and being thin to measure self-worth
- Thinking or talking constantly about food
- Refusing to discuss food at all
- Using food to hide anger, loneliness, or feelings of rejection

If you are concerned about your eating behaviors or attitudes, or even a friend or family members, consider professional help.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Pine Grove Treatment

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Recovery and Emerging Adulthood

by Next Step Clinical Director Vanessa Cox, Next Step Counselor Lejejuande Magee, and Next Step Counselor Associate Susan Hinton

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 22% of young people ages 18 to 25 in 2015 participated in illegal drug use, this population misused pain relievers, tranquilizers, and stimulants more than any other age group (Bose et al., 2016). And while they are recognized by society as adults, some statistics indicate they are not yet operating as adults. As of 2016, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that more 18-25 year olds live with their parents rather than with a spouse or partner. This prolonging of adolescence or emerging adulthood presents a unique array of circumstances when seeking treatment for a substance use disorder, and Pine Grove's Next Step program is here to help.

The Next Step program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services provides comprehensive treatment of substance use disorders for men ages 18 to 40 years old. Patients live in a therapeutic community that provides structure and promotes accountability, honesty, inclusion, respect and responsibility. Next Step has both residential and partial hospitalization levels of care with lengths of stay varying from 30, 60, to 90 days and provides an environment where men can find a way to live a life of recovery while gaining skills necessary in establishing adulthood.

The Next Step program provides a solid plan of action to put in place skills needed for living a substance free life. The curriculum at Next Step includes the latest research on addiction, tasks of recovery, and brain health while instilling the principles of the 12-step program. Daily activities include morning meditation, therapeutic community with staff and patients, psychotherapy groups, primary addiction groups, psycho-educational lectures, recovery skills groups, specialty groups, as well as AA and NA 12-step meetings. Additionally, the treatment team at Pine Grove includes psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals equipped to meet the needs of patients needing psychiatric or dual diagnosis treatment.

Due to a prolonged adolescence, people who use alcohol and drugs often do not learn a number of necessary life skills. These skills may include vocational planning, going to school, getting a job, paying bills, or establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships. Frequently even more basic living skills such as self-care and grooming within this group are often ignored. The Next Step program helps this population acquire basic life and social skills needed to function as a productive member of society, the program also includes ancillary treatments such as REACH, yoga, and exercise to promote teamwork and positive thinking.

At Next Step patients uncover significant factors that contributed to their alcohol and/or drug use and discover healthy coping skills, spiritual principles, motivation for change and a healthy lifestyle that enables them to establish and maintain recovery from the disease of addiction. Our ultimate goal is to help our patients implement a wholesome foundation on which to build a lifestyle conducive to recovery and to embrace the fact that addiction does not have to continue to consume their lives.

Bose, J., Hedden, S. L., Lipari, R. N., & Park-Lee, E. (September 2016). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Pine Grove Treatment