There is no single effective treatment for recovery from addictions and substance abuse. At the local Pinnacle Recovery Center, those who are in rehabilitation are able to work with the staff to create a recovery plan that best fits the needs of the patient.
Joining this episode of the Project Recovery podcast is Whitney Evans, a primary therapist for Pinnacle Recovery Center.
Evans says she works with those in recovery because she has lost many friends and her father to the disease of addiction.
People beat themselves up, she says, which is damaging. When people enter a recovery center the people are surrounded with compassion.
A personal journey
It is everything to be given love and caring when in the difficult part of the journey, Evans says.
Podcast co-host Casey Scott mentions that his recovery is a personal journey and each person’s journey will be different.
This is why, Evans says, Pinnacle Recovery Center offers a variety of options for people to build their own recovery.
Picking a program is key because the program needs to be something the person can do after leaving the recovery center.
A diversity of therapy
The 12-Step is a well-known program for recovery patients.
Cognitive therapy is the process of therapy through healthy patterns of thinking, Dr. Matt Woollsey says. In a sense, cognitive therapy rewires a person’s brain, he continued.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation. Mindfulness is returning to the present moment, Evans says. She says people need to learn that they are not their thoughts. Mindfulness allows a person observe themselves and come to understand that a thought is just a thought, she continues.
Cognitive therapy, the 12-step program, and mindfulness are a few of the types of programs that can fit a person’s recovery.
Living in the now
Scott says it is hard to look at the path of destruction you have caused and forgive yourself.
Woollsey says people who primarily focus on the past have higher rates of depression and regret. On the other hand, people who primarily focus on the future have higher rates of anxiety, which can be paralyzing.
The beginning of recovery, Woollsey says, is to focus on the present. Focusing on past regrets or future worries prevents moving forward.
Scott says it is now where a person has power to implement change.
Evans says she believes many people who struggle with addiction use their addiction to avoid the current moment, including thoughts of the past or the future.
Meditation for greater focus
Dr. Eric Garland of the University of Utah developed Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement (M.O.R.E.).
According to Garland’s website, this program is an “evidence-based therapy for reducing addictive behavior, relieving stress, and helping people heal from physical and emotional pain.”
Evans says the Pinnacle Recovery Center runs Garland’s mindfulness program, a meditation program, every morning. She says she loves to see people’s progress through the practice. Evan says a person does not need to sit in a yoga-style position to practice mindful meditation.
The objective of meditation is not to have an empty mind, Evans says. Minds do wander. The objective is to know when the mind has wandered and to continually return to the present moment, Evans says.
Woollsey says this takes practice.
Focus on your breathing
Scott says this meditation helps him avoid panic attacks. He practices square breathing which involves inhaling for four seconds, holding the breath for four seconds, and exhaling for four seconds.
Evans says a woman from the Lakota tribe, Tammy Goldthorpe, says when a person focuses on breathing there is not an ability to focus on other thoughts.
The focus on breathing has a person listening to the action of breathing. The practice allows a person to not focus on negative thoughts that previously led to addictive behaviors. And, Evans says, it doesn’t cause a hangover.
Goldthorpe teaches a group at the Pinnacle Recovery Center. She also teaches a support group open to public called Connected Healing.
A backpack in recovery
Evans uses an analogy of a backpack to describe each
Each difficulty in life, be it a bully or difficult. Each instance where we don’t know how to feel about it or how to handle it is like a stone put into the metaphorical backpack.
These metaphorical stones in our lives don’t just go away or disappear from our memory, Evans says. Recovery includes the opening and unloading the backpack, she says.
Unpacking the backpack is when people can show themselves how strong they are. Recognizing their own strength is part of recovery, Evans says.
Talking with others, sharing with others, is one way to unload the trauma of our lives, Evans explains.
Trauma and addiction
“I have said many times that addiction is an attempt to solve a problem,” Evans says. Addiction feels like it solves the problems but it is not sustainable, she says.
Little fears or shames can be traumatic, Evans says.
Brainspotting is a point in visual space that affects the way you feel, Evans says. Brainspotting was developed by David Grand, Ph.D in 2003.
“The theory is,” Evans says, “where you look affects how you feel.”
Brainspotting is used to help to identify where an underlying trauma is contributing to negative behaviors. Brainspotting is also used to help heal the person during the process of recovery.
Trauma isn’t stored in our basic conversations in our brain’s cortex, Evans says. It is stored deeper within our brains.
The process of brainspotting accesses the brain’s subcortex through medical equipment and the eyes of the patient. Brainspotting is like opening a file in a computer, unlocking the deep, emotionally-centered area of our brains and expelling the negativity, Evans says.
Therapy that gets into the science of how our brains works can be an effective part of recovery. It can offer relief, Evans says.
Resources for those suffering from addiction
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