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Boulder County Mental Health & Drug Rehab |

Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Addiction

By | Addiction, Community, Media, Mental Health, Misc, Therapy, Treatment

Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy utilizes therapy dogs in mental health and substance abuse treatment. Animals enhance the benefits of therapeutic modalities. As an animal-friendly program, we see the impact animals have each day. Furthermore, there are many ways that dogs impact us through the human-animal bond.

Research shows Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy benefits:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Addiction
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Treatment Resistance

Dogs provide unconditional love and acceptance. This can promote health and healing when used in substance abuse and mental health therapy. Also, this positivity provides clients with healthy bonds. The connection creates an opportunity for clients to feel self-love and self-acceptance. Furthermore, animals can help decreases stress and anxiety. Hence, this is positive for the therapeutic process.

Dogs, Emotions, and Self-Regulation

Dogs provide immediate feedback. And they connect on nuanced levels. They can reflect emotions. Also, they help people to identify emotions and practice emotional regulation. Therefore, this allows clients to practice healthy coping skills. This is enhanced with the support of a clinical therapist.

The therapeutic experience can be challenging and stressful at times. A therapy dog can help to decrease anxiety. In addition, time with animals can increase feelings of well-being. This value is significant. As a result, physical activity and dog training can help to improve physical health, communication, and patience.

Benefits of Canine-Assisted Therapy include:

  • Strengthen the therapeutic alliance between therapist and client
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Improve psychosocial functioning
  • Decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Decrease Stress
  • Improve communication skills
  • Better Mood
  • Improve anger management
  • Better physical health

It is important to ensure that both the client and the therapy dog are comfortable. Also, it is key to ensure that both will benefit from the therapeutic encounter. Consequently, this happens prior to engaging in canine-assisted interventions.

At Redpoint, we are lucky to have our own therapy dog named Parker. Parker is generally in the office on most days of the week. He is happy to sit in on a client’s therapy session if he isn’t busy chewing his toys.

Studies reveal the efficacy of animal-assisted modalities. In conclusion, animals have a positive impact. Our furry friends bring love and more!

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or mental health concerns, we are here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol abuse. Learn more about our program.  Call us any time 888-509-3153.

More information on Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy:

  • Incorporating animal-assisted therapy in mental health treatments for adolescents: A systematic review of Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Melanie G. Jones, Simon M. Rice, Susan M. Cotton

  • Research on Benefits of Canine-Assisted Therapy for Adults in Nonmilitary Settings

Janet S. Knisely, Sandra B. Barker, and Randolph T. Barker

  • Patient benefit of dog-assisted interventions in health care: a systematic review Martina Lundqvis, Per Carlsson, Rune Sjödahl, Elvar Theodorssonand   Lars-Åke Levin

EMDR in the Treatment of Addiction

By | Addiction, Community, Mental Health, Therapy, Treatment

EMDR to Address Trauma During Addiction Treatment

EMDR is a powerful tool for healing trauma. Studies show that trauma is a risk factor for addiction and substance use disorder. In addition, treatment of trauma is key for individuals to recover from addiction. At the Redpoint Center, we use several different types of treatments for trauma. These modalities differ from talk therapy. One reason talk therapy doesn’t always effectively address trauma is that the memories are stored in the hippocampus, part of the midbrain. Talk therapy doesn’t effectively access these memories stored in the midbrain—it tends to involve the utilization of our frontal lobes. Furthermore, trauma is often stored in the body, requiring somatic attention. Hence, EMDR is a powerful intervention.

Using EMDR to Cope With Trauma and Stress

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy is a positive tool. It helps us access and process memories stored in the midbrain. Our use of EMDR is expanding and helping more people with issues that cause distress. People with substance abuse issues commonly have a history of trauma. In addition, they struggle to cope with stress and often benefit from EMDR.

Research shows that EMDR causes changes in brain chemistry that reverse the damage caused by trauma or acute stress. Bessel van der Kolk, an expert, and researcher, in brain chemistry and trauma, shares several brain studies to support this approach. His PET scan photographs of the brain before and after EMDR sessions show the benefit.

EMDR and the Brain

The PET scans of one who is remembering trauma light the amygdala in the brain. This is part of the limbic system that is responsible for emotions, survival instincts, and memory. The amygdala is activated when one experiences trauma and acute stress. It is the “smoke detector” that scans the environment and lets us know of a threat or event that is relevant to survival.

When people experience a threat the amygdala becomes activated. The frontal lobe, where cognition and understanding take place, is quite dim because the amygdala is more heightened. Hence, when people are experiencing “normal” day-to-day happenings, the frontal lobe is bright and outshines the amygdala.

Studies Show the Benefits of EMDR

In one study, van der Kolk had several individuals go through EMDR sessions. Before the sessions, the PET scans showed a brain in a trauma state. After the EMDR sessions, the brain appeared normal when the client was bringing to mind the same stressful event. The memory was no longer held as a traumatic memory but as a normal, processed memory.

We found another study where van der Kolk showed that subjects with a complicated traumatic history, after six EMDR sessions, had greatly reduced PTSD symptoms that continued to decrease even more for up to six months after the study.

We do not know exactly how psychotherapy affects the brain’s neurobiology. However, we do know that when people are upset, their brains cannot process information normally. EMDR is similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

During REM sleep, the information from the day is being processed. When people experience trauma, the amygdala becomes hyperactive and stores traumatic information and memory. This makes it difficult to process this information. EMDR creates the same stimulation that occurs during REM sleep. This assists the brain in processing the trauma or issues related to stress.  The end result is that people see disturbing information in a new and less distressing way. Consequently, they are better able to process information.

Getting Started with EMDR in Treatment

We know addiction is connected to acute stress and often trauma. Once a client has dealt with trauma and acute stress through EMDR, he or she is better able to cope. Therefore, they experience healthy relationships, cope with stress, and live a happier life.  In addition, people can recover from addiction since they are no longer, or less affected, by their distress.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, Mental Health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. Learn more about our Longmont Drug Rehab, by calling 888-509-3153.

Mushrooms legalized in Denver Colorado

By | Media

Legalization of Mushrooms

We learned on Wednesday May 8, 2019, that Denver voters narrowly passed an initiative decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms (also referred to as magic mushrooms or shrooms). Denver is the first city in America to decriminalize mushrooms. While Psilocybin is still illegal, the passage of the bill will mean that the city cannot prosecute adults 21 or older who possess the fungus.

 

Effect on the Body and Mind

Psilocybin mushrooms are a naturally occurring fungus of which there are over 200 species that when consumed produce hallucinogenic effects. They belong to a group of drugs known as psychedelics. The effects of psilocybin include euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, and a distorted sense of time. Shrooms also can produce adverse reactions such as nausea, anxiety, vomiting, disorientation and psychosis.

Consumption of mushrooms generally occurs through oral ingestion, brewing as a tea or added to foods to mask the flavor.

Generally considered non-addictive, repeated use of mushrooms has been shown to produce psychosis, and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder.

Following the passage of the initiative, many have speculated that more states will enact similar legislation in the coming years. The DEA office in Denver has stated that they will continue prosecuting psilocybin possession and trafficking at the federal level.

 

Reaching Out for Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with hallucinogen addiction, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, Mental Health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. We treat both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. Learn more about our Longmont Drug Rehab, call 888-509-3153.

Three Steps To Get Through the Tough Times in Recovery

By | Community, Treatment

Throughout my time in recovery, to say that I have had ups and downs would be a great understatement. Life happens, and when it does, look out! Not unlike a roller-coaster, it will throw you for loops, spins, climbs and descents, as well as equal parts of excitement and fear.

Life is not always easy. In fact, it seldom is. This is one very important lesson that I have learned from being in recovery for 9 years.

Throughout my recovery, I have been divorced, engaged, not engaged, employed, un-employed, loved and had my heart broken. I have buried some friends and also seen others get married and become parents. I have seen my 3 nieces become Bat-Mitzvah. I have had great successes professionally as well as great disappointments.

What really matters is what we do when things aren’t easy, so that we can get through and come out the other side to enjoy the good things that life has to offer. My journey has included several steps that I know I need to take when presented with difficult times.

First, I need to recognize what’s happening, and to shine a light on my problems instead of running and hiding from them. By confronting them, I can break them down to manageable issues.

Second, I need to come up with a plan of action. This can include therapy, walks with friends, healthy coping skills, being around those who love me, meditation and prayer, and even workshops that encourage honest and real growth.

Third, and this is only what I know works for me, I dive back into my AA community. I attend more meetings, I work the steps again, I get a service position, and I call my sponsor and ask for help.

These things have helped me get where I am today. It’s when things are the toughest that we most need to recommit to what got us here in the first place. Anyone in long-term recovery will tell you that it takes effort and work to maintain what you have achieved.

“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, I’m telling you it is going to be worth it”

-Arthur Williams Jr.

Written by Ben Marbach, Sober Living Program Manager/Case Manager

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, Mental Health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. To learn more about our Longmont Drug Rehab, call 888-509-3153.

Redpoint Center Sober Fly Fishing Recovery

Sober Fly Fishing and Substance Abuse Recovery

By | Addiction

By Jay Fullum, therapist on the Redpoint Center Team

Spending Time Outdoors

Fly fishing sober is a real gift. There are challenges of working in the addiction field, but I feel so blessed to have a career which allows me to integrate my passions. In addition, I love to expose the people I work with to fly fishing. It is a self-care tool they can use in their daily lives and recovery. Fly fishing sober brings great joy.

At The Redpoint Center, we provide outdoor-based skills to help our participants explore Colorado as an element of their recovery process. From personal experience, I know that spending time outside is necessary in all aspects of recovery and well-being. Furthermore, my story illustrates how fly fishing is an important part of recovery from my substance abuse and addiction. Hence, it could be part of your recovery, too.

Fly Fishing Sober: On the River Bank

Deep in a forested canyon, I stand on the Blue river, gazing out to the flowing waters and the shores of the river widened. On this bank, I feel grounded and connected to my recovered spirit. On this day, I can hear the power of the water, and see the calming riffles steady into a slow, spiraling eddy. Watching intently, my eyes catch flashes of rising trout, and emerging mayflies that were preparing to take flight from the water’s surface.

It is early June, and I just walked two miles down a steep trail, lined by red willows, pines, and bright orange algae-covered granite rocks. The birds sing a taunting song of laughter that only a humbled angler can really appreciate. The birds are the true fishermen of the canyon, but allow for the rarely skilled two-legged to impress.

Finding Connection

I opened my fly box and reached for a reliable dry fly pattern. As I gauge the distance to the feeding trout, I measure ten feet of leader to the eyelet of the rod, and pull out an extra fifteen feet of fly line. Finally, I begin taking cautious casts with my right hand, back and forth over my left shoulder.

Allowing the line to release organically, I drop the fly in the riffle between the fast moving water flowed into the eddy. There is a slow rise five feet to the right, a few moments pass, and then another two feet to the left. I recast. Then, I watch nervously for a moment, and suddenly feel the line go taught. In an instant, I am connected to the natural world in a way I can never quite predict. Hence, I am truly in the moment.

My Catch

The fish jumps powerfully out of the water. I see the brown, yellow, and red mosaic tattooed on the fish’s left side. It is a German brown trout. I allow the fish to make a run, and as soon as I feel him begin to slow, I reel the line in. He makes one more tremendous run, but I patiently pressure him back toward the slow water I am standing below. I approach cautiously, and as gracefully as I can, I slip my net under him. Next, I gently remove the fly from the fish’s lip which is considerably worn but intact. I immediately notice the fish’s radiant beauty.

I hold him up, and take a mental snap shot of the browns and reds painted perfectly across the body, matching the rocks and willows on the shoreline. Then, I gently move my thumb over a glossy blue spot tucked behind the eye of fish as I lower him back into the water. The fish and I share one last moment, as I rock it back and forth, moving water back into its gills. The fish builds strength and returns into the run.

Finding Joy on the River

While I sit down on the side of the river, I feel a wave of sun on my face. In addition, I notice my breath. I let go of a breath that I have been holding in for what feels like month. My attitude shifts to gratitude. I appreciate that just yesterday, I was a crustacean on a bar stool drinking my life away. By the river, I feel at home, full of pure, unadulterated joy. These moments of sober fly fishing on the river are what I  chasied back in the day. In addition, the magic of time in nature is one I can always come back to, for free.

Redpoint Center Sober Fly Fishing

Saving Grace for My Recovery

Fly fishing sober has been a saving grace for my recovery in a number of ways. In my thirty years, I have participated in almost every sport or outdoor activity under the sun. However, nothing has inspired and focused my mind like connecting to the natural world via rod and reel. Fly fishing disconnects us from technology. In addition, it disrupts the monotony of the daily routine and stimulates physical, mental, and emotional health.

Scientific Effects of Fly-Fishing

In 2008, Herbert Benson MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that one of the most critical ways to reduce stress is “breaking the train of everyday thinking.” Furthermore, Benson explored cortisol levels before and after activities that provoke a relaxation response. He defined the relaxation response as “a purposeful initiation of a physical state of deep rest that changes a persons physical and emotional response to stress.”

Benson, an avid fly fisherman, qualified fly-fishing as a “beautiful way” of evoking the relaxation response in the parasympathetic nervous system. Over the course of eight weeks, his research study monitored cortisol levels in people engaging in fly fishing as a relaxation response. At the end of the eight weeks, he found that over half of the sample group actually had decreased cortisol levels. Consequently, the practice lowers stress levels and boosts overall well-being.

Recreation as Meditation

As a person in recovery since 2011, I have been fortunate enough to study addiction and recovery personally and academically. In 2017, I received my masters degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy, a program that studies the disciplines of Tibetan Buddhism and western psychology. Naturally, I was exposed to a lot of meditation and have spent the last seven years of my life practicing a vippasana style of meditation.

Although sports and hobbies are not meditation, fly fishing is still a deeply meditative experience for me, and evokes Benson’s “relaxation response.” Calming activities include the back and forth casting motion, the attentiveness required for learning river ecology, and the deep in and out breaths required for patience and persistence. These can help the fisherman to access the present moment if they are willing to humble themselves to the outdoors.

Incorporating Sober Fly Fishing in Your Recovery

There have been a number of incredible fly fishing inspired organizations. They are using the healing methods of fly fishing. These include Casting for Recovery for women with breast cancer, and Project Healing Waters who work with disabled active military personnel and disabled veterans. However, the door is still wide open for an addiction and recovery sponsored fly-fishing initiative. With overdoses rising nationally each year (70,237 in 2017 according to drugabuse.gov) any and all positive efforts are needed now more than ever. For that reason, we are beginning to incorporate fly fishing at The Redpoint Center.

I find incredible symbolism in fly fishing. Also, I use some of these lessons with adult and adolescent clients I work with therapeutically. Many who walk into the The Redpoint Center have experienced tragedy and feel a sense of failure. But in fishing, as in recovery, our failures teach us just as much as our successes. We try to help our clients see that if they accept some simple instructions, they can hook into a new life pretty quickly.

Get Started on your Journey

The Redpoint Center supports clients to regularly get outside. We invite both staff and participants to join us in nature. Please come work with our team and call our admissions line for questions regarding the services we offer.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, Mental Health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. To learn more about our Longmont Drug Rehab, call 888-509-3153.

Images courtesy of unsplash

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1375 Kenn Pratt Blvd
Suite 300
Longmont, CO, 80501


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(888) 509-3153


 

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