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Boulder County Mental Health & Drug Rehab |

Is Addiction a Family Disease? 

By | Addiction, Alcohol rehab, Community, Longmont Drug Rehab, Mental Health, Therapy, Treatment

Is addiction a family disease? What does this mean? Those suffering from addictive behaviors are suffering. And their loved ones suffer immensely, too. It goes without saying that living with substance use disorder is incredibly difficult. 

When someone using drugs begins to hurt their family, they may experience various behavioral symptoms. They may show disrespect to their siblings and parents. In addition, they might lash out, challenge boundaries, or project their emotional struggles. Furthermore, other family members may modify their behaviors to manage the stress of it all. Some may try and help the individual using drugs or alcohol to protect them from getting into trouble. Thus, becoming the enabler. Others may take on the role of caretaker and attempt to compensate, providing care that may be lacking. These are only a few examples of the dysfunctional roles that family members might play.

Addiction: A Family Disease

In a recent study at Texas Tech University, the saying, “addiction is a family disease” took on new meaning. Not only is the addicted brain affected by the substances. In addition, the family members’ brains actually change as well. The study found that family members suffer as a result of the addict’s behavior. The prefrontal cortex of one using substances shuts down when faced with temptation or triggered to use drugs. Research shows the family members’ prefrontal cortex malfunctions as well. Hence, studies validate that addiction is a family disease. Parents and siblings can actually crave patterns. They seek to rescue and care-take their addicted family member. Therefore, this is similar to the substance abuser who craves their substance of choice. 

The conclusion of the Texas Tech study, states the following: 

“The present study provides preliminary evidence that family members’ symptomatic behaviors associated with a loved one with a substance use disorder (such as fear-based behaviors), as hypothesized, may be related to altered brain functioning. Given these findings, problematic symptoms and behaviors may likely not decrease simply because the loved one struggling with a substance use disorder finds abstinence or engages in a process of recovery. Should altered pathways be present in the brains of affected family members as has been found in individuals struggling with substance use disorders, it becomes of great importance to help family members recognize their own personal need for support, therapeutic treatment, and/or recovery. Part of the recovery process should include family-based therapeutic support, and it is therefore important to make sure that the appropriate systemic and relationship training is available to helping professionals.” 

Family Therapy Changes Outcomes

This study proves the concept of addiction as a family disease. The entire family needs to participate in treatment. Family members who turn to support groups such as Al-Anon or partake in family therapy find great success. Consequently, they are able to change their behavior. Also, families learn “the three C’s”: You didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it. If the alcohol or substance user is the only one getting treatment, it’s a vacuum. And then they go back into an environment where the rest of the family is still unwell. Hence, the individual’s likelihood of success goes down. The disease of addiction is viciously contagious. Therefore, it is important for everyone to seek help. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, mental health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. You are not alone. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. To learn more, call us 888-509-3153.

The Redpoint Center Staff’s Favorite Songs About Addiction, Drug Use and Recovery

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

Stories of addiction and drug abuse have worked themselves into our culture in the form of books, music, theater and songs for centuries.   Often times, a song we love is actually about addiction and drug abuse and we aren’t even aware of it until we take the time to really look at and listen to the lyrics.  This isn’t surprising, considering the fact that addiction and drug use is common among singers, songwriters and musicians that we listen to on a daily basis.  We also know of a multitude of extremely talented singers and members of popular bands who have died from addiction and drug overdoses., so it is not uncommon to find stories about drug and addiction in their music.

 

Just last month, the staff at The Redpoint Center, an outpatient substance abuse treatment program in Longmont, Colorado, shared their favorite movies about addiction and recovery.  We therefore found the next logical step was for us to recount our favorite songs about addiction, drug use and recovery.  The following is a summary of our musings, in no particular order, along with a link to the song and the staff member who chose it.

 

  • Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind- This song is the title track from the rock band’s self-titled debut album that was released in 1997.  Despite the easy going and peppy pop sound of this song, it is actually about using crystal meth and the shiny looking outside of people who are sick and hurting on the inside.ur medical director, Dr. Honor Ashbaugh.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beINamVRGy4

 

  • Under the Bridge by The Red Hot Chili Peppers- “Under the Bridge” appears on the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s fifth album, titled Blood, Sweat, Sex and Magik. Anthony Keidis, the rock band’s lead singer, wrote the lyrics of this song to depict feelings of loneliness and despondency, and to relay the impact that a heroin addiction had on his life.  This song was picked as a favorite by our clinical director, Nikki Summers, and therapist Quddus Maus.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLvohMXgcBo

 

  • Hurt by Nine Inch Nails- Hurt is a song that appears on Nine Inch Nail’s second studio album, The Downward Spiral, released in 1994. The song includes references to self-harm and heroin addiction.  Others contend that the song acts as s suicide note written by the song’s protagonist.  Nonetheless, the entire album is about a period in the singer’s life when he abused drugs and fell into a deep depression.  This song, and the cover by Johnny Cash, was picked as a favorite by The Redpoint Center’s founder, Cody Gardner.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPz21cDK7dg

 

  • Hurt cover by Johnny Cash- In 2002, Johnny Cash covered the song “Hurt”.  Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails lead singer, said he was flattered when Johnny Cash wanted to cover this song, but was worried that it was a “bit gimmicky”.  After seeing the video, however, which was best music video of the year by Grammy’s and CMA Awards, Reznor liked what he saw.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt1Pwfnh5pc

 

  • Soul to Squeeze by The Red Hot Chili Peppers- “Soul to Squeeze” was released as a B-side on the The Red Hot Chili Peppers “Give it Away” and “Under the Bridge.” It was then released as a single in 1993.  “Soul to Squeeze” Is thought by some as depicting the entire mental process between addiction and recovery. It focuses heavily on what recovery has to offer rather than glorifying or self-deprecating the addictive thought process.  This was picked  a asfavorite by The Redpoint Center’s Drew Dyer..

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XcN12uVHeQ

 

  • Lost in the Cold by Twiddle- “Lost in the Cold” was also picked as a favorite by Drew Dyer. In his own words, the song reminds him of “grabbing onto the fear of recovery and facing it rather than hiding from it.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0NyOcf7h8c

 

  • Heroin by The Velvet Underground- The song “Heroin” was released by The Velvet Underground on their 1967 debut album called The Velvet Underground & Nico. The song was written by Lou Reed and beautifully depicts heroin use and abuse.  The song “Heroin” neither endorses nor condemns the use of heroin, which has made it a troubling song in the eyes of some listeners.  This song was picked as a favorite by The Redpoint Center’s wellness coordinator, Shane Niemeyer.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFLw26BjDZs

 

  • Not if You Were the Last Junkie on Earth, by The Dandy Warhols- This song was released in 1997 on the second studio album released by The Dandy Warhols, called The Dandy Warhols Come Down.  The song, according to front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor, was written about his girlfriend (at the time) who got addicted to heroin while he was on tour. This song was picked as a favorite by The Redpoint Center therapist, Desmond Cohen.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APrpB-i4d_E

 

  • Down on the Bottom by The New Basement Tapes- Down on the Bottom was the first song recorded by The New Basement Tapes on their album titled “Lost on the River.” The lyrics were written by Bob Dylan in 1967, and are interpreted to be about drinking and hitting rock bottom with nowhere to go but up.  This song was picked as a favorite by The Redpoint Center’s Katie Fischer.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXXEG6kY96E

 

  • You’ll Never Walk Alone by The Dropkick Murphy’s- This song first appeared in a 1945 musical called Carousel. It has been covered by many different bands and musicians, and appeared on The Dropkick Murphys album “11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory” when it was released in 2017.  This song, explains bassist and vocalist Ken Casey, came on when he was leaving a wake for a friend who had overdosed on opiates.  It summed up to him how he was feeling at the time- sad but knowing that there is hope. This song was picked as a favorite by The Redpoint Center’s therapist Stephanie Winkler.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8SK8JHKn1k

 

  • Lover I Don’t Have to Love by Bright Eyes- “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” was released by the American, Indie Rock band as a single in 2002. The Redpoint Center’s family advocate, Taylor Cole, picked this song as a favorite about addiction and shared her words.  “I listened to this song throughout the throws of my addiction when I was touring with a band the year before I got sober. I knew I was an addict and I was not ready to get sober. I wanted to put myself into so much pain it would force me to get sober or I would just not make it. Every time I listen to it, I remember that feeling and am grateful that I don’t have to live like that anymore.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuXkhE0VMcw

 

  • Staying Alive by Cursive- The song “Staying Alive”, by Cursive, was also picked by Taylor Cole as her favorite song about recover. She quotes, “Bad ass song that makes my insides feel warm and fuzzy. Choosing life and looking forward.”

 

 

  • Suicidal Thoughts by Biggie Smalls- “Suicidal Thoughts” was the last song on the debut album, “Ready to Die”, released by Notorious B.I.G. in 1994. Although not strictly about addiction, the song was listed as very meaningful to The Redpoint Center’s founder, Cody Gardner, who states that he “used to write the verses of this song on all his notebooks” while in rehab.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4M8GjgfG9k

 

  • Alive by Sia- “Alive” is the lead single from the Australian singer songwriter’s 7th studio album, titled “This is Acting.” The Redpoint Center’s admissions director, Rachael Messaros, notes that this song is one of her favorites about recovery. In her words, “On my 6th sobriety birthday I put all of my songs on shuffle, and this song came on. I cried because I was like, holy shit, I survived.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2NgsJrrAyM

 

  • Billy Walker, by Israel Darling- Billy Walker was released in on the album by Israel Darling titled “Dinosaur Bones & Mechanical Hands.” This song was picked as a favorite by one of The Redpoint Center’s therapists, Jay Fullam. In his own words, “I heard this song when I got sober at an open mic.  It really stuck with me and I listened to it regularly during my first year of sobriety.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2rS0chMWFw

 

  • Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young–“Needle and The Damage Done” first appeared on the Harvest album which was released in 1972. This song was written by Neil Young to describe the destruction caused by the heroin addiction of musicians he knew, including his friend and Crazy Horse bandmate, Danny Whitten. It previews the theme of a later album, “Tonight’s the Night”, that expresses Young’s grief over the subsequent overdose deaths of both Whitten and Bruce Berry, who was a roadie for Young and Crazy Horse. This song was picked as a favorite by The Redpoint Center’s Executive Director, Donnie Hagenbart.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd3oqvnDKQk

 

 

  • Rehab by Amy Winehouse- Rehab appeared on Winehouse’s second and final album, Back to Black, in 2006. The lyrics are in fact autobiographical, and describe Winehouse’s refusal to enter into a rehabilitation clinic for substance abuse and addiction. The song won three Grammy awards at the 50th Winehouse, as most know, subsequently died of alcohol poisoning on July 23rd, 2011.  This song was picked as a favorite by one of the Redpoint Center’s adolescent therapists, Bridget Camacho.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUmZp8pR1uc

 

  • Mansion by NF- The song Mansion, by NF (which stands for Nathan Feurstein) is a song on this American rapper’s debut album, titled the same, which was released on March 31, 2015. This song was picked by The Redpoint Center’s Samantha Jackson. In her own words, “I like this song because for so long I was in my head about a lot of things and I thought keeping that to myself was a lot safer than talking about it or getting help. Also, I thought using was a good way to take care of my problems, but it just acted as a temporary fix. This song is a good reminder to myself that I don’t want to be in such a dark place again. It also puts me in the mindset of when I was still using and how much I didn’t like what I was doing.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF5QE3-ox4o

 

 

We hope you enjoy this compilation of The Redpoint Center staff’s favorite songs about addiction, drug abuse and recover.  If you think you or your loved one might have an addiction or problem with drug or alcohol use, The Redpoint Center can help.  Please call us with any questions, as we’re here to help.

 

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.

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.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter

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

It is a common occurrence amongst therapists to joke that if they bring their clients to tears then they know they’ve done something right. We believe that laughter can be one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. 

Other reasons why laughing is therapeutic:

Connection: Laughter increases one’s ability to be close with others, and is an expression most often used in a social context. We are 30 times more likely to laugh if we are with another person. Cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott said we laugh “to show people that you understand them, that you agree with them, and you are part of the same group with them. You’re laughing to show them you like them, you might even love them. Laughter is doing all that emotional work for you.”

See what else Sophie has to say in her Ted Talk Why We Laugh

Nervous System Regulation: laughter reduces sympathetic nervous system activity (fight or flight response) and increases parasympathetic system activity, which can relax the whole body, thus reducing the impact of stress on the body and mind.

Read more about laughter and the nervous system here.

Perspective: it offers a new way to look at a situation and

“Humor and laughter can shift perspective and change the way our mind views or experiences an event.”

Emotional Health

Emotional health, but physical health have been linked to laughter as well.  Norman Cousins, who wrote Anatomy of an Illness (1979), describes his experience using laughter to help him live a longer, and more pain free life while suffering from an illness affecting the immune system. According to Cousins:

  • Laughter:
    • Releases endorphins in the brain that fight physical pain.
    • Protects our immune systems.
    • Increases antibodies that fight infection.
    • Increases natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells attack cancerous cells in the body.
    • Improves cardiovascular health
    • Activates neuro-chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, acting as a natural antidepressant.

And one final thought; did you know there is something called “Laughter Yoga”? Make sure to check out this Ted Talk by Dr. Madan Kataria, the pioneer of Laughter Yoga, which is now a worldwide practice for improving overall health and wellbeing.

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.

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.

The Redpoint Center’s Favorite Films about Addiction

By | Addiction, Media

The Redpoint Center is an outpatient addiction treatment center in Boulder, Colorado. Addiction touches our staff and clients every day. Its impact can be maddening and heartbreaking. Because of this, there are many films that have portrayed addiction and alcoholism. The value of film and TV is the ability to portray the impacts of addiction. For instance, films about addiction can bring an outsider into the world of an addict, helping them to understand in ways that they might not have ever known.

The staff at Redpoint was asked about their favorite films that portray addiction and it’s complex impact on individuals, relationships, and society. Here is a list of our favorites, and the quotes that follow are from the staff that suggested each film.

Similarly with addiction, there is a full range of emotion presented in these films, from tragedy and hopelessness, to humor and healing.

 

Our Movie Picks

  1. Trainspotting “Ewan McGregor’s process of change, and the language he uses, gives us one of the most lifelike portrayals of heroin addiction ever.”
  2. A Cat Named Bob “We love this film because it is a good representation of addiction, and how someone got sober”
  3. Leaving Las Vegas “The brutal truth behind the hopelessness of alcoholism.”
  4. Beautiful Boy “An amazing story from the perspective of the father of a methamphetamine addict”
  5. My Name is Bill W.  “This story about the founder of alcoholics anonymous feels like the best history of AA that you can get.”
  6. Flaked “A just portrayal of an alcoholic”
  7. Requiem for a Dream: “I think it evokes the feelings that one feels in the throes of addiction.”
  8. Spun: “A wild trip into the world of methamphetamine, and an exploration of innocent intentions that warp into unspeakable consequences.”

 

In conclusion, what are the most meaningful depictions of addiction that you’ve seen portrayed in film/TV/literature?

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.

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Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

By | Addiction

A drinking problem can be debilitating. In addition it can impact one’s overall health. Also, it can affect our family, work life, and can threaten our well-being. At The Redpoint Center, one of the most common addictions we treat is Alcohol Use Disorder. The high prevalence and social acceptance of alcohol use can influence behavior. Furthermore, alcohol addiction can be insidious and hard to detect. Therefore, it’s key to know the signs of a drinking problem to determine how to help.

Stats on the Drinking Problem in the US

A 2016 summary, the United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports that of Americans over the age of 12:

  • 7 million report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.
  • 3 million report binge drinking (drinking 4+ drinks on at least one occasion in the past 30 days for women, and 5 or more for men).
  • 3 million report heavy drinking (binge drinking five+ days in the past 30 days).

These statistics show how extensive alcohol use is in our country. Most of us are familiar with the term alcoholism as an addiction to alcohol. The term alcoholism is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine:

Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. Hence, alcoholism is a very serious condition. Consequently, professional support is key.

A Drinking Problem Defined

The term alcoholism is now Alcohol Use Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V). In the DSM-V, Alcohol Use Disorder is categorized into mild, moderate, or severe. These categories depend on the number of symptoms.

The list below includes the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder in the DSM-V. These are the symptoms that doctors use to diagnose a drinking problem or Alcohol Use Disorder.

Read through the following alcohol addiction symptoms. In addition, count the number of statements that apply to your (or a loved one’s) drinking habits. This list applies to adolescents and adults. The endorsement of two or more of the following criteria indicates a problematic pattern of alcohol use.

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

  • Often drinking larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
  • Spending a great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of alcohol.
  • Craving alcohol or a strong desire or urge to drink alcohol.
  • Recurrent use of alcohol results in a failure to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continuing to use alcohol despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
  • Giving up or reducing important social, occupational or recreational activities because of alcohol use.
  • Recurrent use of alcohol in situations where it is physically hazardous to do so.
  • Continuing to use alcohol despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol use.
  • Tolerance to alcohol, needing to use increasing amounts of alcohol to get the desired effect.
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms that occur when alcohol consumption is stopped.

Alcohol Use Disorder

If you can relate to two or more of the above, you may have an Alcohol Use Disorder. Hence, the severity is measured in terms of the number of items endorsed.

2 or 3: Mild Alcohol Use Disorder

4 or 5: Moderate Alcohol Use Disorder

6 or more: Severe Alcohol Use Disorder

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, The Redpoint Center is here to help. Please feel free to contact us. Even if we are not the right fit, we will support you and your loved ones on the journey to recovery.

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.

We are here to help.



Address

The Redpoint Center
1375 Kenn Pratt Blvd
Suite 300
Longmont, CO, 80501


Phone

(888) 509-3153


 

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