Does Rehab Work?

By:  Michael Plahn

This is not a simple question to answer.  There are several variables that affect the answer.  What level of treatment, Outpatient or Residential?  Does the alcoholic or addict have a Co-Occurring diagnosis (additional disorder or mental illness).  Did the addict enter treatment willingly or were they coerced to enter the program?  Was the treatment program an appropriate fit to address the salient presenting issues?  What kind of Extended Care or Aftercare program was followed?  Get the idea?  This is a complex issue, so if you want a successful outcome, work with an objective professional available at LifeSkills Authorities.

As I discussed recently, there are several levels of addiction treatment or ‘Rehab’ (read further about this in: How to Select an Appropriate Level of Addiction Treatment). For this article, let’s use the example of Inpatient Residential Treatment.  I read studies that reference abstinence rates from as low as 5% to 60%.  That is a huge disparity and the success rates seem pretty poor, don’t they?  Where is the 90+% that I’m guessing you want to know about if you have a loved-one suffering from addiction?

This question led me to develop LSA’s Pre-Treatment Solution and LSA Recovery Coaching (a 52-week Aftercare program).  These programs combined with appropriate levels of addiction treatment will lead to what I hope will be success rates that top 90% and become the new Gold Standard to treating these chronic disorders.

Back to the simple and original question, ‘Does Rehab Work?’  Last Friday evening, actor Rob Lowe was asked that same question on  Piers Morgan Tonight.  Mr. Lowe confidently answered the question by stating, “Rehab gets a bad name…it can be an amazing experience.” He went on to say “Charlie (Sheen) is wrong (for saying that Addiction Treatment does not work),…it does work.” Lowe also suggested that it (Professional Addiction Treatment) does work if you take the actions suggested by the counselors and staff, NOT if you follow your own rules.

I agree with Lowe’s position that ‘Rehab’ or Addiction Treatment does work, despite the poor numbers discussed in the beginning of this entry. It breaks the addictive cycle, begins healing underlying issues, and objective professionals formulate a plan for you to continue changing and staying abstinent.  Admittedly, without competent treatment facilities such as Caron, Promises, Casa Palmera, The Canyon, Rosecrance, and the several available through Treatment Solutions Network, it may be difficult to even establish a beginning.  But ‘Rehab’ is a beginning, not a cure.

I am confident that the key to finding long-term recovery from addiction is to have a comprehensive plan with competent professional help for no less than six months, and preferably one year post-discharge from treatment.  Believe me, it will save you a lot of heartache, pain, money, and maybe your life if you follow this suggestion.  Contact LSA to find out how we can help you or your loved one today.



Hitting Bottom: A Deadly Myth About Addiction

By: Michael Plahn

Following is a flat-out myth that I have encountered with multiple clients and prospective clients in the past few weeks; it is a commonly accepted view held by many (even some in recovery, who are unaware of proven clinical methods) about the addicted or persons suffering from certain mental illness.

“I know they (addicted person) must “hit bottom” before they can get help. I know there is really nothing anyone can do until this happens and they become willing to change.”

Yes, an addicted person is likely unable to change without help.  One of the main reasons is that addiction affects the mind and prevents some of the brightest and even high-functioning individuals from seeing the same reality as seen by an outsider.  Addiction and/or untreated mental illness can create extreme levels of denial and self-deception.  For this reason, as you may have read in my previous postings, I attempt to keep logic out of the process when helping and afflicted person.  Why?  Because when it comes to discussing his or her own addiction or illness, I am not dealing with a rational or logical person.  So, I have found keeping logic out of the process to be very effective.

LSA’s Pre-Treatment Solution includes what is essentially an Intervention.  Yet, it is actually only about 20% of the entire LSA solution.  There are many other essential components to help a person embrace help willingly, as well as help the family as a whole.  LSA’s Family Meeting/Intervention is not the entire process; it is a piece of the solution.

The reason I refer to intervening on an individual, as a Family Meeting is to dispel fear caused by some coercive “sneak-attack” versions that may have been seen on TV.  At LSA, we use a transparent model with a compassionate loving approach for facilitating our Family Meetings / Interventions. Yes, we tell the addicted or afflicted person that we are going to have a meeting on a certain date…it actually establishes respect and eliminates secrets.  And, guess what?  The process is extraordinarily effective and the addicted person tends to be present at that first meeting.

Let’s get back to this question about “hitting bottom” as it is an important myth that must be dispelled (and, truthfully, its also the title of my post).  If you wait for your loved-one’s bottom, there is a high likelihood that this person will encounter tragedy and possibly die waiting for this bottom.  Addiction is a disease with endless bottoms.   If a highly trained, objective professional coordinates a compassionate approach (without negative emotion, or logic) there is a good chance the result can be different.  With this loving and compassionate approach, along with extremely detailed planning, it is absolutely possible to “Raise the afflicted person’s bottom so they can reach out and accept help.”

So, if someone you care about is in the throws of addiction and/or untreated mental illness, you can alter their path of destruction and misery.  However, I caution you as I have written before, that I still have not met anyone who has successfully facilitated this process (without objective professional help) for someone they love.  I strongly encourage you to hire a competent professional trained in a variety of Intervention formats (I recommend a compassionate and transparent format).  Contact LSA now to learn how we can help you and someone who may be in trouble.


Is Saving a Life Worth the Cost of a Honda?

Post by Sarah Wilde

Michael Plahn, Founder and Program Director of LifeSkills Authorities recently sat down with Jason Seiden, author of Fail Spectacularly! Both Michael and Jason work with others to show how people can truly thrive after experiencing failure.  However, when alcoholism or addiction is holding people back from their true potential it often requires intensive treatment for the addict or alcoholic to thrive from the lows to which their disease brought them.   Sometimes even when that help is available and accessible, objections or obstacles may still exist which prevent the person in need from grabbing that life line and pulling oneself to safety.  LifeSkills Authorities works every day to change the dire realities we’ve come to accept for addiction sufferers.  From intervention to proper placement for care to long-term recovery coaching, Michael talks with Jason about how the LifeSkills Authorities program works to save lives.

Read the entire post here at JasonSeiden.com.


Can Exercise Cure Alcoholism?

Post by Sarah Wilde

 Exercise may be an effective and nonpharmacologic treatment option for alcohol dependence.

Likewise, according to ScienceDaily, circadian disruptions can also lead to alcohol abuse as well as relapse in abstinent alcoholics.   Circadian rhythms, which refers to the timing of daily rhythms, can be - no surprise - highly disrupted by alcohol abuse.   A new animal study has used hamsters to test for the influence of wheel-running on alcohol intake.  Results indicate that exercise, perhaps through stimulation of brain reward pathways, may be able to reduce alcohol intake in humans. 

“Alcohol abuse, characterized by routine craving for and consumption of alcohol as well as an inability to function normally without it, disrupts both the timing and consolidation of daily circadian rhythms — when to sleep, eat, and mate — driven by the brain circadian clock,” explained J. David Glass, professor of biological sciences at Kent State University and corresponding author for the study. “With continual alcohol use, one may go to bed too early or late, not sleep across the night, and have an unusual eating regime, eating little throughout the day and/or overeating at night. This can lead to a vicious cycle of drinking because these individuals, in response, will consume more alcohol to fall asleep easier only to complain of more disrupted sleep across the night and additionally have a greater craving for alcohol.”

In other words, said Alan M. Rosenwasser, professor of psychology at the University of Maine, chronic alcohol abuse and circadian disruption become reciprocally destructive and result in negative effects on physical and emotional health.  By getting  proper exercise at key points in the day, alcoholics and others alike can improve their circadian regulation to improve their sleep habits and reduce their need for alcohol.  While this does not mean that exercise is the cure for alcoholism, it is further evidence that exercise is important to the regulation of Circadian rhythm, which is why both areas are key components in the LifeSkills Authorities Recovery Coaching programs.   

Results will be published in the September 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental ResearchRead the full article at Science Daily.

Have you used exercise as part of your recovery plan?    Tell us more.


Teenage Drinking Has Lasting Detrimental Effects

Post by Sarah Wilde

Adolescent binge drinking is increasing and causes long-term effects on the brain.  While often considered a problem, it creates more damaging effects than just poor decisions, illegal behavior and regretful exchanges.    According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, yet another study shows that binge drinking interferes with normal brain activity, in a manner which has lasting effects.   Heavy alcohol consumption over 11 months “dramatically and persistently decreased” cell activity, including the division of a certain type of cells, and significantly altered certain cells, creating a lasting alcohol-induced reduction affecting development.  

The study concludes that the period of adolescence is highly vulnerable to alcohol and that alcohol decreases neural turnover by altering the ongoing process of neuronal development.  The lasting effect was still seen 2 months after discontinuation of alcohol.  This lasting effect, the study says, may underlie the deficits in cognitive tasks that are observed in alcoholics.

The next time your teenager tells you that their drinking is “no big deal,” remind them that it actually is.   Binge alcohol consumption in teenagers means that they are not only getting drunk in the moment but negatively impacting their ability to function in the future.   These kids are in fact reducing hippcampal neurogenesis, which is the process of creating new neurons, and is essential to the growing brain and activities such as learning and memory.    Drinking excessively after this weekend’s football game or for next weekend’s parties and events is setting up impaired memory and reasoning ability for years to come.   Parents do not always seem to understand the long-term ramifications of teenage drinking.   Some parents think it is the easier thing to cave into their teens desire to drink, and others choose not to know or ask too many questions.  

As a parent it is our job to keep our kids healthy and set them up for a successful future.   Just like sunblock is needed today to prevent cancer tomorrow, intervention on our teenagers drinking is necessary today to prevent dramatic effects to their growing brains tomorrow.   If you need help, LifeSkills Authorities provides consultation to families and schools on how to speak with your kids about alcohol and its consequences.  Contact us now so that we can help you educate your family and children before they’ve set unhealthy patterns that are more difficult to break.

Full study available here.    Have you discovered a helpful way to teach your children about the harmful effects of alcohol?   Share with our community – post your comments here.


This April is National Alcohol Awareness Month

Post by Michael Plahn

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to hangovers, health problems, including alcohol poisoning, and an increased risk of heart disease. This April, during Alcohol Awareness Month, LifeSkills Authorities encourages you to take this time to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of alcohol abuse and dependence. To spread the word, help educate about alcohol abuse and addiction, LifeSkills Authorities is joining other organizations across the country to honor Alcohol Awareness Month to prevent alcohol abuse in our community.

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Keep track of how much you drink, avoid places where overdrinking occurs, and find new ways to deal with stress.  Set a drinking limit and if you keep alcohol in your home, keep only a limited supply.  If these strategies do not prove successful then you should ask for help from a doctor, family, or a qualified and trained addiction professional.  If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help.

According to Michael Plahn, Founder and Program Director at LifeSkills Authorities, “make no mistake, addiction is a terminal disease with some disastrous consequences if left untreated. The earlier addiction is confronted, the better the chances of preventing tragic situations and improving the quality of the life of the addicted individual and those of their loved ones.”

It is never too early or late to get someone help.


Is my teenage daughter an alcoholic?

Post by Michael Plahn

We often receive inquiries and questions from concerned family members that want to know how they can help a loved one suffering from addiction.   We recently received the following:

“I have a teenage daughter who I know drinks with her friends every weekend.  How do I know if she is “just being a teenager and doing what teenagers do, or if she really has a drinking problem?   I get scared because her father is an alcoholic (we are divorced and my daughter lives with me) and I’m concerned she will follow in his footsteps.   Could it just be that she’s acting like a teenager or how do I know if my child is an alcoholic?”

Thank you for the question.   People of all ages may wonder if excessive drinking, or drinking at all, can be justified by their period in life, e.g. “being a teenager” or “being in college” or “being in their 20s.”   The fact is that an alcoholic may drink differently than others despite not “standing out” around their peers.  They may feel differently when they drink than how others are affected by the same quantity.    Drinking every weekend as a teenager is definitely a reason to be concerned.   You are also correct that there is also a genetic component to take into account here with alcoholism.  A parent who is an alcoholic has a higher probability of having a child who is also an alcoholic.   Additionally, there are different stages of alcoholism to consider and early intervention is key to preventing the potential destruction that can occur.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease.   In the early stages of alcoholism, drinking goes beyond just a social interaction to become an escape from feelings or emotions.   Eventually the need to drink becomes more powerful and a person may experience more pronounced effects of alcohol such as blackouts, and more severe hangovers.   As the alcoholic moves further into alcoholism the drinking starts to compound a loss of control in the individual.   The drink may replace other areas of life which used to be important such as family, friends, work, or even hygiene.   By the last stage of alcoholism the physical signs intensify further and may present with delirium tremens (DTs).  At this stage the alcoholic may require alcohol just to function.

According to Michael Plahn, from LifeSkills Authorities:  Let’s face it, your daughter is under the legal drinking age and therefore her drinking presents a problem.   Beyond that and without having conducted a formal history of your daughter’s drinking and behavior however I cannot be certain if her drinking is in line with alcoholic drinking.   If it is alcoholism, it is best to get help early to stop the progression.   An experienced Interventionist may be your first step in combating the disease.   Some questions to ask yourself:   Does her temperament change when she is drinking?   Have her priorities changed?   Is she no longer interested in things that used to bring her pleasure?   Does she seem to drink to escape or to deal with situations such as social functions?   Does she seek a “buzz”?

On the positive side, it is good to know that you are concerned, paying attention and working to stay involved in your child’s life.   If you feel like you need to get your daughter help, do not hesitate.   Again, a qualified interventionist and/or recovery coach can work with you to determine if your daughter needs treatment, and the steps to take to get her there.   You’ve already taken the first step in seeking information and for that I commend you.


Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Post by Michael Plahn

Here are some simple questions to ask yourself if you are curious whether you have a problem with alcohol:

  • Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
  • Does your drinking ever make you late for work?
  • Does your drinking worry your family?
  • Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
  • Do you ever forget what you did while drinking?
  • Do you get headaches or have a hangover after drinking?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may indeed have a problem with alcohol.   No matter what, you are not alone.   Please take the first step toward addressing your problem with alcohol and ask for help.


Alcoholism and the working mom

Today’s front page of the Chicago Tribune features ” Mom. Business Woman. Alcoholic.” This article showcases the disease of alcoholism and how it is a destructive and potentially deadly force for those afflicted, at any age.  The article chronicled the life of a 39 year old professional mother whose substance abuse actually began when she was on maternity leave.  It gave light to the problem beginning harmlessly enough as a way to relax after a stressful day.

The piece also shows the dramatic rise in drinking among women, as the approximate percentage of those seeking help is nearing equality with that of males.  In the story, “Heather,” a 39 year old mother and alcoholic, eventually entered a treatment center through a pseudo-intervention.  The story had a happy ending, as she had just celebrated one continuous year of sobriety.  However, in reality, Heather’s story is just beginning as this is a lifetime journey of recovery.

As we believe strongly at LSA, this would still be an excellent time to form a Recovery Care Coaching relationship with a LifeSkills Authorities coach.  The issues of time management, re-acclamation to a successful working environment, work-life balance, entertaining clients, and overall stress management are issues that someone such as Heather entering her second year of recovery could likely find helpful.

Click here to read the full article.

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Contents on LifeSkillsAuthorities.com including any images, text, external links, graphics or any other material posted on this website is intended solely for informational purposes. The information contained herein is written by non-medical professionals and not a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis of any disease or disability. Please seek advice from a qualified medical professional with any questions that you may have regarding your physical or mental health condition(s). If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or any other medical emergency, dial 911 or visit your local emergency room immediately. The thoughts and views expressed here are not necessarily those of LifeSkills Authorities, its owners, employees, or management.