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.


Anxious About The Holidays? Just Breathe…

Post by Eugenie Pabst, PsyD.

This can be a very anxiety-provoking time of year.  How often do you think about your breath?  Most likely, only when you are out of breath, or when it’s sharp, shallow and stressed. Breathing is automatic; it takes place without you even thinking about it and we rarely give it much attention.  However, if we tune into our breath, it can tell us a great deal about how we are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally.  Much of our distress is caused by anticipation of the future (anxiety) or by dwelling on the past (depression).  Often times, it is very difficult to free ourselves from such emotional distress on our own.  However, the simple rhythm of your breathing can bring you back to the here and now.  By controlling your breath, you can learn how to master your thoughts and, in doing so, have more control over your body’s responses to stress, physical strain and emotional stimuli.

Biofeedback Therapy is a training process that teaches you how to do this.  It is a form of “applied psychophysiology” that increases your awareness and is designed to teach you how to have more control over your mind and body.  With the assistance of a variety of monitoring devices, including those that measure respiration, heart rate, skin temperature and muscle activity, you can learn how to control certain involuntary body responses that result when your autonomic nervous system is compromised under physical or mental stress.

Through in-office training and self-practice, you can learn how to let go of limiting habitual patterns (poor breathing, obsessive thoughts, worry, fear, anxiety, poor posture) and develop self-regulation tools for better management of stress. Treatment is short-term with the ultimate goal of learning how to produce positive physical and cognitive changes outside of the biofeedback office and without the help of a therapist or technology.  By learning how to “just breathe” and become more aware in your daily life, you will learn how to stay present and in control…and the holidays may be more enjoyable?

Dr. Eugénie Pabst is a clinical Psychologist who specializes in Biofeedback therapy.  By utilizing Biofeedback, Dr. Pabst teaches her clients a self-regulation skill that inspires growth and healing through self-awareness.  As a LifeSkills Authorities Recovery Team member, Dr. Pabst can be an integral part of the healing process. She is a sought after Biofeedback specialist in Chicagoland and has a private practice Lincoln Park.


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.

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