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In this episode we have guests Lin and Aaron Sternlicht joining us to speak on their private practice in New York, where they specialize in helping prominent and high net-worth individuals suffering with substance use disorder. They’ll touch on what defines a “high functioning” alcoholic and why is it so important to seek help even if you’re able to outwardly function. Then we have guest Katherine Middleton joining us to tell us about the impact trauma and addiction has on veterans and their families.

 

Welcome to Recovery Radio by Landmark Recovery with your host, Zach Crouch. In this program we’ll discuss the root causes and treatments of alcohol and substance addiction, speak with experts in related fields, and help navigate the road to recovery.

 

Now, here’s the host of Recovery Radio, Zach Crouch.

 

Zach: Hi. I’m Zach Crouch and you’re listening to Landmark Recovery Radio, your source for addiction and recovery news and knowledge. You can find us online wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to subscribe to get the most up-to-date information from leading experts.

 

We have guests Lin and Aaron Sternlicht joining us on the podcast today. Lin and Aaron are addiction specialists based in New York City at their private practice Family Addiction Specialist. Both Lin and Aaron have extensive experience working with individuals suffering with substance use disorder. Lin specializes in the needs of prominent high net-worth individuals and their families. Aaron has extensive experience in helping individuals facing legal issues pertaining to drugs and/or alcohol such as DUI’s and DWI’s.

 

Lin, Aaron, it’s a pleasure. Obviously we’re in the middle of this pandemic.

 

Aaron: Thank you so much for having us. You cut out there.

 

Lin: Yes, it’s a pleasure to be here.

 

Zach: It’s a pleasure. If you can tell us about your services yourselves and what inspired you both to pursue careers that specialize in addiction.

 

Aaron: Sure. We’re both licensed mental health counselors. I’ll briefly tell you about how I got here. I’m a person in long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol and I’ll tell you in a quick nutshell. My addiction started with food from a young age. It increased over time to a point where I was 23 years old while I was nearly 300 pounds and I was overweight, obese my entire life and I turned to alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with my low self-esteem, with my depression, with all my insecurities, and all the things that went along with being overweight my whole life.

 

I found myself at a point where I ended up going to treatment; however, I went to treatment unwillingly through a family intervention. However, while I was at that treatment center there was a light switch that went off in my head. It was kind of an eye-opening moment where I realized that not only can I live a life without drugs and alcohol, but that I can live a thriving, meaningful, purposeful life without alcohol and drugs.

 

Zach: Absolutely.

 

Aaron: Part of that was very much…yes, yes. Part of that was very much inspired by the staff at the treatment center. Everybody from the doctors, nurses, the clinicians, all the way down to the fitness trainer, I was there…I think 99 percent of them were in recovery themselves. When they shared their personal stories with me during their downtime, I was very inspired by that because number one, it showed me that if they could recover I could recover as well. Number two, it showed me that I could help other people through my own experience.

 

Prior to that, I never really found much meaning and purpose in life and obviously that’s something that fueled my addiction. However, I realized I could find meaning and purpose by giving back and helping others with addictive disorders.

 

Basically as soon as I left that treatment center I started applying to schools. I ended up going back to school. I got my master’s in mental health counseling. I became a licensed therapist. I’ve been working in this field ever since. Lin also has a very unique and inspiring story which shows the other side of addiction which is often not as much spoken about.

 

Lin: For me when I first made a career transition from business to kind of therapy and psychology world, it was actually never my intention to focus on substance abuse. I initially pursued higher education to focus on mental health, but by the time I went to grad school till by the time I graduated my life was turned upside down.

 

Even in those very fast programs I was learning about substance abuse and I was pursuing formal education. There were not much resources or data pertaining to high-functioning alcoholism; therefore, I missed all of the signs and symptoms and the right steps to take. The lack of resources, guidance and resources at that time really inspired me to raise awareness in high-functioning alcoholism as well as working with this population and helping families.

 

In a nutshell, I was married to someone at that time who worked from Wall Street who was very high-achieving and high-functioning who struggled with addiction issues. He had a seven-figure salary. We had a beautiful apartment looking over Central Park. We had a beautiful child. Outside looking in, we lived a very desirable lifestyle.

 

Zach: The absolute American dream, right?

 

Lin: Yes. Even for me it was very confusing and challenging because the way his alcoholism kind of progressed was very sneaky and very subtle. It didn’t really meet the criteria or the image of someone who struggles with alcoholism.

 

A lot of the times he woke up 5:00, 5:30 in the morning way before I did. He was a good, involved father. There were no signs of violence or domestic violence. He was a wine collector. There was always beautiful wine tasting and pairing. He was very knowledgeable about wine. It really, really was confusing and I didn’t really know where to turn to.

 

Zach: Sure.

 

Lin: There were no physical or overt signs of dysfunction at the time, but it was very progressive, very sneaky, and very confusing at the time. Having all of those experiences combined with my education, I really wanted to devote my career to help raise awareness as well as treat and work with this population.

 

Zach: Yes. I want to come back also to a couple of pieces. First with you, Aaron, you mentioned that you just kind of where it sounds like an intervention of some kind or coerced into treatment, that first experience that you talked about. I didn’t know this, but I think that I want to make this clear to our listeners. The data suggests that it doesn’t matter how someone gets in to treatment, whether they’re coerced or not.

 

It really depends on when they’re there what they get from the experience. In fact there’s no data that will show that if a person decides one day, which most people don’t, “Hey, I need to go to treatment,” that they are somehow better off in terms of long-time sobriety than those that say, were given the option to go to treatment or an intervention. I think that’s important.

 

Aaron: Yes, absolutely.

 

Zach: I also think that your experience, too with seeing people because I think a lot of folks who come in to the recovery process they’re so beat down and shame-ridden that they think, “These people in front of me, these professionals especially the doctors,” and I think that you mentioned from the top down as you said everybody, 99 percent or so of the people that were there at your facility when you were in recovery and that’s a big deal.

 

Aaron: Yes, absolutely. I think a lot of people have the idea or notion if they’re an alcoholic or drug addict that only a person who’s in recovery themselves can really help them. I found that that’s really kind of just a form of resistance. People use that as an excuse to not get well because studies show over and over that it doesn’t matter if the clinician is in recovery or not. That’s an important point.

 

Yes, going back to interventions, you’re absolutely right. Studies suggest it doesn’t matter how you end up in treatment. I sometimes say that some feel the fire and some see the light; meaning that some might face enough consequence in their life where they realize, “Okay. It’s time to change.”

 

For me, I faced significant consequences throughout my life but it was not mine for me to change; however, once I cleared my head a bit and had that time to reflect, I did see the light. It can go both ways absolutely and whatever works. Everybody is unique and everybody is different.

 

Zach: I appreciate that. Lin, you mentioned also that you’re in business prior to this particular career. Has that helped you out in working with the population I mentioned at the beginning that you work a lot with prominent, sort of high net worth folks. How has that informed your work with them?

 

Lin: No. Actually I think it was essentially a perfect mix for me because when I was in business world, I was playing everyone’s therapist. People are saying, “You’re in the wrong office.” When I was in graduate school to become a therapist, everyone was telling me, “You’re too business-y.” Now I feel like I have a perfect marriage between those two. I really understand and identify with people under a lot of pressure to perform and excel and so yes, I think it’s really good. It’s still me upfront.

 

Zach: In your opinion, Lin do you think that there are sort of more resources, I guess would be the best word I could come up with, to hide the addiction and alcoholism especially for people who are high-functioning such as the case with your ex-husband? Has that been your experience a lot working with families and addicts or people with substance use disorder?

 

Lin: Absolutely, absolutely. First of all, it’s really easy for them to be in denial. It’s also really easy for them to hide their malfunction and dysfunction with their drinking and drug use because say, like a regular working mom, if she were to miss a pick up at her school and she’s persistently late or show up with the bloodshot eyes, the teachers will notice. The neighbors will notice and someone makes a note of that.

 

Whereas, high-functioning and also high net worth individuals usually they have a team of people, staff members helping them with day-to-day and mundane obligations and responsibilities. No one’s going to really notice if you don’t pick up your kid because there is someone else to do that for you and also, especially people in senior positions their colleagues or people who work for them they’re very reluctant to confront them about their drinking.

 

Zach: What do you think that’s about, the reluctancy?

 

Lin: Reluctancy? First of all, if you work for your boss and you’re under their payroll it’s not easy for them to say, it’s not easy for family members to confront them about their drinking. Imagine someone who’s under their payroll and say, “Hi. I just noticed that you smell like alcohol,” or “I noticed that you keep getting late with your meetings.” They’re less likely to confront.

 

One of the times I was approached by a senior executive saying, “I noticed that one of my colleagues is having a really serious problem, but I’m afraid to even suggest any kind of help because I don’t want to offend them. I don’t want to ruin any business relationships or deals moving forward because of this.”

 

Zach: The structure of the working environment and the relationships that are built really they support the alcoholism.

 

Lin: Absolutely. The heavy drinking is very normalized in client, business dinners to business functions. It’s very normalized. If you actually don’t drink alcohol, you come off as like, “Okay. What’s that person about? They’re not drinking. They’re not one of us.” It’s that cultural aspect as well.

 

Zach: Even with standing people who are not just even working at Wall Street but just people who have successful careers for that matter, do you see many of them struggling to see that they have a problem?

 

Aaron: Yes, absolutely because on the surface everything appears fine. They’re working. They’re financially-responsible. They’re taking care of their children or taking care of whatever obligations they have. Why would they see that they have a problem because everything on the surface seems fine? Now that being said, there’s always something awry somewhere if somebody has a problem with alcohol. I think we’ll touch on that a little bit later.

 

Since everything appears to be okay, they fail to see that they have a problem. Oftentimes when people think of having a problem with alcohol they immediately think of the word “alcoholic.” The term “alcoholic” itself can be very demeaning and very stigmatizing. It can conjure up images of a low-functioning individual.

 

A lot of people automatically think of some bum on the street, somebody slurring their words, somebody that smells of alcohol to a layperson. Since they don’t fit in that box they can continue to tell themselves that they don’t have a problem. It’s a form of denial.

 

Similarly the family members, their friends, their colleagues are much less likely to confront them about their drinking because everything up here is normal and functioning and they don’t fit in to that box of being an “alcoholic.”

 

Zach: Question for you both: how often do you two just check in with each other? Because we’re working with…my wife and I are both therapists actually and we work in where it’s a stressful job working in this population. Do you guys have those conversations together?

 

Aaron: Yes, absolutely. First of all, we are oftentimes working as a team, number one. We try to work with the entire family so we’re always case-conferencing amongst ourselves. On a personal side, we always practice what we preach. We stress and emphasize wholistic message of treatment with our patients: eating well to exercising to meditating to proper sleep hygiene. All that we really practice ourselves.

 

We try to help keep ourselves accountable of each other to tap in those things because they all go a long way. I think if you work in a field practicing all those things are really essential because it’s really hard to tell somebody else or help somebody else get well when you are not well yourself.

 

Zach: Truer words couldn’t have been spoken.

 

Lin: The reason why we are really practicing those self-care routine is not to be like perfectionistic or have unrealistic standards for ourselves but really to stay engaged and healthy but also we also remember to have fun and just have non-work-related stuff and just family fun or just like going outside for a walk and just simple things like cooking. We always like to try to nourish ourselves. We know that our entire life doesn’t revolve around other people’s problems.

 

Zach: You guys got a couple of good restaurants there in New York City I’m pretty sure.

 

Lin: Yes.

 

Zach: I want to talk just a little bit about that, too around the wholistic practice, this piece. Are there things that you’ve been surprised by maybe over the weeks, months, and years that you’ve practiced now that perhaps before you were just sort of maybe not pooh-pooh-ing but it’s kind of like, “Eh, it sounds nice but maybe it’s for somebody else?”

 

Lin: For example, I was working with large groups of patients in rehab. I noticed that people were on sometimes like the exact same medication regimen. I noticed that some people are getting much, much better with their mental health and their recovery and other people are doing very poorly. I didn’t really run clinical trials, but from just my observation I really noticed the people who do practice self-care routine and they do much better.

 

Even if people were to take exact same medication, exact same group setting, exact same therapist they tend to do much, much better because your medication responds better to your wholistic lifestyle changes; also I know that for me, I just do perform. I’m a much better mother. I’m a much better partner. I’m a much better therapist or helper when I do practice those skills.

 

Zach: Yes, yes. Yes. Aaron, anything to add to that?

 

Aaron: Yes, absolutely. I think when it comes to nutrition and fitness those are things that I’ve kind of always known will make me feel better. When I’m eating well, I feel well. When I’m moving, I feel better. Those things don’t surprise me; however, I think some things that surprised me along the way were really just kind of simple tools.

 

For example, let’s say that the person has never meditated before. They look down on it or whatever or maybe it seems something like they can’t do. Something simple as taking three to four to five deep breaths in and out can have such an amazing effect on your physiological and neurological effects on you that you really come out on the other side completely different. Just taking a few deep breaths which is something I love that you can practice it wherever you are. It’s amazing how you can come out on the other side.

 

Along with that is also just practicing gratitude which is another thing you can do wherever you are. Just thinking about some things that you’re grateful for and not only thinking about them but thinking about why you’re grateful for them and really trying to feel it and really value it. It just can totally change your mood. Those are a couple of things that have really surprised me.

 

Zach: I think it’s…go ahead.

 

Lin: Oops, sorry.

 

Zach:  Yes, go ahead.

 

Lin: There are two things that I’ve noticed was that one thing when I worked with the prison population, high risk populations where people are so angry. They were deprived of basic needs and they’re very frustrated with severe mental health and substance abuse issues. When I started groups with just literally one-minute meditation, I noticed huge improvement of people who are supposed to be really angry and frustrated and dangerous. They responded much better especially with underserved population.

 

Another thing that I wanted to point out was that in treatment setting and 12-Step meetings I’ve seen over and over people emphasize on whatever keeps you sober. What do they usually serve? Donuts and coffee with white sugar and smoking cigarettes. Initially, they’re like whatever keeps you sober from your drug of choice, whether it’s drugs or alcohol.

 

Over time they completely neglect their nutrition and their physical health and they become addicted to food, sugar, and cigarettes which have more detrimental effects over time where people report gaining 30, 40 pounds and sometimes unfortunately they associate drug use with “Oh, I look so much better. I used to feel so much better about myself versus sobriety stuff and I packed some 40 pounds.” That was also another thing to observe.

 

Zach: Yes. I appreciate you guys sharing that. I think that the professionals as well as the lay folk listen to this podcast and those in recovery are going to appreciate that. I want to talk a little bit about your practice Family Addiction Specialist. How many clients would you say, it may not be an exact number but how many clients come to you because they notice that they have a problem compared to say coming to you because their loved ones told them that they needed help?

 

Aaron: Yes. I’ll speak a little bit generally in the field of substance abuse from our experience and then move on to our personal experience working with this specific population. I think substance abuse is by nature often a problem that people have that tells them that they don’t have a problem because human nature is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain and that goes physiologically, neurologically, emotionally.

 

We live in a world where all too often people do that via substance, via alcohol, drugs or food. With alcohol, the individual’s brain is wired to continue using alcohol because it is helping them cope with something uncomfortable. For that reason, people with substance abuse are less likely to get help themselves before there is an intervention of some sort.

 

I think that generally in the substance abuse field there’s often a split between people getting help themselves or people coming in via some sort of intervention. In terms of high-functioning alcoholism and working with the population that we work with, I think that is only heightened and exacerbated. If I had to guess, I’d say about 80 percent of our clients come via a family referral.

 

Zach: A high number.

 

Lin: Exactly when it comes to the high-functioning alcoholism and substance abuse, they maintain certain facade or it’s not even a facade. Sometimes they do perform exceptionally well in their career, but then who do they usually expose themselves with their most vulnerable part of their lives? Their family members, right?

 

Zach: Family.

 

Lin: Yes, exactly; their children, their parents, their spouses. Usually, they’re the ones who really witness and see how progressively they deteriorate. Yes, family dynamic it changed forever because of that. Yes, definitely loved ones and family members contact us for the most part.

 

Zach: Just a quick follow up question to that: do you find that among males and females that there are differences in terms of their fears? You mentioned a fear that might be of, say for instance admitting that I have a problem and then the consequence of subsequent action, going to treatment. One of the fears for men might be losing their jobs. For women, it’s potentially not being able to see their kids if the parents are divorced as an example.

 

Do you find that pretty commonplace in your practice as well that there are themes that run through these fears?

 

Lin: Absolutely. I’m just grossly over generalizing but for example, men especially high-functioning, high-performing professional men they feel good about themselves when they spend time with their weekend. When it comes to working mothers especially executive mothers, they feel extremely guilty about not being a good enough mom when they work so much.

 

For example, I have worked with female executives who work over 12 hours for seven days a week and they feel extremely guilty of not being a good parent. All the research and data supports that. Female executives in particular, they feel really pressured to fit in and do well and compete in male-dominated world so they feel exceptional pressures. I’m not saying that women feel more or men feel less. I’m not simplifying that, but there’s definitely additional pressure because of failings of motherhood as well as performing well in their jobs for women.

 

Zach: Very well put. Anything to add to that?

 

Aaron: No, I don’t think so. I think Lin said it very well.

 

Zach: What would you guys say defines a high-functioning alcoholic? Why is it important that they seek help even if they’re able to function, so to speak?

 

Aaron: High-functioning alcoholics are basically people who are able to maintain their life, their careers, their relationships or other obligations all the while displaying signs of alcoholism. Generally speaking, for a high-functioning addict or people who may suffer from high-functioning depression or high-functioning anxiety or other mental health issues, all are able to maintain their day-to-day lives and in many cases even thrive while exhibiting the symptoms of their respective addiction or a mental health issue.

 

Lin: Yes. A lot of high-functioning clients that we have they’re usually very, very smart. They’re driven, well-educated, and they actually appear very well-groomed and put together. Appearance-like they look like they’re functioning; however, unfortunately we live in a society where we put so much emphasis on external achievement, acquiring material wealth but usually in that dynamic usually their parenting abilities, their marriage, their quality of family life is heavily compromised.

 

That notion of “Oh, I still do exceptionally well and I make a lot of money and I still hold my position at work,” while suffering and compromising your family life, your spiritual, your emotional, your physical health is something to really look in to.

 

Zach: Yes. I was thinking…go ahead, Aaron.

 

Aaron: No. I was going to move on to why they should seek help.

 

Zach: Yes. I just want to say real quick to Lin’s point, as you’re talking, Lin I was thinking about somebody coming to your office. They’re very well-groomed. They’re dressed to the nines. They probably smell good. It’s something I think unless you’ve worked with that population it would be really easy to get sucked in to the sort of almost seduction story of what they’re telling because you have to separate that out, their problem from the actual cultural norm or expectation that a lot of people have.

 

Lin: Yes. That’s why I’m passionate about kind of raising awareness and working with population is that people show, we’re human beings. People show very little empathy for people who seem to be far more successful, far wealthier and they seem to have it all together. It’s hard to have that kind of compassion, empathy for those people. It’s easier, as you said to be lured, to be seduced, and kind of go along with their narrative.

 

Zach: Aaron, please expand upon which you were going to discuss.

 

Aaron: Yes. Going back to your question about why they should seek help which is a great question and it’s often also a difficult question to answer because if everything on the surface seems fine then why should they seek help. One thing I’ll say about that is that the nature of alcoholism in itself is progressive in nature.

 

What that means is the individual will require more alcohol over time in order to get the same desired effect. I say that to say that their alcoholism will only progress and they will only get worse over time. If they are already questioning or if their loved ones are already questioning, “Hm, maybe they do have some kind of problem with alcohol,” then that means that it’s only going to get worse later on. While things may appear functioning and normal on the surface, alcohol may be impacting them in ways that are not noticeable.

 

I’ll give a perfect example which is the damage that alcohol does to our internal organs especially for our liver, our pancreas, our heart, our brain, and those organs that are most impacted by alcohol.

 

Zach: Sure.

 

Aaron: By the time somebody often receives help for alcoholism there’s also already a lot of damage done internally. This is an example why it’s so important to seek help sooner rather than later. Some people who are in the field or in recovery say that alcoholism is a slow death while opiates are often a faster death. That’s why oftentimes in treatment when people are younger sometimes there’s opiate addiction and then you have older people, it’s more alcoholism.

 

Unfortunately we see so many cases of cirrhosis of the liver as an example in older people because…and younger people, too but oftentimes if they don’t take care of that sooner than later it’s a really hard problem to fix down the road. That’s not only physically but mentally as well.

 

Lin: Unfortunately from a practical standpoint once their professional reputation or performance has been damaged or ruined, it’s really hard for them to kind of go back into workforce at that level. If you’re a senior executive, you can’t just go to rehab where you go for treatment for 60 to 90 days and just go back online and find a job tomorrow.

 

Zach: Right. That’s six months to a year process for some people.

 

Lin: Yes. It’s really not easy for them to just go online and submit resume and just be hired.

 

Zach: I want to touch back to, Aaron about your point around the progression piece especially as it relates to a couple of things. Number one, I talked to a lady recently and this lady was 52. She casually just called me up and said, “Yes, I think I probably should get some help.” She really was convinced that just like out-patient therapy and AA meetings were going to be fine.

 

I was like, “Okay. Let’s talk a little bit what you are doing.” She said, “I think right now I’m having blackouts probably about once or twice a week right now.” I’m thinking to myself, I’m like, “There’s no way you’re going to be able to do this with just out-patient therapy and AA meetings.” The delusion I think that people live in to is they have an addictive disorder like alcoholism. It does get progressive and the delusion grows with that progression.

 

This lady did not get help so I hope that she’s still around and hope that she’s gotten some help, but she was very convinced that this regimen of out-patient therapy and AA meetings was going to be enough.

 

Aaron: Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately, it’s sad and sometimes it’s laughable. If you work in the field and you’re a person in recovery you see this all the time where like you said, there’s so much delusion or dysfunction that is so apparent to a person, an outsider especially to professionals in the field but they don’t see it as a problem. Yes, we see that a lot.

 

Lin: At least for the lady, I would hope that she’s at least engaged in out-patient because once she is in treatment setting and she connects to other counselors or clinicians or other people in recovery, she may see that, “Oh, you know what? This may not be enough for me,” or someone may suggest that she needs higher level of care. I would hope that she is in treatment setting which is much better than her talking to someone else about it.

 

Zach: Luckily, we did connect her with a therapist and don’t know if she actually followed-up or not. At this point she’s been given several different resources to at least consider.

 

I guess the thing of it is with, as you mentioned again, Aaron about the progression piece one question I was going to ask you both is as you’ve worked with families and people with substance use disorder do you find those that get in to the recovery process go on to develop other addictive processes, process addiction as an example?

 

Aaron: Yes. Oftentimes we see somebody that will have an alcohol or drug dependence and then they enter recovery and then they form some other kind of addiction. For example, going back to what Lin was talking about earlier was the cigarettes or caffeine or food.

 

Zach: Right.

 

Aaron: I think food is actually a great example because oftentimes it’s another substance that you can put into your body. A lot of times when people enter recovery like Lin said unfortunately there is weight gain unless they’re watching their diet and they’re exercising. Unfortunately, we see a spike where people gain weight oftentimes they’ll get depressed.

 

What do they do? They turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their depression or perhaps at the back of their minds they tell themselves, “You know when I was drinking or when I was using I wasn’t eating like this and it will help me lose weight.” It can be almost like a gateway back into full-blown addiction, but yes, also with other types of addiction like gambling as a great example that happens often.

 

Zach: Lin, anything to add to that?

 

Lin: I think people can develop so much healthier ways to cope such as healthier ways to be addicted, whether it’s doing exercise, doing whatever, cooking, other healthier forms of addiction, but then I also have seen people who started shopping excessively, were really overworked, over-scheduled. Yes, they’re not using alcohol and drugs but it’s something to watch out for.

 

Zach: What do you both consider as the…what do you see as the spectrum, so to speak of alcohol use and where’s the line when you need to consider if you’re actually struggling with drinking or not?

 

Lin: Yes. From a clinical standpoint, there’s alcohol abuse which is like you may not be, a person may not be physiologically addicted but they’re psychologically craving it and they’re dependent. There’s alcohol dependence which is what most people would describe as alcoholism. Alcohol dependence, there’s a range of mild, moderate to severe dependence.

 

The reason why it’s important to recognize the spectrum is not to get so caught up with the labels and enable people to be in denial together. It’s more because when we see clients especially when they’re really resistant to get help is that kind of notion of “Oh, if you don’t accept that you’re not qualified. You’re not ready to get help.” That really further removes them from the direction that they need to go towards.

 

The reason why recognizing the spectrum is important especially when a person is really resistant and for whatever reason they’re not really ready to accept that identity. The fine line is that like a few “have to” drink. If you have the urge, you really need to drink. You drink to cope. Drinking does something for you or drinking to cope with negative emotions or stressors your feelings and your trauma because…

 

I’d say one of the things that always shows up over and over is that once you start hiding or lying about drinking that’s usually when you really know that you have problems with alcohol. When we hear from patients all the time, “Lin, I really only drink wine twice a month,” or “I don’t drink every single day,” the reason why it’s really important to recognize the spectrum is that it’s not necessarily the quantity or the frequency of drinking that is problematic, but how it affects you and how it really changes you and changes your life that really matters.

 

Zach: Appreciate that.

 

Aaron: I’ll add on to that a bit. As I said earlier, just the term “alcoholism” or “alcohol” it can be very stigmatizing and in addition it’s an umbrella term that gets tossed around a lot. I think about alcoholism is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all category. For example, while someone may not be clinically diagnosable with alcohol use disorder even in a mild case, this does not mean that they don’t have a problem with alcohol.

 

Zach: Right.

 

Aaron: There are also terms like “heavy drinker, binge drinker, problem drinker” and in all of these cases it means that the individual has some kind of unhealthy relationship with alcohol. As I think of a good example of let’s say there’s a woman who was working a full-time job. She comes home. She takes care of her child. She puts her child to bed. To end the night, to unwind, she has one glass of wine. That’s it, just one glass of wine and she does that seven days a week.

 

Most people would not consider that an unhealthy relationship with alcohol if there’s nothing else going on. Let’s say that same person one night there’s no wine in the house and she’s not able to have that one glass of wine. She starts having cravings and becomes preoccupied with drinking and maybe she becomes anxious or panicky.

 

Now if she doesn’t have any other symptoms, she still may not be clinically diagnosable; however, I think most would agree that that’s an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. There’s like a huge spectrum of from having a minor problem with alcohol to full-blown alcohol use disorder in severe cases.

 

I’ll also add to that in relationships, when has someone crossed the line and know that they have a problem, it’s definitely a very difficult question to answer if the alcoholism is not so apparent and if it’s not causing significant problems. One question that I always encourage people to ask themselves or their loved ones is if their alcohol is negatively impacting any area of their lives.

 

I would look at everything from relationships to career to their physical health, their mental health, their sleep hygiene, their general well-being, their general responsibilities, every area. If outward impacting any area of their life in a negative way then it’s definitely something that should be assessed further and perhaps examined with a mental health professional.

 

One thing I’ll add to that is that oftentimes we see that once somebody does come to treatment for their alcohol use, once they’ve kind of accepted that it’s a problem, when they look back, be it five years or ten years or maybe even more, oftentimes they can see little problems along the way which at the time they may be attributed to an isolated event.

 

For example, somebody might even have a significant consequence like a DUI or DWI, but they might just attribute that to an isolated event that one-too-may-drinks, they made the mistake of getting behind the wheel of the car and that was that and then they went on with their life.

 

If, I call this like little puzzle pieces, if these puzzle pieces start to add up and over time it might put a puzzle together of more problems with alcohol. Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back people are usually often able to see that there were problems along the way. Alcoholism doesn’t just develop overnight. It happens over time.

 

Zach: Yes. To your point and I think that the piece especially around being cognizant of how this goes against your own values; if you begin to think you’re making choices that go against the person that you are, have become or want to become I think that that’s a strong indicator right there.

 

There’s certainly some risks involved with drinking especially as you brought that up about drinking and getting behind the wheel because that’s the thing with alcoholism you get behind the wheel and you don’t think that you’re too intoxicated. One lapse in judgement, man it can change your life and it can change the lives of other people.

 

There’s a lot of…I think back to your points that we talked about and covered at the beginning of the conversation around getting more in touch with your body, with your mind, doing these things that are self-care-related. If you’re more in tune with yourself, my guess is that if you start to notice yourself going off course, maybe it’s high stress, maybe it’s now you’re going to begin to notice those things a lot quicker versus if you’re just more or less sort of detached.

 

I think this has been wonderful stuff that we talked about today.

 

Aaron. Yes. Thank you so much. Those are some really great questions and thank you so much for having us on.

 

Lin: Yes. Thank you.

 

Zach: I appreciate you both for taking the time to come on the show with us today.

 

If you’d like, you can find more information about Lin and Aaron’s practice at familyaddictionspecialist.com.

 

If you know someone struggling with an addiction and are searching for answers, visit us at landmarkrecovery.com to learn more about substance abuse programs that are saving lives and empowering families.

 

Until next week, I’m Zach Crouch with Landmark Recovery Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zach: Hi. I’m Zach Crouch and you’re listening to Landmark Recovery Radio, your source for addiction and recovery news and knowledge. You can find us online wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to subscribe to get the most up-to-date information from leading experts.

 

We have guest Katherine Middleton, therapist and licensed clinical social worker joining us on the show today. In her private practice Lionheart Trauma Support Services in Lexington, Kentucky, Kathy focuses on the impact trauma and addiction has on veterans and their families.

 

Katherine, thank you so much for coming on the show with us today.

 

Katherine: Thank you for having me.

 

Zach: Just curious, what inspired you to pursue a career in social work? What moved you to focus really on service members and their families?

 

Katherine: I remember from a very young age that I needed to help my playground friends in trouble. I had this awareness that felt like people’s hurts, pains, need for empathy, love, grace were needed. I can remember a distinct moment in childhood where I was loving on a friend who no one wanted to be around or reporting child abuse to a teacher in fifth grade when a friend of mine reported she was being abused at home.

 

I can tell you that some part of it was just who I was and I think some of it is what I saw in my mom who was a career military veteran, retired after 30 years and then just seeing how my grandmother, both of my grandmothers, my maternal and my paternal grandparents interacted with others. In fact my paternal grandmother was a social worker which we always kind of laugh about after I got my degree.

 

Zach: Got it.

 

Katherine: Yes.

 

Zach: The playground it started, it was pretty early it sounded like.

 

Katherine: Yes. It seems strange looking back now. I just think there’s some innate born quality that just I gravitated towards that. I don’t think I’m a super human or special human. I just remember those moments where I was the lending ear or the one helping somebody solve a problem or loving, like I said that person who was kind of lonely, having distinct memories of it. That I think kind of put me in a path in the right direction. Once I found social work, it just kind of made sense what I was supposed to be doing.

 

Zach: Did you have brothers and sisters growing up in your house, too?

 

Katherine: I did. I had a sister who was three years younger than me and a brother who was 12 years younger than me.

 

Zach: Got it.

 

Katherine: We weren’t a super big family but we weren’t small. I kind of mentioned my mom was a military veteran; so is my dad. We moved a lot and had to navigate, adjusting to new school environments, to new peers. I remember a time my mom, my mom was single at that time, she was deployed to Kuwait for Desert Storm for six months and I had to live with my grandmother for six months while she was gone.

 

I think that probably contributes to an event empathy and passion for others because when you’re in a military culture you’re stuck together. Everybody’s kind of experiencing the same thing. Many of us aren’t around family. When my mom deployed again, I can’t remember where she went and we were living with my…my stepdad wasn’t part of the picture at that time. She was off and we were home without her. There were times he deployed and my mom was home.

 

We as a military community, you work together. You stick together. You breathe together. You laugh together. You help each other.

 

Zach: Do you see any similarities with what we’re going through right now with the coronavirus is really putting a cap on a lot of activities that we are all doing and we’re all sort of in this similar experience because we’re all having to cut back and do a lot of things differently? Is it at all similar in some respects to the military background that you’re describing?

 

Katherine: Yes. Oh, absolutely. It’s just kind of watching each other, try to take care of each other, someone’s out of diapers and someone’s going to the grocery store and there are diapers. If we know that this mom has trouble putting groceries on the table because of stress in deployment or right now the coronavirus of course we’re cleaning up and trying to make sure people are taking care in the community. It’s very much like I remember the culture being.

 

You always have kind of a central hub like a military wife or somebody who would kind of spearhead it but definitely very much. It’s really nice. It’s kind of comforting to see people coming together. It reminds me a little bit after 9-11 when people kind of did some of that, too.

 

Zach: I don’t mean this in a crass kind of way at all, but it has been nice to simply reconnect in a different kind of way with people because everybody’s got something to talk about. We all have a similar experience. “Hey, how are you doing? How are things going? What are you guys doing differently right now?” In some ways, it’s really been sort of eye-opening just to see how much we disconnect.

 

Katherine: Yes, I agree. I agree. It’s nice to see people come back together especially in our very divided world that we’ve been living in and just kind of seeing people connect on the humanistic level of what do you need or this is what I need or I’m afraid or I’m worried and everybody kind of just in some ways supporting each other through this time and encouraging and encouraging through action.

 

Zach: Going back to this military service personnel and families that you’re working with, what are some of the obstacles that people who are coming from, certainly serving in the military face when they’re seeking treatment?

 

Katherine: A lot depends on kind of what are they classified — if they’re active duty or reservist guard, retired or out of the military, depending on what’s going on with each there are different kinds of obstacles. Seeking services can impact security clearances if they’re a reservist guard, even in active duty.

 

If you’re a federal employee and you have a high security clearance and you go get any treatment other than family counseling then that can impact your record. It can impact you maintaining in your career.

 

Zach: Wow.

 

Katherine: They can decide if you’re not fit for duty. If you’re not fit for duty that can impact whether you’re allowed to reenlist, you’re forced to get out. Let’s say you have 17 years or 16 years in active duty and you need services but it could impact you and they can force you out for some reason when you’ve got four more years until retirement. 16 years is gone.

 

It just really depends a little bit on kind of what branch you’re in, what you’re doing, what’s your leadership look like. If you’ve got very supportive leadership they may be more apt to support your decision to go seek services and it will not have a negative impact on your career. There are just so many different obstacles to getting treatment.

 

Zach: Yes.

 

Katherine: The other thing is sometimes members who may try to get treatment and if there is any kind of divorce situation or divorce comes up then the attorneys in the divorce case tries to bring up their mental health, the substance abuse. There are so many different obstacles.

 

Zach: Factors, right.

 

Katherine: Yes. It’s just not so simple as this branch does this or this reservist does this or this veteran does this. It’s more complicated. It’s harder I think sometimes for them to get services.

 

Zach: Absolutely.

 

Katherine: Yes. The other thing is female veterans. They’re sometimes underrepresented and really lot of times underrepresented. Sometimes they may be harder to reach or maybe it’s a challenge for them to reach out for services or support. Their trauma could be related to military sexual trauma. There’s a significant percentage of female veterans with PTSD comes from military sexual trauma.

 

Depending on what they’re going through in organization that they’re required to participate in groups with men or if they, if they have to disclose in front of male peers or if they have to go to their superiors and they’re active duty and asking for support but then maybe the person who victimized them is still a part of the unit. What do they do then?

 

Zach: Let’s talk about that. I had some questions just as you’re kind of explaining how that piece unfolds especially in regards to the military sexual trauma, how do you, Kathy as a person who’s treating this individual, let’s just say that they are back from their deployment and they’re going to go back again most likely, how do you help them find their voice in this particularly for females who probably don’t feel like they have a voice? How do you advocate for them and help them advocate for themselves?

 

Katherine: I think the first step for any sexual assault victim even in this population is just giving them the opportunity to tell their story and say that we believe them and believing them and being told that we believe you. Some will not want to come forward. Some will not want to advocate in a way that means come forward and go through a legal process. Really what we try to do more than anything is we want to let them know they’re hurt and then we want to support them through the journey of what do they want to do, what will that look like for them.

 

Therapy is really helpful. We have some evidence-based models that can reduce and eliminate PTSD and fighting depression, one to five sessions. By healing some of that then they can have real power to go back in and deal with it in a different kind of way. We always want to make sure that the female always knows that they have an option to do what they want to do, that we are not going to pressure them to report, to take someone to court, but if that’s what they want to do we will stand beside them.

 

We will advocate for them and we will connect them with the right resources. If they’re a veteran they may need to connect with somebody in a military base that their role is sexual victim advocacy then we would do that. I think a lot depends on what that female wants to do and like I said the first thing I think is just acknowledging that it happened and you can tell us and we’re not going to judge.

 

There are so many circumstances that could lead up to a sexual abuse, but a female may internalize that and take out on themselves. I wrote a paper and one of the things that the research indicated that people would go in a deployment and superiors or supervisors would say things like, “If you’ll have sex with me, I’ll keep you on base in a safe area, but if you don’t I’m going to send you out on this convoy.”

 

Zach: It kind of sounds to me like prison almost in that respect because you go in to prison especially if you’re not super…and I’m talking about prison here, if you’re not super savvy, street-savvy, if you’re not big and you don’t know how to defend yourself then there’s a good chance that you’re going to get groomed and picked up by someone who can do those things for you.

 

Katherine: Yes.

 

Zach: Would you agree that there are parallels here, right?

 

Katherine: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Sometimes there’s not as many…if they’re on deployment there may only be one to five, ten maybe at most out of a hundred people deployed that are female so they have limited support maybe within their unit as far as female support. There’s always an idea that sometimes women feel like they have to prove themselves as equal to their male counterpart so then they don’t want to report. They don’t want to create problems.

 

The other obstacle to reporting is let’s say, “I have to deploy with this unit again and/or this is my unit at home and if I go and start telling the chain of command what happened why are they going to believe me? Yes, they do believe me, what is that going to do to the unit? Is that going to divide the unit and we’re about to go back to war? Is it better for me to say nothing?”

 

Zach: “It’s all my fault,” possibly in that person’s eyes at least, they might be just simply choked to be able to talk to somebody because that might be in their head. “I’m going to cause all this disruption. I can’t do that.”

 

Katherine: Yes, yes. Like I said, our goal is to support the female veteran however they need support and give them the advocate, the voice and we’ll do what they need us or want us to do to help them through the process. I do think in some ways female veterans have a little bit more complex dynamics in how to figure out, “How do I come forward? What will be the consequences?”

 

They’re probably thinking about these things and it’s probably not been over the past five, ten years, I think about ten years they started to really kind of address this type of trauma in the military.

 

Zach: I’m glad that you bring that up because I was doing some research this afternoon just before we talked on the amount of just suicides that are among the general population. At least for women, among every 100,000 people within the general population there are 5.2 for every 100,000 among women, females who have not served. Now if you take that into account versus females who have served, that number goes from 5.2 for every 100,000 to 28.7. That’s huge.

 

With men, it’s around 20.9 for those who haven’t served and it jumps up to 32.1. The problem is definitely there. I’m just glad to hear that you’re helping get in front of this because what we talked about earlier, Kathy that there’s among at least vets, there’s 22 suicides per day right now. That’s about a suicide every hour roughly.

 

Katherine: Right. Yes. It’s approximately 22 veterans who commit suicide daily and it’s not always clear the ratio to male to female, how many are female, how many are male commit suicide, but it’s staggering considering a lot of the active fighting has decreased over the past several years and yet we’re still seeing so many veterans commit suicides particularly in VA hospital parking lots. There’s a scream for help and I think we’re missing it in some ways in getting these individuals support and services quickly and efficiently.

 

Zach: I want to focus a little bit, too on the family members because this is a big piece of what you do in your practice at Lionheart Trauma Support Services. What are the biggest stressors you think family members face when their loved one is suffering from a trauma-based addiction or disorder?

 

Katherine: They themselves can wind up developing trauma from it — anxiety, depression. Trauma symptoms in addiction can become very much a family disease and disorder. They’re left to kind of adapt and cope and navigate in these situations with the veterans. The veteran coming home, they have these long deployments or separation for different periods of time so they’re having to readjust in some way. They’re getting to know each other again.

 

Maybe the family members continue moving forward then here comes this veteran who’s coming home for good. “I need to adapt, readjust.” The family’s trying to figure out how to adapt and to readjust. When you have the PTSD symptoms and the addiction kind of coming in, if there’s medical stuff and you kind of EPT so they’re having to kind of manage medical support to help their loved one and then TBI’s.

 

TBI’s are not very evident so they’re having just the outbursts and these behaviors that just seem odd or strange maybe to the family members. You can see families beginning to kind of take on the stress. They can get caregiver fatigue. You may see children not really kind of understanding. “This isn’t my dad or my mom when they left. Who is this person?”

 

They start kind of developing discordant, irrational thinking on themselves like, “What did I do wrong? What can’t I make my mom or dad happy?” If you have an explosive veteran because of PTSD and anxiety and stuff like that child then the child then kind moves to a sense of hyper vigilance of fight, flight, or freeze. “I don’t know how my dad is going to be today.”

 

Zach: Is this where that part of rapid recovery comes in for you? Do you work with Accelerated Resolution Therapy a lot in your practice on these kinds of cases that you’re talking about?

 

Katherine: Yes, absolutely.

 

Zach: Can you talk a little bit about what that is?

 

Katherine: Yes. It’s image-based and what it says is images create problems, sensations, and feelings and they’re kind of locked on your limbic system, the danger, danger system. If we can kind of shift that off the limbic system it can change the way you feel and operate and process the world around you. It’s really quick and you don’t have to talk about your trauma which a lot of people like which is really great for veterans because when they come in they don’t necessarily want to tell you what they had to do in Iraq, Afghanistan or whatever.

 

They just kind of have to follow those instructions of the therapist. It’s similar to EMDR but it’s sort of quicker for some from what we have seen. It’s a shift. That’s the best I can kind of describe it and it really works. I did it on my car accident when I was 16.

 

Zach: Yes.

 

Katherine: I did that a couple of years ago; about two years ago I did it.

 

Zach: That kind of propelled you anyway to also get in to this field. Is that correct?

 

Katherine: That’s correct. Yes. I did suffer from PTSD and anxiety from a major car accident I had when I was 16. There’s this whole way of how this model helps differently than your traditional talk therapy. The traditional talk therapy is just kind of like teaches you how to cope and deal with the triggers and deals with your coping skills challenge, irrational thinking.

 

Zach: Okay. It doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter though.

 

Katherine: Yes. It’s really powerful. When people get done at the end of the session they are able to kind of immediately see through this kind of goal that we give them. They’re immediately able to see their symptoms decrease pretty quickly.

 

Zach: That’s fantastic.

 

Katherine: Yes. There is research, Pureview Research of this being used on veterans and its effectiveness. It is evidence-based.

 

Zach: There was a TED Talk I think on your website in regards to this particular form of therapy. Is that correct?

 

Katherine: That’s correct. Yes. Lainey is the one who created the model and she has the TED Talk on the website. There’s also on YouTube video on a veteran who went through it as well. He kind of tells his story about when he kind of started it and after he did a couple of sessions and just how much his life has improved significantly.

 

Zach: Does the VA use this a lot, Katherine?

 

Katherine: No. Unfortunately, they do not. They use private practice therapy and EMDR primarily.

 

Zach: Okay.

 

Katherine: There is some research out there that they’re doing a dual research with them to kind of with CPT, Cognitive Processing Therapy and Accelerated Therapy. I don’t see that research being completed for probably another year.

 

Zach: Okay.

 

Katherine: We do have a significant amount of military clinicians getting trained in the model. Walter Reed I think has started to use it some, too. It’s beginning to get known but it’s still relatively new compared to some of the other models that are out there.

 

Zach: How do you recommend people find local treatment that works for them if they don’t really know where to start?

 

Katherine: I think the first thing they do is just to recognize that they’re not alone. There are great non-profits, mental health providers like us, substance abuse programs like you, Landmark Recovery can provide exceptional services. I think seeking help can be hard depending on kind of what the circumstances of each member is a part of.

 

Zach: Yes. Yes. You brought up earlier especially if you’re in a top position because there’s a lot at stake it sounds like.

 

Katherine: Yes, yes. If you can match with the right providers they can assist you in navigating through some of that without having to worry about there being consequences. One of the things I would probably first encourage is people to talk their military communities like the people who are in it. Kind of like recovery communities, they do really well with people who understand, who have experiences, like-minded experiences they can relate better just like in a veteran community.

 

If you have some veterans that say, “This is a great organization. You should check them out,” then another veteran’s more likely to listen and respect that, what that veteran has to say than maybe somebody in an outsider position. Sometimes connecting with your local groups, there’s some great online social media groups that can kind of help point people. There’s a great organization called Save a Warrior.

 

Zach: Okay.

 

Katherine: They do a lot of work of helping people connect. They have a great program. There’s always the VA. There’s not a lot sometimes who trust in the VA but there’s the VA. Military OneSource is a great option.

 

Zach: Okay.

 

Katherine: They can connect you to a local provider who accepts their insurance.

 

Zach: Real quick question: if someone does want to seek services outside of the VA and they are military and they’ve got, let’s just say VA benefits or TRICARE, are there a lot of hoops to jump through to seek outside service other than the VA?

 

Katherine: It just depends. If they have VA benefits, yes. A lot of times you have to be considered a contractor to be eligible to accept the VA benefits and there’s a process that you have to go through with the VA. If they take TRICARE, not necessarily. The problem is when you start moving out into communities that have providers who don’t take TRICARE that gets challenging. I can say that at Lionheart we take TRICARE, first of all.

 

Second of all, we try to offer mental health support to anybody even if they can’t afford it. We try to do sliding scale fees.

 

Zach: Sure.

 

Katherine: We try to do pro bono. There tends to be some obstacles to get outside VA. If you’re a military member and you are near a military base then they may require you to see a provider on base versus their provider off base. That can hinder treatment because if they do choose to go off base then they’re going to have to pay out of pocket for that expense.

 

There are definitely obstacles, but I know there are a lot of great providers out there that do not necessarily want money or whether you have benefits to be an obstacle to getting help if you need it. If you can find somebody who understands military culture, kind of some of the obstacles I’ve talked about, like I said those providers will work really hard to reduce risk to their career, those kinds of things, risk to your retirement. There are definitely ways we can do that to minimize without impacting them significantly.

 

Zach: Sure. Fantastic. Go ahead.

 

Katherine: There is an event coming up in Lexington, June 12th and 13th in Lexington as long as it doesn’t get cancelled. It’s called the Veterans Engagement Action Center event. This is where there will be many local providers and VA representatives to help connect folks to services, answer questions about benefits, sign them up for services, and so on. It’s free to all veterans, guards, the service family, dependents, caregivers, and survivors. There will be more information on my website regarding this.

 

Zach: Where is that being held at, Katherine?

 

Katherine: It’s going to be at Lexington Christian Academy here in Lexington, Kentucky.

 

Zach: Got it.

 

Katherine: Yes. I think Landmark will also be there, too.

 

Zach: Awesome. Very, very good. This is great, wonderful information about…especially what to do if you are military family and you are seeking help for your loved one of if you’re active duty or a vet and you need to seek out some help.

 

The thing that came up for me especially as you’re talking about traumatic brain injuries is I think that that is something that we’re going to continue to see more and more as people come back from active duty. To me at least, it seems like that is…I mean it’s both psychological but there are also some biological effects on the brain that happened during that. Is there certain people that specialize in treating that? Do you have to go on and really sort of understand TBI a lot more to be able to effectively treat it?

 

Katherine: Yes because with the biological aspects it’s really important to understand how the different parts of the brain works and if you have an injury to a specific side or area of the brain how does that impact your ability to function, cope, manage, assess danger, manage emotions. It definitely is important to have some level of awareness of how that impacts individuals.

 

You know that’s the other thing we have to look out when we’re treating TBI and medical injuries and kind of going back to that addiction is how many of these veterans kind of being treated with medication to manage some of their injuries that are turning into addictions. Are they addressing both the mental health component and the physical component or is it just the physical? Now it’s turned into something bigger because now they’re self-medicating and their mental health is not getting addressed appropriately.

 

The TBI’s can look…someone who has it may start being aggressive and then lashing out or crying one minute and this person doesn’t know how to deal with these TBI’s so now they’re using drugs and alcohol to manage and then they go to a doctor and that TBI is never addressed. It’s now like, “Oh, you have this issue,” versus, “We’re not treating the underlying TBI that’s contributing to some mental health obstacles.”

 

Zach: Absolutely.

 

Katherine: There’s just so much the veteran population that impacts their well-being.

 

Zach: As we’re talking about I guess TBI and parallels with the military and other parts of our culture, I tend to think also about those sports, those contact sports, football being a perfect example I think of this where there’s a reason documentary on Netflix on Aaron Hernandez. They did a biopsy. They basically, when he passed away, I think he committed suicide, too.

 

They looked at the inside of his brain and there was a hole that I could have probably stuck my pinkie finger through and that was through constant either mental illness but also the drugs that he was taking but also the amount of hits that he incurred in his career as a football player. Granted he probably had some other things going on, but still that’s alarming when you take a look at that and what could be going on with our current military vets in active duty.

 

Katherine: Absolutely. I agree. I do feel in some ways it’s probably best practice to have someone in some levels be ruled out, ruling out TBI’s as potentially contributing to some of the symptoms they’re having. Now this doesn’t mean that’s the case or there’s definitely PTSD in there, other contributing factors, but I think if there is potential for a TBI it should be evaluated and educated. The more education a person has, sometimes it helps manages their symptoms.

 

It gives that family a place to say, “Okay. He is not angry at me because I broke the plates on accident. It’s just that his brain, the way his brain operates and so I’m going to have learn how to handle this differently versus maybe telling my partner to get over it because this is being silly.”

 

I think a lot of times even for military families is education, education, education and hearing from the veterans themselves; and true education, not some drive-by education that sometimes they get when they get home from deployment and get like this briefing and it’s kind of it needs to be checked in. The families feel like they’re like, “Oh, this doesn’t look right. Who do I talk to” and having these things in place.

 

Zach: We really owe it to them and the families to invest in that time and resources. There’s no question about that.

 

Katherine: Absolutely.

 

Zach: I think it’s something that we take very seriously, too at our facility where the family is integral. The family piece that we do each Saturday. It’s an entire day from 9:00 in the morning till 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. The family comes and gets an education on the dynamics of the family, the genetics, the epigenetics of addiction. They have a piece to feel safe and talk about this with their loved one and it’s moderated by a therapist who’s trained in this and understands it.

 

I think that, to draw a parallel again with the military this isn’t going to stop. This is something that’s going to continue and we need to be prepared and we need to be able to invest that back into our loved ones, family members in active military duty.

 

Katherine: Absolutely. I agree wholeheartedly. There are definitely organizations out there. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the one that sometimes supports Save a Warrior for families. There are definitely organizations out there that support the whole family through this process. It’s just a matter of these families making sure that they reach out for help or knowing who to ask, how to ask, what to look for so it’s back to the education, what to look for and then kind of connecting people and finding ways that you can act.

 

Zach: Fantastic.

 

Katherine: Yes.

 

Zach: Kathy, for more information on your particular practice, Lionheart Trauma Support Services people can visit the website at lionhearttraumasupportservices.com. Is there a phone number that they could call as well?

 

Katherine: Yes. They can call at (859)447-0855. There’s also access to the website to contact us through the website directly and I am open to receiving any kind of e-mails for any of our veterans who are seeking services, don’t know where to begin, don’t know how to find it. Even if they’re not local, I will work diligently to connect them to people in their areas. All they have to do is just kind of reach out to me and I will help in any way possible.

 

Zach: We appreciate that.

 

Katherine: Yes. They can use that contact form if they need to or just…I don’t remember seeing ours directly on there but they can always e-mail directly if it’s available.

 

Zach: Fantastic. I just want to thank you so much for your work and your service and in coming on the show today.

 

If you know someone struggling with an addiction and are searching for answers, visit us at landmarkrecovery.com to learn more about substance abuse programs that are both saving lives and empowering families.

 

Until next week, I’m Zach Crouch with Landmark Recovery Radio wishing you well.

 

Thank you for tuning in to Recovery Radio. New content for this program is available every Friday with all episodes available on demand here on the Voice America Variety Channel and through our content partners: iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Google Play podcast. Please remember to subscribe, rate, and review so we can continue to create quality content to help save one million lives in the next 100 years. You don’t need to struggle through addiction alone. Live the life you’ve dreamed on the road to recovery.

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Landmark Recovery Staff

This post was written by a Landmark Recovery staff member. If you have any questions, please contact us at 888-448-0302.

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