Recent groundbreaking discoveries about the brain as described in Dr. Gabor Mate’s book, The Realm of the Hungry Ghost have revolutionized our understanding of neurochemistry and addiction. In addition, research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), shows that chronic or excessive use of alcohol and other drugs affect brain neurochemistry and can change brain structure and function.
These new understandings that addiction may be a potential brain chemistry disorder are providing valuable insights that we use to inform patients about our methods of care, improves clinical outcomes and provides evidence based approaches to treating addiction.
At Awakening, we have five major areas of treatment focus:
Individual Therapy – Motivational Interviewing and Enhancement – This style of therapy allows us to encourage treatment engagement, meet people where they are in the process of beginning abstinence, roll with their resistance and utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to assist client movement through the Stages of Change. Most people are very ambivalent when beginning treatment because they are fearful of losing something that is remembered as something that creates (produces) pleasure. Moving a person from a state of ambivalence to a place of actively being involved in changing an old destructive lifestyle requires motivational interviewing and enhancement. We use CBT techniques to reframe thinking via journaling and homework to help a person consistently explore the pros and cons of lifestyle change. As described in Addiction and Change by Dr. Carlo DiClemente, the use of targeted change processes that focus on self-re-evaluation, developing new social skills and environmental re-evaluation is critical in facilitating movement from the Contemplation to the Action Stage of Change and to obtain early recovery.
Cognitive Therapy – Cognitive therapy is considered evidence based by SAMSA (Clinical Issues in IOP, TIP 47). Assisting changes in thinking has proven to be very effective for lapse prevention. We use CBT to teach clients to identify, evaluate and change distorted thinking patterns associated with their using so that therapeutic changes in mood and behaviors can be effected. Three levels of thought are addressed in our therapy: automatic distorted thoughts, underlying assumptions and beliefs that guide addictive expectations and behaviors and schemas as they influence thought processes. Changing thinking is critical for long-term lapse prevention.
Group Therapy – Mindfulness therapy research shows that humans are wired to connect in meaningful ways with other people. Awakening group therapy is designed to help patients learn from each other how their old entrenched thought processes create potential lapse or relapse situations. Group therapy is primarily focused on relapse prevention. Using bio-psychosocial education, CBT, and DBT empowerment based group processes, group members are encouraged to share their collective struggles and triumphs with getting and remaining abstinent. Meaningful connection can inspire and motivate; it gives one a sense of purpose and belonging; and has been shown to be one of the best activities for brain healing via improving prefrontal cortex functioning (C.C. Nuckols, PhD).
Amino Acid Therapy – Our program believes in and has collected data for the past year that supports published scientific research by Dr. Charles Gant in End Your Addiction Now. His book provides data on how substance abuse-created neurotransmitter dysfunction can be repaired during early recovery via the use of targeted amino acid supplementation. The clinically researched nutritional supplementation protocol we recommend is designed to target and assist in the restoration of key neurotransmitters that can bring brain chemistry into normal balance, reduce cravings, and reduce post-abstinence anxiety/depression.
Support Systems – Awakening believes in creating an optimal peer supportive environment as an integral part of the change process. In other words, everyone needs safety, connection with others, privacy, predictability and order. Hence, we ask our clients to pay close attention to their social and peer environment. We request that they embrace social sober support systems such as AA, NA, Celebrate Recovery and Smart Recovery as well as explore traditional and holistic modalities that promote exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, mediation, and imagery as interventions to help clients engage in healthy lifestyles.
At Awakening, the overarching goal of translating research into clinical practice is to assist clients to gain Awareness, develop Acceptance and put those skills into Action. We have adopted the term “Discovery.” We believe that Discovery means learning to live a life not lived before. Discovery comes from raising one’s awareness to the possibilities that lie within us and are waiting to be revealed.