Category: Uncategorized

Barriers to Effective Treatment

Addiction treatment today is largely ineffective. Some even call it a “rip-off” because of the cost for so little good that is achieved. It is like putting band aids on terrible wounds. There are five big reasons why it does so little good.

(1) There is no nationally accepted definition of “addiction” or of “recovery”. As a result, treatment providers make up their own definitions, most of which do not even include abstinence as a goal.

(2) The National Institute on Drug Abuse declares that addiction is a “relapsing disorder” and many treatment providers tell their clients that. The result is addicts in treatment get the message that they are expected to relapse and it isn’t their fault, therefore they are not responsible for doing anything to maintain recovery. The implication is that they should just return for another treatment stay.

(3) The length of treatment is determined by the insurance industry. Programs are designed around what insurance will pay for instead of what people need.

(4) The professionals providing addiction treatment are not well trained. The accrediting authorities for graduate degrees in psychology and social work do not require any courses on Substance Use Disorders or addiction. A research study found that 94% of doctors could not correctly diagnose alcoholism when presented with a list of its signs and symptoms.¹

(5) Treatment providers focus on getting client-addicts to comply with rules instead of facilitating a clinical surrender or letting go of their willfulness and insistence they can control their addiction. Compliance is just going along with what others want and not addressing the addiction itself.

D. R. Osborne, Jr.’s forthcoming book You Can’t Fall Out of a Hole: Ripping the Band Aid Off of Our Addiction Epidemic details these problems and what we as a society must do to combat our #1 health and social problem. Learn what you can do to help yourself or someone you care about who struggles with alcoholism or drug addiction.

¹Physician Education in Addiction Medicine, Evan Wood, MD, Jeffrey Samet, MD and Nora Volkow, MD. Journal of the American Medical Association. October, 2013.

Hope Remains: Attacking some of the Veiled COVID-19 Challenges

This has been an interesting year hasn’t it? I’ve worked in the behavioral health field, primarily substance use disorder, since 1989. During those 31 years I’ve never come across the types of challenges I’ve seen this year, for those struggling with substance addiction and for those healthcare providers trying to help them.

“Social isolation” is the new mantra in the culture and yet it is the very thing that is anathema to behavioral health counselors trying to help individuals coping with addiction. Resources are going out of business and events which once brought enjoyment, support, solidarity and an alternative to substances for having fun are being cancelled one after another. Fear is paramount, and it’s drastically shaping the face of addiction and recovery. We are seeing more initiation of substance abuse, more cycles of relapse and overdose, and more barriers to successful recovery in order to cope with a world in chaos. While outpatient treatment programs have successfully used technology to transition to online counseling groups, this has presented a barrier for those without the resources to purchase the technology needed to participate. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked for a local non-profit treatment center for women and adolescent girls here in Dallas, Texas called Nexus Recovery Center. Recently, the Executive Director, Heather Ormand, wrote the following in a blog post:

“COVID-19 has stripped so many sober women of our community. Twelve-step meetings are no longer being held in churches.  Churches are closed or access is limited and people are afraid to sit shoulder to shoulder right now. For those with long-term sobriety and a strong support system, we can probably get by with Zoom twelve-step meetings, reading literature and connecting with other sober women via text or calls. But what about the woman struggling in her disease? The woman isolated in an unsafe home without the resources to leave and get treatment? The woman without a place for her children to go while she tries to piece together continuous days of sobriety and start rebuilding their lives?”

But there is hope. Treatment staff have proven that they are indeed essential, and programs like those at Nexus Recovery Center are showing that recovery staff are willing to risk getting sick themselves in order to help another human being break the cycle of addiction. They are showing that empathy and compassion and hope can still be conveyed through a mask or through a live, online group or individual counseling session. We can still find innovative ways to connect and share our experience, strength and hope with those who are struggling to find someone who cares.

I’ve also been associated with The SASSI Institute as a trainer for the past 25+ years and have found them to be an organization that strives hard to give agencies effective and easy to use resources for helping identify individuals struggling with a substance use disorder and guiding them to the most appropriate path for their recovery journey. I’m also proud to have been allowed to help people on The SASSI Institute’s Clinical Helpline for the past few years. One consistent thing I hear from callers is how much they appreciate the fact that they can reach out in frustration or puzzlement over a client they are working with, and how those on the Clinical Helpline are always there to help them work through a SASSI screening result, craft how to phrase the results to the client or in a report, and guide them in helping clients discover things about themselves, in order to initiate their recovery process. The SASSI Institute, though at a “social distance,” is there for me like a warm blanket on a cold night and for many other behavioral health workers in the US and in other countries who sometimes just need a willing ear to process some of their cases and SASSI results. Working together we can get through 2020 and beyond, despite any obstacles.

We Mourn the Loss of a Close Friend, a Pioneer in the Recovery Movement for Indiana

It is with a heavy heart that The SASSI Institute reports the passing of a dear friend and colleague, Mr. Stan DeKemper. Stan was not only a friend to the Recovery Field but also a personal and close friend of mine. Stan was the Executive Director of Indiana Credentialing Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ICAADA). Our prayers and condolences go out to his family.

Rest in Peace, old friend!

Nelson

Read the full press release from Mental Health America of Indiana that includes quotes from the man himself.

If you would like to contribute to the Stanley DeKemper scholarship fund, please do so by going to:  https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx…

SASSI Plan for COVID-19: Exposure, Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

The SASSI Institute takes the health and safety of our employees very seriously.  With the spread of COVID-19, the Company must remain vigilant in mitigating the outbreak.  We are committed to helping people who suffer from substance use problems and the professionals who serve them. In order to be safe as we reopen operations, we have developed this COVID-19 Exposure, Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Plan.  Of course, we will continue to monitor the related guidance that CDC and OSHA provide.

Read more

Recognizing National Correctional Officers and Employees Week

The SASSI Institute wishes to express our appreciation for those working in correctional settings, criminal justice and juvenile services. This is an unprecedented time for all, and especially hard for those working in correctional settings and their family members. Thank you for staying strong!

We also send our condolences to the family and friends of those who have lost their life during this pandemic.

Stay safe everyone.

A Tribute to a Dear Friend and Colleague

Dr. Linda Lazowski

We wish to pay tribute to Dr. Linda E. Lazowski, former Research Director of The SASSI Institute, who passed away on February 13, 2020. Linda first joined The SASSI Institute as a Research Psychologist in 1995 and retired in 2018.

Linda was a Brooklyn, NY native and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Psychology from Baruch College in New York City. She then relocated to California to get her Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from UC Santa Barbara. During her career at The SASSI Institute, she was an integral part of the development of various revisions of the adult and adolescent SASSI screening tools. She was also instrumental in the development of the Spanish, Vocational Rehabilitation, and American Sign Language versions of the SASSI as well as collaborating on the research findings for the BADDS instrument. She authored and co-authored research and journal articles alongside our founder, Dr. Glenn A. Miller, up until his passing in 2013.

She was a valued colleague and friend to many staff, past and present. We keep her family in our thoughts as we express our deepest condolences.

Welcome to our blog!

We are excited to bring you a new stream of information through our website.  Previously we sent colleagues in the field our Newsletter through email or hard copy.  With this new format, you can expect greater variety and a more frequent stream of information.  We will still include sample interpretations, instrument updates, and ongoing research projects, but also look for engaging video content and periodic guest columns covering a range of topics.

Thanks for visiting our blog, keep coming back!