Does MI contradict AA principles?

inpatientDoes MI contradict AA principles?

A recent article written by Stanton Peele discusses how motivational interviewing (MI) contradicts principles in AA (alcoholics anonymous). Motivational interviewing, as defined by Peele, “is a psychological therapy developed for alcoholism and other addictions. It responds to the fact that no single technique is especially effective in resolving addiction or creating psychological change. Instead, people’s motivation determines their success in recovery—whichever technique or method they choose to pursue.” Developed by William R. (“Bill”) Miller, now an emeritus professor at the University of New Mexico, the essential components of MI include: motivation focused treatment and motivation arising from client interaction which creates a desire for recovery.

MI differs from AA in that MI is “a classic ‘client-centered’ approach” – not a one size fits all method. In a recent book written by Peele and co-authored by Ilse Thompson, the authors maintain that individuals don’t “respond when you instruct them on the ‘correct’ behavior (typically meaning sobriety understood as abstinence). The instructional approach (used in AA) in general arouses people’s defenses. Instead, a would-be helper has to find—and operate from—the client’s own perspective. This process (MI) is about tapping into a person’s values. In the MI approach, people seek recovery when they find out who they are deep within, the self they really want to be.”

Further, Peele and Thompson argue that, “In AA, the self is corrupt, unreliable, and must be denied. In MI, the self is the source for change. Ilse and I describe this goal as being ‘to embrace yourself as already worthy, whole, and wise.’ Above all, we emphasize, addiction is not a core identity around which to build your self-concept. It is—like any of the psychological issues and personal problems we all face—a surface characteristic. Our approach is consistent with that of MI in seeing addictive behaviors as correctable life difficulties that violate—rather than express—the person’s essential being.”

So, which approach – AA or MI — is proving more effective? The jury is still out and it may vary from person to person. AA has proven to be an invaluable recovery tool for many, but MI is definitely an interesting approach to explore as well.



Spring Break and Binge Drinking

AddictionSpring Break and Binge Drinking

It’s that time of year where college students head out with friends to take a break from studies and enjoy spring break. Although most college kids look forward to spring break, many parents feel unnerved by the events that they’ve heard can happen. Chief among most concerns is alcohol consumption. It seems that college spring breakers and alcohol more often than not go hand in hand. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “four out of five college students drink alcohol. Half of these students that drink also binge drink, which is defined as consuming between 4 to 5 drinks in two hours. This is a dangerous amount of alcohol and can have many health consequences if done on a regular basis. Alcohol abuse in college also accounts for 1,825 deaths and 599,000 assaults each year. Over 150,000 develop health related problems due to their drinking.”

So why are college students more likely to binge drink during spring break?

  • Many spring break events, as previously mentioned, involve alcohol. Because students know they don’t have to be at class or work during the break, or simply because spring break is a “bigger party” than normal, students may tend to drink more than they otherwise would
  • The easy access of alcohol, especially if college students travel out of the country to popular spring break spots, allows for more binge drinking
  • Spring break can provide even more freedom than college students (who are already adjusting to new amounts of freedom) are used to back on campus. They may feel that if they are off campus and even further from “supervision” they can indulge even more.

Although, as a parent or loved one, you may not be able to control a college student’s binge drinking or other activities during spring break, you can take precautions not to encourage dangerous behaviors. If they take a vacation with friends, ask them to check in with you a few times so they know that you are thinking about them while they are away. Just knowing that someone else is aware of them and hoping they will make good decisions can instill a desire to keep things in check. Further, don’t fund trips or excursions that include individuals who may encourage your college student to binge drink or engage in other dangerous activities. College binge drinking is a serious concern and escalates during spring break but awareness and concern can help lead to more caution by those you love.


Heroin in Mesa – Drug Rehab

Heroin2Heroin in Mesa

Just last week, Mesa police arrested multiple people in separate incidents over the weekend suspected of using heroin and intending to sell the narcotic. While searching a man and woman’s vehicle, police found: a syringe, a small piece of plastic containing a gray chalky substance later identified as heroin, two glass pipes with burn residue consistent with methamphetamine use, a prescription bottle with various pills, several straws and spoons, and a liquid prescription bottle labeled methadone that was not prescribed to either the man or woman.

Similarly, a 22-year-old man was pulled over during a routine traffic stop and officers discovered heroin in his vehicle as well. The following day, a 19-year-old man was found asleep in his vehicle with the keys still in the ignition. When police questioned him, he admitted to heroin use and had a black tongue, was “sweating profusely” and “seemed aloof” during the police interview (

Heroin use is on the rise in the country. Some are very aware of its uses and danger, but many are still ignorant to what heroin really is. In a nutshell, heroin is a highly addictive drug that is processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin can be injected, snorted/sniffed, or smoked. In heroin’s purest form it is a fine, white powder but it can also be rose gray, brown or black. Toxic ingredients are usually mixed with heroin so the true purity of the drug and its strength is usually hard to really know.

Interestingly, research shows that there is no general description that fits a heroin user. They are young and old; although many of heroin’s newest addicts are in their teens or early 20s and come from middle- or upper-middle-class suburban families.

Tolerance to heroin develops with regular use, so after a short time more heroin is needed to produce the same level of intensity, which generally leads to addiction. Withdrawal symptoms, including: restlessness, diarrhea, cold flashes with goose bumps, insomnia, and muscle and bone pain, can begin just a few hours after the last use.

Approximately 13.5 million people in the world take opioids (opium-like substances), including 9.2 million who use heroin. Although the use of heroin in Mesa is not too extreme, recent arrests and activity indicate that it is a problem and that awareness and support are needed.



Prescription Medications and Spring Cleaning

ecstacypillsPrescription Medications and Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally here! Many people take time to clean everything in their homes. They wash walls, wipe out each cupboard and drawers, dust off fans and blinds, wipe down baseboards, go through closets and take items to a good will store, freshen up the yard, etc. During spring cleaning, there is a lot of time spent on getting rid of things that people don’t feel they need. For most people, the warm weather usually comes with the task of spring-cleaning. One thing that should be a priority on today’s society’s list is getting rid of unused or unwanted prescription medications, and taking care to keep all medications safely away from those not intended to use them.

Most of us have allowed medications to sit unused and unwanted in the medicine cabinet for months. We tend to focus on cleaning other areas of our house for fear of sickly germs infecting us, but we forget to clean prescription medications that could prove addicting or deadly if used inappropriately or by someone other than the intended user. Because of this, young adults who are looking to experiment with drugs, or addicts looking for their next high can easily access those prescription medications lurking in your cabinet. You may have forgotten all about them, but you never know who may go looking for something to experiment with or to feed their addiction with. If you are not using medications that are in your home, don’t let them just sit there, get rid of them during your spring cleaning!

Most hospitals can tell you where to take your unwanted remaining prescription medications to dispose of them properly. By disposing of your unwanted prescription medications during your spring cleaning, you can prevent individuals from getting their hands on dangerous, addictive substances.


Maybe Colorado Springs officers are right? Drug Rehab

drugrehabdenvercoloradoMaybe Colorado Springs officers are right?

Although marijuana has been legal in Colorado Springs for a while, there are still those who are fighting against the legalization. Just recently, three sheriffs contested the legality and came under heavy fire from many Colorado residents. However, others are continuing to point out the harmful effects of marijuana on the brain and other areas of our bodies.

For example, a new study published last week in the journal Hippocampus finds that young adults who smoked cannabis frequently as teens performed 18 percent worse on memory tests than young adults who did not smoke. Further, the researchers discovered that the former smokers’ hippocampi were abnormally shaped.

The study looked at patients in their early 20s who smoked cannabis everyday for 2-3 years while they were ages 16 and 17. At the time of the hippocampus study, they had been off the drug for at least 2 years. All patients indicated previous to testing that had only used marijuana and did not abuse any other type of drugs.

Memory tests were performed on the subjects involving listening to a few stories for one minute. After a 20-30 minute period, the participants were asked to recall as much of the content of the stories as possible. Results showed that the participants who were habitual smokers scored lower than those who did not smoke marijuana.

Further, brain-mapping tools allowed the researchers to study the shape of each of the participant’s brains. Those individuals who smoked marijuana had abnormally shaped hippocampi, which interestingly, is the part of the brain that controls memory. Although the abnormality was sometimes small, it was still there when the participants had smoked marijuana.

The study indicates that the abnormality in the hippocampi could be linked to the poor memory in the administered tests. Research has been done on memory and the hippocampus separately, but this study by Hippocampus is one of the first studies that link the two.

Although more studies will need to be done to further confirm the link between marijuana, hippocampus shape, and memory, the three Colorado Springs sheriffs, along with many others, are relying upon evidence such as this to reverse the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

Sources:, Hippocampus


The Power of Music in Recovery

musicInRecoveryThe Power of Music in Recovery

Often, during recovery, patients are taught to take up a new hobby to fill their time and keep them focused on a path of success. Recovering addicts may need to fill their previous habits with new ones, and hobbies can do that. Some begin to write in their journals, some exercise more, some people paint or draw, and others find numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors. Another such hobby, that is proving to be successful among many in recovery, is playing or listening to music. Some people in recovery also compose music or write words to music. Learning to play a new instrument, listening to new music, or writing songs, can be great hobbies for recovering addicts.

Individuals in recovery can be tense and are often dealing with a variety of emotions, and music can calm these people. Music can be very beneficial because it can lower stress levels and induce relaxation. Music can create a very peaceful state for the listener and can even help to focus and concentrate.

Music is remarkably beneficial in recovery because it can reduce boredom. Surprisingly, boredom is one of the top reasons for relapse. When a person in recovery is bored, they may listen to a good album or a few relaxing songs until the urge to use or drink passes. Loneliness is also common in recovery, and music can help the recovering addict feel less lonely by giving them lyrics from songs to connect with.

A word of caution, however, to those who use music in recovery. Uplifting, relaxing music is very helpful. But, music that glamorizes doing drugs or drinking alcohol should be avoided. Unfortunately, the topics of many songs in today’s culture include drinking and drugs, but these types of music can be avoided.




Jenny Mackenzie Films






Please join us for a “sneak peek” of a work in progress screening of Dying in Vein, from Academy Award Winning executive producer Geralyn White Dreyfous, director Jenny Mackenzie, and editor Torben Bernhard.

Dying in Vein is an intimate and deeply personal exploration of heroin addiction in three young adults who as young children seem to “have it all.” Ten years later, one is living in sobriety, one has accidentally overdosed, and one is still using. It is a story about the heartache of growing up and the helplessness that families feel when addiction takes hold of a family member. It is raw and real and hopes to move beyond the shame and blame of addiction to the compassion that families need to heal and grow. Immediately following the scene selections from the film, we will have a panel discussion with representatives from local educators, mental health therapists, and law enforcement along with director Jenny Mackenzie.

Brought to you by a joint collaboration of the People’s Health Clinic, Jewish Family Services, Christian Center of Park City, and sponsored by The Park City Film Series.

Where: Prospector Theatre, 2175 Sidewinder Dr, Park City

When: Wednesday, March 18th 6:30-8:30pm

This event is free and open to the public


Trailer for Dying in Vein, The opiate generation from Jenny Mackenzie on Vimeo.

Memory and Addiction

memoryandAddictionMemory and Addiction

An exciting new study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience by Washington State University researchers. They indicate that they have found a mechanism in the brain that enables the powerful role of memory in the process of drug addiction. This is important and because their discovery opens a new area of research geared at discovering some type of therapy that could alter or stop this mechanism in addiction; making drug addiction less addictive.

Turning off the tool that creates these powerful memories will hopefully lessen the impact and content of the memory – thereby decreasing the motivation for relapse and addiction. Memories associated with drug use definitely drive the impulses behind drug addiction. The brain reinforces memories, and in so doing, gives them emotional weight. The result of the memories being reinforced is a perfect list of what guides and directs the basic decisions.

Science Daily reported on this study and indicates, “drug use creates memories so powerful they hijack the system, turning physiology into pathology.” They indicate that the researchers said that memories are intensified and heighted with drug use.

They further reported that Barbara Sorg, a professor of neuroscience at Washington State University, Vancouver and Megan Slaker, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience, “gave male rats cocaine in a specific setting, a drug cage, conditioning them to associate the experience with that place. With each new experience, the rats would draw memories of previous experiences there, reconsolidate them with new information and in effect reinforce the memory. With one group of rats, the researchers removed structures called perineuronal nets that surround a group of neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, a high-order area of the brain important for attention, cognition and inhibitory behavior, as well as learning and memory. The nets are believed to regulate the ability to strengthen or weaken as memories are recalled and reconsolidated.

Indeed, the rats with their nets removed were less interested in being in the drug cage.”

“When we manipulated them and removed these nets from the prefrontal cortex, we saw that our animals had poorer memories,” said Slaker. “That was a very novel finding since no one else has ever looked at these structures within the prefrontal cortex in relation to a drug memory.”

Sorg notes that the procedure probably did not erase the drug memory but blunted its emotional power. The finding opens the possibility of developing a way to target, for example, a protein of the perineuronal nets, to counteract cocaine’s influence over memories.”

These findings from the Washington State University study indicate that the procedure that was undertaken most likely did not erase the drug memory completely, but perhaps diminished it emotional power. Hopefully, narrowing down what allows for emotional strength in memories or weakening memories in the brain can help to lessen addiction to harmful things, and the power these chemicals have over memories.



Alcohol Rehab Arizona

Whiskey on the rocksAlcohol Use Statistics in Arizona: Alcohol Rehab Arizona

A recent study, Adult Substance Use in Arizona, by the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center at Arizona State University, discusses alcohol use in Arizona. Some interesting findings were reported of those surveyed including:

  • 59 % of 18-28 year olds, 63% of 29-39 year olds, 58% of 40-49 and 50-59 year olds respectively, 56% of those ages 60-69, and 33% of those 70 and older were current drinkers
  • Among those who had ever consumed alcohol, the prevalence of current alcohol use increased as income increased
  • As to current alcohol use, Hispanic/Latinos (53 percent), African Americans (49 percent) and Native Americans (46 percent) reported significantly lower rates of alcohol use than did non-Hispanic Whites (61 percent)
  • Further, one-in-ten (10 percent) Native American or American Indian adults who had consumed alcohol did so before the age of 12, which was higher than for any other race/ethnicity.
  • People with higher incomes were more likely to begin drinking before age 21 than those in lower income categories. Similarly, those with higher incomes were also more likely to be current alcohol users than adults in lower income categories
  • Binge drinking (defined as consuming 4 or more drinks on the same occasion for women and five or more drinks on the same occasion for men) in Arizona is lower than the national average



Drug Rehab in Denver Colorado

drugrehabdenvercoloradoTeens and legalized marijuana in Denver, Colorado: Drug Rehab in Denver Colorado

With recreational marijuana use being legal for about a year in Colorado, Denver parents are watching their teens deal with the pressures surrounding the drug more than ever before. If you ask teens, they say that most kids get marijuana from their parents or their friend’s parents. This is concerning as well. Many parents themselves don’t understand the dangers that marijuana poses to a developing teen brain. Addressing the dangers of marijuana use during the formative years is crucial to helping teens understand why they need to avoid marijuana use all together – and in Denver, these conversations should be happening more often.

Something that can be confusing to teens and young adults is the fact that a few years ago they were told everyone should stay away from marijuana because it was harmful. Now, they hear that it is legal and sometimes helpful for people. This mixed message is difficult for teens to understand and they may ask why they can’t use marijuana if adults are now allowed to.

Psychology Today author and social psychologist Susan Newman writes, “For years, the lesson parents tried to instill in their children about marijuana and other drugs was to ‘Just say no.’ Drugs were once universally bad. In recent times, the public conversation surrounding marijuana use has changed to debates over legalization and its medical benefits. The new discourse can be misleading and dangerous for impressionable teens. One study from the Partnership for Drug Free Kids reports that in the past the biggest deterrent for teens was a fear of getting in trouble with the law or with their parents. Now that legal punishment is being minimized or disappearing, it’s more important than ever for parents to step up and have that conversation with their teens and preteens. To young people, it may look like society is condoning marijuana use.” So, with all of the press about legal marijuana use, it is important to talk to teens about why marijuana use is not ok for them.

Recently, The Colorado Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee released a set of findings examining adolescents and young adults on the health effects of marijuana. Dr. Mike Van Dyke, chairman of the Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee indicated, “As a public health agency, we’re concerned with protecting our vulnerable populations, and that includes kids. We studied a lot of findings, and we came away with a clear message to underscore that marijuana shouldn’t be used by people who aren’t adults. It can affect how your brain develops.”

Van Dyke’s findings clearly suggest that marijuana and alcohol affects a teen differently than it affects an adult, and is scientifically supported.  Having that conversation with your Denver teen is so important.

A pertinent section of the study, authored by Daniel Vigil, MD, Medical Resident, University of Colorado, produced six intriguing statements that are “plain language translations form the major findings in the systematic literature reviews. They are as follows:

  1. Regular marijuana use by adolescents and young adults is associated with impaired learning, memory, math and reading achievement, even 28 days after last use.
  2. These impairments increase with more frequent marijuana use.
  3. Regular marijuana use by adolescents and young adults is strongly associated with developing psychotic symptoms and disorders such as schizophrenia in adulthood.
  4. This risk is higher among those who start using marijuana at a younger age.
  5. This risk is higher with more frequent marijuana use.
  6. Marijuana use by adolescents and young adults – even occasional use – is associated with future high-risk use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, opioids and methamphetamine.
  7. Starting marijuana use during adolescence or young adulthood is associated with future marijuana addiction.
  8. Marijuana use by adolescents may be associated with low academic achievement, such as not graduating from high school or attaining a university degree, lower income, and more unemployment.
  9. There is conflicting research for whether or not marijuana use by adolescents and young adults is associated with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts.

These findings indicate that marijuana can indeed rewire an adolescent brain and can produce negative outcomes for brain development and impairment in the future. They also indicate that for many teens, marijuana use is the gateway to use of other, more dangerous drugs.

Having a conversation with your kids and teens about legalized marijuana use can be difficult. Schools need to find ways to inform kids but not encourage marijuana use. The availability in the Denver area makes this an especially significant issue when talking with your teen. The main message Dr. Van Dyke wants to get out to the Colorado public is clear: “the use of any substance that affects your brain has long term effects.  Kids should think twice about it.”