Common Bond Creates Specialty Macaron to Support National Recovery Month

During National Recovery Month, Common Bond will offer a specialty macaron benefiting The Council on Recovery. A nod to the end of summer, the macaron features a vanilla shell, cherry limeade ganache and nonpareils in our brand’s signature colors. The limited-time macaron will be available at all Common Bond locations for $3, with $1 benefitting The Council’s programs and services that help people to recover from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

recovery macaron

Common Bond is a long-time supporter of recovery efforts through a personal connection of CEO & Owner George Joseph. Before becoming a restauranteur, Joseph’s entrepreneurship began in the drug and alcohol rehabilitation industry. For over 20 years, Joseph has dedicated his career to helping others overcome addiction. He serves as the CEO of Positive Recovery Centers which operates two residential and medical detox centers in Houston and Austin, and volunteers with many recovery-centered organizations, including The Council on Recovery.

“Common Bond is more than just a gathering place for good food. Our restaurants exist to give back to the community we serve. We hope to use our platform to spread the word about the incredible work The Council on Recovery does and to aid their mission of providing affordable services to those suffering from addiction.”

George Joseph, CEO and owner of Common Bond

“This National Recovery Month, we celebrate and honor our friends, family members, coworkers and colleagues who are in recovery from addiction and other mental health disorders. We are so grateful to George Joseph and Common Bond for promoting awareness of this cause and supporting The Council’s mission.”

Mary H. Beck, LMSW, CAI, President & CEO of The Council on Recovery

The Council on Recovery Macaron can be purchased September 1-30, 2022 at Common Bond’s four Bistro locations, seven On-The-Go locations and its Downtown Brasserie & Bakery.

Grief and Addiction

This blog post is contributed by Lori Fiester, LCSW-S, ADS, CIP, CDWF, Clinical Director of The Council on Recovery

Grief is an often overlooked feeling in clients who are on the path of recovery. Research indicates unresolved grief can lead to addiction as the person searches to numb the feeling associated with grief.  If a person doesn’t have the coping tools to deal with the grief, they may search for a drug to decrease the negative feelings.

What is grief?

Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft, or the loss of independence through disability. 

When I think about grief in recovery, it’s often compared to an ending of an important relationship.  Substance use or other risky behaviors become our best friend or our lover. They are with us during the best and worst of times.  So when we start the journey of recovery, it’s important to deal with the feeling or we will find further issues down the road.  Grief is what you feel, mourning is what you do.  Grief can pass more quickly for those who are experiencing it if they take active steps to mourn the loss.

woman in grief

How do we deal with grief?

It’s been thought previously that if one is grieving, then they have to go through all the stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  What we have seen over the years is that grief is not a linear process. Those stages can happen at any time, and can and will be different for each individual. Grief can include sadness, depression, anger, fatigue, anxiety, isolation, increased irritability, numbness, not sleeping or oversleeping, digestive issues and headaches.   

If you are struggling with grief and addiction, it is essential to ask for help.  The Council can be that first step in this process.  And if we can’t help you, we can connect you to someone who can. Contact us today through our website, or by calling us at (713) 914-0556.

The Origins of Co-Occurring Disorders

This blog post is contributed by Izzie Karohl, NREMT, Policy Research Intern

SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health estimates that 45% of adults with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health condition. Because people with mental health conditions make up such a large portion of folks who seek substance use disorder treatment, it’s important to understand the complex relationship between the two co-occurring disorders.

This is the first blog post in a series that discusses current approaches to treating co-occurring disorders. But before we talk about treatment, we should start with one, deceptively simple question: why is the rate of co-occurring disorders so high in the first place? This blog post addresses the three most popular theories–the self-medication theory, the gene variants theory, and the kindling effect theory.

Self-Medication 

Drinking to cope with the distress of an underlying mental health disorder is self-medication. Sometimes, people develop a substance use disorder because the effects of drugs and alcohol alleviate symptoms of PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, and/or anxiety, just to name a few. Part of recovery is learning how to cope with distress, and this can include symptoms of mental illness. However, it’s important that clinicians identify mental illness as an independent disorder so that the client receives appropriate psychiatric care. 

woman with co-occurring disorders

Gene Variants 

Numerous studies have demonstrated that substance use disorders and mental health disorders run in biological families. The gene variants theory proposes that specific genes linked to substance use disorders are also linked to mental health disorders. For example, you may have heard that people with untreated ADHD are more likely to develop a substance use disorder. The gene variants theory hypothesizes that genetic mutations which result in more hyperactive, impulsive, and reward-driven brains (ADHD) are also mutations that make brains more vulnerable to substance use disorders. Currently, scientists are identifying these specific mutations to create a “genetic risk factor” score that may be able to predict who is more likely to develop co-occurring disorders based on their DNA sequence. 

Kindling Effect 

When trying to start a fire, having one plank of wood only goes so far. But if you add lighter fluid and small sticks around the plank, the likelihood of a blazing flame skyrockets. That’s the basis of the kindling theory. Having an initial mental disorder, whether psychiatric or substance use, changes the neural pathways in the brain: strengthening some, lessening others, and making some more sensitive. These changes add kindling, making it more likely that a future stressor or behavior results in a secondary disorder. Unlike the gene theory that locates risk within one’s DNA, the kindling effect states that the progression of one disease and its changes to the brain are what make it more vulnerable to a second disorder. The kindling effect points to the importance of early intervention to prevent secondary disorder development.

None of these theories are ultimately “right” or “wrong.” Rather, each of them help to explain the various ways co-occurring disorders may develop. It could be that a person is (a) genetically predisposed to both disorders, (b) develops a psychiatric disorder early on and progresses, which increases the vulnerability to developing a substance use disorder and (c) copes with the first disorder by self-medicating. But no matter how a person’s co-occurring disorder came to be, there is effective treatment for both. People can and do recover from co-occurring disorders.

Read more about co-occurring disorders here.

RECAP: The Council Recognizes Former Interns and Fellows at Reunion Event

Last week, former interns and fellows of The Council on Recovery gathered at the Hamill Foundation Conference Center to celebrate the impact and legacy of the Behavioral Health Training Institute, which has trained more than 120 Bachelor’s and Master’s level interns, recovery coaches and postgraduate fellows.

We also recognized the 10th anniversary of the Mary Bell Behavioral Health Fellowship, through which The Council provides specialized training to emerging counselors, as well as practical, hands-on experience working with families impacted by substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders.

The Council’s President & CEO, Mary H. Beck, LMSW, CAI, gave opening remarks of welcome and gratitude, saying, “Each of you carry this work into the community, and through your service, compassion, and ambassadorship, you make a difference in the lives of countless individuals and families impacted by substance use.”

The Council’s Clinical Director, Lori Fiester, LCSW-S, ADS, CIP, CDWF, followed, discussing the importance of our teaching and training efforts: “I believe we don’t have enough substance use disorder therapists in the field. The Council’s teaching and training program, and our fellowship program specifically, helps emerging professionals to hone their skills, and offers an array of experience that will enable them to help so many people – no matter what kind of work they go on to do.”

Lori Fiester (left) and Mary H. Beck (right) give remarks at the interns and fellows reunion.

The brief program included lunch and networking. Attendees received limited edition Council mugs and a resource directory, in which former interns and fellows shared their favorite memories of their time with The Council:

“The thing that stands out to me the most is The Council’s ability to treat clients from all socioeconomic backgrounds, doing so with high quality services. My favorite thing about my internship was the atmosphere of learning and teamwork all done so with the client in focus.”

Beth Eversole, LCSW, LCDC, Chief Executive Officer of Palmer Drug Abuse Program – Houston

“I was able to shadow different departments within The Council on Recovery and learn the different components that make each department unique. Furthermore, I was able to fully understand social work and how I could become an asset to all underserved populations.”

­Heniecesha Jones, BSW, Lifehouse of Houston

“My internship and fellowship were very rich and foundational experiences for me. Facilitating groups and working with IOP helped me to grow as a therapist tremendously.”

Madeline Vaughn, LCSW, Modern Therapy

The Importance of Compassion and Connection in the Referral Process

This blog post is contributed by a counselor with The Council’s Outreach, Screening and Referrals department, which provides free screenings and referrals to detox services, inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities, and other recovery options.

A while ago, a client was referred to me from the Harris County Psychiatric Center. During the screening, the client revealed that his meth and cocaine use had destroyed his family and had caused trouble with the law. The client described some of the horrible things that he did to keep his drug habit going. I could see the pain in the client’s eyes as he began to go through the screening process, which made me want to do more for the client.

The only way I could help this client was to disclose a part of my own addiction, to help him know that there is hope, and that he does not have to continue using drugs. The client could not believe that I was homeless for 30 years, living on the streets and going in and out of hospitals and treatment centers. After my disclosure, I saw that the client was motivated to change. Because I went through the recovery process, I was able to help the client develop a plan of action to change his life. I stressed the importance of completing treatment for the next steps to take place.

The client went on to an inpatient treatment facility, completed the 30-day program, and contacted me as soon as he was finished. I was able to get the client into sober living where he landed a job and had a place to stay. The client remembered that I told him I was going to connect him with an organization that was going to pay for his education. I gave the client the contact information, and he is now enrolled in barber school, working on his certification.

The client calls me from time to time to let me know that he is staying on course. He tells me he now has a support system, which includes his family, and that he did not know that he was capable of making the necessary changes in his life. He says that he will forever be grateful for the help that he received from The Council and wants to come back and share his story with our clients to provide them motivation as well!

Combatting the Stigma of Addiction

We have understood addiction to be a disease for nearly a century, yet shame and stigma continue to keep people from seeking treatment and support. This has always been the case, but skyrocketing overdose deaths, substance abuse, and suicide rates both locally and nationwide renew a sense of urgency in our mission to combat false narratives, beliefs and assumptions around this chronic disease. This is the first in a blog series exploring the many facets of stigma that perpetuate addiction. Before we dive in, it is important to start with the basics:

Addiction is a disease.

Contrary to the belief that addiction is an individual moral failing, addiction is a complex, chronic disease that changes the chemical balance of the reward center of the brain. It is caused by a combination of biological, environmental, and developmental factors, and according to the American Psychological Association, about half the risk for addiction is genetic. Long-term substance use can also change the parts of the brain that affect learning, judgement, decision making, self-control and memory.

Addiction is treatable. Recovery is possible.

There is not a cure to addiction, but it can be treated and managed. In fact, a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 3 out of 4 people who experienced addiction went on to recover.

Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential. Recovery from substance use disorders looks different for each individual and can consist of pharmacological, social and psychological treatment. Regardless of the route taken, we want people struggling with substances to know that a life in recovery can be joyous, fulfilling and whole.

Everyone is worthy of recovery.

We believe everyone is deserving of a chance to live a life of recovery, regardless of the path that brought them to our doorstep. Anyone who comes to us for help is welcomed with the respect and compassion they need to feel safe enough to begin this vulnerable process of healing and renewal.

If you, a loved one, or a patient is struggling with substance use, contact us today to inquire about treatment options.