The Council and Recenter Partner to Expand Access to Addiction Treatment Services

The Council on Recovery is excited to announce that we are providing our Discovering Choices outpatient treatment program at Recenter’s campus in the heart of Houston! This partnership will expand access to world-class addiction treatment services to those who most need them.

What is it?

Discovering Choices is The Council’s outpatient addiction treatment program that serves individuals who may not have the financial resources to afford them. Our dedicated, licensed staff conducts an assessment of all clients to gather information regarding the severity of use and how it has impacted daily functioning, in order to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment will include individual counseling, process groups and psychoeducation.

Recenter is a nonprofit organization that provides programs and services to help individuals who are predominantly homeless recover from substance use disorders.

Who does this program serve?

Anyone over the age of eighteen and who meets financial and diagnosis criteria can receive these addiction treatment services. They do not have to be a current client at The Council or Recenter. For more information or to inquire about eligibility, please call 713-942-4100, and select option 3.

Why is it needed?

The cost of addiction treatment often prevents people struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions from getting the help they need to live a life in recovery. Discovering Choices is provided at no cost to those who are eligible. While The Council currently provides this program virtually, providing it in-person at Recenter will benefit those who prefer in-person interaction with treatment providers and peers. People who also do not have their own means of transportation could also easily get to campus, as it is on a Metro rail line and bus route.

If yourself, a loved one, or a client/patient is struggling with substance use, contact us today through our website or by calling 713-942-4100, option 3. Click here to view and download the flyer for this program.

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.

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.

Growing Our Own: The Council’s Fellowship Experience

At The Council on Recovery, we know we can’t solve addiction alone. That’s why training medical and behavioral health professionals is an essential part of our work – and has been since as early as 1955! For ten years, our Mary Bell Behavioral Health Clinical Fellowship has been a pillar in our efforts to train the next generation of behavioral health professionals. We sat down with Nina Tahija, LMSW, our current Mary Bell Behavioral Health Clinical Fellow at the Center for Recovering Families to discuss her experience:

Tell me about yourself and what you do at The Council.

I graduated from University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work in 2021. While I was there, I completed a clinical internship at Baylor Psychiatry Clinic, a trauma fellowship, and a specialization in health and behavioral health. I’m also a trauma-sensitive yoga facilitator. I have a strong passion for providing trauma-informed care for my clients.

I currently work as a Mary Bell Behavioral Health Clinical Fellow. In this role, I co-facilitate psychotherapy groups, lead a Dialectical Behavior therapy-informed skills group, conduct assessments and provide individual therapy.

Nina Tahija, LMSW

Why did you want to become a fellow with us?

I was looking for a supportive and collaborative environment to continue honing my clinical skills. I had heard former interns and fellows speak highly of the tremendous growth they got as part of the clinical team, so I thought it would be a natural next step for me. The fellowship program at The Council offered the opportunity to work with individuals struggling with substance abuse and/or other mental health struggles, while receiving intensive training through weekly didactics, supervision, and treatment team meetings.

What are some major takeaways from your experience as a fellow with the Center for Recovering Families?

One of the biggest takeaways for me is the power of connection in one’s recovery. As a group facilitator, I have witnessed the profound impact this space provides for clients to share openly and vulnerably, ask for what they need, and support each other. I also learned the importance to meet clients where they are, understanding that each person has unique lived experiences and are in different parts of their healing journey.

What is some advice you have for people wanting to go into social work and behavioral health?

Know your why for going into this field. Be open to continually reflect on your own experiences, positionality, and biases so you are mindful of the lens that you are working with. Also know that you don’t have to go through this process alone. One of the highlights of my time in graduate school is finding a supportive community through my peers and mentors.