Tag Archives: Addiction Treatment

Tag Archives: Addiction Treatment


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NASHVILLE, TN JANUARY 22, 2020 – Cumberland Heights is proud to announce it has become the only addiction treatment center in the state of Tennessee to achieve the national Blue Distinction Center designation given by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Cumberland Heights is proud to announce it has become the only addiction treatment center in the state of Tennessee to achieve the national Blue Distinction Center designation given by Blue Cross Blue Shield

The program recognizes providers that demonstrate expertise in delivering quality specialty care in a way that is safe, effective and cost efficient. The goal of the program, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield, is to help consumers find both higher quality and more affordable healthcare for their specialty care needs, while providing a credible foundation on which employers may customize their employee benefits. Designations are awarded based on criteria that support delivery of timely, coordinated, multi-disciplinary, evidence-based care with a focus on quality improvement and patient-centered care.

The designation for Cumberland Heights comes on the heels
of another big announcement. Late last month our facility became the first addiction treatment center in Tennessee, and one of the first in the nation, to achieve certification by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

“Both the Blue Distinction designation and the ASAM certification are big honors and affirms our dedication to provide the highest level of care to our patients and their families. We take pride in carrying on traditions created here more than 50 years ago, while also being at the forefront of cutting-edge practices to give patients the tools they need to live a life free from addiction,” said CEO Jay Crosson.


About Cumberland Heights

Cumberland Heights’ mission is to transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by alcohol or drug addiction. For more than 53 years we’ve helped those struggling rewrite their story and live a life filled with hope.

ABOUT ADMISSIONS & MARKETING SYMPOSIUM

DATE: April 2-3, 2020
LOCATION: Cumberland Heights River Road Campus

There is no greater purpose in our field than to be a resource to the clients and families we serve.

Southeast Admissions & Marketing SymposiumWhat started as a dinner conversation in 2012 about the need for quality training and collaboration for our admissions and marketing teams has developed into an event many treatment center owners and executives count on to provide ethics, leadership, mentorship and collaboration for their employees. This unique professional development opportunity is attended by seasoned professionals and newbies alike, and is packed with outstanding informational keynotes and breakout sessions applicable to all.

As a program executive, admissions or marketing representative, you have the potential to change lives and heal generations of families. Every call or contact with a family is an opportunity to help. That initial voice on the phone, be it a receptionist, intake person or community representative, may be the only person the caller ever reaches out to. Our responses and communication with that person are vital. Raising the professionalism in our field with education, ethics, shared experience and communication of knowledge is essential to achieve success.

Our hope is that no matter how long you have been in the field – be it 10 years or 10 days – there is something new for you to learn and share at the Admissions & Marketing Symposium. It is our vision and goal to transform our field into a shared mindset of abundance rather than be divided by scarcity or competition. To collaborate and connect professionals and families with the best treatment resource and opportunity for healing is the take-away message for the event. These opportunities may or may not always be within the centers we are representing, so by sharing information, we will be better able to make the best referral for each and every family and we will continue to grow and save lives. The character traits you nourish, skills you develop, and new information you learn will benefit both your own personal and professional development as well as the success of your center.

The Admissions & Marketing Symposium is the ideal place to find collaborators and mentors, colleagues with years of experience and attitudes of abundance. Join us in this sharing of knowledge and support the change we wish to see in this field.

From the earliest days of mankind, spirituality has served as a search for meaning and understanding. It helped our ancestors to explain natural disasters, motivate communities and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It shouldn’t be surprising that spirituality remains integral to our daily lives, especially for those in recovery – mindfulness, self-care and the acknowledgement of a higher power are all referenced in almost all popular approaches to addiction treatment. Today, we’ll explain the key differences between spirituality and religion, while providing some tips about how to integrate a spiritual approach into your recovery.

The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion

While these terms are often considered synonymous, key differences exist between spirituality and religion.

Religion, by definition, is an institutional system of religious attitudes, practices and beliefs that exists to explain the service and worship of a higher power, which may take the form of one (or more) gods. Most major world religions are based on the teachings and beliefs of historical or symbolic figures, such as Jesus Christ, Moses, Buddha or Muhammad. There isn’t much room to customize a religion – it often exists in a prescribed format, with concentration on rites, rituals, scriptures, observances and houses of worship.

Spirituality, in contrast, refers to the general experience of connecting to something more than yourself; it can involve seeking and exploring one’s meaning and purpose. It is more closely related to practical appreciation of spiritual teachings and personalized experience. This journey is inward in nature and focuses on awareness, rather than the performance of rituals or activities.

Characteristics of spirituality include :

  • A heightened state of awareness, perception or being
  • Informing, empowering and connecting an individual
  • A relationship with one’s self (and resources beyond the self)
  • Values and qualities of character
  • Changed, intentional lifestyle choices
  • Motivation and catalytic power to make a change

Why Spirituality Helps Us Recover

During active addiction, your purpose in life is commandeered by drugs and alcohol. Your day-to-day life becomes consumed by obtaining, using and recovering from your substances of choice. Simultaneously, friends, family, hobbies and career obligations fall by the wayside. All resources are redirected to drugs and alcohol.

Because of this, you have to begin searching for your purpose anew once you leave your life of substance use behind. Many people who leave treatment experience a disturbing revelation: “I’m sober. Now what?” Spirituality is a key tool for answering this question. It encourages introspection and personal development while also promoting an attitude of gratitude and curiosity. This active state of inward exploration is vital to the recovery process – without seeking to understand oneself and one’s motivations, lasting change is nearly impossible to achieve.

Taking a Spiritual Approach

Many individuals in recovery describe spirituality as a turning point in their journey: a perspective they uncovered after a near-death experience (such as an overdose), troubling diagnosis, traumatic event or incarceration. However, you do not have to have a major life event to begin experimenting with spirituality. We have compiled a few tips for integrating this mentality into your daily life.

  1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is at the root of spirituality. Develop an awareness of your inner self by sitting quietly and acknowledging the thoughts that arise. Avoid judging these thoughts or banishing them. Feel the ground beneath your feet and listen to the little noises around you. By slowing down and checking in with yourself, you’ll begin to build a regular spiritual practice.
  2. Walk in nature. Spending time in the great outdoors, particularly in the context of a state park or expansive forest, reminds us that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. Banish feelings of isolation and keep your problems in perspective by connecting with nature on a regular basis.
  3. Remember to be grateful. Gratitude is another fast-track to spiritual awareness. Keeping track of your blessings helps you to focus on the positives in life.
  4. Make a contribution. Helping others is a spiritual activity because it helps us to positively impact those in our community. Whether you’re reaching out to newcomers in at a meeting or organizing a volunteer day at your local food bank, dedicating your time to others is something that will boost your spiritual growth.

Spirituality in Recovery at Cumberland Heights

At Cumberland Heights, we understand that spirituality and recovery go hand-in-hand. Our spiritual care services are diverse and include sessions with our Spiritual Directors, experiencing the labyrinth and practicing mindfulness meditation. To learn more about our spiritual programming, contact our admissions staff at (866) 899-5231.

It’s hard to believe some of us were alive during a time when addiction was still considered a moral failing. Doctors didn’t recognize addiction as a disease until 1956, and even then, many people were skeptical. The addiction treatment field has come a long way since, and we continue to make strides every year. Even in the last decade, the people we treat, how we treat them and the language we use has evolved. I sat down with many Cumberland Heights employees, including our CEO Jay Crosson to talk about how treatment in the field of substance abuse has changed over the last 10 years, as well as the expectations and hopes for the 2020s.

Jamie Lee CurtisOne battle we seem to have been fighting for years is erasing the stigma. Yes, we’ve made waves, but the consensus is we still have a lot of work to do. In recent years, more public figures have been recovering out loud, and their message is reaching a broader audience because of a little thing called social media.

“On social media I see a variety of actors and singers come out, and they’re willing to be more vulnerable and talk about stepping into recovery. It has opened the door for a lot of people to not feel so heavy with shame about accepting help,” said Women’s Program Director Melissa Hudgens.

I’m sitting around the conference table in the Women’s Department with the director, counselors and other clinicians. It’s their weekly clinical supervision meeting. Everyone is in good spirits. Some are kneading playdoh, others are filling up their coffee cups. There is definitely a family dynamic inside this room and it feels like a safe space to talk about anything. It’s clear to me in an instant how passionate these women are about their jobs.

On the heels of Melissa’s comment, counselor Christi Henderson chimes in.

“Yes, like Kristin Bell and her husband. They very much advocate counseling and make it cool. People want to be like them. They make seeking help smart and admirable instead of this negative, stigmatized thing.”

But with recovering out loud can come some added pressure Melissa notes.

“It can be twofold because when people become the face of AA and NA it can be troublesome. They are human beings and this disease is cunning, baffling and powerful. When or if someone ends up relapsing and society looks at is a failure for the program instead of what it is – a disease, then we lose ground. Hopefully with more education we can avoid this.”
Another positive change the women mentioned are the faces and backgrounds of not only the people we treat, but also our counselors and clinicians.

“As marginalized communities get more rights they can focus on what may have seemed like a secondary problem before, alcohol and drug treatment. When you’re fighting for basic human rights, getting treatment isn’t at the top of your list. As we progress, more doors are opening for marginalized communities to seek treatment, “said Executive Administrative Assistant Maria Michonski.

Case manager Kim Seator adds that for so long, research on addiction treatment has been done on Caucasian males. Now we are focusing more on people of color, LGBTQ communities and those with a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. We’re asking questions like, ‘How does an LGBT person experience treatment? ‘What areas do they struggle in that others do not?’ ‘How would someone from a different ethnic community experience this?’ Cumberland Heights holds trainings to answer those specific questions, and it has helped us better treat our changing population.

“We’ve heard from patients and their stories in relation to how they came out and how their walk has been as an LGBTQ person. People have expressed going through their whole time in treatment and never talking about their sexual orientation and downplaying what their relationship is with their partner. So being able to know the treatment center they are in is a safe and affirming place for them allows them to start talking about things like domestic violence and relationships – maybe they weren’t sharing that before and now they can,” said Kim.

“I feel this too,” said counselor Chandra Reeves. “What has been a spark for marginalized people is seeing people in this field who look like them, like me, a woman of color. That’s huge – hearing from people who look like you who have had similar struggles.”

Man and Woman walking serenity trailWhat we still need to work on, the women agree, is getting those struggling from marginalized communities through the door. There is a lot of back and forth with insurance companies as case managers and counselors fight to get their clients more days in treatment. A large percentage of our clients are trauma survivors who need continuing care following their stay at Cumberland Heights. We offer many continuing care resources for no additional cost, but we can only do so much. Trauma care and therapy is often self-pay, which is a huge barrier for those who simply don’t have the funds.

In the middle of our discussion, Melissa starts to speak. She stops, looks around the table at all her employees and warns she’s about to get choked up.

With tears in her eyes she says, “You look around this room and know these counselors advocate for every woman no matter what they are going through. That is why I love this team so much. They have such a passion for working with every woman period. And changing what that looks like to meet their needs. That is why I come to work every single day.”

Speaking of passion, after I speak with the Women’s Department, I head up to our CEO’s office whose spirit for recovery has grown over the last 30 years – when he found freedom from substance abuse.

Jay Crosson got sober at Cumberland Heights when he was 26 years old and he’s stuck around ever since. From watering the plants around campus, to working in admissions and then as the chief financial officer to now CEO, he can’t imagine working anywhere else.

He too has seen a lot of progress in destigmatizing the disease of addiction, but says we still have a long road ahead. He does credit attention surrounding the opioid epidemic to creating awareness and understanding of a disease that does not discriminate.

“One of the silver linings to the opioid epidemic is that it has hit so many families across the country. There are few people who don’t know someone affected by that so in an odd kind of way it has helped the stigma. People are seeing it’s not just the junkie under the bridge. It prevails all levels of society, so while it’s horrible that we have this epidemic that is so wide spread, more people are talking about it,” said Jay.

He says when it comes to politics, the addiction epidemic is one of the few bi-partisan issues. He recalls the 2016 Presidential Campaign when several candidates, both democrats and republicans woman struggling with pillsspoke about family members who suffered.

How we talk about the disease has changed as well. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) advises treatment centers to use fewer stigmatizing words that “discourage, isolate, misinform, shame and embarrass.” Their language guide recommends treatment providers use the term substance use disorder (SUD) rather than addiction. SAMSHA says the term is helpful because it encompasses a range of severity levels, from problem use to dependence and addiction.

“Think about people with cancer. We don’t identify them based on their disease, so why do we do that with people who have a substance use disorder?” said Jay. “That’s why we like to use phrases like ‘I am a person in long-term recovery’ rather than ‘I am a recovering alcoholic.’”

Another notable move in the industry in the last decade was Google’s decision to shut down ad words in the addiction treatment space. Predatory marketers that did not provide any treatment services had mastered collecting online leads and selling them to the highest bidder to the detriment of legitimate treatment providers nationwide – and likely to many people who were seeking qualified help. Stopping these practices had become a top priority for industry organizations like the National Association of the Addiction Treatment Professionals (NAATP).

In Spring 2018, Google announced that it partnered with LegitScripts to screen providers that want to advertise using AdWords. To be approved under the new program, treatment providers had to complete an extensive review process focused on quality, safety and transparency. In the summer of 2018, Cumberland Heights was one of the first 100 treatments centers nationwide approved to participate in Google Adwords.

“I do think it cleaned out a lot of the bad traffic. The challenge has been that people are very creative and from time to time they find loopholes or ways around it. It has taken a lot of providers, us included, to be vigilant about that and report what we perceive to be fraudulent practices along the way, “said Jay.

Jay too, like most of us in the addiction treatment field, want to see better access to care in the next decade. His says this is a critical time, especially with dangerous drugs being so readily available.

“We’ve seen more young adults coming into treatment than we have in the past. Heroin has become more prevalent – it used to be that heroin was the drug in the last stage of addiction. Only people with opioid use disorders would be involved with it and now it’s so readily available across America at an affordable rate that you have kids in high school and colleges that might start by snorting it, but they progress really quickly,” said Jay. “Famous interventionist John Southworth once said to me, with alcoholics we may have 10 to 20 years to get them but with heroin and opioid users if we don’t get them in the first couple of years they are probably dead.”

The Tennessee Opioid State Targeted Response Grant, aimed at reducing the number of overdose related deaths through naloxone distribution, training, and improving access to treatment has helped some Jay says, but it’s still not enough.

“The larger global issue is that addiction is a chronic progressive illness like diabetes or hypertension and our reimbursement mechanisms are set to pay for short episodes of care. It just doesn’t match the disease and there is nobody willing to pay us to help manage a patient’s recovery for that first year to first five years. We’ve taken initiatives on our own, but we are not getting paid for it. As a non-profit we are willing to make some of those investments, but it would be better if we got paid along the way to help people stay sober and not return to treatment, “said Jay.

His outlook for the next decade is hopeful, but he knows changes on the state and federal level won’t come without a fight. On a smaller scale, advancements being made at Cumberland Heights are very promising.

In the last year we’ve hired a Chief Science Officer, Dr. Nick Hayes who is focusing on efficacious treatment protocols, predictive analytics, feedback-informed treatment procedures and collaborations with institutions of higher education for all Cumberland Heights programs.

Counselor at outpatient recovery center“We will be able to figure out which clinicians do better with which patient populations, which patient populations do better with certain levels of care or certain interventions or certain lengths of stay so that from the patient perspective it helps us to provide them with the right treatment at the right time based on their unique context and their symptomology,” said Nick.

Jay says in addition to outcomes, research and quality improvements is the strong foundation Cumberland Heights continues to build upon. We have a family work environment, a clinical staff that truly cares about patients and a big focus on family being involved in treatment. This is the core foundation that has been here since the beginning.

“What is exciting in the last five years is how we have tried to walk with patients through that first year. We continue to expand Outpatient Recovery Centers, having gone from five or six to having 15 in April. We don’t want to just detox people and give them a few days of residential, but we want to work with them as they progress through that first year of recovery, so we keep adding pieces to that from sober living, to 12-Step immersion programs, to the outpatient services with psychiatric nurse practitioners and individual therapists that can do ongoing trauma work, “ said Jay.

Although there is no cure for addiction, every day we see proof those with substance use disorders can lead healthy, happy and productive lives. As we work to better educate, destigmatize and create more access to care, we will save more lives. Our goal is to make each day, each year, each decade better than the last for those suffering and their families. There is hope.

Sunday Sermon: Advent: A Season for Anticipating Change

December 1, 2019

Sunday Sermon Advent A Season for Anticipating Change
Advent Candles – Three Purple And One Pink as a Symbol of Faith with Bokeh Lights
On this first Sunday of the Christian season of Advent, we discuss the spiritual concept of hope, and talk about the hope that comes from inviting God/Higher Power into our lives. As God turned the world upside down with the birth of a baby on Christmas, our Higher Power has the ability to turn us inside out in our recovery, turning our despair into hope, our grief into joy, and our suffering into service.


The Experiential Healing Center offers a training program in SomExSM: A Somatic Experiential intervention to treat trauma and addiction. Certification is offered to counseling professionals, but the training is open to anyone wanting to enhance their practice with a deeper understanding of the neurophysiology of trauma, emotion, and self-regulation. Some of the professions we have worked with are massage therapists, speech therapists, alcohol and drug counselors, physicians and, of course, psychotherapists.  A professional can participate in one module, or attend all four modules and participate in supervision for certification.

Created by Kent Fisher and Michelle Rappaport, this modality uses an inter-relational model of somatic awareness and experiential techniques.  It is highly effective in working with chemical and process addictions, trauma, and attachment disorders, with an emphasis on emotional regulation. This four-module training is designed to give therapists the tools to transform the nervous system around issues of trauma.

Participants will:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the neurobiological aspects of trauma on the body.
  • Practice Emotional Regulation techniques.
  • Practice Experiential techniques to help uncouple the freeze in traumatized individuals.
  • Learn interventions for harmony and repair around core attachment wounds.

​Friday, October 4th thru Sunday, October 6th 2019

Cost: $595 each module

REGISTER HERE

When Kent Fisher and Michelle Rappaport founded the Experiential Healing Center, they were extensively trained and highly skilled experiential therapists, using psychodrama and other action-oriented techniques to help clients access feelings and develop choice making about how they react and repair.

They certified in Somatic Transformation and began to incorporate the somatic techniques to help clients oscillate within their Optimal Arousal Zone in order to touch the edges of their activation and collapse. They began to see that the two schools of thought were not only mutually supportive, but also nearly seamless in their execution, and SomExSM was born.

We don’t wound alone and we certainly don’t heal alone. SomExSM–a Somatic Experiential intervention to treat trauma and addiction–honors this process, connecting the left-brain hemisphere of rationalization , reasoning and meaning-making to the right hemisphere’s capacity for social engagement and emotional processing.  It facilitates the repair of disorganized and insecure attachments of our childhood through somatic engagement and builds resiliency so clients are able to rediscover the Self that lives within all of us–playful, passionate, unashamed, unafraid, eager to learn and grow. At EHC we believe this is the difference between therapy and counseling. Therapy is a co-regulated process where therapist and client embark on a journey to recover and repair the Authentic Self.

SomExSM training will give you a deepened understanding of the neurobiological aspects of trauma, disordered attachment and addiction. It will equip you with a valuable set of skills to facilitate repair and regulation in your clients–allowing them to explore life in the Optimal Arousal Zone known to us here at the Experiential Healing Center as Emotional Harmony.

The Experiential Healing Center offers a training program in SomExSM: A Somatic Experiential intervention to treat trauma and addiction. Certification is offered to counseling professionals, but the training is open to anyone wanting to enhance their practice with a deeper understanding of the neurophysiology of trauma, emotion, and self-regulation. Some of the professions we have worked with are massage therapists, speech therapists, alcohol and drug counselors, physicians and, of course, psychotherapists.  A professional can participate in one module, or attend all four modules and participate in supervision for certification.

Created by Kent Fisher and Michelle Rappaport, this modality uses an inter-relational model of somatic awareness and experiential techniques.  It is highly effective in working with chemical and process addictions, trauma, and attachment disorders, with an emphasis on emotional regulation. This four-module training is designed to give therapists the tools to transform the nervous system around issues of trauma.

Participants will:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the neurobiological aspects of trauma on the body.
  • Practice Emotional Regulation techniques.
  • Practice Experiential techniques to help uncouple the freeze in traumatized individuals.
  • Learn interventions for harmony and repair around core attachment wounds.

​Friday, October 4th thru Sunday, October 6th 2019

Cost: $595 each module

REGISTER HERE

When Kent Fisher and Michelle Rappaport founded the Experiential Healing Center, they were extensively trained and highly skilled experiential therapists, using psychodrama and other action-oriented techniques to help clients access feelings and develop choice making about how they react and repair.

They certified in Somatic Transformation and began to incorporate the somatic techniques to help clients oscillate within their Optimal Arousal Zone in order to touch the edges of their activation and collapse. They began to see that the two schools of thought were not only mutually supportive, but also nearly seamless in their execution, and SomExSM was born.

We don’t wound alone and we certainly don’t heal alone. SomExSM–a Somatic Experiential intervention to treat trauma and addiction–honors this process, connecting the left-brain hemisphere of rationalization , reasoning and meaning-making to the right hemisphere’s capacity for social engagement and emotional processing.  It facilitates the repair of disorganized and insecure attachments of our childhood through somatic engagement and builds resiliency so clients are able to rediscover the Self that lives within all of us–playful, passionate, unashamed, unafraid, eager to learn and grow. At EHC we believe this is the difference between therapy and counseling. Therapy is a co-regulated process where therapist and client embark on a journey to recover and repair the Authentic Self.

SomExSM training will give you a deepened understanding of the neurobiological aspects of trauma, disordered attachment and addiction. It will equip you with a valuable set of skills to facilitate repair and regulation in your clients–allowing them to explore life in the Optimal Arousal Zone known to us here at the Experiential Healing Center as Emotional Harmony.

An Evening with Travis Meadows: A Benefit for Cumberland HeightsTravis Meadows spent years trying to escape himself. He’s anything but selfish, so he’d find a way to get away––a bottle, a bag, a sermon––and he’d share it with everyone. That was then. Now, Meadows isn’t trying to get anybody lost or high. Instead, he’s trying to get every single one of us to settle in deeply to ourselves––and love what’s there.

“I feel like what I’m doing is giving people permission to be okay with who they are, where they’re at now,” Meadows says. “A lot of us say stuff like, ‘If I’d been married to this guy or this girl, or if I had enough money, or if I had a better job. If I wasn’t an alcoholic, or if I drank more. If this, if that, then, I think I could be a better person.’” He pauses. “I think the key to life is being okay with who you are.”

Meadows isn’t just waxing poetic about the perks of self-acceptance. The 52-year-old has clawed his way to the peace he’s found, and his willingness to map that journey through his songs has saved more lives than his own. On his anxiously awaited new album First Cigarette, Meadows proves once again that when he sings the truth he’s living, he can set us all free. “I’ve always put secrets in my records, but I had this ring of fire that nobody could get in––a defense mechanism from my childhood. Nobody gets too close,” he says. “I think this record is a way of me letting people in a little more, inside the ring of fire.”

Disciples have been dancing by Meadows’ fire for years. Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Mary Gauthier, Brandy Clark, Blackberry Smoke, Hank Williams, Jr., Wynonna Judd, Randy Houser, and others began writing with, recording, and praising Meadows as soon as they heard his work. Songs such as “Riser,” the title track for Bentley’s 2015 album; Church’s “Knives of New Orleans” and “Dark Side”; and Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got” are all Meadows-penned chart-climbers.

Much of the attention began in 2010, when Meadows self-released Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, a raw masterpiece that left listeners stunned. “I was in rehab, and one of my counselors suggested that I keep a journal, so I basically made a record out of that journal,” Meadows says. It became an unlikely phenomenon, handed from friend to friend and artist to artist with whispers of, Listen. It’s the best thing you’ll hear all year. In 2013, Meadows followed Killin’ Uncle Buzzy with the acclaimed Old Ghosts and Unfinished Business. “On Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, you’re listening to a guy trying to figure out how to get sober,” Meadows says. “Then two years later, I was sober, but I wasn’t that guy anymore. That’s what ‘Old Ghosts’ was––me just trying to move forward. I feel like this record is more accessible. People can listen and go, ‘Well, hell. I’ve done that, too.’”

An intimate record utilizing just Meadow’s blues-hewn voice and mostly acoustic guitar with pops of electric and other strings, First Cigarette is an intensely relatable meditation on love, acceptance, and redemption––an artistic and personal triumph, especially for a man whose early life was defined by loss and pain. At the age of two, Meadows watched his baby brother drown. When his parents divorced, he wound up living with his grandparents rather than either of his parents. “My dad went and got married and had a baby, and they were almost a normal family,” Meadows says. “And my mother also went and almost had a normal family, whatever that is.” His thick Mississippi accent makes the ‘r’ at the end of father and mother soft in his mouth. “I was over there with my grandparents like, ‘Well what the hell happened to me? Why am I not good enough to be part of that family?’ I carried that resentment for a long time.”

Adversity would remain a constant in Meadows’ youth. At the age of eleven, he began using drugs. At fourteen, he was diagnosed with cancer. He would go on to beat the disease, but not before it cost him his right leg from just below the knee. Meadows picked himself up and began playing drums––“They’d sneak me in the back door and I would play for people in bars”––but tired of lugging all that gear and picked up the harmonica. “I could put all my instruments in a Crown Royal bag, and I would sing and play the blues,” he says. Then, in his 20s, Meadows underwent another conversion: he became a Christian. He preached across the South and in 20-something countries for 17 years. “Preachers fall hard,” he says. “I had some questions I didn’t like the answers to. So I quit and went back to my old friend alcohol.”

First Cigarette benefits from all of the battles Meadows has lost and won, including his now seven years––and counting––of sobriety. Album opener “Sideways” is a gut punch. A blend of confession and advice, the song explores what happens when emotion is stifled. Meadows wrote “Sideways” after performing and speaking at an adolescent addiction treatment center. He asked the kids there, all younger than 18, if anyone wanted to share their story. A girl raised her hand, spoke, and broke Meadows’ heart. “She floored me,” he says. “I said, ‘Well, I’d want to get high too. How did that make you feel?’ One tear came down her cheek. She rubbed it away and said, ‘I don’t feel nothin’.’ One of the counselors and I were talking later. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you’re going to treat everything in your life like a nail.”

“Pray for Jungleland” channels Bruce Springsteen as it celebrates him, nostalgic for love at eighteen and a world that revolves around Friday night. Written with Drew Kennedy, the song is the first of several on the album that capture youth with misty-eyed levity––a departure from Uncle Buzzy that Meadows is clearly enjoying. “McDowell Road” serves as a thematic bookend for “Jungleland,” while the slow-building “Pontiac” offers anchoring advice and warm memories as hopes for young hearts.

A standout on an album stacked with gems, “First Cigarette” features searing vocals that shift back and forth between defiant muscle and naked delicacy. “I am little more content, I am little more content with who I am than who I was,” Meadows sings. “I have learned to love the comfort when it comes, like the first cigarette the morning buzz.” Written with Connie Harrington, “Hungry” showcases Meadows’ unique ability to haunt and soothe at the same time. “Hunger is the thing that motivates us to get up and try again,” he says. “I pray that I never lose that hunger.” The gorgeous “Better Boat” takes another moving look at Meadows’ hard-won contentment.

“Life can be a little challenging for all of us. It’s beautiful and it’s tragic, it’s awesome and it hurts,” Meadows says. “I hope people sense that through this record and want to come to a show, which is a lot of storytelling, a lot of tears, a lot of laughter. They’ll come face to face with a damn lot of humanity. I hope they see themselves in it.”

This Show is Sold Out!

Generations of well-intentioned professionals have driven home the message to parents of those affected by addiction, “there’s nothing you can do until your child is ready to get help.” The person with addiction is powerless over drugs, alcohol and their disease, but that doesn’t mean that they are powerless over everything. Similarly, parents are powerless over their child and addiction, but they aren’t powerless over everything either.

Objectives for Participants are to:

  • Review The Stages of Change Model
  • Explore the Implications of Action-Ready Parents with Non-action-ready Children with Addiction
  • Identify at least 5 Opportunities for Action-Ready Parents
  • Identify at least 5 Opportunities for Professionals Serving Families Affected by Addiction

About Ginny Mills:

Ginny Mills joined the addiction recovery field over 25 years ago and now leads both Parenting Through Addiction (a web-based education & consultation service) and Full Life Counseling and Recovery (an outpatient private practice) in Winston-Salem, NC. She holds a master’s degree from Wake Forest University and credentials in both general mental health and addiction counseling.

Ginny has experience leading in primary residential, sober living and outpatient addiction treatment settings, including service as the Chief Clinical Officer for Partnership for a Drug-Free NC, She has a strong understanding of both the clinical and parental aspects of supporting those affected by the disease of addiction. Ginny loves to scuba dive, travel and ski with her husband and adult daughters (one of whom is in sustained recovery).

This fall, Ginny will release her new book Parenting Through Your Adult Child’s Addiction: Making Sense of Treatment, Aftercare and Recovery Recommendations.

PLEASE NOTE: There are 2 Sessions are available for convenience, you do not need to attend both.

  • Session One: 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM (registration begins at 8:30 AM)
  • Session Two: 1:00 PM-4:00 PM (registration begins at 12:30 PM)

3 CE credits awarded, approved by NAADAC and NBCC

 

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Legal and Ethical Game Show Event

Legal & Ethical Game Show EventSay good-bye to dull legal and ethical trainings! This style of presentation grew out of recognition that most mental health professionals do not need another lecture on typical legal and ethical topics. What has been needed is a fun, stimulating way to review and learn from what they already know. Participants are broken into teams and each team has an electronic remote that sends the team’s answer to questions to a computer that keeps scores. Answers from teams are scored, graphed, posted, and discussed. Sponsors can provide prizes to the winning team. In one format, questions are presented on a Jeopardy-style screen where categories are chosen and questions get harder as point values increase. The full-day training includes a Family Feud component. This presentation can accommodate any size audience. For large audiences, a gallery is created in the back of the room and play along as desired. The questions posed have been years in development and often focus on lesser-known aspects of legal and ethical quandaries.

Evaluations for this training have been exceptionally positive. Audience members have had a wonderful time discussing and working through perplexing questions. I have never seen a training format that stimulated so much discussion and where time flew by so fast. All legal and ethical questions are designed for all mental health settings and guilds including counseling, social work, psychology, marriage and family, psychiatry, drug and alcohol, case management, etc. For substance abuse counselors a special section can be included covering 42 CFR. This program is available in a 3 or 6-hour format. For large audiences morning and afternoon sessions could be advertised and attendees could choose the most convenient session to attend. For more information please visit:

Credit: 3 Hours

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