We use a trauma-informed, humanistic model of addiction care, alongside gold-standard medical and psychiatric treatment.
This phrase emphasizes that our model of care is a consequence of how we understand addictions (as discussed in the section ‘What is an Addiction?’).
At times, the definition of a traumatic event is clear. Many people with addictions have tragically experienced awful events which leave lasting emotional scars. However, it is important to note that everyone experiences events differently. It is the internal reaction of an individual that creates trauma, not the event itself.
All humans have experiences which are emotionally difficult and overwhelming. When these events result in emotional scars, the personality can become distorted and twisted in many different ways. An event is ‘traumatic’ if it leaves an emotional scar in the person’s mind. For example, one person may experience bullying as overwhelming feelings of powerlessness and weakness. Another may experience a parental divorce as intense feelings of guilt, shame and rage. If these emotions are overwhelming they may leave emotional scars in the individual, and are therefore ‘traumatic’.
These emotional scars lead to the emotional, cognitive and behavioural patterns which characterize addictions. It is our understanding that all individuals with addiction have experienced emotionally-overwhelming events. However, not every person who experiences emotionally overwhelming events will develop an overt addiction, as the mind has many different ways to deal with emotional scars.
At MPH we focus on treatment of underlying emotional scars (the ‘trauma’), and the impact they have had on the emotional, cognitive and behaviuoral patterns of the person. This requires experienced and skillfull therapists working along-side expert medical and nursing staff to maximise the chances of Recovery for every individual.
A humanistic model of care means that at MPH we place the individual human at the centre of our focus. This is not merely lip-service. It means that each person is understood individually, in terms of their emotional, cognitive and behavioural patterns, and their own unique history. Emotionally overwhelming experiences impact our emotions, cognitions and behaviours in unhealthy ways. Our skilled doctors, nurses and therapists work in unison to help the person become aware of their own unhealthy patterns. This is a core aspect of our treatment. As humans, we all fight against awareness of our flaws and faults and unhealthy patterns. It is our unique combination of strict boundaries with empathic clinical care, along-side the presence of a ‘therapeutic community’ which creates an environment where people can begin to face themselves, their flaws and strengths, to begin to forge a path toward Recovery.
This new-found self-awareness is often referred to as ‘spiritual’. At MPH we respect all beliefs and faiths, ranging from atheists to devout clergy. What matters is that the person is transformed. How any given person chooses to interpret their new-found awareness is up to them.
An integral part of the ‘spiritual’ side of recovery is the ‘Higher-Power’. As an insightful person in Recovery once stated, there are only two core aspects to a higher-power. “Firstly it’s true, and secondly its name is not (insert the person’s name here!)”.
In other words, a higher-power is symbolic of the idea that help is available from outside of oneself. Most people with addictions lose trust and faith in the world and become ‘self-reliant’. Recovery is about learning to trust again, learning that I don’t have to rely only on myself, that I can find assistance, love and care from outside of myself. Learning or re-learning that there is a ‘power’ which is not me, which is outside of myself, that can help me. In essence, this represents the development of trust.
At MPH we have a large focus on recovery-based skills. These include many evidence-based models of treatment, including skills derived from cognitive-behaviour therapy, dialectical-behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness in addition to AA models and the Minnesota model. This means that we use what works. We have staff who are in long-term recovery, and whilst inpatients we introduce people to the AA model of meetings and the 12-steps of recovery.
Gold-standard medical and psychiatric care
At MPH, medical and psychiatric care is delivered by specialist doctors and nurses. The specialities include addiction medicine (a physician who is an expert in the medical issues surrounding addiction, including medical treatment of the withdrawal phase of addiction, and pain), psychiatry and general-practice medicine. Every patient can expect a review of their medical, addiction and psychiatric issues by a specialist doctor.
Furthermore, we have 24-hour specialist nursing care from nurses experienced in caring and monitoring those in addiction. This round-the-clock care offers piece of mind for people with addiction, their loved ones and their regular medical and mental-health providers.
What is Recovery (or is it Discovery)?
‘Recovery’ is somewhat of a misleading term. For many people, recovery from addiction is about creating something new, not returning to something lost. We prefer the term ‘Discovery’.
Ceasing the behavior associated with an addiction is a necessary step in Discovery, yet it does not form the core of Discovery. There are many people who are far along in their Discovery, yet lapse or relapse. This does not mean that they are literally back to ‘day 1’ of Discovery. Conversely, there are people who have been clean and sober for years, however still have very unhealthy emotional, cognitive or behavioural patterns which create chaos for their internal lives and those around them.
Hence, at MPH we view Discovery as a complex psychological-behavioural concept. Just as addiction can be understood as a syndrome of disconnection, we view Discovery as a syndrome of connection. Discovery is about forging a new way of living, characterized by healthy connections to self, connections between emotions and cognitions, and connections between the self and others.
In this sense Discovery becomes a way of life rather than strictly referring to abstinence, and becomes a journey rather than a destination.
When at MPH, our treatment is aimed at helping people realise that there is another way to live – that by working through emotionally difficult issues, by turning around and facing what they have been running from, integrating their shadows, they can forge a new healthy way of living.