By: Maggie Young 

Is it possible to demonstrate unconditional love to someone with a substance use disorder (SUD)?

Does love get clouded when addiction takes shape? Does an individual experiencing addiction not deserve love? Isn’t Love! Love!

Do we believe that Love transcends all barriers or are we only speaking that with our mouth but do not really believe that it applies to us personally?

Each individual living with a SUD represents only one ripple in the pond, although connected to others who love them, it may be; a family with a mother, father, siblings and pets or family may be a pet or a friend. Love remains consistent yet boundaries are blurred and confusion drops in causing love ones to question their love because a person is living with a SUD. With love comes judgement; individuals with SUD’s are not the only ones who are judged; so are loved ones and supporters. Stigma created by labels and linked to negative connotations oftentimes stifle, choke and shame those loving and supporting individuals with SUD. Addiction is a disease as are other chronic diseases comparable to cancer and heart disease. Those are not judged but respected as diseases and loved ones are praised for supporting and loving them. However, Individuals living with SUD’s and their loved ones are weighted down with cloaks of labels such as; dysfunctional, codependent and enablers. Labels that Identify love as a factor that prevents and prolongs healing and recovery. Supporters are told that they are hurtful instead of helpful, language, which is overrated and insensitive. Ask yourself, why would anyone limit or box in their love for someone because they are living with a SUD. Are individuals with chronic diseases other than SUD challenged to “suck it up and get over the disease”? The disease of addiction should be handled the same as other chronic diseases with love, understanding and support.

A Mother’s Love!

A friend of mine recently lost her daughter as a result of her SUD, Mom loved and supported her daughter throughout her 34 years of life. My friend ensured that her daughter had all she needed including access to treatment. In spite of Mom providing for and loving her, she still died. Would one call her love enabling or co-dependent because Mom provided her basic needs? Was she co-dependent because she continued to support her or was she simply a loving mother? My friend did the best she knew how and loved without bounds with her entire heart. It was an honest mother-daughter relationship. Does one believe mom should have allowed her daughter to hurt more and feel love less?
My mother loved me through full-blown addiction for two decades and into long-term recovery; loving a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) IS possible, so is recovery!

Loving unconditionally, without boundaries and restriction while also supporting and not delaying recovery is conceivable. I am a prime example; my mother Loved me through decades of active addiction into long-term Recovery. My surrender was grounded in love and my mother’s prayers, inpatient treatment, incarceration, engagement in sober support groups as well as willingness to put the alcohol and other drugs down and arrest my SUD.

Where my mother gained her strength and sustained her faith to pray for me all those years I will never know. What I do know is even while using alcohol and drugs I knew Mom loved me and no matter how long I was away, how far I had gone, nor how deep into my addiction I was I never felt unloved. Even in the thick of my addiction, my mother remained my rock and my foundation. When I called Mom picked up the phone, when I knocked, Mom opened the door and invited me in. I was shy, introverted and uninterested in the social side of life including parties, I was a late starter. The addiction was slow and steady and the progression was swift and intense. My first drink was at age 16, second drink at age 17 and I did not like it. By second semester in college, I was using cocaine and soon heroin. By year two, I was abusing alcohol and other drugs, and visits home stopped. Priorities flipped and my life took a 360, things took a turn for the worse and attending classes was an after-thought. For the next 15+ plus years, I spiraled out and down, sinking lower and lower in my drug use until I crashed in 1992.

February 6, 1992 was one of the coldest winters ever; I climbed two flights of steep red-carpeted stairs; where I made one of the most important decisions in my life. The following morning, my mother was at the door to deliver a gift basket with everything I needed, she met me, smiled and wrapped me in a huge bear hug and whispered in my ear “I Love You, God saved you by bringing you here.” That statement and hug, was dripped in enough love to carry me through. Those stairs led to Liberation House, which was then a co-ed treatment center. By the grace and mercy of GOD, I have not engaged in active addiction since that day. February 6, 2021, I celebrated 29 years in long-term recovery. My mother loved me through all the despair and darkness of my addiction, she never allowed my SUD to blur or block her love, she loved me in spite of it. With love all things are possible, including unconditionally love of those of us living with a SUD.

We do recover; MY MOTHER’S LOVE and prayers planted the seed that grew into my long-term recover of 29 years. That seed was watered and nurtured by treatment at Liberation Programs, Inc. Peer supports, consistent surrender, willingness and daily perseverance, and sober support groups and activities in spite of my SUD. I am GRATEFUL that I get to demonstrate Recovery One-Day-At-A-Time through my work at Liberation Programs, Inc.

Remember love endures ALL. Assist your loved one to access support and help whenever they need help, treatment is available so are sober support and sober coaches. If treatment has been tried and did not stick, try again, remember every treatment experience is valuable you never know which one it will be, you might save a life. Don’t Give Up!!!

If you or a loved one is seeking substance abuse treatment reach us at www.liberationprograms.org

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Kathy Carroll. Her contributions to the field of substance misuse will have a lasting impact on the work we do.

 

In Memoriam: Kathleen M. Carroll, PhD
1958–2020

It is with profound sadness that we share the news that Kathleen (Kathy) M. Carroll, PhD, a clinical scientist who made seminal contributions to improving treatments for addiction, died unexpectedly after a brief illness on December 28, 2020. She was 62 years old. At the time of her death, Dr. Carroll was the Albert E. Kent Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, and director of psychosocial research in the Division on Addictions.

Dr. Carroll possessed a rare blend of brilliance, generosity, and humility that propelled a career spanning over 30 years in addiction treatment research at Yale. She graduated summa cum laude from Duke University, received her PhD in clinical psychology and neuropsychology in 1988 from the University of Minnesota, and completed her predoctoral training at Yale School of Medicine’s Division of Substance Abuse. Following a brief stint as instructor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School, she joined the faculty at Yale in 1989 as assistant professor of psychiatry. Working closely with Dr. Bruce Rounsaville, she helped establish and subsequently led the Psychotherapy Development Center (PDC), the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA’s) only funded Center of Excellence devoted to behavioral therapies research. Through Dr. Carroll’s leadership, the PDC became one of the most important sources of addiction treatment development and dissemination over the past 25 years, improving the methodological rigor of clinical trials research and leading to multiple clinical innovations that have impacted the lives of many struggling with addiction. Officially ending in 2020, the PDC produced over 1,500 peer-reviewed publications and launched the careers of dozens of independent investigators. Dr. Carroll also served as a principal investigator of NIDA’s Clinical Trials Network, a partnership between NIDA, treatment researchers, and community providers to work toward new treatment options in community-level clinical practice.

The depths of her contribution to the field of addiction are unparalleled. She has been a principal investigator on over 100 research projects funded through NIH, with funding amounts totaling over $76 million. She authored or co-authored over 330 articles in peer-reviewed publications, with over 50 chapters in major textbooks, along with several books and published manuals. Her Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) manual for cocaine use disorders has been translated to over 14 languages and implemented worldwide. Among the defining accomplishments of her career has been broader recognition of the efficacy, safety, and durability of behavioral therapies. She helped establish the Stage Model of Behavioral Therapies Development that facilitated important advances by defining stages of science for behavioral therapies development, from pilot testing of novel approaches translated from basic clinical science (“Stage 1”) to efficacy testing via randomized clinical trials (“Stage 2”) to effectiveness research based in community settings (“Stage 3”). This required a set of methodological advances (e.g., systemization of interventions in manuals, development of fidelity rating systems, therapist training strategies) to which she made multiple contributions. She received a NIH MERIT award for her work which led to the development of an effective web-based version of CBT (“CBT4CBT”), now validated in eight independent trials. CBT4CBT became one of the first evidence-based computerized interventions for a range of substance use disorders and is currently being adapted and implemented for various co-occurring conditions.

Dr. Carroll served on several journal editorial boards, advisory boards, and NIH scientific review panels, too numerous to list. Most recently, she was an invited member of the National Academy of Medicine’s committee on medications to treat opioid use disorders and was a major author of its influential consensus report Responding to the Opioid Crisis: Medications Save Lives.

Dr. Carroll received many prestigious awards, but being honored in September of this year at the 50th anniversary celebration of the APT Foundation, where she conducted much of her research, was among the most meaningful to her. This award highlighted not only her research contributions but her mentorship and relationships with others, to which she was truly committed. According to long-time collaborator, Charla Nich, “we were blessed to be able to give Kathy a message just 3 months ago about our gratitude for her scientific integrity, brilliance, courage, strength, radical acceptance, and love personified.” Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, a current mentee noted, “Her ability to lead compassionately and lift others while climbing, is indeed a gift from the creator.” Brian Kiluk, PhD, another long-time mentee, described her as “the embodiment of a true mentor—someone who both teaches and guides others on their career path, but also serves as a shining example for what others aspire to be.”

Dr. Carroll’s tremendous academic and scientific accomplishments are dwarfed by her kind, generous, and playful spirit. She had an amazing ability to find joy in everyday situations, especially in life’s most difficult moments. She loved swimming, art history, architectural history, hiking, and reading. Kathy was an expert on the works of Shakespeare and opera. She also had a fine sense of humor and loved a good prank. She was a lifelong progressive with great compassion for social justice and coupled anti-racist principles with her recent academic work on identifying and addressing racial and ethnic disparities in substance use treatment outcomes.

Dr. Carroll has maintained a decades old relationship with Christian Community Action (CCA) in New Haven and contributed annually through efforts to provide for school clothing, Christmas gifts, and Easter baskets for children living in emergency housing. From her hospital bed one week prior to falling critically ill, she reached out to CCA caseworkers to make sure that all the homeless children were cared for—and donated electronically toward that effort.

Kathy is survived by her daughter, Kate, her brother, John and his two amazing sons, Dag and Dashiell, her mother Barbara, and her husband Geoffrey White and his daughters, Natalie, and Carla White as well as Matthew Chivian. Her Yale/APT team, too large to mention by name, embraced Kathy as family. Kathy was predeceased by her father John, and loving canine companions Trundo and Ernie.

In lieu of flowers, Kathy’s family is suggesting a donation to the Kathy Carroll Memorial Playground fund at Christian Community Action, 168 Davenport Ave., New Haven, CT 06519. CCA has agreed to set up a creative, safe, and fun outdoor play space for the children in emergency housing.

Memorial services have been postponed until the pandemic allows for a proper gathering and celebration of Kathy’s life.

2020 has been an unprecedented year in so many ways.  Every day we see stories and news reports about COVID19 but that is not the only crisis we are facing.  The Opioid Epidemic continues and has only worsened since the Pandemic began.  Between March and May, 42 states and territories issued mandatory stay at home orders which led many Americans to begin work from home, virtual learning or unemployment.  For those deemed “essential workers”, work continued under uncertainty, fear and increased use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The effects of the Coronavirus vary from individual to individual but common experiences include feelings of social stress, isolation, fear, grief, concerns about job security, finances and health.  All these factors, plus countless others, have played a roll in what state officials predict will be a year of record overdose deaths in Connecticut.  The Chief Medical Examiner predicts the total number of overdoses in the state in 2020 to exceed 1300, over 100 more than last year.  Through October 2020, Connecticut reported a 13% increase in overdose deaths over the same period in 2019.  Fatal and nonfatal overdoses nationwide spiked in May 2020 with a 42% increase compared to May 2019.

It is impossible to know all of the correlations between COVID19 and substance use but some things we know for sure.  Alcohol and cannabis sales have both increased during the Pandemic as many individuals are reporting new or increased alcohol and drug use as a coping method.  Alcohol sales were deemed essential during the Pandemic as alcohol withdraw can be deadly.  So what do we know about why overdoses, especially fatal ones, have increased?  Isolation is a key factor.  Individuals who may have once used drugs with others were often isolated and using alone.  If an overdose occurs while someone is alone, there is no one to call for help or administer the lifesaving overdose reversal, Naoloxone.  Even if someone is present, the fear of going to the hospital during COVID19 may have prevented individuals from seeking help.  The existing stigma around SUD can impact willingness to seek treatment that could prevent a future overdose.

While organizations such as Liberation Programs were deemed essential and not forced to close, fear of leaving the house and being around others became a new barrier to treatment.  Fortunately, governmental mandates were changed to allow for an increase in take home medication such as Methadone which curbs opioid cravings.  Additionally, telehealth services were able to be implemented to provide treatment and support from an individual’s residence.  However, if someone has no access to a phone or internet, this was not an easy solution.  We have adapted and made changes to provide lifesaving treatment during the Pandemic, but there is much work left to be done.

Individuals with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) often have co-morbidities that can worsen symptoms in those who contract COVID19 as well as make individuals more susceptible to the virus.  Unfortunately, minorities have been disproportionately affected by COVID19 and Substance Use Disorders.  A study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), found that African Americans with Substance Use Disorder and COVID19 had worse outcomes for hospitalizations and mortality.  Another study showed that Black patients had a larger portion of Opioid overdoses during the Pandemic.  This disparity in access and treatment must be addressed in order to save lives.

So what are we doing at Liberation Programs to address the Coronavirus Pandemic and Substance Misuse?  We have never closed our doors to Recoverees and are fully utilizing allowances for take home medications and telehealth – something we hope to incorporate even once the Pandemic is behind us.  Our Mobile Wellness Van continues to operate throughout Fairfield County 5 days per week providing life saving Narcan (Naloxone), syringe exchange, harm reduction supplies, education and referrals to those seeking support.  We have trained all staff as well as many in the community and local government in Narcan, including providing Narcan kits, so that we can get as many people as possible equipped to save lives.  We remain committed to meeting people where they are, saving lives and showing that Recovery is Possible.

It all began in March, COVID19’s first case in the USA creating a rollercoaster of emotions such as anxiety, fear, stress and uncertainty! Isolation was encouraged.

At a steady and rapid pace, the Coronavirus pandemic forced us into our homes to “Shelter in Place” while we were encouraged to do our part to “Flatten the Curve”. Cities and states started to shut down as cases increased hourly and daily. Closings took on a life of their own; schools, churches, restaurants, malls, and theatres all closed. However, liquor stores were considered essential and remained opened along with grocery stores. Alcohol sales in stores and online increased at an alarming rate. Uber Eats and Uber Drinks thrived! What happened to those already struggling with substance use disorders?

With a universal time out, ensuing State orders and CDC guidelines were followed; how would those experiencing anxiety, depressions and isolation and already on the cusp for potential alcohol/substance abuse fare? Did parents relax rules at home for alcohol use among teens in order to appease and bond with their child(ren) and/or over compensate for their uncertainty as to what to do? With the first summer in history where sports and other activities were not available, how were young people able to exert energy? While sheltering-in-place and seeing family members differently than they ever had, how does one cope? How does a parent, who feels unprepared to read to their child(ren), cook meals, provide homework help, and experience food insecurities cope with their day-to-day stress? How does an individual whose only escape from an abusive partner was to work outside the home now survive? What does one reach for to deal with life on its new terms; is it alcohol? Legal, accessible and stigma free alcohol potentially start to look good to those looking for relief, even better to those who relied on it already and the best of all to those who could not cope with the responsibilities of their life during the pandemic. Did they resort to drinking, increase alcohol intake or excessive drinking?

There was no longer any place to hide, no place to run to, no dropping kids at day-care, school, work, extra-curricular activities, baptism, birthdays, catechism, bar mitzvah; it all happened under one roof, at home. The positive aspect of COVID19 created room for bonding, worship, laughter, game night, meals, academic, games and family story time. The decision for the school year’s end was distant learning. Pre COVID19 we navigated through life moving quickly from one task to the next and seldom saw one another for long periods because school, work, worship and extra-curricular activities were all outside of the home, oftentimes with people other than the nuclear family. The New Norm continues!

Waiting to exhale!

The August/September back-to-school plan for our precious young people had us hold our breath. Of course, young people deserve socialization, kinship, friendship, and the school experience – they also deserve protection and safety. How does the young person view the back-to-school decision and what does the parent/caregiver believe about their decision to send or not to send their child(ren) to school? Does that decision determine a “Good Parent” or “Bad Parent”? Hybrid/Virtual/Home Schooling, what is it to be? For the child(ren) headed to school, is it a bus or car ride or a walk? When students see their friends, how do they greet one another? Are they properly wearing their mask; fully covering their nose and mouth? How do parents focus in work or at home with the anxiety of if their child(ren) is safe? COVID19 (The Pandemic) has shifted our focus…..we question are we doing all we can, is there anything else we can do? While we consistently experience stress, anxiety and uncertainty, what is our retreat? Is alcohol a companion; is it one glass of wine, one cocktail or a few? Has a drink become what we reach for to calm our worry? Let us take a minute to exhale and assess how we made it through the past six (6) months, what was the “it factor” that offered a sense of sanity, what became your vice? How do you make it through safely day-by-day? Let us continue to do the best we can daily and be kind to one another by offering support and Love.

“Don’t wait for the storm to pass, learn to dance in the rain” (author unknown)

By: Maggie Young, Chief Recovery Officer

Watch Liberation’s Chief Recovery Officer, Maggie Young, speak to the Connecticut Women’s Consortium on her journey through trauma and recovery.

Liberation Programs, Inc Announces Appointment of New Board Chair and Directors

(Norwalk, CT) – Liberation Programs, Inc (LPI) announced the start of its new Fiscal Year on July 1, 2020 with the appointment of a new Chair of the Board of Directors, two new Board Members.

Joining the Board are Debra Hertz, Maria B. Hancock, and Kirk S. Santos. Hertz will be reprising her former role as Board Chair for a one-year term. These appointments bring the total number of Board members to 14.

“We are excited to welcome Debra back to our Board in this leadership capacity and to have Maria and Kirk join this group. Their combined experiences and connections will be instrumental for an important year ahead as we continue adapting to the Coronavirus Pandemic, advocating for social justice, and celebrating our 50th Anniversary in 2021 all while providing unparalleled service for those who need us”, said President and CEO, John Hamilton. “We are all grateful to our departing Board Chair, Wayne Cafran, for his years of service as well as Roberta Cohen, Mort Lowenthal and Patricia Muldowney who served on our Board for over a decade collectively”.

Debra Hertz is returning to Chair the LPI Board having departed the Board in 2015. Hertz is a management consultant and founder of The Strategy Group, LLC with over 25 years advising nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. She holds a PhD. and Master of Social Work from Fordham University where she also teaches leadership courses in the Graduate School of Social Service. A Darien resident, Hertz is on the Board of Directors of Achievement First – Bridgeport.

 

Maria B. Hancock, Rye, NY, is an international executive and entrepreneur with extensive experience in investing and mentoring start-ups and advising on climate risk. Hancock has a PhD. in Theoretical Nuclear Physics from Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität which she utilizes in product innovation, operational leadership, and risk assessment.

 

 

Kirk S. Santos, Mount Kisco, NY, is Chief Learning Officer at Pitney Bowes in Stamford. Previously, Santos held various positions at many Fortune 500 companies including PepsiCo, IBM, and Caesars Entertainment. Santos has extensive experience in Human Resource Strategy including retention, compensation, diversity, talent management, and succession planning. He holds a Master Strategic Management/Human Resources from Long Island University and is a member of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, Society of Human Resource Management and Sigma Beta Delta.

 

The current Board of Directors for Liberation Programs:

Debra Hertz, Chair

John Bassler, Vice-Chair

Dennis Monson, Treasurer

Laura Beck, Secretary

Dr. Frank Appah, Jr

Steve Fogarty

Maria Hancock

Allison Milne

David M. Morosan

Kwame Moses

Sallyan Pelletier

Kirk Santos

Cynthia Shaw

Brigitte Van Den Houte

Dear Friends,

At Liberation Programs, we stand against racism, social injustice, and police brutality. In recent days we have watched in horror as George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. Racial tensions and violence against Black individuals have once again shaken our society. We stand with you in your grief, anger, and sadness at the inequality and violence that have taken place far too often for Black Americans. We understand that there is now more stress, anxiety, and fear during a time when we were already experiencing heightened emotions and trauma.

We believe that hope is the cornerstone of all human healing; one cannot instill both hope and fear. We stand for hope. The work we do depends on our ability to earn trust which cannot take root without respect. We disavow acts that create humiliation. We condemn racism and we are committed to being change agents by listening, learning, sharing, and supporting you during these difficult times.

We know the criminal justice system is flawed and we are committed to its reform through diversion and deflection. Recovery, prevention, and intervention are possible for all. Our doors are open to all who need our services and we promise to treat everyone respectfully.

As an agency, we are committed to systemic change and will continue developing a workforce and Board of Directors who reflect those we serve. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and remain committed to change for an equitable society.

Blacks Lives Matter; you matter to me.

 

Yours,

 

 

John Hamilton

President & CEO

Liberation Programs, a leading behavioral health organization specializing in substance use treatment in Fairfield County, is adapting to the Coronavirus Pandemic to continue its life saving programs at a time when they are needed more than ever. Liberation’s Outpatient Programs in Bridgeport and Stamford are still accepting walk in admissions for mental health, Methadone, extended release naltrexone, and Buprenorphine as approved by the CT Department of Mental Health Services (DMHAS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Telehealth counseling services are being used in addition to enhanced protections for in person medicating. Inpatient programs are continuing undisrupted with enhanced social distancing measures in place. We have also partnered with a Federally Qualified Health Center to provide telehealth primary care medical services to Recoverees to ensure their safety while allowing for continued medical care. Additionally, Liberation’s Mobile Wellness Van is in Washington Park in Bridgeport from 10am – 2pm on Wednesdays providing Buprenorphine, harm reduction syringe exchange and overdose kits.

In the month of March, Liberation Programs saw an increase in outpatient admissions with one location having an 18% increase in new admissions. As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues, and in its aftermath, Liberation expects to see an increase in admissions and need for their services. The anxiety, fear, stress and sense of loss due to Coronavirus is a recipe for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has a high comorbidity with Substance Use Disorders. Stress and trauma are strong risk factors for addiction as well as relapse, treatment failure and a lack of willingness to quit. while dealing with trauma can lead to relapse and lack of willingness to quit. Loss of a consistent routine and the unprecedented increase in unemployment are both indicators of a dramatic increase in drug use. Last month, the “Disaster Distress Hotline” at SAMHSA saw an 891% increase in calls over March of 2019 and a 338% increase in calls compared to the month before.

A vital part of Substance Use Treatment is social support which can be difficult with necessary social distancing protocols. It is essential to rely on technology wherever possible to deal with trauma and anxiety while connecting with others. This is also true for first responders, medical staff and frontline workers who are at risk of developing PTSD from this pandemic. Isolation and social distancing can lead to feelings of loneliness and lack of emotional connections which can lead to increased use and self-medication with drugs and alcohol.

After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, substance use increased in Manhattan by 27% and remained high even when reports of depression and PTSD had declined. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there was a 35% increase in hospitalizations for Substance Use Disorder in Louisiana. Both traumatic events had largely regional effects while the Coronavirus Pandemic has national and global ramifications.

Individuals with Substance Use Disorders are not only at risk of having lasting mental health effects due to the Coronavirus, many are more susceptible to complications from contracting Coronavirus. Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder, methamphetamine use and those who smoke or vape are especially at risk of complications. The timing of the Coronavirus Pandemic is especially unfortunate as we are currently experiencing a national and local Opioid Epidemic. It is critical that Substance Use Treatment is available to curb preventable hospitalizations that will pull resources from Coronavirus frontlines. There are also many instances where change in routine and more time spent at home can lead to finding a sense of purpose and desire to seek treatment.

There are many resources available from Liberation Programs as well as SAMHSA and CT DMHAS for those struggling with stressors related to the Coronavirus Pandemic as well as those living with Substance Use Disorders. Liberation Programs remains open to serve the community in lower Fairfield County during this pandemic and after. To get more information, please visit www.liberationprograms.org, call 855.LIB.PROG (855.542.7764) or email info@liberationprograms.org.