September is National Recovery Month.  The observance began in 1989 as Treatment Works and has grown to a national recognition of the successes made by those seeking treatment as well as those providing treatment.  SAMHSA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration) has done a fantastic job promoting the gains made in the treatment of addiction while encouraging the expansion of services and availability of treatment.  

For me, 1989 was a ground-breaking year as well. I gave birth to my first child, Farrah, and my husband, Dr. Morteza Khaleghi, and I founded Creative Care. In starting Creative Care it was our desire to humanize and individualize addiction treatment.  We knew we could help people by working with them to connect the dots between their emotional life and their addiction.

Recovery is possible and treatment works.  This message is delivered in our new book The Anatomy of Addiction, Recognizing The Triggers Standing In The Way of Recovery.   We have worked with addicts for almost 22 years and we have found that one of the most essential keys to recovery is first understanding how addiction developed.

When we started Creative Care it was believed that those treating addiction should not address the emotional life of the addict. Further it was thought that the addict did not possess the ability to tolerate the upset that these issues caused and that delving into emotional turmoil would perpetuate the addicts need to use.  They were half right, unresolved emotional issues do lead to addiction but continuing to keep these issues unresolved leads to relapse not resolution and recovery.  At the heart of the matter addiction is a way of relieving emotional pain.  So it stands to reason that understanding the source of the pain is essential and what we call "connecting the dots" between emotion and behavior.

One of the most profound messages that we share with addicts and those significant in the addict's life is that they can choose recovery, that life can be better and that understanding their emotional issues leads to their ability to choose recovery.

By Dr. Karen Khaleghi

September 1, 2011

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