Expert Help for Addiction Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

New podcasts break down treatment barriers for mental health and addiction.

Posted Nov 13, 2018

This past Friday I received an emergency call—a concerned wife had heard me on the Johnathan Van Ness Podcast “Getting Curious” and believed that my approach to helping people kick unhealthy habits and addictions could potentially help her husband. He had been a heavy drinker for most of the last decade, but things had taken a turn and he hadn’t left his bed for four days. She needed help from an addiction expert. Things were bad.

Have you ever wondered how to recover from an addiction, without checking in to a traditional rehab facility? Do you want access to the latest treatment methods, scientific research and a way to connect with experts who can share information that isn’t readily available elsewhere? You can.

I get calls like the one I received Friday weekly, and many people who call are not ready or interested in traditional approaches because they’ve either tried them before and failed or simply aren’t interested. And until recently, I didn’t realize just how simple it can be to deliver help to people who suffer outside of the traditional system. But that podcast appearance and many others have given me a sense that there is a new way to reach the millions who suffer, so I started my own podcast—and there is a slew of others doing cool work as well.

One segment offers a new look at the addiction problem. I draw on my personal experiences with addiction and my professional knowledge as a research psychologist and addiction expert to delve deep into areas previously unexplored around the addiction problem. It gives instant and immediate access to addiction treatment methods.

Aside from having a personal experience with substance addiction, I’ve also spent a decade studying the genetic, neuropharmacological, behavioral, and environmental influences on addiction. From this knowledge and experience, I wanted to translate the latest research that we, as scientists and practitioners, have uncovered about addiction, and share it with the public so you have the best possible chance to leave your addiction behind. 

Most importantly, I've found that it is best to be non-judgmental and non-shaming. Because I’ve struggled with an addiction myself and worked with literally hundreds of people in similar situations, I know that shame plays a counterintuitive role in recovery—it can be thought of as a motivator for seeking help but is also a primary factor keeping many people out of treatment.

The Experience of Shame

When I first met Terry, a former client, she was a "closet drinker." She was so desperate to avoid her shame from her family and friends that she actually snuck into closets and pantries, where she’d hidden bottles, to drink. It hadn't always been such a magnificent problem. In college, she'd been a heavy drinker, but she married and had two children. Terry and her husband lived in a beautiful home with a gorgeous pool overlooking the ocean in Orange County, California. On the surface, their life looked perfect. But the party girl antics escalated into a 10-year problem.

She never thought she’d end up an ‘alcoholic’ and yet she had memory loss, verbal altercations, and secret drinking hiding places. She vowed to slow down, but her attempts to do so failed time and time again. After her husband put "his foot down" she tried out a few traditional treatment methods like AA. But, she hated it. It was humiliating and all she could see in front of her was the life of a "recovering alcoholic." She hated the idea of not being able to toast a wedding or have a cocktail with a friend. She wanted to slow down her drinking, not quit altogether. But everyone knew that she was an alcoholic, so that wasn’t possible. She kept fighting.

Research tells us there are consistent barriers to addiction treatment and these include:

            •           Cost

            •           Accessibility

            •           Shame/Negative stigma

            •           Abstinence

            •           Time

I studied and explored these barriers in detail in a previous article, but the point I want to make is that addiction treatment that is cost-effective, accessible, non-shaming, time-efficient, and does not require abstinence is a reality. Because the goal should be to make getting help as easy to access and engage in as possible, not to create hurdles and walls for those who need help to jump over. The whole "I am willing to help you if you just..." approach needs to die.

By the way, that husband from Friday's call did come in to see me the same day, drunk and barely able to walk. With a new perspective and tools, he was able to show up on Sunday and sober. And now he has a new chance at a life he will love.