Discussing the Science of Addiction Recovery With Dr. Thomas Beley of Palm Partners
DELRAY BEACH, Fla., Nov. 29, 2018
DELRAY BEACH, Fla., Nov. 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Recently, the media team at Palm Partners had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Thomas Beley, Ph.D., LCSW who is the Executive Director for Palm Healthcare Company and Palm Partners Recovery Center to ask him about his experience in addiction treatment, and about how Palm Partners Recovery Center is evolving with changes in the industry.
Below is an excerpt of the insightful Q&A with Dr. Beley:
How long have you been working in the field of addiction and mental health treatment?
Dr. Beley: I have been working in the field of addictions and mental health for over 25 years. In my earlier years, it was not uncommon to see that many who were struggling with psychiatric and emotional conditions were also using substances as a way of coping with the symptoms of their emotional issues whether it was anxiety, depression, severe mood swings or even psychotic symptoms. What was even clearer was the prevalence of use as part of the developmental life cycle.
Why did you choose this field of work?
Dr. Beley: To me, it felt like a necessity to become an expert in the field of addiction. So many of the people I worked with were experimenting and using substances, and it became difficult to ascertain what the primary diagnosis of the person was. What I saw were people who were using recreationally for symptom relief from their emotional issues. And I watched those people becoming more and more dependent on a particular substance. By witnessing this, I realized that it was a necessity to treat both the mental health issues and substance use occurring in the person's life.
How has addiction changed over the years?
Dr. Beley: What I can say is that some of the statistics have not changed, even after over 25 years. The numbers still show that 85 percent of adolescents experiment with drugs and alcohol. I have come to realize that substance use was more part of a developmental phase or phenomena that people go through. I think the question is not whether a person is using substances. The question should be – has the person been able to pass through this phase without becoming compromised.
What have you seen change in the industry over that period of time?
Dr. Beley: There have been wonderful changes in the field of addiction and, for that matter, all co-occurring conditions. Namely, the evidenced-based research conducted in the neurosciences over the past 20 years. We know more about the treatment of addiction and co-occurring disorders than ever before, but more importantly, we know more about the recovery process. There is a science to addiction. What people fail to realize is that there is also a science to recovery. The old adage of "relapse is a part of recovery" is simply out of date. Did you know that research in the field of addictions and mental health exponentially doubles every five years?
The unfortunate outcome is that so much of this research is falling on deaf ears. All too often insurance companies, treatment facilities, and our very own academic institutions have not kept pace with the research that is out there. As a result, many are still mired in the stigma and antiquated ways of doing treatment. As of right now, only 8 percent of medical schools in the U.S. provide a required course in addiction, but addiction is one of our leading health care issues in the U.S.
Our graduate schools for professionals who intend to work with this population have even less exposure to the dynamics of addiction. So there has been progressing, but we still have plenty of work to do.
Have these changes had any impact on how you view the work you do?
Dr. Beley: I have been completely inspired by the fact that there are answers out there, and they have been out there for some time. What we know about people who suffer from any illness, not just addiction or mental health issues, is that there are three fundamental elements at work.
First, a person's ability to tolerate stress is compromised, which inhibits a person's immune system. This needs to be made stronger.
Second, because of stress, a person's neurochemistry is thrown off. This leads to symptomatic behaviors. A person's neurochemistry has to be addressed.
Finally, when a person is symptomatic they often are unable to cope with the situation at hand. They have either not developed the necessary coping skills to deal with the stress, or because of chronic behaviors, they have not developed the necessary skills. As a result, there is a recurring cyclical process.
Addressing these three fundamental elements is crucial in maintaining a pathway to a healthy lifestyle. So I believe that the mind-body connection cannot be emphasized enough.
What has Palm Partners Recovery Center done to grow with those changes?
Dr. Beley: Palm Partners Recovery Center has been able to keep pace with the evidenced-based research over the years and has done extremely well in training staff regarding the science of addiction. But perhaps more importantly, our staff is trained on the science of recovery. Our program focuses on two key elements:
First, the development of a detailed recovery plan emphasizing the behaviors a person will need to do in order not to relapse.
Secondly, a direction of how to get that person back on track with their life.
For many, drugs and alcohol have not been the problem, they have been the solution. Palm Partners has been devoted to focusing on finding alternative solutions for over 20 years. Getting a person back on track with life is an important part of what we do. To that end, we assist the person in examining seven core areas of life and develop an individualized treatment plan to make sure a person has the opportunity to reach their maximum potential in these areas.
What other changes would you like to see in how the world addresses addiction and mental health?
Dr. Beley: Let's just acknowledge that there is an addiction problem in our country, not just an "opiate crisis." It is true that opiate overdoses, alone, have been the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. outnumbering car fatalities since 2014. However, this doesn't even take into account the overdoses from other substances. This is conservatively equivalent to 110 jumbo jets crashing every year.
And there is still way too much stigma and ignorance about people suffering from addiction. We need to overcome that as well.
Why do you believe the Palm Partners program will continue to be successful in treating addiction and mental health?
Dr. Beley: We care. We realize that the research on how to treat addiction and maintain a solid recovery is only getting better. There is still a lot out there, and there is still a lot more to come. We intend on retrieving it.
To read more from Dr. Thomas Beley please visit the Palm Partners Blog. For more information on Palm Partners Recovery Center, please visit the website: www.palmpartners.com or call 408-689-6448 today.
Director of Admissions
Palm Healthcare Company
SOURCE Palm Partners Recovery Center