How To Do Recovery in Family

In this episode of Seeds for Your Marriage podcast, we dive deep into the complex yet crucial topic of addiction, mental health, and the profound impact they can have on relationships and families. 

Joined by Crissy Clark, executive director of Ripple Ranch, a holistic addiction treatment center, we explore the intricate interplay between substance abuse and mental health disorders, shedding light on the importance of addressing these issues together.
Clip from Seeds For Your Marriage podcast interview.
Crissy Clark brings her wealth of experience and expertise to the conversation, offering invaluable insights into the various trauma treatments available, such as EMDR and CBT. She emphasizes the need to understand the far-reaching effects of trauma on individuals, and how it can perpetuate cycles of addiction and mental health challenges. 

Crissy's perspective challenges the notion that individuals must hit "rock bottom" before seeking help, and instead highlights the importance of early intervention and support.
In this episode, we delve into the often-stigmatized realms of mental health and addiction, stressing the significance of open communication and support within families. We explore the complexities of codependency and the necessity of setting healthy boundaries, while also providing insights into the available resources for individuals and families seeking guidance and support on their healing journeys.
Listen to Full Episode


Speaker 1: 0:00
everybody has to figure it out for themselves, but the way we look at it is is it impacting your functioning? Do you now have legal troubles? Have you lost your marriage, a job? Are your children not talking to you? Thank you, guys for focusing on family and marriage, because I think that's such an important core value that our communities and our societies need Seeds for your marriage. Our societies need Seeds for your marriage.

Speaker 1: 0:29
At a substance abuse treatment center doing my internship, and just being there for my internship, of course you start to see these patterns and I was noticing a lot of trauma with the people that were there and that seemed to be a common thread, which is why I started to pursue some of these trauma treatments. Having made a career out of this, I've been able to kind of build on that theory that a lot of the people that we're dealing with at a substance or treatment centers all not all, you can't say all, you never can say all but I would say you know most of them that I have interactions with or am working with are struggling with mental health issues. So, for example, you might have someone come in who is using meth and you have the opportunity to sit and talk with them or do their intake and you find out that they're having some type of auditory or visual hallucinations. Well, that can be meth, so can detoxing off of alcohol. But then, as you're talking to that person and getting a history, you find out that maybe the first time they had a visual hallucination was when they were six, okay, six years old. So now we're talking about there's something was going on there at a pretty young age and then maybe on top of that you find out that they were being sexually abused or physically abused really change the connections in your brain and the way that you view the world and things can seem really scary. So you have to kind of go back and you have to build trust with the person to kind of get all of that history and see where the core issue is.

Speaker 1: 2:11
But sometimes it's really hard to pull apart substance use and mental health. But we have tours, sometimes at Ripple, from other treatment centers and they'll say, oh, it's so cool that you guys do mental health, we don't do that, we just do substance use. We don't do that, we just do substance use. And I kind't think, don't think of them as separate issues. But the people that come to an inpatient treatment facility. But, that being said, you know it can be anything from.

Speaker 1: 2:54
I mean, I'm thinking about, for instance, our one of our admissions specialists. She shares her story all the time, so I don't I know she wouldn't mind me sharing some things, but for her her rock bottom was she had gotten a couple of DWIs. She got arrested, was in jail for another DWI and she thought to herself I could really use a drink right now. She came to Ripple. She got sober two years later because we required two years of sobriety to come back and work for us and she's been one of our star admissions counselors ever since then and been able to be a part of her kids' lives and her grandkids' lives.

Speaker 1: 3:35
And so you know, you have other people that come in and they just they have no family that will talk to them, they have no support, they've spent all of their money, they are homeless, they have lost their driver's license, they've had everything stolen from them, like we have literally people come with nothing. So everybody's rock bottom is a little bit different and the population that we serve is really diverse. We have attorneys, we have, like I said, people that are homeless, that have lost their jobs, lost their family. We have people that have lost children and have spiraled into substance use as a way of dealing with grief. So it's really diverse.

Speaker 2: 4:18
Yeah, I think that I would assume that for the majority of the people, though, there are some mental health I guess symptoms or the whole thing around having family trauma or trauma in someone's life. It started a long way back before they ever started using right.

Speaker 1: 4:38
I think maybe even the using of substance is actually more of a symptom from trying to hide all of that pain and so what we've tried to do, which I love yoga, by the way, and I love meditation and grounding, and those are all really good tools calming your central nervous system when you have been through a lot of trauma. But sometimes we try to teach just kind of sitting with your emotions and learning how to retrain your brain. That like it's okay to feel overwhelmingly sad or overwhelmingly frustrated, but I think the big thing that that you're talking about too is that one of the most probably harmful emotions that people experience and try to avoid as shame. And so when you've got some kind of abuse that happened within the family, a lot of times there's shame surrounding that. And as children especially, we just we kind of have this belief that like the moon follows us wherever we go. That's a very egocentric world and so, of course, as children, if something bad's happening to us, the natural reaction is well, if I'm just a better kid or if I can change the way I'm behaving or keep somebody happy, then these things won't happen.

Speaker 1: 5:57
And yeah, it's really interesting because I'd say that a lot of times you see people come into treatment, whether it be in just mental health in general or substance use treatment, like in their early thirties and it's almost seems to be like that's the tipping point where, like I've been able to kind of keep this together and maintain this like avoidance that I'm doing, but at some point, if you don't deal with it, it's going to implode on you, and so that's where we see I think that's a really common age that I see early thirties, where people are like I just can't do this anymore, like I just can't, like my anxiety is out of control, my depression's out of control.

Speaker 1: 6:35
So then the stigma within the families, especially that can be a cultural issue or, like you said, maybe there's some even potential legal issues that can happen with families. We have to be really careful and supportive of families so that because the idea is we want to like keep them together, because we need our families and we need our support systems I mean, I can say more on the stigma, unless there's something that you have that's like a specific question about the stigma. But I think that being self-aware, understanding the facts, us as therapists, kind of educating families and educating our clients, can help with the stigma.

Speaker 3: 7:18
We talk a lot about lowering the waterline.

Speaker 3: 7:20
And you know, if you think about, the iceberg is what you see. You know when you're, when you're on the waters, but what's underneath is what's really going on and and. So if there's no safety, if there's not a feeling of security and trust, and so that vulnerability becomes really important, and I think that kind of maybe connects to the stigma which is for me to come out and say I'm depressed or I'm this. How do we combat that stigma and get to a place where it's okay to not be okay and also ensure that there's the help, the support and the services that we have that we need to help folks overcome and, as you talked about, getting to the root?

Speaker 1: 7:59
Yeah, I mean I think it's a good question. It's really interesting because I have three girls. My youngest is 19. And her generation is almost overcorrected in a way, I think, because they just use these terms. Well, I'm bipolar, I have PTSD, I have anxiety. They sort of use them in almost a flippant kind of help normalize that that all families deal with and some people deal with it at certain times in their family or in their life, and sometimes it's a lifelong struggle. But it's just more, I think, more the norm than we realize.

Speaker 3: 8:39
I 100% agree. I'm so glad you said that because I mean, even in our own family, we have family members that have gone through different bouts of mental health and substance abuse, and one of the things that we, even Trisha and I, still talk about to this day in some of our family relationships is the idea of codependency. There's a really fine line between that and you know, chrissy, you were talking about the fact that you involve the whole family into supporting those who you work with. Just some thoughts on that. And how do we get to a place where we can educate ourselves as I think, people in the family to know the difference and know am I really helping this person, am I a codependent, and how do we navigate that situation?

Speaker 1: 9:23
I just kind of was exposed to some information about the idea of codependency and that whole idea kind of where it comes from. It is a 12-step AA concept. There's been a lot of books written about codependency. There's very little evidence that codependency actually exists, so can't really diagnose people when they're in crisis. We don't do that. You'll see behaviors and symptoms that aren't necessarily always there. So if we think about codependency or people using substances we're as a crisis situation, you can't really look at the family and say, oh, this is like, this is a diagnosis, this is a disorder, and so we kind of feel like it's created a lot of toxic responses to substance use in the substance use world. But I think there's not really a perfect formula for it. So one of the examples I heard was a guy who his mom was an alcoholic and he was also in recovery and he shared the story that one night his mom showed up. She had been drinking, she'd been on the bender or whatever, and she somehow managed to get herself. It was raining and she managed to get herself to his house in a taxi or something like that, but she didn't have her license and she didn't have any money. He called his sponsor and said what do you think I should do? Like my mom's, you know, here she has no, she has nothing. He said I think you should not let her in. His mom was in her seventies or something. He said there was. There was no, no version of the story where he was going to leave his 70 year old mom out in the rain with no you know. And so that's just an example.

Speaker 1: 11:12
Not everybody goes to those extremes, but I think it's an example of how, like, yes, we need to set boundaries, but we also that's those are our family members and we love them, and so sometimes we do have to make decisions based on do we think, like, this person is going to live or die if I don't help them?

Speaker 1: 11:30
So you have to set those boundaries and you have to kind of figure that out, I think, as you go. I myself had a child who struggled with addiction. So for me it was there were considerations that we had, like we had younger children in the house and so we couldn't allow use in the house because we could have lost the ability to care for those younger children. We had to make that a very strict rule, but we had to just also continue to love her and try to make sure she was safe to the best of our abilities, like focus on the things that we had control over, also understanding that we could not control her and her decisions. So it's again that's why I say it's. Sometimes that's that creates more questions, because there's not, like there's not, a perfect formula for it.

Speaker 2: 12:20
Yeah, but I really like what you're saying, though, just around, instead of looking at it as the term codependency, really looking at the term boundaries and assessing our own boundaries for ourself, like what are we allowing and what are we not allowing for our own life and our own home? But then what are the boundaries for the other person to like? What are we willing to accept or not accept from their behaviors? And then even education, right, like you talked earlier just about education, educating ourselves. So if we are going through a situation with a family member who is suffering from, you know, substance abuse or any sort of mental health issue, like educating ourselves first instead of just reacting, I guess, to the situation, I think that can be really helpful. And then I think the other part is just community and allow us to be overcome by that shame, but really, yeah, and that connects to the love that you talked about, chrissy.

Speaker 3: 13:14
you know, leading with love. I think that that's so important in anything that we do is just, you know, letting the love come through, and relationships really matter too. I think that connects to the community piece, because sometimes we want to control the outcome and it's not within our control. So so, having trust in God and that he's got it, and having faith, I think, is also a very, very important component of what we're talking about doing what he believed, what we believe he's telling us to do. There's no blueprint for that.

Speaker 1: 13:43
Yeah, there really isn't, which makes it difficult. I will add into that that you know some common behaviors that we see with people that are in active addiction and they are desperate they're in survival mode, you know. So they at times will pull out all the stops, make people feel guilty, and just all the stops make people feel guilty and just, I think, standing firm and understanding that that's the addiction talking and that you can't take that personally.

Speaker 2: 14:14
Well, what are some of the things that you do at Ripo Ranch where you help to support the family and maybe the education piece, so they kind of understand that.

Speaker 1: 14:22
So we do an online meeting for parents or family members every Tuesday and that's actually open to the community. So it's not technically like a CODA meeting or you know it's not because we do this dual diagnosis. So ours is just a little bit different. We focus on some psychoeducation about different types of diagnosis and educate family on what aftercare looks like. But it is open to anyone who wants to join. It's a Zoom meeting that does depend on the person giving us permission. We do have to have a release of information for us to communicate with families.

Speaker 3: 15:03
You find good participation from the family, that many are willing to come around and really go through the online sessions and be there and get the education and the knowledge that they need to really support aftercare and when their family members leave.

Speaker 1: 15:17
It really depends on where the family is. You know, unfortunately, we know that I think that the average is like eight treatment centers before you achieve sobriety and I think that that's kind of I wish that we were able to keep people longer. Usually insurance pays for about 30 days and you know, if you've been using hard drugs for 15 years, 30 days is not usually ideal. So for some of these families they've done this so many times and they're just not all that involved. They've made those decisions to let the person figure it out on their own. So I would say it's maybe half and half. You know, like half of the families are super involved. They want to know what's going on, they want to be part of the aftercare plan. They are attending the meetings, but some of the families are, you can tell, just very burned out, compassion fatigue at this point.

Speaker 3: 16:21
So so I noticed that Ripple Ranch high completion rate and also very, very high satisfaction rate and I can imagine that one of the greatest joys that you have is seeing someone go on to thrive. So obviously you're having results and I'm curious, because we are about thriving individuals, marriages and families and you said early on that we need that, like we need that in society. Are there any obviously not sharing names, but any testimonies that you can share, chrissy, of maybe where there was a family that before it was don't know how this is going to end, but after you saw restoration and you saw healing and you saw a family go on to overcome this challenge of mental health and substance abuse?

Speaker 1: 17:11
I mean, we have so many examples and I can't. The one that comes to mind that I feel comfortable sharing about again is our admissions counselor that came through. We have, you know, had a few people that have come back. I've been there three years, so we have the two-year rule as far as people coming back to get jobs. We have one person that's got several family members there now working. That went through our program, came and worked and now, you know, has family members working there as well, and so that's really beautiful to see that them using Ripple as kind of a way to maintain their relationship by working together.

Speaker 2: 17:55
And so we've heard a lot of different stories and there are a lot of families, like you said, it's very common. I mean, I think every family probably has at least one person that is suffering from addiction or from any sort of mental health type thing. And so, yeah, I just really felt, like Every couple of our podcasts, we just try to address this issue because it's affected our family, it's affected a lot of families that we know, and if there's any way that we can bring just education to people and just support, if we feel like we both are trained ministers and we do a lot with inner healing and so part of what we do is just really, I feel like we partner with people like you, partner with people who you know, have all of the acronyms behind their name, you know, and do all of the deep work stuff, the deep trauma work, but feel like we can help also come alongside those people and help people understand how to relate to one another as you know, families, how to really get to the root of, you know, maybe some things with their faith and their identity and things like that. So, yeah, we just thank you. Thank you for just being on here and and talking with us. Yeah, thank you.

Speaker 3: 19:13
I really appreciate it as well, chrissy. I think, just substance abuse aside, like knowing that it, like some of the root, can get to the mental health aspect, are there any places that you would encourage people to maybe go online resources that immediately come to mind, or just any thoughts around questions to ask yourself right To? Maybe I don't know what it is, but sometimes it's these honest conversations that we have with ourself and then when we start to realize, ok, I'm not OK, yeah, what do I do next? What do I do next? Right, where do I go?

Speaker 1: 19:47
So I think the way that we think about it from a therapeutic standpoint is is is it something that's impacting your functioning? Because we literally will get people coming in with lots of stuff going on and they're still saying I don't think, I have a problem. So when do you decide that you have a problem? And the way that we look at it and everybody has to figure it out for themselves but the way we look at it is is it impacting your functioning? So, do you, do you now have legal troubles? Do you have you know? Have you lost your marriage? Have you lost a job? Are your children not talking to you? Have you lost all your money? Are you having to sell your house?

Speaker 1: 20:31
So as soon as you're seeing these big life changes, that's usually a good clue that this is getting out unmanageable. Right, and as far as where to go, it's, every state is really different, every county is really different, and so it really depends on the resources. In your area there is a number that you can call 211, and they are a good resource to kind of help you get started. But if it's a substance use problem, a lot of times you can just call a treatment center, because even if they're not in your area or they don't accept your insurance. The people that answer the phones for treatment centers are fairly well-trained in case management or referring out.

Speaker 1: 21:24
So if somebody calls you and says I'm in a really bad spot and I don't know what to do, they can't just say sorry, we can't accept you. They have to help you find the right, get you started on the right path. So sometimes calling just a facility can be helpful. A lot of times there's community mental health in most counties and that's across the nation. So sometimes calling your community mental health can be a good start. Especially for people that don't have insurance. That can be a resource. So those are probably the places that I would start, based on what I know.

Speaker 3: 22:03
Those are some good ones. Yeah, yeah, 211. Contact a mental health facility in your area or look for community health outlets that might be close to you.

Speaker 1: 22:13
Yeah, call a treatment center if you have one near you, because even if they don't take your insurance, they can usually guide you to in the right direction. Excellent.

Speaker 3: 22:22
Well, thank you so much, Chrissy. This is really good and so important, so important for us to. I think everyone deserves, you know, the opportunity to have a thriving, healthy, whole and fulfilling life, and this is a part of it right and dealing with and overcoming these challenges. So thank you for the work that you're doing, that your team is doing at Ripple, making a difference. Like you said, you know at the beginning, one individual at a time, and I think that that's how God sees us. We're all uniquely and wonderfully made and so he designed us, and so the fact that you take the time to really get to know each person that comes through the door and give them exactly what they need, I think is just beautiful.

Speaker 1: 23:05
Yeah, thank you guys for focusing on family and marriage, because I think that that's such an important core value that our communities and our societies need so.

Speaker 3: 23:17
Amen. Yeah we're going after it just like you are All right. Well, you have a wonderful, wonderful week ahead.

Speaker 1: 23:26
Oh, good to talk to you. Thank you Likewise, Chrissy. Okay.

Speaker 2: 23:29
Thank you for listening to Seeds for your Marriage with hosts Krisha and Thomas Walker. We pray this episode has given you tips and tools on how to thrive in your marriage. Be sure to subscribe to this podcast and follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Trisha and Thomas.

Speaker 3: 23:47
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