When does it stop being a party and start becoming a problem? Is there a way to steer clear of addiction? Every Wednesday, Mike McGowan, host of the podcast "Avoiding the Addiction Affliction," explores substance use disorders with expert guests. The podcast series is sponsored by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition.
Original cover art created by
Kelly P. of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Therapist and Consultant with The Wellness Initiative in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Substance use delays emotional and social growth. The earlier and longer someone uses, the greater the need in recovery to discover new ways of coping with life and relationships. Jeannie Seefeldt talks about what works to help people with addiction acquire the skills they need to discover their moral, creative selves. Jeannie is a therapist and consultant with The Wellness Initiative in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you need help with your substance misuse or that of a loved one, help is available. To contact the Hope Council on Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, call 262-658-8166, or explore their website at https://www.hopecouncil.org.
[00:00:00] [Jaunty Music]
[00:00:12] Mike: Welcome everyone to Avoiding the Addiction Affliction a series brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. Today. I'm pleased to have as our guest Jeannie Seefeldt. Jeannie is a therapist and consultant with the Wellness Initiative in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jeannie works with a whole wide variety of clients, but today our conversation is about therapies for addiction, substance use, and I'm sure we'll dabble into mental health somewhere along the line.
[00:00:38] Welcome Jeannie.
[00:00:39] Jeannie: Thanks Mike for having me.
[00:00:41] Mike: Well, I'm so glad you could join us. And that will become clear in a couple of minutes, but you know, all my therapy, friends, therapists, friends, um, have talked about just what people are dealing with right now. You must be seeing the same kind of influx of mental health and addiction issues coming to your door. Right?
[00:01:00] Jeannie: I have Mike, I absolutely have.
[00:01:02] Mike: Ya, what are you seeing?
[00:01:05] Jeannie: I have seen an increase um my specialty is in addictions or my certification, and I have seen an increase in substance use, um, across the board. Um, and so that's currently what I'm working with. Um, it's co-occurring as well because there's anxiety, there's depression.
[00:01:26] Um, and it's just ways people are learning how to deal with coming out or being in the pandemic, coming out of the pandemic and all the different things that are occurring in the world.
[00:01:35] Mike: Well, they say the data that I'm hearing says that women's excessive drinking, 40% of all American women coped with the pandemic through excessively drinking.
[00:01:47] Or increasing their excessive drinking.
[00:01:49] Jeannie: I would say, I think it was an increase, um, women across the board from what I've seen, have generally gone. Um, initially they were into Valium and back in the day. Um, and then they went to alcohol. Um, and truthfully I'm surprised that, um, you can get the data on that for an increase because women generally tend to keep it quiet.
[00:02:13] And we usually don't see that as far as like, um, as far as statistics, like OWI's things like that, those aren't necessarily recorded as such. So, um, but definitely I would say who I've seen, there's been an increase in alcohol and marijuana.
[00:02:29] Mike: Yeah. You know, I laughed a little when you said Valium, cause it took me way back.
[00:02:34] Uh, my mom was recovering, but, um, back when she wasn't, uh, she ended up in the emergency room and some doctor gave her Valium as a, um, way to treat her anxiety, even though he knew she was there for an alcohol overdose, just crazy nuts, isn't it?
[00:02:52] Jeannie: Is, it is
[00:02:54] Mike: Well, okay. I know it's not cookie cutter, but when you're working with people with substance issues, what do you, what do you find works?
[00:03:04] Jeannie: Ooh. Um...
[00:03:05] Mike: I know that's a big question.
[00:03:07] Jeannie: Yeah, my belief has been, this. Is, I think there's a real, there's a lot of good therapy approaches out there. So for me, I think it's really about. The, the connection between therapist and patient, to be honest, um, because I think when you create that therapeutic alliance, then they start to trust in you and you can start to work with them on an explain certain therapy approaches.
[00:03:36] I have no problem saying to my patients, listen, this is what we're going to do. And this is what the outcomes should be. And this is, but I can't introduce that initially. I have to get them to start to work with me, get to know me, you know, start to trust potentially. And that takes a long time, but that doesn't mean I can't do other treatment approaches, motivational interviewing, just asking them questions, let them hear about why they believe what they're doing is right or wrong.
[00:04:03] And then I try to make sure that I create an awareness within them. That challenges that.
[00:04:10] Mike: How do you, how do you get somebody to, um, open up and be honest? Cause I think there's a sense of shame about this and,
[00:04:16] Jeannie: I would agree with that.
[00:04:17] Mike: I've always come at it from the perception that I'm never being told the entire truth.
[00:04:23] Jeannie: And I think that is what most therapists do initially, is that you shouldn't expect to be told the truth automatically.
[00:04:32] Um, and I think what that's about is. I make it about me and I really am passionate about what I do. I enjoy what I do. And multiple times people have said, You just have this way to make me feel comfortable. And I'll be honest. I don't know how I do it. I just do it. So I can't tell you. I think that's really part of the key though.
[00:04:55] I mean, I enjoy what I do. I don't believe that I judge people and I'm thinking some of that is how it comes out. Is that when I just start talking to them, it's about, tell me about your story. Let me know how I can help, you're the expert. I'm just here to sort of put pieces together or challenge some of what you're saying.
[00:05:13] And I think because there's that genuineness because I really don't, I don't judge and I really enjoy what I do. And it's like, let's see what we can do together.
[00:05:22] Mike: Yeah. I think know, we've talked a lot about that non-judgment piece here. I think that's a huge part because we have a, well, they've been judged a lot.
[00:05:31] People who come to therapy finally get to therapy, have been judged. And self judged, right?
[00:05:37] Jeannie: Yep. Absolutely. They already, they're already coming in with this feeling of wherever they've been and whoever they've talked to, um, they don't need somebody else who they're eventually going to, at least that's what the goal is, is to share their vulnerability and work with them.
[00:05:53] You just can't do that with anybody. And they're very intuitive at some point to start working with somebody who they believe on some level. Is really wanting to help or at least listen, instead of always telling them what to do.
[00:06:08] Mike: Yeah. Well, I think you know this, but part of the reason I contacted you was we've had a couple of people on here who have been through drug court and you did the moral reconation.
[00:06:18] Is that, am I pronouncing that right again? I always get that wrong.
[00:06:20] Jeannie: Moral reconation.
[00:06:22] Mike: I don't, I just cannot get it out. You know, or MRT I'll use MRT.
[00:06:27] Jeannie: Let's go that route. [laugh]
[00:06:29] Mike: Um, and they said it literally saved their life. So for those that don't know what it is. Can you talk about that for a minute? What is MRT?
[00:06:37] Jeannie: I will. So I think it's only fair for me to give credit where credit is due.
[00:06:42] So back in April of 2016, um, I had gone down to Tennessee. Um, I was part of treatment court then, and they were looking at a lot of evidence-based theory. And so it was about, um, trying to find what works. Um, we had some really good therapy in place. But it really was more about the, there had to be more.
[00:07:05] And so I kept doing some research and so I was able to get down to Tennessee and, um, the places called correctional counseling and the people that are involved with that are Greg Little, Dr. Greg Little and Dr. Kenneth Robinson, and they created a therapy called MRT. Now I'm going to go off for a moment because.
[00:07:28] Moral is obviously a word therapy's word, but reconation is not a word. I actually had a patient come to me and say, reconation, isn't a word. So I shouldn't have to do this therapy. [laugh] Good for you for, [laugh] for, looking up [laugh] what it was, but that doesn't give you, we're going to, can still continue on. And so when I was taught down in Tennessee about reconation, what they, I'm going to give you the proper term.
[00:07:58] It said prior to the usage of the ego in psychology, The term culmination was employed to describe the conscious process of decision-making and purposeful behavior. The term moral reconation was chosen for this system because the underlying goal was to change conscious decision-making to higher levels of moral reasoning.
[00:08:21] And so that really is what MRT is. It's a systemic treatment strategy. And we're looking at trying to enhance social moral and behavioral growth, because I think those are some of the things that got lost during the substance use. Right. So then we want to re-educate these people, the clients socially, morally and behaviorally.
[00:08:44] And then we want to instill growth, um, and appropriate goals, motivation, and values. So that's really what it is. And it's in its term. If I'm going to use layman's terms, what I'm going to say is that it's really just educating them about morals and values and re-introducing them after a time when they can look at reducing their substance use.
[00:09:10] And there's a really big shift at that point.
[00:09:13] Mike: What's the shift?
[00:09:15] Jeannie: The shift is going back to their values, going back to things, um, substance use disorder, you need to lie and protect what you do in order to keep it going. Initially they know what they're getting into and they have to protect it. And in order to protect it, then you have to start to create lies.
[00:09:37] And so when you lie, whether or not you want to do it, you just start doing it. And then all of a sudden, you find yourself in a place where that's all you do and you don't remember your lies, so you create more lies and then it just, and then the approach continues. So I really like this because the first three steps of MRT is, um, Is not lying.
[00:10:01] It's called disloyalty. So when they come into the program and they start to complain, they start to judge somebody else. They don't tell the truth. So, I mean, they don't even, I don't always catch the truth, what they do, but it's all about the behavior. And so when they come in, I already start to address that and they have to stay in that step until they can prove that they can step out of it. They get very frustrated. Um, the beauty of it too, is that we're also starting to enact the right side of the brain, which is the creative side, because that side hasn't been used in a long time. So it's, it's, it's interesting. When you listen to people who have been substance free for awhile, that'll talk about their art, their painting, music.
[00:10:47] Um, and that's because we start to use that in the first step because I'm having them draw things and I'll say, draw what trust looks like because they there's a section in there and they really struggle with that. So what they do is they write the word and it's like, you can't write, you have to draw, "Well I don't want to draw".
[00:11:05] Well, then you're not going to pass the step. So it's that accountability. There's just some really. nice steps built in for me as a therapist to be able to work with them, to get them through the steps. And it's tough. It's and that's part of the other thing is you have to hold to the fidelity of the program because you can't change the rules.
[00:11:26] There are certain steps, there's a facilitators guide that we use that say, this is the reason you're doing it. This is what you have to do. Do not go off the norm. And there are times that I've wondered. What I should do. And the beauty of it is I've been able to call down there and talk to somebody and say, listen, I'm trying to hold to the fidelity of the program, but what is it?
[00:11:47] I want to do this. And there'll be like, no, because dah, dah, dah. And so it really works well.
[00:11:53] Mike: Yeah. You know, when you have, we've had people on, and I know you work with clients whose first usage is 7, 11, 13 years old. So by the time you see them. Uh, where is their sense of self? Who are they? Do they even know who they are?
[00:12:12] And how do you reconnect to who you are? Or is it just, who do you want to be?
[00:12:18] Jeannie: Um, I think it can be both because I think that theres some forgiveness that has to start happening in regards to what they've done and acceptance, um, in MRT. So, I mean, I, I can look at different treatment approaches in order to work with that.
[00:12:36] The identity, I think is what you're asking, who they are is they have lost themselves and not realizing what they like anymore, because they gave it up, who they are, through MRT. And that's why I'm actually a passionate person in regards to MRT, because usually in step seven is when they start identifying some goals for themselves, short-term goals.
[00:12:59] What they don't know as they're also starting to create an identity. So if it's like go to school, If it's, you know, get married, you know, I mean, I'll be honest, there's, you know, if there's like one, five and 10 year goals and in the one year goals they're looking at, what do they want to do right now? Get their license back, you know, go back to church, start, you know, whatever it might be.
[00:13:21] And right in those steps is where they're starting to create an identity.
[00:13:25] Mike: Yeah. You know, um, it seems anybody listening I'm sure is going, whoa, that sounds like it's kinda. Right where middle school kids are at, but that's also [inaudible] where a lot of people who get into treatment for the first time are at developmentally.
[00:13:40] Right. So when you talk about value, you know, reconnect with your values, that values your, your adult values, aren't formed at 13, 14 years old. So, you know, finding them is, is, uh, that's why it takes a while. Right?
[00:13:56] Jeannie: Correct. And that's sort of the key is that a lot of you starts their developmental, their moral values, things like that.
[00:14:03] Um, learning how to deal with others conflict. Many people will miss out on that were diagnosed with that substance use disorder. So the beauty of it though, is that they can catch up right away once they start, they can catch that, catch that as long as you know, when they start working on it. And part of that is, is that.
[00:14:24] Again, if you have that alliance with your therapist, you know, when you say so what was the day like, what was the week like? What are some things. "Well, just got so upset with so-and-so". Or that, or this. And then we talk about that and women and men are very different. Women tend to like the gossip and fight with each other and stuff.
[00:14:40] And men tend to get more angry about stuff, but then they let it go. So we're trying to work with both. And that's the other thing I want to make sure is that we separate that out. Men and women are not put together because you're working on such vulnerable things. We need to separate that out
[00:14:55] Mike: Well. Oh, okay. So, um, how often when you're working with women, does it get to, I mean, there's a lot of shame involved in some of the activities that took place with substance use. I had a woman one time say, is it possible that I'm addicted if I never bought drugs? And I just looked at her and I said, um, you ever do favors?
[00:15:20] And that it just was like waterworks broke in. So, you know, that's what we're talking about. Right. There's and they're not going to do that in a co-ed group all the time.
[00:15:30] Jeannie: They are not, they have a hard time doing it and just an all female, because again, it's that judgment. But once they're able to start to tell their story, because also I'm going to go back to MRT. There's points where they have to stand up and tell their story and they can say whatever they want, there certain key points they have to hit.
[00:15:51] And by doing that, every person has said when they have stood up, they didn't want to, but they, that helped release. And then it connected with so many other women in the group.
[00:16:01] Mike: Yup. Well, you talked about, it doesn't take long, which I think is always great. I love that optimism because I think it's true.
[00:16:09] You know, you can spend a lifetime and all of a sudden you can acquire these skills. This just occurred to me, from our general population as I view it now, you could fall past general population and we don't seem to have a lot of these skills in general right now. Right. But how hard is it to break the cycle of deceit and manipulation, which is so second nature.
[00:16:31] Jeannie: Oh, I believe that it's difficult, but it's not impossible. And I think, I truly believe it's how you communicate that. To substance use disorder to patients, to clients, because, you know, if you want to confront things, I always tell people it's, it's how you say it. And so, again, you know, you look at that deceit, manipulation, but it's always bringing it back to an awareness that says, you know, you said you were here.
[00:16:59] Well, I got this phone call that said you weren't, "Well, they were wrong". And it's like....[laugh] Trying to get them back to, "So everybody's wrong?", you know what I mean? It's sort of that gentle, but it's that awareness and it's talking them through things to let them hear themselves. And then just knowing that you're not going to accept that.
[00:17:17] Um, it's easy for me because I'm objective, but I clearly see it in families where it's hard. You want to believe what they're saying in order to get to, to help them. Um, and, and it's difficult, but it's not impossible.
[00:17:32] Mike: Yeah, we're th this is, uh, now I'll, I'll move off of the substance use for a minute. This is, uh, another big deal as it is right now, the holding on to lies.
[00:17:43] Is, uh, is a big deal. We used to, you know, I tell kids when I talk to them that the four words I use all the time that have helped me the most in life is "I'm sorry, my fault". [laugh] And yet there's a whole segment of our population that will never say, sorry, they double down on, on the lie. So what other mental health issues are you seeing as well?
[00:18:04] Well, you talked about concurring issues.
[00:18:06] Jeannie: Well co-occurring is usually, um, you know, I never separate anything out. It's usually there's something going on. In my 30 years in therapy, I've not seen, I don't think one straight, some, you know, like substance and that it's usually connected to, you know, um, anxiety or depression or past trauma, things like that.
[00:18:28] So, Um, right now anxiety, I would say is the next thing that is spiked. Is that going from that isolation and the pandemic to things opening up and not feeling comfortable and not knowing what to do and that expectation. Um, so I would say more or less anxiety right now is very high.
[00:18:48] Mike: I know that can be treated with medication, but that's not always the best course of action for somebody with a substance use disorder?
[00:18:55] Jeannie: Correct. And that's the beauty of it. There's so much more, um, you know, I always work with my patients on, there's so much more to, um, learning how to cope. I actually, they do get frustrated because initially I always ask them to give me 50 coping skills. They didn't have to do it in session, but they have to write a down, because at any given point in the day, I want them to be able to utilize something and take it with them.
[00:19:19] But we have to know what it is, because sometimes they can't even identify it, but they're already doing it. And so that's why it's so important to talk about that. Um, but today, you know, there's, I, I tell my patients, you know, there's nonaddictive drugs. There's some, there's some supplements out there.
[00:19:36] There's yoga, there's breathing, there's heart math. I mean, there are so many different techniques out there that help. And I have either I'm either certified in it or I can help move patients to places where that exists so that they can get that because it really is about teaching them with daily living skills.
[00:19:55] Now once, once we've, you know, taken out substances or not substances, but it's learning how to do things differently. And the internet is a whole different ball game to, you know.
[00:20:08] Mike: In a good way or bad way you mean?
[00:20:10] Jeannie: Um, and there's a new thing coming out that there's such a thing as, um, addiction to all of this smart stuff. So I guess in that way, I mean, good that you can find other potential options and people have come to me and said, Hey, what do you think about this?
[00:20:26] Or I read this book or that, that part is good because you have access to that, but bad in that, what people are doing constantly now and staying on their phone, staying on the internet, things like that. So.
[00:20:38] Mike: Well, I'm doing it. I'm actually doing a community presentation next week on that very issue, which is they're showing a documentary called.
[00:20:45] Some people have seen it called Screenagers, right. About because kids are spending more time looking at a screen than they are sleeping.
[00:20:55] Jeannie: Correct.
[00:20:55] Mike: And what I say to people is for every minute, I'm looking at a screen, I'm not looking at somebody's eyes and gaining those skills that you're talking about.
[00:21:05] Jeannie: Yup. Yup. And as I say, in losing that social connection, and it's so easy to type something than it is to tell somebody in person. So that brings us a whole, another whole issue, you know, in regards to addiction. And they really are starting to look at, there are actually facilities across the country now where you can go to get treated for that.
[00:21:28] Um, so.
[00:21:30] Mike: And it's not going away in the same way alcohol is not going away. In fact seems to be going the other direction. So, you know, when you, when you do this, there has to be a moment, Jeannie, where, um, somebody, you know, you talked about people being frustrated, doing it over and taking a while, but you've got to see the light bulb moment come and that's just gotta be unbelievable.
[00:21:53] Jeannie: You know, um, I look at what does, how does that, you know, what feeling does that bring out me? And I think the one I think about the most often is a sense of gratitude because it's like, They're getting a chance. They're getting a second chance to deal to, to, to, to live life substance free. And it's just because of those small changes in how they see things.
[00:22:19] It's like, you know that they're on this path now that good things are going to come. And once they start small, it's just going to start to snowball. And that's what I've heard a lot. When people say. You know, I just, I just, I needed to be patient, but I don't, which is that instant gratification. So we have to teach that, but then we go back and we reflect on what it is.
[00:22:40] When did it happen? What did you see? And it really does give a sense of gratitude. I really have this sense of gratitude when I see that, because again, it's what they're able to accomplish in that they get another chance to seek to live life.
[00:22:55] Mike: It's almost giggly. When somebody gets it, it's almost like they, I don't know how to describe it either. It's like they look younger.
[00:23:03] Jeannie: They look younger . It's almost as if a weight is lifted off their shoulders. I mean, there's all these different, you know, things that I can, you know, identify with, but I think there's a sense of, they got it and it's sort of like that "Yeah." moment, you know? Um, but again, I'm going to go back to gratitude, I guess when it, when it's finally there, it's like, "Oh, thank you".
[00:23:25] Mike: Yeah. Right. What do you say to, to folks who, um, You know, we, we seem to have a real push right now. We're doing a presentation in your community and Kenosha, um, coming up they talk about talks about the language you use and the stigma of all of it. And the fact that we ignore alcohol big time and. It seems as though we're moving in that direction with marijuana as well.
[00:23:50] I see a lot of people who want to quit the heroin, quit the pills, quit the this quit did that, but I'm still wanting to smoke weed. So how do you work with that?
[00:24:02] Jeannie: Well, it depends upon why they're coming in to see me, in all honesty, because if we're looking at an OWI, [laugh] you know, we've got to be completely.
[00:24:14] Yeah. Otherwise you're not getting your license. You know what I mean? So then that's something that we have to talk about and, you know, and I've always been one that I always explain things upfront, and this is what is expected. If it's not related to that, then it's more like, how does this impact your life, well it doesn't.
[00:24:31] It helps with my pain. Okay. But we still live in a state where it's legal and. It to me, I always have taught about what's the risk you're willing to take. So the risk is this with all these substances, you know, there's still a risk because if you smoke and you get behind the wheel of the car, you understand you'll get an OWI.
[00:24:52] Well, how is that possible? So for me, I think it's about the education. I think there isn't enough education, and I think that's what I try to do in regards to. I'm not going to tell you, you can't do this because right away, then we're going to be at a standoff. It's like, I'm going to do what I want. You can't tell me.
[00:25:08] And I think it's about, well, what is this doing for you? And did you look at the risks? And a lot of times they haven't seen that. They haven't looked at that.
[00:25:17] Mike: Well. And if you're, if you're doing that, if you're still relying on that, then are aren't you also stunting that social and emotional development as well?
[00:25:26] Jeannie: It can't. I mean, I think part of it is where you're at and how much. So then I have to assess all of that. You know, how much are they using? When are they using? And if we're talking about teens. Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, you know, if it's as an adult, what are you giving up in order to do that? Because you're giving up something and they don't always think that they think life is, everything is good and I'm always, you know what I tell them for every good what's the bad?
[00:25:53] "Well, I never looked at it that way". Well, it's time for us to start, because for every good what's the bad or for every bad, what's the good?
[00:26:03] Mike: And, and you know, you're going back to your 50 ways again. Um, you've you, if you have that, it's always present with you. You don't have to go get it, you know, spend money for it, right?
[00:26:13] Jeannie: Nope, nope. And I tell people it could be going through, um, any drive-through coffee shop. It can just going, walking along the lake. It can go. I mean, these are things that have to cost money either. It's just reconnecting with those things. And what are some things that you find joy in?
[00:26:30] Mike: Yeah. And that's also reconnecting with your self.
[00:26:32] Jeannie: Yep. Absolutely
[00:26:34] Mike: Great. Well, that's a great place to leave this. Um, I would love it if we could talk again, it would be great. Um, so I, I will, I will send out that invitation. And so those of you listening can certainly, um, look forward to that. I'll put Jeannie's contact information at the back of this podcast as always.
[00:26:54] And if you are listening, we invite you to listen in again next week, when we'll talk about more issues with substance use until then stay safe and find your 50 ways.
[00:27:05] [END AUDIO]
The Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition’s mission is to support networking, encourage education, explore gaps, and realize solutions to improve treatment and reduce alcohol and other drug abuse in our community with a primary focus on families.