I have been furthering my interest in the topics of wellness and addiction since I last wrote about them in October (see Depression, Addiction and Dentistry). I have found the writings of Terry Gorski and the Love First book and website from Jeff and Debra Jay to be particularly helpful in furthering my understanding. I'd like to share with you a few of the key things I've learned, and update you on College developments in this area.
One item that really stood out to me from Gorski's writing is the myth of the popular belief that you must wait for an addict to hit rock bottom. Gorski is quick to point out that the bottom, in this context, is often death. So instead of waiting for that outcome, there are ways to 'raise the bottom' – to create urgency and set limits so that the addict is faced with consequences.
This leads into the work of Jeff and Debra Jay which is about planning and preparing for an intervention. They tackle the myth that interventions must be confrontational. Their process tries to make the addicted person feel safe, loved, and supported so that they are less likely to be defensive and more likely to be receptive to what their friends and family are saying. The idea is to stop 'desperate enabling' and instead create 'leverage' — what they describe as loving limit-setting for the addict, and for friends/family, that will motivate the addict to accept treatment.
Another central theme around interventions is the importance of a strong team to influence the addict because, as the authors put it, "one on one, addiction always wins."
Because of these high stakes, it is important to have the best advice and information available if you think you need to proceed with an intervention. I am sharing these resources because they have helped me understand more about the topic. Please contact the supports and make use of the resources listed at the end of this post if you or someone you know are in need of help.
Before closing, I want to draw attention to two important items. First, I hope you will have read in the renewal fee memo that the Board will establish a practitioner wellness fund this year that will provide resources/supports to registrants who may need assistance with medical assessments and with their recovery. We know that assessments can be a barrier to treatment and while we are still in the early stages, I am proud of the College's work to help registrants in this area.
Secondly, I'm happy to say that the College continues to keep this important topic at the fore. At this year's Pacific Dental Conference, we will be presenting the exciting panel presentation From Pain to Wellness – Opioids and Beyond. The session will have presentations and Q&A with experts in addiction medicine and dental pharmacology, in addition to our own Dr. Cathy McGregor, who heads the College's wellness program. I hope to see you there.
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