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Ask the LifeQuake Doctor

Dear Dr Toni, I’ve been in the advertising business for more than twenty years, longer than any sane person ever stays. I’m in my late fifties and want a change. I feel like there’s a part of me that’s like a teenager: wanting to break free and not be responsible for anyone. Unfortunately, I have [...]


The Myth of Reward: Why Addiction Isn’t About the High

Addiction is a complex disease. Moreover, the extra struggles associated with addiction (i.e., easy relapse, substance-induced cognitive deficits, and comorbid mental health diagnoses) require a sophisticated and long-term approach to both understanding and treating addicted clients (Alim et al., 2012). Until very recently, the common focus in addiction research has been on dopamine and so [...]


The Seven Cs

The annual Children of Addiction Week was celebrated internationally in February. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals across the globe acknowledged the Week with educational programs and celebrations honoring recovery not only for addicted individuals, but also for impacted children and families. The Week coincides with the anniversary of the founding of the National [...]


The Opioid Center of Support: Helping Caregivers Help Their Loved Ones

On February 14, 2016, the moment I received a phone call from an unknown number with a Florida area code, I knew in my heart that this was the one I’d been dreading for five years. Still, I questioned the detective on the line, “Are you sure it’s my son?” My mother’s heart couldn’t accept [...]


Improving Adherence to Treatment, Part I

Adherence in behavioral health care refers to the extent clients attend scheduled treatment activities, take medications as prescribed, and engage in agreed-upon activities that facilitate recovery from psychiatric, substance use, or co-occurring disorders (CODs). Clients with CODs are at higher risk for poor adherence compared to those with a single type of disorder (Kelly, Daley, [...]


Compassionate Assertion

Assertion entails stating what we want, or do not want to attain in a particular encounter or situation and putting our energy behind manifesting that outcome. Assertiveness generally entails some degree of attunement to the effect of our actions on others who may be affected by them. Aggression, on the other hand, implies our going [...]


PTSD in Children and Adolescents: Research Updates

Much has been discovered about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the past forty years, but there exists some gaps in applying this knowledge to clinical practice. Misdiagnosis is a case in point. For example, in 2010 researchers published a study that examined the frequency with which PTSD was diagnosed in children and adolescents at two [...]


Working with Adolescents: Supporting Kindness as a Goal in Therapy

As counselors, we are in a unique position to serve as kindness role models for the adolescents and families we work with—there are opportunities to do so every day. We define kindness as paying attention, showing patience, communicating respectfully, and showing compassion and concern for others. As clinicians, we are all aware of the importance [...]


Volunteer Recovery Support: Can College Students Support Adolescents in Recovery?

Treatment for adolescent substance use disorders (SUDs) is effective, but positive outcomes can be compromised by premature dropout and relapse. Continuing care provided by treatment programs has been well-documented by research to improve outcomes. However, these services are offered typically only to clients who “complete” their primary episode of treatment. Of those clients who are [...]


Multidimensional Family Therapy for Adolescents in Residential Treatment

Residential treatment has typically been the recommended intervention for youth presenting with the most severe co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Residential treatment is commonly indicated for such youth who have not responded to less restrictive treatments, require stabilization, present a danger to themselves or their families, or demonstrate a public safety risk (Drake, [...]