Hello, welcome to the show this is your host Neil Howe. And today my special guests are Dr. Ellison and Cyd Oakes They’re from a Red Rock Behavioral Health Services. And we’re here to tackle a major problem which is the drug and alcohol addiction. Welcome to the show.
Thank you. Thank you.
Well, let’s get right into it that Dr. Ellison will start with you you are the COO at Red Rock. Tell
me a little bit like what Red Rock is and what you do.
So Red Rock is community mental health agency here in Oklahoma. We have an agent our satellites from one end of the state to the other. We focus on people with behavioral health problems as well as substance use problems.
So we have many different outpatient offices and across the state.
Excellent. And Cyd Oakes tell me what your role is.
I am a clinical director at the Medicaid assisted therapy clinic here in Oklahoma City and therapists here.
right let’s get into the problem it’s it’s a big problem in the United States and I would say not necessarily just the United States but all over the world. What is the seed of this problem why are so many people addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Well, I think there’s you know there are several things that go into this.
I think right now in our state we’re seeing an increase in prescription drug abuse. I think people think it’s ok their doctors prescribe it. And so it’s starting to really cross over in a kind of socio economic cultural any class of people are eligible for it.
And at this point here in our state and what does it look like on a national level is it just Oklahoma that has this problem or isn’t countrywide I believe it I believe it’s countrywide.
I mean we have we’re at crisis in this nation on substance use an especially prescription meds and you know I think that the mental health of folks is kind of an easy fix to sometimes if they’re struggling with depression or anxiety and they may go see their primary care doctor or whatever and then you know they say something is not right. And so it’s quickly you know prescribed and so quickly these people become addicted. And is this a huge problem.
So what do you think?
the seed of that problem is because it seems to me like children in schools are heavily prescribed medicines to where it wasn’t the case. You know 10 20 30 years ago.
Sure. And I do I agree with that. I think children are quickly prescribed schedule two drugs and if they are at all hyper then it’s automatically up. This child has ADHD Let’s put them on a stimulant. And it’s it is everywhere. I mean these kids are and not to say that some kids don’t truly need this. I’m not trying to underplay that at all. But I think that you know we need to really look and examine and evaluate children before we just throw medicine at a problem. I mean a lot of times trauma can cause symptoms that really do resemble or mirror ADHD but that’s their way of handling their trauma they’ve experienced. But
if we don’t get to that root of the problem the trauma and address it was just thrown medicine at it. I mean then it starts that cycle that is like throwing a pill. We can give the kids pill we can give this adult the pill and it just fixes everything and so I believe we become this society. I like to refer to it as the drive through window of society if we want something we want it now. And so a pill kind of resembles that quick fix and it ultimately leads to a whole lot of issues for kids adults our society and the nation at large.
So how long has this been going on? Well, what was the trigger if anything to have such a widespread problem.
Well, I think there’s a lot of things that we could put into what triggered that.
So let’s get to that type of person if there is a type of person that comes into Reading up for help is can you give me an idea of who comes to you and what their problems are.
Well, we see people all walks of life in too the whole subject of substances. I mean it does not discriminate. So you can see people and in literally every walk of life every age every race. As I said earlier every socioeconomic status substance used does not discriminate. It will take anyone in. So across the board you can see all types of people who may present for help in the thing is you know they’re kind of at the end of the road.
So back to the particular person it was. It really is you can just picture your mind any person and that would fit. Who walks into our door with this problem might be your next door neighbor.
It could be your grandmother who is on medication for arthritis.
You know it can be your brother got hurt in a football game. You know it literally affects all classes all walks of life.
Yeah. There are thousands of stories I’m sure that you could tell of just unique situations. Is
there any link between the type of drug abuse and the socio economic status or different areas in or around Oklahoma.
Like I said I think it crosses off you know the economic status.
One drug that we see abused often is the opiate.
And so for example you know if someone’s been hurt just like Sid said you know you’re your brother or your mother whatever that they’ve been hurt. So they go to their PCP The They’re given a prescription of opiates and then you know then they go back for more and quickly this becomes an addiction.
And I always like to say that you know the first time someone uses it may be a choice to use that someone who has someone is hurting so bad they will take something because they’re trying to escape the pain which makes perfect sense.
But then once the addiction takes over it’s it’s no longer a choice. It’s it’s truly a disease in that brain. And so what we have experienced here in Oklahoma is after the opiates run out if then at that point they go and try to get a prescription and the doctor says you know I see that you’re doctor shopping and you’ve had other opiate prescribed here lately.
Then eventually that person may just kind of transition over to heroin.
I mean it’s it’s available. And so that’s that’s the really sad thing that we’ve seen because once the addiction takes place then it is kind of that that survival and that that drug becomes kind of their main survival thing. It’s kind of like I think in our next breath and we have that food and we have to have these survival things going on with a person who’s addicted that drug is survived. So it makes perfect sense when you look at it in those terms.
So in the case of that opiates opioids. How long does it take for somebody to become addicted to that? The word becomes a real problem for them. And you know what about the other drugs like cocaine and you know the stimulants. Is there a different timeframe to become addicted to.
Well, I think each person is a little bit different.
You know it depends on also genetics can play a factor in that if they’re predisposed to have the disease of addiction they may quickly become addicted whereas somebody you know may take opiates for several months before they become addicted and then you know obviously higher up in the opiates. We move in in class. You know when you’re talking about Oxycontin and Percocet scheduled to narcotics fentanyl patches we’re seeing a lot of that. The big morphine those are they have a higher abuse potential because they are more addictive. And they’re they’re a little bit harder to get prescribed but people are finding a way to make those here synthetically on the street. So in that category they’re probably just as equal to crack cocaine or methamphetamine as far as you know how quickly you can become addicted.
Now you mentioned there that some people are predisposed to addiction.
What does that mean and how would you tell if somebody is predisposed but usually we can look at their family history and just by asking them some question you know did your mom or dad and you can see it come down in their family line so maybe you know they had a dad that was an alcoholic or a great grandfather or something. Usually,
there’s a family member with addiction and not always you know there are exceptions to the rule but probably nine times out of 10 there is some kind of addiction in their family history.
We are asking them to look at it does it does represent a risk factor but like that said there’s I mean it’s not up.
Your dad was an alcoholic so you’re going to be an alcoholic. It simply is you know well that is one risk factor to be aware of this could you know lead to something more so be more of an environmental predisposition position rather than anything genetic well.
I I think you could argue that nature nurture on both of those things. I
do believe that you know having the genetics that is looked at as these may predispose you it’s not a given. It’s just OK this is a risk factor to be aware of. But certainly the environment. I mean we all know that the environment plays such a huge role. If if you were raised in this environment where this was part of life this is how we celebrate this is how we cope when we’re sad that as you know if that’s what you have learned and you’ve been conditioned I mean that that’s a huge factor to take into consideration.
So let’s move on to the treatments for a moment. How do you treat these conditions? There’s obviously there’s the physical condition of being addicted to a drug.
But there’s also so much going on mentally and spiritually there too.
So I kind of feel the opiate receptor and then it blocks from any other opiate doing its thing so that helps the person physically with their withdrawals and their cravings and all that then at that point that’s when they’re referred right over across the hall to a therapist that really starts working with them and teaching them ways that they can use the skills that they learn in therapy to help them in their everyday life with the triggers that they may have happened to them on an hourly basis or that they really do need that therapy that teaches them. OK. There are other things that I can do. And so we’d like to look at it kind of the way the brain is like now. And it makes a lot of sense if we look at and go OK that amygdala where our emotions are and that’s what we’re born with.
It’s right down there by the hippocampus and it’s so easy for us too if I want something then I’m just going to dig down into my hippocampus and go what have I done in the past for this. Oh yeah. I used drugs. But our whole thought process in therapy is we need these people to move forward and use that prefrontal area of their brain to think out of situation and say you know what we’ve got to get out of this rut we’ve got to think out new and creative ways to overcome this habit this pattern that addiction has kind of taken over. So
there’s a lot to this in in the best case scenario is when you have We’re very fortunate Red Rock to have prescribers that worked really well in conjunction with the therapist and then the pure recovery support specialist. So this team that worked with each client it really comes up with a solid plan for each person that individualized for that person.
So I think it’s really interesting if we look at how we conceptualize and look at the big picture how do we even diagnose whether it’s substance abuse or mental health. We
Is there a qualifying process is there a certain kind of people that you will accept. Or maybe somebody that you won’t accept.
Yes, we do. We treat 18 and older and they have to have opiate addiction specifically and to receive the medication.
Now we do treat other substance use disorders. You know we can do any of the stimulants or any of that.
But we really heavily screen them and take a history of what they’ve been using how long they’ve been using it when the last time they used. And before they even walk in the door we usually do that with the phone. We screen them pretty heavily. And then our doctor does a physical with them and then we take a whole nother history at the intake whenever they get there before we even induce them with any kind of medication or anything.
So they need to also want to be there. Do
you get the cases as well where it’s either court ordered or they’re being forced to go to their family. Is there any qualifying thing that goes on there. And what kind of success rate if you do take those kinds of people.
Well, I think that’s real hard to say here because just because their court order their family brings them there doesn’t mean that they won’t get the help in spite of themselves kind of thing.
So you know we would still encourage anyone to come no matter what their reasoning is for Comey.
Obviously, somebody who is ready and willing and wants to change their lives they’re going to do a little bit better probably than somebody that’s been coerced by the law.
But that’s not always the case. So sometimes you have someone where you know they’re facing some prison sentence or something and they come there and they get sober. And you know through this process they realize hey I really did need the help. And they grab on to the therapy that we offer at that point and they do survive.
Well, that’s certainly what it’s all about. You mentioned that it really does take a team of people to you know work together and to come up with a plan. Is this something that an addicted person can do themselves. It is something that an addicted person can go out with the help can they get off their addiction and live a life where they don’t take any more drugs or alcohol.
Is it something that they can really do themselves or do they really need that team and the support and the education and everything else behind them to success.
Right. Well, I would say I I certainly think it’s possible for somebody to do that. I mean I would.
So educationally biased parts of it.
So education is definitely one of the main pillars for the Cure and not going into remission. Tell me your other misconceptions are either about the drug rehab that might prevent somebody from making the call to get help.
So I’ll go first and give you one myth that is it really bothers me when I even hear people kind of thinking in these terms and that is the fact that they clump people in this little box and say people who are addicted you know really do lack morals and that’s just the biggest myth ever. It has nothing to do with their morals. It has nothing to do with their character. So that’s one of my I guess you call it my pet peeve. Come on in terms of the MS What would you say.
I think the biggest thing is people that you know if you’re dead.
Why don’t you just quit? As
if it’s just that easy. If I were that easy everybody would do it and there would be no treatment centers. So I think I I hate to hear that that is a choice. You know they did it to themselves.
And all of that.
I’m with Dr. Allison on that. I think that you know there were several things that went into making this person become addicted and I think the last thing we need to do as a society is to continue to keep it in the plaza. And like she said people in a box and say I was only the homeless guy under the bridge that’s shaking from alcohol withdrawal. That’s what they imagine an addict to be when that can’t be further from the truth. I had a probably a 63-year-old lady in today who someone’s grandmother. And if you are on the street you would think nothing more than that.
She’s a mother whose grandmother with a serious opiate addiction. So
I think you’ve got to get rid of the stigma. And I would add real quick one.
Let’s talk about a couple of stories because you guys make a huge difference in people’s lives is transformative to go from the struggles that they were having. They come and see you. You’re able to help them. There’s probably a couple of cases that stick out in your mind. Explain to me or take me through a little bit at one of the stories that really affected you.
So I will say you know in mental health and substance abuse we really try to do everything we can to protect the health information so I’ll be very vague in the details.
But you’ll you’ll get it just by the story. So yes I know I know that. I know.
So there was a guy that he had been in and out of prison the majority of his life so he was probably late 50s early 60s kind of that age range. And had you know experienced a lot of time being incarcerated and it really all stemmed from his absence you. So he had got out and was ordered to one of our treatment centers. And so he was about 30 minutes away and he was kind of kicked out in the mill the night of the jail and started walking I guess walked to the treatment center that he was supposed to be at. Don’t walk like 3:00 in the morning till the time it took him to get there. And he had stopped at a convenience store asked to use a phone. Everybody was kind of giving these looks he said but he just wants to use somebody’s phone because all he had to his name was this black trash bag filled with you know somebody’s belongings had gone into jail with this little notepad with all these numbers.
So he starts calling these random numbers just asking for some help somehow. But he had to get a phone to even borrow some guy comes along says he now you know used my phone up.
The guy goes back and gets his phone at home and brings him back once he’s here. You know one month. That’s that’s it. After that, you have to hide from them. So he starts walking again towards the treatment center and starts calling all these numbers. He runs into this guy that he calls like three times. I’m sorry I keep getting the wrong number and I’m sorry to bother you. The guy comes and says you know what I’m going to come pick you up and drive me to the treatment center. This all happened from a wrong number.
He picks them up takes him to the treatment center. He starts in our treatment had to ride a bike every single day to get this treatment and he was riding a bike about 20 minutes.
If you’re driving in a car and he was riding his bike to treatment anyway. So fast forward. He went through this program of tires. He slowly but surely found a job had to worry about even work two to go work at this job. So this was five years after the fact and he’d been out of our program for three years.
And when I talked to him he had gone out and done business with numerous employees that he’s hired on. And when you look at a story like that and you see all of his addiction and all the time that he spent in and out of jail and to see kind of just his perseverance getting there that first day. But
he said he was so so cynical He looked at that and thought OK what treatment going to do this time that it has not done all the hundreds of times I’ve gone through in the past. You know that clip one thing and it it was a real success. And I mean to see somebody like him it makes everything we do worthwhile to know that he took what was given to him and he did something with it and he’s changed his life around.
And I love hearing those success stories. It can be such a tough road for anybody who has an addiction to you know to get the help them get over the stigma.
And there’s always barriers in the way to get to the next level. But it generally comes down to just like you said something clicked something for him and it changed his life completely. And you know that often happens I’m sure inside the walls of Red Rock.
Yes absolutely. So
let’s finish up with Whoa. Red Rock it can help. These people have problems.
What do they need to do? What steps to they need to take in order to get your contact information and get the help that thing well we have an Access Center that graces all calls that are coming into any of our Red Rock locations.
And so people can call that number and they are asking a few questions just to kind of initiate that and gather the data and so forth and to understand you know what location this person would need to go to because we’re so widespread across the state.
Is there a centralized Web site. Our number that you can give.
Excellent. And walk me through if somebody gets a call right now. What happens on the call. What information do they need?
So they would call and I would kind of give a little bit of information. The person on the other line would say you know you live in near the Canadian county office and so you need to show up in the morning and they will ask you some questions you’ll fill out some paperwork and you will see a clinician who will get you to the right therapist possibly and with the provider you know whatever that person may need. And at that point, they would eventually just go onto the therapist and have an intake and then going to the doctor and so forth and that’s kind of the way it goes. And at the point that they come in and see the therapist and into a treatment plan then of course that you know you want input from the person. This is kind of a team thing to build a treatment plan because we want to know you know what is it that they are searching for what is it that we can help them with. So it’s very collaborative in you know establishing that treatment plan. Great
Well, Dr. Ellison and Cyd Oakes from Red Rock behavioral health services thank you very much for sharing your time with me and giving us all this information.
If there’s one parting word that you’d like to include Before we go what that the probably too kind of knocked down the barrier of the shame and reach out and understand that there’s hundreds and thousands of people that you know the toughest step is to pick up on and call. And after that, I think people turn around and think to themselves by this sooner.
Definitely, it’s all about taking that first step. And you can reach and Red Rock you can reach the help you need at red dash rock dot com or call 4 0 5 4 2 4 7 7 1 1.
Well thank you again Dr. Ellison and Cyd Oakes for being my guest some business authority radio and to our listening audience if you like what you hear that like button and share and we’ll see you next time on the show.