Good afternoon and welcome to our podcast Discover a New You Through Recovery. Today we are gonna get real because we are talking about what addiction truly looks like from the inside and the stigma attached from the outside. I’m Noelle Carmen and with me today is the case manager for Discovery Point Retreat, Nicole Thomas.
Nicole, I’m so excited to have you.
Very excited to be here.
Thank you so much for being here. So we are about to talk about addiction and we are about to talk about stigma and how damaging it is, but before we step into this topic, I want to invite our audience to call Discovery Point Retreat. If you already know you or someone dear to you is living with addiction, be it alcohol, prescription meds or any other narcotics, please don’t hesitate to call right now to ask questions and get answers. You can reach us at 855-306-8054. So, Nicole. Now the conversation.
You serve as case manager and trainer for Discovery Point Retreat in Waxahachie, Ennis and Dallas. You have got a big, big job. You are the front line in admissions. One of the reasons I’m so excited to talk to you is because I want to address the misconceptions as to what a life of addiction looks like and how it presents. So can you talk us through what is actually happening to an individual as they decide ‘yeah, I need help’ and to see them go from a place of darkness, a place of just being lost, to maybe thinking there’s some hope on the other side, maybe thinking things could change?
Yes, that that’s actually a beautifully painful spot to witness. It is a beautifully painful spot for them to be in. That’s at the tipping point where they’re going to allow that shatter to happen.
Because when you’re at the point where you need help, you need guidance, you need structure and security, it shows up as – sometimes it shows as resistance and sometimes it shows up as willingness, but the foundation is still the same.
Well, I love what you’re saying because what’s occurring to me is how vulnerable it has to feel to kind of entrust your life over to clinicians, to people who have actually been through it.
Because is addiction about control? And about masking things and letting go of some of that control is really, you know, a vulnerable place.
Right. You know, we can define that using drugs and drinking alcohol and abusing these substances—those are the answers, right? For addicts and alcoholics, those are the answers. The underlying issue is the disease. And the disease is an emotional and mental and spiritual malady. So you’re taking away the only solution they’ve found. You’re now offering them a new solution, so it’s kind of comparable to, like, if you find an animal in the woods and it’s got its leg leg in a trap.
You’ve got to help it. What does it do? It’s scared. So it snaps and it snarls and it growls, right? You have to be willing to work past setting that trap off and try to help them.
So when you’re sitting there in admissions, I want to describe for our audience what it feels like at Discovery Point Retreat, because I think a lot of people have this notion of a hospital, of, you know, this antiseptic feeling. Describe the beauty that is Discovery Point Retreat and the country setting, the feeling of home.
Very much so. Our facilities are located in rural, peaceful areas. Our goal is to kind of eliminate that hustle and bustle and the outside noise, and our facilities are homes. They’re not hospitals. We do have 24/7 medical staff. We do have 24/7 behavioral tech staff. So we have those attributes, but everybody knows everybody’s name and we come and we talk to you and you’ve got a fireplace in your living room and a swimming pool in your backyard and a fishing pond in the front. And this long gravel drive and wraparound porches, where you get to sit and watch sunsets. We have gardens where you can go, you know, heal yourself with nature. We have trails that you can walk and we have staff that truly care – this is our life. You know, we’re there more than we’re at our own home. So this is our family, too. And we want to make sure that clients understand that they’re loved and wanted.
Even now, as our listeners hear these things, can you begin to help our audience understand really what to look for, how to really see that help is warranted? That it is time to act, that it is time to finally call and make the change that is actually going to save their life. I want to reiterate the phone number again, 855-306-8054. Help us recognize what that looks like.
You know, there’s that saying, ‘if you want what you never had, you have to do what you’ve never done.’ Right? So when you’re at that point – and every addict and alcoholic knows their point – you sit with it alone in the dark quite often before we ever tell anybody else. And when you’re sitting there, literally, and your best thinking has got you exactly where you’re at, then it’s time to act and it’s time to reach out. There is zero shame. Zero shame.
If nothing else, it takes a warrior spirit to step into a foreign land and stake out a path that you’ve never seen before. See outside your comfort zone is bright.
You know, and that really speaks to the stigma on the other side. I think that a lot of times the community or people who are not familiar with addiction don’t realize the kind of courage it takes to take that step into rehabilitation. And so seeing people as lesser or using judgment as they’re moving into a place that actually takes a tremendous amount of courage.
It does. It does. Anybody that is stepping into a world where healing is the process, like healing is the goal? It’s going to get messy. It is starting like you ripping open infections and you’re pulling out, you know, you’re pulling out the toxic stuff. And that is an act of courage that not everybody has. Whether you’re an addict or an alcoholic or not, facing ourselves is one of the hardest task it will ever have in our entire life.
You know, you vs. you will always be your biggest challenge.
Yeah. That takes – that takes a sword and shield, you know, to walk in and be able to look at you and say ‘hey, let’s do this’ like you’re squaring up.
So, how do you address – somebody comes to you and says, ‘well, they’re an addict.’ You know, ‘they’ve made their bed, let them lie in it’ or, you know, ‘they just want to take drugs’ or ‘they’re just lazy and they don’t want to do the things everybody else has to do.’ How do you, how do you approach that kind of reasoning?
For someone to say things like that, they’ve lost their ability to be compassionate. Now, we are very firm on, like, everybody has to build boundaries and enough’s enough and you do have to want to help yourself. No one can do this for you and until you want to do that, until you open your arms to do that, nobody else can save you, right? And so a lot of these things, I think, come from ignorance and just – there’s a lack of education out there.Tthere’s a lack of voice. The stigma is still there, you know? It’s still—the acts are still swept under the rug and there is not this rigorous and open communication about what that looks like, and that causes judgments and it causes misconceptions about what it means to actually be an addict.
So would you agree with the statement that wherever there’s addiction, there also is trauma?
I would have to say 99.9 percent of the time, it’s going to go hand in hand. Right? And let’s be realistic, like, trauma is something that we were unable to get over. You know? Trauma is something that’s happened to us emotionally that we had not been able process, right?
Yes. That shows up different in some people. And addicts and alcoholics use substances to quiet.
So do you think that you have to hit rock bottom? Because there’s, you know, there’s two lines of reasoning out there: You have to hit rock bottom, others say sometimes you can just pull an addict out, they don’t have to be on the cusp of death.
Right, well, you know, rock bottom, again, is individualized. My rock bottom would be different from your rock bottom and yours would be different from his and so forth. There are times that people are able to intercept their situation before they shatter and lose it all and end up in worst case scenario, right? There are people that do that and they do it successfully. And then there’s other people that part of their story is they literally had to hit the ground and fall in a hole and figure out how to pull themselves out of it, you know? So when they say ‘he has to hit bottom’ that bottom is individualized. Like you can never tell someone what their bottom is going to be.
So what is a final message that you would give our audience in terms of reaching out for help, in terms of reconciling that something bigger than what is happening now needs to happen.
For anybody that is in this situation currently or who has a loved one that is in the situation. When nothing is changing anymore, when there’s no more excuses and we’ve run out of shadows to hide in and we’ve turned, you know, our life has become isolated and distant and cold. That’s the time to start to intervene because that means the sunlight of your spirit is disappearing. You know? And it’s getting covered up and becoming cloudy and dark and scary. Your world shouldn’t be like that. No, that’s not how we were intended to live.
Nicole Thomas, thank you for coming on the show and sending the message that you can Discover a New You Through Recovery at Discovery Point Retreat. I so appreciate your willingness to come on and really be vulnerable. Really have an open conversation. I want to reiterate, please call 855-306-8054 if you need help. I want to thank our audience for being here. Thank you, Nicole.
Thank you for having me.