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055 - Nancy White and Karen Peterson

Updated: Aug 3

Nancy White and Karen Peterson are an awesome duo from Sereno Ridge Recovery in Alabama. They talk story about being doctors and television professionals and how their journeys were impacted by substance abuse disorder. We discuss International Doctors in AA, diving into the world of recovery, stigmas in and out of the industry, and archaic misunderstandings that lead to poor patient treatment. This includes legislation like the “certificates of need” that are still required in states like Alabama. Enjoy.


The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates (illuminatebilling.com). They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.













https://anchor.fm/illuminaterecoverypodcast/episodes/055---Nancy-White-and-Karen-Peterson-e14bmj9


Transcript (no grammar):

nancy white and karen peterson are an awesome duo from sereno ridge recovery in alabama they talk story about being doctors and television professionals and how their journeys were impacted by substance abuse disorder we discuss international doctors in aaa diving into the world of recovery stigmas in and out of the industry and archaic misunderstandings that lead to poor patient treatment this includes legislation like the certificates of need that are still required in states like alabama enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond the self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing in collection simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry-leading reporting improve your practice's cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates kurt and i are excited super excited to meet with nancy white and karen peterson nancy's the executive director and medical director at uh soreno ridge recovery institute for substance abuse and disorder and karen is also works with her she does the marketing end of it and really connects with the people super excited to have you both here with us today thank you thanks we're excited to be here and it's kind of fun and and i know that you know we talked about this a little bit earlier before we started the recording but i know that you both kind of have a recovery story which is which i you know i'll segue into that just with i i'm always amazed and anytime i see people working in the recovery industry like i almost know they have a recovery story because nobody grows up and says hey hey that's what i want to do when i grow up i'm going to be in recovery right nobody does that and so i'm always like there's a story there and i need to know the story so give us some background nancy maybe you start and and karen you pop in if it's important or you guys can you know tag team however but tell us kind of your history and how you ended up where you're at now okay well um i developed a problem with drugs and alcohol um sort of late in life i guess um i started abusing drugs and alcohol really after i'd finished my residency and was having i was my first family practice you know sponsored by a hospital here in alabama and um i always tell folks that you know when i was when i was younger in college i smoked some pot really liked it but figured out very quickly that i couldn't do that and study and get into medical school because ever since i was a little kid i always wanted to be a doctor i'd carry band-aids out onto the playground hoping i could put a band-aid on somebody so i knew i always wanted to do that being an addict an alcoholic was not on my to-do list but that's what happened after uh i finished my residency and started in family practice i had my own practice and and very stressed out um i didn't know anything about the business end you know i could i could handle people on the ventilator i knew what to do with all these dangerous things but running a business was not my forte and i was a little nervous and also i hated paperwork back then we'd write in our charts and uh permanent hand cramp is what i have for writing but one day when i was there early on in my practice everyone else had gone home and i was doing my paperwork and i remembered i had some cough syrup that the drug reps had left me it had some hydrocodone in it and um uh and i don't know if i had a cold if i was cough i don't remember but i'm not beyond experimenting and that's what i tell folks i just got it out of the cabinet and i poured out the dosage it said on the bottle to take and i took that and a few minutes later as i'm doing my paperwork i was like hey wait a minute this is kind of fun we enjoying this and then immediately in my mind i rationalized and justified taking that i thought you know other people like uh you know after dinner drink you know or drink when they get home from work and i don't like alcohol so this is kind of like that so i immediately rationalized and justified that so intermittently i would do that after work and then it just gradually increased over a seven year period and my husband didn't know i was i was doing this and then i decided to start drinking at night to wean off of this this drug and so my husband might have a gin and tonic with me at night and he'd go to bed and then i'd be pulling that bottle down and i guzzled and uh boy my last couple of years i started seeing a therapist for uh you know stress i thought it was stress that's why i drank and drugged i thought that's what what it was so i didn't tell my therapist if he asked me i didn't i didn't say anything to him about it but uh very quickly you know it seemed like things were just getting worse and worse and worse and worse and then my therapist diagnosed me with burnout he said nancy i think you're beyond burnout and i loved that diagnosis so he said you know i thought well i can quit work i was financially stable to where i could quit work for a while and just focus on me and i was reading self-help books watching what i ate getting massages going to see him twice a week and i got worse and worse because i didn't realize you know work kept me kept my disease sort of in check and when you take that away oh my gosh so um i got worse instead of better and within a four month period i was so bad off i realized that i couldn't go back to work if i wanted to and that was something i loved to do so i thought you know every morning i'd start out the day and go i'm not going to do this today and i get up to the afternoon and it's like oh today's not a good day to do this i'm going to have to do this again tomorrow so i looked groundhog day for a few months and then realized i can't do this on my own maybe i'm not accountable to myself i'll make my therapist accountable so i went in and and told him because i knew he couldn't tell anybody he's my therapist and that he could drug scream me and breathalyze me and i i told him this and he went oh my gosh nancy he jumped up and hugged me and then i thought my therapist was hitting on me but what it was is he was excited for me he said nancy you just took step one have a 12-step program and i was like what are you talking about how does it strike you you know we admitted we were powerless over drugs or alcohol their lives become unmanageable i thought oh my god that hit me right between the eyes i thought that's me what is this where is this and um he told me i need to go to treatment and i was like oh no you monitor me i'll look into that but you'll be more important you go and i i i just couldn't i was like i'm an important doctor that would ruin my career he said how about if i have a doctor's in recovery call you and that was a smack in the face too because i thought i was the only one in the world i really thought i was the only one who did these things isn't it interesting because that seems to come up a lot is that people didn't even i mean you're a doctor so you can feel a little bit more exclusive but people are always like like i'm the only one suffering like this i'm the only one where this is so bad right it's it's a human fallacy of thinking yeah well it's interesting too that he jumped right into step one that like you know i assume there's a lot of therapists who don't necessarily jump to addiction or treatment that's let's talk about it okay what's going on you know they want to kind of run through a bunch of uh let's see if we can get you know 10 sessions down the street before we figure this out and he just went straight there so did he have a lot of experience in addiction and recovery treatment he had he had worked some in treatment in his training um he was relatively new as a phd um and he did some work at the same program i did when i was in my residency but he was familiar so yeah so he he knew about addiction that's a really good point i didn't and he had some family members too um that had problems with addiction you also mentioned that you know you had some stress and that led kind of started to lead into it but you your comment kind of made it sound like stress had nothing to do with that do you distinguish your addiction separate from stress or do you feel like that was a leader they play off of each other i think you have stress you have addiction not everybody with stress becomes an addict or alcoholic i think almost every addict and alcoholic at some point develop some stress but i i thought it was my stress that caused the addiction i i did not understand that you can't just treat stress and the addiction goes away that's what my thought process was at that time and that's why i thought okay i'll get the massage i'll read all these self-help books i'll eat right i'll exercise i'll see my therapist twice a week and that just didn't work it just didn't work um so it's something that you have to approach the addiction along with some stress treatment stress management techniques but so interesting that in recovery we learn a lot of stress management techniques yeah certainly the other thing that i thought was interesting too is you know in our business we deal with a lot of care providers right a lot of therapists that kind of thing generally or not they generally didn't sign up to do paperwork they don't love the business side right i mean we've got to keep a file we got to track those kinds of things so that you know you can help somebody over time and have a record that kind of thing but it's not usually what they signed up for right and and i would assume med school's the same way right no business classes there's no accounting classes none of that kind of thing right so that you're generally unprepared for that when you come out of you know you got i don't know how long you went to school for but this you know 8 to 12 year period whatever it is does you mention the doctors in recovery and tell me that the actual name of this group again oh uh the international um ida international doctors in aaa so do they because they kind of see both the addiction and the provider side do they give any kind of training for that kind of thing whether it's oh is it just stress management or they actually have like kind of some here's some things you're going to encounter in your business and here are ways to deal with it you know they do any of that kind of stuff id ida is a is an organization for doctors in recovery um and people who work in the recovery field and their families um and that that they don't do training per se although they do offer some continuing medical education courses when we all meet but it's also a lot of 12-step meetings that we do with each other so it's fraternity more than training exactly yeah exactly cool but um we also have a there with sort of a there's a group that i belong to that talks about um that's doctors who like-minded physicians like-minded like like-minded doctors that work in the recovery field where we can ask each other questions you know about patients and how we handle this and are you seeing more of this and how do you detox that what's the best way to handle this situation so we've got a lot of uh a lot of help with that too and karen did that phil or nancy sorry nancy did that feel safe to to know that there's this whole organization of doctors out there and that you can connect with them and and work your work for your recovery i was blown away now likewise the doctors is basically for doctors who work in this field and not all doctors i thought anybody who got into recovery would want to work in recovery right i found out when i went to treatment it was like nobody was in none of the other doctors seemed to be interested in that me i just gravitated towards it and i was like wow this is too cool i love to learn how the brain works with addiction and why i am the way i am and you know i wanted to learn a lot more so i went on and became board certified oh very cool addiction medicine it doesn't sound like you had a huge family history of addiction so because i mean it sounded like 12 steps was a new thing for you a new revelation that like that's out there and that's what there was a smattering uh i found out later in my family one of my favorite aunts is alcoholic i had no clue um i asked my dad when i got out of treatment because i snuck off to treatment only my husband knew um and they told me there you need to let your family know so i asked my dad do we have any family history he said well my sister is an alcohol well she she says she's an alcoholic he goes but i don't think she is she just goes to those meetings i think she just likes them and so i called my my aunt and and asked her and then she was telling me some stories my dad didn't know her during her drinking days because he joined the military young he was much older than her and moved away and so he wasn't around during her drinking years when she got into recovery he basically reconnected with her you know we were in the states more when you know when she was older and already in recovery but he knew she was going to these meetings but apparently she just likes them [Laughter] going for the kool-aid yeah she could be an alcoholic because i never saw it right yeah my yeah to tell you the truth my my dad does not understand this disease at all i remember he was totally perplexed when i when i i invited my parents over after got out of treatment and you know told them what was going on and and my mom was so sweet she said oh what can we do to help you my dad just looked at me real quickly like nancy you have tremendous willpower all you had to do was use your willpower you know you can do anything you might not understand he just did not understand it and he just hurt me so bad i called my sponsor and i was crying to her and she said nancy you look like a crazy person to someone who doesn't have this disease you have to add some slack she said what if somebody came up to you and said i drink lemonade and i keep drinking more and more of it and then electrolytes get out of whack and end up in the hospital and then they get me straightened down i leave again i start drinking more more lemonade what would you say to them well just stop drinking all that lemonade exactly she said you look like a crazy person she said if you want support you go to a well with water which is your recovering friends and folks your dad is not that well and i thought i just needed him to understand me though that was important to me because i thought if you understand me you love me that that was what i was thinking i didn't realize that until after really thinking about it but if if if you if you really loved me you would really try to understand and then i thought you know if i got hit by a car my dad would be there in a heartbeat he'd give this right arm for me if he had to i know he loves me he just doesn't understand this and i've i've told people before you know several years into recovery you know like i said earlier we were talking earlier about how i always have family get-togethers at my house all the holidays and everything i remember my dad leaning over to me one time going nancy are you still going to those meetings and i said yeah nice virgin tonight and i don't want to miss that one he thinks it's hilarious um but he still doesn't understand but he knows that i'm doing well and then i'm happy and healthy and i think that's all that really matters to him he still doesn't get it it's good he doesn't have to i'm the one who has to get it yeah you do but but when you're new in recovery that's painful right when someone is when you expect someone to understand and relate and they have no frame of reference right it takes like you said it takes a long time to work through that and go oh he had no way of knowing right but it hurts in the beginning it does hurt but that's why we need other people who are like us who do understand you know that that was my saving grace i have lots of friends in recovery and and uh i understand you and karen understands me which started with your therapist right but where did it go from there because you kind of poo-pooed the treatment thing you were gonna you're gonna hack this on your own right therapist um you know got this guy to call me this doctor was in recovery and so i uh uh when the guy called i recognized his voice and i was blown away and he was talking he's had he had 20 odd years in recovery and was doing well and he said nancy just go to treatment do do what they tell you to do and you're going to be okay and that meant a lot to me because i was coming from somebody's been in my shoes so um but he did tell me he said but hang on for the roller coaster ride because you can be whipped up and down and around he said just hang on hang on hang on because one day you'll step off that roller coaster and you'll see that things have settled down wondering what the heck happened and he was absolutely right i'm so glad he shared that with me because there were times where i was on cloud nines like oh this is great recovery is greatness oh this will never work oh my god oh this is great this is great oh my god this will never work so i was really you know all over the place and early on you know i'm gonna divorce my husband it's all his fault you know looking for something outside of me to blame that sounds like the right roller coaster but you know um i i think it's so i think it's very good when people tell people not to make any major changes in that first year i would say probably not the first five years right right like you don't know what you don't know and until you get past it like you're right in the heart of it and it's like how do you tell somebody it's like it's like a a new adult right like one of my children who's newly adult and i'm like they want it they're talking to me about the things they want to do and i'm like oh man don't don't do that don't but you can't say that right because they don't know they think they know everything and they're adults now and it's the same kind of thing just no frame of reference yeah yeah how about you karen um so i did have a an alcoholic upbringing my wonderful fantastic jovial father was an alcoholic from as long as i can remember he would he was a night drinker he he was a workaholic by day um they both came from norway my mom was a registered nurse in the psych psych unit at the hospital in downtown minneapolis um he was a mechanic and he worked his tail off um and he came home and he worked some more out in our garage he'd come inside and he would drink beer every night um on the weekends on payday he would come back with a brown paper bag those were always the bad nights and um and i say bad nights and an emotional sense because i would watch him transform from this big personality this wonderful human being into somebody i didn't recognize he was slurring his words and not making sense and for a little kid that's really confusing and and um and painful and my later my mom took the night shift they they have they're both deceased now but my mom later confessed that the reason she did that was because she didn't want to be around his drinking um my sister my older my older brother was gone my older sister was a social butterfly i stayed home um to to control his drinking um which you know didn't work so well but um and i remem and i had i had issues growing up i had the food thing and i had this thing and i remember thinking maybe when i grow up i'll be an alcoholic so i won't eat so much oh wow now there's a great connection for the self-fulfilling prophecies i was picking all the wrong things and so i went off to college my mom had been very overprotective and my goal at college was to drink you know to party and um and i blacked out from the beginning i did things that were out of character from the beginning i mean i would uh wake up on a saturday morning mortified and drive two hours home to minneapolis and i i mean it was like i just had to get away from myself and bam there i was um and by sophomore year i called the 1-800 number and the guy said well you'll have to go to meetings and i got so upset granted i was intoxicated and i said i don't want to go to meetings i want someone to fix me so here was a year and some change of drinking and already i was recognizing a problem um i i kept on i powered on i became eventually a tv reporter which was a great job for an alcoholic because you could that's where i first saw her yeah anchoring the news you know i mean you're always running there's always something different um go go go you're done your live shot's over you go home and you drink and um that was that was my life and you know when i was early in my marriage my husband drank too and then we crossed a line where where he quit drinking so much and just became so irritated with how much i was drinking um you know and i would do the oh god in the morning please help me not to drink today i saw that sticker that said one day at a time on my neighbor's car so that i can do that one day at a time today i won't drink and of course come forward five o'clock i'm like what store am i gonna stop at um you know and it will it be red or white wine tonight um you know and then i have to get two bottles but i have to hide one of them and then drink uh only the first bottle and leave a little bit in the second bottle so my husband doesn't realize i drank two full bottles he thinks i just drank part of one and it's exhausting um and so in 2000 we were at my sister's wedding in minneapolis and i did something just horrible i behaved like the worst that i'd ever behaved in my life i mean it was she as she uh the night before at the groom's dinner i drank a lot and the next morning my sister said honey you seem to drink to excess a lot and that was the first time anyone in my family had called me out and i said i know and i said i promise i won't get drunk at your wedding and i didn't get drunk at her wedding but i got drunk after her wedding and it was awful my husband and i got into a huge fight and i said i'm going to treatment and i did an assessment when we got back to huntsville and he did not have any experience with alcoholism for him it was the stereotype of the bum in the


middle of the road with his brown paper bag and um i went there they told me i had to stay overnight and i thought that was the craziest thing i ever heard i saw some people smoking out front so i went home and he said how was it and i said you're right honey i'm not like those people they all smoke and um he said you're right i you just have to stop when i tell you to stop and i said why didn't we try this earlier let's do that and at that point uh it was you know we had a couple of nights of him trying to tell me to stop and then i quit trying so we had two more years of me saying i don't care i know i can't stop so why bother trying and two years later i was emotionally bankrupt i was empty nothing major happened he came home one night and i said what's wrong and he said i'm sick of you getting drunk every night for no reason and i said i am too and um i looked in the yellow pages because there was no you know easy to access google at that time and i found cumberland heights which sounded pretty and you know kind of remote and i went there on june 21st 2002 and haven't looked back see now if you'd found sereno rich i you know what and i found cumberland heights because there was um there was no place in alabama that i wanted to go to that um you know that had that that vibe and culture that i was looking for yeah a nice segue there so talk karen and nancy talk about how you guys connected and and what your relationship has been well i i met karen when she first came into the rooms of uh a.a and uh she amazed me i thought oh we have a celebrity and i was very shy you know i i was amazed she would come in and hi everybody and she just talked and me i was still in that phase where i was just a little scared person in the corner essentially and i had no idea you were a scared little person in the corner yeah yeah i came in about a year before karen and um i can't remember exactly when i became your sponsor so i had another sponsor early on then i moved back to minneapolis in 08. geographic changes you know we're still continuing apparently back to huntsville in 0-9 and i had since gotten another sponsor in minneapolis now i was back here um and i just wanted what she had and um and knew i needed to get a sponsor when i was back in recovery in huntsville you know so so that's how and you you hosted meetings on saturday mornings oh yeah we used to have big book studies down in the basement but uh yeah and then um karen went on to work at uh hudson alpha here in huntsville um so i was a fundraiser after tv so you were talking about all the people working in recovery i hadn't actually worked in recovery until nancy told me about this amazing facility that they were looking at and their vision of creating this beautiful upscale serene um recovery program and i i looked at her and i'm like i want to be a part of that so yeah my husband and i decided karen was going to be our marketing person she'd be perfect i love it i love it and do you do you miss um do you miss the the news anchor type work i you know i've been gone from that for so long so you know you get sober but that doesn't mean all of your issues are fixed so a year later i said some snide snotty things to my boss and very unnecessary um and i remember uh that that week oh david i guess we can say anything and not get fired up there um it never occurred to me to apologize for what i had done what i said so on friday uh they brought me downstairs and we were going to have a change of direction um so i wound up getting into marketing and then fundraising for non-profits um and there are elements of tv i miss you know it's the fun being out there but i get to be out there here too and uh you know this is a really cool space to work in the the mental health the addiction field is fascinating to me that's very cool so so so nancy you and your husband kind of knew you were going to do this you know this recovery program and put that together and and karen was just like you knew she had to be on part of the team exactly because um andrew and his former job knew karen and his boss named karen and they thought the world of her and i always thought the world of her and that just says we were like we're gonna i was karen didn't tell her it was after she said okay this okay now i can't be your sponsor anymore conflict of interest now exactly exactly but um yeah we found this beautiful property uh actually on zillow um and locked into it essentially it was sort of a god incidence that we got it uh we shouldn't have gotten it we got it for a song it's a super cool looking visibility it is absolutely gorgeous the pictures don't do it justice which is really weird you would think but when you're there it is just such a special healing place the woods around there are gorgeous it's on 176 acres you have to drive down from the gate a half mile to get to the house a lot of people think they've gone the wrong place like yeah it looks so cool the setting looks amazing so are you both yeah we're both in utah well you should take a field trip to north alabama and come visit us and i was just thinking that like i like i think i'm coming through alabama next time for sure yes it's like they built this place for us and um we have um an indoor heated pool i kept losing the pool when we got this place because it's through this little door in the keeping room and i was like where's that darn pool um and we converted there's there's many garages and we converted one of the separate garages into a gym we have a full gym there um it's really incredible we've hired a bunch of uh people that are peer support specialists and they were really hand-picked our primary peer support specialist helped us with the ones that he knew that he had worked with that were really really good um so everybody was hand-picked we were originally supposed to be an inpatient facility we've gone through mental health to get certified to do detox inpatient php iop the whole kit and caboodle we went through all the paperwork and everything and got it all set ready to go uh last fall and then come to find out we really needed the c-o-n a certificate of need we're one of those states i had asked i i suspected we probably needed one and i asked our our people at you know that were working with the department of mental health here in alabama uh they certified us i asked if we needed one and i was told no we didn't and it wasn't a malicious thing nothing was just you know they didn't know and then we got a letter from from one of our competitors um lawyers all right we're about to open uh you know the state health planning department that issued the cons and they forwarded it to us saying you can't do this you know you're you're you don't have a com so what we did was because we found out we couldn't get one um and uh not not yet anyway not for a while there's there's a lot of politics and stuff involved with this i guess i didn't understand all that but uh so we pivoted and became a 12-step immersion program and it was interesting because the very place that i went to treatment at we sort of partnered with and they were doing a virtual intensive outpatient program for us uab for those guests who needed some clinical so they would get that virtually through uab they would meet nine until noon monday through friday on the computer and then those that weren't they would just do the 12-step immersion but the people doing iop we get the 12-step immersion in the afternoons um so we were able to bring clinical in it's just that we weren't the ones doing it you know otherwise it would have been a residential program so we've had to find ways to do things we do have a an individual therapist that she works on her own she contracts individually with people to work with them if they have trauma issues other issues um and she comes out to the lodge to meet with them so we're able to do some things but we're we are a 12-step immersion program we're looking to expand to include um iop the intensive output program and php which is partial hospitalization program um so and as you said you you need you need a needs what do you call that the need certificate of need and i think if i i can explain this very elementary school style that's how i learned it is to that a certificate of need this was originally um the idea was brought about by the federal government that if this certificate of need if you limited people uh for uh health care we could actually decrease the cost and increase access to health care and the federal government thought such a great idea to have the certificate of need they incentivized all 50 states to do this also and so they adopted that too but then several years later the federal government realized that oh big mistake uh this actually creates monopolies and wasn't doing what it was supposed to do so they quit doing it but they didn't incentivize the states to get rid of it so as i said i don't think we've run into that one yet there are monopolies and i've been told you know that you'll be glad when you get a certificate of need then nobody can compete against you you'll be glad you have one i thought that is not what health care is supposed to be and mental health care that we're just it's in such limited supply but fortunately everyone working and in charge of sereno ridge recovery has the recovery mindset of you know what's in my power we all we all know the serenity prayer what can we change what can't we change what can we do now what's the next right thing um and so they have really created this beautiful 12-step immersion program that has already helped quite a few people and um and their families you know nancy you mentioned earlier about andrew we've got this great family day the kids can come and even go swimming and then andrew you can yeah andrew andrew uh will meet with the families and uh talk to them about recovery with the families he's very active in eleanor and andrew yeah my husband right he started alan i'm i'll be 21 years in recovery in october and he joined eleanor at that time too and he's been very active in that so he helps out with the family program we sit in sometimes with the with our guests because of course in alabama they do the same 12 steps the alcohols do so so he's got a very good understanding of the steps and so we'll join with us sometimes in the groups um just to add some some more info in there differently yeah so powerful too and i think it's interesting i mean there's al anon out there for the family and and loved ones of someone's you know dealing with addiction and then you've got aaa and and the other 12 steps for those who deal with the addiction but i really think the reason why that's so successful is because just being human requires recovery right it requires a constant every day till you're dead kind of an effort to be to overcome being human right because it's it's a lot work yeah everywhere just just to learn how to be a human i guess um you know rather than numbing out yeah with control or tv or food or drugs or alcohol um i'm a big fan of brene brown brene right yeah because we we like to numb out and uh i'm imagining that as a doctor you get to you get to kind of take a fun role in the recovery process and you know how do you help people in the detox process and and well i think you have to count your time right you don't have to spend three minutes with the client prescribe three medications and send them out the door right you get to have a little bit different relationship well right now my relationship is different because i'm not allowed to do any type of medicine in my role at serena ridge i can i can do it more as a peer and a peer support um so basically just using my my track record in recovery and how i do things in my recovery that's what i can offer uh right now which is a lot of fun i i get to volunteer at one of the halfway houses here and i actually get to be a doctor there nice so what are the boundaries and how come you can't practice medicine in your in your facility because to have a residential treatment program you have to have that certificate of need and that was one of the things that they said we could not do it had to be non-clinical non-medical that's the only way we could have a residential program right now until we had a certificate of need but we can do a partial hospitalization program in an iop program which can be clinical and medical um and we could do php with boarding and that would be off-site the php and the uh intensive outpatient would be off-site yeah and be at the facility yeah sober living so you could do sober and transitional living and then they can come in do their treatment php and iop and go back yeah beautiful i love that you guys are ramping up how how has covet affected your growth and and moving forward it's it's really interesting um when we got this place we were one of the last people that closed on our small business loan to get this started um before everything shut down and before we could make our first payment we get a call from the bank telling us that we don't owe payments for six months because of the coveted money i mean i was in shock oh wow you would have thought it'd be the worst time to open but um actually you know things worked out really well we had a lot of gut incidences at some time it bought us some time um our you know the only thing we had to do in that huge home was put in a sprinkler system which was a big undertaking yeah yeah the only thing that sounds like a pretty big thing yeah it was a it was a huge thing but it came in i mean the people that did it were phenomenal it came in like 200 000 less than what they thought it was going to be and i mean it was just amazing all the way around how things worked out a lot of coincidences very cool very cool it looks like you guys have really really developed a program that makes a difference this immersion program with the 12 steps and and i imagine that because the 12 steps was so you know beneficial for you guys and and so meaningful right and you create this this network of people that are you know like-minded doing the same thing that you are um that that's super powerful right well and one of the things is that you know when we go to treatment you know we learn a lot of things that are practical in how to have relationships with other human beings and you know how to communicate and you know work through some issues um but those 12 steps are key in core for my lasting recovery my continued growth and i i didn't i didn't really uh realize that initially you know we talk about resting on our laurels and recovery you know a lot of times we get a little tired of it you know i got other things to do i don't want to do this um and then get ripped back up again you know some people relapse but um knock on wood i haven't yet yet in life um but that's that's the key i think to growth in recovery and emotional sobriety are those 12 steps and i think that gets missed a lot in treatment because i know um you know i've worked in treatment in other places and it was basically we're so worried about the clinical and everything and we'd say by the way go to meetings get a sponsor see you later and you know there you go and people just didn't do that didn't see the importance of it didn't see the need uh just wanted to get out and go on with life and i remember from from my treatment experience and i don't remember much about it i was in for a short time but i didn't meet with the therapist while i was in treatment i um i remember sitting in the room doing meetings and reading the big book and seeing the 12 steps on the wall um and by that and i think i would have relapsed a million times over had i gone to treatment two years earlier when i did that first assessment but with that with that you know last bout of desperation i just dove into the 12 steps i'm like gosh just tell me what to do because i can't i can't be this anymore oh well and it gives you that framework right you take it with you and that whole community goes with you you can't stay in treatment you know in a treatment residential or partial ilp forever right because that costs money and it's expensive but you can go to aaa and you can go to al-anon and and you can take advantage of that community a matter of fact when i tell when i talk to people as a therapist you know i'm like you need you need people and even if it's not addiction you need people to surround you and help you and support you go to go find a church or go find an alinon or go go find a group of people that are trying to get better right and and go connect with those people because we we i don't know there's this kind of lie in our head that says we have to do it alone we can't we need our tribe everybody needs a tribe gotta have a tribe right that's that's the core everybody does and i was talking uh to our we have a clinical therapist that is not working as a clinical therapist right now because we can't use her that way but uh she's been a great support to all of us we were talking about the fact that you know um in this day and age we have less and less person-to-person communication you know people will text they don't like to get on the phone and talk even but you like getting on the phone i'm always getting on the phone annoying people but and that face-to-face thing that's my preferential way to interact with people but you know as time has gone on you know like you always hear about people don't even know their neighbors you know etc etc well back in the day everybody had to lean on each other and i think that the mental health was a little better back then because of that you actually interacted with a lot of people and now there's a lot of isolation you know and especially with covid you know we saw because of the isolation increases in in relapses and overdoses and everything went haywire yeah for sure i can't agree with you more is that i do think that we're much more isolated as a as a as a community as communities right and i think it's it's we're seeing we're seeing the symptoms of that now in our culture um and and people are wondering how come our kids are so you know wound up and they're so stressed out and and all of that and i can't say that it's all because of isolation because they're out there going to school but but those those cultural trends i think are are contributing factors at least in in a lot of that that's going on that human connection is important so important you know um karen and nancy i love that you guys are willing to share your story with people and you know share your recovery because stories to me touch everybody right and they they bring something that everybody can take home and go oh that was so cool and i can you know i can learn something from that i want to be you know i want to be like you when i grow up um and so i really appreciate you guys being willing to to be vulnerable and share with us um and our listeners i'm wondering what's the best way for people to get a hold of you if they want to check out your program and and even just to follow up with you guys and get to know you better thank you they can uh find our website serenorridgerecovery.com we are on all social media platforms now we are um we're on linkedin we're on twitter we're on facebook um we're on instagram tick tock even we tick tock that's just yes she's just started on tick tock um and they can they can call us at 833 267 oh goodness 833-267-4961 so um yeah but we would look you know and even uh we would love to talk to to anyone and if if this isn't the right fit for them we will work with you to find something that yes we don't ever leave anybody hanging if if they can't do our program for one reason or another we always help them find some place where they can get help we've got all the people that work with us that know all the all the available avenues oh that's been interesting yeah that is fantastic well i love it and i'm definitely definitely making sure that the next time i travel through it's going to be through alabama so i can come visit and see the program we would love that too you need to it is we love to show the place off it's fun giving tours and if there are people in the in the treatment community um who work in the treatment community if they're interested you know we love to host and we will we will provide you with a good meal yeah that's sweet all right well i'll pass that word along as well sure yeah we'll bring a whole party out yeah thank you for having us it was a pleasure to meet you both yeah it sounds like we need to forward it to some of the uh local politicians as well maybe around so yeah yeah get some more of that message out in uh alabama you guys need to get all the way open we need access period you know not just us but you know we need more more help here in alabama so off the off the record i'll email or send you guys via linkedin um an op-ed piece that the institute for justice wrote and they called out our competitor and it was pretty it was so brutal that even though it was accurate i was kind of yeah it makes you like well it's it's one of those painful things right because you kind of it i don't think there's any joy in the negativity right at the same time it's broken right it's it's a hurdle to correct health care for the public right so it's just it's kind of hurdle that needs to be removed and it'd be nice if some people got together and removed that hurdle and it unfortunately if it requires some nastiness it's what's in the best interest of the patients right like at the end of the day that's the constituency that's you know who we're all in this for and that that saying of oh well once you have it you know once you have that certificate then you'll be grateful for it like no how about we just but we just do a good job at what we do like healthy competition you know right that's removed right now you know you can do anything you want that's bad news and we appreciate um you know that that perspective as well yeah you guys are super polite and kind to be you know as hey you know i was talking to our staff i said i like to think of us like water that we go around obstacles over obstacles under obstacles we just find a way and um it was funny because one of our peer support is a big bruce lee fan and he came running up to me afterwards he goes oh my god nancy you gave me chills he said that's what bruce lee says be like water that's right you know interestingly i i tried um i tried to get um to get the story covered


i tried uh with the ij to get that that op-ed piece published no alabama publication would pick it up shady npr uh the logo the local npr affiliate told me well it's it's it's awkward when the spokesperson of the for-profit company is pitching the story and i'm like who else is gonna pitch it yeah change changes coming from somewhere yeah i'm not a political person i never knew of all of this stuff before it's interesting it's ugly it is very interesting but yeah send us the link we'll we'll tag the links we'll we'll tag the the article and and maybe we need a list of the right people let's tag all those people too maybe yeah there you go that would be great yeah it's just like it's just such a silly thing such a silly thing so yeah okay thanks for having thanks for being on you guys are awesome thank you thank you you guys are as well all right hey we'll talk to you guys later okay we'll get it we'll get it edited up and then we usually it ends up going through our blog and linkedin and eventually to facebook and twitter and we'll get you tagged on all that stuff we appreciate so much yeah you better yeah thank you thanks again bye

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