November 2019


Celebrating 35 Years
Morton Center Updates
Happy Thanksgiving from The Morton Center
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Hello,
Thanksgiving reminds us to pause and reflect on all there is to be thankful for, and to show gratitude to others. A tradition we have in my family is to go around the table and say what we’re grateful for before digging into the turkey. Many like to share daily gratitude’s on social media during November. What traditions do you have with your friends and family?

This November, I invite you to join us as we focus on gratitude each and every day.

Very often, the corollary to gratitude is the generosity of others. I certainly find that to be true at The Morton Center.
We are blessed to have YOU as our community partner and our remarkable team to provide support and make an impact in our community.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Priscilla McIntosh
Chief Executive Officer
The Morton Center, Inc.
Fall Programming News
Spotlight on Yoga for Recovery

The Morton Center now offers yoga classes for clients in the Early Recovery Program (ERP). Participants meet weekly for this complimentary, low-impact, holistic enhancement to their program of recovery. Research shows that yoga can become a valuable technique for people affected by substance use disorders to help manage cravings and reduce the risk of relapse. Incorporating yoga and other mindfulness techniques into an individual's continuing care regimen, can significantly improve success rates, and help maintain lasting sobriety.
"The Doctor's Opinion"
 Ashley Peak, MD, ABPN, ABAM
Medical Director

Gratitude

Give thanks.
Be grateful.
Think positive.
Practice gratitude.

To be honest, I had difficulty writing this article. The word gratitude is ubiquitous these days and the concept has turned into a bit of a cliché. It can seem overdone and contrived, especially in November as Thanksgiving approaches. Most American children grow up with the story of how the English settlers and Native Americans came together for the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth. However, there is a dark side to that story. In reality, the peace did not last. The settlers and Indians became embroiled in a devastating war just a generation after the famous feast.

But.

I asked myself, why social media and culture is so fixated on gratitude these days. Does science support all this pressure to Give Thanks? Turns out, it really does! But not just in November. 

Mammalian brains are hard-wired to scan their environments for threats. This provided our Paleolithic ancestors with an evolutionary advantage. Recognizing potential negative influences on survival allowed our ancestors to seek shelter from prey, hoard food for winter, and eliminate or leave behind dangerous members of the tribe. Our society has advanced and we no longer need to constantly scan our environment for these threats, but this programming still runs in the background. Our brains still pay much more attention to negative information than positive. This explains why dark or scary social media content will always receive more likes and shares and why the news is always slanted toward the negative; because this content generates more revenue. This type of unbalanced programming can lead to mood disorders, substance abuse, interpersonal struggles, and apathy if not intentionally resisted.

This is how gratitude can play a vital role in maintaining our mental health and relationships. For every negative thought or encounter we have, it takes 5 positive thoughts or encounters to overcome our negative bias. Positive information just does not register with the same priority in our brains, so we need more awareness of it. Intentionally scanning our environments for the “good” stuff is essential. It’s not automatic. It’s not easy. Implementing a gratitude practice is one tool for getting this done. There are plenty of books, podcasts, articles, and YouTube videos out there explaining how to best practice gratitude. So pick your favorite and practice every day. November is the perfect time to start, but keep going! This is one popular life hack that truly is supported by evidence and neuroscience.
The Clinician's Point of View
 Alexander Geiman, LPATA, TCADC

Balance in Recovery

“In yoga you focus your attention on your breathing and on your sensations moment to moment…. Simply noticing what you feel fosters emotional regulation, and it helps you to stop trying to ignore what is going on inside of you.”
—Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

What is mindfulness and why is it effective? Mindfulness practice is the process of becoming aware of our present experiences and sensations. It is called a practice because it often takes time and effort to become successful in maintaining mindfulness for extended periods of time. Mindfulness practice can consist of a wide variety of actions including, but not limited to, the following: grounding exercises, deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. This awareness of present experiences and sensations is effective in anchoring the mind in the present, which is helpful for protecting oneself against anxious thinking, dissociation, and other blockages to connecting with the present.

Yoga acts as a catalyst for increasing awareness within our body, mind, and spirit. By focusing on our breath, body positioning, attention, and connection with those in the same class, we foster the ability to carry this mindful awareness into other areas of our life. For example, in recovery one can flex their mindfulness muscle by staying in the present to address cravings and triggers. By taking a leap and exploring something unfamiliar we may expect ourselves to fall and not get back up; however, in yoga falling is an important part of learning our physical boundaries and accepting the support of those around who will catch us when we inevitably lose our balance.
[ USC researchers Jordan Davis, left, and Nicholas Barr are testing mindfulness as a component of recovery from substance use, trauma and other serious challenges. (USC Photo/Eric Lindberg)
The Research

Mindfulness could be a key to recovering from substance abuse, USC experts say

Initial studies with young adults show dramatic drops in stress, cravings, impulsivity and risk of relapse after practicing mindfulness.

BY  Eric Lindberg ,  March 18, 2019

Mindfulness might offer more than relief from daily stress. Research now suggests it can boost recovery
from addiction and trauma. Investigators at USC believe the contemplative practice could represent the next major breakthrough in the treatment of substance use and major mental health issues.

“It’s a very different way of doing therapy and being in therapy,” said  Jordan Davis , an assistant professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. “But it’s like the Wild West right now. We just don’t know that much yet.”

That is slowly changing, thanks in part to the work of Davis and other experts at USC. Results from their  recent studies  are encouraging. In one project at an inpatient drug treatment program for young adults, Davis found that completing just eight weeks of mindfulness training led to drops in stress and cravings — and improved chances of staying clean — even six months later.

Reading List

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In  The Body Keeps the Score , he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists,  The Body Keeps the Score  exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
Staff Spotlight

Nathan Lloyd, LCSW
Nathan Lloyd received his Bachelor of Arts from Asbury University in 2009, and went on to receive his Master of Social Work degree from Asbury University in 2012. Nathan’s experience in the field of mental health includes experience serving as Program Director for a Therapeutic Rehabilitation Program, experience working with adolescents through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, experience with acute mental health as a Crisis Stabilization Unit Clinician, and experience in the field of substance abuse as an Early Recovery Program Therapist. Nathan’s professional career has been shaped by his compassion and his passion for empowering others to lead successful and fulfilling lives. Nathan grew up overseas in France, and has been a Louisville resident since 2014. In his free time, Nathan enjoys music, art, video games, travel, and spending time with his family.
Fall Festival Wrap-Up
The Morton Center's 2019 Fall Festival was a fantastic family event that showcased our services and staff, highlighted the season, and celebrated our community. Because of your attendance, participation and generosity, we are able to continue the work of treating individuals and families affected by substance use disorder. Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Left: Children enjoy painting pumpkins at the festival. Center: An appearance by the Louisville Fire Department. Right: Competing in the limbo contest.
Alumni Story
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Your support makes it possible for us to provide a life of Recovery to so many in our community.


About The Morton Center
The Morton Center is a full-service addiction recovery facility offering professional counseling and therapy, as well as prevention and educational services, for individuals and families struggling with substance abuse issues. Since 1984, our customized, holistic approach has helped to reengage individuals and their families with lives of meaning and purpose often lost in addiction. 

Contact us:
The Morton Center - 1028 Barret Avenue, Louisville, KY 40204
ph. 502-451-1221