Adverse Childhood Experiences Impact Us More Than We Might Think

Adverse Childhood Experiences can have a major impact on behavior and physical and mental health. The experiences one walks through as a child can affect development. Additionally, untreated trauma from adverse childhood experiences can present throughout one’s lifetime.

While it is true that some adverse experiences can build resiliency in children, often times untreated trauma can lead to major issues throughout childhood and into adulthood. Adverse experiences include, but are not limited to, the way a person was spoken to as a child by a parent, whether a person experienced physical or sexual abuse, whether a person felt loved or encouraged, whether a person experienced the divorce or separation of their parents, whether a person had a family member who was incarcerated, and whether a person had a parent who was addicted to drugs or alcohol or suffered from any mental disorders.

The first eighteen years of a person’s life are critical to development. At any given point, if that development is delayed or interrupted by any number of external factors, there could be a delayed response development resulting in behavioral and physical and mental health problems, including adopting coping mechanisms.

Please know that you are not alone! According to the CDC, about 61% of adults surveyed across 25 states reported that they had experienced at least one type of ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs. (


The first step to assessing your ACE Score is to take the questionnaire.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score

Remember, the higher your score, the more likely you may be at risk.

If you need to speak with someone, please know our psychiatrists are available to conduct an initial psychiatric evaluation to help start you on your road to recovery and healing. We have a team of medical doctors, including addiction specialists, nurses, and licensed counselors who also want the best for you. To find an office closest to you, please call 844-728-4929. We help people and we want to help you.

Encourage Loved Ones to Seek Mental Health Care


The fear of being judged by friends and family can make a person hide, rather than seek real help. Many continue to live with their mental health issues and find their own ways of coping which many times ends up in drug abuse, addiction and suicide.

The stigma attached to poor mental health and mental health illnesses causes millions of people to reject the help that could improve their quality of life.

Why does this stigma exist and how do we remove this stigma from our society?

The stigma associated with mental health illness dates back to before the middle ages when people with mental illness were locked up or executed.

During the middle ages, people with mental illness were believed to be possessed by Satan and the only way to deal with the ‘possession’ was to imprison these people or burn them at the stake.

During the enlightenment, institutions were built to house people who have a mental illness, but these institutions in many cases devolved into quagmires in which disease was rampant, and abuse was common.

The belief that these institutions were the best way to care for people with mental illness continued for hundreds of years until behavioral medicine was established and developed in the 20th century.

Understanding of Mental Health as an Illness

Now that we have a better understanding of mental health and understand that people with mental illness can experience improvements, it’s time for us to make the effort to eliminate stigma and encourage people to get the mental health care they need.

Eliminating stigma starts with educating society about mental health and illness.

The best place to begin is to fold mental health into the curriculums of elementary school physical education classes and junior and senior high school health classes.

Through, media campaigns that include television and YouTube ads that feature a famous individual and provides small bursts of information can be effective.

Among the millions of people that avoid mental health care as a result of the fear of judgment are people that we know and see every day.

You can help by supporting those in your life and helping them to live the highest quality of life possible by seeking the mental health care they need.

And if you are the one struggling with mental health, know there are a better life and a better way. Together with our team, you can live the highest quality of your life by seeking support and help.

Call today to speak with our team, and start your new path today.


How We Can Overcome Mental Health Stigma

Over the years, mental health has not been given the same importance as other health care specialties.

Although a high level of effort and resources have been expended in an effort to increase the awareness and accessibility of mental health care, it is still inaccessible to many people.

For some, mental health care simply isn’t accessible in the communities in which they work and live.  

Improving Mental Health Care

There are many initiatives in place that were built with the goal of improving access to mental health care.

  • Mental health parity laws
  • Collaborative care models
  • Expanding the use of tele-medicine

are all examples of legislation and regulations that have been put in place to increase mental health care accessibility.

These initiatives have made a big difference and have ultimately increased mental health care access.

The Mental Health Stigma

However, there is one thing that must change to improve the access to mental health care to the point it is accessed at the same levels as other health care specialties. The mental health stigma must be removed.

Organizations and governments can and have used large amounts of resources through marketing campaigns in an effort to remove mental health stigma, and many of these efforts have made a difference.

The biggest difference, however, can be made by the actions of each one of us.

Encouraging loved ones and friends to reach out to a mental health care provider when needed may be the difference between that individual getting the care they need or choosing to live in emotional distress.

Each and every one of us deserves to live the best life we can, without the burden of carrying unwarranted mental health issues.

Stepping beyond simply encouraging others to speak to a mental health care provider and reaching out to these professionals when we need the care may be the most important thing any of us can do in improving mental health care access.

When family and friends see us taking care of our own mental health and getting the care we need, the stigma shrinks.

Please do not suffer alone! There are professionals and peers who know what you are going through, that are more than willing to help you on your pathway to recovery and happy life. There is hope!

Healthy Recovery During the Holiday Season

For many of us, the holidays are a time in which we surround ourselves with families and friends and enjoy the respite from day-to-day stress related to school or work.

For many others, the holidays amplify mental health and emotional issues and as a result, turn to drugs and alcohol in an effort to squelch the emotional pain.

This all makes it extra tough for those in recovery during the holiday season and a pandemic to boot.

Many states experience a spike in drug overdoses each holiday season, and with the coronavirus keeping people isolated this holiday season, the unfortunate result may be a higher spike in overdoses than most other holiday seasons.

Dr. Steven Taylor, Pathway Healthcare’s Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health stated in a recent Washington Post article interview,

“One of the most important things we tell people to do is don’t get isolated, get out of your environment or place where you are using and/or drinking and go meet up with other people working on recovery. Now we have this pandemic, which has literally forced people to do the opposite of what we know helps them stay in recovery.”

There are many resources to help people avoid turning to drugs and alcohol when feeling lonely or stress during the holidays. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • If you’re faced with a life-threatening situation including thoughts of suicide, call 911 immediately.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a national helpline which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. The phone number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Pathway Healthcare, LLC is a team of professionals committed to providing the highest quality outpatient behavioral care; including psychiatric care, treatment for mental health, drug and alcohol addiction and dependency treatment, and medication management.  

Pathway’s proprietary MAT Plus™ program for addiction and dependency combines evidence-based medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral counseling in an individualized treatment plan intended to meet the needs of each patient.  

Learn more at

10 Ways to Prevent Burnout and Improve Health

The daily, grinding stress so often experienced by people in the helping professions is what causes the psychological injury we know as burnout.

Burnout is a state of depletion—mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion—that leaves us feeling drained and overwhelmed, unable to meet the constant demands that created the problem in the first place.

Like any other injury, burnout is best prevented. The good self-care that helps us heal from psychological injury also helps us prevent burnout.

Healing is an inside job. Create the right conditions and healing happens from the inside out.

If I cut my finger, I don’t have to tell my skin cells how to knit themselves back together and I don’t have to tell my immune system to send infection-fighting cells to the scene.

The body is wise. It knows what to do.

What I do have to do is to create and maintain conditions for healing—keep the area clean and protected, for example, maybe get professional help in the form of a few stitches if the wound is deep.

Perhaps I need a special diet or medicine or physical therapy. Whatever the necessary conditions, to help myself heal, I must put them in place and maintain them for however long it takes—maybe a few days, maybe forever, depending on the injury. Mind and spirit heal similarly.

Create the right conditions for healing and you will heal.

Maintain these conditions and you will stay well.

Yes, there may be scars. Sure, there are things we don’t foresee or can’t control. We have setbacks. Stuff happens. That’s life. But the principal holds.

We create conditions for healing and wellness by taking good care of ourselves.

Here are 10 Conditions to help you create conditions for health and healing.

Condition One: Safety first.

“First do no harm” is doctor rule number one, the first part of the oath I took at my medical school graduation.

Without basic safety, nothing good happens. If I bruise my arm, it won’t heal if I keep banging on it.

Psychological injuries, too, only heal in safety.

You need a sense of sanctuary when you’re burnt out, and there’s no sanctuary without safety. Creating and maintaining safe physical, mental, and spiritual spaces for yourself is a top priority.

Healthy routines are essential—regular times for waking up, sleep, exercise, meals, etc.

Good self-care says NO to both internal predators (e.g., negative self-talk) and external ones (people who disrespect or abuse you).

This might mean limiting your contact with certain people, places, or things. It might mean being more assertive or substituting healthy behaviors for unhealthy ones. Self-protection can take many forms.

For example, I run a near-total media blackout in my personal life when I feel burnt out and I’m careful to take regular breaks and vacations. These things help me stay open and responsive to my patients and to the people in my life, which helps keep me emotionally safe.

Condition Two: Get grounded.

High stress, overwork, and burnout sometimes result in a kind of mental checking out we sometimes call brain fog.

The technical term is dissociation.

Your thinking self, the part that knows you’re miserable or in danger, disconnects from your action self, the part in charge of what you do.

Your feeling self shuts down and you get a little emotional anesthesia, but it’s temporary.

When the brain fog clears, you haven’t fixed anything so you return to the same problems, or worse, and you may end up feeling worse than you did before.

In dissociation, we can’t think clearly enough to do what we need to do to protect and take care of ourselves. We’re not in touch with real feelings so we can’t use to guide our actions. When body, mind, and spirit aren’t on the same page, everyday life is hard.

Our minds try to protect us but staying dissociated is costly. We can’t afford to live there long-term.

Being grounded is a condition for health. Getting grounded is an antidote for dissociation.

Grounding connects you with real, healthy things in your real, current life, which helps you feel steady and present.

When you find yourself getting lost in your head, you need simple, immediate strategies.

That isn’t the time for anything complicated, so it’s helpful to practice before you get to that point. When you start feeling checked out, slow down and simplify.

Drive the speed limit and wear your seatbelt. Maintain healthy routines. Avoid drugs, alcohol, and excessive television or computer use, which increase dissociation.

When your stress level rises, try a simple breathing exercise: Breathe in slowly through your nose, as if you’re about to sing or shout, allowing your lower abdomen to rise and imagining yourself taking in peace with your breath. Hold for a second, then breathe out slowly through your nose, make a quiet, continuous breath sound in your throat, like the “ocean” sound you hear when you put a seashell to your ear. Repeat as needed!

Other grounding strategies:

  • Put a piece of ice in your mouth and focus on the sensations—cold, smooth, sharp, etc.
  • Light a candle and focus on the flame—the flicker, the scent, the way the light changes.
  • Hold a marble or a rock in your hand and concentrate on its contours, the feel of it, how it looks.
  • Take a slow, quiet “noticing” walk. Focus on colors, wind, sky, earth, scents, etc.
  • Do some gentle stretches or take a yoga class.

Garden, pray, paint, cook, color, draw, make something, or listen to music.

 Condition Three: Take care of the basics.

Once safe and grounded, you need comfort and nourishment.

Eat simple, nutritious meals. Drink plenty of water.

Postpone major projects if you can and get plenty of rest. Go outside, focus your eyes on the horizon and feel your spirit lift.

The little things are the big things. Taking care of the basics sends a message of calming normalcy in time of trouble. 

Overworked, burnt out people often struggle with a basic life skill I call pacing.

A pace can be a step, the length of a step, or the speed of stepping.

Pacing yourself in everyday life lets you meet its demands without hurting yourself.

To live healthfully in the moment means that you watch where you’re going and pay attention to how you’re getting there—how much, how fast, how far, how many, how often, etc.

We need:

  • rest and exercise,
  • treats and discipline,
  • time with others and
  • time to ourselves,
  • responsibility and freedom,
  • the capacity to commit and to let go.

The life pace you need in order to stay healthy and well is unique to you and may vary in accord with what’s happening in your life.

For example, if you’re grieving a big loss, you need to be gentle with yourself, maybe slow the pace and focus on quiet, comforting things.

If you’re angry or stressed, maybe you need to pick up the pace, perhaps exercise vigorously to release tension.

If you’re anxious or depressed, an easy-going walk in a pretty place might be best—to help you keep moving and remind you that the world is bigger than that one moment.

Condition Four: Feel, name, accept, and express your real feelings.

In order to heal, you need to be able to address your emotions properly, which means to identify, acknowledge without judgment, validate, and express whatever your real feelings are, without harm to self or others.

You must face and feel what troubles you before you can move on. You don’t say to your crying child, “Shut up. That doesn’t hurt. You’re not hungry. I can’t believe you’re such a baby.” If you wouldn’t say it to your child, don’t say it to yourself.

Trying to push away emotional realities is pointless.

Even if you manage it momentarily, the feelings don’t go away. They go underground and make you depressed, anxious, or irritable, or they come out sideways at yourself or others.

Catharsis–getting your feelings out of your head and into the open by talking to someone—often brings relief and greater clarity, which improves problem solving.

Journaling is proven to be helpful as well. Writing accesses different parts of your brain and improves focus. You can ask yourself, “What do I feel right now?” and not worry about the reactions of others.

Here’s a little pacing work sneaking into the feeling stuff:

  • Slowing down allows you to feel your real feelings more easily.
  • Take a little time, and if you need to cry, cry.
  • If you’re mad, be mad directly, safely, and with an awareness of the real cause.

Dealing with strong feelings in a healthy way is self-respectful and validating.

Condition Five: Gather together.

Be with people you love.

Detachment and isolation are risky, especially if you’re getting burnt out.

Take the solitary time you need to breathe and get grounded, of course, but also stay open and connected with safe people in your life. 

Condition Six: Manage anger.

Where there is stress and burnout, there is often anger.

Some people are more comfortable with anger than others, but it cannot be avoided in life and it’s important to be able to experience, recognize, and express it safely.

Anger serves a purpose. It’s an energizing, signal emotion that can function somewhat like a warning light on your car—letting you know that something needs to be addressed.

Pushing anger underground or trying to avoid it can cause depression. If it flies out unmanaged, you could hurt yourself or someone else.

Sometimes people are surprised to learn that anger management programs are more about recognizing (sooner) and releasing (safely) anger than about suppressing it.

Anger lives in the body, so some form of activity is generally the most efficient way to release it—vigorous exercise or ripping up old magazines, for example. You can also talk it out with someone or write it out in your journal or in an unsent letter. T

he important thing is to get it out, calm yourself, and clear your mind so that you can sort out what’s really going on and what you might need to do about it.

Condition Seven: Create psychologically clean conditions.

Creating psychologically clean conditions means establishing the conditions for healing and prevention outlined in this article. It also means not doing things that don’t work or are hurtful.

If you keep finding yourself in the same problematic situation or relationship over and over, you may be recreating an old painful experience or relationship in an attempt to master it in the present.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

If you keep doing the same thing—like chronically overworking—you will keep getting the same result, such as worsening burnout.

We need our whole, real selves fully engaged—body, mind, and spirit—to deal with pain and problems appropriately.

Healing from psychological injuries such as burnout or trauma requires attention to biology (physical health), psychology (mental and emotional health), and sociology (social, cultural, and relational environments and interactions).

During my psychiatric training, the biopsychosocial model of healthcare was coming to the forefront. The spiritual element didn’t get much airtime, which brings us to Condition Eight.

Condition Eight: Tend to your spirit.

Body, mind, and spirit make up a whole, healthy person.

We describe a happy person as being “in good spirits” for a reason.

Religion has its detractors, but religion and spirituality are not the same thing, and the spiritual part of the self is different from either of those.

I like what Duke Ellington once said about music,

“If it sounds good, it is good.”

If what we do when we develop our spiritual selves is good and helpful, then it’s good and helpful.

The sheer tenacity and power of healthy spiritual experience in human life says something about our need for it.

It has been used in dark ways, yes, but it can also be a potent solace, inspiration, and source of strength. Electricity can be dangerous, but we don’t stop using it, right?

If you have a formal spiritual practice that helps you, use it. Meditate or pray. Sing. Write your own prayer for healing and health.

Meditative prayer connects powerfully to our sense of something larger than ourselves, a force beyond the everyday. If you don’t have a formal practice, that’s fine, too.

Spend a quiet moment and a few deep breaths to consider the meaning of your life in a larger context. Are you living in accord with your beliefs and priorities? 

Creative work is a spiritual act, to my mind—both a manifestation of health and a way of getting there. The first art known to humankind (cave paintings in France) was related to spirituality.

Spiritual practice and creative work fill a need most of us seem to have as members of the human tribe.

Write a poem, paint a picture, sing a song. Listen to music, look at art, or take a walk specifically to admire the loveliness of our miraculous world.

Though it may seem odd, spiritual and creative practice can be quite grounding, especially in traumatic situations.

Remember the outpouring of prayer, church, songs, and creative work in every genre in the wake of 9/11? 

That’s us at our best—human beings joining together, doing what we do to deal with pain.

Find that part of yourself and use it.

Condition Nine: Give it time.

There are stages of grief, stages of psychotherapy, and stages of healing.

Everyone is a little different and it takes however long it takes.

Go gently, pace yourself, and don’t try to rush the process. Nurture yourself and those you love. Help others. Let others help you.

Find your center and balance your life. The opposite of burnout or any other psychological injury is living with authenticity, self-respect, and purpose.

Condition Ten: Get professional help if you need it.

If you have serious symptoms of depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, or unfinished business with your past, please consider professional help, contact us at Pathway Healthcare.

The pain will remain until you work it through to whatever resolution you need. Some things are just too hard to do by yourself. Getting help is the smart thing to do.

Call us today at 844.728.4929 or Text HOPE TO 47177, we can help.

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About theAuthor

Article adapted from the author’s forthcoming book, 90 Ways in 90 Days: A Personal Workshop for Women with Disordered Eating. Dr. Gross is Medical Director at Pathway Healthcare in Jackson, MS. She has served Professionals Health Network (PHN) since its inception in 2009 and on its Board of Directors since 2013. She is a Life Fellow in the American Psychiatric Association, a Diplomate in the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and a Fellow in the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

7 Signs Your Loved One is Addicted to Opioids

Do you think a loved one might be addicted to opioids? Have you experienced behaviors of a loved one that doesn’t add up, or doesn’t seem like “them”? Knowing the signs can help you identify whether a loved one might be using drugs or addicted to a substance.


Opioids are a class of drugs that include both prescription pain medicines and illegal drugs such as heroin. Users either use a prescription drug form or as an illegal drug on the streets like heroin.  Opioid addiction can come out of nowhere for the most unexpecting of users. Though opioids can be prescribed by a doctor to treat pain, their misuse may lead to a dependency or addiction, resulting in what is known as an “opioid use disorder.” 


The Signs all Lead to…


The signs can vary when someone is suffering from Substance Use Disorder. While not all of the signs below mean someone is using opioids or another drug, these are common differences you might see in people with Opioid Use Disorder.



The user will almost every time move their priorities to the back seat. There comes a time when a user no longer cares for things they used to care for in the past. The drug is put before everything including relationships, family, job, hobbies and friends.



The user becomes extremely isolated and would rather be alone than be with their family and loved ones, for fear of being found out. Functioning addicts work only to fuel their addiction. The drug becomes more important than rent, bills and even food. 


No longer caring

The only thing a user cares about is how they are going to get the next high. When a user becomes addicted to a drug it has all the power over the user. Drugs don’t care what color your skin is or if you are a male or female, rich or poor, young or old it will take over the user’s life. Money disappears to the drug constantly. It doesn’t matter how much a user spend it only matters that they get their fix. It can become so bad that a user doesn’t take the drugs to get high anymore they take them so they don’t get sick with withdrawal. 



It makes a user rob, steal, pawn precious items of meaning, even steal from friends and family. It’s not to hurt them it’s so a user doesn’t go into withdrawal. An addict will drop anything and everything he is doing to get drugs. We stay by our phones at all times and pray the dealer calls. 


A user becomes a slave to the drug and it takes over their life. Nothing matters but the drug. 


Financial Problems

When a person without addiction holds twenty dollars in their hand they can see countless ways they can use it. When an addict sees twenty dollars in hand it is seen as drugs PERIOD. Users get to the point where they don’t care about personal hygiene or how they look and dress. A user may lose weight because they have no money for food. Any money they have is going to the habit first before taking care of their own wellbeing. Users run out of money much faster due to their addiction. Addiction is so powerful that it can make users do things they would never normally do. It’s powerful 



Extreme anxiety and mood swings can kick in sporadically. If someone you know seems to go through periods of extreme mood swings, along with any of the signs above, they could be suffering from Substance Use Disorder.  Extreme mood swings can be part of a physical symptom withdrawal.


Physical symptoms of use and withdrawal.

  • The inability to control opioid use
  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent flu-like symptoms
  • Decreased libido
  • Lack of hygiene


What do I do now?

Seek the support of your family and friends and choose a program that fits your life. 


When considering a program, look for inpatient or outpatient facilities that will accommodate your needs. Talk with someone who can help you choose what fits your needs. These things will help set you up for success in your recovery.


If you suspect that someone you know might be struggling with substance use, reach out to them in a supportive manner and encourage them to seek help and assure them you will help them every step of the way. 




Call us today at 844.728.4929 or Text HOPE TO 47177, we can help.

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What is MATPlus®  

Our Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) treatment approach combines behavioral counseling with medication for higher levels of success.

Counseling is the main focus of MAT, with a prescription for medication provided under the guidance of a medical doctor. 

The combination gives our doctors the ability to customize patient treatment plans based on each patient’s unique cravings and withdrawal. That makes MAT the most effective treatment program available.

How it’s used

Opioid Use Disorder 

We use Suboxone, Zubsolv, Bunavail, and Sublocade for Opioid Use Disorder treatment. 

All of these medications are FDA-approved and are buprenorphine products. Buprenorphine is an FDA-approved, highly studied, and regulated medication used to help individuals recover from opioid addiction. 

It acts as a stabilizer in the body rather than as a narcotic. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine helps patients function physically, emotionally, and mentally without impairment. 

It also aids patients in engagement with counseling services to reach healthy goals that benefit the whole person.

Alcohol Use Disorder

We use Vivitrol, Naltrexone, and Acamprosate for Alcohol Use Disorder treatment.

Like other drugs, heavy alcohol use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and even abuse, which may require treatment. 

Patients that abuse alcohol experience severe withdrawals, including dangerous ‘delirium tremens’ (DTs) which is marked by confusion, shivering, sweating, irregular heartbeat, and even seizures.  

Harmful drinking may be reduced or eliminated with a combination of medication, counseling, and peer support.

Other Drugs – Benzos, Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines

Other drugs like benzodiazepines, marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines also contribute to the overall statistical abnormalities that make up substance use disorders.

Not all substance use disorders have on-label, or FDA approved drugs for treatment. A Pathway or Impact Healthcare physician will provide guidance to determine the best course of medication-assisted treatment for you.

Our Approach

Our Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a treatment approach for all substance use disorders to treat the whole body through the combination of medication-assisted treatment and patient-specific counseling using our MATPlus® treatment approach. 

We use evidence-based approaches and closely monitor the latest treatments coming available for all substance use disorders.  

If you are suffering from dependence, we recommend consulting a Pathway or Impact Healthcare physician and Impact Behavioral counselor to determine the best course of treatment for you.

Call us today at 844.728.4929 or Text HOPE TO 47177

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Depression and Sadness and Your Recovery

Do you feel extreme sadness despite great accomplishments or disappointments in your life?Depression is a serious mental illness that goes untreated. It’s hard to know how to deal with depression and sadness, alone.


Have you ever heard someone say, “If you would get out of the house then you wouldn’t be depressed anymore?” This is ironic because a symptom of depression is a lack of motivation. I am a person in long term recovery which means I have not used a mood or mind-altering chemical in years. I have suffered from depression my entire life. 


As a child, I remember feeling alone, sad and scared. I recall going to the skating rink with friends and it was so much fun. I remember skating and this horrible feeling of doom came over me. I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be having fun. 


The first time I drank alcohol I vividly remember that I felt “enough.” I felt ease, happiness and felt like I belonged. I self-medicated my depression with alcohol and other drugs throughout my teen years. The progression of my alcoholism soon began to actually make my depression worse. I wasn’t drinking anymore for relief and fun but to be able to function in daily life. 


A typical day for me was: wake up and take diet pills for energy, take opiate pain killers throughout the day for energy, drink immediately after work to relax, and then take Xanax at bedtime to be able to relax and sleep. 


I began my journey of recovery in my early 20’s. I was told by another member in a twelve-step fellowship that if you work the steps then you wouldn’t need an antidepressant. I suffered for years in sobriety because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that causes my depression. I was 15 years sober, working in a treatment facility, suicide prevention specialist, and planning my own death by suicide. I felt ashamed and like I was a failure. I am so grateful that another member of the fellowship reached out to me and suggested I go get professional help and treatment for my depression. 


Feeling Sad and Being Depressed

There is a huge difference between feeling sad and being depressed. 

Sadness is a feeling typically involving loss or expectations not met. 

Depression is a prolonged state of sadness that has symptoms. Here are some common symptoms: 

  • Tiredness
  • trouble focusing or concentrating anger
  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • loss of interest in pleasurable or fun activities
  • sleep issues (too much or too little)
  • no energy
  • craving unhealthy foods
  • anxiety
  • isolation

“It’s not a sin to be sick.” Depression is a brain/mood disorder. I did not choose to have depression and I can’t stay well if I don’t get medical treatment and counseling.  

Many people believe that depression is a sign of weakness but I disagree. I believe people that suffer from depression are very strong because they continue to trudge through daily activities when they want to give up. Will power doesn’t “cure” depression. 


Depression is Not the End

A medical professional can treat the imbalance of brain chemicals and a counselor can help with new coping skills. The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous suffered tremendously from depression prior to and during his sobriety. Many people suffer, but you don’t have to suffer alone. We are fortunate to have the medications and support services that we do today. 

Please do not suffer alone! There are professionals and peers who know what you are going through, that are more than willing to help you on your pathway to recovery and happy life. There is hope!


By: Kimberley Lamar ADC, ICADC, CRSS

Pathway Healthcare Recovery Navigator


What Makes Cocaine and Methamphetamine so Dangerous?

Cocaine and methamphetamine will cause an individual to seem extremely alert and have increased energy along with increased heart rate and blood pressure.

I remember the first person I encountered as a doctor in the Med ER who was on cocaine. It was the mid-1990s in Memphis, and people came to the ER every night with chest pain, very high blood pressure, sometimes even heart attacks or strokes. 

The woman I saw was screaming. She had smoked crack. Crying, she told me she had sold her baby for crack. She held her chest. Her blood pressure was over 200 systolic and over 100 diastolic. Her heart rate was somewhere near 150 beats per minute. I thought she was going to grab my coat, she was so intensely agitated. We admitted her to the hospital to the cardiac ICU. She was alert, energetic, and had a racing heart as well as a dangerously high blood pressure.

Methamphetamine causes similar changes. My patients frequently use meth to give them the energy to go to work. Energy. This is a huge need. It needs to not be underestimated.

We need alertness and energy. 

Cocaine and Methamphetamine are both stimulants, even though they have different mechanisms of action. Some of the brain chemicals they stimulate are:

  • Norepinephrine/epinephrine
  • Glutamate
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Acetylcholine
  • And there are more

These chemicals are all healthy, normal, and needed chemicals in our brains. We rely on these chemicals to get up in the morning, feel motivated to go to work, take care of kids, and to take care of our own lives. We need these chemicals to continue our normal everyday functions.

Cocaine and methamphetamine raise the levels of stimulating neurochemicals that raise our heart rate and blood pressure. 

Norepinephrine and epinephrine are part of our sympathetic nervous system They are stimulated when our body knows we need our blood pressure higher or our heart rate faster.

Unfortunately, cocaine or methamphetamine may stimulate these chemicals more than our bodies need, resulting in heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, or a racing heart.

Cocaine and methamphetamine raise the neurochemicals that cause alertness and energy.

Glutamate helps us learn and feel invigorated. If it’s too high, a person can have seizures. But we need glutamate to do our work and go to school.

Serotonin gives an energetic, happy feeling. Well-being. Cocaine especially stimulates serotonin.

Dopamine gives a rewarded, motivated feeling. We need this to do anything. To meet our goals. To go to the grocery. To work. We need this for movement. The way cocaine and methamphetamine stimulate this neurotransmitter makes these chemicals addictive.

It’s hard to quit cocaine and methamphetamine.

In fact, it is probably too hard for you to do alone. We know that.

Before you do something you cannot change, come and let us help you. We know you have needs below the addiction. It’s not because you are bad. Come in and let us sort it out with you.

Make an appointment today with one of our addiction specialists. We help people without judgment. Call 1-844-728-4929

The Most Important Thing for You to Do for Your Sobriety During Tough Times

Couple Staying Sober in Hard Times

Keeping Your Sobriety When Life is Tough

One of the biggest challenges people face is when things in life get hard. Things like COVID-19, or when family crises arise, when financial hiccups happen, when career and job life is stressful, it can be difficult for people dealing with addiction for several reasons. Stress is a time that our minds want to protect us and for or us to seek comfort, this is the time we fall back into old habits. Even when you have the best intentions, it can be a challenge to maintain your sobriety. During times of stress, it’s easy to feel lonely and seek out old comforts and unhealthy habits.

You can make it through these testing times clean and sober and feel great about your accomplishment. Here are some tips for staying sober when life gets tough.

Schedule Your Appointments

It’s always important to manage your time and be intentional about how you choose to spend it, and this becomes even more important when you’re working on staying sober. When you are feeling down or stressed out, think about things that you can do to help you move out of that feeling and focus on something positive, from touching base with a sober friend or taking a walk to be in nature.

Scheduling your appointments is helpful for several reasons. Not knowing what you’ll be doing from day to day can be stressful. Make a plan to secure an appointment to take care of yourself first.

Schedule Time to Meet with a Counselor 

Of all the things you’ll schedule, the most important thing you can do is to make time to meet with your counselor these meetings give you a chance to get something off your chest that you need to talk about, address any troublesome feelings you may be having, and discuss ways to make it through hard times with your sobriety intact.

Remember that your time is precious and that you should be selfish with it. Making time to take care of yourself and protect your sobriety means keeping regular appointments with your counselor. They are equipped to help you with a wide range of issues you may encounter in life, which many fail to overcome. Life can be tough at times and stressful for many people, even those who aren’t fighting addiction. It’s essential throughout the year to actively work on your sobriety, but it’s non-negotiable during hard times.

Commit to Keep Your Appointments

Scheduling appointments is one thing; keeping them is something else. Work on managing your time and schedule so that you keep your essential engagements, such as meeting with your counselor. It can be easy to cast plans aside when they conflict with our current emotions and energy levels, and, to be sure, there are times when we should listen to our bodies and rest instead of forcing ourselves to go out.

However, in many cases, we don’t want to do the things we know will help us in the long run. Plan to attend your counseling sessions, spend time with sober friends, and take time alone for personal reflection. Recognize that, even if you don’t feel like doing these things at the moment, they can help you feel better, change your perspective, and gain ground when it comes to staying sober.

Never Be Too Busy for You 

Many people find themselves with hectic schedules or navigating rough patches in life. You may suddenly realize that you have something planned every night of the week for the next month. If so, you might want to rethink your obligations.

First, consider which of these situations might be triggering for you. For example, If your co-workers all drink at the office party, then you might want to avoid that situation unless you’re sure it won’t be too tempting for you. If you have a family dinner scheduled with a relative who triggers you to drink or use drugs, realize that it’s okay to make an excuse and bow out.

Another reason to manage your social calendar wisely is that if you are consistently busy entertaining or attending other people’s functions, you won’t have enough time to take care of yourself and your own needs. When it comes to recovery, self-care is everything. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and do the things that nourish your spirit, whether that means journaling, meditating, spending time in nature, or taking a long hot bath and curling up with a good book or a favorite TV show.

About Pathway Healthcare® 

At Pathway Healthcare, we understand that addiction and other substance use disorders are all different and that everyone’s experience is unique. We offer highly effective, lasting treatments for addiction and dependence using scientifically-proven methods in a professional, supportive outpatient setting. We hope the tips for staying sober during these tough times are helpful, and we encourage you to contact us if you are struggling with addiction. We’re here to help.