THE VALIANT BLOG

More About Us & The People We Work With

The Complex Nature of Addiction Interaction
2022-07-21
2022-07-21

It is quite common for people with addiction to use more than one type of drug in combination with heavy alcohol misuse. They may ingest or inject various substances separately or combine them for a stronger high or to achieve particular effects. Misusing more than one drug at a time is known as polysubstance use. But drugs and alcohol aren't the only things Americans get addicted to. Whether it's excessive sexual behavior, compulsively surfing the internet, gambling, shopping, or risky thrills such as reckless driving, the desire to experience a "high" becomes so strong that the addicted person loses control and continues with the activity despite severe negative consequences.It is also not unusual for patients seeking treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) and other addictions to present with depression, anxiety, mood and personality disorders, eating disorders, unaddressed trauma, and other mental health conditions. This is often described as a “dual diagnosis.” Attempts to self-medicate the symptoms of underlying mental health disorders can lead to the misuse of substances. Unfortunately, this behavior then tends to exacerbate the mental health condition it was supposed to suppress— leading to a vicious self-reinforcing cycle.For Stephen Sbanotto these complex conditions don’t just exist side by side, they interact. Sbanotto, MS, LPC, CSAT-S, is Valiant Living’s new clinical director. He has more than 12 years of experience as a licensed professional counselor and is a certified sexual addictions therapist supervisor (CSAT-S). Sbanotto did an additional master's program in marriage and family therapy and is trained in emotionally focused couples therapy. He is also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for trauma. This means he can approach the complicated disease of addiction from multiple angles. “Typically, when there is one addiction, there’s often another one or even three or more,” says Sbanotto. “Identifying those multiple addictions and how they interact is crucial. They don’t just co-occur, the better word for what’s happening is interaction.”He calls it the “black hole of addiction interaction”: multiple addictions combine to overwhelm a person with their complexity and power. “The phenomenon is so strong that no specific focus is strong enough to escape from it.”In a recent webinar for Harmony Foundation, Sbanotto presented the example of “Jonathan,” a race car mechanic addicted to stress and excitement. During treatment, Jonathan revealed that he had been using various substances, including heroin and cocaine since he was eleven. Now 48 and married with children, he was also compulsively hiring sex workers. Jonathan did not want to acknowledge that his sexual behaviors were far more compulsive and actually interacting with his substance misuse. He believed he only acted out sexually when under the influence of substances. Sbanotto explained that the core of Jonathan’s condition was his addiction to chaos and intensity. He needed a treatment plan that homed in on that central addiction. Jonathan finally had a breakthrough epiphany: fixing one thing did not stop the addiction process because his various addictions were all hooked together.“Multiple addictions naturally compound, morphing into something powerful and biologically tenacious,” Sbanotto said. “Once the initial neural pathway is laid down, other addictions become overlays, using some of the same [brain] circuitry.” Addiction almost always impacts the family of the identified patient as well. The addicted person’s loved ones should be involved in the treatment plan as much as possible to ensure better outcomes. Frequently, patients are dealing with multiple interacting addictions while their families are in crisis and in danger of becoming completely dysfunctional. “Our mission is to create high-impact change in the addicted family system,” says Valiant Living’s chief clinical officer Michael Simms. “That is where we really shine.”Sbanotto values Valiant Living’s comprehensive approach to addiction treatment, addressing all addictive behaviors of clients as well as any other mental health issues. Ultimately, he regards all addictions as intimacy disorders, meaning, fundamentally, they constitute “a failure to connect with other human beings.”If you are seeking a more comprehensive start for addiction treatment, contact Valiant Living Detox and Assessment at 303-647-4932 and get the individualized attention you need for stabilization, assessment, and discerning the best next steps in your journey. The Professionals Program at Valiant Living helps male professionals understand and harmonize their minds and, thus, helps them and their family system heal. If you or a loved one has turned to drugs or alcohol to keep up at work and manage a high degree of daily stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by calling us today at 303-952-5035.

Read On
The Role of the Self in Internal Family Systems Therapy
2022-08-03
2022-08-03

The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy developed by Richard C. Schwartz in the 1980s. It combines systems thinking with the view that the mind is made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities, each with its own unique viewpoint and qualities. IFS uses family systems theory to understand how these subpersonalities relate to each other.The subpersonalities are known as “parts” in IFS. “Most clients identify and work with between 10 and 30 parts through the course of therapy,” wrote Richard Schwartz and Martha Sweezy wrote in Internal Family Systems Therapy. “Because of the way parts present to us, we conceptualize them as inner people of different ages, temperaments, talents, and desires who form an internal family or tribe. … It is axiomatic in IFS that multiplicity is the inherent nature of the mind. This is not a product of external influences being introjected, nor is it the consequence of a once-unitary personality being fragmented by trauma.”Normally, parts perform roles that are healthy and functional. Problems arise when parts take on “extreme” roles in a desperate attempt to protect the person from emotional pain or physical harm. In IFS, an extreme role is any action, feeling, or thought that is considered dysfunctional. “We call extreme beliefs, emotions, and energies that enter through direct life experience personal burdens. We call the ones that were absorbed from family, ethnic group, or culture legacy burdens,” wrote Schwartz and Sweezy.No Bad PartsSpiritual traditions encourage us to have compassion for everyone. In IFS that means having compassion for all our parts. “IFS operates from the radically different assumption that each part—no matter how demonic seeming—has a secret, painful history to share of how it was forced into its role and came to carry burdens it doesn’t like that continues to drive it,” Richard Schwartz wrote in his 2021 book No Bad Parts.The plural mind revolves around what IFS calls the Self. This is the centerpiece of the model. The Self is the core of a person, which contains leadership qualities such as compassion, perspective, curiosity, and confidence.“In IFS, all parts are welcome, including those parts that are often pushed away and shamed, like our addictive parts,” says Valiant Living’s chief clinical officer Michael Simms who is a certified IFS therapist. “We believe that parts become extreme when an injury turns into an identity that starts living in the past. What once was helpful and adaptive becomes harmful and maladaptive. Therapy is about approaching these parts with compassion and understanding—it’s through understanding that our parts and our Self can make a decision to change.”During therapy sessions, Dr. Schwartz asked various parts of his clients to step back, and “the more of them that stepped back to allow the client to speak, the more mindful and curious the client would become. The simple act of getting these other parts to open more space inside seemed to release someone who had curiosity but who was also calm and confident.”After thousands of hours of working with clients, Dr. Schwartz felt that he could say with certainty that “the Self is in everybody,” he writes in No Bad Parts. “Furthermore, the Self cannot be damaged, the Self doesn’t have to develop, and the Self possesses its own wisdom about how to heal internal and external relationships.”The Self is just beneath the surface of our protective parts, such that when they open space for it, it comes forward spontaneously, often quite suddenly, and universally. “While parts attune to the extremes of other parts, the Self sees the exiled pain beneath extremes and wants to understand its origin even while opposing extreme behaviors,” Schwartz and Sweezy wrote in Internal Family Systems Therapy. “The Self is not attached to any agenda, but it does have the intention and ability to bring healing, harmony, balance, and connectedness to any system it encounters.”Valiant Living’s therapists frequently utilize IFS in their addiction treatment approach in order to help professionals understand and harmonize their minds and, thus, help them heal. We know that such clients need to balance a deep search for recovery with a work-life that demands attention. Our Professionals Program is designed to do just that, with a number of therapeutic options for men with challenging careers and busy lifestyles. If you or a loved one has turned to drugs or alcohol to keep up at work and manage a high degree of daily stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by calling us today at 720-669-1285.

Read On
Valiant Living Completes Renovation of PHP Residence
2022-07-29
2022-07-29

[Greenwood Village, CO, July 29, 2022] — Valiant Living, a Colorado-based addiction treatment program for professional men, today announced the completion of the renovation of its newly acquired PHP (partial hospitalization program) facility Foxfield House. Partial hospitalization is the highest level of care at Valiant Living. The intensive programming strives to restore the lives of professional men from addictions, intimacy disorders, and their impact on all aspects of life. Our trained staff utilizes the most progressive therapy techniques to offer high-quality care. [gallery ids="https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-13.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-17.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-20.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-32.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-35.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-52.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-56.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-72.jpg|,https://www.valiantliving.com/wp-content/uploads/Valiant-Foxfield-84.jpg|"]“Weekdays are fairly structured. Patients have breakfast together and then get ready for the day,” explains Valiant Living’s director of recovery housing Travis Simmons who also helps coordinate therapy schedules at Foxfield House. “Then they join their therapeutic groups for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, they get to choose between an individual therapy session or they can do a wellness activity.” In the evening, patients return to Foxfield House to have dinner. After dinner, patients typically participate in a 12-Step meeting, followed by some free time. “There’s structured time, where we keep them pretty busy and there’s unstructured time where they bond as a peer group,” says Simmons.On weekends, Valiant Living offers outdoor activities such as hikes, rafting trips, and fly-fishing.Valiant LivingIf you are seeking a more comprehensive start for addiction treatment, contact Valiant Living Detox and Assessment at 303-647-4932 and get the individualized attention you need for stabilization, assessment, and discerning the best next steps in your journey. The Professionals Program at Valiant Living helps male professionals understand and harmonize their minds and, thus, helps them and their family system heal. If you or a loved one has turned to drugs or alcohol to keep up at work and manage a high degree of daily stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by calling us today at 303-952-5035.

Read On
Colorado-Based Addiction Treatment Center Names New Clinical Director
2022-07-19
2022-07-19

[Greenwood Village, CO, July 19, 2022] — Valiant Living, a Colorado-based addiction treatment program for professional men, today named Stephen Sbanotto its new clinical director.Stephen Sbanotto, MS, LPC, CSAT-S has been a licensed professional counselor for 12 years and previously served as the director for sexual addictions and intimacy disorder treatment at Valiant Living. He is a certified sexual addictions therapist supervisor (CSAT-S) and enjoys helping therapists learn the Carnes 30-task Model for the treatment of sexual addictions and compulsive sexual behaviors. Stephen did an additional master's program in marriage and family therapy and is trained in emotionally focused couples therapy. He is also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for trauma. Sbanotto values Valiant Living’s comprehensive approach to addiction treatment, addressing all addictive behaviors of clients as well as any other mental health issues.“Typically, when there is one addiction, there’s often another one or even three or more,” says Sbanotto. “Identifying those multiple addictions and how they interact is crucial. They don’t just co-occur, the better word for what’s happening is interaction.”Chief clinical officer Michael Simms appreciates Sbanotto’s impressive skillset: “There are only a handful of CSAT supervisors in Colorado. And then there’s his sophisticated, expanded view of recovery, the notion that all addictions are really intimacy disorders, meaning we’re primarily talking about a failure to connect with other human beings.”The treatment approach at Valiant Living also focuses heavily on the family system of the client and looks at all relevant interacting disorders to provide comprehensive services. “In his new role, Stephen Sbanotto will be an incredibly valuable addition to our program,” says Simms.Valiant LivingIf you are seeking a more comprehensive start for addiction treatment, contact Valiant Living Detox and Assessment at 303-647-4932 and get the individualized attention you need for stabilization, assessment, and discerning the best next steps in your journey. The Professionals Program at Valiant Living helps male professionals understand and harmonize their minds and, thus, helps them and their family system heal. If you or a loved one has turned to drugs or alcohol to keep up at work and manage a high degree of daily stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by calling us today at 303-952-5035.

Read On
Sophisticated Treatment for Medical Professionals Who Turned to Drugs and Alcohol
2022-05-09
2022-05-09

Healthcare professionals generally promote healthy habits in their patients and mostly pursue healthy lifestyles themselves. Somewhat surprisingly, though, healthcare professionals, including doctors, have similar rates of substance misuse and addiction as the general population (around ten percent), but they demonstrate significantly higher levels of opioid misuse.Some estimate that up to 15 percent of doctors may be addicted to drugs. One such doctor was Peter Grinspoon. As he recounts in his book Free Refills, he was addicted to opioids and almost ruined his career over his addiction. “Doctors are prone to drug and alcohol abuse,” Dr. Grinspoon wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed in 2016. “It's estimated that rates of addiction among the general population run from 8 percent to 10 percent; among physicians, the rates start at 10 percent and rise to 15 percent. What appears to account for the difference is physician distress, and in the case of drug abuse, plentiful access.”For Grinspoon, “plentiful” access in medical school meant misusing samples and stealing drugs from nurses’ stations. “Slowly, imperceptibly, as medical school went by, my seeking out, obtaining, and use of these medications escalated,” Grinspoon wrote in Free Refills. When Grinspoon started working in a Boston hospital, he had his own prescription pad, a situation he compared to “giving a book of matches to a pyromaniac.” In her book Hooked, a short guide to the mechanics of addiction, Arwen Podesta, MD, offered the formula: Biology (genetics and epigenetics) + Stress (especially trauma) + Drug (availability) = Risk of Addiction. Medical professionals are typically under quite a lot of stress and have access to powerful narcotics. And long hours at work can lead to isolation—especially for physicians early in their careers.“Although physicians' elevated social status brings many tangible and intangible rewards, it also has an isolating effect when they are confronted with a disease such as addiction, which has a social stigma. This isolation can lead to disastrous consequences, both in delaying the recognition of and in intervening in the disease process, as well as in the attendant risk of death by inadvertent overdose or suicide,” wrote Berge, Seppala, MD, and Schipper in their 2009 study “Chemical Dependency and the Physician.”“Further causes for delay in diagnosis include fear on the part of the physician that disclosure of an addictive illness might cause loss not only of prestige but also of his or her license to practice medicine and thus livelihood. Additionally, a physician's family members and coworkers will often participate in a ‘conspiracy of silence’ in an effort to protect the family or practice workers from economic ruin by the loss of the physician's job and income.”Needless to say, a “conspiracy of silence” is not the help an addicted person needs. Addiction is a progressive disease and prolonged denial is likely to exacerbate the condition. Medical professionals suffering from a severe substance use disorder greatly benefit from a treatment approach specifically geared toward their specific needs.Addiction to opioids, for example, often requires medically supervised detoxification followed by psychotherapy that addresses all relevant factors such as stress and trauma. Valiant Living Professionals Program for Men treats doctors and other working professionals who need to balance a deep search for recovery with a busy career that demands attention. Patients requiring acute primary treatment services may begin their recovery journey at our sister program, Valiant Living Detox and Assessment. The 16-bed facility is only 35 minutes from Denver International Airport an d provides comprehensive care beyond withdrawal management to begin their recovery journey.Our trained staff utilize the most progressive therapy techniques to offer the highest quality care to help professionals understand and harmonize their minds and help them heal. We provide individual therapy, group therapy, psycho-educational classes, workshops, and more to help restore the harm created by intimacy disorders and other addictions.We also know that professionals need to balance a deep search for recovery with a work-life that demands attention. Our Professionals Program is designed to do just that, with a number of therapeutic options for men with challenging careers and a busy lifestyle. If you or a loved one has turned to drugs or alcohol to keep up at work and manage a high degree of daily stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by calling us today at 720-669-1285.

Read On
The Mental Health of Men in America
2022-03-03
2022-03-03

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the mental health of Americans. According to the recently published Mental Health Index, one in four members of the US workforce show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression is up 87 percent according to the survey.The US Worker Edition of this latest Mental Health Index provides devastating insights into the mental health of men in particular. Males show a sharp rise in the risk of addiction—up an alarming 80 percent between September and December 2021 alone. In just the past three months, depression among men is up 118 percent, and social anxiety is up 162 percent. When looking specifically at men ages 40–59, general anxiety almost doubled.The Mental Health Index: US Worker Edition, powered by Total Brain, a mental health monitoring and support platform, is distributed in partnership with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, One Mind at Work, and the HR Policy Association and its American Health Policy Institute."We expect mental health declines around the holidays; however, nothing of this sheer magnitude," said Mathew Mund, CEO, Total Brain. "We see a very troublesome surge in mental health concerns at a time when Omicron begins to grip the nation; workplace vaccine mandates are put in place, and the holiday season is in full swing.”Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, various researchers have observed a significant increase in alcohol consumption. “Using data from a national survey of US adults on their drinking habits that found that excessive drinking (such as binge drinking) increased by 21 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic,” investigators at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital recently “simulated the drinking trajectories and liver disease trends in all US adults. The researchers noted that a sustained increase in alcohol consumption for more than one year could result in 19 to 35 percent additional mortality.”It can also result in a dramatic increase in cases of alcohol use disorder. Substance misuse has long been correlated with intense stress, especially trauma, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Addiction is a complex disease and gender-specific, comprehensive treatment yields the best outcomes. Valiant Living offers a new approach to recovery from addiction, comprehensively restoring the lives of men from substance use and intimacy disorders, and their impact on all aspects of life. When it comes to substance misuse and addiction, gender differences abound. Males start using drugs at an earlier age. Men misuse drugs more often and in larger amounts. Males are more likely to misuse alcohol and tobacco. Men are more likely to engage in binge drinking (the consumption of five or more drinks in a short time period).Since men have specific needs and issues when it comes to substance use, treatment should reflect that. “In the past, the term gender-responsive has meant woman-centered,” write Stephanie Covington, Dan Griffin, and Rick Dauer in Helping Men Recover. “This came from the need to develop programming for women in a field that assumed that male and female addicts would respond to the same type of services.”An even more specific group of patients is male professionals. Many physicians currently continue to work under extremely stressful conditions because of the deadly COVID pandemic. In order to cope with this stress, they may be tempted to engage in drug or alcohol misuse or compulsive sexual behavior. Valiant Living Professionals Program for Men strives to restore lives severely harmed by addictions, intimacy disorders, and their impact on all aspects of life. We treat men looking to heal relationships hurt by addictive or compulsive behavior. Our clients are professionals who need to make significant life changes in order to rebuild the life they imagined for themselves.We help men who struggle with compulsive behaviors and mental health issues and may benefit from a clinical team that can navigate multiple co-occurring issues with them. We treat addiction as a disease of the family system—an important aspect of our treatment approach. Valiant Living founder Michael Dinneen previously worked with other programs addressing substance misuse and intimacy disorders, but each focused primarily on the individual as the client, often missing the broader context of the family system in which they lived. Our trained staff utilizes the most progressive therapy modalities to offer the highest quality care. We provide individual therapy, group therapy, psycho-educational classes, workshops, and more to help restore the harm created by intimacy disorders and addictions.We understand the unique challenges faced by professionals in recovery. That’s why we offer a specialized program for men with demanding careers and a fast-paced lifestyle. Our discreet Professionals Program is a treatment solution that balances career and recovery to help you achieve lasting sobriety without sacrificing your professional status. If you or a loved one has turned to drugs or alcohol to keep up at work and manage a high degree of daily stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by calling us today at 303-952-5035.

Read On
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.