December 2022 – Vol. #20, No. 9

The story of the Judge and the Grieving Team; What does “going high” mean (keep an open mind on these excerpts). In SAVVY, STUMP THE SHRINK and SKILLS,  this is the story of the Judge and the grieving Treatment Court team. Relapse and a deadly overdose is sad at any time for anyone with addiction. But it is all themore stinging when the participant has been in long-term recovery and then relapses and dies. In SOUL, I feel sad, confused, and sometimes hopeless about the way we deal with our political differences. But keep an open mind to review what solutions Michelle Obama offers when she explains what “going high” means.

November 2022

Dr. Ken Minkoff on “Welcoming” and “Skills-based learning” when serving people with complex needs; 70th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary and Thanksgiving week In SAVVY, guest writer and psychiatrist, Ken Minkoff, M.D., highlights the importance of designing services expecting to see people with co-occurring mental health, substance use and other complex needs. But most importantly, organizing ourselves and services in a welcoming manner in everything we do. In SKILLS, Dr. Minkoff addresses another important principle in helping people with complex needs, what he calls “Adequately supported, adequately rewarded, skills based learning for each condition.” As simple as you may think this needs to be, it needs to be even simpler!!!! In SOUL, I reflect on what would have been my wife’s 70th birthday, our 50th wedding anniversary. Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity for pain or joy.  I choose to make it a week of Thanks and Giving.

October 2022

Clients who don’t want inpatient treatment – What to do; Individualized, accountable care; Right turns on red. In SAVVY, STUMP THE SHRINK and SKILLS, Amber asks a couple of questions about what to do when clients are recommended for inpatient treatment but decline and only want outpatient services. This edition explores how to meet the client where they are at, but also hold them accountable to the outcomes of whatever plan they agree to work on, even in outpatient services. In SOUL, I am grateful for the “Right turn on red” law and ponder why we can’t have an “everybody wins” attitude to lots of challenges and problems.

September 2022

Brief But Spectacular take on telling the whole story; Solutions Journalism; COVID and Things are always working out for me. Welcome to the September edition of Tips and Topics from Australia. In SAVVY, watch David Bornstein make the case for Solutions Journalism to activate people to be powerful players in a participatory democracy. In SKILLS, be part of telling the whole story, not just focusing on the problems. “It is as if your parents were always criticizing you about what you were doing wrong and never letting you know where you have possibilities to grow.” In SOUL, I have adopted more robustly the attitude of “Things are always working out for me”. A number of events on my Aussie trip would seem to contradict that. But as I reflect on the events midway through my trip, and my week of COVID, I’m sticking with my story.

August 2022

Jaclyn’s story about a mother and son in her own words – Applying the therapeutic alliance to any relationship; What is ‘young’ anyway? In SAVVY, SKILLS, SHARING STORIES & SOLUTIONS, I depart a little from our usual format to let you enjoy and learn from a mother’s story about how she applied the principles and practices of the therapeutic alliance to restore her relationship with her son. Not only did it rebuild the relationship but it empowered Leo to reach his full potential. In SOUL, I am choosing to focus more on the joy of living than on my biological age. Even though I hit 73 this month, I don’t feel anywhere near that. How about you?

July 2022

How smart are you about SMART Recovery and its Family & Friends Program? Wisdom on coming together from social media In SAVVY, we all know about AA and other 12-Step programs. But Joe Gerstein, Founding President of SMART Recovery, gives us an update on this complementary alternative community mutual assistance organization started in 1994. In SKILLS, Joe explains how SMART Recovery runs and what skills and goals are the focus; as well as how the Family and Friends Program is integrated with CRAFT [Community Reinforcement And Family Training]. In SOUL, I share some of my favorite quotes and images from social media that helped me think about how to come together in an era of division and information bubbles.

June 2022

Helping families with addiction – Residential treatment is not the gold standard; Intervention, Tough Love or CRAFT?; Exercise training is hard work. How do those athletes do it? In SAVVY, STUMP THE SHRINK and SKILLS, I share a colleague’s request for recommendations for a residential program on behalf of a family affected by addiction. The family wanted their son in long-term residential treatment. But is residential treatment the gold standard? We have to use the whole continuum of care to give long-term, life long addiction treatment if necessary. What should be done for a son who the parents are financially supporting and who doesn’t follow through with treatment? In SOUL, I recently started strength and core exercise training. Better late than never, but it is hard. I have a new found admiration for all those athletes who workout everyday to reach their peak performance

May 2022

Pandemic Parenting: Do you have Parental Burnout?; Strategies to help with Parental Burnout; 13 million pounds of discarded soap. In SAVVY, an online survey of 1,285 working parents was conducted between January 2021 and April 2021. Earlier in May, the researchers from Ohio State University published their report, Pandemic Parenting: Examining the Epidemic of Working Parental Burnout and Strategies to Help. In SKILLS, after describing what Parental Burnout is, the report went on to provide some strategies to help parents deal with burnout. So whether you are a parent yourself, or helping parents cope, the report has strategies for you. In SOUL, In 2008, Shawn Seipler was staying at a hotel in Minneapolis and wondered what happens to all the unused hotel room soap? This got me thinking about what would be the ‘wasted hotel soap’ of the healthcare industry? What better systems could we build that could save as many lives as 13 million pounds of discarded soap?

April 2022

My three career bridge-building targets; Where to start in helping people change; 50 years for Elon Musk and me. Welcome to the start of my 20th year of writing Tips and Topics. The first edition was published April 2003. In SAVVY, this edition of Tips & Topics begins the 20th year of publication. I look back at what I’ve written before in three areas of bridge-building: Addiction as an illness – the general public and health care in general; Addiction and mental health – Co-Occurring Disorders; Justice and Treatment teams. In SKILLS, it requires skillful bridge-building to attract people into lasting, accountable change, and cross the bridge from expecting compliance to treatment to collaborating in person-centered care planning: Start with what the person is at Action for, not what you are at Action for; Hold the participant accountable to their goal and track their engagement, good faith effort and outcomes. In SOUL, this year is 50 years since I graduated from medical school and started my career. See my ASAM Educator of the Year award photo and video bio. Elon Musk is 50 years old. I’ve had a good career, but find out what drives Elon and what someone who was one year old when I started my career has achieved.

March 2022

What to report to Probation and CPS; Dilemmas about drug testing; Client-centered doesn’t mean client anarchy; Win, lose and win In SAVVY, SKILLS and STUMP THE SHRINK, treatment providers can be confused about their role when clients are referred by Probation, Child Protective Services and other mandating agencies. Focus on improved function and skills, not compliance with assignments and phases in a pre-determined program. How to be “client-centered”. In SOUL, increasingly I make no distinction between ‘wins’ and ‘losses’. A ‘win’ is an opportunity to discern what works and what doesn’t; and a ‘loss’ is an opportunity to discern what works and doesn’t.

February 2022

What I didn’t know about growing up Black in America; I thought I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, but….; the 3 year anniversary of losing my wife. In SAVVY, I learnt a lot from three African American young people. I was aware of some of their experiences but others were totally new to me. Rethinking the terms “microaggressions” and “cultural competence”. In SKILLS, being person-centered and focused on the individual in their social context addresses siloed initiatives and projects. I thought I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps. But a look at my generational history exposed the myth of meritocracy. In SOUL, it is three years since the sudden loss of my wife. Current thoughts on my process in Work, Love and Play.

January 2022

Could you learn something from Buddha? Check out some of his quotes and how to apply them; Using joy to focus on where to put my energy. In SAVVY and SKILLS, Suzan Dalia shares Quotes by Buddha that will change the way you think….if you apply them. She suggests some ways to apply them. In SOUL, anything or anyone who doesn’t bring joy to your life; and doesn’t think you are a joy in their life, doesn’t deserve your time or energy.