Addiction doesn’t discriminate, and it doesn’t play favorites. Anyone who uses mind altering substances can become addicted, regardless of race, gender, religion, politics, or financial status. Even those who seem to have it all together on the outside. They could be fighting a battle for their life within the confines of their own mind. No one is too good for addiction.
An article in the Daily Beast covered this topic well. The reporter talked to a man with a PhD and a high-profile job. He had lived with chronic pain for years, along with anxiety. But somewhere along the way, he found something that helped him cope with the pain. Heroin. It kept him working, nobody knew, and he appeared to have it all together. His pain didn’t stand between him and success any longer. When his coworkers took coffee breaks, he took heroin breaks. He was a high functioning addict. That is, until the addiction took over, as it inevitably does. Stories like this show how easily a seemingly “normal” person can find themselves hooked on a substance and their lives destroyed.
So what about people with a strong faith in God? Often times those with strong religious beliefs find themselves not understanding how addiction could happen to them. They did everything they were told to do. They went to church. They confessed their sins and they asked God for help. They studied religious texts. They hit their knees and they begged for relief. And yet none came. Addiction had taken over, and they had lost their way. For the religious, hopelessness can be especially dark. Everyone in their life gave up on them. Friends, family, co-workers. Maybe they believe that even God gave up. Maybe they begin to question their faith. Maybe they feel anger towards a God who was supposed to protect them. Or simply a disconnection, a lack of a relationship with a presence that once sustained and motivated them. So the addict gives up too, and gives in to the drug. God couldn’t help, so why should they bother caring about themselves?
At Northbound, we understand the role that faith plays in recovery, especially for those who have lost their way. So we offer the LINKS program, our residential Christian-based recovery program. We combine the 12 Steps with Christian principles in an effort to show recovering addicts that God is still at work in their lives. He hasn’t given up on the addict, so why should the addict give up on himself?
Religion and Addiction
People with a religious background are often thought to be more conservative. They are aware of their sins. Driven by faith. Pure. Good. Honorable. And good people don’t take drugs, right? Honorable people don’t commit crimes to find their next fix. Many think that addiction can’t touch those close to God. However, studies have shown that it’s not the case at all.
That’s what researchers writing for AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV discovered. In this study of 1,095 active drug users, those identifying as Christian actually took more drug risks than their counterparts. It just goes to show that addiction doesn’t ask about a user’s faith before it strikes. Everyone is at risk. Even those who believed they had God in their corner. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.
Staying close to God can be a saving grace for some. Christianity has been a source of strength for centuries. But using drugs can also push people away from their faith. When you’re addicted to a substance, it starts to become a higher priority than everything else. You stop making time for your family and friends. You stop making time to follow your dreams and passions. And you stop giving any of your time to God. Feeding your addiction takes over everything. God is seemingly nowhere to be found. One day you turn around hopeless and scared, and you think that God has abandoned you. You feel alone. Your life is in shambles. Surely, if there was a God, he wouldn’t have let this happen to you.
We are here to help you find your way back. Show you that God hasn’t left your life. And we teach you how faith can tie into your recovery from addiction. In our LINKS program, we show you that you’re not alone. Our community of like-minded and like-spirited individuals are here to walk with you as you strengthen your connection to your faith. Spirituality is a huge part of the healing process. Hope and faith come from within, but Northbound is here to show you how to get there.
Reaching Out to the Divine
A Gallup poll suggests that about three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. That means the vast majority of people are aware of the concept of something bigger. There is something beautiful in believing that we are not alone on our journey. That’s a vital idea for people in recovery, per a study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry where they take a look at the place of a higher power in the life of a recovering addict. Part of recovering from addiction is reconnecting with spirituality.
This idea of a higher power is an integral part of the 12-step recovery community. The Second Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, reads: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” The following steps build further upon this idea. Note that this step doesn’t mention a “god” directly. Those in recovery are asked to find a higher power of their own understanding. Unlike organized religion, the 12 steps leave it to the individual to define and connect with their personal spirituality. There is a freedom there. Compassion. And safety. Through a higher power, unconditional love becomes a key to recovery.
Finding the Right Path
Some people balk at the idea of going back to a religion they remember from childhood. Church was a strict and unpleasant place. Memories of rules and consequences dance through their mind. Life was full of fearing sin and having to confess. They felt free when they walked away from the religion they were raised with, so they are not eager to return. The addict already lives in shame of what they did in their active addiction, so why would they sign up for a god who will offer judgment?
Luckily, recovery isn’t about judgment and fear. It’s about learning how to forgive ourselves and others. It’s about learning how to love ourselves. And it’s about learning how to find an unconditional love from a presence other than ourself. Some call it God, and others come up with concepts that make more sense to them. What’s important, is finding a spirituality to help us fill the hole we used to fill with drugs and alcohol. There is so much love out there, it’s just a matter of reconnecting with it.
But how do you do that? Where do you begin finding a new spirituality or your forgotten faith? The idea can be daunting. You shouldn’t have to do it alone. So that’s why we developed our LINKS program here at Northbound. You don’t have to do it alone. We combine 12 step recovery with the spiritual principles found in Christianity to help you build a solid foundation of recovery.
LINKS clients participate in our standard addiction treatment program. They get counseling. They get support. They learn to transform. But LINKS clients also get Christian based spiritual support. They participate in faith-based groups. They go to church. They meet with other Christians. All of this work helps clients reconnect with God. They lean on spirituality as they learn to heal. Our LINKS program is completely optional. It is for those who are looking for a little more focus on spirituality. Our counselors are committed to helping our LINKS clients find the peace of mind that only faith can deliver.
Sound interesting? We hope so. Please call us to find out more about how this program works. We can guide you. Help you. Support you. And we can enroll you over the phone, too. Just call.
Our Christian Drug Treatment Specialists
Ryan is a 2010 Northbound alumni with an incredible passion for working in the field of addiction. He attended the Academy at Northbound where he became a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor, now runs the Christian-based LINKS Program, and helps oversee the operations department. Prior to coming to Northbound, Ryan was involved in structural engineering, and simply discovered he wanted a more purpose-driven life. He finds the work he does with his clients extremely gratifying, and is honored to be able to give back to the recovery community in whatever way he can. Outside of work, Ryan considers himself a true family man and enjoys spending his time with his wife and beautiful baby girl. He appreciates the outdoors and loves extreme sports, including wakeboarding, surfing, and snowboarding.
Ericka joined Northbound as a Therapist in 2015 and completed her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at National University. Ericka also holds a Master’s degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Azusa Pacific University. Prior to coming to Northbound, Ericka worked with court-ordered female adolescents and their families at a DMH contracted agency. She is certified in Seeking Safety, an evidenced-based practice that addresses issues of both substance use and trauma. She believes in a holistic model of treatment in which the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of a person are addressed in order to bring healing and recovery. Ericka uses an eclectic selection of theoretical approaches including Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy and Positive Psychology. She believes in the resiliency of the human spirit and a person’s ability to create lasting change in their lives. In her spare time Ericka enjoys competitive cycling, running, dance, traveling and her cat Lucy.
A former client in the LINKS program, Garrett has been with Northbound since day one of his sobriety. He believes in the Northbound culture and his goal is to assist and advocate for his clients’ recovery one day at a time. Garrett has developed several new curriculum for the LINKS program since he joined the team including a Faith Development course, a Life Skills course, and a course addressing ways to improve upon character defects. In March 2015, Garrett won the Northbound Leadership Award given to an individual who has unwavering commitment to the transformational leadership principles of transparency, authenticity, and honesty. Garrett believes in helping clients establish new attainable goals in sobriety and helping them not only progress in sobriety, but help assimilate them back into life with Northbound’s support. "
Kellie Berry is the Spiritual Advisor at Northbound. Kellie brings a passion and commitment to treatment based on her desire to see transformation happening in the lives of clients. She likes to see positive change come to those whose lives and relationships have been damaged by addiction. Kellie gets energy from helping these individuals reframe their experiences and integrate the tools of the 12 steps so that they are restored physically, emotionally and spiritually. Kellie comes from a staff church position where she served in Soul Care and Recovery Ministries, as well as doing Life Care Counseling and serving as one of the Community Pastors. Kellie’s personal struggles and working through the brokenness of being an adult child of an alcoholic give her a perspective that helps her connect uniquely with her clients. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Orange Coast College and attended the Institute of Addiction Counseling and Intervention, graduating as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.
George is a certified chemical dependency counselor and case manager who has been working in the field of addiction since 2007 after discovering his true calling: to be a role-model for other addicts and alcoholics struggling with their disease. As a recovering addict and alcoholic George understands the personal battle of addiction and has a great passion for working with clients who have substance abuse issues. George specializes in dual diagnoses, and he believes strongly that issues underlying substance abuse need to be dealt with as part of the treatment milieu. He works closely with clients, family members, employers, probation departments, and the court system in order to allow each client the greatest opportunity at long term sobriety. George is a C.A.A.D.E. board certified substance abuse counselor.
Ilana Zivkovich joined Northbound in January 2015. An experienced clinician, executive, and clinical development officer, Ilana celebrates and emboldens Northbound’s renowned focus on fostering a flourishing and healthy organizational culture. Trained in positive psychology, Ilana believes in the strengths and potential of every client and team member she has the opportunity to work with. She utilizes her signature strengths of curiosity, love, and honesty to help others identify and build upon their unique set of strengths to live within the upper reaches of their potential. In recovery herself since the age of 16, Ilana is grateful for the opportunity to help young and emerging adults develop a fulfilling lifestyle of recovery. In her role as Northbound’s Chief Clinical Officer Ilana oversees the clinical service development and delivery, and does her part to ensure that Northbound’s ethos of transparency, authenticity, and collaborative leadership are able to flourish. Prior to joining Northbound Ilana held a variety of leadership roles within the addiction field, most recently serving as the Executive Director for Promises Austin. Ilana holds a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), and a Certified Daring Way Facilitator Consultant (CDWF-C). Additional areas of clinical specialization include shame resiliency, dual diagnosis, family of origin and family dynamic issues, and positive psychology.
Bio Coming Soon
Dr. Edward Kaufman
Northbound Treatment Services is proud to announce the addition of Edward Kaufman, M.D. to the clinical team. Dr. Kaufman assumed the role as Northbound’s Medical Director in February 2012. The medical director position was created in response to the growth and expansion of Northound programs and the sub-acute residential detoxification services. Dr. Kaufman’s appointment further indicates the Northbound commitment to quality care and marks another milestone in the realization of Northbound’s strategic vision. Dr. Kaufman has been practicing psychiatry for over 40 years. He blends his knowledge of psychology, family systems and psychopharmacology to meet the client’s individual needs. He was a former president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry and Editor of the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Dr. Kaufman received his medical training at Jefferson University, USC and Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has authored 3 books, edited 5 more, and written over 200 articles and book chapters on family therapy, alcoholism, drug addiction, anxiety and depression. He was a full professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, where he was the Director of Psychiatric Services, Residency and Medical Students Education and private alcohol/drug services. With the addition of Dr. Kaufman Northbound has further solidified its position as the area leader for comprehensive alcohol, drug, and dual-diagnosis treatment.
Ari comes to Northbound with over a decade of experience working in the addiction field. As an experienced therapist and case manager, he has worked in a variety of addiction centers treating women, adolescents, and adults. His leadership skills are fine-tuned as well, having served as clinical and program director for all levels of treatment. He also taught addiction counseling, physiology and pharmacology, co-occurring disorders, and special populations at the Training Institute for Addiction Counselors where he took over for Dr. Kevin McCauley. With his own undergrad in English, philosophy, and psychology, and a Masters in Psychology MFT from Chapman University, Ari has helped found and formed programs focused on young men to help them achieve autonomous healthy living. From writing clinical programs, to working with clients, and teaching aspiring counselors, Ari is passionate about every aspect of the industry. When not working, Ari likes to stay balanced by spending time surfing (he’s been catching waves since he was 7), spending time with his wife, and playing with his son, Gavin, and two dogs, Izabella and Einstein.