Living a Healthy Life Without Alcohol

August 2, 2016

By 5pm, Kathy Stafford’s busy day with the kids was winding down and she would reach for a glass of wine. But as time went on, one glass in the early evening wasn’t enough.

“I found myself wanting and having a glass of wine well before 5pm,” says the mother of two whose battle with alcohol lasted five years. “Alcoholism is a progressive illness and that is the way it went for me. I would drink against my will, knowing that if I did, I would feel better. And that scared me.”

Kathy’s husband called her primary care doctor who suggested detoxification at McLean Hospital. That led her to Fernside, McLean’s premier drug and alcohol treatment program. Located on a mountain ridge with a view of Boston in the distance, Fernside offers exceptional clinical care and puts into practice the innovative research findings from McLean’s renowned addiction program.

“We have all the research at our disposal including up to date, high level expertise to address the full spectrum of psychiatric conditions,” explained Rocco A. Iannucci, MD, director of Fernside. “This allows us to offer the absolute best practices for treating those who are struggling with addiction and coexisting psychiatric disorders, and for those who want to tackle substance problems using state-of-the-art, evidence-based practices.”

Fernside is located in a renovated historic inn in Princeton, Massachusetts

Recently, for example, Fernside instituted gender-specific programs—women’s and men’s recovery groups based on protocols developed at McLean—after McLean researchers found evidence these groups led to increased patient engagement. Integrated group therapy, another evidence-based psychotherapy developed at McLean, was put into place after researchers found it to be beneficial for those with both substance use disorder and bipolar disorder. Kathy enrolled in Fernside’s 28-day program just before Thanksgiving of 2013.

“I was so afraid when I went in. I didn’t know what to expect,” recalled Kathy. “But it was such a comfortable, warm environment. I felt safe. It did not feel like I was in a hospital. I was actually glad to be there getting help.”

Fernside offers nine private rooms and a range of therapy including motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and medication-assisted therapies, in addition to the groups described above.

It also offers a comprehensive mind and body recovery program that includes yoga, individualized fitness plans, nutrition education, smoking cessation, and expressive art and music therapies.

While at Fernside, Kathy attended both individualized therapy with a counselor who specializes in alcohol addiction and intense group sessions.

“I went for long walks in the conservation land trails close by, worked out at the gym, did yoga and crafts—all of which aided in changing my daily routine,” said Kathy. “I was able to focus on my recovery.”

She also attended AA meetings nightly, which she was able to continue once she returned home. Now, she is enjoying her 10 and 11 year olds, and is no longer obsessed with thoughts of drinking.

“I have a sense of freedom now,” Kathy explains. “I am so grateful for all the skills that this program provided me to live a healthier and happier life without alcohol.”

For information on Fernside or to make a referral, call 978.464.2331.

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