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Getting to Know: Chris Lacy, Director of Information Technology and Risk Management

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Rehab in TexasChris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Systems from Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska. He joined The Ranch at its inception as the Director of Information Technology (IT) Services. He has 15 years of professional IT experience and has worked in various positions of technical support and customer service for a wide range of industries, including five years as the Executive Support Liaison at Texas Instruments in Dallas. While there, Chris was responsible for all technological requirements for the corporate leadership team including meeting support, aircraft data connectivity, and remote technical support. In his free time, Chris likes to fish and read as his daughters keep him too busy for much else.

 

Q: What is your professional title with our organization?

A: Director of Information Technology/Risk Management

 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A: Just do what’s in front of you to the best of your ability.

 

Q: What one word would the people who know you best use to describe you?

A: Thoughtful (and considerate)

 

Q: What motivated you to choose a career in recovery? 

A: My family’s history in recovery and the treatment field

 

Q: Besides working at Clear Springs Ranch, what hobbies, sports, or activities do you enjoy? 

A: Reading, exercising, and sometimes golf

  

Q: What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite book?

A: The movie would be “Pleasantville,” and the book would be “The Moon and Sixpence.”

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your personal story?

A: I’m an open book, so what you see is what you get.

 

 

Getting to Know: Belinda McElyea Director Food Services

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Rehab in TexasAs Food Services Director, Belinda is in charge of all operations concerning Clear Springs Ranch’s kitchen. This Tennessee native received her degree in Culinary Arts from Texas State Technical College in 2009. Prior to joining Clear Springs Ranch as Head Chef in 2012, Belinda helped to open a very popular local restaurant.

 

Her extensive food service experience includes management roles in a number of bustling restaurant settings, including an elementary school cafeteria. For six years, Belinda even owned and operated a housekeeping business for regular clients, which gave her the occasional opportunity to prepare meals for special events.

 

She and her kitchen staff at Clear Springs Ranch are known for an innovative blend of Texas, Nashville, and Mexican cuisine that includes daily specials, heart-healthy entrees, and truly spectacular desserts. In the words of one devotee, Belinda and her team create, “the best barbecued beef and beans you have ever tasted.”

Q: What one word would the people who know you best use to describe you?

A: Determined

 

Q: Besides working at Clear Springs Ranch at Clear Springs, what hobbies, sports, or activities do you enjoy? 

A: Softball!! I am team mom of a 14 and under select travel team. We travel once a month to different cities and participate in weekend long tournaments. I love my softball family!!

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your personal story?

A: The thing I like best about Clear Springs Ranch is the hospitality. Everyone wants you to feel welcome. We like the time we spend with our clients, making sure they’re well fed and nourished as well as comfortable. You don’t get that in a restaurant, and we like that feeling.

 

 

 

Getting to Know: Anand Mehendale, MD – Chief Medical Officer

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Rehab in Texas

Dr. Mehendale is board certified in both Neurology and Addiction Medicine. He has been a pioneer and a visionary in Texas regarding physician health issues including Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) for over 25 years. He is currently in a private practice of Neurology at Phoenix Medical Associates in Kerrville, Texas. Dr. Mehnedale is the Chief Medical Officer for Clear Springs Ranch and the Medical Director of OnTrac Relapse Prevention.

Throughout his impressive career, Dr. Mehendale has been appointed and elected to various leadership positions. Instrumental in the development of the Texas Physician Health Program, he is currently on the governing board of that program, which is administratively attached to the Texas Medical Board. Additionally, Dr. Mehendale was on the governing board of the Texas chapter of American Society of Addiction Medicine and served as the chapter’s past president. He is also a past member and chairman of the Texas Medical Association’s Physician Health and Rehabilitation Committee and has served as a consultant to the organization.

Dr. Mehnedale wrote a chapter on epilepsy for an international book titled “Hemisyndromes: Psychobiology, Neurology, Psychiatry,” and he has published many journal articles. For six consecutive years from 2010 to 2015, “Texas Monthly” selected him as one of their Super Doctors. “Leading Physicians of the World” chose him in 2013, and he is listed in “America’s Top Physicians” in 2014. He is currently the section editor for “SM Journal of Neurology and Neuroscienceand editor in chief of “Journal of Addiction and Prevention Medicine,” both of which are international peer reviewed open access journals.

 

Q: What is your professional title with our organization?

A: Chief Medical Officer

 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

A: My father told me, “The only thing you have to give other people in the world is your attitude and your word.”

 

Q: What one word would the people who know you best use to describe you?

A: Trustworthy

 

Q: What motivated you to choose a career in recovery?

A:  My personal recovery was an influence along with the fact that I am Neurologist and that addiction is a brain disease.

 

Q: Besides working at Clear Springs Ranch, what hobbies, sports, or activities do you enjoy? 

A: I enjoy photography and writing. I also like playing volleyball and table tennis.

 

Q: Is there a personal fact you might share that would be hard for others to guess about you?  

A: I love the TV show “Alf!”

 

Q: What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite book? 

 A: My favorite movie is “Star Wars,” and “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran is my favorite book.

Identifying the Signs and Talking with a Loved One About Addictive Behavior

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Rehab in TexasThrough the holidays and into January with football season playoffs, we may be around our family members much more than usual. With this increased togetherness, certain unhealthy behaviors that our loved ones may be able to hide from us during the rest of the year may suddenly come into the light. When this happens, we may understandably be caught off-guard and unsure where to begin in terms of having a constructive conversation about our concerns.

 

Take note of the signs of addictive behavior

 

First, it’s important to trust our instincts. If we sense something is wrong, there’s a good chance we are right. A tendency for our family member to isolate from traditional holiday festivities in an uncharacteristic way may be a clue to a real problem, as could significant irritability or other notable changes in his or her behavior, personality and typical grooming and self-caring habits. Examples include:

  • Problems at work or school such as chronic absenteeism, disinterest, and/or a drop in performance
  • Changes in demeanor such as irritability or a lack of energy and motivation
  • Neglected personal grooming or overall appearance
  • Behavioral changes such as secrecy or changes in relationships with family and friends
  • Increased spending coupled with requests for money, or missing valuables or cash

 

Make a plan for your first conversation

 

If you suspect something, you must make a serious plan to say something. Do be prepared for denial and push back from the individual as he or she has likely become quite adapt as hiding addictive behavior.

 

Confronting a loved one struggling with the disease of addiction is hard and heartbreaking. If you don’t feel you can do this on your own please seek the assistance of a treatment facility or a professional interventionist.

 

If you choose to talk to your loved one on your own, it is helpful to jot down the main points of what you want to say beforehand. For example, you’ll want to point out the effects that your loved one’s drinking or drug usage has had on their career, physical health, and relationships with children and friends. Highlighting these negative effects out in a compassionate, yet honest way is crucial to the success of the conversation. Be prepared in advance.

 

Pick a time when your loved one is sober, but have a support person standing by – either in close proximity or waiting by the phone – in case things don’t go as well as hoped. Having a few names of local support agencies to give to your loved one if the conversation allows may be empowering for both of you. Sometimes choosing a time just after an embarrassing night of misusing substances can be effective, as your family member may be feeling remorseful and receptive to considering help.

 

As scary as it can be to begin a difficult conversation, saying nothing is much more devastating for everyone involved – especially your loved one. You may be afraid of not saying what you seek to say perfectly, mentioning the wrong thing, or getting your family member angry, but as long as you focus on the addictive behaviors and their consequences rather than the personal failures of the individual, you can feel more confident that your message will be received in a positive light.

 

Express your feelings in a caring, honest way and be sure to listen carefully to your family member’s responses so that you can reflect back his or her feelings. Try to remain rooted in the facts of the situation rather than get too emotional, as this technique will also help to minimize defensiveness.

 

Be prepared for plenty of minimizing and denial as well as some questionable truth telling. Try to bring up incidents in a very specific way rather than speaking in generalities. Speak also in terms of your personal feelings rather than being accusatory. Say things such as “I’m worried” and “I noticed you were late to our breakfast date yesterday morning and looked very stressed.” Avoid the temptation to blame, shame or criticize them.

 

Treat yourself with compassion

 

Remember that addiction is a disease.

 

If you feel like you are not getting through, don’t take it personally. Denial is a common reaction for those suffering from addiction. If your loved one doesn’t listen to you right now what you have said may have an effect on them later. Provide them with the locations and times for a local Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous or another support group meeting.  Having the name and number of an addiction professional or a treatment center may also be helpful. Again, trust your instincts in terms of what type of help your loved one might be open to receiving. Small steps are best – particularly in the beginning.

 

Regardless of how the conversation goes, avoid offering alcohol when your family member visits, and if he or she repeatedly asks to borrow money, it may be time to refuse them as you may be enabling them. Also try not to enable your family member’s behavior further by receiving and engaging in late night telephone calls, especially if you suspect drunkenness or active drug usage.

 

Most importantly, if you live with the family member, be sure you are taking active steps to tend to your own physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs. It can be especially exhausting to witness your loved one struggling on a daily basis with the disease of addiction and feel like you are all alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help when you need personal support. Only you can care for yourself.  Al-Anon can be a great resource for family members of those suffering with addiction.

 

 

Find an AA Meeting http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/find-local-aa

Find a CA Meeting https://ca.org/meetings/

Find an Al-Anon Meeting http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/find-a-meeting

 

To speak with a professional at Clear Springs Ranch about your loved one call 877-843-7262.

The Holiday Blues

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The Holiday Blues

 

Rehab in TexasFeeling emotionally depleted in the wintertime is actually quite common. Signs and symptoms can range from a having difficulty concentrating on tasks at work, school and home to feeling excessively tired all the time to experiencing a complete lack of interest in things that originally were sources of joy. Rest assured that there are a number of very common reasons for the bout of the “holiday blues” you may be feeling. However, don’t discount or minimize your feelings if they begin to magnify. It’s important to note that anyone can swing from sadness to depression to desperation quickly — particularly if his or her personal history involves a family history of substance abuse, emotional trauma or violence.

 

Identifying the causes

 

Add the challenges of maintaining sobriety during a constant flood of invitations from family and friends to the mix of normal holiday sadness, and the chance of jeopardizing your recovery is magnified. All around us at the holidays are constant reminders of how wonderful we are expected to feel. The need for a trauma-informed approach – in regards both to others and to our own selves — is critical according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). Here are some common causes to keep in mind:

 

Lack of healthy exposure to sunlight

 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is quite prevalent in the winter months, particularly in areas that are more northerly located. As the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter, the onset of deeper moodiness may be triggered. Symptoms may include overeating and excessive sleeping leading to uncharacteristic weight gain. Women may be two to three times more susceptible than men to SAD. Symptoms may progress to include anxiety and social withdrawal and may last all the way to spring unless addressed. Getting as much exposure as possible to natural light each day can help as can replacing your regular light bulbs temporarily with broad spectrum bulbs or purchasing a light therapy apparatus (although these can be pricey). Attending to a regular sleep schedule, getting exercise, and consulting a therapist if symptoms persist are also all very important.

 

Presence of holiday-based sensory stimuli

 

Certain smells, sounds and sights could be reminders of happy – or very sad — holiday gatherings from years past. Be aware that a certain amount of melancholy is perfectly normal at this time of year and sensory stimuli can magnify these feelings, lighting up memory centers in the brain. Sadness is a powerful emotion and deserves attention. Let yourself look at old photos if you have them available, cry if you need to do so, and make some phone calls if possible to reconnect with loved ones who are far away. Exchange stories about the happy times or journal about your feelings if the people you miss are no longer accessible, but try not to dwell too much on memories from the past.

 

Dangers of family and societal pressures

 

The pressure to accept every invitation or meet the expectations of others for gift giving or hosting an event can be very stressful. People in recovery who are either out of a traditional home environment or who find themselves in a transitional living situation, may not have a place of their own to decorate or in which to prepare favorite holiday foods. This fact may cause even more unhappiness and longing with so much seasonal attention on shopping for gifts. The shame and loss that results from a lack of financial abundance to do everything they way you’d like can be devastating.

 

Lack of good self-care

 

Not getting enough exercise during the holiday season, missing your regular sleep schedule and indulging in too many rich, sweet foods can take a toll on your physical and mental health. No one knows what your body needs to stay healthy better than you. Make sure to take the time each day meditation and reflection.

 

Keep in close contact with your sober friends and mentors; you are not alone and should feel comfortable asking for help if needed. Remember to take time each day for your mindfulness practice. Meditation, reflection, yoga, breathing techniques – or your version of mindfulness – all help us to pause, recenter and reconnect.

 

Please join us January 7, 2017 for an Alumni meeting in Grapevine, TX, January 10th we will be in Austin for an Alumni meeting and Alumni Dinner and fellowship at Clear Springs January 19. Visit our Alumni page for more info.

 

Wishing you a peaceful holiday full of love.