Q&A: Lakeview Health on Substance Abuse and Mental Health

A Q&A about mental health with Lantie Jorandby, M.D. Chief Medical Officer at Lakeview Health.

What is Lakeview Health? What resources and treatment can a player receive from Lakeview Health?

We are a treatment facility that addresses addiction, mental health problems, and medical issues. What is important to understand about us is we don't just address addiction, we address the issues that go hand in hand with addiction, and we do it in a way that gets people better long term.

Our facility is state of the art, with a premiere wellness center which includes equipment, a track, and a lap pool, staffed with certified physical therapists. We also have a cutting-edge chronic pain program and physical therapy program, staffed by professionals familiar and comfortable treating elite athlete needs. We can address the medical, mental health and addiction issues a player is struggling with in a healing and holistic environment.

What sorts of challenges do current and former players face that can be addressed by Lakeview Health?

We specialize in treating elite athletes who have fallen into addiction, most likely complicated by their sport and level of play.

Elite athletes are a unique group of people; they have tremendous drive and competitive spirit. Many, however, have developed physical injuries from their sport and in some instances developed addictions due to the treatments for pain. They also may be suffering from unique mental health and medical issues that befall athletes, such as brain injury, addiction, and depression.

At Lakeview Health, we understand these needs and challenges and are uniquely positioned to help players get control of their addiction, improve their brain and physical health and address any mental health problems.

What are some common misconceptions about substance abuse?

In our culture, the idea that addiction is a weakness or a personality flaw is still commonly accepted. This could not be further from the truth. We know through many years of research that addiction is a brain disease. We have mapped specific brain regions affected and altered by alcohol and drugs. Addiction causes someone to do and act in ways that are not only purposefully harmful but completely irrational. No one chooses to be an addict. But with addiction, the brain is hijacked by the drug of choice and behaviors become compulsive and illogical.

Addiction is genetically based as well; a person with a substance abuse problem often has a family history of addiction and this disease is carried through the genes. Someone with a relative who has an alcohol problem, for instance, has a 50% or higher risk of developing an addiction problem as well.

What is the primary focus of inpatient treatment?

With inpatient treatment, the player gets dedicated time to heal their brain, detox their system and get their life back into control. The brain needs to be cleaned out and allowed to heal and develop healthier pathways.

The dedicated time for an inpatient stay, which lasts 30 days or longer, allows the brain to do this. Additionally, with inpatient treatment, active medical issues and mental health issues that complicate substance abuse treatment can be easily addressed, such as chronic pain or other illnesses.

How can families benefit from Lakeview Health?

Families benefit from Lakeview Health's family therapy and family workshop. This gives the family time to see their loved one in a healthy setting and allows the family to share hard and sometimes painful truths to their loved one in a safe environment. Our therapists are uniquely equipped to manage complex family and patient dynamics in safe and healthy ways.

Why is mental health important and how can it effect other areas in a player's life?

We would like to see mental health become 'brain health'. Most of us have a loved one or family member who has struggled with depression or a mood or anxiety disorder. When our brains don't work well, our whole life is affected. Mental health can also affect how well someone can recover from addiction. If their anxiety disorder is poorly treated, they may seek to self-medicate just to control anxiety and panic. With depression, we often see the same thing; people are hurting and they reach for the first thing that they believe can help them. This could be alcohol or drugs that end up causing more problems.

At Lakeview Health we are specially equipped to tackle not only depression and anxiety but the addiction that can follow. This gives people more firepower to improve their lives and stay clean and healthy.

Other problems such as brain injury, ADD and trauma can worsen substance abuse. At Lakeview Health, we know how to treat both mental health and addiction in a way that allows both issues to improve. People recover faster when they get the best treatment right off the bat.

What are some red flags, warning signs or early indicators that players or families can watch for as related to substance abuse or mental health?

Red flags that someone may be dealing with addiction or mental health issues include:

  • Missing work or school frequently
  • Weight changes: weight loss or gain
  • New sleep problems
  • Medical issues like changes in blood pressure or pulse or stomach problems - dirrhea, gastric distress
  • Frequent accidents or injuries
  • Anxiety and depression

What can a player who is struggling do?

The best and first thing a player can do is to talk with someone and share what is happening. This can be their doctor or even a family member they trust. The next best thing is to get into treatment immediately. The data shows that the sooner people get into treatment the better and faster they can get their life back. The longer it takes to get help, the riskier their lives and health can become.

Do you have any particular sucess stories with a former player that comes to mind?

I have been fortunate to work with a few former NFL players who are struggling with brain injury, depression, anger, and substance abuse. One man struggled with brain injury, anger, and addiction that was wrecking his family and marriage. We were able to identify their brain injuries through testing and get them the right treatment. Brain injury can worsen addiction, because when the brain is injured, decision making is impaired. Once my patient got the right diagnoses and treatment, their ability to work on their addiction got better. This helped to get their lives back.

Another patient I have worked with was dealing with chronic pain from back and neck injuries while playing. They were treated by a team of doctors with pain medications that became addictive for them. We placed him in a chronic pain program, which got his pain managed in a healthier way.

What is a gender-responsive treatment and how is it benefical to a player's recovery?

Gender-responsive treatment streamlines people into gender specific care. Women and men have different needs, both in mental health and addiction treatment. When we use gender-specific treatments, we can remove pressure and society expectations of male/female relationships and specialize treatment that we know works well for men and women respectively. This allows the person to work on their own individual recovery.

At Lakeview Health, our gender-responsive campus provides separate facilities with unique programs and curriculum to specifically address the needs of men and women.

Lantie Jorandby, M.D., is the Chief Medical Officer at Lakeview Health, Board Certified in General Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine, fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and member of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Click here for more information about Lakeview Health.

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