Dallas Taylor: An Artist Who Saved Many Lives

 

 

“I understand what it is like to be an angry, depressed addict who needs so badly to be liked that he gets on stage and sweats and bleeds and hopes that people will somehow connect.”   Dallas Taylor

 

Saying good-bye to Dallas Taylor

We would be remiss if we didn’t dedicate today’s blog post to Dallas Taylor. While many of you may remember him as an accomplished drummer, there are hundreds perhaps 1000s who will be forever grateful to Dallas for his dedicated work as a drug counselor, interventionist, family program treatment counselor, drug court advocate and speaker, and MusiCares supporter. Dallas passed away on January 18, 2015, at the age of 66.

Dallas before recovery…and more

As the related articles below will report Dallas Taylor is that drummer who performed at Woodstock with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. He went on to play with Steven Stills and the band Manassas. There were Gold Records and there were many tours, but by 1984 Dallas was almost dead from his renowned alcoholism and drug addiction. And in December 1984, at the age of 36 Dallas found sobriety and recovery. From that point on he dedicated his life to help others who are suffering from addiction.

His journey was not always easy and he found himself with five years of sobriety and a failed liver. He underwent a liver transplant and some years later in 2007 he required a kidney transplant. But through each part of his incredible journey Dallas continued to work with those seeking sobriety and recovery.

Last evening at the 57th GRAMMY Awards there was a Memoriam to honor those artists and professionals who the music community said good-by to in 2014 -2015. Of course, Dallas Taylor was among those listed. 

Dallas’ work with families

Dallas, of course, went to school to become a Certified Addiction Specialist, did 1,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training and throughout this career continued his education. From 2000 through 2011 Dallas assisted many southern California treatment centers in designing and conducting their Family Programs. One of our associates had the privilege of attending a Family Program with Dallas Taylor and she recalls:

“I noticed on the first day we all seemed to cry when Dallas asked ‘how are you doing?’ Imagine! He wants to know how we are doing. I also noticed that by Friday, we were all able to talk about how we are doing, sans tears, and know we are not alone in this world of addiction.”

Dallas had a way of working with families and the individual addicts that was amazing to witness. He enjoyed working with young people and reached beyond the artists’ community to be of service.

Documenting his life…

 

In 1995 Dallas wrote and published his book Prisoner of Woodstock. According to the overview provided by AMAZON:

“This is the story of his life before, during and after the band. The book captures the “Real Sixties” during one of musics’ greats’ times. Prisoner Of Woodstock is a graphic depiction of Dallas’ experience with success and it’s excesses, and his spiral into the world of addiction, and remarkable return as one of the Nation’s leaders in helping alcoholics and addicts. In 1990 Don Henley helped organize a benefit concert to help Dallas get a Liver Transplant. The book has a wonderful sense of the “Recovery Spirit,” and is an inspiration.”

 

Interventions

An interventionist is a mediator and necessary component to getting the loved one into a suitable drug and alcohol treatment program. Often, this is too great of a feat for the family and loved ones to do on their own because they are too emotionally involved with and impacted by the addict’s behaviors and despair. Interventionists provide knowledge where there is confusion, clarity where there is fog, solution where there is dismay and hope where there is despair.

Dallas’ passing has been covered widely by the news media: The New York Times, PEOPLE Magazine, Los Angeles Times, TIME Magazine, VARIETY, UPI, Billboard, TV Guide, etc. We will miss Dallas. Beyond being a great musician, he was a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. To many he was their sponsor and someone they could call if they needed help. He once said: “Whether or not your loved one agrees to seek treatment or not, you should remember this — there is no such thing as a failed intervention – After all, how can any attempt to save the life and future of a loved one be?”

If you have questions about having an intervention, please feel free to contact us.

New Study Examines Interventions For Drug Abuse VS Alcohol Abuse

Do you feed a fever and starve a cold or vice versa?

 

Brief interventions deemed ‘inadequate’ for unhealthy drug abuse…

There is this old adage:  “Starve a cold, feed a fever”…many of us have heard our parents of grandparents offer this advice and when you drill them with a few questions it turns out that nobody is really sure what works best for treating a fever versus a cold. It happens that way in the medical field…everyone makes a call based on their experience.

It turns out that experts in the field of substance use disorder are still trying to determine how best to intervene when a patient presents with unhealthy drug use as opposed to unhealthy alcohol use. Should the medical provider offer the same course of treatment for both or do we have to look closer at the specific disorder?

New study conducted by the Boston University School of Public Health

In the August 6, 2014, edition of JAMA – The Journal of the American Medical Association the results of a new study were published: Screening and Brief Intervention for Drug Use in Primary Care, The ASPIRE Randomized Clinical Trial. The objective of this study was:

To test the efficacy of 2 brief counseling interventions for unhealthy drug use (any illicit drug use or prescription drug misuse)—a brief negotiated interview (BNI) and an adaptation of motivational interviewing (MOTIV)—compared with no brief intervention.

The lead researcher Dr. Richard Saitz is quoted in a statement:

…despite the potential for benefit with a brief intervention, drug use differs from unhealthy alcohol use in that it is often illegal and socially unacceptable, and is diverse—from occasional marijuana use, which was illegal during this study, to numerous daily heroin injections. “Prescription drug misuse is particularly complex, with diagnostic confusion between misuse for symptoms (e.g., pain, anxiety), euphoria-seeking, and drug diversion. Brief counseling may simply be inadequate to address these complexities, even as an initial strategy.”

Meet Dr. Saitz…

The JAMA Network offers a video interview with Dr. Saitz which explains the study and the results the researchers were able to verify. Take a few minutes to get a clearer understanding of the study’s parameters and results.  Medical Daily quotes both Dr. Ralph Higinson from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Dr. Wilson Compton of the National Institute on Drug Abuse who offered editorial comments:

“Although these studies offer no direct evidence of effectiveness for universal drug screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment in primary care settings, exploring drug use with patients should remain a priority in primary care. The goal for clinical research is to develop and test new interventions with potential for benefiting patients,” Dr. Ralph Higinson from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Dr. Wilson Compton from the National Institute on Drug Abuse said in an accompanying editorial. “If brief interventions are insufficient, then easily accessible treatment services with long-term follow-up may be needed, as will development of efficient primary care referral approaches to address risky substance use and related physical and mental comorbidities.”

Some closing thoughts…

This study is what you might call a “conversation starter.” The observations provided by the researchers might well serve to be the jumping off point to discover new and more efficient ways to intervene when a patient presents and admits to using both legal and illegal substances, not just alcohol.

Family members know all too well how difficult it can be to talk to and interact with their loved one who is an alcoholic or drug addict. Working with a primary care physician may be the first step and perhaps down the road the services of a professional interventionist may be required.

Research: Smoking Cessation May Improve Mental Health And Alcohol Use Disorder

Do you smoke (cigarettes)?

It is a simple question, but one that many people struggle to answer. Being honest about a cigarette habit becomes more and more difficult with the stigma that is attached to it by our family, friends, co-workers, and perfect strangers. There was a time when close to 50% of the U.S. adult population smoked cigarettes. Then in January 1964 the Surgeon General issued an official report concluding that smoking causes lung cancer. Most adults at that time probably knew intuitively that smoking was a health hazard…but many, despite an interesting chronology discouraging smoking, continued to smoke and some still continue to smoke to this day. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) roughly 18.1% of all adults (18 years of older), in the United States smoke cigarettes.

An interesting phenomenon regarding smoking is that it is used in films and television series; it almost takes on a character of its own.

  • If you were a fan of “Sex and the City,” then you probably recall how Carrie struggled to quit smoking to please her various suitors and yet when she would pick up a cigarette feeling like a failure she seemed to find comfort in her Marlboro lights.
  • Currently HBO’s “True Detective” has made smoking and drinking part of Rust Cohle’s being…and his partner Martin Hart not only smokes and drinks, but also chews tobacco. By the time each episode ends you feel like you are in a smoked filled bus station of days gone by.
  • Just this past weekend we saw the film The Monuments Men set in World War II…smoking and drinking were a small and sometimes humorous part of a number of scenes. For sure every retired veteran in that audience understood the part cigarette smoking has traditionally played in times of war.

 

So why all this talk about smoking?

This week the results of two studies were published on-line. Each study had to do with smoking tobacco and each had significant findings. The first study we will just briefly touch on has to do with people who smoke, but do not consider themselves smokers. This study was conducted by Dr. Wael K. Al-Delaimy, Eric C.Leas, Rong W. Zablocki and Steven D. Edland from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California San Diego. You can read more about the study in the journal Tobacco Control: Smokers who report smoking but do not consider themselves smokers: a phenomenon in need of further attention.  The researchers conclude that in 2011 12.3% of all smokers living in California were non-identifying smokers (NIS).

Regarding this study…the bottom line may be if you are not admitting that you are a smoker, then there is a pretty good chance you will find taking the first step to quit very difficult. This is very much like using and abusing alcohol and drugs.

Smoking cessation is associated with lower rates of mood/anxiety and alcohol use disorders

The second study we would like to discuss was published online February 12, 2014, in the Psychological Medicine journal: Smoking cessation is associated with lower rates of mood, anxiety and alcohol use disorders. (See a PDF of the original article here.) The lead research was Patricia A Cavazos-Rehg of the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. She was joined by researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and other from Washington University in St. Louis.

Research parameters…

 

  • 4800 daily smokers were analyzed by the researchers
  • These smokers were from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions survey
  • The survey was given twice.

 

Research results…

 

  • During the first survey around 40% of the daily smokers reported having mood or anxiety issues.
  • About 50% of the daily smokers also had alcohol problems
  • About 25% had drug issues
  • The survey was repeated three years later: At that time, 42% who were still smoking had mood disorders, while those who had quit smoking only 29% still reported mood disorders.
  • Additionally, after three years alcohol and drug use rates were also lower for the former smokers:  Of those who quit smoking only 18% were still had problems with alcohol vs. 28% of those who didn’t stop smoking; drug problems continued for 5% of the quitters vs. 16% of those who continued to smoke.

The researchers are quick to point out that while their research suggests a strong link between smoking cessation and improving one’s mental health, to this point they were not able to prove a cause and effect relationship.

The first steps in recovery

While the first study we discussed really is fascinating as to how human nature works, the second study is encouraging and very good news for those who are seeking recovery from any and all substance abuse.

It is not unusual for someone who self medicates with alcohol or drugs to also suffer from co-occurring disorders like bipolar or anxiety disorder or mood disorders. Additionally, he or she may also smoke cigarettes. The entire dynamic can seem overwhelming to not only the addict, but to family members. It begs the question, which addiction or behavioral health issue to tackle first?

According to the February 11, 2014, press release issued by Washington University in St. Louis:

“Clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to ‘self-medicate’ with cigarettes if necessary,” said lead investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD. “The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment.”

 

If you are trying to help your loved one with an addiction problem, who may also be suffering from a co-occurring disorder, you might find that getting their attention will be served by working with an interventionist. An intervention is defined as having a neutral person who is an expert in addiction and recovery intervene upon the addict and their family to bring the addiction and its harmful impacts to the surface so that recovery and healing can begin.

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