A Caring Culture

As a new year and decade dawns, I want to share two different articles about helping yourself and others. The first article is about a city in Kentucky and their unique approach to helping individuals recover from opioid addiction. The second article provides suggestions for how you can make sure you practice good physical and mental health behaviors. Below you’ll find these articles and my thoughts on their implications.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.

In Appalachia, Crafting a Road to Recovery with Dulcimer Strings

Hindman, Kentucky has developed a unique approach to recovery of opioid addiction. A group from the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman calls this approach the “Culture of Recovery”, which consists of a program for young adults who are recovering from addiction to opioids and other substances. This program teaches individuals traditional arts like luthiery—the art of crafting an instrument by hand—in conjunction with other activities such as yoga or prayer groups.

Mark’s Thoughts:
My first post of 2020 is a wonderful story of hope, innovation, and doing something that is locally / culturally relevant. Hindman KY (pop. 770) has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic but has also used something unique to their region to provide opportunity for recovery—handcrafted stringed instruments. Following were some key takeaways for me:

  1. The importance of “social determinants”
  2. A “Culture of Recovery”
  3. “Idle time is detrimental to people in recovery”
  4. “Giving somebody something to do has proved to be a powerful step in their recovery”

Every city has its own unique story. And its own unique way of helping people. It just requires one person to have an idea for new stories to be written. This is another key insight from the article: “The art of crafting an instrument by hand requires keen focus, attention to detail and commitment to a goal — qualities that can help during recovery, in concert with therapy, peer-support groups and other rehabilitation work, experts say.” So a culture of recovery includes not just an activity but taking into account and helping the whole person. Giving somebody something to do is a good start but only part of the solution. The approach has proven to be successful as indicated by transformational stories in the article. That good news can be a motivator for other localities to connect a community strength to those that need it.

Taking Care of Yourself

As a caregiver to someone else, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself first. Caregivers who take care of their own physical and mental health are better able to care for and support their loved ones. Being a caregiver is challenging and that “always on” mindset can chip away at your capability. This article offers some suggestions to help with your own self-care including ways to identify stress, improve your physical health and practice good mental health habits.

Mark’s Thoughts:
Are you a caregiver for someone in chronic pain or in recovery? Self-care is the first—and most important ongoing—step to ensure you can be their helpmate. Although this article is from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, their advice is universally helpful with ways to maintain your ability to help others. Recharging “can help keep you from becoming consumed by your responsibilities.” Maybe you used the holidays to recharge. Maybe the holidays were even more draining than usual. However you start 2020, this is a reminder that the only way you can be strong for others is if you’re strong yourself. Protecting your physical health is of paramount importance. Interestingly, four of the five items included in this article (exercise daily, eat well, get enough sleep, practice relaxation exercises – the fifth is avoid alcohol and drugs) are actions I advocate for patients to use. They’re obviously just as necessary for those taking care of the patients.

To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marks-musings-january-13-mark-rxprofessor-pew/.

Until Next Week,