fb pixel
Close this search box.
Close this search box.

The Journey of Recovery: A Waismann Method Patient’s Story

Screengrab of Waismann Method podcast hosts - The Journey of Recovery: A Waismann Method Patient's Story

Episode 65: Pathways to Healing - A Waismann Method Patient’s Journey of Opioid Recovery

Join us on this inspiring episode of the Waismann Method Podcast, where we delve into the transformative journey of recovery with our courageous guest, Richard Hellstrom. The episode not only explores Richard’s personal battles with addiction but also celebrates his resilience and determination to forge a path toward healing.

Richard Hellstrom opens up about his intense 15-year struggle with addiction, marked by significant losses and the pivotal moment that led him to Waismann Method. His story is one of remarkable strength and perseverance, as he navigated through the challenges of opiate dependence and embraced the comprehensive care provided by Waismann Method and Domus Retreat. The conversation highlights his ongoing recovery and his brave decision to share his experiences publicly, offering invaluable insights and hope to others facing similar battles.

In this episode, our hosts and medical and addiction experts discuss the crucial role of innovative detox therapies and the compassionate, judgment-free care that Richard received, which were instrumental in his recovery. They also touch on Richard’s upcoming memoir, “Long Lasting Effects,” where he chronicles his journey in greater detail, providing a resource that promises to inspire and educate others about the realities of addiction and recovery.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone touched by addiction, offering a powerful testament to the human spirit’s capacity to overcome adversity through courage, innovative treatment, and empathetic support.

Tune in to be moved and motivated by Richard Hellstrom’s compelling narrative of resilience and renewal, as well as the life-changing support of Waismann Method.

Podcast Episode Summary:

  1. Podcast Introduction: Hosted by Dwight Hurst, a clinical mental health counselor, the podcast features a regular panel including Clare Waismann, a registered addiction specialist and founder of the Waismann Method, and David Livingston, a licensed marriage and family therapist. The episode also introduces Dr. Michael Lowenstein, who specializes in rapid anesthesia-assisted detoxification.
  2. Guest Introduction: Richard, a patient of the Waismann Method, joins the episode to discuss his experiences with addiction and his upcoming memoir “Longlasting Effects,” which details his journey through detoxification and recovery at the Domus Retreat.
  3. Trigger for Seeking Treatment: Richard’s addiction intensified after the traumatic loss of a stillborn child, pushing him back into substance misuse. His search for new injection sites online inadvertently led him to discover the Waismann Method via www.Opiates.com
  4. Critical Recovery Moment: During treatment, Richard handed over heroin he had smuggled into the hospital to a nurse, marking a pivotal moment of trust and decision to break free from addiction. This act also shifted his perspective on medical professionals in the context of addiction treatment.
  5. Discussion on Creating a Safe Space: The podcast highlights the importance of creating a non-judgmental and supportive environment for addiction treatment. Dr. Lowenstein emphasizes treating opiate dependence as a medical issue, devoid of stigma, and ensuring promises made to patients are fulfilled, contributing to a foundation of trust and respect necessary for recovery.


Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to a podcast to answer your questions on addiction recovery and mental health by Waismann Method Opioid Treatment Specialists and Rapid Detox. I’m Dwight Hurst, I’m a clinical mental health counselor as well as the co-host and producer for the program. Uh, today we’ve got our regular panel of wonderful experts, as always, and we’re really lucky today to be joined by a really exciting guest, uh, to share his experience and expertise in the area of addiction. Um, so let me just go around and we’ll touch bases on who all is here. Uh, first of all, we’re joined by Clare Waismann, who’s a substance use disorder certified counselor and registered addiction specialist. She’s the creator and founder of Waismann Method Opioid Detox and Domus Retreat Aftercare. Um, we’re also joined by our program’s therapist and clinical expert David Livingston is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and David is a leading expert in the field of the psychological needs connected with addiction treatment, sobriety. Um, Doctor Michael Lowenstein, our medical director, is also here. He’s an internationally recognized expert in rapid anesthesia, assisted detoxification, anesthesiology, pain management, and addiction recovery as well. So welcome all you regular people. Uh, back to the show. Good to see you all again. We’re all we’re also joined today by our friend Richard, who is joining us to talk about his experiences with addiction and treatment, and also to share with us some information about his upcoming memoir, Long Lasting Effects, where he’s, uh, telling his own story of detoxification and working with Waismann Method and the Domus Retreat. So, Richard, thanks so much for being here.

Richard Hellstrom: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s, uh, it’s a true honor to be here with all of you.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Well, you’re giving us a great honor just just by appearing and appreciate the, uh, the work that you’ve put into the things that you work through. And but also being here because it means a lot. It means a lot to me. I know it means a lot to the rest of us. And it means a lot to those out there that are going to benefit from hearing your story as well. Um, I thought a good way to start would be just to hand off an opportunity to you to introduce everybody to, to yourself and your experience and maybe start out by telling everybody what it was that caused you to first seek out treatment.

Richard Hellstrom: Well, um, you know, uh, I have struggled with addiction for about 15 years at the point where I was basically at my end. And, um, I had, uh, me and my wife had gone through the loss of, um, of a stillborn child. And, uh, it just kind of threw me back into, um, a cycle of addiction after being clean for, uh, a little while. Um, and so, um, you know, funny enough, and it’s not so funny, but, um, I was, uh, I was online, and, um, I was, uh, using the internet to try to look for new injection sites. Um, because of the excessive amount of needle use that I had, um, with my drug use. And so, um, through looking online, I found opiates.com. And I said to myself, well, they’re going to have some good information, I bet, about, uh, how I can help myself in this area. And, uh, the website popped open and I started reading about it, and, um, I was shocked. I can’t believe I had never heard of this. And, uh, I called and I spoke with somebody who was extremely nice. They explained to me pretty much the procedure and the Domus Retreat and all of those things. And, um, I got back with them, um, and, um, there I was three weeks later.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: So we’ll talk about the power of SEO not to be, uh, it sounds silly about it, but, um, that’s that that’s a great tribute to, uh, being able to have a good, uh, good website name in this case that helped you to find treatment when you were not necessarily looking for it. Um, although it does strike me that you were you were already seeking out, um, something that was, let’s say, medical in nature. You were trying to take some kind of care of yourself within the problem that already existed. And so there’s some part of you that maybe it sounds like got activated by the opportunity to do something, maybe even medically better, if you will, if that sounds like.

Richard Hellstrom: Oh, no. Absolutely. Um, I after reading through everything, I was, um, just shocked. I’m like, this sounds like an actual way out of the cycle that I’ve just been repeating and repeating and repeating so many times. And, um, you know, I was initially, um, about a month and a half before I, um, was doing that search online. I had been, um, in a MAT program, uh, for, uh, with methadone and, uh, it was taking a, a toll on me in ways that I didn’t like. And, um, instead of being more responsible and trying to figure out alternatives, I just, uh, went back to what I always knew because, um, that’s just, uh, how my cycle went. And so, um, I was trying with treatment, but, um, I had had just not so great experiences at, um, residential treatment programs in the past between 30 days and when I was there for 13 months. And, uh, none of them really gave me tools to break that cycle. And so, um, you know, uh. But now I’m here. And so, you know, it’s a true testament to, uh. The amazing procedure and the Domus Retreat and just everything you guys do.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: One of the things I noticed you were kind enough to provide us with a sample and by the way, very talented writer, which is, is, uh, which is very made it very pleasant to read. Uh. Thank you. Some of your experiences as well. Very, very descriptive. And you talk about a crucial moment in there where you, uh, you handed heroin to a nurse.

Richard Hellstrom: Yeah, that was very powerful.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Could you tell us a little about that?

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I am sorry again. I am truly sorry. I forgot about.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: That. Oh, it’s for me, Clare. I forwarded all my calls to you just so it would look like it was your calls. No.

Richard Hellstrom: Well, you know, um, I’m sure I’m not the first person that, um, has, uh, wanted to take that step and felt ready, truly inside, to surrender the old ways and try to break that cycle and trust the, um, the process that was going to happen. But, um, there was still that. Nagging. Well, I don’t know if I can not have my stuff with me. And, um, you know, uh, my bags were thoroughly searched and pleased. Nobody asked how I got the stuff there, but, um, I ended up, uh, getting it into the hospital with me, and, um, was going to wait until, uh, I had my IV line in, and I was going to do that on top of the “comfort opiates” that are given to stop withdrawal. And, um, you know, I just, I had a, a crisis of conscience or my brain kicked into action for once or however you want to say it. Um, and, uh, I know that I had been offered the opportunity if I had anything illegal when I came to the hospital, that, um, it was a safe space to be able to give that up. And that stuck with me. And I remembered that. And, um, after I got settled in in the hospital room, uh, and was having intrusive thoughts about doing that, um, I, I asked to speak with the nurse privately, and, uh, she was shocked that I wanted to do something so drastic, but very not in a not in a judgmental way, but just like, you know, um, knowing how dangerous that could be.

Richard Hellstrom: And, um, she offered to dispose of, uh, my drugs for me without, um, any repercussions. And that was really a turning point, um, for myself. And as far as trust goes with, um, medical professionals and especially revolving around addiction, because, um, a lot of the other treatment centers that I had been to that were just more long-term residential, uh, they were not so kind and uh, and previous times being hospitalized, etc. having, uh, an extremely high opiate tolerance, I got treated not so great. I lived in the state of Florida at the time, and, uh, they had their own, um, the pill mill epidemic was going on back then. And, um, so I had a huge distrust for, um, the medical system when it came to addiction. But, uh, you know, that was all changed. So.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yeah. And that, you know, that leads a follow up question I want to pose to everybody, maybe especially Doctor Lowenstein. You can talk about this with medical staff when you talk about that feeling of a safe space. Uh, Richard. And being able to feel vulnerable enough to actually tell someone. And unfortunately, the existence of a treatment program is not enough by itself. You really highlighted the treatment that you received and the feelings that were there, right, emotionally as well, to be that vulnerable. I wanted to throw that out there to ask everybody, how do we approach that? Uh, in order to make an environment that does help people feel that way.

Michael H. Lowenstein, MPH, M.D.: I’ll start with that. Um, I think there are several ways that we approach it to, um, make the patients feel comfortable and safe and establish a trusting relationship. One is, is that, um, when we’re treating people that are addicted or dependent on drugs, there’s there are two issues. One is opiate dependence, which is a medical issue. And so we let the patients know that we’re treating them with a medical procedure because opiate dependence is medical and we treat them like patients. We don’t um, there’s no judgment. There’s no we’re not treating like “addicts”. Um, and we really emphasize the fact that you know, we’re caring for them as patients and they are medical patients. And I think one of the other things we do to establish trust is from the very first time we talk to the patients, we walk them through exactly what’s going to happen. Um, a lot of the prospective patients have had bad experiences where they’ve gone into a treatment center and they’ve been promised something, and then it doesn’t happen. And, you know, they’re in withdrawal and they’re sick and they can’t even begin to address the underlying issues because they feel so bad. Um, so we kind of really walk them through.

Michael H. Lowenstein, MPH, M.D.: And then once they show up at the front door of the hospital, you know, our staff greets them and gets them to admission and gets them to a room. And it’s important that we really deliver on what we promise them, as far as you know, treating them like patients and telling them we’re going to keep you comfortable. Um, you know, we’re going to make every effort while we’re doing admitting you and doing all the testing. And, um, there’s a letting them understand what’s going to happen and then delivering on that, you know, from the time they come through the door. And our staff is all very good. They, you know, the patients are treated like patients, um, with respect. And we also I think listening to what they’re saying is important, um, and listening to their experiences. I think everyone I’ve treated lately has had the, um, precipitated withdrawal from being given Suboxone or something too soon and putting into withdrawal. So I think it’s really important to listen to what the patients are saying and where they’re coming from, um, and then to take care of them appropriately.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: That non-judging mentality that you mentioned, Richard, I unfortunately, that is something that is missing in many places, even treatment, oftentimes there is judgment. Um, and and you’re used to you tell me if you found this, but I think you get used to anticipating judgment, right? Whether it’s legal or social or, you know, personal judgment and people looking down on the problem.

Richard Hellstrom: Oh, no. Absolutely. Um, you know, even when I don’t look as colorful and all of those things as I do now, where, you know, my outward appearance, uh, might cast some type of, uh, stereotype. Um, no, um, as soon as, uh, as soon as anybody finds out that you’re struggling with substance use disorder and they’re not compassionate about it, um, it just goes from, hi, how are you to judgment and especially in other treatment centers I’ve been to, you know, it was, uh, you know, well, you signed up for this, and you’re here and you’re going to do this, and you’re going to do that. And that’s just how it is. And you definitely don’t have a voice, at least not where I went. Um, you know, uh, it just wasn’t like that. And so, um, you know, being explained the procedure and yes, the staff, everybody from who you see the front door until, um, Jaman, over at the Domus center waves goodbye to you as you’re leaving. Um, you know, uh, everybody’s just wonderful. And it really it helps a lot. It makes taking that step that much easier, in my opinion, or from my experience rather.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I if I can intervene here one second, I think, um. You know, I’m not talking about our treatment, per se. I’m talking about treatment, period. I think the moment that, um. People in this field if it is the mental health field, if it’s addiction field, if it’s the medical field, regardless, people, they are dealing with human beings. You need to start to look at people as individuals. They are not addicts. They are not patients. Even, uh, they are individuals. They’re individuals with their own histories, their own DNA, their own difficulties, their own anxieties. And as Doctor Lowenstein was saying, I think to feel heard. And even understood. Not all the time. We can’t understand everything, but we can definitely hear and we can definitely try to understand. And I think that’s the moment when things change in our field, because we treat patients from all over the country. Um. We don’t see them. So we are really selling a promise that I will care, that I will do everything in our ability, professional, individual ability to get you where you need to be. Um, does it mean that we always can do everything we want to do? No, but I think it’s important for the patient to know that we’re going to give our all. And, uh, there is no expectations of how.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I mean, obviously, there is a frame of, you know, respect both ways and, and, uh, behavior. But if you stay on that normal frame, there’s no expectation of how you should feel, what you should feel, what you should be, what you should look like. We, uh. We want to be here when he says “Jaman”. You know, a lot of patients tell me that as they come in from the hospital to Domus Retreat. They’re weak. They’re anxious. They are hypersensitive. They don’t know what the life is going to be. Uh, without opiates. So there’s a lot going on physically and emotionally. But as Jaman gets them and say, “I’m here. I’m going to get… I’m going to be here and get you where you need to be” at that moment. They feel, you know, he got me. Um, and I think, um, this is what, uh, people in this field, um, should be aware of. People have been beaten up quite a bit. It doesn’t matter if it was society, if it was themselves beating themselves up, it doesn’t matter where it came from. But by the time they still have the strength and the power to seek help. We should extend that hand and that arm and do what needs to get done.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yeah. And I know that, uh, that it’s important, uh, part of the way that you have set up treatment and also the way that you encourage people, uh, is, is to make sure that compassion, a compassionate environment and compassionate treatment is part of that. Right.

David B. Livingston LMFT: Yeah. Um.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: David. Go ahead.

David B. Livingston LMFT: First of all. Hi, Richard. How are you? Good.

Richard Hellstrom: David, it’s great to see you.

David B. Livingston LMFT: Good to see you. And yeah… The judgment that should happen is, as Clare and Doctor Lowenstein pointed out, is we should be judging our ability to help the patients as well as possible. They’re vulnerable. They’re under our care. They have taken a risk. They don’t really know us or really know what to expect. They don’t know who we are. And it’s a big leap of faith. So, um, rather than, you know, even though we do have a program in the sense that there’s a process, um, and which they’re going to go through, you know, medically, particularly in the beginning and then the aftercare, don’t they get once they get to Domus is set up in such a way that really because everything happens so fast at the hospital and the opioids are, um, um, taken away from the receptors so quickly, it’s just helping them feel better, helping them sleep, helping them to get regulated. And part of my job, especially in the very beginning, is just to help orient everybody to what the process is, process is and how they will get better. So helping them sleep, helping them eat, sort of, you know, medications that can, um, uh, diminish any types of symptoms that are happening. So and as people feel oriented, they feel like, you know, the way forward, you’re interested in their care and feeling better. It helps. It helps them feel regulated. Uh, uh, much quicker.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: I wonder, Richard, could you tell us a little bit about what role counseling has played in, uh, starting your treatment and then in aftercare from that?

Richard Hellstrom: Yeah, absolutely. Um, I, uh, I made sure to write it down because, uh, the conversation that, uh, David and I had was, uh, quite profound. Um, it was definitely impactful for me. And, um, and so, um, I just wanted to find it here. Um. Well, here we go. Um, and I believe this is this is my recollection of it. David, when we had our first counseling session there was that, um, I explained to you, um, some of my previous, uh, system trauma from, uh, from being involved with drugs and getting arrested, um, the loss of my son and past negative experiences with, uh, with treatment centers. And, you know, you just, uh, you listen with such compassion and, um, so what, um, what I recall you saying to me was that, um, “…You are worth so much as a person, more than the cost of the rapid detox and the time at Domus. Uh, more than the total sum of you would have spent on drugs more than gold.” And, um, to me, you know that, um, that’s the complete opposite of everything I was ever told, um, even at other treatment centers. And, um, you know, we talked about, um, not being chemically bound to the drug anymore, as you just said, um, you know, receptors get flushed, and, um, that I have the choice to, um, put them back in my body or not. And, um, you know, that was just so encouraging. And, um, it’s I still I remember that to this day, I don’t think I could ever forget that it was, uh, impactful and, um, you know, and and then post, uh, Domus care, you know, um, I had already had a, um, a therapist who I had been seeing for a little while for, uh, grief.

Richard Hellstrom: And, um, we just weren’t a good fit. The modalities of, uh, therapy that she used weren’t really helpful. And, um, I continued to see her for a while, and I ended up, uh, finding a new therapist who used more clinically based modalities and, um. It is. It’s crucial, you know? Um, it’s it’s definitely one of the notes I have here is that, um, when you’re going to prepare, once you’ve committed and you’re going to go, um, and you’re going to do the rapid detox and go to Domus, um, part of the planning should be, you know, setting up a good support system. Um, if you don’t already have one back home, as far as. Not just mental health professionals, but competent and compassionate mental health professionals. Um, because, um, you know, I, I’ve heard countless stories of people. They have, you know, one bad, um, therapist and they’re turned off from therapy forever. And, um, you know, uh, it’s just it’s so worth it to have somebody who can give you a different perspective than the one that you are having from intrusive thoughts or, um, what have you. So, you know, um, I look forward to going to see, uh, my, um, my therapist. I even look forward to going and talking to my psychiatrist. You know, even though it’s just medications and stuff. Um, he offers a second type of point of view from a clinical perspective that, uh, I appreciate. So, you know, I am grateful for the support system that I have. And that’s something I definitely encourage anybody. Anybody. Period. But, you know, especially when you’re going to be taking such a huge leap, um, out of, uh, the darkness, so to speak. Um, it’s great to have support.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Very much so.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: It’s such an important part to not only find someone who uses modalities, like you said, but you also mentioned one of the really key parts of therapy, which is having a personal connection and feeling like, you know, you’re a good fit for lack of a better, you know, just that’s and there’s tons of research that shows that both of those are important, but the having a good fit is even a little more important to make sure that you feel that way.

Richard Hellstrom: Yeah, definitely.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: And I love the encouragement that you’re giving people to say if something’s not working to to switch that up, right, and to give it a different try instead of just giving up.

Richard Hellstrom: Absolutely. Well, and that was something that, um, through the compassion and the comfort and, um, what should have been, what had been every other time, what should have been in my mind a tough time. Um, you know, I mean, I have detoxed in the bottom of a jail cell from taking, uh, 1500mg of oxycodone every day for years with no medication. And that is scary and, uh, really awful and lasts for weeks. And, um, you know, I just never felt like I had a voice. And so being your own advocate is a huge deal when it comes to, uh, your medical care. I mean, that’s your life, you know? Um, so I try to just be my own advocate, and I try to encourage other people to advocate for themselves properly as well. Because if you don’t say something, um, there’s a good chance nobody’s going to say something. So.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yeah.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Is if when we use a term like a treatment team approach, the most important, uh, part of that treatment team is the person who’s getting the treatment, which is you. Um, it sounds like self-perception and the feelings of self-worth and confidence were a big part. How did you see those evolving throughout this process for you?

Richard Hellstrom: So, you know, um, basically, after I had left the medication-assisted treatment of the methadone clinic, um, and had to go back to using, you know, illicit opiates, I. My self-esteem was already rather low, and it had been just from years of thinking that I was going to get it this time or whatever, and repeating the cycle. And, um, you know, I was basically at the point where I just wished that I could just poof, not exist. So I didn’t hurt all the people that loved me, but I wouldn’t be what I perceived myself to be as a burden, um, on them. And so, um, you know, that’s kind of where I was at, um, besides dealing with grief and, um, and other things like that, um, my self-esteem was just really low and and talking to you. David helped that a lot. Um, from the get-go when I got there. And, um, now I am to a point where I can say I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of who I am. Um, you know, the. The path is not easy. Um, you know, just because, um, I mean, I had a a wonderfully positive experience at Domus. Um, you know, and I had I had made sure to titrate myself down on how much opiates I was using before I went to try to make the medical procedure easier, because I have gone into precipitated withdrawals, as Doctor Lowenstein was talking about and, uh, you know, um, it’s quite unpleasant. And so, uh, I just I knew that wouldn’t happen, but I figured that the least I had in my system, the better. And so, um, you know, I, I just, uh, just because I had a really good experience, um, does not necessarily mean that, you know, um, when you get back, it’s all just a cakewalk.

Richard Hellstrom: You know, I definitely rode that wave of confidence and joy and disbelief. Um, honestly, for a couple of weeks after I got home. And, you know, the first stressor that came along, I had to really take a step back and say, okay, uh, this is not who you are. This is a situation that you are dealing with. And, you know, uh, make sure that you don’t lose sight of that. It’s kind of how I got myself through, and, and boundaries are so important. I, you know, I had to learn very quickly to put boundaries up around friends and places, you know, people, places and things is a common saying. But, um, truly, that’s like the one thing I wish I would have done, uh, which I can now tell anybody who might be listening, who might, um, be taking that step themselves. Say your goodbyes if they’re necessary, but make sure you get rid of those people’s contact information. It’s just not worth having around when you get back. Intrusive thoughts or just thoughts, but they’re powerful. And, um, moments of, uh, of weakness can happen. And it’s just best not to have that hanging around. Um, but, you know, it took many years for, um, my mental health to kind of reach a point of where I’m at now as far as, um, you know, I, I am important as a person. And, um, you know, the mistakes of the past do not define my future.

Speaker3: So, um. Yeah, it’s a good point. Very good point.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yeah. I’m curious. Uh, David, uh, some of your thoughts about that, the evolution of the way people view themselves and, and really kind of the expectations we place on ourselves and how important that is in the therapy process.

David B. Livingston LMFT: Well, we have expectations. We all do. And we need them. Um, I think like Richard saying it’s just. And Claire and Doctor Lowenstein, it’s just about, um, really orienting ourselves to what’s healthy and what isn’t and what we truly need, as, as I like to say, needs drive everything. So, um, when we’re paying attention to what we need, uh, our, uh, tensions go down. We tend to relax more. We tend to feel, uh, more within ourselves. And, uh, and if there if you’re needing to, if you’re feeling vulnerable and you need to feel safer. Yeah. Get rid of anybody who’s going to make you feel more vulnerable. So you listen to those needs, you know? Look, from the moment Richard, you were in the hospital, you made a profound decision about, you know, which direction your life was going to go. I mean, that’s what I read when I was reading your memoir. I mean, that was that really stuck out. And I think that that moment of honesty where you were really just. And there’s no more profound decision than that. And I think that moment in your life was a true sort of shift in who you are and how what you wanted.

David B. Livingston LMFT: And also having gone through the loss of your son and, and you were deciding in that moment how much, um, you were willing to bear of being alive because it’s hard to be alive. And, you know, we all need each other to bear that with us. I see that as part of what, you know, in our own way. We try to do, Doctor Lowenstein does it and his way at the hospital by working with the patient so much. Clare does it in the whole way. She organizes everything and gets them through, and I do it in my way. Um, and maybe we even do some of it, um, with Dwight’s help on this podcast. But, uh, you know, the really, um, you know, we all suffer, you know, the idea that there’s no suffering in this life is, is and I think that when when that’s established, when people know that it’s not a big deal for someone to come through who’s having their own suffering and you just help them with it, um, is.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Very much so.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: We’re touching on the the issue there is you’re saying that, David, the word that comes to my mind is “resiliency”, right? It’s not so much, uh, well, we can’t avoid suffering and difficulty, but we can try to work on increasing our resiliency towards it and maintaining some something that helps us be resilient to the dangerous effects of those things. Um, I kind of want to open that up for everybody to hear a little bit about what anyone’s feelings are about the concept of resiliency, how important it is and how we have it, and how we practice that.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I think, Dwight, if I can say something here, one of one of the important aspects of recovery that, uh, Richard discussed, um, after detoxification, is the multifaceted aspect. So as he said, you know, is from his music that he found, you know, to guide his feelings towards a healthy path from his psychiatrist. Um, I think we’re in the mental health Awareness Month is extremely important for people to understand that people that go to a psychiatrist, have a chemical imbalance, that’s what it is. You’re not crazy. They’re not different. They are not lesser than they have a chemical imbalance. Like, you know, uh, people, uh, can have, uh, you know, issues of sugar. People can have issues with other physical issues that your body doesn’t produce. So as the chemistry of our brain, uh, he has his therapist and his emotions and the support that he has around him. And, uh, whatever he chose to do as a productive life in his, uh, life. So you can’t depend on one thing to fix everything. It’s not going to happen. And I think that’s the issue that we have spoken about on other, uh, podcasts about rehab or about centers that, promise you by the time you leave, your life is going to be great. You know you’re going to be off drugs and life is going to be colorful, and you’re going to feel like you felt before you start with addiction. This is not life and this is not being a human being. There is so many facets of our lives that need constant work, that need constant effort and not to make it, you know, an exhausting effort sometimes is a productive effort that makes us feel good every level we reach. But that continues as we get older and the needs are different, the difficulties are different, and our efforts will be different. But I think, Richard, you know, did that first part of getting the physical dependence behind him, you know, but then, uh, giving him credit, he kept looking for the different facets of his life that would make his life richer. And I think when we make our lives richer, it makes us wanting, want to live more through the difficult times.

David B. Livingston LMFT: Very much so. Yes.

Richard Hellstrom: And if I could just, uh, say something, um, in response to what? You were just talking about, Clare. And I think it was something that, uh, was the topic of another podcast, and it’s something that has helped me tremendously, especially because I was dealing with such severe, um, issues with self-esteem. And that is a self-forgiveness and not, um, you know, stigmatizing yourself, um, from getting more help after you’ve gone through the process that you perceive to be the one that’s going to be the end of it all, when really the process is the beginning of all of it. And, um, but, uh, self-forgiveness is a huge thing, um, for me at least, anyway, because, uh, without that, you know, I wouldn’t see a psychiatrist because I don’t want to take drugs, and I would stigmatize myself. And that doesn’t help me. And so, you know, um, yeah. Uh, that’s that’s super important, in my opinion.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Very much so.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Well, Richard, uh, can you tell us a little bit about how have your, uh, how are your current practices and the things you do to manage your health now, how has that evolved? Uh, that’s different than when you first, uh, got in, got out from the detox process.

Richard Hellstrom: Yeah. So, um, you know, it’s been a few years and, um, so. I will say the first six months were rather rough. I have never put an illicit opiate back into my body since I left Domus period. I mean, not while I was there either, but not not since I left. And, um, you know, but there were times of “Oh, well, it’s not an opiate. I guess I can just do that a little bit, whatever, with these guys, because that’s what they’re doing.” And, uh, it was an eye-opener for me that I needed to have better boundaries around what I do with my time. And, you know, I’m a stay-at-home dad right now, so I have a bit of time that could be used wisely or squandered. And, um, so, you know, for me, I do a lot of writing. Um, I’m working on the memoir, and, um, I started off with poetry because it was a good outlet for a lot of feelings that I had, because part of the I almost like to call it reanimation of your soul. That happens once all of those opioids are stripped from the receptors is having emotions again, because for me, opiates were my emotional off button, so to speak. And, um, to feel again, to be human again, um, was not the easiest. And so, um, you know, boundaries were very important. And, um, you know, advocating for myself to find a different therapist who we worked better together, and I’ve made more progress with her in a shorter period of time than I did before, uh, with the other therapists.

Richard Hellstrom: And I also, uh, I got a few guitars behind me. I, I picked up playing the guitar last year because, uh, I just wanted something that would be beneficial to my mental health. You know, it’s it’s definitely a form of self-care for me. And so, you know, um, besides the cooking and cleaning and all that kind of stuff that I do, you know, um, I spend a lot of time writing and playing music and stuff like that. And, um, you know, I, I want to do more, but I also am not trying to put strict demands on myself as far as “Oh, well, you didn’t go and ride your bike ten miles today or whatever”. Just because I have found that, you know, you start treating yourself badly in your mind and, um, with intrusive thoughts, letting them just come in and then running with them. It can be, uh, rather triggering until you can kind of realize that intrusive thoughts are just that intrusive thoughts. But, um, you know, in the beginning, intrusive thoughts led to impulsive actions. And, um, that was just, uh, yeah, that was not great. Uh, and so I’m really grateful to have been, um, with enough support and, uh, being able to move past that part of, uh, learning what is acceptable for me, what is not acceptable for me. And, um, what I want to do as far as, um, moving forward in my life just to, uh, like I said, be somebody that I can feel proud of myself for who I am.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: There’s a lot to feel proud of,and I think that, uh, it’s very impressive the things that you’re going through. And also I really I’ll just, just on a personal level and I know everybody here has this feeling that I appreciate your own transparency, that, you know, those of us that we have some we have whatever we’re good at in our expertise. And we can come on and talk about treatment and things. Uh, you know, we can do that every couple of weeks. Uh, what do we do? Um, but to have you come on and share your own experience with people, uh, for everybody that’s out there that can hear this and see this, uh, I think you’re doing you’re really giving back and helping so many people just by doing that. And I want to thank you for that as well.

David B. Livingston LMFT: Yes.

Michael H. Lowenstein, MPH, M.D.: Yes. Thank you.

Richard Hellstrom: Thank you all. You know, it truly did change my life. And um, you all are part of that and, um, you know, and even like I said, you know, Dwight, I listened to, uh, and watch rather some, uh, podcasts, um, before, um, before joining with you guys and, um, you know, you guys are doing good work with that, too, and, but I openly now speak with whoever wants to hear or I feel like would benefit from hearing my story. Because it is surprising. Well, actually, I don’t think it’s so surprising, unfortunately, with how things have gotten with, um, with fentanyl and all of the other, uh, the other ways that people in different communities just see suffering going on with drugs and, you know, a success story. Uh, I’ve got it written down here, you know, I, I finally. I realized I’m not going to be a statistic. I’m not going to be an accidental overdose statistic. I’m not going to be a convict. I am going to be a success story. As far as, um, doing the hard work because I have support. And, um, I had a fresh start, um, after leaving Domus in my mind. And so, um, you know, I get into conversations with all sorts of strangers or people that I don’t know quite well.

Richard Hellstrom: And a lot of them are shocked that this treatment exists and they don’t know about it. And I make sure to hurriedly get something out so that I can write down the information or have them put it in their phone. And I tell them I let them square in the eye, and I tell them, if you know anybody who is suffering from, you know, substance use disorders, with opiates, you should look into this or at least suggest to them that they look into it because, you know, like I said, I went through many other outlets of not great care before I found real treatment with you guys. And so, you know, um, you know, this isn’t a paid advertisement. No, uh, but, uh, really, it, uh, it’s the least I can do to be here and be able to be as transparent as I can. Just because I would love to know that somebody was on the fence, considering it, scared, not quite sure how it would turn out. And they heard my story. Or when I eventually can get this memoir together, read my book and they say, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that that was an option.” And, um, and it helps them push their life forward to a new space. So, you know, it’s it’s definitely my pleasure.

David B. Livingston LMFT: Wonderful. Richard. Now, let me just say thank you. I don’t think, um, I don’t think any of us could receive a better compliment than what you just said. And I’m so glad. And as much as I like reading what you’re writing, listening to you and the authenticity in which you speak, and you’re so articulate and, um, I can, you know, it’s just you are an active dynamic. It’s it’s it’s as if you came out of the ashes and, and you’re, you know, flying. And I can see it. I can hear it. It’s that’s the hope. I mean, that truly is the hope. It’s, you know, so it’s, um, I know for all of us, uh, you know, you coming on here and being able to express this, or at least for me, it’s fantastic. Thank you.

Richard Hellstrom: Thank you. David.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: Yeah, definitely a story of hope and success for many, many people that are out there now seeking that at this point.

David B. Livingston LMFT: Yeah. The only thing that’s a little troubling is after seeing your shirt and your background, I’m going to have to do some updating.

Richard Hellstrom: I actually saw everybody else’s background and was like, oh boy, I guess I should have the digital background. No, no.

David B. Livingston LMFT: No, we got we got some livening up to do.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Your, your background is a room that I just want to go hang out in actually. So that’s very.

Michael H. Lowenstein, MPH, M.D.: Richard thank you. And we can’t do what we do until the patients show up at our door. So, um, while everybody is that we treat are they all have opiate dependence as a common issue. Everyone’s extremely unique. And your stories will just resonate with a lot of people and in ways that you may not even be aware of. And so just having you out there and telling your story, um, I think that’s, you know, we can’t do our good until people get here. So I appreciate you being willing to tell your story, and I’m sure you’re going to you know, a lot of people are going to hear what you have to say and say, “Wow, that’s that could help me.”

Richard Hellstrom: I appreciate all of you guys. You know, uh, it only works if we work together. Right? And so, um, you know, and and also, I, you know, I, I obviously, I’m not going to share everything that I went through in, uh, my entire opiate dependence phase, but I went through the wringer for sure. I’m grateful that I am even alive. And so if I could potentially help somebody have their own “aha” moment of “You know what? This really isn’t fun anymore. I don’t even know when this was fun, but I can’t remember and I am just I’m done.” “And you’re telling me I can have a clean slate, uh, chemically, so to speak, um, from opiates.” And that’s really that’s the true power of the rapid detox and then going to such a wonderful environment like Domus. Because, yes, you do, you’re vulnerable and you are, you know, dissociated from your emotions, which are coming back to you and, um, you know, uh, but I started to feel not like myself, but more like a different, better version of me by the time I had left, and that was that. That also is something that even when things got to be not so great. Um, as far as just learning to set boundaries and stuff. So I didn’t find myself in situations I wanted to avoid, uh, you know, remembering that that, you know, you went through all this to get that beautiful slate of freedom from, uh, opioid use disorder. And, um, you don’t want to throw that away if you can at all help it possibly. And, um, you know, so, yeah.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Thank you. And as Richard said, you know, we’re not, uh, just, just we’re not just out here plugging ourselves, although we are very proud of the work we do at Wiseman, both here on the podcast and the treatment. But hopefully one of the things we always hope is that those out there who we may not run into personally, that you will use the elements of treatment that we talk about in how you select your own treatment and how you self-advocate as well. So that’s a once again, always, always, uh, a big part of what we do. So, um, thank you everyone for being here today. Also, speaking of meeting any of you out there personally, we want to hear from you. Uh, we want to know your questions. We live on questions here. We live on stories as well. So if you have recommendations of topics and themes and things that you would like to see us cover and talk about, you can reach out to us at info@opiates.com or do like Richard did go to opiates.com. It’s a great starting place. You can contact us through there.

Dwight Hurst, CMHC: There’s lots of information you can hear and see our podcasts and recordings. Uh, and also uh, get into our social media. One of the other ways you can help people out there is by liking, sharing and, and passing along good information about addiction. Uh, to those that are out there, as I always say, if you wonder if you know people who need this, just assume that you do because you do. There are people in your life who who need this information. This show is, of course, a production of Waismann Method Opioid Treatment Specialists and Rapid Detox. Our music for the intro is the song Medical by Clean Mind Sounds. And I want to say for, uh, Clare, David and Doctor Lowenstein, myself and Richard. Welcome. Uh, I’m glad that you were here today, too. I want to, uh, pass that along to everyone to remember to always ask questions. Because when you ask questions, you can find answers. And when you find answers, you can find hope. We’ll be back with you again soon. Bye-bye for now.