From the Doctors

Is There a Relationship Between Addiction and Mental Illness?

We work with people who either have a propensity to mental illness, which is triggered, or already have a mental illness, which is worsened, by drug use. With today’s drugs, we see such powerful changes of brain chemistry that mental illness results, even without other risk factors.  It’s discouraging in many respects, because, although we create better treatments for the mental illnesses themselves, people bring them on and make them treatment-resistant by substance abuse.

One of our colleagues in the Addiction world, Chana (pronounced “Hana,” like the road to Hana, Hawaii) Carro is a licensed independent Substance Abuse Counselor, with over 24 years’ experience.  She says, “This is an enormous tragedy.  We made a very large advance when we decided that we should treat mental illness and active addiction as co-occurring disorders, that we weren’t going to give preference to one over the other.” In reality, it’s very challenging to make the correct diagnoses because patients aren’t going to tell us about their addiction issues.

Chana described a recent case where information was sought about a patient admitted to the mental health hospital on a court-ordered evaluation.  Collateral information she received indicated that this person had a longstanding history of methamphetamine abuse, with no prior family history of mental illness, but with a very long, inter-generational history of drug and alcohol use.  When she spoke to the professional in charge of this patient about why the diagnosis of schizophrenia might not be accurate in the face of such active addiction, she was told, “Well, I just want you to know that four or five people have seen this person over the last 15 years and every single one of them has agreed that this is the diagnosis.”  As Chana says, “Well, you can call a giraffe an elephant for 15 years and get a whole lot of people to say that that’s what it is, but if a giraffe is a giraffe it’s not going to be an elephant, no matter how many people call it that!”  Some of the challenges of drug abuse are that it’s so prevalent;  it’s glamorized in social media;  and many people don’t see it as a reportable component of their medical complaints.  It’s difficult to treat if it’s not known.  There are ways to improve treatment outcomes when we do know.  We’ll discuss the involvement of a “Higher Power” next time.

Vernon and Louise Barksdale

The Diminishing Return of Addiction

IMG_1163What do addictions have in common?  The addict is always chasing the high. One of our colleagues in the Addiction world, Chana (pronounced “Hana,” like the road to Hana, Hawaii) Carro is a licensed independent Substance Abuse Counselor, with over 24 years’ experience.  She calls it “euphoric recall.”  A person has pain, distress or dis-ease.  He engages with a substance or a behavior.  That engagement produces a desired result, sometimes intentionally, sometimes quite unintentionally.  The result is perceived as desirable.  There’s an inclination to want to repeat it.  “It worked.  Great!  Let’s repeat it.”

As Chana explains, “The problem with addiction is diminishing return, so at the very beginning, it works.  You don’t feel so sexy on the dance floor.  You’re too scared to dance.  You take a hit of marijuana.  Take a drink.  Take some coke.  You’ll feel like the life of the party.  Over time, however, there’s a propensity for tolerance, and so the person needs more and more to get the same result.  What are people chasing when they come to us in desperation? They say, ‘It doesn’t even work anymore and I can’t stop.’  What are they really saying?   They are really saying not only have they physiologically engaged their body now so there are all those elements involved, but they can’t forget the beauty of that initial encounter.  They can’t forget that initial way in which their needs were met, that honeymoon, and they’re chasing it sometimes for years.”  We know from our experience in Addiction Medicine that they are chasing the wrong honeymoon.   They should have been getting it from their spiritual connection from the beginning.

The honeymoon with your higher power, when it’s a spiritual way, doesn’t have diminishing return.  It gets better, deeper, more enriching, and more satisfying over time.  An addictive substance can never continue to provide you with what you were looking for.  As Chana describes, “It’s like being really hungry and eating Styrofoam.  No matter how much Styrofoam you eat…”  The addict may think, “If I just drop enough acid…”  Of course, any effect dissipates over time and then they need MORE.  Next, we’ll share information on the relationship between addiction and mental illness.

Louise Barksdale


Highly Recommended Books

We love these books!  You hope you will also.


Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge, published by Success Books, copyright 2005, 2011.

Napoleon Hill, Think & Grow Rich, published by Ballantine Books, revised edition copyright 1960.

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, published by Pocket Books, copyright 1936.

Gerald G. Jampolsky, Love is Letting Go of Fear, published by Celestial Arts, copyright 1979.

David J. Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big, published by Fireside, copyright 1987.


Vernon and Louise Barksdale

Healing Prayer

Dr. Vernon Barksdale has recorded a meditation version of the Ana B’Koach for your personal use. You will find that by meditating with this prayer you will see your health improve over time. It is also helpful to play this prayer in the background of your everyday activities and as you go about your daily routines. Your mind will hear the prayer throughout the day and will use the powerful healing forces for help heal your body.

The Spiritual Mind — The Conscious Mind

Medical Science and Spiritual Science Together

As a practicing physician in psychiatry, addiction medicine, research and metaphysics I have been working to reunite our spiritual science with our medical science. That avocation has taken me on an inner journey of many experiences through study and direct spiritual training as well as a journey half way round the world in pursuit of this work.

I continue to study with my wife in practical and deeper spiritual training and exercises. We have had many experiences that have deepened our relationship and improved our ability to live life purposefully, master fears, and heal many of the bruises of life we had along the way.

Applying medical knowledge of brain function to the task of maintaining cognitive functioning faculties during deep meditation was essential in our success. It takes more than just guided meditation for one to access higher states of consciousness. There are new sensory modalities and ways of communication that are necessary to make the most of the experience when accessing the spiritual mind. If our consciousness is non-local, existing well beyond the physical borders of the body and mind, then we must improve our functioning while in consciousness to heighten the awareness of its non-local existence. Therein lays the access to the more pure aspects of consciousness, the spiritual mind. So we embark on this journey by exercising our perception skills with this meditation training for accessing higher levels of consciousness.

Spiritual and Consious MindWe generally are not aware of this transcendent aspect of our consciousness. It is the interface to our spiritual inner awareness. The exercises on the first track of this deep meditation CD takes you to deep relaxation at theta level while keeping the right and left brain engaged in the process. The exercises then work to deepen awareness and comfort with the inner consciousness modalities of communication—image and emotion. The stronger we can make these modalities, the better the exploration and task accomplishment at this deeper level of consciousness. The other tracks allow you to practice free-form at this level of mind. We also use alternating tones to help entrain the brain with the subtle third sound.

This CD in the Successful Living Series will be launched at the SSF-IIIHS conference in our workshop on enhancing meditation skills.

3as1 Meditation cds – $16.00