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Alumni meetings dive deep into recovery experience

Oxford Treatment Center residents and alumni listen as Amy Woodward, CADC, speaks at Oxford Treatment Center’s May Alumni meeting which focused on parenting in recovery.

Topical programs focus on a specific life skill each month

 It’s the first Friday of the month and more than 15 people have gathered for Oxford Treatment Center’s Alumni meeting. The topic: Being a parent when you’re in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.

The meeting begins with a reflection on each participant’s relationship with their children. The stories are hard, but the group listens intently and each member thanks another for sharing.

For Ashley*, this spring marks the first time she has been clean and able to see her children in years. She cries as she discusses the future of her relationship with her children. “I do have hope today,” she says, “whereas I did not before.”

If love was enough, none of us would be here.

Throughout the conversation is a common theme: “I love my children with all my heart. So why could I not stop using drugs for them?”

“If love was enough, none of us would be here,” said Amy Woodward, CADC, a clinical consultant and co-director of Oxford Treatment Center’s programming for alumni. In facilitating the May meeting, she affirmed to the group the nature of drug and alcohol addiction as a disease.

“If love alone could give us the power to stop using, there would be no such thing as addiction,” she said. “The love we have for our families can propel us take the first step to get help. But it’s very difficult as a parent to realize you may have to step away from your family for a while, to get a strong start in recovery and become the healthy parent you want to be.”

Supporting people as they navigate the many challenges of early recovery has been the goal as Oxford Treatment Center redesigned its programs for alumni this winter. Rather than offering generalized support, monthly alumni meetings are now focused around a theme.

Monthly Alumni meetings at Oxford Treatment Center now focus on practical themes for life in recovery. For 2019, meeting topics have included money management (March), health and fitness (April) and parenting in recovery (May). The June Alumni meeting will focus on how to have fun while in recovery.

Brian Whisenant, director of community relations and a co-director of alumni programs, said the shift has made meetings more beneficial for alumni and kept more people involved.

“We want people who attend these meetings to be able to leave with something that can improve their everyday life,” Whisenant said. “We’ve already had talks on money management and health and fitness. Even topics such as how to have fun in recovery invite lots of sharing and practical takeaways.”

In focusing on health and fitness during the month of April, Whisenant brought in a caterer to make a healthy meal and show participants how to do that on a limited budget. That gathering also focused on exercise and the importance of going to a doctor in addition to maintaining mental health.

“I look at the needs of the recovery community, and then we find ways to address them through this programming,” Whisenant said. “I also look at what would’ve helped me in early recovery and bring those discussions to these alumni meetings.”

Even topics like parenting can prove engaging for a broader group than one might think. At the May meeting, John* shared that he does not have children — but that, in recovery, he can now imagine a future with a family.

“I could not even think about having anyone else around me before,” he said. “But now, I hope to have a wife, to have kids one day.”

Ben*, who is continuing in outpatient treatment while living at Oxford Treatment Center’s Resolutions campus, spent most of the meeting listening quietly before revealing how much the discussion had impacted him.

“I want to share with everyone I just found out that I am going to be a dad,” he told the group, which responded with cheers. “You all have given me hope. I know that part of making myself into a better dad is to be here, building my recovery.”

Next month’s topic will be on having fun in recovery and will be held at Oxford Treatment Center’s Resolutions campus on June 7. To learn about upcoming events, follow Oxford Treatment Center on social media.

Alumni Weekend 2019: Food, Fun and Fellowship

Make plans to join us for the annual alumni weekend this September

Continuing an annual tradition, Oxford Treatment Center alumni and their families are invited to a casual weekend of food, fun and fellowship on Sept. 28-29.

For 2019, the main event of the Alumni Weekend will be held at the Old Armory Pavilion, at the corner of University Avenue and Bramlett Boulevard in Oxford. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, alumni and their families will enjoy outdoor games, live music and speakers. Oxford Treatment Center Executive Chef Moulay Elabdellaoui and his staff will serve a picnic of Southern-style cuisine.

“’s important for us to host weekends like this not only for our alumni but also for the people who’ve been their support system.”

Operated by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the pavilion is situated beside Oxford’s community garden and public library. Holding the Alumni Weekend picnic at a family-friendly, community location underscores the important role of families in a person’s recovery from addiction, said Brian Whisenant, Director of Community Relations.

“We say often that addiction is a family disease — but recovery involves the whole family, too,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for us to host weekends like this not only for our alumni but also for the people who’ve been their support system.”

On Sunday, Sept. 29, alumni and their families will have an opportunity to return to Oxford Treatment Center’s main campus at Etta between 1 and 4 p.m. Experiential therapists will be on hand to offer experiences in art, music, yoga and equine therapy that those in recovery took part in while in treatment.

“For our alumni, it’s often meaningful to bring their loved ones back to the place where their recovery began,” Whisenant said. “They’ve come this far in their recovery because of the support of their family and friends. Being able to reflect on how far they have come is truly an exercise in gratitude.”

Registration for Oxford Treatment Center’s 2019 Alumni Weekend will open on Aug. 1.


Joint Commission awards Gold Standard of Care

Oxford Treatment Center Recognized by The Joint Commission for Providing Gold Standard of Care

The Joint Commission recently awarded Oxford Treatment Center its Gold Seal of Approval® , an internationally recognized symbol for healthcare quality. This distinction signifies that Oxford Treatment Center has achieved Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating its compliance with performance standards that reflect its commitment to providing safe and effective care.

Located in Lafayette County, Oxford Treatment Center is a leading provider of drug and alcohol treatment services, offering a full continuum of care, including medical detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, outpatient care and a recovery residence. To learn about the services offered, visit

To obtain accreditation, Oxford underwent an extensive review process, which included a rigorous on-site survey. The facility demonstrated compliance with behavior healthcare standards related to several areas including care, treatment and services; environment and care; leadership; and screening procedures for early detection of imminent harm.

The Joint Commission’s behavioral health care standards

Developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, quality improvement measurement experts, and individuals and their families. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help organizations measure, assess and improve performance.

“Joint Commission accreditation provides behavioral health care organizations with the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas related to the care of individuals and their families,” said Julia Finken, RN, BSN, MBA, CSSBB, CPHQ, executive director, Behavioral Health Care Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission. “We commend Oxford Treatment Center for its efforts to elevate the standard of care it provides and to instill confidence in the community it serves.”

“We’ve built our treatment model around established best practices and guidelines that lead to the best outcomes for our patients,” said Mark Sawyer, CEO of Oxford Treatment Center. “Achieving this accreditation is a testament to the high-quality care our staff provides every day and our ongoing commitment to clinical excellence.”

Understanding Addiction: Community Workshop Open to All

Have you ever wondered what to say to someone who might be struggling with addiction? Do you think someone close to you might have substance or alcohol use disorder, but you’re not sure what the next step is in getting them help? Have you ever wondered what recovery actually is?

Those in search of answers can hear directly from a regional leader in treatment and recovery, at the upcoming community workshop Understanding Addiction: How Research is Charting New Roads to Recovery.

The event is set for Wednesday, March 13, from 6-8 p.m. at Oxford Treatment Center’s outpatient office at 611 Commerce Parkway. There is no charge to attend. Refreshments will also be provided, and everyone is welcome.

Mark Stovall, CAT, CMHT, Chief Operating Officer for Oxford Treatment Center, is the creator and facilitator of the Understanding Addiction community workshop.

Mark Stovall, CAT, CMHT, Chief Operating Officer for Oxford Treatment Center, will be leading the workshop, designed especially for those who have a friend or family member struggling with addiction.

Stovall is the former statewide head of substance abuse treatment oversight, having served as director of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services at the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH). He has two decades of experience in the fields of chemical dependency and behavioral health.

“We enjoy any opportunity to share with the broader community what we are learning about addiction and recovery — both through research and through our own work with patients every day,” Stovall said. “We want to help people understand the nature of addiction as a disease. We also want to help family members and friends understand how to support their loved ones in finding recovery.”

As a chronic disease, Stovall said, addiction cannot be cured with a quick-fix approach, but rather through a long-term strategy of support. Family and friends have an important role to play in providing that support, he said.

“The good news today is, there is help and there is hope for people struggling,” Stovall said. “We can give them the first glimmer of hope that they’ve ever seen before.”

Stovall’s program will also give practical advice so family and friends can talk to people in their lives who may be struggling with addiction.

“A lot of times people will say, ‘If you loved me, you would stop using,’ but this shame-based argument does nothing but hurt everyone involved,” Stovall said. “Instead, we need to change the conversation and provide the support they need to get them proper help.”

The community workshop

Complements a 1.5 CE Lunch & Learn seminar for mental-health professionals on Tuesday, March 12. Stovall will be presenting Addiction 101: The Basics of Treating Addiction. Details and registration:

Brian Whisenant, Director of Community Relations, has been instrumental in the creation of the continuing education programs offered at Oxford Treatment Center.

Brian Whisenant, Director of Community Relations, said the topic had been requested by therapists and social workers who often encounter substance-abuse problems in their clients, but are not specialists in treating addiction. For the community workshop, he said, Stovall will focus on providing practical information for people of all ages and backgrounds.

“Mark frequently presents at professional conferences, but at the same time he has an incredible way of making it simple for those of us who are not clinicians,” Whisenant said. “I’m excited for our community members to be able to learn from him.”

Stovall will also answer questions about how family and friends can tap into treatment and support resources to get their loved ones help.

“It means something to me to be able to help not only those in recovery, but also those people who will be with them on their journey,” Stovall said. “Ultimately, our success in treatment is actually about what happens after a person goes home. We want to equip both individuals and their loved ones for long-term success.”

Yoga instructor Blends 12-Step Training with Personal Journey

Six years after losing her 23-year-old son to a drug overdose, Kent Magee has found a powerful way to help others build their recovery from addiction — one breath at a time.

Magee joined Oxford Treatment Center’s staff of experiential therapists in December as a part-time yoga instructor. She is certified as a Y12SR instructor for 12-step yoga, and launched Mississippi’s first Y12SR program as a community class a year ago.

Kent Magee, RYT 200 and Y12SR Certified yoga instructor, leads recovery yoga classes for patients at the Etta campus.

“Yoga is a powerful tool for helping people fight their addiction and to get on a path to freedom,” she said. “Addiction affects not just your mind but your body as well — your whole life. When people use yoga as part of their recovery plan, it brings mind, body and spirit together.”

Magee’s classes are among a broad range of experiential therapy sessions available to patients at Oxford Treatment Center. In addition to the center’s signature equine therapy program, patients work with therapists in art, music, recreation and challenge-course sessions as well as in traditional talk-therapy groups and individual counseling sessions. The result is a treatment program that patients can tailor to their own needs and interests, boosting their engagement and speeding progress in recovery.

In each of her yoga classes, Magee selects a 12-step topic and leads a series of movements designed to embody that day’s theme. For example, a session focusing on the first step — admitting one’s powerless over addiction — incorporates postures of surrender such as child’s pose.

“Through yoga, we add the physical element to what can be a totally cognitive process,” she said. “If you are working the 12 steps traditionally, in a classroom or around a conference table, it’s all very much in the mind.”

By adding a physical dimension, you realize all the tension you’re holding in your body and find a new way to let that go. Particularly for people who are newly out of detox, it can be a very powerful tool to move beyond that initial stage where you’re really just white-knuckling it.”

Magee’s own journey with yoga has been intertwined with the experience of addiction and loss in her own family.

She began her eight-month teacher training program on the same day her son, William, began residential treatment for his drug addiction. The day she was scheduled to teach her first yoga class was the same day her husband found their son dead from an overdose.

“Yoga had been something I had really connected with personally, first as an avid practitioner and then as a teacher,” she said. “After our son’s death, it seemed at first that our connection to recovery was over. It was only as we started to heal that we were able to look up again and say, ‘OK, what are we going to do next?’”

In 2017, she and her husband, David, announced they were establishing the William Magee Center for Wellness Education at the University of Mississippi. The center, which is slated to open later this year, will include a focus on prevention and early intervention for substance use disorders among college students. Magee also became involved with the Collegiate Recovery Community on campus, serving as a volunteer board member.

When she learned about Y12SR, The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, she decided to earn the certification and traveled to Colorado for training. In 2018, she began offering weekly donation-based classes at Oxford-University United Methodist Church, with proceeds benefitting both the church and the Magee Center.

Tori Ossenheimer, CTRS, Director of Experiential Services

The community class functions as an open meeting for those in 12-step recovery groups, including spouses and family members who take part in Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. Those in outpatient treatment at Oxford Treatment Center’s Resolutions campus became frequent attendees. Tori Ossenheimer, CTRS, Director of Experiential Services for Oxford Treatment Center, invited Magee to lead a similar program at the Etta campus.

“I was impressed with Kent’s knowledge of recovery as well as her ability to tie yoga and recovery together,” Ossenheimer said. “In just the first month, her yoga classes have grown as patients are telling each other how much they enjoy the group and benefit from it.”

Magee said that since joining the staff she’s been impressed by both her colleagues’ professionalism and by the willingness and open-mindedness of the patients to engage in her classes.

“Sometimes you feel like all the things in your life have led you to a certain point for a reason,” Magee said. “You look back on the moments when it is so hard and you wonder, ‘Why is this happening?’ It is very gratifying when you can take that pain and grief, and release it in a good way by helping others.”



Supporting prevention, early intervention at Ole Miss



Support Group Now Available for LGBTQ Community

Members of the LGBTQ community in Oxford have a new resource for connecting with others who share their challenges and experiences.

The LGBTQ Community Support Group now meets each Tuesday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Oxford Treatment Center’s outpatient office at 611 Commerce Parkway. There is no charge to attend and everyone is welcome.

Brian Whisenant, Director of Community Relations at Oxford Treatment Center, has led the development of the LGBTQ support group at the center’s outpatient office. Whisenant said the decision to open the group to the public was made after realizing the need for a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community.

Director of Community Relations Brian Whisenant said Oxford Treatment Center initiated the group in January as a service for its patients in early recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. The center chose to open the group to the public as its value became clear.

“It’s a place to talk about problems we all face,” Whisenant said. “The model is self-support, so we help each other while helping ourselves.”

The support group will cover topics that LGBTQ community members face in their daily lives, ranging from faith and spirituality to substance use and abuse and relationships, Whisenant said.

Oxford Treatment Center provides a complete continuum of care for substance use disorders at two campuses in Lafayette County. At the residential campus in Etta, Miss., patients can opt to take part in an LGBTQ therapy group as part of their treatment schedule. The new support group at the outpatient office extends the benefits as patients transition from residential treatment into an outpatient level of care.

Clinical Therapist Kana Crumby, MAPC, CMHT:

 who leads the therapy group at the Etta campus, said focusing on the LGBTQ experience is essential in treatment and recovery. People in that community are 25 percent more likely to have substance-abuse issues than heterosexual people, she said. They are also three times more likely to have a mental illness.

Adding to the challenges, people in the LGBTQ community are less likely to seek treatment for addiction because of the stigma and bias surrounding their sexuality, Crumby said.

Clinical Therapist Kana Crumby, MAPC, CMHT

“The shame and family rejection they have experienced because of their sexuality makes their addiction even more complex,” she said. “Developing specialized programming for our LGBTQ patients has given us a chance to really focus on their unique experiences and offer them a truly safe place.

Whisenant said Oxford Treatment Center had been seeing success in recovery among those patients who came out of the closet while they were in treatment.

“A lot of times, these were patients who had been to treatment multiple times,Whisenant said. “But once they found Oxford Treatment Center was a safe place to come out of the closet, they were able to maintain recovery.”

In designing the content for the community support group, Whisenant reached out to Jaime Harker, Ph.D., professor of English and the director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi. She agreed to act as a resource for the members of the group.

In Oxford, events are often centered around alcohol — even the events that celebrate gay pride,” Harker said. “What’s important about this group is that it’s an opportunity for people to connect and share in an alcohol-free setting.

With a group that can focus solely on connecting and sharing with others, a safe space will be created that has been difficult to find in Oxford, Harker said.

“I’m really hoping people will use this support group as a way to learn more and get resources for how to live a healthy life,” she said.

Whisenant said those who have attended the initial meetings said afterward they had no idea how much they needed to talk about LGBTQ issues with others who can relate.

“People said they didn’t even know they needed to talk about these issues, and I found myself feeling the same way,” he said. “I’m excited to see how this effort grows based on the needs in our community.”


What a Day in Treatment Is Like

How our new schedule puts patients first

Oxford Treatment Center has transformed the daily schedule at its residential campus, giving patients more ability than ever to design their own individually tailored treatment experience.

Under the new schedule, patients have the opportunity to choose from a broad range of experiential and topic-oriented group sessions. While some groups are defined by identity, such as for professionals or first responders, others are designed for working through issues that go hand-in-hand with drug or alcohol abuse, like past trauma or troubled relationships. Still others are substance-specific, as for opioid or alcohol abuse.

Treatment is not something that’s done to you. It’s something that’s done with you.

Clinical Director Jerri Avery, PhD, said patients can now effectively design their own weekly schedule, like college students picking classes for the semester or professionals choosing sessions at a conference.

The ultimate goal, she said, is boosting the patient’s engagement in treatment. At the same time, she said, the approach respects the patient’s own central role in achieving recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.

“Treatment is not something that’s done to you. It’s something that’s done with you,” said Avery, a former director of the Mississippi State Department of Health Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services who joined Oxford Treatment Center in 2018.

Avery said that a patient-centered approach to treatment is about meeting people where they are.

“Everyone comes to treatment with different backgrounds,” she said. “There are different levels of trauma, different motivations, different experiences with substances, different levels of family support. That’s why you can’t provide a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all treatment program.”

“The program itself has to meet people where they are — both at the beginning, and as they continue to change through the days and weeks they are with us.”

For patients at Oxford Treatment Center, the day begins with a peer-led meeting and morning reflection within each residential cabin. After breakfast, the entire campus gathers for a 9 a.m. Sunrise Assembly in the main lodge overlooking the lake.

“It sets a positive tone for the day,” said Direct Care Coordinator Barry Doughty, ICADC-I, SAP. He leads the assembly alongside Young Adult Program Coordinator Reggie Watkins, MLAP, ADC, ICADC.

The center’s therapists all attend, too, and introduce themselves for new patients who have arrived. The assembly is also a chance for each patient to finalize his or her own plan for the day.

For Ashley*, 34, her choices have included a specialty track for alcohol-use disorders and an intensive track on embracing change. She also takes advantage of an on-campus Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the evenings.

“I already know a lot, because I’ve been through an IOP [Intensive Outpatient Program] and through a recovery program, but this is different,” Ashley said. “The ‘Hijacked Brain’ courses are giving me more knowledge about how the brain works in addiction. It’s helping me understand the overall power of addiction and why I keep making a choice to go back to that substance.”

Avery, the clinical director, said that most patients have a good understanding of their own needs as they enter residential treatment.

“Patients participate in designing their own treatment programming,” she said. “They determine what their goals are and describe what their strengths are, so we can put those to work in their treatment plan.”

Under this program, we offer enough options that any patient who comes to us will find something that fit their needs. If they come to us saying, ‘I need to work on PTSD,’ we have an evidence-based model in place to respond to that need.

For many people, their initial needs include not believing they have a problem — and not wanting to be in treatment in the first place. There’s a group for that, too.

“Meeting them where they are means starting with engaging them in that conversation,” Avery said.

“Research shows that your reason for being admitted into treatment does not impact your outcome in treatment. By the seventh day, they may be willing to put that argument to rest and to say, ‘I have a problem, and here’s what I think is driving it.’ So their treatment plan changes over time.”

Michael*, 41, had to come to treatment for meth and opioid addiction due to legal problems and his family’s urging.

Oxford Treatment Center’s residential campus stretches across 110 acres of wooded, rolling hills; its natural setting provides the ideal environment in which to begin recovery. Situated around the central, private lake is the main lodge, medical services facilities, patient cabins, fitness center, equestrian center and outdoor pavilions.

“Nobody wants to be here the first week or so,” he said. “Then after a couple of weeks of being integrated, you meet some of your peers and find we can all relate to each other. We all have the same problem.”

The sense of community extends to Oxford Treatment Center’s staff, Michael said, which includes many in long-term recovery.

“In addiction, we’ve all isolated ourselves for so long,” he said. “Becoming part of a society again is really important. While we’re here, we have a sense of belonging, and out there we didn’t — or if we did, it was very unhealthy.”

Michael credits peer-to-peer learning with playing a significant part in his treatment experience, including a specialty track for professionals.

“I’m a business owner and employer, so it’s helpful to get a perspective on how to balance those responsibilities with my recovery as I get back into the professional world,” he said.

Clinical Therapist Johnny McMillan, M.Ed., who leads the group for professionals, said he uses input from the group members to plan content for each week.

“I can tailor the group to really give them what they’re looking for — but also what I feel clinically that they need,” he said. “The process of building this new program has been extremely rewarding, because the people in the groups are engaged and like-minded. I don’t get any pushback from patients at all, because they know they’re being heard.”

McMillan said ultimately the program empowers patients to take more responsibility for the new life they’re building.

“The freedom to choose is a powerful tool,” he said. “It allows them to own their recovery.”

Spending Christmas in Treatment

How we celebrate the holidays

At Oxford Treatment Center, holiday programs celebrate the season while weaving in clinical goals that support long-term recovery.

Experiential therapy programs including art, music and recreational therapy offer holiday activities that focus on giving back to the community. This year, holiday activities include making holiday cards for friends, family and local hospitals; creating ornaments; and decorating areas around the center together.

At Christmas, patients and staff will share a Southern-style feast featuring turkey and dressing, chicken Florentine, candied yams, and three flavors of homemade pie.

“We focus on getting everyone together,” said Tori Ossenheimer, CTRS, Director of Experiential Services, who is leading holiday programming at the Oxford Treatment Center. “It can be hard to be away from home during the holidays. We found patients benefit most when we fill this season with structured activities and opportunities to process together.”

“The practice of coming together and reflecting on one’s experience during the holidays can be a powerful therapeutic experience.”

Oxford Treatment Center provides a full continuum of care for drug and alcohol addiction at two campuses in Oxford and Etta, Miss. While individual therapy is part of treatment at all levels of care, group sessions and activities are central to the treatment program.

For some, this is the first holiday they have spent sober or not fighting with their family.

Clinical Director Jerri Avery, Ph.D., said the benefits to being together in a community of people who are familiar with what you are going through is a substantial benefit to being in treatment — especially during the holidays.

“The holidays are about spending time with the people you care about,” Avery said. “Each person who makes up the community here cares about each other. They want to help one another get better, and they understand what someone else is going through.”

“The peer support that comes from that shared experience provides a lot of power.”

While many are hesitant to consider treatment during the holidays, Avery says the benefits are substantial.

“Choosing treatment during the holidays for yourself or a loved one seems unusual, but it can truly be the best gift that you give yourself or your loved one,” she said.

“For those struggling with a substance use disorder, there is no safer place to be during the holidays than in a secure, caring treatment location. Entering treatment removes the usual stress associated with holidays. In a separate, calm environment like this, you can remove all the risk factors.”

Avery said that stepping away from one’s normal environment and routine during the holidays can be an important step in finding recovery from addiction.

“What we see a lot is that patients experience clarity being here,” she said. “Patients look back on taking that step to seek treatment as one of the most significant investments they have ever made.”

“For some, this is the first holiday they have spent sober or not fighting with their family,” Avery said. “I think that is the most valuable gift that someone could give their family.”

Oxford Treatment Center adds music therapist

Sessions focus on expression, group dynamics

Oxford Treatment Center has added a board-certified music therapist to its staff, broadening its experiential therapy programming for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

Hannah Roye, MT-BC, joined Oxford Treatment Center as a music therapist in August.

Hannah Roye, MT-BC, joined the staff in August. Her sessions are part of clinical programming for people in residential treatment at the Etta campus. They complement Oxford Treatment Center’s existing range of experiential therapies, including equine, wilderness, ropes course, art and mindfulness.

Music-therapy sessions help people build healthy new ways to understand and express their own emotions, as an alternative to using drugs or alcohol to cope with strong feelings.

“Many people in treatment relate music to a negative time in their life — when they were using substances and partying,” Roye said.

Music therapy provides a new meaning for music and helps people realize that they can express themselves in new ways they never thought about.

Instruments incorporated into music therapy sessions can include drums, guitars, tambourines, maracas and various other instruments. Each instrument supports a new way of self-expression through music.

“The focus is on expressing oneself positively through music, even when discussing and processing is hard,” Roye said. “Music gives people in treatment another way to dig into themselves and into what they are going through.”

That can include simply helping people recognize and cope with what they are feeling that day, she said.

“I look into how they are producing music and expressing themselves through their instruments,” said Roye. “Playing drums loudly can translate to anger or excitement, and playing quietly could mean that a patient had a hard morning or feels uncomfortable.”

The benefits of music therapy include the role it can play in group dynamics. Whereas people in active addiction isolate themselves and manipulate others, those who succeed in recovery learn to build healthy new relationships and embed themselves in a supportive community.

As with other types of group-therapy sessions, music therapy helps develop positive new ways of interacting.

“In a group, people in treatment can feel supported by their peers,” Roye said. “They compliment each other’s playing. They begin to play together, and their beats start to fall into each other. Soon they begin to feel connected and accepted in that setting.”

Music therapy is increasingly being recognized for the role it can play in helping people recover from addiction. Earlier this year, Las Vegas music therapist Judith Pinkerton, LMPT, MT-BC, was the first music therapist to receive a music-industry award from the Academy of Country Music. She leads sessions for those in treatment at Oxford Treatment Center’s sister facilities Desert Hope and Solutions Recovery.

Roye’s previous experience includes leading music therapy in such settings as memory-care units, retirement homes and schools. She also has experience working with adolescents and adults with substance use disorders.

Roye holds a bachelor of music degree from Mississippi University for Women. She is certified by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT).

Classes on cooking, meal planning add resources for early recovery

Meriwether Shelton, RDN, LD, leads a nutrition and dietetics class at Oxford Treatment Center’s Resolutions campus.

Life-skills programs aid transition from treatment into real world

At Oxford Treatment Center’s Resolutions campus, people in early recovery from drug or alcohol addiction are learning practical skills that will ease their transition into a new sober lifestyle.

Life-skills classes at Resolutions teach valuable skills that help people move forward in life in healthy ways. The classes are offered for patients who have completed residential treatment and are continuing to receive care at the Oxford Outpatient Center.

“Teaching life skills is very important — especially among our patients who are 18 to 25 years old,” said Barbara Cox, MS, LSW, MAC, SAP, Director of Outpatient Services. “We have patients who don’t know how to use a microwave, and many who don’t know how to sort their own laundry.”

When people have been living in addiction, they’ve often had family members taking care of basic things for them. As they transition from treatment into recovery, we’re working not only to help them stay clean and sober. We want to see them move forward in life as healthy, self-sustaining individuals.

Nutrition and dietetics classes take place in the kitchens of transitional homes adjacent to the Oxford Outpatient Center. Each house has a large kitchen and dining room where patients cook and eat together.

The impact that addiction can have on someone’s life is extensive, says Meriwether Shelton, RDN, LD, who leads a nutrition and dietetics life-skills class at the Resolutions campus.

“Those battling addiction can neglect other important aspects of their lives, like eating healthy,” Shelton said.

In Shelton’s nutrition and dietetics class, patients get together every week to discuss good nutrition habits, explore recipes and plan meals. The classes take place in the kitchens of transitional homes adjacent to the Oxford Outpatient Center. Each house has a large kitchen and dining room where patients cook and eat together.

“The class teaches how to make healthy decisions,” Shelton said. “With addiction, the things going into the body are already not good, so we focus on the importance of putting good things into the body.”

Shelton says the lessons taught in the class are relevant for more than just food.

“It’s about making good choices,” she said. “Reflecting on eating habits before and after sobriety also makes people think about the new positive changes in their other habits, too.”

The class also provides opportunities for human connectivity that can be valuable in the recovery process.

“Addiction is an isolating experience,” Shelton said. “People in addiction often do not want to reach out for help. In recovery, getting together and planning meals brings people together and builds bonds that are about helping each other. It’s another way to learn how to be part of a positive group and build trust with others.”

Other life skills classes offered at the Resolutions campus include those for seeking and holding jobs. This course provides guidance for patients seeking to return to the workforce. Taught by Janna Coleman, M.Ed., LPC, NCC, a former career planning specialist at the University of Mississippi, the job skills course offers instruction in resume writing and job search skills.

Learn more: Oxford Treatment Center Resolution campus