Monthly Archives: October 2018

14Oct/18

On Death and Grieving

In early October, a very close friend reached out to me via text to tell me a friend of his had died that day. Just 39 years, the man had succumbed to his substance misuse disorder after many years of complete sobriety. When my aforementioned friend lost someone very close to him in 2014, I sent an email out about what he (and others) might want to do in both the immediate and long-term aftermath. He asked me for that advice again. I sent him a longer version, which I’m posting here for the public (I’ve edited out the deceased name).

What you should do:

  • Write down everything you can about him/her. Things he said, things you did together, jokes played, things that pissed you off and little gestures. Your mind will be flooded with memories over the next two weeks, and then they will slowly fade. You will never remember him as well as you do right now. Write it down. Also…it will help you grieve. Do this every day, for 30 days, without fail.
  • Keep up your exercise routine. If you don’t exercise, you should start.
  • Consider seeing a therapist who specializes in grief and loss.

What you should avoid:

  • Avoid isolating after the first 24 hours. Humans (and animals) have a tendency to crawl into a hole when injured or sad and avoid contact. It is a terrible instinct for grieving. Having people around, even if you don’t discuss the death, is helpful. Maybe not 24/7, but certainly daily. I am incredibly grateful for my friends who realized that they should stop by for a meal or watch baseball or just hang around during my various periods of grieving.
  • Do not take in more caffeine or nicotine than usual.
  • Be aware of your eating. Some of you may have no appetite, while others will seek comfort in food. Both options have negative consequences. Try to keep up your regular diet.
  • If you are someone who uses eating, drinking, drugging, sex, gambling or shopping to feel good or self-treat, be very wary over the next three months. If you are in recovery from one or more of these issues, consider talking to friends who are also in recovery or upping your support group attendance.

What you should be aware of:

  • I was angry at Fraser for dying and then I would feel bad about being angry at my dead friend. It was confusing. It took me a while to reconcile all of those feelings.
  • You have the right to talk with who you want about this, and you can also tell people that you are sad and just need some space. I found that I talked about it a lot with a couple of close friends, shared about it at every meeting I went to and discussed it in therapy. But I didn’t have it in me to talk to everyone. Some people just pissed me off or didn’t “get it.”
  • Everyone grieves differently. Everyone. Don’t fight with those close to you because you don’t like the way they grieve.
  • Remember that his/her family’s pain is worse than yours. Writing a letter to them about how much he meant to you, as well as some funny/good stories will be valued more than you can possibly know.

I’ve written a lot about death and grieving over the last four+ years. I have provided some baseline advice in this article, but for more specific situations, you might want to check one or more of the pieces below.

In the spring of 2014, Rutgers published a story about my work and how I was inspired after the death of my childhood friend Fraser Curry. I wrote a follow-up piece about my reaction to his death and what people can do if they have a friend or family member with a drug problem: http://greenagel.com/what-to-do-when-your-friend-or-family-member-has-a-drug-problem/

When my friend Pat died, I wrote this in 2014: http://greenagel.com/our-friend-pat/

This is a (near) copy of a speech I gave at an Overdose Vigil to 350+ parents who lost a child to addiction: http://greenagel.com/to-the-parents-who-have-lost-a-child/

A long-time patient of mine died in December of 2016 and I wrote this for myself and other counseling professionals: http://greenagel.com/on-the-death-of-my-patient/

A younger cousin of mine lost a baby in 2017 and I wrote this: http://greenagel.com/to-the-parents-who-lost-a-young-child/

I lost one of my closest friends (and my closest co-worker) this past March. I followed almost all of the advice that I’ve laid out (I didn’t work out for three weeks and I over ate). My writing turned into a book and it was released on October 8th on Amazon. It is titled The Book of Eric and it provides an example of how to deal with loss and grief.

06Oct/18

American Addiction Center’s Unauthorized, Unethical and (perhaps) Criminal Behavior

Earlier this week, I googled my name and discovered that the first link was for a link to drugabuse.com. That is a website that is owned by American Addiction Centers (AAC), which is a for-profit treatment company that has been in the news a lot because of variety of problems at their centers, but most significantly because multiple employees have been indicted for murder of their clients. That’s right: multiple employees from American Addiction Centers have been indicted for the murder of their clients. I have contacted my lawyer and will be pursing a few different legal actions against them.

Question: Why would American Addiction Centers pay for the search engine optimization (SEO) use of the name “Frank Greenagel” and why would they then link the name to drugabuse.com?

Great questions.

1) On June 5, 2017, I wrote an article about how an AAC treatment center in NJ locked out its employees and transferred its patients to other facilities. The article received over 20,000 hits in the first week.

2) On February 24, 2017, I published a piece by Andrew Walsh about the unethical (and probably illegal) behavior of addiction treatment hotlines. While AAC was never mentioned by name in the article, one of the hotlines that engaged in the horrific and unethical behaviors that Mr. Walsh wrote about is owned by AAC.

3) On February 11, 2018, I wrote an article where I linked to the lock-out piece and also taught my readers to ask three questions of treatment programs. At a conference earlier this year, I spoke to two therapists who work at an AAC facility and both of them emphatically stated that the treatment program they worked at could not answer any of those questions satisfactorily. I encouraged both of them to contact the State Attorney General’s Office and to quit.

I believe that none of those articles caused American Addiction Centers to move against me. I firmly believe that my next two points enraged someone there and then AAC unethically used my name without authorization.

4) On August 28, 2018, I posted this on my Greenagel Counseling Services Facebook page:

American Addictions Center is the company in this story. While they have many sub-sub standard treatment programs and sober homes, they are fairly typical of the field. Because they are such a large player in the market and advertise so much, they are even more to blame. A reckoning will eventually come.

The article is good.

_______________________________________

That price tag of more than $3,300 a day buys recovering addicts group therapy sessions during the day, conducted by interns according to Lapina, not licensed professionals. At night, clients are transported in vans to free 12-step program meetings throughout the valley.

“Mental health counseling, which most of their addiction clients need, would cut into profits, so they rely on Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous because they are free,” says Lapina, who detailed the daily routine of Solutions’ clients. “They even buy generic cola, not even Coke. Everything is about saving money.”

Lapina has received the green light from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to sue Solutions and its parent company, American Addiction Centers. She’s filed a claim in federal court for employment discrimination.

Lapina, who is now a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, says the vast majority of house managers are former clients who have little to no training and are paid just above minimum wage.

“The house managers have traded one drug for another — power. They bully people. I was asked by clients to protect them from house managers,” she says. (and then I linked to this article)

5) On September 10, 2018, I posted this on my Greenagel Counseling Services Facebook page:

Straight up, American Addiction Centers is shit.

SHIT.

They own these websites: recovery.org, rehabs.com, projectknow.com and drugabuse.com. They are set up as community help, but they steer clients towards themselves. And their programs are rife with problems. (and then I linked to this article about their websites)

6) In the post referenced in point #5, I included three more articles:

a) complaints filed against American Addiction Centers through the Better Business Bureau

b) this piece about a dead American Addiction Centers client and how multiple employees have been indicted for murder

c) this lengthy article in the New York Times about the numerous professional, ethical and legal troubles that American Addiction Centers have

I believe that sometime after the September 10th post, American Addiction Centers or one of their subsidiaries or one of their contractors purchased the use of my name (without authorization) to be linked to their website. This behavior should be added to the long list of reasons why you should never, ever send someone to a treatment center owned, staffed or run by American Addiction Centers.

Image result for prison

All too often, America is incarcerating the wrong individuals, particularly when it comes to issues around drugs. Someone who is caught with $200 of heroin goes to jail while no one from a company that knows doctors are overprescribing opioids serves any time. That needs to change. Furthermore, I’m a strong advocate for the incarceration of bad actors within the substance abuse treatment field.