An Interview with Alexa Morgenroth, Executive Director

Getting To Know Our SpringBoard Recovery Staff

 

By combining my personal experiences and my background in the behavioral health industry, I am able to help families and clients navigate the path to recovery and emotional success. Living a life you love is a giant step in recovery.– Alexa Morgenroth, SpringBoard Recovery

What attracted you to work at SpringBoard Recovery?

I knew Springboard was the right move for me when I heard Jason and the team talk about the internal culture they were building with such enthusiasm. It’s important to me that we continue to create a positive, educational, and healthy community for our clients and team. 

What brought you to work in this industry?

When my parents got divorced, I saw my first therapist. I loved the experience, but, brother, was not so thrilled about it. I was only 9, but that experience changed my life. At that age, I realized that I wanted to provide all children a positive experience, and later went on to pursue an education in psychology.

Through college, grad school, and young adulthood, I struggled with addiction. My childhood dreams of being a therapist for “children of divorce” morphed into working with those struggling with addiction. I have tried almost every approach to recovery and realized it is definitely not a one-size-fits-all.

It is my passion to meet clients as individuals with compassion and respect, helping them find a journey that works for them. I understand the mindset of addiction, and I love being able to influence others to make positive changes in their lives.

Diviroce impact on children

Divorce: The Potential Impact on Children

When you look at the current divorce statistics for the U.S., it does make you wonder a little why anyone even bothers to get married in the first place anymore. Around half of all this wedded bliss will turn out to be not so happy after all:

  • 41% of first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce
  • 60% of second marriages end in divorce
  • 73% of third marriages end in divorce
  • There is one divorce around every 36 seconds, eventually adding up to approximately 876,000 divorces every single year
  • Additionally, around 80% of custodial mothers receive a support award, while only about 30% of custodial fathers receive a support award of any kind

When you further consider the extreme prevalence of substance addiction across the nation, from opioid pain medication to alcohol and beyond, a considerable factor in both the reasons for a high divorce rate and its later consequences, you can appreciate and understand the clear link between the two.

A marriage where one partner is either a drug addict or an alcoholic seriously increases the potential for divorce. Furthermore, divorce can potentially result in the subsequent addiction of either divorced partner, and the children swept up in the fallout of the marriage.

Divorce’s Consequences for Children

Divorce can be an extremely emotionally-difficult period for all members of the family concerned. Fortunately, many children adapt surprisingly well to such an event. However, some will invariably struggle with such a transition. The most commonly seen negative effects on children and teenagers include:

  • Difficulties Adapting: Divorce often results in either new family dynamics, a new place to live, new school, new friends, and more – all of these, especially when combined, can impact heavily on children, and, understandably, in a negative way.
  • Emotional Sensitivity: Divorce often brings intense emotions to the forefront for a marriage, and, for any children involved, it is no different. Feelings of loss, anger, confusion, anxiety, and many others, all can arise from the transition. Divorce can possibly leave children feeling overwhelmed and emotionally sensitive.
  • Anger / Irritability: Having to deal with these intense emotions can be very stressful for a child, and it’s common for them to sometimes become angry or irritable. Their anger is normally directed at what they believe and perceive to be the reasons for the divorce. Therefore, children who are trying to emotionally process the divorce often are angry at their parents, themselves, their friends, and others. 
  • Feelings of Guilt: Children being children, there is the high possibility, however misguided, that they may feel partly responsible for the divorce, as they try to understand the “Why?” However, guilt increases any pressure they may feel at this time, and, if left unresolved, it can lead to depression, anxiety, stress, and other health problems. Therefore, it is vital that a child is helped through this transitional period in their lives.
  • Destructive & Self-Destructive Behavior: Children who are not being supported, and are left to struggle on their own, may develop behavior that is both destructive and self-destructive. Extensive research has demonstrated that children who have experienced divorce at some point during the previous 20 years were: 
    • More likely to drop out of school
    • Around 40% more likely to smoke cigarettes
    • More likely to misuse prescription medications, and
    • More likely to participate in crime in later life
  • Increased Health Problems: Children are not just affected emotionally by divorce. Increased stress in early adolescence can result in an increase in physical health problems. Children who have experienced divorce have a higher perceptibility to sickness, and mental health issues such as depression.
  • Poor Academic Performance: Divorce can be both seriously confusing and distracting for children. The interruption in their normal daily focus can mean a sharp drop in academic performance.

Less Interest in Social Activity: Divorce can impact upon children socially, as well. Children of divorce can have a harder time relating to others, and often tend to have fewer social contacts.

Addiction Recovery

How long have you been working in the addiction recovery industry?

Over ten years.

In your opinion, what’s the most important aspect of achieving addiction recovery?

I think finding the right support system for the individual is vital. I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Everyone is different. Family, doctors, therapists, coaches, meetings, mindfulness – it’s all important until you find what works best for that specific individual. Living a life you love is a giant step in recovery.

If possible, please briefly describe your own journey to recovery; for example, what was your drug of choice, and what motivated you to get help?

I have the classic addict roadmap, and to make a very long story short, I went from alcohol and smoking pot to cocaine, and then following a dental procedure, it was pills, and finally heroin. After being brokered to a treatment facility in Las Vegas, I was homeless and using, eventually arrested.

I didn’t wake every day wanting to be a drug addict. I was motivated constantly to stop using, but I just couldn’t. It was impossible, and my disease wouldn’t allow it. My mother is a big reason I am sober, she never gave up. With her support and a long-term recovery program, I was able to find happiness in myself, and then in my recovery. 

Tackling addiction is possibly only one component of recovery. How important is it to treat any co-occurring disorders that may exist?

I think it’s hugely important. Mental health issues and co-occurring disorders, in some cases, are the cause of drug or alcohol abuse in the first place, or the cause for relapse over time. Whether its drug use, anxiety, depression, or any other disorder, it’s important for individuals to learn about their triggers, and then find coping skills that work for them.

Our country is currently under a lot of stress right now – from the coronavirus pandemic to the unforeseen economic crisis that has come with it. How does all this affect addiction rates – firstly, in general, secondly, here in Arizona, and, lastly, at a local level?

Times of mental or physical distress and economic hardship can certainly be triggers to relapse. A lot of recidivism comes with isolation. If you feel alone and are physically distant from your support system, the addict’s mind starts to wander to old habits pretty rapidly. This is something we need to be extra aware of during the pandemic.

The recovery community in Arizona, specifically Phoenix and the suburbs, is robust. The closure of in-person meetings and community activities has been difficult for most during this time, addiction or not. However, our recovery community is doing a good job of trying to keep up and utilize creative resources to stay connected. It’s not perfect, but people in recovery are determined and resilient and will continue to work on better ways to stay connected. 

Note: You can read our statement on how we have implemented the necessary CDC recommendations, and more, to ensure the health and wellbeing of our valued clients, their families, and our own staff here.

What would you personally say to someone with a drug or alcohol problem (or has a loved one with a problem) who is considering getting help?

Addiction is a disease. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, or that you have a bad family. It means that you have a disease, and need to seek help. If someone broke their arm, they would go to a doctor. It’s exactly the same concept. Addiction requires treatment. We need to do better as a society to reduce the stigma of addiction, so those struggling don’t feel like they cannot seek help.

Addiction and shame

Addiction & Shame

Medical science has long since proclaimed, described, and repeatedly confirmed that addiction is a “chronic, relapsing brain disease” – completely anti-discriminatory in its choice of victim, and definitely not the result of some moral flaw or character weakness in a person.

However, and despite the beyond-expert opinion of celebrated clinicians and neuroscientists, there is still the popular misguided belief that addiction is a kind of self-inflicted condition, and that those whose lives suffer terribly because of substance abuse’s far-reaching effects have only themselves to blame. In some crazy, obscure way, they somehow even deserved it.

As 100%-wrong, misinformed, and divisive as this belief is, sadly, it exists.

It doesn’t help when one of the primary symptoms of the disease of addiction involves those suffering being utterly preoccupied with obtaining (through both legal and illegal means) and consuming the substances that define the disorder.

When this is accompanied by what others close to the addict see as irresponsible and, sometimes, deceitful behavior, it obviously takes a tremendous toll on personal relationships, family commitments, and work obligations.

It is far easier for those on the outside to apportion blame to the individual for their bad behavior than it is to focus on the disease that causes such unusual and different behavior. No addict is proud of the lengths that have to go to feed their addiction, and feeling looked down on by family, friends, and society only contributes to a greater sense of shame and self-blame.

Medical science constantly informs us that there is both a genetic predisposition to addiction and a wide range of environmental factors, especially those from early childhood. Clearly, educational efforts to inform the public, and change these misguided, and their resulting preconceptions, are not working as they should.

At SpringBoard Recovery, we understand that it can be frightening to go to rehab for the first time. People do not know what to expect, they are stopping their use of substances, and they do not know how they will handle it. However, it helps people to learn what to expect when they make the decision to go to rehab.

Please take some time to look over SpringBoard Recovery’s addiction treatment philosophy, our full commitment to our clients, and the therapies and treatments we are able to offer – with no shame attached whatsoever. Remember, there is hope, and there is recovery.

When you tell someone you just met that you are in the addiction treatment industry, what are the three most common questions you get asked?

First, it’s never a question; it’s always “I have mother, brother, father, sister, uncle, etc., that is sober.” Once others hear you work in the field, they are more likely to open up and share their story. The questions come later when they are reaching out to seek help for a friend or family member. 

How do you respond to people who say that “treatment doesn’t work”?

Giving others hope is most important. When families see a person as living proof of a success story, they begin to understand that it can work. Unfortunately, not everyone gets sober the first time around, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve support and understanding. Everyone is capable of recovery and can get sober. 

What do you do to unwind and relax after a hard day at the office, and did any of this stem from your own addiction recovery, eg. yoga, mindfulness, etc?

I swim. I call it “float therapy“. After a hard day, I jump in the pool and float. It’s a good time for me to take a deep breath, relax, and reset. Before working in the addiction treatment industry, I didn’t focus on self-care or mindfulness. Today, I constantly work on developing better habits and a more healthy lifestyle. If we preach it to others, we should practice it ourselves.

– With thanks to Alexa Morgenroth for her informative and honest responses to our questions.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
SpringBoard
Springboard Recovery was born from the passion and personal experience of its founders. We understand the real-world challenges of early recovery and are here to help and we are passionate about helping our clients lead balanced, healthy, and fulfilling lives.