At SpringBoard, we pride ourselves in having a team that is truly passionate about helping others. In addition to the academic training needed to succeed in treating drug and alcohol addiction, we possess first-hand knowledge of recovery from substance abuse.
Our dedicated team is committed to helping you or your loved one navigate the road to life-long recovery. So we thought that you’d like to meet them! For the next in our series “Getting To Know Our SpringBoard Recovery Staff,” we talk with Jason Bordonaro, Executive Leadership Team.
An Interview with Jason Bordonaro, Executive Leadership Team
Getting To Know Our SpringBoard Recovery Staff
“I find purpose in being of service to others and am committed to our clients’ recovery as they journey to discovering their true potential.”
– Jason Bordonaro, SpringBoard Recovery
What are your day-to-day responsibilities at SpringBoard Recovery?
Building and maintaining relationships with referral partners, overseeing operations, collaborating with admissions when they involve admissions I am a part of, and strategic planning.
What would you say that you bring to the table here?
I believe I bring our culture of excitement, joy, happiness and nurturing to SpringBoard, and I also bring the trust and integrity that the larger community feels about us outside of SpringBoard.
How long have you been working in the addiction recovery industry, and what would you consider to be your top three accomplishments while working this field?
I have been working in the field of addiction recovery for 10 years now. During that time, I would list my top three accomplishments as opening treatment centers, working with great partners, and seeing patients attain long-term recovery and positively thrive in their new sober lives.
As you are a founding member of SpringBoard Recovery, what was the motivation for starting the recovery center?
For me personally, I wanted to create a healing place where people can come to recover from addiction, heal from their underlying issues, learn about nutrition, connect with the outdoors, and learn to live a life free from the pain of alcohol, drugs and other mental health issues.
What makes Springboard different from any other nearby facilities, traditional or otherwise?
SpringBoard is a place that takes a very nurturing and caring approach with all our patients. We continue to provide excellent clinical work and essential recovery and life skills. We constantly maintain a real “family feel” with highly personalized relationships with our patients.
What is the treatment philosophy at Springboard?
Our philosophy is to heal underlying emotional and mental health issues while addressing substance use disorders.
Substance Abuse: Underlying Emotional & Mental Health Issues
People often start using substances as a way to alleviate the symptoms of emotional or mental health issues, like anxiety or a traumatic experience. Because the substance usually has a positive effect of their state of mind (or certainly a different one), this can lead to substance abuse, which can then develop into an addiction or substance use disorder (SUD).
Addiction treatment clients are often suffering in this way — known as a co-occurring mental health disorder. The use of substances is a practical way of self-medicating against their symptoms.
Common underlying emotional or mental health issues include:
- Mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or antisocial personality disorder
- Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia
- Psychotic disorders usually require medication; If the disorder is undiagnosed, there is a greater need on the part of the sufferer to find a way to ease symptoms
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
- Trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Name a challenge you faced while developing the recovery center.
Finding great, talented people who are excellent team members too.
How did this challenge or discovery shape what the center is today?
Great team members are what make SpringBoard… well, great!
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 started drinking alcohol as a teenager, then I started smoking pot, and eventually went on to crystal meth and cocaine. Alcohol and marijuana were always the constant drugs for me, while the others were only for sporadic use over a couple years. I soon started realizing that my life was quickly falling apart, and I had awful low self-esteem.
I knew I wanted more out of life, but I just couldn’t stop using and drinking for any length of time. I was hurting the people around me, and I was certainly hurting myself with my behaviors. When I finally reached my bottom, I turned to a good friend, who had 2 years of sobriety. I reached for help then, and now I have been clean and sober since April 30, 2002.
Teenagers & Alcohol in Arizona: The Facts
Illegal teenage alcohol consumption is a social issue that affects the whole of the U.S. – in fact, it’s usually an issue anywhere in the western world where teenagers are simply growing up. Young people are risk-takers. It’s part of that growing up process, and a normal sign of brain immaturity – the human brain actually matures at around 25 years of age. Underage binge-drinking is a pretty standard, normally peer-related risk that many will engage in.
However, the effects of persistent underage binge-drinking include alcohol use disorder (AUD), other severe health issues, and even premature death. Here in Arizona, this culture of excessive drinking results in:
- 2,362 deaths and 68,826 years of potential life lost each year in AZ because of binge-drinking
- Binge-drinking among Arizona high school students is significantly and consistently higher every year than the national average
- Average alcohol consumption in children younger than 14 is significantly higher than the national average
- Violations for drinking alcohol under the age of 21 (not including DUIs) have progressively increased every single year for over a decade
Alcohol is the “Gateway” Substance in the U.S.
The “Gateway Drug Theory” suggests that legal drugs, like tobacco and alcohol, serve as a “gateway” toward the use of harder illegal drugs. However, there was always a difference of opinion in medical research circles as to which one was the worse for this – alcohol, tobacco or marijuana.
A 2012 research investigation into government health data concerning 12th-graders across the U.S. definitively found the following:
- Results indicated that alcohol is the primary “gateway” drug, leading to the use of not only tobacco and marijuana, but other harder illegal drugs
Furthermore, students who used alcohol showed a significantly greater likelihood of using both legal and illegal drugs
In your opinion, what’s the most important aspect to achieving addiction recovery?
In short, a strong willingness to change.
Tackling addiction is possibly only one component of recovery. How important is it to treat any co-occurring disorders that may exist?
Healing the underlying issues is super-important to overcoming addiction. We help our clients address the co-occurring disorders, while also building life-affirming recovery habits.
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?
People who are facing addiction issues cope with stress by using their addictions to escape the current situation that seems too difficult to deal with. Our current environment is full of many new experiences of crisis which are emerging. My concern is that it is completely overwhelming for many people. Now really is the time to get help and get into a program that is supportive and caring which can help heal the pain deep within.
The Role of Stress in Substance Abuse, Addiction & Relapse
If you are an Arizona resident, you currently have good reason to be stressed – the very latest COVID-19 data coming out the state makes it the new U.S. epicenter of the pandemic. Earlier this month, a Harvard epidemiologist remarked that Arizona now had a higher coronavirus positive case rate than either Brazil or Peru. Unsurprisingly, Arizona is now the most infectious state in the nation.
The warm time of year doesn’t help either, as people opt for cooler indoor gatherings, and neither does the state’s local pushback to following health guidance, with many anti-lockdown and anti-mask rallies.
In fact, Arizona’s hospitals (now in emergency mode) may soon activate “crisis care standards” as available ICU and inpatient beds are now in short supply. These crisis care standards mean hospitals will be allowed to prioritize their resources to patients; for example, to those with a better chance of survival. Definitely a good reason for high levels of stress.
Unfortunately, however, stress is a leading initial factor in substance misuse, abuse and addiction, as well as increased numbers of relapses during addiction recovery. Stress like the levels caused by coronavirus, combined with poor coping skills, is leading to higher levels of substance misuse and self-medication using substances.
How to Cope with Increased Stress
It is important to put stress in perspective, and try to maintain a positive attitude during difficult and testing periods in your life, like the coronavirus pandemic. Here are a few tips to manage your stress more effectively:
- Mental Holidays: It is essential to rest the mind periodically. Without the odd “mental holiday” every once in a while, the brain and body may not have the opportunity to recover properly from times of stress. Those in addiction recovery should try to simply avoid stressful situations either at work or at home where possible.
- Regular Exercise: Daily exercise (if you can make the time) is an excellent way to reduce stress, improve mood, and improve both your physical and mental health. In fact, regular exercise is essential for people in recovery, as it decreases general tiredness, increases concentration levels, and improves your cognitive function. It’s also great for achieving better sleep.
- Healthy Nutrition: Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet is a vital element of addiction recovery, and naturally improves mood.
- Journal It: Keeping a journal where you can write down your thoughts, feelings and experiences will help you deal with stress. People in addiction recovery are always advised to keep a journal for expressing their emotions.
- Be Spiritual: You do not need to go out and find God for this. Spirituality includes learning relaxation techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga. In fact, yoga uses specific “breathing modulations” that help reduce levels of both stress and anxiety.
- Find Support: Finishing a spell in rehab is no guarantee of sobriety – FACT. It is just as important to find support after the completion of your treatment to help you maintain your clean and sober state.
Important: 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?
I honor you for reaching out for help – that is a big step in the right direction and it’s a sure sign of courage. I know it is a difficult thing to do, and you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help all along the journey.
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?
- Is that heartbreaking to see people relapse?
- Is that very rewarding to see people recover?
- How did you get into that line of work?
How do you respond to people who say that “treatment doesn’t work”?
I ask a series of a questions, including:
- What does that mean exactly – “doesn’t work”?
- What happened that made you form that opinion?
- Have you been to treatment before?
- How long did you stay sober after treatment last time?
- Were you sober the entire time that you were in treatment?
- What did you do differently after treatment before you relapsed?
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 love yoga, hiking, getting out into the wilderness or onto a trail, riding my bike, reading a book, cooking a great meal, going to 12 step meetings, helping others in recovery, and spending time with family.
The Importance of Connecting with Nature in Recovery
Endless research studies on the subject have all concluded the same findings – spending time within nature is excellent, if not essential, for your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Time spent outdoors involves active movement while breathing in fresh air. We feel more mindful, more “in the moment” in natural surroundings, and a simple and long nature walk is known to reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure.
Furthermore, nature connects us to our own five senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell, enabling us to easily feel more alive, yet at peace with ourselves – an excellent tool for those in addiction recovery. Here are just a few of nature’s benefits for our wellbeing:
- Exercise: Just 15-30 minutes of exercise each day decreases your risk of medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
- Stress: Being in nature reduces tension, anxiety and depression.
- Vitamin D: 10-15 minutes of sunlight per day produces the proper levels of vitamin D,
and boosts our immune systems.
- Better Sleep: Being in nature increases the quality and length of sleep, partly because of reduced stress, but also because sunlight exposure during the day increases your production of melatonin (needed to regulate your sleep cycle) at night.
Lastly, what’s it like working at SpringBoard Recovery?
Working at SpringBoard is like being part of a great mission where we have fun and a tremendous sense of fulfillment. To be honest, it’s not even like going to work.
– With thanks to Jason Bordonaro for his informative and open responses to our question