Major Cause of Dementia Discovered in New Study

At Feinberg Consulting, we guide individuals and their families through the most difficult moments of their lives. In our Hope and Healing Series, we highlight the latest research related to our three service lines: Feinberg Catastrophic Services, Bridgeway Care Management & Home Care, and Feinberg Addiction Services.

 This blog is presented by Bridgeway Care Management & Home Care, our dedicated team that’s trained to offer the highest level of care for loved ones struggling with dementia.

There is currently no cure for dementia, but an international team of scientists has identified a major cause of the disease that creates hope for an eventual cure. A study lead by Professor Garth Cooper of the University of Manchester showed that a buildup of toxic levels of urea in the brain can cause brain damage and eventually dementia.

The study focused on one of seven types of age-related dementia, Huntington’s disease, showing that Huntington’s disease is directly linked to brain urea levels and metabolic processes. It showed that high urea levels occurred before dementia set in, providing hope that doctors will eventually be able to diagnose and treat dementia well before its onset.

“This study on Huntington’s Disease is the final piece of the jigsaw which leads us to conclude that high brain urea plays a pivotal role in dementia,” Cooper says in a University of Manchester release. “More research, however, is needed to discover the source of the elevated urea in [Huntington’s Disease], particularly concerning the potential involvement of ammonia and a systemic metabolic defect.

Urea is most widely known as a compound excreted from the body in urine. In the brain, urea and ammonia are products of the metabolic breakdown of protein.

“Doctors already use medicines to tackle high levels of ammonia in other parts of the body,” Cooper says. “Lactulose, a commonly used laxative, for example, traps ammonia in the gut. So it is conceivable that one day, a commonly used drug may be able to stop dementia from progressing. It might even be shown that treating this metabolic state in the brain may help in the regeneration of tissue, thus giving a tantalizing hint that reversal of dementia may one day be possible.”

What We Can Learn from Addicted Doctors

Medical doctors who become addicted to drugs or alcohol receive the same treatment as non-medical doctors when they enter recovery. Yet as a recent story from the Washington Post explains, they’re much more likely to stay sober without relapse.

“For doctors to remain sober after they return to high-stress jobs with easy access to controlled substances, there has to be a big payoff,” says Christine Vestal, author of the story. “For physicians, the reward is huge — keeping a medical license that cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their lives to obtain.”

Think of “payoffs” as someone’s purpose or big why for doing something. As the article highlights, having a purpose is key to helping people obtain long-term recovery. It cites a 2009 survey of close to 40 program directors that showed nearly 80 percent of doctors remained sober without relapse throughout the five-year program. Seventy percent continued to practice medicine.

This raises an important question; how does an addict come to recognize that the pain of continued drug use is greater than the pain of change – recovery and sobriety?

At Feinberg Consulting, we are committed to shining a light on the bright future that’s possible for active addicts and their families. We know the path to sobriety and long-term recovery, and our team supports active addicts and their families with the right kind of support at the right times so that sobriety becomes obtainable.

Every day we receive more proof that recovery is possible. It’s never too soon to help yourself or a loved one who is dealing with an addiction. The sooner he or she can clearly see the benefits of recovery, the sooner sobriety will be achieved.

Contact us to learn how we can support you.

Brain Scientists Are Working to Reduce Opioid Addiction, But We Need Solutions Now

stethoscope and pen resting on a sheet of medical lab test results, with patient file and x-ray or mri film

More than 2 million people in the U.S. are currently abusing opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a crisis that has the potential to get much worse. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 25 million people are living with chronic pain.

A recent NPR article details the different approaches brain scientists are taking to develop new drugs that could reduce opioid addiction. “We know a lot more about pain and addiction than we used to,” says Edward Bilsky, a pharmacologist interviewed in the article. “But it’s been hard to get a practical drug.”

One of the options on the table is venom from a cone snail, which contains peptides that act as a powerful painkiller. The peptides do not affect the brain’s pleasure and reward circuits in the same way opioids do. In fact, a snail venom-based drug called Prialt is already on the market, but delivery of the drug is difficult. It must be injected directly into the spinal cord.

At Feinberg Consulting, we’re excited about the great work these brain scientists are doing. It has the potential to save lives, but millions of people need help right now. And we know how to help.

“Depression and isolation can also amplify pain,” Bilsky says in the NPR article. “If a person in pain stays home instead of [doing their normal activities], that feeds an escalation in pain.”

He’s exactly right. Chronic pain is one contributor to addiction, but there are many other crucial factors. That’s why our approach takes all important factors into account when creating treatment and recovery plans for our clients. These individualized recovery plans are the best option for long-term recovery, both for individuals struggling with addiction and their families.

Contact us to learn how we can support you.

Professional Support for Addiction Recovery

When anyone is in the midst of a crisis, especially a crisis surrounding addiction and substance abuse, it is hard to know where to turn. In an article recently published by the Detroit Jewish News, they interviewed local addiction and recovery experts, including Feinberg Consulting’s Steve Feldman, to address the importance of turning to local professionals who have the experience, knowledge, and resources to help individuals and their families recover.

In the article, Steve talks about the importance of conducting a comprehensive assessment of each individual so that Feinberg Addiction Services can best develop a customized treatment plan, or treatment recommendations specific to their needs. The article also states that “Feldman travels the country to learn about treatment alternatives. ‘Each treatment center has its own strengths and specialties,” he says. ‘We try to vet the facilities from a clinical and an ethical standpoint. We want to know which facility would be a good fit for which client. Some specialize in working with clients of a certain age; some work exclusively with male, or female, or gay, lesbian, or transgender clients; some with clients who suffer only from addiction, and some with clients who have mental health issues.’ ”

While the opioid epidemic continues to run rampant in our communities, it is important to focus not on the problem, but on the solution. Proper treatment from ethical and experienced providers is the solution, and Feinberg Addiction Services is here to link individuals and their families to the best treatment providers and plans that will lead to lifelong recovery.




Dr. Colin King Joins Feinberg Consulting

We are excited to announce that renowned clinician Colin King, LPC, PhD., LP, has joined the firm as Vice President of Clinical Services. Dr. King will be responsible for advancing Feinberg Consulting’s services in catastrophic care, addiction recovery and care management.

He brings with him 22 years of experience as an experienced clinical and operations executive, who has considerable expertise in program development, interdisciplinary team management, and mentorship.

Dr. King is a fully Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Advanced Addictions Supervisor, Certified Forensic Psychologist, and a Sentence Litigation Specialist. As a certified Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP) Evaluator, he also counsels and provides treatment to licensed professionals struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

“With an impressive track record of success and more than two decades of experience, Colin is a well-respected professional who will add significant value to our clients and internal team,” said Pam Feinberg-Rivkin, RN, BSN, CCM, CRRN, the Founder and CEO of Feinberg Consulting and Bridgeway Care Management & Home Care. “Colin has dedicated his career to helping individuals fulfill their highest potential and achieve mental health and recovery. His ability to design programs to provide meaningful solutions for those that need it most will certainly have a positive impact on our clients and fellow clinicians.”

Dr. King has Bachelor Degrees in Theology and Business Administration from the University of the Southern Caribbean, a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Andrews University, and a Ph.D. from Wayne State University.

Welcome to the team Dr. King!

The Reality Behind Opioid Addiction

Addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful. Anyone who has been close to an addict or has been in the grips of addiction themselves would likely agree. One of the most devastating addictions, addiction to opioids, is on the rise and the statistics are alarming.

Prescription opioids are commonly prescribed to treat pain, and they can be a gateway into the use of other opioids, most commonly heroin. In 2014, over 240 million prescriptions were written for opioids according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s enough prescriptions to give every American adult their own bottle… and then some.

How did we get to this point? Millions of people get addicted to pain medication through pill mills, where doctors prescribe pain medications for cash. At pill mills, patients are able to choose their own medication, no questions asked. Prescription opioids are very similar to heroin on a molecular level, and they also have similar effects. So when these addicts can no longer obtain the pain medications they’ve come to depend on, many turn to heroin. In fact, four out of five heroin addicts reported previous painkiller abuse.

Heroin is a street drug that lacks the predictability of prescription opioids. It varies in strength, leading to overdoses, and there’s always a chance heroin is laced with other drugs. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., and overdose rates and deaths have been on the rise. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, there were 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Nearly 40 percent were related to prescription pain relievers, 64 percent of which were related to heroin. Overdose deaths among women have tripled in the last few years.

Where do we go from here? Addiction is complex, and treating it is no easy feat. It’s a chronic and relapsing disease that has many layers to it. It helps to think of addiction as an onion. The first layer that needs to be removed is the substance that is being abused, or in the case of process addictions, a compulsion or behavior. Underneath that layer are all of the things that fed the addiction, and family dysfunction is often at the core.

At Feinberg Addiction Services, we have found that treating addiction should not be viewed as a one-way-treats-all approach. Treatment plans that are customized to meet an individual’s specific needs have been proven to be the most effective way of treating addiction. Our treatment plans are also family-centered. We coach family members to become empowered participants in their loved one’s recovery process (and their own), which helps them see the ways in which they may have enabled an addiction.

Long-term treatment is proven to be the most effective approach, as it provides the addict and his or her family the support necessary for healing to occur as the layers are peeled away. And in order for long-term recovery to be possible, all of the layers of the onion must be peeled back and addressed.

Caregiving and Social Isolation

Anyone who has ever cared for an aging, injured, or ill loved one understands the stress involved in caring for their daily needs. In addition to that stress, The New York Times recently highlighted the dangers of social isolation and loneliness that individuals who are the primary caregiver for a family member face. The article states that “Those who work with caregivers know this phenomenon well, especially when the cared-for person has dementia, a particularly arduous responsibility. ‘Caregiving is done with a lot of love and affection, but there’s a lot of loss involved,’ said Carey Wexler Sherman, a gerontologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. ‘People talk about friends disappearing, about even family members not wanting to be involved. It’s a lonely business.’ ”

In addition to social isolation, individuals can also experience caregiver burnout and poor physical and mental health. All of which can eventually lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and a higher mortality rate.

However, there are ways for caregivers to combat social isolation and take care of their own needs while helping others. Read more about these ways on our blog, The Secret to Avoiding Caregiver Burnout and Finding Balance.

Michigan’s Auto No-Fault Saved My Family

Google Sets Limits on Addiction Treatment Ads, Citing Safety

When people need information, they usually turn to Google, the world’s largest search engine. In an article published by the New York Times, Google acknowledged that it may not be the best resource to utilize when looking for addiction treatment resources, citing consumer safety concerns. Treatment providers have paid up to $70 per ad click, but Google is now taking action to limit these ads in an attempt to weed out treatment centers that are looking to profit off of people in crisis.

At Feinberg Addiction Services, we only refer our clients to treatment centers that have been vetted by our clinical team. In addition, once a client has entered treatment, our clinical team continues to work with the treatment center providing oversight and coordination of care.

To learn more about the types of services that we provide to help individuals and their families recover from substance abuse, addiction, and mental health issues, read more here.



From the Depths of Addiction to Helping Others Recover

September is National Recovery Month, and here at Feinberg Addiction Services, we want to honor our employees who are in recovery by sharing a few of their personal stories of hope and healing. Part of what makes our team of professionals so unique is their personal experience or connection with recovery, whether it be from mental health issues, process addictions, or chemical dependency. This allows them to connect with our clients in a deeper way, and also helps their family members or other team members who do not have personal experience with addiction understand the disease from a different perspective. Personal experience, combined with clinical knowledge, is just part of what makes our team so great.


Steve Feldman


1.) What is your current role with Feinberg Addiction Services?
I am the Chief Operating Officer of Feinberg Addiction Services. I have been trained as an Interventionist and Recovery Coach. I work to help an individual or family get in touch with good reasons to recover (their big “why”).  I work with families to connect them to services and providers that are helpful in supporting all aspects of life and recovery, as well as providing education and accountability.

2.) What is one of the most valuable things you have learned or experienced being in recovery?
That meaningful and profound change is possible through being open to new experiences and by holding myself accountable.

3.) What is it about helping others to recover that you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the moment when someone shifts from denial to acceptance, and they experience life in a way they thought they never would again.

4.) What has been your most memorable experience working in the field of addiction?
It is really two-fold.  I love working with the people in my company who have so much to offer and the other experienced professionals to learn from them. I also love guiding a family through the process of an intervention. When we facilitate an intervention, we often walk into what feels like a hopeless situation. The preparation can take days, during which we work closely with the family to create alignment, establish bottom lines, and develop an appropriate treatment plan. The most rewarding part is when all of the preparation is complete and we invite the person of concern to accept treatment and they do so.



 Jessica Kowalchuk


1.) What is your current role with Feinberg Addiction Services?
I am the Client Services Manager for the Feinberg Addiction team. I work in the office and provide support to our Case Managers, Recovery Coaches, and Family Coaches in the field. I am also the point of contact for families during the intake process and interact with them in various capacities throughout the duration of their recovery process.

2.) What is one of the most valuable things you have learned or experienced being in recovery?  
The most valuable thing I have learned is the power of forgiveness. I used to be a very angry and emotionally void person. I experienced a lot of trauma between the age of 11 and 17, and I used those experiences to justify my self-sabotaging actions. When I learned to forgive, I was able to process the things I had experienced and incorporated them into my life in a meaningful way.

3.) What is it about helping others to recover that you enjoy the most?
I enjoy all aspects of helping others to recover, but for me, it is the most rewarding to hear a parent say that we helped them to get their child back. My brother passed away from a drug overdose when I was 17, so I think I feel a connection to families in a way that others might not understand.

4.) What has been your most memorable experience working in the field of addiction?
Working in the field of addiction is like riding a new rollercoaster every day. There have been so many memorable experiences, but an experience that has really stuck with me was when one of our younger clients passed away from a heroin overdose. I know that may sound depressing, but that experience became me “why.” I grew really accustomed to our success stories, and I was really blindsided by that experience.



Tori Hodge


1.) What is your current role with Feinberg Addiction Services?
I am a Case Manager, Recovery Coach, and Family Coach. Through my role with Feinberg, I am able to support and coach families and individuals through the healing process so they can have the life they deserve full of peace, love, connection, and forgiveness!

2.) What is one of the most valuable things you have learned or experienced being in recovery?  
The most valuable thing I learned in recovery is that it works best with a team of people who give lots of love and acceptance and provide the space for the person recovering, to be honest, willing, and openminded.

3.) What is it about helping others to recover that you enjoy the most?
I love creating powerful connections with people and helping them to find their inner beauty. Watching people blossom with their newly discovered strengths and helping them to see that anything is possible in their lives is very powerful.

4.) What has been your most memorable experience working in the field of addiction?
My most memorable experience was when I worked with an individual who came to me for his 22nd inpatient treatment when he was feeling hopeless and suicidal. He trusted me enough to go to the darkest places in his life and was willing to do the work. I was able to attend his celebration for completing his first year in Alcoholics Anonymous and watching him pick up the 1-year medallion after enduring a 20-year addiction was so memorable. Afterwards, he shared with me that I was a source in his life who gave him hope with no judgment that he could finally be sober. He has been sober for over 13 years now, enjoys reconnecting with his children, and is the owner of his own business.



Don Chouinard


1.) What is your current role with Feinberg Addiction Services?
I am a Recovery Coach, and as a Recovery Coach, I work with clients to establish goals, hold them accountable, connect them to local support and recovery resources, and help them find their purpose. All of these steps help to guide our clients from active addiction to a life of recovery. For me, this is accomplished by reflecting the joys of living the recovered lifestyle and being able to understand where our clients are at, no matter what phase of recovery they are in.

2.) What is one of the most valuable things you have learned or experienced being in recovery?  
The most valuable lesson I learned is that it is possible to live the happy and free life that I desperately desired while in the grips of addiction. I also learned that anything is attainable if I am willing to work hard for it.

3.) What is it about helping others to recover that you enjoy the most?
What I enjoy most about helping others to recover is watching them transform into happy, joyous, and free individuals who go on to lead productive lives.

4.) What has been your most memorable experience working in the field of addiction?
One of my most memorable experiences has been helping others to recovery while remaining in recovery myself.



Jeff Rosenberg


1.) What is your current role with Feinberg Addiction Services?
My current role with Feinberg Addiction Services is Recovery Coach and Business Development Consultant. To me, being a Recovery Coach is all about accountability. It’s about being able to show other’s the way. Even if we don’t have all the answers, we can draw from our own experiences, or, we have the added bonus of being able to use our team as a resource. Our role is essentially that of a lighthouse. All we can do is show people how to stay away from the rocks. Though it may not always be smooth sailing, we’re all here to give people the best chance at recovery that we possibly can.

2.) What is one of the most valuable things you have learned or experienced being in recovery?  
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned in recovery is how to identify with somebody and not compare. Though it may be “easy” to compare and say, “I’m not like them. They’re not like me.” it takes true growth to be able to find commonality, as opposed to picking apart our differences. That’s the only way in my eyes, to help somebody else. Gratitude is also at the top. Gratitude has changed my life. If it weren’t for the capacity to be grateful and to define things that I am grateful for, I would not be where I am today; and every single day would be infinitely more difficult.

I’d say the most valuable thing I’ve experienced in recovery is the love and the willingness to help a complete stranger. That has blown me away from day one, and still does today. Someone who does not know you, will walk up to you and give you a warm welcome and express their gratitude for your presence, and truly show that someone cares about you – even when we often come into recovery not caring about ourselves.

3.) What is it about helping others to recover that you enjoy the most?
What I enjoy most about helping others, is that there’s always something to learn. There’s always room to improve. And truthfully it’s a two-way street. We’re never just a student or a teacher. If we are open and willing, there is always a way to learn from somebody. So having the blessing of being able to work with others, and learn from their experience, while sharing my own, is really fantastic. Nothing I’ve ever done is as consistently rewarding as it is to try to help somebody else.

4.) What has been your most memorable experience working in the field of addiction?
My most memorable experience while working in the field of addiction, is probably seeing some of the guys I’ve worked with through their first 30 days of sobriety – spending hundreds of hours with them. Watching them struggle. Trying to help them get to a place where they can grow, and change. But, I got to see him a year later, still sober, still trying to do the next right thing. That is why I do this work. I can’t take responsibility for people’s successes or their slip-ups. All I can do is try to help show the way. And being a part of another person’s journey is truly a blessing.