Human Flourishing & Unconventional Recovery; Finding Personal Fulfillment & Challenging the Status Quo in Addiction Treatment, with Tripp Johnson

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Human Flourishing & Unconventional Recovery; Finding Personal Fulfillment & Challenging the Status Quo in Addiction Treatment, with Tripp Johnson
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ABOUT THE EPISODE:
If your son graduated from high school, was a nationally ranked tennis player, went to West Point, became an Army Ranger, served in Afghanistan, and went to law school, you might think all was good. But for Tripp Johnson, who achieved all of these markers of external success, life wasn’t all good. 

Tripp’s story takes us from sourcing drugs off the Dark Web to law school, a yoga mat, and ultimately, creating a whole-person focused treatment program for guys struggling with substance use.

This is a story you’ll definitely want to hear with insights for parents including:

  • why Tripp is so passionate about the concept of human flourishing and what that means to young people struggling with substance use
  • the powerful influence parents can have on their child’s choices and recovery
  • how Tripp’s early external success allowed him to not do the work he needed to improve his life and live without substances
  • why a lifestyle that includes Astanga yoga and daily meditation helped Tripp shift away from his “work hard, play harder” military mantra
  • reframing self-sabotage as “returning to comfortable”
  • why it’s important for parents and friends to know and recognize patterns around substance use in those they love
  • alternative paths people can travel to find a substance-free life
  • what Tripp believes parents really need to understand, based on his day to day experiences with young adult guys who are struggling with substance use issues
  • a peek inside what it’s like to be on the provider side of the insurance challenges with substance use and addiction treatment
  • The role efficacy plays in the insurance coverage conversation, and how we should be viewing efficacy for treatment programs
  • Ways to think about relapse and the nuances of recovery

It’s a wide-ranging and thought-provoking conversation that will leave you with new ideas around substance use, treatment, relapse, and recovery.

EPISODE RESOURCES:

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SPEAKERS:
Brenda Zane, Tripp Johnson
Brenda Zane  01:18
Welcome back, friends. So glad you’re here today listening, I am really inspired by the fact that you’re here. You’re learning new ideas, you’re broadening your knowledge around substance use around treatment, self care, relationships, communication, all of the things, you’re doing all of the things. And I think back to my time when I was in the thick of this journey, and it was hard, it was really, really hard and reaching out and getting yourself some support is incredibly smart. And it is actually really, really good self care. So really happy that you’re here. I’m glad to be able to share today’s episode with you. 
Brenda Zane  02:02
My guest is Tripp Johnson. He’s the CEO and founder of Green Hill Recovery in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has a pretty interesting and unique story of personal recovery, and also is extremely passionate about the concept of human flourishing, which we get into in our conversation. Tripp has an interesting mix of experiences and practices. He’s a very interesting blend of things. He is a West Point graduate, he was an Army Ranger spent time in Afghanistan, went to law school. And he also had a pretty unbalanced life during that time using substances. And that was before he found Ashtanga Yoga, and meditation. We covered a lot of ground talking about his personal journey. We talked about the business of the treatment world, and what some of the challenges are around that, and especially around insurance coverage, which I know you all feel the pain of that. And we also spent some time discussing relapse and recovery and how Tripp thinks about both of those. He even sneaked in some Aristotle philosophy on me. So you’re going to want to hear that it is a great, great discussion that will I think, give you some new ways to think about the concept of treatment, what that looks like for different people, and also what recovery can look like for different people. So with that, please listen in now to this fascinating conversation with Tripp Johnson.
Brenda Zane  03:46
Tripp Johnson, welcome to hopestream. I’m thrilled to have you here. And I’m really glad to be able to have a conversation with you. I think this is going to go in a lot of different directions. We were talking just a minute ago and I said, you know, normally I’m pretty on point with one topic, but I feel like you’re the kind of guy where we can roam a little bit. So welcome to the podcast.
Tripp  04:06
Thank you so much for having me. And hopefully I’m not too tangential because I have that.
Brenda Zane  04:12
That’s okay, we like tangents. Here. I go off on my own tangent every once in a while. I think my listeners are used to it. It usually has to do with ADHD, the book beyond addiction insurance. So lots of things that we might talk about today. Those are kind of my hot buttons. Yes, so I would love to get a little bit of background from you before we dive in, just to give people context for who you are kind of where you’re coming from. A little bit about your journey so that we can get grounded in where you’re coming from for this conversation.
Tripp  04:47
Sure. So currently I am the CEO of Green Hill recovery, which is a transitional living program in Raleigh, North Carolina. We also have community outpatient program, and I am launching and new medical practice this kind of a sister company. So that will have all of our psychiatry and primary care and house for for that. And that’s called a beta integrated medicine and never expected to be in healthcare much less treatment. And yet, here we are having this conversation.
Brenda Zane  05:22
Here you are, here you are, yeah, isn’t it funny how life just kind of lead you to where you’re supposed to be. And I love how you’re integrating everything into one space. That’s one of the frustrations. I know I felt when I was going through this with my son is like I had to go to this place for this and this place for that. And it’s hard enough to get these kids just get to get them breakfast in the morning, let alone 17 different locations for different services. So that’s really cool. Let’s talk about a little bit about your journey to sobriety. I know that when we’ve talked in the past, it didn’t necessarily take the normal what I would put in air quotes normal course. So maybe you can bring us up to speed on your journey to where you are now from a sobriety standpoint.
Tripp  06:10
Sure. So I’ll start back from my childhood, I grew up with just wonderful loving parents, they’re, you know, still together still in the same house I grew up so everything was kind of picture perfect minus most of my behavior. And when I was probably 10 to 16, I spent the vast majority of my time playing tennis, I was a pretty highly ranked national tennis player wanting to go play at Stanford or play in the sec at Georgia, something like that. And I had always pushed off my social life. And when I decided that I was actually I got hurt once I broke my ankle playing tennis and then got suspended for my attitude. And that left me with a lot of free time. And I said, Well, hey, this social life that I’ve been putting off pursuing my dreams and being a very passionate, young person, now I’m just gonna do what everyone else is doing. 
Tripp  07:06
But I’m going to do it a little bit more, a little bit harder. And so when I started to drink and smoke pot, that was pretty normal, but I just did it a lot more even from the beginning, as my friends I always had kind of an on and off switch where we’re going to be really serious. And then we’re gonna you know, the work hard play hard kind of mentality. And I didn’t know what I was going to do my tennis careers and kind of my tennis career had gone downhill to some extent there wanted to make my parents proud. So I looked at prestigious schools with crappy tennis teams. And that’s actually how I found my way to West Point. And I always feel bad because West points such an incredible institution. Yeah, really how I originally discovered it. And of course, you know, I don’t know how all the stories we tell ourselves, but I created an A whole narrative that this is what I always wanted to do. And that this was really me on the right path. And I think in a lot of ways, it was so good. There are a lot of paradoxes in life. 
Tripp  08:05
So I went to West Point thought, Hey, this is gonna whip me into shape, right? I have something else after tennis to put all of my energy into this is it. And of course, I’m end up like the second week of school, being the first person to get in trouble for drinking in my class. And long story short, I kind of had a pattern for about six years where I would do something really well, like get into West Point, get arrested the next week for drinking, finish the freshman year or finish even before freshman year, right after we finished our basic training, get in trouble, you know, this pattern just repeated itself over and over. And to fast forward a little bit. I was coming back from a deployment to ended up barely graduating, let’s be clear, barely, barely graduated, went to Ranger School, graduated there, took a platoon went to Afghanistan, came back and took a really important trip with a good friend of mine who was a congressman, he was a very young congressman from New York, but took me up to LA. And we had a great time. But I was like, I’m missing something like my life is just not going the way I want. I don’t feel like I’m any closer to being the person I want to be. 
Tripp  09:16
And at that time, I also had the good fortune of my you know, sharing this information with my dad. And he’s like, I know this is gonna sound crazy. But watch this short, three minute video from an Alan Watts speech, and then read this book untethered soul, one of my absolute favorites, and I’m rereading it again right now. And I really think you might like this type of yoga. It’s called Ashtanga Yoga and it’s very kind of intense. I always say like, if you’re going to recruit someone for Ashtanga Yoga, like you’d be better served going to a CrossFit gym or in jujitsu studio, going to like a yoga studio, right? And so all of that came together and all of a sudden, my energy went from just the work hard, play hard. kind of trying to figure it out trying to think I I also was wrestling with like I actually liked the intellectual side of things and I was in our in the army in the infantry feeling like that was very kind of tamp down so I needed to get out of that environment but got really into yoga and meditation practice thing kind of every morning you know waking up at four meditating for an hour, practicing yoga. 
Tripp  10:24
And then I knew I was getting out of the army I was still doing at this point six. And I think my brain also developed largely, and all of a sudden, the risky behaviors were kind of lower, I had probably just become a normal social drinker kind of thing. And then didn’t know what I wanted to do. So once again, trying to meet my parents expectations, it was law school or business school, or so I thought, I ended up going to law school did about a year and a half, and then left, because I had the opportunity to help start Green Hill. And as we started to open Green Hill, I started to just question my relationship with alcohol at all and say, Hey, like, if I’m going to be in this line of work, I mean, I should have probably gone to treatment earlier. Even though I have a grip on things now it feels better for me just not to not to drink. And a lot of that came from kind of the Eastern traditions, you know, really shunning any sort of intoxicants, any mind-altering substances, so we can really, you know, try and reach enlightenment, which is my goal is not there yet. Yeah. 
Brenda Zane  11:33
Wow, that’s an incredible story, a couple of things kind of stood out to me when you were talking about that, because I hear this frequently from parents is this kind of tendency for kids to self sabotage, so they’ll achieve something and then it’s almost like they Oh, like, Oh, I did that, um, you know, maybe somebody isn’t expect me to go to the next level. So then they do something that really sabotages themselves is that kind of a trait that you saw in yourself and that you’ve worked on or because that just sounds really familiar?
Tripp  12:07
Absolutely. And I always the way I equate it, I’ve kind of reframed it from the self sabotage, to going back to what’s comfortable, because every time you do that self sabotage, right? Like you do something really well. And it’s not just the expectation that you have to do it again, or keep doing it. But now all of a sudden, you’re kind of at a new frontier, everything’s new again. And if I just blow it up, then my life becomes very, it becomes a lot smaller, like the world is very expansive. When you’re on the right track. And when you, you do things really well, you get more and more opportunities. And there’s opportunities, I think, can just become overwhelming. Like, I know, I follow these patterns of kind of expansion and contraction within myself now. And I noticed when I start expanding a ton, like it’s, it can become chaotic. And the quickest way to deal with that is just to blow it up, and have to deal with what’s right in front of you. So I think every time I did something, well, I unintentionally wanted to make my life simpler, and just getting in trouble. And getting out of that issue, that current problem, actually made my life seem easier.
Brenda Zane  13:16
Right? So how do you how have you managed to work through that, because I totally see that I can totally see that. And I liked your expansion and contraction, I think that’s a really great way to look at it. So if you recognize that, how do you stop yourself from doing that? Like, what’s the thought process? Or what are your habits for saying, Oh, I’m feeling the tendency to make life comfortable? Again, how do you push through that?
Tripp  13:44
It’s mostly the people I surround myself with, we talk about a lot of it openly, right? Whether it’s my wife, whether it’s my business partner, or people on our team, and we somewhat joke that I go, you know, and it’s not, maybe it’s a joke, maybe it’s not funny, but I have very high ups, you know, low downs kind of thing. And I just have to monitor that and know that it’s going on and having seen the pattern play out so many times, you know, when things are going really well, I’ve learned that that’s going to come to an end. And when things are not going well, I’ve learned that’s going to come to an end. But it took years of studying that pattern and seeing it over and over to realize like hey, this is all in flux, it’s all gonna change. So but my advice is, in general, make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who kind of know your patterns and your cycles, and then just talk about it.
Brenda Zane  14:34
Right? It’s It is important and to be able to talk about it without a lot of I think judgment about it, like oh, you always do this. See you always do this because from a parent’s standpoint, you can see it much more clearly in your kids, right? And it’s tempting to jump in and be like, see, you always do this, but having a more supportive conversation around that and just being honest about what it is because I think we Probably all do it to some extent, you know, because our brains are conditioned to like, just stay safe stay with what you know. So when you see those changes, and it’s like, oh, I’ve come to this new level, yikes, this is really scary, because I don’t know what’s next.
Tripp  15:16
Right? And then yeah, you have too many options. And that can be overwhelming. It’s like, going to the grocery store. And how many types of mustard do you need?
Brenda Zane  15:25
Right, exactly. The other thing that you said that I thought was really interesting, is that you had this conversation with your dad. And that is really interesting, because it means that you had a connection still, even though you were potentially out doing some things that a lot of times parents, you know, they look at, and they’re like, Oh, this kid’s on the wrong path. You clearly still had a relationship with your dad, and enough of a relationship that you would actually listen to his thoughts and his suggestions. Maybe you can tell us a little bit more about what your relationship was like with your parents while you were kind of on this other path. What gave you the connection to listen to him when he made those recommendations?
Tripp  16:09
with us, could be a few hours. So I always I look back. And I really think my parents did just about everything, right? And somewhat, you know, in a lot of ways, and I think they let go appropriately when it was no longer their problem. I mean, and on paper to be clear, right? I graduated high school, I was a great tennis player, I played tennis all through college, took us to a Patriot League Championship, was an Army Ranger, West Point grad, like it all looked good, right? So yeah, and I think that that was something that allowed me not to do the work for a long time, right. But when it comes to my parents relationship, I just I always feel bad. I feel like I for the next 20 years will be kind of repairing the relationship with my parents to some extent. I mean, I think we have a great relationship now. 
Tripp  16:59
But I always one of the things was I think my mom was frustrated with me than my dad, and I think she was way more concerned that what I was doing was really far outside the bounds. And sometimes it was, and my dad always, it always seemed like there was an easier place to go back to I was also probably just a lot meaner to my mother, which makes me you know, cringe now. Yeah. But having that open line of communication that was just totally nonjudgmental was super helpful. I think that, like, if there was one thing that especially kind of my dad’s really, you know, my relationship with my dad was just that we would talk about anything, and we still do, like, my mom doesn’t want to hear anything about business. Money scares her. She’s got, she’s got her MBA, but she doesn’t want to talk about my business, my, you know, personal stuff. But my dad’s always just curious about what’s going on. So I think that at, you know, bringing that curiosity was super helpful for me.
Brenda Zane  17:59
And it sounds like he really knew you because he wasn’t saying you need to go to this 30 day inpatient rehab program, he suggested a book, and some yoga, and just that, that seems like a really insightful recommendation that he made based on him knowing you as a person.
Tripp  18:18
And this was largely his path. I mean, my patterns in his are very similar, were very intense and driven. And he got into yoga and meditation really, when he retired. And he’s like, I think this is what you were looking for. So yeah, I mean, certainly a lot of insight. And it worked.
Brenda Zane  18:37
Yeah. Wow, that’s, that’s really cool. I think it’s what I love about that is, it shows that there’s not just one way to make changes in your life, especially when it comes to substance use, regardless of how bad it is, there are options, and we’ll talk about this. And it’s kind of funny talking to the guy who obviously, you know, owns and runs a treatment program. But I have heard and I find it fascinating that people can recover without going to formal treatment programs, and I don’t have a statistic, maybe you do, it’s probably something I should look up and know that people really do. And I think it’s probably a combination of like you said, the brain developing right? the prefrontal cortex is coming together, different opportunities, willingness, but do you see that? Like, do you have other stories of people who have done similar things?
Tripp  19:31
Plenty. I mean, I think it’s especially common I think in these so I say the yoga community and meditation community, you see it a lot. I mean, you see a ton of people who get into their practices, especially the spiritual practices, I’m sure the same could be set of more tradition and all our Abrahamic religions and traditions, but especially in the Ashtanga community, there’s a huge movement of people in recovery in that world as well as with, you know, most meditation kind of groups, there’s, I don’t want to say it’s 50/50. 
Tripp  20:05
But if you do take, especially some of the, you know, doctrines seriously, they tell you not to right. So yeah, but then you find a lot of people who are seeking for meaning, right. And I think that substance use especially, you know, really problematic substance use is often to just kind of calm our voice internal monologue down, we just want to lower the volume. And the alternate path is to really pay attention to what’s being said, or are you even that voice maybe I think there are a lot of people doing this Taylor hunt is a yoga instructor who’s got a lot of, he’s got a big following. He wrote a great book away from darkness that is about his journey. And he integrates a lot, and he’s got a foundation that will actually pay for people who are in recovery or trying to enter recovery will pay for their Ashtanga classes, anywhere in the country. Find instead, it’s called the trainee Foundation, it’s incredible. So that Yeah, there are a lot, there is a lot of these alternative kind of paths. 
Brenda Zane  21:08
That is great to know. Because as parents when we start googling, right at two o’clock in the morning, when your kids in trouble, and you’re looking for options, those options tend not to come up, the only ones you see are the 800 numbers flashing for whatever program. And I’ll make sure to put all of these resources in the show notes for people, so you don’t have to try and write them down right now. But that is really interesting. And I think my question would be, even if so somebody is misusing substances, and they get to this point where they’re like, you know, this isn’t really working for me like it used to, I am starting to see my patterns, I’m starting to listen to that voice that says I want something different. And they maybe want to try something like a yoga, you know, right now it’s considered alternative. But that chemical hook has been set. So is there a point where you still do have to like, go do detox? I’m just thinking of the physiology versus the psychology? You know what I mean?
Tripp  22:14
And I’m super unqualified to speak on it. But especially, I mean, absolutely. I mean, you can have a seizure, you can die from detoxing without medical supervision. So right. I mean, there’s a huge role of treatment of, you know, the medical model of alternative therapies of community support groups like 12, step, recovery, Dharma, smart recovery, like all of these play a role. And I think sometimes we just get dogmatic in our camps about what either works or doesn’t. And we just need to kind of give a little bit more respect to people who are taking a different path.
Brenda Zane  22:53
Right, right. Yeah. And I’m not qualified to speak on that either. It just seems like there could be situations where somebody really, truly wants to try some of these things, but they need some of the medical intervention to allow their brain the space and the healing to be able to do that. So okay, that was just a question I had. So you obviously own and run a treatment program, and it’s for younger guys write in the what, what’s the age range that you typically serve?
Tripp  23:23
Depending on the program, we have mostly 18 to 26, sometimes 18 to 30.
Brenda Zane  23:29
Okay, and it’s guys. And, you know, parents love to hear from people like you, because use that what they’re seeing is they’re seeing one human being in their home that they’ve known since birth, right? It’s just like, are you’ve given birth to this person? And so it’s really hard to see any sort of trends or any sort of objective viewpoint because you love this person more than yourself. So I love to hear from people like you who see people who aren’t your child, who, over time and repetition, you start to see some patterns emerging some trends, what are some things that you see in the guys that you serve that you think parents need to understand?
Tripp  24:15
It’s a good question. I think our program generally because we have one that is more insurance-driven, and one that falls more kind of under a private pay. And they’re actually just differences demographically. And some of that often in our transitional living program. We’re not dealing with the most severe substance use disorders. I mean, a lot of times it is, you know, there’s serious there’s problematic substance use for sure. And there’s, you know, more Co-occurring mental health concerns, whereas there are still a lot of the same co-occurring mental health but in our community-based program, I think we were dealing with people often in a much more raw state also they’re coming in without you necessarily having gone to treatment, whereas in our transitional living, they’ve already gone through, you know, 30 to 90 days of, of treatment. So they’re coming in a little bit different place. But I mean, and also just the proliferation of online drugs, right? Like the dark web is very real and serious. I mean, that’s how we got around the rules in the army was we were the first ones, you know, on the Silk Road, back in the day. But that’s it’s a serious concern, especially just like what can be ordered online. And it’s all to me, what we see mostly is polysubstance use, you know, it’s not the idea that someone’s an alcoholic, or that they’re a drug addict, or they only use something, I think, again, to me, from my own experience, it’s usually just used to, you know, turn down the volume internally.
Brenda Zane  25:50
Okay. So there’s a purpose behind what they’re doing. It’s not just happenstance, like, Oh, I just picked up these drugs, because I had nothing else to do. And that’s part of I know, you’re a big fan of beyond addiction, and that the craft method, and I think that’s something that gets overlooked when we’re talking to parents, especially is that this makes sense. There is a reason why your child is doing this. And until you understand that it can just be maddening.
Tripp  26:18
Yeah, I actually think that well, I won’t go on a rant about freewill. But I do think that there’s a lot to be said for people do not appear to be rational actors. But they’re in every moment rational with what’s going on internally. Right. And so it doesn’t make sense. But actually, it does, it always, actually makes sense to that person in the moment.
Brenda Zane  26:41
Right? And do you think that the guys that you work with, do they understand that? Like, Are they aware of the fact that they are solving a problem for themselves? Or are they just as confused? Maybe as the parents and friends and siblings that are watching them sort of self-destruct?
Tripp  27:01
I think it’s really nuanced. It probably depends on the person. I think that a lot of people it does seem like the default, or it seems like the thing to fit in, but that fitting in is solving a problem, right? Like it’s always solving some problem, whether it’s your anxiety or your depression, or trying to fit in socially, there’s always some problem, we’re moving towards us. I mean, our brains are just problem-making and problem-solving machines, though. Your mind won’t let you settle very easily. So I think that’s always what’s happening. It’s just it’s tough to identify. And it’s, it’s even tough to without a ton of introspection to know that it’s going on.
Brenda Zane  27:40
Yeah, because I think for the younger ones, especially, you’re combining a lot of peer pressure, a lot of wanting to fit in with the inks inside. So it could appear like wow, I’m just trying to fit in, like I’m just hanging out with the guys, where there’s also like an underlying reason. But once you get to be maybe 26 or 27, or 32, and you’re still doing those things, that’s a telltale sign that okay, you’re not trying to just fit in with the kids in high school anymore. Right? Yeah. Okay, so the that’s, that’s good insight, I always like to ask that just because you have a different vantage point than us. So I know, you know a lot about insurance. And actually today’s podcast episode that just came out, it’s what is today, September 16th. is all about insurance coverage. So I’m excited to have this another sort of viewpoint on this because I call it the I word, I always have to do a little meditation before I start thinking about it, because it’s so frustrating, causes so much financial devastation for families. And so sort of in thinking about the current state of treatment that’s out there and available, the insurance conundrum that we all get faced with. What are your thoughts about kind of what’s what’s happening? what’s changing? Like, what do you see going on with that? Because I’m sure it’s got to just be a pain in the neck for you to?
Tripp  29:17
Yes, so I’m going to try and start this actually with an analogy that was something that I will likely be facing myself in a few years. I don’t have kids right now, but that’s hopefully coming soon. At that point, you figure out where are your kids going to go to school? Right, yeah. And you know, if you are privileged, you may move school districts to engage in public school, or you may choose private school. And I think insurance is often a lot you know, very similar. We want what’s best for our our children, and for ourselves if it’s a health care for us. And a lot of times what is offered with insurance driven options isn’t doesn’t seem great or it Doesn’t seem like the best. And we want to think that if we just put them in the best environment for a little bit, things will be fixed. 
Tripp  30:08
And so like for me, I, I’m a public school person all the way. And as I started to think about having kids, though, I’m like, I don’t know if I want them to go to these public schools. Right? Right. And so I have to really challenge myself, as I think our you know, I hate the term industry, that would be my word, but you know, our field and pour generally in healthcare, because this also spans beyond just what we consider substance use treatment. Sure, yeah, there’s a huge barrier to building an insurance-driven program. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to be trying to do it. And we need, we need people who are passionate about actually providing quality resources and figuring it out within the confines of insurance. And I’ll say like, sometimes you’ll lose money doing this, I mean, we lost a lot of money, trying to build an insurance-driven program. And now it’s going in the right direction, financially, it’s sustainable. And I did that knowing we would do it, I knew we would lose money, but we needed to go ahead and get in-network. And then we needed to advocate what we need to be paid in order to provide it. And the thing is, insurance companies want good coverage, like they want. 
Tripp  31:20
All this all comes down to them the actuarial data, you know, so if this is preventing ER visits, they’re all for it, they would love to pay for IoT or even residential treatment, which I know there are a ton of problems with insurance coverage for residential treatment. But we have to make the case that like, there are good people out there trying to provide this work. And sometimes like as, as what I call social entrepreneurs, we have to go out there. And, you know, really try and make it happen even when the numbers don’t look as good as what we can do on the private pay side.
Brenda Zane  31:56
Right. So in network, that’s a term that we’re very familiar with, as you’re doing the search at two o’clock in the morning, looking for a program? And is it just sort of from the inside? vantage point? I’m assuming that if you’re creating an in network program, there’s a lot of boxes that you have to check as far as what you’re offering? Like, is that is it just a much, much harder process to set that up? Because, you know, I think we just don’t understand as consumers, what does that actually mean? And what does it entail?
Tripp  32:29
Well, there are a ton of misnomers about it. One, it is not that hard to become in network. In a lot of cases, there are hoops to jump through, though. And then there’s ongoing documentation that you’re, you know, providers have to do. It’s also very frustrating it can be it’s a lot of back and forth emails, it’s a lot of paperwork. But there are also companies that this is all they do is help you contract and credential. So if it’s something you want to explore, also, there’s a often a misnomer about how much you’ll be paid if you’re in network. And it just varies a lot. So you should really explore it is what I would challenge everyone, as you say you want to, you know, to me, it always goes back, I’m looking at the whole system. What does someone who provides these services, what should they be paid? And, you know, for a therapist for us, like we you don’t pay a therapist, $30,000, right. So we need to make enough money to pay for them. And lo and behold, though, when you start running the numbers of you know, and including overhead, you quickly realize that you can actually sometimes do a lot more with what insurance will cover then, then it’s kind of in our world. Expected people just think it’s like that you’ll never get paid anything for it.
Brenda Zane  33:47
Okay, so you have to as a provider, not obviously, these are more parents listening that if you are in the provider world, you just have to do your homework and figure that out, figure out that math, and for parents who are looking because I know that when I was looking, I could get a 30 day program cover, you know, after my deductible, but at 17 with an addiction to Xanax and fentanyl. I knew a 30 day program was like I mean nice for 30 days, but that was not going to solve our problem. wilderness therapy was not covered residential treatment was not covered so we paid out of pocket sold a house, you know the things that people do. And yet when my son overdosed, and the hospital bill was $250,000 insurance paid for that. So it just I think that’s the maddening thing for parents is we just don’t understand why is it this way? Why is it so hard to get our kids the treatment that they need, but if they end up in the hospital or the ER then insurances happy to cover that?
Tripp  34:52
Well, it’s tough. I think there’s a lot of promising stuff happening and I hope that especially in mental health and substance use fields that, that we try and work more collaboratively with insurance because ultimately there, it’s not it, it always feels pretty contentious between providers and insurance companies. But that’s it doesn’t have to be that way. If we do a better job proving efficacy, really showing what we’re doing and how it works, and how it saves our healthcare system money in the long term, then we’ll we’ll be able to advocate to be paid more, the insurance companies don’t care, right? Like they just, they want to make sure they can provide coverage to their clients, whatever they call them, network participants is right on the provider side. So I think that that’s the important piece is really trying to work with them and show efficacy.
Brenda Zane  35:45
And do you think efficacy is I’m so glad that you mentioned that, because what I see is like my son went to I don’t know, I want to say five different programs. And if you were to measure efficacy within the year after he finished that program, it would, you would say, well, it failed, this treatment program completely failed, because this kid is still out doing these things. Now, seven years later, he’s doing amazing. And he credits all of those programs for all the skills that he learned for the time that his brain was not under the influence of drugs. So the question of efficacy seems really hard, because you might have to measure that seven 810 years down the road.
Tripp  36:29
I’m gonna challenge that and say it’s probably even longer down the road. And that this is where as humans, our lifespan is not actually conducive to us having long term thinking, right? And longitudinal data is the name of the game. And that’s why I do think even participating in insurance panels, even if you’re not in network, but they’re collecting a lot of data. And this is how we slowly progress the science forward is. But one thing I’ll say, like in the recovery field, is how do you think an insurance company feels when, hey, you know, they’ve been they’ve been sober for three years, but they smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. And now we’re gonna have to deal with the cardiologist bill. You know, so what did treatment do? You know, and we just have to put our insurance hats on for, right and it’s just, it’s difficult. It’s very nuanced.
Brenda Zane  37:27
It is it is. Well, I think, you know, it’s an ongoing conversation that I’ll be having just to help parents understand and and like the episode today with Virginia Hallman, it’s Episode 79. If you’re listening, not in real time, you know, she just talks about, you have to be an advocate, you have to just get in there, get yourself educated just like you do about the, you know, disease of addiction, like you have to do it. And it’s a lot and you’re already exhausted, because you’re already fighting so many battles with your child, but you can make changes. And you know, she fought the system, she happens to be an insurance claims lawyer, so that was helpful for her. But as a parent, you can’t advocate for your child, and you have to and for your finances. Yeah, cool. So with the last couple of minutes that we have, one of the topics that comes up that I people in my community in the stream, which is a community for moms, they always want to know is about relapse. So we’re kind of going back to your experience yourself, but also with the guys that you work with and see. relapse is so confusing for parents, it’s so devastating. They feel like they failed, they feel so this kind of goes to the efficacy conversation. What do you see with the relapse, and with the guys that you work with, with the families in your family program? Any words of either encouragement, advice, solace for parents?
Tripp  38:56
I always struggle with this one in the sense that the fact that we use success is a very binary, when is the last time you use that just doesn’t make sense. And you know, there are plenty of people who will enter abstinence based recovery and might start drinking later in life again, I’ve know plenty of people like that, and it does happen. And sometimes especially, I’m not encouraging everyone to experiment. But I think we have to be more nuanced with this. I think that’s why we’ve talked about community reinforcement approach the book beyond addiction. Let’s let’s look at all of life. And let’s see all the things that are also going well and let’s focus let’s not, let’s not myopically focused on one number, which is how many days or weeks or years that you’ve been sober because there are a lot of angry dry drunks, as they say, right? 
Tripp  39:50
And yes, and we need to focus on and this is my way I get to sneak in what I want to talk about human flourishing like it is all about. That’s what we’re After every single person wants to live a life where they feel like they have profound purpose, they wake up, motivated to engage with the day. And that’s I think, like, ultimately what we’re getting after and why, like with your example with your son, there’s so many little things that may have been unlocked about like, how do I find my purpose through treatment. And then when you put when you looks like you put it all together, you just you don’t know when that moment is going to be where it all seems to sink in.
Brenda Zane  40:28
Right? I love human flourishing, that’s such a good term, because that’s what we want for our kids is for them to flourish. I actually was in a, an online support group the other night, and we talked about what does recovery look like to you, this was a group of parents, and they all were putting in the, in the zoom chat, what it looked like, and not one of them said, my, my son or daughter doesn’t use any drugs or alcohol, right? It was all I want them to be independent, I want them to be thriving, I want them to be engaged in life. And so I love that term human flourishing, because it really encapsulates the dreams that we have as parents, for our kids.
Tripp  41:07
And just a plug. That’s Aristotle, the word is your diamond here. And when I came across that I was like, oh, my goodness, this is the word that really sums it all up. So this is back to, you know, arrested in logic and meaning. Yeah.
Brenda Zane  41:22
So is that a focus at green hills, like you, instead of maybe talking about sobriety? Are you talking more about things like human flourishing?
Tripp  41:30
I would say, okay, and I think they obviously can be very related. But and when we look at it, you know, we’re really focused on what are the things you want to accomplish in your life? How do we, if you don’t know, how do we help you find that out? What experiences do you need to come up with something that you actually really, really want to do? And then and then once we have that thing you really want to do, let’s help you work towards that and get all the experiences you want. And let’s be on the lookout for the things that aren’t going to get in the way which are likely drinking, drug use, etc. And so let’s just get the right Northstar and help you stay aligned to that.
Brenda Zane  42:06
Yeah, that’s great. It is hard. And they think there’s the difference when you kind of talk about quote unquote, relapse of the occasional like, Oh, I had a drink. I don’t know, does that mean I’ve relapsed versus a younger person who has gone to treatment, and then is right back in the exact same lifestyle that they came from? Which is the really, really challenging part for parents? Yeah. Cool. Well, if I can give you a billboard, in downtown Asheville, or wherever, whatever city, you want Raleigh, what would it say just based on your, your passions, your experience your work?
Tripp  42:47
So my billboard would say, you are not the voice in your head, you’re the one who hears it. And I think this identifying with that incessant jerk in your head, is the single most important thing we can do. And from, you know, kind of the contemplative side, it’s obvious that you’re not the voice in your head. And yet, we, we just are hearing it and engaging with it all day. And if you don’t do that, if you just let it talk, and you just don’t pay attention, it’s okay. Yeah,
Brenda Zane  43:23
I love that. That is so great. I do see that as a big shift with kids, but also with parents, when you can make that shift to Oh, I’m actually watching this or I’m observing this. I’m not so caught up in it. It’s a massive difference in how people deal with things. Yeah. Any resources that you would recommend for parents that you have found to be either helpful or that you just personally love? And is there any work that you’re doing or like exciting things that we need to know about?
Tripp  43:55
So you’ve already mentioned the book beyond addiction that is always like the first thing I say and then they have the accompanying like 20 minute Guide, which for you probably talks about, I think those are great places to start. Because I think obviously this can be a life and death situation. That doesn’t mean that responding to everything and escalating it to the nth degree is the best way to deal with it. And I think that these resources really help lend some perspective and honestly don’t just don’t go to the straight Google rabbit hole look for you know, and I think what’s tough for parents is often you don’t really want to talk to your friends about your kids struggles, right? Like we’re all putting on this performance about how great our lives are and how great our kids are doing. But really, like the strong parent is the one who says hey, things aren’t going that well. I would like to find people who’ve dealt with this because like I need to help with dealing with it. Yeah, and anyone who’s selling like the magic bullet, you know, is it’s not ethical.
Brenda Zane  44:59
Yeah. It’s not magic. Yes, totally. And my listeners are tired probably of hearing, I feel like I should get a commission or something for all of the copies of,
Tripp  45:10
I can’t say how many given away, I know.
Brenda Zane  45:13
But it really is the resource that can, I think, bring understanding and knowledge, but also just, I just kind of like feel my blood pressure lower when I either when I talk to the folks at CMC, who are the authors of that book, they all just have this perspective, like we can, we can do this, we can deal with this, like, let’s look at it a different way. And it’s so refreshing versus the like, you know, like hitting you over the head with a hammer. What’s going on in North Carolina with recovery and with treatment and your programs?
Tripp  45:46
Yeah, I you know, a big focus of mine, I got into this, you know, by accident, and a lot of ways on the private pay side of things. And a lot of what we’re working on is building outpatient continuum of care, I really want to make sure that we are providing kind of clinically sophisticated treatment, that that goes beyond just kind of the walls of therapy, but how are we getting out in the community? How are we helping people engage, and there’s a lot of great stuff going on. In North Carolina, though, two of the things that I would love to highlight are one, the work at UNC horizons. Andre Jones is their executive director, she is probably one of the foremost experts in the world on substance use disorder treatment. And she consults with the World Health Organization samsa, un, basically everywhere and has done so on six of the seven continents. Wow. She’s one of my great mentors, as you can tell, I think very highly of her the program they have is is government funded to Medicaid and Medicare, but it is long term treatment for pregnant women and their children pregnant and nursing women, so up to kind of two years old. And it’s an incredible community resource, the data that they’re having, like when we start to think about how do we get insurance coverage for more, we didn’t talk about social determinants of health, but that’s a big one. 
Tripp  47:09
But you know, how do we help people find stable housing, how do we help them deal with, you know, hey, they’ve got a toothache. And they might be self-medicating because they haven’t had dental care. So UNC horizons is doing incredible work, and really producing a lot of transformative research that can move the field forward. As is, they may not be doing the research. But there’s a program in Raleigh called healing transitions. And it is a long term recovery program that will take anyone off the street. So you just show up, you work your way through that program, we have a number of people on our team who went through the healing transitions program, it’s often seen as kind of a last resort for people, a lot of guys have already, you know, the people we’re probably talking to right now, this would be after a few treatment episodes, you end up saying, Hey, we’re, we can’t afford this anymore. Like, this is what you get there in incredible organizations. And, and I view Green Hill, I mean, I am, it’s a for profit healthcare company. So the balance that we really have to be highlighting the work that some of these community-based organizations are doing, and look for ways to collaborate with them, because there’s a lot of good we can do them and vice versa.
Brenda Zane  48:21
That’s great. I love hearing about those, because again, you just don’t find those. And those are the ones that I agree they’re doing just such amazing work with people. And we really need to highlight those more for the families who are looking for like what is what is the resource, it’s going to help us so incredible, thank you so much for your time, and this great kind of scattered conversation with lots of different things. I love it. I love to get your perspective. And just I think it’s so real for parents, there’s only so much I can bring from, from my perspective. So hearing from somebody who’s in it in the day and day, talking with people dealing with families. It’s just incredible. So thank you for for being here.
Tripp  49:06
Well, thank you and we’re excited to learn more about your community. I had a great time checking that out and have thought very highly of your podcast and think that you bring a lot of great people on so I’m honored to be here.
Brenda Zane  49:19
Thank you. Yeah, it’s a great community. For anybody who’s listening the stream is just a place online for moms to get together it’s just moms I can’t do the dad thing yet I gotta figure out somebody who can do that. But you know, mom’s we have that umbilical relationship where it’s really hard so it’s just a place where we can be together and support each other and we teach a lot of craft skills so I do a lot of workshops based on beyond addiction and all that so yeah, you can check that out. 
Thank you so much for listening. You might want to download a free ebook I wrote called Hindsight: Three Things I Wish I Knew When My Son Was Misusing Drugs. It’s full of the information I wish I would have known when my son was struggling with his addiction. You can grab that at BrendaZane.com/hindsight. Thanks again for listening and I will meet you right back here next week.
If you’d like to receive my weekly email please go to www.brendazane.com/email and then watch your inbox each Wednesday for a special note from me.

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