Relapse Prevention Therapy

Posted on: Tuesday, March 10th, 2015  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

Hi there! Again, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’m so glad you are here! Today I’d like to share  a blog post from my friends at Maryland Recovery Center that is very dear to my heart.

Preventing Relapse through Treatment Collaboration and a Continuum of Care

If you would like to talk further about this, as always, we are here for you!

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Opioids and How to Help Those You Love Who are Addicted

Posted on: Monday, March 2nd, 2015  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

Thank you so much for joining me again! Today I’d like to talk to you about opioids, what they are and how to handle things when someone you love is abusing them.

Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.

Opioids are effective pain relievers if used only as prescribed, however, when abused, a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death. Regular use or abuse can lead to dependence and then to addiction, resulting in the individual increasing their dosages or intensifying their experience by taking the drug in ways that it wasn’t prescribed (by snorting or injecting, for instance).

Opioid abuse can happen easily and seemingly without conscious choice, meaning that you start off by taking an extra pill because the pain is bad and you think… “this won’t hurt me”…..but the pain doesn’t seem to get a lot better and then you take another, etc. etc.  Opioids tend to fool you and lose their efficacy and you find yourself taking more and more.

Opioid use can lead to abuse which can lead to dependence and the need to increase the dosage to get the same effect (the same pain relief, the same high) that they originally felt, if that even happens. Folks often find themselves chasing the pain relief and chasing the high, never to really find either.

This can just be a terrible state, and you can feel just awful, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  You can loose faith that you’ll feel better, and if you start to feel the desperation of pain (whether real or imagined) you can develop a sense of fear and hopelessness.

If you know someone who is suffering from opioid abuse or addiction, contact Susan Berlin and Associates today. We will help you to break the addiction cycle and work with your loved one to manage their pain.


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Adoption: What Parents and Clinician Need to Know

Posted on: Tuesday, February 17th, 2015  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

By Cathy Roberts, MS, LCPC.  Cathy is in private practice in Rockville, MD and holds a Certificate in Adoption Competencies from the University of Maryland School of Social Work.  Cathy is a good friend and colleague of mine and I wanted to bring you her writing on this important topic of Adoption.

The majority of adopted children are emotionally healthy. That said, adopted children and teens receive mental health services in disproportionate numbers to their non-adopted peers. Two percent of the general population is adopted however between 5 and 17 % of adolescents receiving mental health services are adopted. The figures skew even larger when we look at the numbers of young people in residential treatment. Twenty-five to 30% of adolescents in residential treatment are adopted.

Recently I visited an intensive outpatient treatment center for adolescents. Adoption is a specialty area for me so I asked the director about the number of adopted children in the program. On that particular day, over 50% of the teens enrolled in the program were adopted! Now there may be many reasons for this which I will not touch upon in this article. Nevertheless the numbers are significant. As both parents and mental health providers (Full disclosure: I am an adoptive mother and licensed professional counselor), we must be aware of the unique needs of adopted persons of all ages, especially those entering the vulnerable child and teen years.

The losses and trauma unique to adopted persons can include memories of birth families and countries of origin, disrupted attachment, and identity development challenges.  When youth grapple with these issues the scene is set for possible internal and familial conflict. Add to that the shame and trauma of both birth and adoptive families (everyone experiences both gain and loss in the adoption process), as well as the history of not talking about adoption in this country and we have a set up for children and families to have unrecognized and unmet needs. We can forget in the excitement and joy, that adoption is a process, not an event. Without adequate post-adoption education for parents and training for clinicians, we miss the mark in serving adopted children and their families.

My own child’s path through therapy was frustrating, until we encountered adoption competent mental health providers. And even then, her journey to health required over a decade of individual, group, and family sessions! My clients’ lives are enriched by my understanding of the loss and trauma inherent in the lives of all members of the adoption triad: birth families, adopted persons, and adoptive families.  There is a wealth of solid information available to support everyone involved in the adoption process. I trust that parents and clinicians will educate themselves about the potential joys and possible pitfalls for all whose lives are enriched by adoption.


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Me – (Drugs + Alcohol) = Cured?

Posted on: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

Sobriety at last! The dark cloud of misery caused by abusing substances finally cleared and blissful existence can appear. The pink cloud of early recovery takes center stage: the newfound mental clarity, praise from loved ones, and the feeling of invincibility from taking charge of life. Until a few weeks, maybe a month or two passes and one day that warm, fuzzy feeling fades faster than it came on. What now? The thrill of new sobriety disperses; now that the pink dust clears some other feelings emerge: depression, anxiety, guilt, and many other discomforting nags.

You are not alone. This happens to everyone, the alcohol and drug usage are primarily just a symptom of underlying problems begging to be addressed. Unlike drugs and alcohol, this isn’t a quick fix. This process will take time and patience. Instant gratification looks pleasing, but it will arrive carrying bags of consequences, so putting in the work is worth it. Alcoholism and addiction mimics stage four cancer: not only does one have to remove the tumor, but continue on with rigorous chemotherapy and radiation. Going to treatment is a great start, but continuing maintenance for recovery like group and individual therapy is where long-term sobriety occurs.

According to, here are some facts and tips to achieve successful recovery:

  •  Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
  • Counseling—individual and/or group—and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
  • Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
  • An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
  • Many drug–addicted individuals also have other mental disorders.

No one chooses recovery to be anything less than happy and don’t think that it’s impossible. Engaging group or individual counseling makes a world of difference; it will take you off of the sidelines and put you on a team that fights for your recovery and fulfilling life. With the help of licensed professionals who understand what you’re going through, the battle becomes a lot less daunting. You can do this, but no one can do it alone. Call for help today and let the journey to happiness begin. Call Susan Berlin at Susan Berlin & Associates and take the hand of someone who can help you walk through this journey to a better life.

Ashley Madden, the author of this post, is a talented writer that works for Lakeview Health as their Aftercare Coordinator. She is a person in long-term recovery and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in mental health counseling.  Her passion and dedication to the field of addiction and recovery moves me, as do her words.


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Marijuana: Harmless or Illicit?

Posted on: Monday, February 2nd, 2015  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

There’s been a lot of talk about the legalization of Marijuana lately, the “harmless” drug that’s famous for its impossibility of overdose and very few side effects, right? According to, “Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States. After a period of decline in the last decade, its use has been increasing among young people since 2007, corresponding to a diminishing perception of the drug’s risks that may be associated with increased public debate over the drug’s legal status.” While the physical side effects and consequences of using marijuana may be low compared to other illegal or prescription substances, the effect on one’s ability to live a happy and fulfilling life certainly bring up a red flag.

More and more adolescents and adults believe that smoking marijuana is a healthy and harmless way to cope with life.   In today’s culture, it is much easier to turn to a substance for a quick and easy way to solve a problem than to put in the work to fix it. The problem with this idea is that the substance won’t always be there to catch the fall and many people are left feeling depressed, anxious, confused, and hurt. The same cure-all that they used for many years now doesn’t work the same way, has caused financial stress, or has created a barrier between them and their cherished ones.

The quick and easy fix will always come with a plethora of side effects and negative consequences. Take a look at the fast food industry for example: yes, it does quickly and easily fix hunger, but causes a wide array of health and financial issues compared to grocery shopping and cooking a healthy meal at home. The “easier, softer” way comes with a lot of baggage. The results accomplished by putting in the work and being patient with yourself are well worth it. Learn to live happily without substances, get fulfillment again in the things that you once enjoyed, and watch your life flourish with possibility. Call Susan Berlin at Susan Berlin & Associates and take the hand of someone who can help you walk through this journey to a better life.


Ashley Madden, the author of this post, is a talented writer that works for Lakeview Health as their Aftercare Coordinator. She is a person in long-term recovery and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in mental health counseling.  Her passion and dedication to the field of addiction and recovery moves me, as do her words.

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Lead Your Family to Joy with Chris Bennett

Posted on: Tuesday, January 20th, 2015  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

Welcome again to my blog, I am so glad you are here! Today it is my pleasure to introduce another associate of mine, Chris Bennett!

Chris Bennett is a nationally recognized leader in helping families to create solutions in the midst of crisis and chaos. He has partnered with me to help the Washington DC community.  Together we will guide families in difficult situations by helping them maneuver through addiction, mental health disorders, or anything else that keeps your family from leading a joyous life.

Chris is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, Certified Intervention Professional and a Board Registered Interventionist. He specializes in addiction and mental health interventions, helping you wade through treatment options and settle on the right choice. He does this through an extensive evaluation process and provides ongoing family therapy during the entire process.

One of Chris’s specialties which is what I’m most excited about is Treatment Center Consultation.  If you have a friend or family member that is willing to go into treatment but doesn’t know where to go, Chris will do one of his extensive evaluations and help you decide based on his vast knowledge of over 300 treatment centers that he has visited.

He will consider all of the important issues that there are to know about when placing someone in treatment, he can even facilitate the admission, do the transport and follow your loved one through the treatment process and work with the family as the patient is in treatment.

I am very excited to be partnering up with Chris to bring his services to Susan Berlin & Associates and the DC, Maryland & Virginia area.

To review Chris’ credentials, visit You can also contact Chris Bennett directly at 202-333-1787.

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Top 10 most abused prescription drugs

Posted on: Monday, October 13th, 2014  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

What are the 10 most abused prescription drugs?

1/Oxycontin  2/Xanax  3/Vicodin …….see the other (7) at the end of this blog.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m always happy to see you!  It’s unfortunate that prescription drug abuse is once again in the news. Prescription drug abuse has become a nationwide epidemic in our wonderful country and it is showing up more and more in younger teens. 

Research has shown that the effects of a positive family environment can have everything to do with what path your child might take.  Sitting down and eating together, taking an interest in your child’s day, joining your child in an activity and even game night are all small actions that can have huge positives results. 

If you, your child or a love one is suffering from emotional problems and are headed down the path of substance abuse trouble, there is help for you! Everyday effective new counseling methods are being discovered to provide people with real results. It can be difficult though for most people to reach out for that first time. But that can be the catalyst that leads to amazing changes.

If you or someone you love is already way down the road in a drug abuse or addiction issue and are in search of a treatment center; visit and check out their incredible resources.

The folks at Maryland Addiction Recovery are good friends of mine and are doing such fine work in the Baltimore area.  If you live in or near that area and need some help or know someone who does I hope you seek them out.

Here are the (7) other most abused prescription drugs:

4/ Suboxone   5/Adderall   6/Valium   7/Percocet   8/Ambien   9/Fentanyl   10/Klonopin 


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Goodbye addiction…hello to a whole new way of living!….Krystal Davis in DC

Posted on: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

Whether this is your first time stopping by, or this is a regular visit for you, Welcome!

For those of you returning, you know that I’m occasionally guilty of bragging about my incredible associates! Krystal Davis is just one of those associates that you might be interested in meeting. She’s changing the way her clients think about their addictions and/or disorders and this is resulting in dramatically changed lives!

Krystal Davis is a licensed counselor and certified addictions therapist. Krystal has a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is one of the outstanding counselors you will find here at Susan Berlin and Associates in DC.

Krystal’s private practice provides addiction and recovery therapy. Her practice also includes working with sufferers of anxiety, eating disorders, trauma and depression.

Krystal is passionate about providing her clients with an atmosphere which is safe and compassionate. Helping her clients reconnect to their “authentic” self is a major part of the therapy that she offers. Krystal believes that allowing your authentic self to be a driving force in your life can lead to a deeper understanding of self and can lead to a profoundly fulfilling life.

Krystal is committed to helping her clients by uncovering their core strengths. Recovery is just the start. She helps her clients learn how to improve their coping skills, while tuning in to what might be the major contributing causes of their addiction. Krystal’s mission is to help unlock her client’s true potential and lead them to a life they previously only dreamed of living.

To review Krystal’s credentials, visit You can also contact Krystal Davis at 202-333-1787.


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Tragic Loss Highlights Underlying Causes of Substance Abuse in DC

Posted on: Monday, September 8th, 2014  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

Thanks for stopping by to visit with me and my associates!  Some days are so uplifting when there’s a happy event circulating across cyberspace.  Other times, like in the news as late, what appears to be the senseless loss of one of our country’s greatest entertainers is nothing short of heartbreaking.   It’s news like this that brings to light the lack of understanding the general public can have about the underlying causes of substance abuse or addiction.

Whether or not a better understanding of this National treasure’s experience with depression would have produced a different outcome is impossible to say. But for the millions of people who turn to substance abuse to get relief from their depression, this should be a heart wrenching wakeup call!

If you or someone you love is abusing drugs as a way to cope with their depression, my associates and I are here to throw you a lifeline! As therapists, we have great empathy for people that are suffering from depression and the other conditions that can lead to substance abuse.  We work with individuals everyday at our offices in DC whom are severely impacted by this condition. So it is no surprise, that we are much more aware than the general public is about the seriousness of depression. Don’t suffer in silence. We offer you a place where you can be heard, understood and given the experienced guidance you need to make your life one that you really want to keep on living!

Abstaining from substance abuse is not enough. If you haven’t addressed your underlying condition, a relapse is more likely. And in many cases, it could take away your desire to keep on living.  My associates and I are here with the credentialed experience that will make the difference in your life!

We invite you to do more than just visit us online.  We invite you to reach out to us and get the help you deserve!

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Substance Abuse Counseling in DC with Graham Hall LCPC

Posted on: Friday, July 25th, 2014  In: Blog  |  No Comments »

Welcome!  As I mentioned previously, I want to start introducing the therapists that I have the distinct privilege to be associated with. These wonderful counselors all bring their unique specialties to the proverbial “counseling table.”

Today I’d like to introduce you to Graham Hall LCPC. Graham has had a fascinating path to providing substance abuse counseling in DC. His previous vocation in life found him as a highly successful salesman for 15 years. Over those years it became increasingly obvious that closing the big deals wasn’t providing him with the career satisfaction that was so important to him. Graham found himself returning to school to complete his previous clinical training. This training prepared him for his work as a successful substance abuse counseling DC therapist.

Graham was subsequently offered a position at the Kolmac Clinic.  Kolmac Clinic ( is a prestigious clinic which offers substance abuse counseling in DC. After serving as Assistant Clinical Director at the Kolmac Clinic, Graham opened his own private practice. Besides quality substance abuse counseling in DC, he also offers services in anxiety and depression along with recovery-focused group psychotherapy.

One of the aspects of Graham’s counseling that separates him is his use of “maximizing the human potential.” He includes this as part of any substance abuse counseling in DC that he’s involved in. He believes that what his clients tell him holds that individual’s truth. It is then the job of the therapist to assist their client in identifying and separating that truth from the irrational thoughts that lead to undesired experiences and emotions. It is through explaining themselves that his clients learn to understand themselves and often discover their authentic selves.

As I previously blogged, I’ve expanded my services to include Treatment Center Placement and an Alcohol and Drug screening program for your clients that need an added layer of accountability in their substance recovery.  This can be an invaluable tool as part of a substance abuse counseling in DC program.

To get more information about an Intake Assessment, or to view Graham’s impressive credentials, please visit us at

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