"The reality I've learned is that if you have an emptiness in your life, caused by whatever, but essentially a lack of feeling that you are loved, then you will fill it desperately, because we all need to feel loved," says Dr. Mehmet Oz, heart surgeon, New York Times bestselling author of such works as You: The Owner's Manual, and Emmy nominated talk show host of The Dr. Oz Show.
Sharing his thoughts leading up to his keynote address Wednesday evening at the Caron New York 2010 New York City Gala, an annual fundraising event to raise money for addiction treatment scholarships, Dr. Oz continues: "The biggest mistake we make is that we go at it intellectually. People don't change what they do in life based on what they know. They change based on what they feel. So, the number one thing you should do is not say, 'You're stupid for smoking,' or doing crack cocaine or methamphetamines, or eating too much. You should just say 'I love you. I want you to love yourself as much as I love you. That's all I'm asking.' And when people hear that, it changes the equation."
Caron is a nationally recognized not-for-profit provider of addiction treatment with more than 50 years of experience in the field. Caron Treatment Centers has a residential treatment center in Wernersville, Pennsylvania; Renaissance Institute, an extended care treatment center in Boca Raton, Florida; and recovery centers in New York City and Bermuda. Caron currently has 338 beds on its campuses, and is set to open a new facility in Dallas, Texas.
In an evening including a silent auction, moving testimonials, and performances from Art Garfunkel and Patti LaBelle, who brought down the house with her heartfelt renditions of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Lady Marmalade," Douglas Tieman, President and CEO of Caron Treatment Centers stresses, "Tonight creates visibility for the cause. It really helps to demonstrate that this disease happens to people who are from Yale to jail. Addiction, unfortunately, strips a lot of people of their financial resources. They want to get help, and they just can't because they don't have insurance or money, and so that's why charity care becomes so important."
"When the gala came about, I thought 'Who is the best person? Who is the face of medicine right now? Who is America's doctor?' It's Mehmet Oz," claims Terence J. Noonan, Supervising Producer of The Dr. Oz Show and Creator/Executive Producer of Cupcake Dreams for TLC, who is very open about his own personal struggles with addiction. "I asked Dr. Oz, and there was not even a question about whether or not he would be here. I'm so grateful -- him being here and tackling addiction makes it more real for everybody. It can only make more people see it as a disease, and not that something is wrong with you."
Noonan continues: "One of the things I think we learned through the show('s episodes on addiction) is that Dr. Oz is a surgeon, so in his life he can go and stitch something up -- you take out a heart and you put in a new one, you can fix it. You can't fix addiction like that. It's a completely different thing. What we try and do is teach that it's what's underneath."
"I'm a heart surgeon," says Dr. Oz. "At the end of the day, it's a pretty black and white endeavor. With addiction, you don't do the surgery once, you do it every day. It's a continuing, recurring threat to your vitality. On the show, we've had remarkable success (with treatment of individuals struggling with alcohol and substance addictions), because Caron's good at it, and they understand the emotional side of it. They understand that when you're at rock bottom, you already know you're there. You just need someone to help you turn, because you're in a cave, clawing your way in the wrong direction, deeper and deeper into that tunnel, and when you hit the bottom, it's hard to spin around -- you need a little bit of a helping hand."
"Alcoholism and drug addiction is a family disease. It's primary, progressive, chronic, and, if not treated, fatal. We want to be aware of the fact that we really have to reach out to people. No one is going to pop by your office and say, "Hey, I'd like to stop drinking.' Sometimes it happens, but ultimately you have to motivate people," adds Harris B. Stratyner, Vice President and New York Regional Director of Caron Treatment Centers, as well as Vice Chair of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) Board of Directors.
Paul Hokemeyer, attorney and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist often featured on The Dr. Oz Show, weighs in to explain addictions to someone who might not understand them or has never experienced them firsthand. "If you suspect somebody has a problem with an addiction, chances are they do, so trust your instincts. The first thing you need to do is talk to them about it in a very non-judgmental, non-threatening way. Speak from the 'I,' say 'I think,' 'I'm concerned,' try to avoid the 'you' - 'You have a problem;' 'You drink too much.' Speak as much as you can from the heart. Tell them how you feel, tell them how their using has impacted you, how it makes you feel - 'I'm worried when you go out,' 'I never know when you're going to come home.' There is an enormous amount of shame around addictions. If somebody is still actively using and not ready to stop, he or she is going to deny, to rationalize, and try to reason. It's important to be as clear and honest as you actually can."
Tieman raises his voice to be heard over the rising din of the guests before rushing to kick-off the festivities with a warm welcome: "If you get good professional help, success is really likely. Addiction treatment works. People get well; addicts recover every day, if you get good help."
For more information on Caron, visit http://www.caron.org
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