Serenity is what many with drug or alcohol addictions seek, said Peter Healey, a licensed masters social worker and certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor. At his newly opened Serenity Recovery Services LLC in Fenton, he teaches better ways of achieving it.
"Finding that place of serenity more often, in reality, is what many are looking for when they find themselves in addictions," he said. "That is the place we would like to get, a healthy place."
Serenity Recovery Services recently opened its doors at 1122 N. Leroy St. in Fenton. Healey can provide substance abuse counseling, support and life coaching to individuals, groups and families.
Healey has been following Community Parent's Chasing the Dragon program in the news and plans to go see it filmed on Saturday, he said. He believes a factor in young people's heroin use is the accessibility of the drug. Heroin users often begin by using alcohol and/or marijuana, he added. When their guard is lowered, they might use more drugs or experiment with harder ones.
But addiction is a disease that's treatable, he said.
Throughout his 20-plus years of experience with addiction and recovery, Healey has helped thousands of people, he said. Originally from England, he has a masters degree in social work and worked for Broadway Lodge in Weston-super-Mare in the U.K. While living in England, he met his wife, Rebecca, a U.S. citizen, and later moved to Fenton.
"It just feels really good to be here in my hometown community, working in the town where I live," he said. "This is beyond a job for me. It really is a passion to complement the community."
Understanding addictions, to treat them
Addiction can include gambling, opiates like heroin, marijuana, prescription drugs, alcohol, or cocaine. And as someone becomes addicted, it takes over the brain. The brain's dopamine system changes, so the individual has less interest in usual pleasurable activities and becomes more dependent on the drug, said Healey. The person becomes less interested in family, friends, school and work.
Drug use can place a family on an emotional roller coaster as they watch their loved one deteriorate. Families might feel ill-equipped to deal with it, although they might try all kinds of intervention strategies, Healey said.
Education and understanding help, along with bringing people with substance abuse problems into fellowship with others going through the same thing. Thus, he would like to start once-a-week group counseling sessions.
Moralizing isn't the solution, since it's not a question of the person pulling him- or herself up by their bootstraps, he said. It helps to explore the addiction and discover what triggers the person to abuse a substance. Then, Healey helps them develop real-life prevention strategies, bringing back a natural way of functioning.
Recovery begins with acknowledging and understanding the problem, he said. The patient also must trust in the solution, and believe he or she can recover. A deeper spiritual aspect often is a component.
Healey speaks from his own experience of addiction, which inspired him to help others, he said. He began using alcohol at age 13.
"It became central to my life over a short period of time," Healey said. "I found myself using more and more.
"I eventually found recovery at age 32 after a number of years struggling to stay sober."
His life has changed, and it's wonderful, he said. He is married with three children and enjoys gardening, running and weight training.