Expert Offers New Addiction Treatment Solutions with Holistic and Spiritual Approach

Author Ellen Gardner, L.I.S.A.C., provides new tools and resources for those suffering from addiction as well as their families in new book

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. – Author Ellen Gardner, L.I.S.A.C., a semi-retired substance abuse counselor and founder of a former residential treatment center, has released her new book, “The Truth About Your Addictions: A Holistic Solution” which contains holistic and spiritual approaches to the treatment of addiction. Gardner provides insightful information regarding different approaches to addiction treatment for not only addicts, but the loved ones of an addict as well.

The book incorporates Gardner’s nearly 25 years of experience in working with people with various addictions and destructive lifestyles due to substances such as drugs and alcohol. Each chapter discusses the different parts of addiction, from understanding the concept of a holistic and spiritual treatment, to how to spot warning signs if a loved one is experiencing addiction.

With her insight, Gardner hopes to create awareness about the tools and resources one can use to live a healthier, and substance-free lifestyle.

“I want to provide a solution to the current epidemic of substance abuse and other destructive addictions,” said Gardner. “Deaths due to drug overdose is at an all-time high and this book brings different options to one’s struggling. Understanding that everyone is a child of God is the foundation of this teaching.”

A unique approach to the sensitive topic of addiction, “The Truth About Your Addictions” shares real-life success stories and is the conversation starter needed to guide someone suffering from addiction in the right direction.

Gardner is available for interviews and review copies are available upon request. To learn more, please visit

“The Truth About Your Addictions: A Holistic Solution”

By Ellen Gardner, L.I.S.A.C.

ISBN: 978-1-5245-9212-7 (sc); 978-1-5245-9213-4 (hc); 978-1-5245-9211-0 (e)

Available at the Xlibris Online Bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the author

Ellen Gardner witnessed addiction in loved ones in her work as an ordained minister and licensed independent substance abuse counselor. In 1991, she founded Arizona Pathways of Life, Unity and Love, a non-denominational church and treatment center where she developed a holistic spiritually based residential treatment program believing that freedom from addictions is possible.  Due to a severe stroke and open-heart surgery in 2013, Gardner had to close the treatment center. Feeling physically healthy again, she believes that it is time to share what she has learned about freedom from addictions. Gardner has two adult sons and grandchildren that live in Washington and she and her husband Daniel of 50 years reside in Cottonwood, Arizona.

Alicia Bell

As the holiday season’s spirit and cheer kick in, it can be hard to imagine feeling glum.

But for the 3.3 million Americans suffering from anxiety -- plus millions more suffering from related conditions like depression and OCD -- the expectations of joy and merriment can backfire, triggering hopelessness and causing symptoms to flare.

That’s because the mere thought of trying to meet these expectations can be overwhelming, Maggie explains.  People with anxiety and related mental health conditions imagine that others have found “perfection” in a special day, meal, gift or moment and that they are experiencing immense, unbridled joy.

Not experiencing this joy themselves, those suffering feel frustrated, flawed, ashamed and left out.  Which in turn aggravates the symptoms of depression, anxiety and OCD.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with what NPR has called this silent epidemic, the result is a dangerous downward spiral where the individuals suffering say nothing about what they’re going through -- and nobody around them thinks to ask.  Feeling isolated, they prefer to be alone when in fact withdrawing will only make the situation even worse.

But there’s a way to help, Maggie says:


Be aware

In the frenzied lead-up to the holidays, it’s easy for all of us to forget about anything other than our own to-do list.  So it’s more important than ever to intentionally think about those we know are struggling, and to be aware of the challenges this season brings them.

Step Forward

Don’t wait for your loved one to talk to you about what they’re experiencing. On top of feeling unwell, they may also be feeling shame at the idea of putting a damper on your good time if they open up. Start a dialogue. Mention you’ve noticed they’ve been staying in the house more often.  Let them know you care.

Keep Engaging Them 

Keep your loved one engaged and involved as much as they are willing to be. It will help them feel supported and included.  Invite them to bake cookies, go shopping or talk a walk. Even if they refuse, it still gives them an opportunity to feel connected and to know you care.

Schedule Some Exercise

It may sound strange, but exercise can seriously help augment difficult feelings and compulsions during the holidays. With the boost in serotonin that just a short jog can illicit, most people who are suffering are brought at least some relief.  Start a weekly exercise plan with your loved one in order to prevent a severe dip in their emotional landscape.

About Maggie Lamond Simone

Maggie Lamond Simone is an award-winning columnist and author. With two titles already to her name, her third book, Body Punishment: OCD, Addiction and Finding the Courage to Heal (Central Recovery Press) was released in April 2015. It traces Simone’s journey struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression. Her writing has been featured in multiple publications and collections, including From Beer to Maternity (2009), Cosmopolitan MagazineThe Zen of Midlife Mothering (2013), Not Your Mother’s Book on Do-It-Yourselfers (2013), P.S. What I Didn’t Say (2009), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution (2008).  Simone has been a guest on NPR and is a regular blog columnist for the Huffington Post. An an adjunct professor in the department of communications at SUNY Oswego and Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, she lives in Central New York with her husband and two children.

About Body Punishment

For as long as she can recall, Maggie Lamond Simone has been plagued by self-loathing and urges to harm herself physically while emotionally sabotaging her life. In Body Punishment:  OCD, Addiction and Finding the Courage to Heal (Central Recovery Press, April 2015), she reveals it all. The obsessive thoughts that drove her to cut, starve, pick, drink, pluck, purge, and otherwise hurt herself. The profound shame, the utter despair and the confusion over her own inner workings that prevented her from establishing stable, long-term goals and healthy relationships.  Through this poignant story of her painful, eye-opening journey she explores the issues of substance abuse, anxiety, and depression that commonly occur with OCD, all in an effort to further the dialogue around mental illness and eliminate the shame and help others find a way forward toward healing.


CMHA's inaugural Mental Health For All Conference 2016: Together by Design

Alicia Bell - Winter Running

The most creative and inspiring mental health and addictions thinkers and leaders in the country gather for a two-day exchange

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is hosting an inaugural national conference that promises to become the premier professional mental health and addiction conference in Canada.

One hundred and twenty-five speakers from across the country; 68 workshops; compelling keynotes. CMHA's inaugural Mental Health for All Conference 2016: Together by Design (MH4A Conference) - taking place just one year before CMHA's 100th anniversary - will be a two day "think-fest" to advance work in the dynamic fields of mental health and addictions.

"This conference is the first-of-its-kind opportunity for individuals and organizations in mental health, mental illness and addiction to put their collective minds together", says Dr. Patrick Smith, National CEO, CMHA, who will open the conference proceedings. "It's the one place in Canada where people with lived mental health experiences, decision-makers, funders, researchers, front line workers and practitioners can gather under one big tent, and work together toward making big change."

It will be held on Thursday September 29 and Friday September 30, 2016 at the Hilton Toronto Hotel, (145 Richmond Street West, Toronto).  It is preceded by CMHA Ontario's pre-conference on Wednesday September 28 focusing on quality improvement in the mental health and addictions sectors.

Conference Partners
CMHA is proud to have the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) as national partners for this year's conference.

Both organizations see the conference as an important opportunity to bridge these sometimes disparate sectors.

"This conference, which gathers together key experts and organizations in mental health, mental illness and addictions, creates a unique opportunity to break down the silos that have sometimes been a barrier to collaborative action on mental health and addictions" said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission.

"Issues of substance use and mental health are complex. They are diverse and they impact millions of Canadians in a variety of ways," adds Rita Notarandrea, CEO of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).  "This conference is a real reflection of that complexity. By drawing together people with a variety of expertise and perspectives, we can learn from one another and make progress on designing a system that is collaborative, compassionate, and based on our shared experience and expertise."

Keynotes speakers and panels
Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), will speak about closing the gaps in mental health.

A keynote panel, entitled "Mental Health Reform is a Team Sport" will focus on youth mental health services and will be led by Ian Boeckh, President of the Graham Boeckh Foundation.

A second keynote panel, "I've stood up to stigma and reached out for help: Now what?" features panelists exploring from personal and professional perspectives what happens when Canadians go looking for mental health and addictions services.  Panelists include Dr. Karen Cohen (CEO, Canadian Psychological Association), Mark Henick (CMHA National/MHCC board member), Robin Payne; and Ann Dowsett Johnston (author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol).

Conference Highlights
Suicide Prevention Panel
with Mara Grunau (Centre for Suicide Prevention), Jonny Morris (CMHA BC Division), Karla Thorpe (MHCC), Marion Cooper and Reid Hartry (both of CMHA Manitoba and Winnipeg) Panel highlights suicide prevention across Canada and identifies "Zero Suicide" as an approach to transformation.

Clearing the Smoke: An Evidence-Based, Public Health Approach to Cannabis Policy
with Dr. Amy Porath-Waller and Rebecca Jesseman, (CCSA); Ian Culbert (Canadian Public Health Association)

Mino Bimaadiziwin - A Healthy way of Life
with  Ken Syrette (Indigenous Counsellor), Shivani Gupta and Troy Hayden (Addiction Services for York Region). How to make mental health programs appropriate and relevant for indigenous people.

Change Maker Sponsor
The conference has been made possible with the generous and continued support of our Change Maker Sponsor, Lundbeck Canada.

For program / Follow us on Twitter: @CMHA_NTL  #MH4A16

Addiction and Perception Disorder: 6 Things You Should Know
By Charles G. Hanna

Drinking water

As September is National Recovery Mont I wanted to share with you the below article by recovering addict, Canadian CEO and author of the new book, Higher: Awaken to a More Fulfilling Life, Charles G. Hanna, “Addiction and Perception Disorder: 6 Things You Should Know.”

Addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful, and even after my surrender it kept trying to manipulate my mind to make me slip and destroy my recovery.

I am alive today only because of the miracle I experienced on my third day in treatment. As I entered my room and walked by a mirror, I glimpsed something I had never seen before. I jumped back to take a second look, but it was gone. Gone but not forgotten.

It was like the movie The Fly, where the man is lost within a monster. For a split second, I saw that monster. In that moment, I realized that I was possessed by a demon: addiction.

That was 28 years ago. I now realize that, long before I fell into substance addiction, I was already addicted to a way of thinking that provided the perfect hotbed for addiction. I call this way of thinking Perception Disorder.

Perception Disorder starts as mild discomfort or anxiety and can progress to a total inability to cope or function.

What is Perception Disorder?

Perception Disorder is a condition that causes us to view ourselves as the center of the universe. We see our world from a self-centered perspective and we evaluate everything based on whether we feel it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us.

For example, we may enter a room just as people burst out laughing. If we suffer from Perception Disorder, we might immediately fear that they are laughing at us.

Or a partner may be troubled and want to talk to a friend, and instead of feeling empathy, we become afraid that they don’t value our opinion. This can cause strife and mistrust.

Without open dialogue, we cannot process the negative feelings we experience through our Perception Disorder.  And over time, this can severely erode our quality of life.

How do I know if I have Perception Disorder?

Here’s a short questionnaire to detect the presence of Perception Disorder:

  • Do you think of yourself (or have others described you) as self-centered, close-minded, oversensitive, negative, fearful, or childish?
  • Do you worry excessively, lack empathy, feel shame, say that life is unfair, have enemies, hold grudges, or fail to take good care of yourself? (i.e. smoking, poor dietary habits or sleep patterns)

If you said ‘yes’ to either question, or if you often feel ungrateful or unhappy, then you probably suffer from Perception Disorder to some degree.

Perception Disorder develops during early life when a child is not given adequate attention and time for intimate talks that help her integrate into society with proper grounding.

Such a child is unlikely to share her feelings openly. And this may lead her to develop distorted perceptions about herself and her world. In extreme cases, these children become acutely insecure and vulnerable as they grow into young adults.

How is addiction connected to perception?

Addiction is a disease of perception.

Severe, progressive Perception Disorder can lead to addiction and substance dependence.

The first time a person experiences the numbing effects of any sort of drug or potentially addictive behavior, they may feel incredible relief and a sense of belonging. This emotional relief can initiate their dependence on a substance or behavior.

Over time, and through repetition of such behaviors, the person becomes increasingly isolated from society until the pain is so great that substance use and/or compulsive behavior becomes a repeated distraction, an anticipated relief, and ultimately a necessity.

So in its advanced stages, Perception Disorder can lead to substance abuse and/or behavioral disorders such as compulsive gambling, work, sex, love, or eating, and codependency.

6 Things to Know about Addiction and Perception Disorder

  1. Perception Disorder is a progressive disease and over time may result in severe mental illness, such as addiction.
  2. If you suffer from a substance abuse problem, get help to tackle that first. Nothing will help you before you stop using.
  3. Addiction is a disease that wants to kill you. For this reason, abstinence is not recovery; it is only a prerequisite to recovery.
  4. The underlying Perception Disorder was present before the abuse. It has become exacerbated by the abuse, so treating the Perception Disorder is imperative.
  5. Even if you find yourself completely down and out - perhaps hospitalized or incarcerated – don’t be discouraged. This may be your greatest opportunity to grow in a more meaningful way than would otherwise have been possible.
  6. If you suffer from an advanced stage of Perception Disorder, such as addiction, then getting outside help to arrest the disease must be your sole priority.

Charles G. Hanna is the Chairman, CEO, and founder of a third-party technology provider that he began in a basement in 1979 and built into a leading service consolidation company with offices across Canada. A devoted father of three children, Hanna is involved with a range of charities, including organizations that help with cancer treatment, Canadian artists, and displaced and handicapped people. He has a particular soft spot for children and animals, and contributes his personal time in various ways to youth shelter homes and animal shelter groups. He divides his time between Toronto and Los Angeles. For more information, please visit, and connect with him on Twitter, @hanna_higher.