Shannon Hays, who works with the Family Service Association of Bucks County, spoke with our class last Thursday about her experience working in the addiction and recovery field. Hays said that growing up she and a lot her family members struggled with addiction, but since then she’s learned it’s possible to break the generational cycle of addiction.

Before working in the recovery field, Hays worked in interior design and construction management. She said she felt compelled to switch careers because of the economic imbalance she saw between her wealthy clients and other people living in their neighborhoods.

Hays has worked with a lot of women in recovery and spoke about how addressing trauma is a big piece of informed care in women’s recoveries. She advocates for people from different communities seeking treatment for addictions and helps match people up with recovery support, counseling and other resources.

Hays also spoke to our class about medication-assisted treatment. She let us know it can be a suitable long-term solution for people as long as their dosage is properly calibrated. Hays noted the medication can help people function in society and take care of their families. The key is finding the perfect dosage to keep people from experiencing withdrawal symptoms without experiencing a high.

I was intrigued learning from Hays about the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) in addiction treatment. DBT focuses on teaching people with addictions skills like mindfulness, emotion regulation and interpersonal skills to effectively address the root causes of their addictions.