Rick Bingham Talks About Unorthodox Treatment Options

Kathleen Mills

Kathleen is a creative and gifted therapist who has extensive experience in helping children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of issues.

SUMMARY: In this edition of “It’s Just Coffee”, hosts Phillip Crum and Kathleen Mills discuss using acupuncture, Suboxone, and Methadone with Rick Bingham of the Anti-Aging and Longevity Center of Dallas.

Episode #23 | Rick Bingham discusses treatment options with Kathleen Mills and Phillip Crum.

Kathleen Mills-Proprietor, Counselor at Life Tree Counseling
Phillip Crum-The Content Marketing Coach
Rick Bingham-Anti-Aging and Longevity Center of Dallas

PHILLIP CRUM: Do you know what time it is, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN MILLS: I do. How are you, sir?
PC: I’m darn good. Darn good I am. Why don’t you give me a Lifetree Counseling update? What’s new in the world?
KM: There’s a lot of new things going on. Lifetree Counseling Center, we just got another award, Best in Addison award.
RICK BINGHAM: I saw that.
KM: Did you? And Lashondra made me put it up in the lobby. I was just going to put it up in the workroom, and she was really upset. She says, “It needs to go into the front office.”
RB: You ought to put it on a marquee, where everybody driving by can see it.
PC: You won an award for…
KM: For best in Addison, best counseling center, mental health professional, family. I can’t read the plaque. I don’t know what the plaque said, but we’re good at something.
PC: You have another counselor, a new counselor, don’t you?
KM: We’ve added another counselor last week, so we’ve got two new hires. Kim Smith and Amy Cole.
RB: How many do you have now?
KM: You’re going to make me count. Seven.
RB: That’s good.
KM: Eight.
RB: Eight. That’s even better. That’s one more better.
KM: Everybody’s happy, most of the time.
RB: What will nine do?
KM: I’ll have to find some space. Don’t get me started. Lifetree Counseling – I’m working on a new project – you know that, Phillip.
PC: What are you doing?
KM: Writing a book.
RB: A real book?
KM: By the time Phillip gets done with it, it will be a real book. He’s going to turn it into a book.
PC: What’s it going to be about?
KM: It’s going to be about how to have a perfect practice: business skills, things to know, people want to know how to start your own practice.
PC: Is it one of those “how to prospect for new clients” books?
KM: No. It’s for mental health professionals who want to learn how to build their business from the ground up.
PC: What does it encompass besides just finding new clients? Because that’s what most people, most business owners think building a business means, which, ultimately, it is developing a customer base, but there’s other goodies that go along with it.
KM: There’s areas. We’re going to be talking about legal areas, the proper setup. Talking about how to research market, what the market is bearing, the economics of building a practice. The evil spreadsheet that you live and die by.
PC: The daily nuts and bolts of running a business.
KM: Yes.
PC: Good. When might that be available?
KM: In two months.
PC: In approximately two months.
KM: And it’ll be up on our website.
PC: It’ll be all over the place. We’ll let you know.
RB: Two months? When did you start on this book?
KM: A month ago.
RB: That’s speed writing.
KM: The task master. I had to get some pictures to keep my enthusiasm.
PC: Are there any new speaking dates in your future, or meetings? What’s coming up?
KM: I’m going to be speaking in Frisco in another week at the Christian Therapists Organization, North Dallas Chapter. I’m going to be a doing a presentation on the 12 Must-Haves, which is one of the chapters in the book. What mental health professionals need to have in order to grow their business.
PC: It’s like your Top 12 list of things that you’ve got to have.
KM: It’s my top 12. I’ve been doing this for a while, so I’m thinking.
RB: Are they in order?
KM: Yes.
RB: Most important first?
KM: Nope.
RB: Not in that kind of order.
KM: Least to most.
RB: Oh, least to most. So number 12 is the most important.
KM: No. Number 12 is the least. The number 1 is the most important.
PC: They’re all urgently important, but number one is the dramatic buildup.
KM: It’s the dramatic. Twelve, eleven, ten, and number one is… ta-da.
PC: What about meetings? I know we have a meeting that we’re working for January?
KM: In January, we’re going to be doing a symposium specifically for interns only, college students, and first-year clinicians for mental health professionals. Our speaker’s lineup is looking pretty good. It’s very different from April. I’m excited.
PC: Interesting. That’ll be January 15, so it’s my year to watch you. Why don’t you introduce the fellow over here?
KM: He’s been my friend for a long time, and a great clinician.
PC: Are we down to just interviewing friends now, or is this guy pretty darn good at what he does?
KM: He’s amazing. He’s probably the best at what he does.
PC: I’ve read the propaganda.
KM: It’s impressive. It’s not propaganda. It’s all true because I know him.
PC: So who is RB?
KM: Rick, tell us about you and all the talent you have. This is your Shameless Plug.
RB: My Shameless Plug? I was born in a country far, far away, Fort Hood, Texas. I’m the clinic director at the Anti-Aging and Longevity Center in East Dallas, Texas. I’ve been there since 2003. If you look at the history of what I’ve been doing, I’ve been working in behavior health and addictions and spirituality since August of 1974, so this August makes 40 years that I’ve been doing this kind of thing. It seems like it’s the thing for me to do.
KM: You’re wise.
RB: That’s one thing maybe I left out. I’m not wise. I have my moments of wisdom. All of us have those moments when you wonder. I do a few other things. I’m also a drug offender education instructor. I’m also a licensed acudetox specialist. I’m not a licensed acupuncturist. I’m limited to a particular treatment. It uses your ears and you put five needles in specified locations in each ear, and this particular protocol was designed in 1987 by Dr. Michael Smith in The Bronx area called the Lincoln Center; it may still be there. It was a program to treat opiate addicts, primarily heroin addicts with methadone. They had to go inpatient before they could get on the methadone, and many times, they didn’t have enough beds. Dr. Smith, who was a licensed acupuncturist, came up with this protocol to help folks get past the hard times of withdrawal, even though they couldn’t get a bed in the treatment center. That’s what I’m licensed to do. We do that at our program, at the Anti-Aging and Longevity Center, and I go to a program called Addicare over in Garland, which is an IOPSOP treatment for addictions. I do acupunctures for them. It’s a very valuable and useful treatment and it’s very, very cost effective. It works. I’ve used the treatment to reverse full-blown heroin withdrawal in 45 minutes.
KM: You did a presentation at the Tap Freedom conference, because I’m real intrigued by what you do.
PC: Let me ask something. I’ve known you for a while, so I believe you. But 45 minutes reversing full-blown anything. Let’s say I’m a skeptic. I’m listening and I’m thinking, “OK, is this snake oil? How can that be?”
RB: I was a skeptic as well. I won’t go into that story, but I came into getting licensed to do the acupuncture because I was a skeptic, got the treatment, and it worked. I was against it. What we did with this individual, is we measured their vital signs, certain classic signs of withdrawal. We measured all those, and then we gave him the acupuncture treatment. Forty-five minutes later, all of those signs were reversed. The young man was sitting on the couch smiling and going, “Oh my gosh! This is a miracle!” The problem is, he didn’t follow up with further treatment. We were able to help him initially and not able to help him later because he didn’t listen to us. This is just the beginning. This is not the end of your recovery. It’s very useful and very helpful not just for withdrawal, but the issues that happen to folks after they get through their withdrawal.
PC: So the additional treatment that he didn’t follow up, was it more physical, a lot like you just finished doing, or was it more lifestyle and adjusting in the way he thinks and so forth, or both?
RB: Both. He needed to have some more acupuncture done or to have some medications to help him. He didn’t do either, he just left. What he would have done, hopefully, is either some medications and/or the acupuncture treatment to follow up. It actually is a good treatment also for folks who are having difficulty sleeping with anxiety, with all manner of things that happen with anybody, especially for folks recovering from any kind of substance abuse. The initial part of recovery is pretty intense, but the ongoing part of recovery can have some moments of intensity, as well.
KM: I want to go back to your recovery center. Do you integrate the acupuncture? Can you give me an overview of your treatment program? Who’s coming to you? How does your program work? Who’s a good candidate for treatment?
RB: We’ll treat anybody with any kind of substance abuse disorder at any place in there, whether they need to go through medical withdrawal on an outpatient basis, or whether they don’t need withdrawal, they just need support, we’ll deal with anybody with alcohol, you name it. However, we’re best at and specialize in opiate dependency, whether we’re talking about heroin or pain pills. Probably at least half, maybe more than half of the people we treat are not doing heroin. They’re doing pain pills, and most o those folks, 95% of them, are not talking pain pills recreationally. They didn’t get hooked on pain pills because of recreational use. There’s another reason. They legitimately needed pain management and that developed into a physical and psychological dependence on the pain pills that they could not wean off of.
KM: How do they find you? How do your clients find you?
RB: Mostly word of mouth and the Web. We don’t get very many referrals from very many directions. From word of mouth and the Web is where most of our folks come from.
KM: Can you tell the listeners your website?
RB: Addictioncareclinic dot com.
KM: Addictioncareclinic dot com. And there’s a lot of information on that?
RB: A lot of information about us, all of the contact information is there. Phone numbers, e-mail addresses, that kind of thing.
PC: Go back to her question. Somebody’s addicted to a pain pill and says, “I’m coming in to check this out.” Pick up where she left off with the question she asked, “What can I expect? What’s going to happen?”
RB: First of all, when they call, we’re going to do a very extensive screening on the phone to see if they qualify for treatment and can they afford treatment. We’re going to talk to them about what seems best. We’ve got the acupuncture treatment, we also do some herbal treatment. And we use methadone or Suboxone to help treat patients either on a detox plan or on a maintenance plan, depending on what their needs are and what the doctor’s decision is. When they come in, we’re going to visit with them and they’re going to be assessed by a counselor, they’re going to be assessed by a nurse, then the doctor will visit with them and make a determination about where we go from there. We’re going to treat them with what seems appropriate medication-wise and we’re also going to treat them with counseling.
KM: So it’s very specific treatment plan per client.
RB: Individual. Not everybody’s treatment plan is going to be the same. One of the things that folks may not be as aware of as we’d like them to be aware of is that in a harm-reduction model or in a medication-assisted model of treatment, both of those are considered medical models a lot of times. We do as much as counseling as any other modality does, any other form of treatment. We are also doing those kinds of things that help a person through that physical part and that psychological part of their withdrawal and their recovery. We do all kinds of other things to try to support them in that. For instance, many alcoholics are serious about being sober, but they keep relapsing. Nobody can figure it out why it is that they keep relapsing. They go to meetings, they go to sponsors, they seem sincere, they’re highly functional individuals, all those positive things, but they keep coming back to the alcohol. What could be causing that is a blood-borne candida infection, a fungus, and that’s what’s creating the craving within them. If you can eliminate that candida, the craving for the alcohol will leave. Now, you can do a test – we can do the test, any doctor’s office can order the test , and if it comes back positive, then the doctor will probably prescribe a medication called diflucan, and it’s usually a one- or two-week course – I think it’s only a one-week course of that – and if the candida infection was there, it’s going to take care of it, the patient’s going to know because they’re craving for the alcohol goes away.
KM: I’m asking the doctor to do what kind of test?
RB: Candida. For those folks out there that are struggling and you do have a family doctor, just go to the family doctor and ask for the test, or if the doctor’s willing to do this, if they know your history and your struggles, just ask them to give you – there’s no side effects to diflucan, there’s no contraindications – ask the doctor to prescribe you the diflucan. If that fixes the problem, then you know you were right in your guess. If it doesn’t fix the problem, then that’s not the problem, but that’s not going to hurt you any.
KM: Going back to your center. I have to work. Clients have to work. Do they stay with you? Is this all done outpatient? What can they work? Give me a picture of that.
RB: We do just about all of our work early in the morning. We start seeing patients at 5:30 in the morning on their way to work. 97% of all of our clientele are either full-time students, full-time housewives, househusbands, or have jobs. The majority are working full-time jobs of that group of folks. So we’re open early in the morning.
KM: What happens?
RB: You come in and either get your medication, see your counselor…
KM: What kind of medication would I need?
RB: Either the methadone or the Suboxone would be the two medications, one of those two that you would be getting. You might get your acupuncture treatment. That’s the basic thing you’re going to be doing when you come in in the morning time.
KM: Am I doing it every day at 5:00?
RB: For some patients, yes; for some patients, no.
KM: And this is the individual treatment plan?
RB: Correct. Some patients are coming in every day; some are coming in once a month. We’ll always have patients at least once a month.
KM: If I’m coming in once a month, what happens the other 29 days?
RB: Have a nice day. You just live life.
KM: Are you doing counseling in between that?
RB: Some patients, yes; some patients, no. It’s very much between the counselor and the patient as to what they do. We may have a patient coming by once a month to pick up medication who comes in four times a month to get counseling. We may have patients just coming by to have counseling and they’re not getting medication from us, they’re getting it from the pharmacy, prescribed by Dr. McDaniel. It’s really all kinds of possibilities there.
KM: Do you coordinate any care with other counselors in the recovery community, so that could be part of it, too.
RB: It could be. That’s a rarity. The truth is that most of LPCs or LCDCs or physicians or probation officers are not positive in regard to medication-assisted treatment. We don’t interact with them much because they don’t want to interact. Some of our patients….
KM: You’re saying this is controversial.
RB: It’s very controversial, yes it is. It always has been. Suboxone or the generic buprenorphine, and there’s a new one called Zubsoft now. Those medications are very useful and very good, but there’s less controversy regarding the Suboxone or the buprenorphine or the Zubsoft than there is regarding methadone.
KM: You’re used to this being very controversial.
RB: Yeah. I’ve done many trainings over the years regarding methadone. Sometimes it’s difficult to get folks to let you do a training on methadone. There are risks involved. There are risks involved in treatment in any form of treatment. I’ve got a pretty good soapbox talking about the risks involved with non-medication treatment that are plenty of them. We kind of don’t talk about those things. We end up in our world, in medication-assisted treatment, talking about all kinds of risks and, yeah there’s risks, but the benefits are great.
KM: List them for me.
RB: The benefits? Well, one of the benefits is, and in the abstinence-based world, no medication to help you, the recovery rate is maybe 25%, probably lower than that depending on how you want to play with your numbers. In our world, in the medication-assisted world, the recovery rate is closer to 85%.
KM: Wow. That’s significant.
RB: Very significant. We talk in our world, in the recovery world, about evidence-based treatment. A real evidence-based treatment. There’s more evidence to support the safe, effective, long-term treatment with methadone than there is for anything else, treatment-wise. We don’t say in a medication-assisted treatment program that other ways of treating folks are inappropriate. Not at all. Many times in screening, we’ll turn people away. They’re not appropriate for what we do. We are saying, though, that many facilities rule out, just as a rule, any kind of medication-assisted treatment. I’m focused on, when I say medication-assisted treatment, I’m talking about methadone or Suboxone, something like that. I’m not talking about treatment with anxiety with Klonopin or with Xanax or Valium, something like that, or treating their depression with an anti-depressant. The reality, that’s also medication-assisted treatment, and that seems to be okay. There should be limits to that, probably, with certain patients. Acupuncture really treats that well, as well as some other treatments like neurolinguistic programming treats anxiety very well. Rapid-eye movement, EMDR, treats anxiety very, very well. We know about those things, and we refer to folks who can help us with that, often.
KM: This is interesting.
PC: The acupuncture. Does it hurt?
RB: You’ll feel a pinch.
KM: What was fascinating when I watched your presentation with the people who elected to go ahead and do it was watching beginning to the end, especially the lady behind me that was having a reaction and she just got calm. That was fascinating to see.
RB: I can’t tell you what the locations are because I’m not a certified acudetox to trainer. I can tell you, though, that the acupuncture gives you what you need, not necessarily what you want. What we’re trying to do with the acupuncture is stimulate the person’s chi. Here we call it electricity in this part of the world, or life force. If we can get the chi flowing and balanced and full, the human body has the ability to heal itself.
PC: Which one hurts more, the acupuncture or the heroin withdrawal?
RB: The heroin withdrawal, of course. Acupuncture treatment is a little pinch. In a lot of times, folks don’t even feel that pinch. What helps us in diagnosing what’s going on is that many times, if I put a needle in a certain location, it’s associated with a certain meridian of the body, which is also associated with certain emotions. It hurts when I put that needle in, that gives me an indication of the next question I ask, which is something along the lines of “Have you been worried a lot lately?” “Yeah, how did you know?” “Well, I’m just good that way.” And the reason I can get an indication on that is based on the location of that needle. Part of it is that you’re putting a needle, a very thin needle but it’s still going through skin. You’re going to feel a pinch. And the more nervous a person is, when you get nervous, your skin tightens up, period. Once the person gets past the anxiety of it and they know that something good’s about to happen, your body has memory just like your mind does. People who have had the acupuncture and they’ve experienced benefit, when they come in for their treatment, I don’t have to give them any instruction, they don’t feel anything. “I didn’t feel anything.” As a matter of fact, you can start with one ear, and there’s a little discomfort. By the time you get to the other ear, there’s no discomfort there at all because the chi has already started moving and your body is recognizing that something good is happening here.
KM: I just want to clarify and build you up. Everybody was so excited to do the exercise because they understood the value of what was going to happen in 45 minutes. They just couldn’t wait. That was really fascinating.
RB: What we found by tracking this is that folks who participate in acupuncture, in an IOP or an SOP kind of setting, the outpatient settings, at least at Addicare and measuring this, are 80% more likely to be successful in the overall program than those who didn’t. That’s pretty big numbers.
PC: That’s good numbers. My chi just got up and walked out the door because we’re out of time. RB, what I need from you is your contact information. Where can people find you?
RB: Anti-Aging and Longevity Center, East Dallas, Texas. 8021 East R.L Thornton Freeway. Phone number 214-328-4848. Website: Addictioncareclinic dot com.
PC: We’re going to have you back and do some more of this stuff.
RB: It’s been a pleasure being here.
PC: Thank you, sir. Where can we find you, Miss Kathleen?
KM: Lifetreecounseling dot com, or you can call me at 972-234-6634, extension 104.
PC: I’m still PC, the Content Marketing Coach, and I can be found at contentmarketingcoach dot us. Phone number’s 214-264-6297, if you’re interested in growing your business this way, let’s talk. Otherwise, just keep listening. We appreciate everybody listening and you being here, Rick.
RB: You bet.
KM: Thank you, Rick.
PC: We’ll see you next time.
KM: Thank you, Phillip, as always.
PC: On we go.

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