Dr. Reef Karim – Interview @ Wellness Day 2011
After speaking at this years Wellness Day 2011, Dr. Reef Karim made himself available for some additional interview questions. Dr. Karim is a board certified psychiatrist, board certified addiction medicine specialist and a certified relationship therapist. He is a senior attending physician and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience as well as being a published research scientist in the field of behavioral and chemical addictions with articles in the International Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Addiction Medicine and other prestigious journals.
Please bookmark our YouTube Channel and keep checking back here often. Many innovative minds in the recovery world were interviewed at this year’s event and footage is being rolled out gradually over the coming weeks to the greater community.
Transcripts and links to the remainder of Dr. Karim’s interview are available below:
QUESTION 01 – Please tell us your name and a bit about what you do. (link to video)
My name is Reef Karim and I am a board certified psychiatrist, and a board certified addiction medicine specialist. I run a treatment center called The Control Center, which is an intensive outpatient program in Beverly Hills and I speak and I try to help as many people as I can.
QUESTION 02 – How did you get into the recovery world? (link to video)
I used to play in band and everyone was loaded except me. I was the innocent sweet Indian kid in this band. There was an alcoholic, there was a cocaine junkie, there was a heroin junkie, there was a guy that did every club drug on the planet that he could find and then there was me. And then I dated an alcoholic and that was kind of the exclamation point and sealed the deal.
QUESTION 03 – What do you think are some of the more important innovations or new knowledge in the field of treatment? (link to video)
The world of addiction medicine is so new really when you think about it. Yeah there ha been AA and the 12 step philosophy that has been around for quite a while, but just in regards to the field in itself, when it comes to money for research, the National Institute of Drub Abuse, SAMSA, it is really in its infancy so its exciting because there is a lot of cutting edge neuroscience on the horizon. Just a couple of basic things are, the science of spirituality in itself, just the science of wellness, how practical meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Chinese medicine and how that impacts the brain is all new stuff and epigenetics is new. How we can actually transfer different emotional states and get an understanding of what our gene mapping is so we know which medications to target or which therapies to target or who could be vulnerable to different disease states when they get older, based on their current genetics. It is interesting stuff.
QUESTION 04 – What, if any – wellness activities do you incorporate in to the treatment of your clients / patients? (link to video)
So in our treatment center we use acupuncture, we use Chinese medicine, we use spiritual psychotherapy, and we use trauma work with EMDR and somatic experiencing. We use yoga; we use wellness in regards to physical work and physical therapy. We use service. Its really important for people to look beyond themselves and a great way to do that is doing service projects. There are many things we can use. And it is important for us that the spiritual application of a person is just as emphasized as the medical, psychological or social.
QUESTION 05 – What do you believe are some holistic ways that can beneficially supplement more traditional means of treatment for addiction towards a positive outcome? (link to video)
A basic way of utilizing spiritual healing in regards to outcome and its application to traditional therapies. When you look at traditional therapies what do you think about? You think about 12-step philosophy, you think about psychopharmacology medications, you look at cognitive behavioral therapy and individual therapy. So if you have someone with a co-morbidity, meaning a dual diagnosis, lets say they have ADHD and an alcohol problem and they are drinking to deal with unmedicated or untreated ADHD. Utilizing meditation, just specific mantra based meditation on a regular basis, over and over and over again can access the left and right front lobe area where attentional work is enhanced. So am I going to treat ADHD with meditation? Probably not. Am I going to utilize meditation in combination with medications or cognitive behavioral therapies? Yes. And I may be able to lower the meds or maybe even diminish the meds over time by utilizing a meditation practice.
QUESTION 06 – What do you think about the role of nutrition in early recovery? (link to video)
I think nutrition is extremely important and not just in early recovery, in the longevity of recovery. We know about how different neurotransmitter systems, we know about how different emotional states are greatly affected by diet, by our nutrition. It’s a world we are slowly moving towards in regards to research. We know about Omega 3 fatty acids, we know about the sleep aids that are herbal based. We have seen more and more of an indoctrination of Chinese medicine in to our field. The concept of nutrition, and holistic nutrition are more talked about than ever before. I think nutrition is a very valuable part of treatment.
QUESTION 07 – What are your thoughts about incorporating a better understanding of wellness as it relates to the treatment of addiction within the field of treatment professionals? (link to video)
I don’t know that all treatment professionals or a majority of treatment professionals really understand the concept of wellness. Wellness itself, just the term, its about being well but to a lot of people, they are like ‘eh that stuff wellness what is that? That’s a generic term for nothing. What does that mean.” But I think the more evidence based and the more practical applications of whatever you want to call it: holistic treatment, spiritual treatment whatever words you want to use, especially employed in conjunction, not instead of, but in conjunction with traditional methods of healing, I am hoping that everybody starts riding that wave because it really is the way to go and the combination treatment utilizing holistic is far superior to not utilizing holistic and it empowers somebody to get to the core of who they are without the use of numbing out a little bit using medications. I think medications are really valuable but I think you get to the real core of a person thought spiritual healing.
QUESTION 08 – What do you think are the more important wellness related components for a client’s recovery and why? (link to video)
The most important aspect of someone’s recovery is really moving that arrow, shifting hat arrow towards other people instead of having it drive everything towards oneself. The diminishing of an ego is extremely important. For me wellness is just the concept of self-care. Its self care mentally and its self care physically and the integration of that mind body phenomenon. Hopefully people will realize the mind/ body integration is wellness and that by promoting more techniques you are just promoting more self-care and mind/body healing.