Episode 127: Opioid/Substance Dependence & Mormonism

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Natasha Helfer Parker interviews James Ott, LCSW about the current opioid epidemic we keep hearing about in the news. James is the executive director of Red Willow Counseling & Recovery where services for substance dependence are offered. They discuss common myths and issues that come up for family systems where substance dependence is an issue. They also tease out some ways that these issues turn up in Mormon communities, and some of the cultural factors that may be at play. There is a discussion on how ecclesiastical leaders and family members can access resources and educations that can help in these types of situations.

James Ott started his professional career in 1993 working with chronically mentally ill persons in a community mental health center in Portland, Oregon. He received his Master’s of Social Work degree in 1997 from New Mexico State University and was employed with the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) as a clinical social worker. His last 4 years at UNI he worked for the medical detox unit; specifically helping people through the detox process, providing education to family members about addiction and treatment, and setting up appropriate services for when they discharge. Since 2010 he has contracted his services with a medical drug and alcohol detox center and an addiction treatment facility. He regularly provides education about addiction and mental illness to individuals and families as well as church clergy, to strengthen the family and stop enabling and co-dependent actions, however well intentioned.


Trauma Informed Care 

Mormon Mental Health Association


Natasha Helfer Parker runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith. She also hosts the popular podcasts, Mormon Mental Health & Mormon Sex Info and creates the sex educational resource, Sex Talk with Natasha.

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