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Addiction Specialists at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas Reveal Discovery in New Book
11/13/2008

DALLAS — As Sandy Mullen, R.N., and Cathy Napier began comparing notes and observations about patients they were caring for in the eating disorders unit at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, a surprising discovery surfaced: the seemingly successful treatment of a patient’s primary addiction often fed the growth of another, hidden addiction.

Sandy Mullen is an eating disorders specialist at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.

Sandy Mullen, R.N.

Click image to download hi-res file.

After reviewing hundreds of cases, Mullen, an eating disorders specialist at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, and Napier, former director of Presbyterian’s chemical dependency program, have authored a new book about their findings, Swinging Door of Addiction: A Spiritual Guide to Recovery. The book gives readers an inside glimpse into the world of dual addictions, substance abuse and eating disorders.

The authors will host a book signing at 7 p.m., Nov. 14, at Borders Book Store in West Village.

“These patients were struggling with numerous addictions, each addiction relying on another,” Mullen said. “We were seeing eating disorder patients we sent home healthy, coming back over and over again — worse off than when they left treatment. The secret they all had was that their chemical addictions were feeding their eating disorders.”

Swinging Door of Addiction is an invitation for people with these problems to start looking at their lives and journaling about their recovery, Mullen said.

“It’s to get them started on their life’s journey to recovery.”

The book is featured in this year’s Gurze catalogue, the preeminent scientific catalogue in the field of eating disorders.

“The problem is that many treatment programs regard eating disorders and chemical dependencies as separate and distinct problems,” Mullen said. “The issues are then dealt with separately and with different methods. But we’ve found that the best way to treat these patients is through combined therapy for both problems at the same time.”

The book’s conversational style and workbook-type format aims to help those struggling with a dual addiction. It is currently being used in the juvenile justice system in New Mexico to help young mothers in jail because of drugs.

Swinging Door of Addiction also has a spiritual aspect, making use of the 12-step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous and encouraging readers to get to know themselves with quotes for meditation and questions to answer at the end of each chapter, Napier said.

Readers are encouraged to write their own stories about recovery from dual addiction. The authors also share the stories of past patients and their recoveries from dual addictions. One story the authors highlight is the case of a young woman who sought treatment for an eating disorder in the program. The woman had discovered that pills, in the form of amphetamines, almost entirely eliminated her appetite.

She became dangerously thin because of the eating disorder and in the process acquired a chemical dependence, a “hidden addiction.”

“The significant experience Cathy and Sandy have with these patients and their breadth of knowledge on the subject give them a perspective that we can all learn from,” said Dr. Jim Harris, director of the eating disorders program at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. “The readers of this book get to share in this and learn from two experts on the subject. It’s not only a book for people dealing with dual addictions but also the families and friends of people struggling with this disease.”

Swinging Door of Addiction includes a forward by country music star Naomi Judd. The authors give special thanks to Dallas psychiatrists Sandy Steinbach and Lynn Markle.

Mullen has been in psychiatric nursing for 22 years and is a licensed chemical dependency counselor for the state of Texas. Napier is currently an adjunct professor of psychology at Central New Mexico College and treats patients in private practice.

The Nov. 14th book signing is open to the public. Borders Book Store is located at the West Village at 3600 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 75204.

Note to editors: Follow this link for a high-resolution image of Sandy Mullen.

About Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas
Established in 1966, PHD is the flagship hospital of Presbyterian Healthcare System, a member of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system. US News and World Report ranks PHD, a recognized clinical program leader, providing technologically advanced care to patients, among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. The 866-bed facility has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information about PHD, visit www.PHSCare.org.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR controls 13 affiliated hospitals and a medical research organization, and is a corporate member or partner in seven additional hospitals and surgery centers. THR’s family of hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit www.texashealth.org.

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