Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Leslie Cole, an addiction medicine physician at a clinic outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and author of the book “Quit Pain Pills.” Leslie spent the first 20 years of her medical career as an internist. The journey of self-discovery stemming from realizing she had been struggling with an eating disorder led her down a different path. She found hope and healing through recovery literature during that time. When an addiction clinic called her out of the blue to offer her a job, she knew that she had found her sweet spot, helping others find hope and healing.

Leslie is a firm believer in providing an environment to patients where they feel welcomed, accepted, loved, and safe. People struggling with addiction are used to the shame heaped onto them from themselves and others, but they are not used to a provider listening to them without judgment. As a part of her clinic’s program, patients fill out an Adverse Childhood Event questionnaire, which is likely to indicate that they experienced Traumas (big T) and traumas (little t) as they were growing up that they had just accepted as normal. This experience at Leslie’s clinic may be the first time they realize how these traumatic events continue to impact them even in adulthood.

During Leslie’s recovery from an eating disorder, her therapist pointed out to her that the most important relationship in all of life is your relationship with yourself. This colors how to interact with others and with the world. This realization is the basis for Leslie’s approach with patients at the clinic because they probably don’t know how impactful this primary relationship is in their own life and recovery journey.

In 2017, Leslie was diagnosed with breast cancer, which resulted in chemotherapy and a mastectomy. She found that during her battle with cancer, she received so much support and encouragement from those around her. When she went back to work at the clinic, she was struck by the stark contrast between how she had been treated as a cancer patient and how addiction patients are treated. This contrast prompted her to write her book, “Quit Pain Pills,” to provide hope without judgment and helpful resources to anyone struggling with addiction who has never been greeted with optimism by their family members, friends, or healthcare providers.

Leslie wants to make sure that everyone knows that you are not beyond help. You can always make a change, so give yourself every possible chance.

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