Molly Hastings runs the wellness program for women at Amethyst Inc. Amethyst is a leader in providing long-term, gender-competent addiction and trauma treatment for women and their families in Central Ohio. The agency was founded by a group of women who were in recovery and wanted to create a safe place for women and children to recover.
“People who come into recovery arrive with an unhealthy lifestyle. We take a look at this and ask participants to participate in a mind/body connection group to help them understand that the choices they make in recovery are profound,” says Molly. People entering into recovery have an ability to heal and reverse the effects of toxic chemicals. Her work in wellness with women who are recovering from mental illness, substance use, and trauma begins with looking closely at recovery lifestyles and substance use lifestyles, starting from a place of stabilization.
Amethyst’s wellness program takes holistic approach that includes working with the physical, emotional, relational, mental, vocational, and spiritual aspects of life. Molly does not teach anything that she does not also practice herself. She believes that meeting people where they are helps to motivate them to take care of themselves. This approach helps them to identify what they are doing well before exploring areas for possible change.
“We understand that women with trauma histories need wellness programs to help soothe and calm them in order to be able to go through trauma therapy with resiliency,” says Molly. This can often take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Post acute withdrawal symptoms will line up with malnutrition and blood sugar swings. By supporting stabilization and recovering with healthy supports, this speeds the recovery process.
“We encourage women to retrain their bodies.” Molly works to set women up with a way of eating to stabilize mood, energy, and sleep, combined with exercise and various stress management and emotional regulation techniques.
“As women start to feel better, things spiral upward because women see that they are capable. So we are constantly working to rebuild women’s stories to help them see where this journey is taking them,” says Molly.
Her journey to teaching wellness to women in recovery began with her own journey to sobriety. “I believe that the body can heal itself. At 37, I made a commitment to myself that I wanted more than sobriety. I wanted to get well. So, I found ways of supporting my body,” explains Molly. Early in her recovery, she read about Dr. Isaac Vogelsanger, a vascular surgeon from Canada who was named one of Canada’s Top Ten Human Treasures. As the time, she was the editor of a lifestyle magazine. She made an appointment to interview him.
Dr Vogelsanger would become an important mentor to Molly as she entered recovery. “I turned on the tape recorder in Dr. Vogelsanger’s home and we studied together for the next six years.” Dr. Vogelsanger’s personal story of survival, and his willingness to be Molly’s first mentor in recovery established her own interest in discovering the importance of a dialogue between wellness and recovery.
Isaac helped Molly to understand health education and they studied emerging theories on the mind/body connection. “This is how I began to heal and how I became passionate about bringing wellness and recovery together.” Under the guidance of Dr. Vogelsanger, Molly developed the approach she now uses at Amethyst.
In addition to understanding a wellness model based on her work with Dr. Vogelsanger, Molly also learned about survival. “Isaac is an incredible soul. His entire family was taken to Nazi death camps. As a young surgeon, he joined the Russian army, and he ended up being a prisoner of war. He was placed in a morgue drawer for six months and tortured.” Isaac learned to meditate during this six-month test of survival.
Meeting Isaac within months of her own entry into sobriety is one profound gift of her life, and it has helped her bring the gift of wellness to woman in Amethyst’s programs. “It has been a privilege for me,” explains Molly, “to listen to people’s stories and bring the meaning and hope of their stories to light.”
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