Dr. Mierlak is a psychiatrist who has specialized in addictions since 1995. He brings his knowledge of the advances and changes in the treatment of addiction to this fascinating and informative conversation with Susan. His practice ranges from work with addicted homeless mentally ill men at The Freedom Institute to celebrities in his upper east side office.
“There is not a one size fits all treatment for addiction.” He encourages all kinds of techniques, from AA to customized cognitive and behavioral methods, i.e. breaking down how you think about the substance, setting up obstacles to access, changing routines in your day to avoid triggers, etc. A more recent treatment is “harm reduction,” where the patient wants help but doesn’t want to stop using the substance, so the ‘how’ to reduce becomes the creative part of the work. There are a lot of forces working against patients coming in with addiction problems, hence encouragement is key to reduce the stigma, remove the moral judgement, normalize the problem.
“Everyone has their struggles, their demons - including the therapist - we’re all in the same boat,” he says. “Don’t give up hope. It’s a very difficult process. Keep looking until you find the person who you think can help YOU.” To this end, every patient is a clean slate, Dr. Mierlak doesn’t assume he knows what’s best, he listens attentively to the stories his patients tell him, to help discover what is best for them.
Meet This Episode's Guest
Dr. Daniel Mierlak
Daniel Mierlak is a psychiatrist, board-certified in General and Addiction Psychiatry. Dr. Mierlak received his MD and PhD from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn in 1989. He completed his residency training in psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College, Payne Whitney Clinic, in 1993, and completed his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at New York University Medical Center in 1996. He has been Medical Director of the Freedom Institute, an outpatient chemical dependency treatment center in Manhattan, since 2008, and is on the voluntary faculty of the Weill Cornell Medical College.
Dr. Mierlak has worked in hospital, clinic and private office settings, treating a wide array of psychiatric and addictive disorders. In addition to teaching and lecturing, he has conducted research on psychiatric illness in HIV patients, and substance abuse in homeless, mentally ill men. He is currently working on a series of essays on his experience as a psychiatrist.
Find out more about Dr. Mierlak on his website!