CherryWellness - Health, Wellness & Fitness Consultation
Recovery Coaching


-Sagebrush Addiction Treatment Center, VA:  Director of Admissions
-City of Alexandria, VA Detox Facility:  Therapist
-United States Air Force, Military Psychologist, Chief of Behavioral Health  
 and the Alcohol and Drug Program
-Cape Fear Regional Hospital, NC: Intern, Chronic Pain Day Treatment
 Program, Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehabilitation

I am a REVIVE! (Opioid Overdose Reversal for Virginia) volunteer first responder in the community.

Nationally, we are in the midst of the worst drug epidemic ever.  Currently, more people die from drug overdoses than car accidents or gun homicides.  This epidemic has been fueled by an aggressive 1990's marked campaign by a leading opioid pharma that promoted the wide spread use of opioids to treat pain, professing the minimization of addiction. As a result of these campaigns, Today, approximately 80% of heroin users started with legitimate prescriptions for opioids.  

I work with individuals in recovery seeking to develop positive coping and life skills to remain drug-free.  I also work with individuals to rebuild relationships severed by substance misuse and addiction.  In the coaching model, I am available outside of scheduled appointments via phone and email to support wellness progress and manage challenges as they arise. 

I do not believe individuals "surrender" to their addiction.  I believe individuals in recovery should strive and be proactive in seeking a healthy way to live.  I encourage my clients to exercise and eat healthy to engage their brain's natural dopamine and endorphins in mood improvement.  I work with and collaborate with other medical providers in coordinating care and wellness in a proactive manner.  

The Brain in Recovery

Linda Cherry PsyD

Neuroscientists are beginning to have a better understanding of the adaptation the brain likely goes through after continuous heavy use of addictive substances that leaves the brain damaged—even after years of abstinence.  One irreversible change that can manifest and leave the brain primed to relapse even after a mere single exposure to an addictive substance is referred to as “reinstatement” by neurobiologists and “relapse” by counselors and individuals who are addicted.

More important to be aware of is the fact that reinstatement is not triggered solely by the substance “of choice” the individual may have used primarily before.  Reinstatement can occur after using any addictive substance as all of these substances utilize the same brain reward pathway.

Understanding Prevalence of Addiction· Nearly 23 million Americans—almost 1 in 10—are addicted to alcohol or other drugs· More than two-thirds of people with addiction abuse alcohol· The top 3 drugs causing addiction:  Marijuana, opioid (narcotic) pain relievers, & cocaine.

Clearly demonstrated in research:  animals repeatedly exposed to the addictive component in of marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC”) and then not given THC for a period of time are statistically more vulnerable to become addicted to morphine more quickly than animals not previously exposed to THC.  This phenomenon is called “cross-sensitization” or “cross addiction.”  For example, if a teen who previously used THC on a regular basis through college and then obtained a professional job and stopped using it recreationally went to have surgery---in post op, they were given morphine both in the hospital and then for a couple of weeks at home—is at significantly greater risk for addiction due to alterations in the brain. 

In fact, it is estimated as many as 56% of patients who receive long-term prescription opioid pain medication for ailments such as low back pain, progress to addictive opioid use.  Note:  this statistic actually reflects those with no prior history of addiction.  So, it may be projected the addictive potential of those with a prior history of addiction would be significantly higher based on the principle of reinstatement as discussed above.  

How Drugs High-Jack the Brain

Our brain registers pleasure, whether it is a psychoactive drug, sex, monetary reward or merely a satisfying meal.  In pleasure, the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.  All psychoactive drugs, from nicotine to heroin, cause a powerful surge of dopamine in this area of the brain. 

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