Why an Aftercare Plan is So Important

Aftercare plan

An Aftercare Plan is Important

 

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a complex medical condition. Fortunately, medical science has given us the tools to effectively treat patients with SUD. Treatment is a long process that may involve both medication and various therapies. However, no treatment program can produce perfect lifelong outcomes. Estimates suggest between 20 to 50 percent of patients who get treatment will relapse at some point. This is why an aftercare plan is so important to help patients stay sober. Here, we will cover the following:

  • Why is SUD so complicated to treat?
  • What happens during treatment?
  • What should aftercare look like?

 

Why Is SUD So Complicated To Treat?

 

Most people understand that SUD is caused by misuse of a substance. To a point, that is true. When patients use a substance for the first time, the brain will send out pleasure signals to reward use. This is the “rush” or “high” that patients describe. However, as time goes on, the substance essentially hijacks the brain. Instead of sending out reward signals for use, the brain will send out distress signals for lack of use. These distress signals are called withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors in arms or legs
  • anxiety/depression

 

Left untreated, withdrawal can be uncomfortable at best, and in some cases it can be deadly. Patients attempting to simply quit using on their own often cannot physically do so. At the same time, many patients live with comorbidities like depression or anxiety. These mental conditions are more prominent in patients with SUD. In fact, researchers increasingly believe that these conditions may cause patients to be more susceptible to addiction. For addiction treatment to work, both the SUD itself and the underlying conditions must be treated at the same time.

 

What Happens During Treatment?

 

Treatment programs like ours build unique care plans for each individual patient. Generally speaking, most programs involve a medically supervised detox prior to long-term treatment. This process allows the patient’s body to clean out unwanted substances, while medical teams treat the withdrawal symptoms. By ensuring patient safety and comfort, medically supervised detox gives patients a better chance to complete treatment. Our outpatient detox program allows patients to stay overnight at a sober living house. There, they will have all of the comforts of home without the presence of illicit substances. This process lasts around 1-2 weeks.

 

Once detox is complete, patients will enter either a partial hospitalization (PHP) or intensive outpatient (IOP) program. There, patients continue to see medical staff for medication adjustments. They also meet with therapists in both individual and group sessions. Therapy sessions help patients identify use triggers and develop coping strategies for life after treatment. Family therapy is usually offered as well to help loved ones through their own healing journey. Patients may also take advantage of 12 step programs, and will continue in sober living arrangements.

 

What Should Aftercare Look Like?

 

The treatment process is an intense time for patients. Depending on the treatment program, patients may spend anywhere from 3-12 months away from their normal life. Most patients who finish treatment do not want to fall back into old patterns. Effective aftercare following treatment can be the difference between sober living and relapse. Aftercare should be part of your care plan from the beginning of treatment. Aftercare should involve plans for continued treatment of coexisting conditions, social support, and lifestyle adjustments.

 

Treatment For Coexisting Conditions

Patients with conditions like depression and anxiety should continue treatment long term. Your recovery center may be able to offer you a referral to a healthcare provider for this purpose. Depending on your situation, telehealth services and virtual meetings may be an option. Be sure your care plan includes this step before finishing outpatient treatment for SUD.

 

Social Support

Developing a strong support network is key to sustained sobriety. If you have not been involved in a 12 step group during treatment, consider attending one post-treatment. Many people draw strength and hope from those who are on the recovery journey. Groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen can offer this same support to your close family. Be sure to spend as much time as possible around those who want to help you stay sober.

 

Lifestyle Adjustments

Many patients learn about changing “people, places and things” during treatment. Work with your therapists and support staff to plan for what that means in your life. If you spent most of your time at the bar previously, explore new hobbies to occupy your time. Perhaps take up yoga or art to creatively express yourself. Sober living can be as enriching as you want it to be. So don’t limit yourself; try something new!

 

Contact Us Today

 

If you are ready to take the first step to a better life, contact us today! We accept most major insurance programs. Addiction is not your fault. You deserve dignity, respect, and expert care.

 

 

 

The Disease Model of Addiction

the disease model of addiction

Looking at The Disease Model Of Addiction

 

Addiction has been a fact of life since humans began to use alcohol and drugs. The effects of addiction were poorly understood. Misuse of alcohol or other substances was sometimes seen as the work of dark supernatural forces. In other societies, those who “drank too much” were said to have made bad moral choices. In the 20th century, scientists began to study the effects of drug and alcohol use on the human body. Today, the medical community has largely adopted the disease model of addiction. This model identifies addiction to drugs and alcohol as a disease requiring medical treatment. What is the disease model of addiction? What are the other models used to explain how addiction works? Here we will explore:

  • How addiction affects the body
  • The role of treatment
  • Other addiction models in studies

 

How Addiction Affects the Body

 

The human body is controlled entirely by the brain. In a healthy body, the brain sends out pleasure/reward signals for activities like exercise, sleep, and eating. Addictive substances hijack the brain’s functions to reward substance use. When the substance is first used, the brain sends out these pleasure/reward signals in the form of a “high.” Over time, continued use rewires the brain to depend on the substance to function. This dependence is called addiction. When the brain no longer detects the presence of the substance, it sends out distress signals. These signals are known as withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can vary based on the substance, but generally they include:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Fever
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Sweating

 

Addiction As A Disease

 

Research in the field of substance misuse and addiction is ongoing. However, most medical experts agree that addiction meets the definition of a disease. Alcohol addiction is known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and substance addiction as Substance Use Disorder (SUD).  Simply put, no one can simply choose not to live with a disease once they have it. This also means that the patient struggling with addiction is not at fault. No one deserves to be shamed or punished simply for living with a disease.

 

The Role Of Treatment

 

Like other diseases, medical treatment options are available for patients living with AUD and SUD. Taken together, these treatments are as effective as treatments for other medical conditions.  Treatment efforts generally focus on the following three phases:

  • Medically Supervised Detox
  • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
  • Therapy

 

Medically Supervised Detox

 

The first step to successful treatment is to rid the body of substance. The safest and most comfortable way to detox is with medical supervision. Medical staff will administer medication to lessen withdrawal symptoms while the body purges itself. Generally, this process lasts 1-2 weeks, but can vary based on each patient’s needs.

 

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

 

Addiction can cause a variety of health problems. Often, patients with SUD or AUD have other health problems as well that have gone untreated. In MAT, patients will continue to see a doctor and take medication as needed during treatment. The patient’s days will be spent either with the medical team, in therapy,  or in 12 step meetings. In a residential program, the patient will stay on site 24 hours a day. This allows a medical team to provide constant care if needed. In a  Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), patients will go to treatment  and stay at a sober living house at night. Here they will have all of the comforts of home without the stress of staying away from substances.

 

Therapy

 

To successfully treat patients for addiction, therapy must be used along with medication. In therapy, patients learn their triggers and develop coping strategies. Many programs, such as the one at Midwood Recovery, offer trauma informed therapy. Most patients living with addiction have experienced some form of trauma in their lives. Trauma therapy allows care teams to help patients deal with these root causes.

 

Other Models Of Addiction

 

Today, the disease model of addiction is the generally accepted model for treatment. There are other models that have been studied as well. The moral model of addiction generally states that patients have a choice whether or not to use. This model is generally considered outdated. However, some do consider the first use of an addictive substance as a choice. Other models include:

  • The Psycho-Dynamic Model – problems from childhood inform actions taken as adults
  • The Socio-Cultural Model – addiction is a product of the society where the patient lives
  • The Public Health Model – drug use in society cannot be stopped, but can only be managed

 

Contact Us Today

 

If you are currently living with SUD or AUD, you are not alone. Your medical condition is not your fault, and there are effective treatment options available. Contact us today to get the level of care you deserve.

What are the 12 Steps?

What are the 12 steps

12 Step Programs In Recovery

 

In the 1930’s Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The organization helped those living with alcohol addiction to maintain sobriety by working the “12 Steps” of recovery. AA became a household name over the years, and sparked new 12 step groups for other substances and challenges. Many treatment centers still utilize or encourage patients to attend 12 step groups as part of their recovery. Working the 12 steps and attending meetings are considered evidence-based solutions in the recovery field. Here, we will look at the following:

  • What do the 12 steps teach
  • How do 12 step meetings work
  • What is a sponsor
  • Who can benefit from a 12 Step Program
  • How 12 step meetings can fit into treatment

 

What 12 Step Programs Teach

 

The 12 Steps are designed to help members admit powerlessness over addiction and to seek daily abstinence. AA teaches that alcoholism (known today as Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD) cannot be cured. However, by “working the steps”, the condition can be arrested. The 12 steps themselves encourage members to seek spiritual help for strength and clarity. They also encourage members to take a “fearless and searching moral inventory” of themselves. The last step encourages members to serve others by helping them work the steps as well.

 

How Do 12 Step Meetings Work

 

AA and related groups don’t have an official membership policy.  There are generally two types of groups; open groups and closed groups. Open groups are for anyone who wishes to attend a meeting. These groups are generally a good starting place for newcomers. Closed groups are for a dedicated group of individuals to work the steps together for a certain period of time. This can be anywhere from a few months to a year or more. Most larger cities in the US have groups meeting throughout the week. This way, meetings can be made to work for most schedules. This also allows anyone feeling the urge to drink again to find an open meeting quickly.

Meetings are not professionally managed but are generally facilitated by more tenured members of the group. These meetings can be either gender-specific or open to all genders.

 

What Is A Sponsor?

 

Once a participant has worked their way through the 12 steps, they often mentor those new to the program. This is called sponsorship. A sponsor is generally someone who has at least one year of sobriety. The sponsor’s role is to serve as a support contact for the person they are sponsoring. It is generally up to the sponsee to ask someone to sponsor them. Likewise, either the sponsor or sponsee can end the arrangement at any time. Many sponsors will work with numerous sponsees over the course of their time in AA.

 

Who Can Benefit from A 12 Step Program?

 

According to AA, anyone can benefit from participating. Some open meetings welcome spouses or families of newcomers to help them feel welcome. There are also sister organizations life Al-Anon and Alateen that work with families of those living with addiction. AA has modified the language of the 12 steps over the years to be more inclusive of all religious backgrounds. There are now groups focused on narcotics, problem gambling, and sex addictions. Some religious groups have adopted modified forms of 12-step programs for their own recovery programs as well, such as Celebrate Recovery.

 

How Do 12 Step Programs Fit With Treatment?

 

Many treatment centers still offer 12 step groups as a part of their overall treatment program. The reason why is simple. The 12 Step programs have been proven effective.   This is especially true when attendees actually work the steps and invest in the program. However, these groups are only part of the whole treatment picture. If you have been diagnosed with AUD, it is important that you seek medical help to properly manage withdrawal. You will also need a comprehensive care plan to pursue long-term medical and psychological treatment. 12 step programs can be helpful for those who have completed some or all of their treatment program. Many patients benefit from a close sponsor relationship and ongoing group support as they reintegrate with daily life. As many 12 step participants like to say, “we are here to support one another, not fix one another.”

 

Talk to us

 

Wondering if a 12 step program can be right for your recovery plan? Let’s start a conversation. We can help you decide what treatment plan makes the most sense for you or the person you love. Let us help you reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve!

Recovery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

recovery during the covid-19 pandemic

A New Reality

It’s like the world ended. And in many ways, it did. You can’t go to work. Can’t attend school. Can’t meet up for lunch with friends. News footage shows barren streets. There weren’t any holidays, really. For the first time in its existence, the NYC NYE ball drop had virtually no one present. The entire world feels like a ghost town. When things finally did open back up, we’ve all had to wear masks. We’ve had to relearn how to wash our hands. We’ve been sterilizing door knobs and handles. Many places even installed footplates to prevent us from having to open doors with our hands. Toilet paper disappeared from shelves. Story after story, post after post. Everywhere, people were getting sick. Hospitals were so full, they turned people away.

What Is “Normal” Anyway?

You didn’t know which way was up. Truth and falsehood were stitched so closely together, you couldn’t even trust your own thoughts. Let alone anyone else’s. We became so afraid. We were overwrought with anxiety. We feared for our health. We feared food shortages. We suffered a collective trauma. Not as individuals, or families, or even countries. But the whole planet. And we’ve been living in that state for over a year. We’ve been carrying on as best we could. But we’ve had no release. No relief. We’ve waited for “normal” to come back. For things to go back to the way they were before. We’re in a new reality now. That new reality has placed demands and responsibilities on us that the old one did not.

Isolation And Alcohol

Quarantine isolates us from the world. The intention, of course, is to protect our health. But the advantage of quarantine (not getting sick) can turn into its biggest downside. Isolation might indeed keep us from contracting COVID-19. No one will dispute that. But what about our mental health? If we cut ourselves off from the most meaningful relationships in our lives, we’re asking for trouble. To cope with the isolation, you might begin (or resume) drinking. And it might make you feel better. It might ease you into sleep at night. But drinking has repercussions. And not just for your mind. Along with your judgment, alcohol impairs your immune system. It causes inflammation in your gut, killing off bacteria that keep you healthy. An unhealthy immune system increases your risk of getting sick – with something like COVID-19. Moreover, alcohol will not make a fit substitute for authentic social interaction.

Depression And Alcohol

New research from the University of Arizona indicates an astronomical increase in alcohol abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t a surprise given the restrictive quarantines and lockdowns. If your cornerstone relationships are compromised, you essentially have no support system. But alcohol cannot replace your family. It can’t interact with you at work. It can’t encourage you, talk to you, or be intimate with you. It can’t give you the feedback you need to become a more whole person. Alcohol and depression often co-occur. Suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) doubles your risk of developing major depression (MD). The reverse can also be true. An affliction of major depression often precedes alcohol abuse.

Online Recovery Meetings

No one denies the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, no one denies the importance of meaningful relationships for our health and growth. But what do we do when we can’t convene in public? How do we participate in recovery during this time? Fortunately, our age of technology presents some tangible solutions. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Refuge Recovery, and a number of other 12-step programs offer Zoom meetings. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation set up an online community called The Daily Pledge. Unity Recovery, WEconnect, SOS Recovery, and Alano Club offer Zoom meetings. Participants can choose whether or not to use their cameras and can mute their audio. No one is required to share. For more recovery resources, check out this list from SAMHSA.

Individual Therapy

Appointments with your therapist represent a critical part of your recovery. Especially during this time of quarantine. If you have a regular therapist, ask about digital sessions. If you don’t, look for a provider that allows for telehealth meetings. These might happen via Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, or other platforms. If you don’t have access to a computer, many services like these have apps you can download on your phone. Use technology to your advantage! Keep your individual appointments with your therapist and/or counselor. Doing so maintains your prescriptions. It will help you decompress from anxiety and depression. Staying committed to your appointments helps you remain focused on your recovery process.

Proper Nutrition

GrubHub, DoorDash, Uber Eats and their ilk help out a lot, don’t they? With restaurants operating at limited capacity, your favorite foods are a few taps away. Nothing wrong with an occasional indulgence. But chances are, you’ve learned how proper nutrition affects your recovery. If you were in treatment prior to the pandemic, refresh your memory about diet. Keep your macronutrients in mind: protein, fat, carbohydrates. Do your best to eat foods with one ingredient. Bored of making the same meals over and over? Try a cookbook! Prefer to watch videos or take a course? Sites like Skillshare have a TON of cooking classes for you to look through.

Get Outside!

We’ve been told not to gather in groups. But no one’s told us that we must stay indoors for 24 hours a day. Just 10-30 minutes of sunshine a day makes a tremendous difference in your health. The sun is the human body’s main source of Vitamin D. A sufficient amount of vitamin D helps keep our bones healthy. Sunlight reduces inflammation, balances our calcium, and supports the immune system. But those aren’t the only benefits of sunlight. Adequate time in the sun also improves your mood; it reduces both anxiety and depression. You needn’t do anything strenuous to reap these benefits. Grab a book or some headphones and go sit in your backyard for a bit. That’s hardly the worst way to spend your quarantine.

Recovery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If you’d like more information about how Midwood Addiction Treatment can help your recovery during quarantine, call us now at 888-MAT-1110.

How FMLA Works

How FMLA Works

Do you know how FMLA works? When health issues befall you or your family, it helps to know your job is safe. Even if you need to take time off of work, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to allow you to keep your job. How it works can be confusing. Knowing your rights can reduce the strain of a sudden illness and help you keep your income.

Who Qualifies for FMLA

Most employees are able to use FMLA benefits. If any of the following apply to you, you likely qualify for FMLA:

  • Employees of private businesses with more than 50 employees are usually covered by FMLA.
  • The business must employ more than 50 workers for 20 or more weeks out of the current or previous calendar year.
  • All government employees – including federal, state and local – are eligible.
  • The FMLA covers educators at the elementary and secondary levels. This means middle and high school.
  • If you work for a private business with less than 50 employees, you are not able to receive FMLA benefits. However, you may be eligible under state laws.

Additional Requirements

There are a few further conditions to receive FMLA benefits. These are:

  • You must have worked for your employer for 12 total months. These months do not need to be consecutive. Therefore, seasonal workers can still qualify.
  • You cannot have taken a break from that employer that lasted more than 7 years.
  • You must have worked for a total of 1250 hours for the same employer within the 12 month period prior to taking leave. 1250 hours is approximately 24 hours per week for a full year. Sick leave or paid time off do not count toward this total.
  • Your employer must have more than 50 employees within 75 miles of your work location. This is especially important if you work remotely. If the employer has fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work, you do not qualify for FMLA.
  • Special qualifications apply to flight attendants and flight crew members. The FMLA Handbook outlines these.

What FMLA Does

The act provides qualified employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period to care for a serious medical condition within their family. You can take the 12 weeks all at once, or at various times throughout the year. The FMLA defines “Family” as a parent, spouse or child. Serious medical conditions include:

  • Any condition that requires an overnight stay at a hospital or other medical facility. This includes most drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.
  • A condition that incapacitates you or a family member for more than three consecutive days.
  • Conditions that have intermittent periods of incapacitation. This means if you or a family member require medical aid for an ongoing, chronic issue that manifests twice or more per year.
  • FMLA covers pregnancy and childbirth. You can also take time off to bond with a newly adopted child or foster child placed in your care.

After leave, the employer must reinstate the employee at their previous job, or a job with equal pay, hours, and benefits.

How FMLA Works

You must ensure your employer is covered. Employers covered by FMLA must post information about it in a conspicuous place. If you see any signs about the Family and Medical Leave Act, you can probably use it. The employee handbook must also contain information regarding medical leave. Likewise, if you request information your employer is required to provide it.

Furthermore, the federal Department of Labor can tell you if your employer is covered.

If you have any difficulty determining whether or not you’re eligible, an attorney that specializes in this field can help. Human resources departments can likewise guide you through the FMLA process. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities are also able to help you with this process.

How to Deal with Shyness and Low Self-Esteem in Recovery

Low Self-Esteem in Recovery

Terror And Fear

You’re terrified of treatment. You’re afraid to get help. Maybe it’s the fear of judgment. You’re already crushed by guilt. You’re like Giles Corey, being flattened by many accusers. Your thoughts accuse you. They point at you and condemn you. Call you a failure. A loser. An addict. They tell you that you don’t measure up to any standard. They say that you’ve ruined your life beyond repair. But perhaps you think even worse thoughts than those. Perhaps you think you don’t deserve to be alive. That maybe the people around you would be better off if you weren’t here.

If you feel anything like this, begin by breathing deeply. Inhale. Suck in so much air that it hurts. Then exhale. If you’ve done that, then you’ve committed to at least one more breath. That’s a good thing. It’s good that you’re sticking around. If you’re breathing, you have a purpose. Even if that purpose is just to take one more breath. If your blood is flowing, you have a chance. If there’s a pulse, there’s a way forward. It might feel painful. And most likely, it will involve very difficult choices. But you must be around to make those choices. Because no one else can.

Considering Treatment? You’re Ahead!

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb you may have heard. It goes like this, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” History attributes that advice to Lao Tzu. Just the thought of considering treatment seems too great a feat. You hold that thought in your mind and you feel hot. Your temples throb and your palms sweat.

If you’re considering treatment, then that’s something to feel good about! If you’re thinking of treatment as a legitimate possibility, that means that you believe you’re ready to start over. You’re done spiraling downward. You’re done with lack of control. You’re ready to put in work to change your life. You’re already doing well. Tell yourself that. Let yourself really believe that you’re making a good choice to even consider treatment. On some level, you have to believe you need treatment before you’ll actively look for it.

Group Meetings 101

Different treatment programs suit different people in different seasons of their lives. Each program varies in its restriction of your personal autonomy. But one thing all programs have in common: group meetings. You’ll be in a room with other people in different levels of treatment. The exact structure of the group meeting may vary. But they all follow a similar blueprint. Group meetings all have a facilitator (a counselor, social worker, therapist, etc.). At the beginning of the meeting, the facilitator will begin by suggesting a topic. They might choose a topic on their own. Or, the topic might be something another group member mentioned in a previous meeting.

The facilitator will then shift to the participants. A participant may voice their observations, opinions, and feelings about the given topic. They may speak about what they have learned. They may offer wisdom or insight they have gained. Once that person finishes speaking, the facilitator will ask for further speakers. If no one volunteers, the facilitator may call on a member of the group by name. Note: you will never be required to speak. But think of group meetings like an investment: you get out what you put in.

Low Self-Esteem in Recovery

When first attending, feel free to remain silent. If you don’t want to make eye contact, find an inanimate object to look at. Find a unique pattern on the floor. Or a piece of art hanging on the wall. Pretend to be invisible. Imagine that you’re hidden; that no one can see you. Focus intently on your own breath. Forgetting yourself like this will help you become more attentive to the conversations around you.

And that’s your mission for your first group meeting. Listen. Internalize what other members are saying. Think deeply about it. Reflect on it and learn from it.

Group Etiquette

To help you ease into the group, here are a few ground rules. Knowing what to expect will help you grow more comfortable with the setting. Group therapy conversations work differently than real-world conversations. Never interrupt when someone speaks. The facilitator should prohibit cross-talking, i.e. addressing your comments to a specific group member. You speak to the group, rather than to a particular person.

Likewise, the facilitator should not allow group members to question other group members. If the facilitator thinks certain comments need clarifying, they may ask the speaker a question. But group members do not interrogate other group members. No matter how difficult the conversations become, remain seated. Stay in the room for the entire duration of the meeting. Group meetings typically last about an hour. The facilitator will dismiss the group when the time ends.

Speak The Truth

Speaking in front of a group is scary. The eyes on you. The judgmental thoughts. The criticisms. What must they be thinking of you? Focus on what you’re talking about. Keep yourself resolute. Speaking is just breathing with form. It has more sound. A different purpose. With your thoughts trained on your words, talk slowly about what you have to say. Tell the truth. Don’t sugarcoat. There’s no need for profanity, but be honest about your feelings, opinions, and observations. You’re not here for other people’s negativity. You’re here to transform yourself.

Your Words Might Help

You don’t know how your story might help someone. What you’ve been through – your failures, your choices, your experiences – can make a difference in other peoples’ lives. Speaking openly and honestly about your life can provide wisdom to those listening. Just as you can gain understanding from listening to others. If you don’t speak, you may wonder, “what if?” Who might you have helped if you spoke up? If you spoke your truth about your experience with addiction? Granted, no one may approach you and say out loud, “Hey, what you said really helped me.” But rest assured, if you remain silent you will help no one. And yourself least of all.

Adventure Therapy for Addiction

hikers walking a trail for adventure therapy

What is Adventure Therapy?

The idea of utilizing nature and outdoor activity as a therapeutic aid has been around for a long time. The Outward Bound program for young people began in Wales in 1941. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that adventure therapy for addiction began to enter the mainstream of the treatment field. The concept is simple. Most people find comfort and peace in nature, it’s how we are wired biologically. Programs like Outward Bound also leverage the athletic aspects of outdoor activity. Specifically, they engage participants in challenging and strenuous activity designed to both build character and encourage teamwork among other virtues.

Outward Bound is not specifically targeted at addiction alone though. It also falls at the more extreme end of the spectrum in terms of intensity. This type of program is designed to break a person down and rebuild them in a sense. Participants are brought into the wilderness and taught survival skills. They may spend several nights alone in the wild with only basic tools. Other activities will incorporate teamwork, such as rock climbing or obstacle courses with climbing walls.

Benefits of Adventure Therapy for Addiction

Not all adventure therapy for addiction involves these extremes, however. In virtually every type of addiction treatment, people generally find a change of environment helpful. A change of surroundings alone is scarcely enough. But it does send a signal to the subconscious mind that adaptation is required. It can both remove a person from potential triggers and make them more malleable and receptive to new ideas. Studies have shown it takes between 1-2 months on average to form new habits and get them to stick. (1) Any positive change of environment we can introduce in concert with therapy and structure for a sustained period of time can show benefits.

The focus of adventure therapy is on maximizing the results during that time. Research has shown that simply spending more time outdoors, in nature, has positive effects on brain chemistry. (2) When this is combined with physical exercise and team-building activities, these effects can be leveraged. Addiction robs us of many things, self-confidence and esteem are among them. The sense of achievement one receives from simply completing a challenge is good medicine for this condition. The opportunity to overcome a fear provided powerful counteraction for a poor sense of self-worth. Objectives that require cooperation reinforce the ethic of teamwork.

All of these characteristics are vital to enduring recovery. Anyone who has put together significant sober time will tell you that. Adventure therapy can provide parallels to the struggles faced in overcoming addiction. Most people will find the most benefit from beginning rehab in a medical facility first and following the conventional course of treatment with Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) care. Once a patient is medically stable and has some time and traditional therapy completed, exploring adventure therapy is a sound idea. We are living in an era of innovation in the science of addiction and recovery. Adventure therapy is one more tool we can use to craft a life of enduring recovery.

(1) http://repositorio.ispa.pt/bitstream/10400.12/3364/1/IJSP_998-1009.pdf
(2) https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature

How Yoga Can Support Trauma Healing and Recovery

Yoga for Trauma Healing

Trauma is a key driver of substance abuse and addiction. In fact, people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are 14 times more likely to be diagnosed with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) than the general public. Often people who’ve experienced severe trauma try to self-medicate to mask their uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, SUD and addiction present their own challenges and do not solve the root of the issue. Mindfulness and yoga are now being suggested as complementary therapies for trauma healing and recovery.

 

Trauma and the Autonomic Nervous System

Much of the research on treating people for trauma focuses on regulating the Autonomic Nervous System. When a traumatic event occurs, the nervous system kicks into “Fight or Flight” mode, the Sympathetic Nervous System response. The body effectively kicks into high gear, with all of the body’s systems and energy focused on escaping or dealing with the threat. Typically, once the threat has subsided, the body can down-regulate from this heightened state back into the Parasympathetic (“Rest and Digest”) mode that we operate in normally. 

However, in the case of PTSD, this down regulation either doesn’t occur or the “Fight or Flight” response is easily triggered. This can occur from memories of the event or even everyday occurrences that wouldn’t normally be considered traumatic. The patient often experiences a near-constant state of anxiety, stress, and heightened nervous system response, also known as hypervigilance. 

 

Yoga, Mindfulness and Trauma Healing

Mindfulness is an important practice for anyone but is crucial for PTSD. A 2016 study in the Journal of Alternative Medicine states that eliminating the conditioned fear response of PTSD is crucial to resolving the mental health issue. It means that in order to manage the powerful emotions and impulsive responses associated with PTSD, survivors of trauma must learn to stay oriented in the present moment. 

Yoga centers on moving through poses and focusing on linking the breath to each movement. Therefore, mindfulness has always been a key aspect of this ancient practice. Some practitioners suggest that the bodywork aspect of yoga acts as a bridge to achieving mindfulness. This is likely due to yoga’s emphasis on body awareness, breath work, and mental strength. In yoga, the concept of “mind over matter” is practiced when in difficult poses or uncomfortable positions. Similarly, yoga is a moving meditation, which can benefit mental health in a myriad of ways.

Anecdotal data suggests that both yoga and mindfulness are effective as complementary therapies for PTSD, combined with traditional psychiatric and psychological treatments. 

 

Yoga in Addiction Treatment

At Harmony Recovery Group, we incorporate yoga into our treatment plans. From helping support our patients in trauma healing to teaching mindfulness skills that can benefit their recovery, yoga is a helpful tool that can be used long after treatment has ended. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Contact us today, see how we can help you live the life you’ve dreamed of, free of drugs and alcohol. 

 

Sources

THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE Volume 22, Number 3, 2016, pp. 189–196 ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2014.0407

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415609/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5939561/

Global Parents Day: Support for Parents of Addicted Children

Help for Parents of Addicted Children

Today, June 1st, is Global Day of Parents, a holiday created by the UN to recognize and appreciate the parents in our lives and society. To all parents of addicted children: we see you, we appreciate you, and we support you. 

We know that holidays can be particularly painful for parents of addicted children, we’ve listed some coping strategies for dealing with this crisis.

 

Learn all you can about Addiction 

Addiction is a chronic disease that takes over the lives of those it affects and their loved ones. There are many misconceptions around addiction and substance abuse. Learning about how addiction happens, how it affects your child and how it affects you and your family are all important steps to understanding and healing. Educating yourself on the subject can also help you spot signs and symptoms as well as help manage expectations before and during the recovery process. 

 

Understand the Difference Between Helping and Enabling

As parents, we love our children. We have spent our lives as parents keeping them safe from harm, teaching them, helping them grow. To watch them in crisis is unnerving. Our protection instincts kick in and all we want to do is help. Unfortunately this helping instinct can lead to enabling. Addicted children will take advantage of this to keep the flow of their addiction running. 

It’s important to ask yourself, “Will this action enable my child’s addiction?” To get your child through addiction means you must ask yourself this at every turn. Every action you take, every boundary you establish needs to be working towards getting them into sobriety. 

Enabling comes in when the actions you take make it easier for your child to continue using drugs. Sometimes it’s pretty clear: Giving food or gas money that may be used to buy drugs, paying their rent so they still have a place to live, or bailing them out of trouble their drug use has caused are all overt acts of enabling.

But enabling can also be more subtle. Do you minimize their drug use to family members? Have you ever lied for them to cover their addiction? Do you avoid it altogether, so that when your child comes home for dinner one week things can just “be normal for once”? Staying quiet to keep the peace or minimizing the scope of the situation are both dangerous acts of enabling. Addiction thrives in the dark. 

 

Understand that their choices are not reflections of your parenting 

Addicts lie, cheat, and steal. They are consumed by finding their next fix. It is not because you did not teach them right from wrong, it is not because you failed them as a parent. There is a phrase in addiction circles called the “3 C’s”: You did not cause their addiction, you cannot control their addiction. All you can do is change yourself and your reaction. Do not blame yourself. Find support groups, seek therapy, and find ways to care for yourself. In truth, all we can ever truly have control over in life is ourselves and our emotional response. Learning to change the natural, impulsive reactions we have to situations like this can go a long way in weathering the storm. 

 

Create boundaries to protect yourself and your family 

Boundaries are the anti-enabling. It is important to set clear rules and boundaries with addicted children to protect yourself, your loved ones, and ultimately your addicted child. Not letting them come to the house while high, if they’re still living at home not allowing them to have drug-using friends over, not allowing them to abuse, insult, or manipulate you. These are all healthy boundaries that can protect your family physically and emotionally from addictive behaviors. 

 

Practice Self-Care 

This journey you are on is a painful, stressful, exhausting one. Living in crisis can cause serious mental and physical health issues which is why it is so important to take time to prioritize your wellbeing. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right, and taking time for yourself. 

 

Establish an Open Dialogue

Learn to communicate with honesty, vulnerability, and acceptance. Anger, yelling, and/or blaming do not create safe spaces in which to discuss problems and can push the addict further away. Once you have stopped enabling and have firm boundaries set, having this open channel of communication will be helpful when your addicted child does decide to discuss their situation. A safe space is one in which help can be asked for, and treatment can be suggested. 

 

Treatment is the answer, but they need to want it for themselves 

Getting your addicted child into treatment is the best possible option for getting them into a life of sobriety and health. However, it is important to know that treatment works best when the addict truly wants to change. Sometimes an addict needs to hit rock bottom to make this change but not always. Learn all you can about treatment options and continue encouraging it until they decide they want to get help. When the time comes, professional treatment can change their life. 

 

Seeking Help

Being the parent of an addicted child is one of the biggest and most painful challenges a parent can face, we hope this article was able to offer some support and coping strategies. If you are struggling with an addicted child and don’t know what to do, please reach out. 

Our expert team at Harmony Recovery Group are here to help, both as a supportive ear and a strategy for change. Call us at (866) 461-4474

Staging an Alcohol or Drug Intervention

Drug Intervention | Midwood Addiction Treatment Center

Many people once believed that the best way to help a loved one with a substance abuse problem was to wait until he or she hit a state that could be referred to as “rock bottom.” Unfortunately, this implies that addiction is somehow different from other severe health conditions. For example, no one would ever tell someone with diabetes or cancer to wait to get treatment.

The medical community now considers the notion that an addict has to hit their lowest point to be archaic, risky, and very unhelpful. Instead, most professionals have adopted the more constructive view that addiction should be treated as a chronic disease and that an intervention, if needed, should occur as soon as possible.

For this reason, people are increasingly understanding and compassionate toward those who are battling an addiction. Loved ones are beginning to realize that the addict direly needs help, versus further suffering by allowing them to wait.

An alcohol or drug intervention is a process in which loved ones and intervention specialists can reveal to a person in the throes of addiction the adverse effects that their behavior has had on themselves and other important people in their lives.

Intervention Participation

Most often, the families of those struggling with an addiction will organize and perform an alcohol or drug intervention. Still, any person with a genuine and loving relationship with the individual can and should participate whenever possible. In addition to family members, these persons may include significant others, friends, co-workers, religious leaders, etc.

It is highly recommended that those planning to stage an intervention use the services of a person trained to facilitate this process. A professional can provide participants with the information they need to conduct a safe, thorough intervention that has the most potential for success.

The Purpose of an Alcohol or Drug Intervention

The ultimate goal of an intervention is to help the person with an addiction to undergo professional treatment. Ideally, it often takes the form or an inpatient or partial-hospitalization program, but less severe problems may benefit just as much from an intensive outpatient program.

It’s important to remember that the intention of an intervention is not to “gang up” on the loved one who needs help, but instead to show him or her how destructive their addiction really is and to persuade them to get help. Once a person begins to comprehend how their substance abuse problem affects the lives of others, he or she may be moved to seek treatment. An intervention can be used as a final warning, in a way, that loved ones are now refusing to enable or support the person’s addiction and related troubling behaviors.

Drug Intervention | Midwood Addiction Treatment Center

How Does an Intervention Work?

An alcohol or drug intervention should be performed in a safe, comfortable environment with the participation of anyone who has a personal stake in the situation. Adults and older children and adolescents may wish to participate, but very young children and toddlers, who can’t be active in conversation or who may become distressed, should not be there. Regardless of who is involved in the intervention, however, each person must receive sufficient training before attempting to participate.

In most instances, the person for whom the intervention is being staged has hurt friends and family members physically, emotionally, or financially. For this reason, best intentions are often not enough, and negative emotions such as anger and resentment are apt to surface and hijack the process if the people involved are not prepared to deal with them and relay them constructively. If an unhealthy conflict occurs, it will likely do more harm than good and could undermind the entire process altogether.

Moreover, an intervention is not an appropriate time to address the hurt and anger each person feels. Instead, it is an opportunity to reassure the person that he or she is loved and supported. Each participating member should compose, in advance, thoughts and feelings they wish to express to the addicted person to ensure that the intervention doesn’t get off track. They should also have their comments endorsed by other participants and the interventionist who is directing the process.

These thoughts can include any of the following:

  • How the individual has been personally and negatively affected by the loved one’s addiction and behavior
  • Changes the person has seen in the addicted individual’s personality, honesty, and self-control
  • The overall impact that the addicted person’s actions have had on the relationship
  • A prepared statement that exudes unconditional love for the addict, and stress that the person intervening is committed to no longer enabling the addict to destroy his or herself

The last step in staging an intervention is to ensure there is a bed available and waiting in a reputable, accredited rehab facility so the struggling addict or alcoholic can immediately enter treatment.

Signs an Intervention Is Necessary

The following are a few common warning signs to look for if you suspect that someone you love is grappling with a substance use disorder:

  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies once considered important or enjoyable
  • Being late for or absenteeism at work or school, and unsatisfactory performance, academically or professionally
  • Financial problems, such as repeatedly asking to borrow money, and incurring debt or not paying bills
  • Altered sleep patterns, such as staying up for long periods or sleeping excessively
  • Bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakiness, and notable changes in weight
  • Abnormal or erratic behaviors, impulsivity or uncharacteristic moodiness
  • Having repeated conflicts with family members, friends, or co-workers
  • Neglect of loved ones in favor of a new social group that approves of and promotes substance abuse

Drug Intervention | Midwood Addiction Treatment Center

What If the Intervention Fails?

The most impactful moment that can occur during an intervention is when the person with the problem understands that his or her loved ones will no longer enable the addiction. Many people suffering from addiction profess their desire to get treatment but do so primarily to manipulate others into continuing to help sustain their substance abuse habit for as long as possible.

You will know an intervention is likely to be unsuccessful if the person at the center of it promises to seek help “soon” or agrees to go under the provision that he or she is provided with money or a place to stay “for a while.” In other words, an intervention has failed if the subject is using any form of manipulation to convince loved ones that he or she is motivated to get help, and ultimately declines to follow through.

It is essential that if the person refuses to enter a rehab program that the intervention participants remain committed to their promises and refuse to enable the person’s addictive behavior. Often, it takes more than one intervention attempt to convince an addict that time is of the essence. The important thing is to remain strong in the face of the person’s addiction and continue to reassure them they are loved and emotionally supported even though you are withholding other means of assistance.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Staging an intervention is a time when loves ones of addicts and alcoholics can commit to the process of getting them into treatment. But remember, for the person suffering, intervention is just the first step to recovery. The bulk of their work still lies ahead through therapy, counseling, improved means of coping, relapse prevention strategies, and an enormous amount of steadfast faith and resolve.

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers programs in formats that include partial-hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient detox. We use a comprehensive approach to addiction that makes use of evidence-based therapies beneficial for the recovery process, which are conducted by caring addiction specialists with compassion, understanding, and expertise.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help!