Archive for December, 2013

What Goes into Establishing an Aftercare Program?

Sunday, Dec. 29th 2013

It is difficult to overcome drug and alcohol addiction, but it is possible. However, in order to make a lasting change, aftercare plays a crucial part of any treatment strategy. The reason that aftercare is so important is because once that patient leaves the residential treatment, which is when addiction recovery really starts. Sometimes patients find that everything is a bit overwhelming. They want guidance to ensure that they do not relapse.

All the questions of what you are going to do once you leave the recovery program are what go into making an addiction aftercare plan. How do you start making such a plane? There are five different steps that go into the creation of this plan.

Step #1 – Seek an Expert Opinion

The best place to start is with the residential treatment center you have attended. Any good rehab facility will tell you more about the different local programs and help you flush out the aftercare plan. This might involve help finding employment, family therapies for addiction and private counseling. You can draft an individualized plan specific to your needs with the help of your counselor.

Step #2 – Document Your Plan

Once you have a good idea of what type of program interests you, you need to make concrete plans. This means calling and narrowing down location, including days and times of meetings. When you document your plan, you are going to reduce overall anxiety. The reason is that the where, when, what and who questions are all answered. You will know what to do next.

Step #3 – Do Not Merely Assume You Will Avoid Relapse

It is important to take a moment and define exactly how you intend to prevent relapse. Any solid aftercare program will integrate a relapse prevention plan. How are you going to avoid triggers? How will you reduce the countless causes for relapse? This may include trying to avoid anxiety, isolation, anger, stress and other bad habits that may trigger a desire to use. It is important to have this in writing because it provides you with the tools necessary to live a sober life.

Step #4 – Let People Around You Know

For those that are lucky enough to have a support network available, the next step is letting people know about your aftercare plan. This may mean informing friends and/or family members how you are going to continue on this journey. By informing your support network, you let them know how they might be able to help you or maybe even encourage you in a moment of weakness.

Step #5 – Stick to The Plan

Yes, this sounds straightforward, but once you have an aftercare plan in place it is important to stick to it. While this sounds simple, oftentimes people are going to become complacent in attending meetings with their counselor or eating healthy food. They might stop avoiding bars or people who use illicit substances. It is important to remember how you managed to become sober in the first place and continue to live by those guiding principles.

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What to Look For in an Effective Alcohol Recovery Program

Thursday, Dec. 26th 2013

Your Recovery Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

If you or someone that you care about is struggling with alcohol addiction, it is important that you find a program that addresses the fundamental issues that lead to addictive behavior. However, it is important to understand that every situation is unique, which means that it requires individual consideration in order to find a particular method of treatment that is likely to succeed. How do you know what to look for in an alcohol rehab center? How can you be sure that it is the right place for you? The following aspects are important to help you find the right facility.

Check the Accreditation

You want to make sure that the facility is accredited, do not assume that it might be. Do these staff members have the qualifications that are important to you? Will you work with addiction specialists and licensed health professionals? Make sure that you find a program that instills the belief that alcohol dependence is a serious problem, but a problem that you can overcome.

Ask about the Success Rate

The truth is that a program can only do so much to help patients succeed. If the patient is not ready to accept help, a program cannot guarantee sobriety once that person leaves the facility. However, if the program refuses to tell you what their success rate is, chances are that it is not something to be proud of. You deserve a program that has a history of enabling change.

More about Aftercare Services

After you have completed the program, does it still offer aftercare services? Once you get back to reality, the stresses of everyday activities might be overwhelming for some patients. If they do not offer aftercare programs at the facility, will they at least provide referrals? You do not want a program that simply shuts the door on you once you leave.

Find the Right Program

Unfortunately, there are several alcohol treatment programs available. Many of them might not be effective in the long term. Ask the program if it offers the following:

  1. Counseling – This might be individual or family counseling. This oftentimes does not work by itself. In conjunction with other methods, this type of therapy works well.
  2. Detoxification – Make sure that you are not expected to be sober before you enroll, some programs will only enroll a patient if he or she is already (temporarily) sober. Because some of the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol addiction are physically dangerous, it is always better to detox in a medical facility with trained professionals.
  3. Residential/Inpatient – This means that the patient lives in the facility while they undergo intensive treatment throughout the day. This has proven to be the most effective form of treatment for most patients.

It’s never a bad thing to ask rehabilitation centers to provide you with more information about their alcohol addiction treatment approach. You can significantly increase the chances of overcoming this problem by doing your homework in the early stages of finding the right substance abuse treatment program for you.

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Parents: 6 Steps for a Drug Intervention

Monday, Dec. 23rd 2013


People struggling with addiction often become obsessed with their daily use. It becomes the only thing that they think about. Their illicit substance becomes everything they care about. In fact, this is one of the hallmarks of dependence, it makes a person appear ‘selfish’ to the outside world, it narrows their worldview in such a way that they are able to tell themselves that it is not them with a problem, but everyone else who is ‘making too big of a deal’ of it.

While it is difficult for friends and loved ones to watch someone struggling with dependence, it might be even more heartbreaking for parents to have to see this happen. After all, most parents want nothing but the best for their children. Parents want to ensure that once they are gone, they are leaving their child in a good situation. However, struggling with dependence goes against everything that we might consider ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’.

How to Set the Stage for an Intervention

Fortunately for parents, it is possible to help children struggling with addiction to face reality. An intervention might be the best and only way to force someone struggling with dependence to face facts – “there is a genuine problem and you are hurting others.” However, to ensure that you get the best possible result, it is not acceptable to wait for the user to come home and yell at them to stop.

How to Plan a Family Drug Intervention

Despite the fact that these steps will provide you with a decent overview of what goes into staging such a confrontation, it is important that you consider having a professional present. Without an intervention professional, you run the risk of the situation spiraling out of control, which may make the situation even worse. These are the steps involved:

  1. Meet with friends and other family members – It is important to have a number of people who care about the user and discuss the harmful behavior all parties have observed. By planning what everyone wants to say, you reduce the risk of sounding repetitive. It also gives you a chance to prepare how the user is going to react to the confrontation, whether it is anger, tears, denial or a combination of these.
  2. Meet with a professional counselor or therapist – Again, this can be a highly emotional and volatile situation, having a professional present will help. He or she will also be able to help you establish boundaries and make a list of what the behavior has cost the user in the past. This might be money, relationships or their job.
  3. Ask the therapist for treatment options – The ultimate goal of an intervention is to have the user accept responsibility and seek professional counseling. It is important to contact a drug treatment facility BEFOREHAND to ensure that there is no waiting list.
  4. Planning makes the difference – It is important to meet at a private location, make sure that there are no interruptions and you want to ensure the user is sober.
  5. Remain calm – Especially for parents, it can be an emotional moment to accuse a child of having problems with drugs or alcohol. It is important to remain calm and make it about the behavior rather than the person.
  6. Offer immediate treatment – It is imperative that parents offer an immediate alternative to the current situation. It is unacceptable to have someone commit to seeking help ‘later’ – this is about making immediate changes. This is one of the reasons it is especially important to have done the research beforehand.

Even if the family member refuses to go to rehab, it is still possible to have this be considered a success. After all, the family has stood together and set boundaries. This means that even if the user refuses to get help right away, the process towards recovery has been set in motion.

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5 Signs that You are Co-Dependent

Friday, Dec. 20th 2013

young woman in a conversation with a consultant or psychologist
Do you find yourself staying up at night wondering about your child or partner’s drug addiction problems? Do you find that you are covering up for this person? Making excuses for their behavior or lying to third parties – such as their employers – to ensure that this person does not look bad? If so, chances are that you might be codependent to someone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. These are five signs that suggest you are codependent.


Sign #1 – Taking Responsibility for Others

Someone who is codependent on another party feels a heightened sense of responsibility for the decisions, needs and even thoughts of the other person. Oftentimes a codependent person is going to do far more than expected of them; all to ensure that this other person is happy. While this may seem like a noble cause initially, oftentimes it is rooted in the ‘need to feel needed’.

These individuals may only feel valued and loved when serving others, oftentimes at the exclusion of their own desires and needs. If you find you are constantly taking responsibility or ‘blame’ for the actions of this other person, it is a clear sign of codependency.

Sign #2 – Putting Their Needs Above Your Own

Codependent individuals have little sense of self. This means that they will focus on what their partner or child believes, thinks or feels, all to sustain some sort of interpersonal connection. They often ignore their own beliefs, values and feelings. If you find that you often put your own feelings aside and ‘swallow your pride’ just to avoid upsetting someone, that is another clear indicator.

Sign #3 – Going to Extremes to Maintain a Relationship

Whether a codependent relationship is passive or active, it is often based on fear. This may be fear of being rejected, being alone or fear of abandonment. Despite the fact that these codependents often resent the other person for struggling with dependence, they might also fear losing their created identity as ‘caretaker’. This means going to extremes to maintain the status quo.

Sign #4 – Inability to Recognize and Communicate Emotions

Oftentimes the way the codependent partners see themselves and the reality of who they really are, is a sharp contrast. Because their identity is intertwined with the other person, the codependent partner’s emotions mirror the other person’s emotions. Sometimes this manifests itself in the decision to stay in a relationship because of a belief that they can “fix” the other person or out of pity. If you find you have an inherent sense that you can ‘cure’ this person but have seen no positive steps of any kind, it is time to seek professional counseling.

Sign #5 – Unable to Set and Maintain Personal Boundaries

Contrary to popular belief, codependent individuals do set personal boundaries in order to protect themselves from harm. However, unlike most others, they are unable to maintain those boundaries. This might mean ‘loaning’ more money despite the fact that they promised they would no longer facilitate the addiction.

Just as someone struggling with drug addiction needs to stop their dependence on drugs or alcohol, a codependent partner might also benefit from support groups or personalized counseling. This is not about the relationship with the person struggling with dependence, but more about restoring a healthy balance to themselves.

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5 Actions that Help During Recovery and Staying Sober

Tuesday, Dec. 17th 2013

happy friends

Many people often assume that leaving a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program is the end of a journey, but the truth is that it is only the beginning. Starting a sober life and maintaining it are two distinctly different things. If a person refuses to adapt, refuses to make changes or give up certain aspects of his or her life for long-term sobriety, chances are that a relapse is inevitable. Whether this is an old habit, hanging out with old friends who continue to use or sell illicit substances, or changing the places they hang out, it is important to make smart decisions. This is what people learn in long-term programs and are able to maintain with aftercare services. These five different behaviors may help a person maintain sobriety.

Eliminate Associations

It might not be fair to cut someone out of your life completely, but if someone close to you continues to abuse drugs or alcohol, the temptation is going to be present. This also means no longer going to certain nightclubs or bars that have people that you know will sell you illicit substances.

Make Sure to Seek Professional Help

It is important to remember that sobriety is only a single step in the process – maintaining it is going to take effort as well. Some people may feel that they know how to do everything which leads to an inflated sense of self-confidence. While believing in yourself is one thing, if someone struggling with dependence becomes overly confident, it may lead to problems later. They may tell themselves “I can handle having one drink…”

Try to Avoid Negativity

Despite the fact that we cannot always control everyone around us, an atmosphere of positivity is going to give people a better chance of remaining sober. Meanwhile, an atmosphere filled with negativity may have the opposite effect.

Outsource Your Money Management

The goal for anyone in recovery is to be in control of his or her life completely. However, patients in recovery can make these changes at a gradual pace. Patients who are recovering can ask relatives, parents or siblings to manage their money temporarily. Not having immediate access to money removes the immediate temptation during a moment of weakness.

Make Sure to Remain Busy

Of course you do not want to be so busy that you become overly stressed (stress is also one of the main causes of relapse) but you want to avoid boredom as well. If there is nothing to do, the mind is left to wander freely. Oftentimes patients will go from a very structured environment in a rehabilitation facility to having to decide for themselves what to do. By having a hobby, something to keep that person occupied, it reduces the chances of a relapse.

It is important to remember that these are tools to help people maintain sobriety. Every person and situation is different; some of these examples might not work for everyone. This is one of the reasons that it is important to have a qualified counselor that can help patients understand where changes might be necessary.

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