September is Recovery Month.  To celebrate this month, and inspire ourselves and others, we offer daily Addiction Recovery tips.

Today's tip is:  Always remember to practice self care. Aim for 1 hour a day just for you - even if it is not done all at once

You can contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707-4673 (HOPE) or info@new-hope-recovery.comWe wish everyone a Happy Recovery Month!

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Abstinence and Harm ReductionOne of the most polarizing philosophical debates in addiction counseling is between abstinence and harm reduction.  In general, Abstinence-focused addiction counseling believes that recovery only exists if the addictive substance is completely removed from the life of the individual it affects.  The issue is seen as largely black or white: either you drink/use drugs and deal with the consequences, or you abstain and live a life in recovery.  Harm Reduction-focused addiction counseling generally follows the belief that not everyone is in a place to completely abstain; and therefore, it is best to take steps to reduce the risks to the person and others when the individual chooses to partake in the addictive substance.  The notion is that some people may not currently be willingly or able to completely give up the substance of their addiction.

Philosophy of Abstinence in Addiction Counseling

The definition of abstinence means refraining, or being free from, the unwanted behavior.  Many people in the addiction world see abstinence as the only way to recovery based on the definition of addiction and the idea that the user has lost control.  The abstinence model follows the science behind addiction.  Science has shown that some people are genetically predisposed to addiction and are more likely to get hooked to substances or behaviors.  It is estimated that 40%-60% of a person’s predisposition to addiction is genetic.  Evidence also shows that with continued use, alcohol and drugs can physiologically and neurologically alter the brain.  The brain circuitry is forever altered, so if the individual starts using again, they will do so addictively.

This is the foundation for the disease concept and abstinence only philosophies. Someone who has become addicted to substances cannot undo the neurological and physiological alterations in a way that will allow them to use moderately in the future.  For these people, abstinence is seen as the only way to regain control of one’s life and effectively recover.  Alcoholic Anonymous and other 12-step fellowships follow the abstinence-based approach.  The only requirement may be a desire to stop drinking (or using) but the philosophy is rooted in this disease concept that the alcoholic has lost control over the substance and therefore treatment begins with sobriety.  AA and other fellowships are actually behavioral and psychological modification processes, seeking to instill in the minds of those who attend that if they are addicted, they are powerless over alcohol and other drugs.

Due to the nature of addiction, alcoholics and addicts usually have intricate denial and rationalization systems to convince themselves they don’t have a problem.  These psychological defenses are worked on with the First Step: admitting that they are powerless over alcohol and other drugs.  Cognitively, alcoholics and addicts need to retrain their minds that they are in fact powerless over alcohol and other drugs and therefore they cannot use them again.  Successful sobriety via the 12-step philosophy occurs when an individual can take their unhealthy attachment to substances and redirect it to a healthy attachment to the program.

Philosophy of Harm Reduction in Addiction Counseling          

The general focus of harm reduction is not whether an individual does or does not do a particular behavior, it is about reducing the potential problems associated with it.  Substance use under the harm reduction approach is not black/white, either/or; it is the gray area in between.  If a person chooses to drink or use drugs, the focus is on ways to reduce the risk from using.  An important concept that some people and policy makers do not understand is that the harm reduction approach should not be seen as condoning risky or illegal behavior.  Rather, it understands that risky behavior is inevitably going to occur, so it is more beneficial to curb the negative consequences incrementally as best as possible. 

There are many types of harm reduction modalities including: drug replacement therapy such as methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone), needle exchange programs, designated drivers, substituting “less harmful drugs”, testing illicit drugs for harmful additives and behavior modification to control intake.  Because harm reduction philosophy and practice resides in the gray area of the continuum, research on the topic has been muddled, largely due to the lack of a consistent definition as to what harm reduction is and how it should be measured.  This makes sense even if you only consider the expansive list provided above as types of harm reduction.

Some in addiction counseling use harm reduction as a way to motivate the client for change and incrementally work towards abstinence: a harm-reduction now,  abstinence later approach to treatment.  Others in addiction counseling implement the philosophy fully in its own capacity: the end goal is not abstinence.

Evolving Integration of Abstinence and Harm Reduction

The philosophies of each group may be separate.  But in practice, the two philosophies are not as siloed as one might assume.  There is an overlap between the two philosophies and they are merging closer together than many people are aware of.  For people seeking help, total abstinence is an ideal goal but given their circumstances and motivation for change, that goal may be unreachable when they first seek help.  Many abstinence-based facilities are moving away from kicking out a client after one positive urine screen, which was not always the case.  Often the treatment team reassesses the situation and decides if the treatment plan is still appropriate and if the client is receiving the proper level of care.  Similarly, abstinence-based facilities are also increasingly using or allowing pharmacotherapy as an adjunct to treatment. Many treatment facilities now work with clients who are on Suboxone, Vivitrol, Naltrexone, etc.  In theory, allowing these medications is a harm-reduction approach to treatment, but in practice those modalities are becoming more acceptable across the board.

Client First

It is important to remember that the client and the client’s specific needs comes first, not the ideologies of the treatment staff.  There are no hard and fast rules that apply to all people trying to get sober and/or improve their lives.  No client is a black or white case, it is essential to individualize treatment and recognize the unique characteristics of each client.  The process should be a collaborative effort between the client and addiction counselor/treatment team.  If we put the client first, then the philosophical debates fall to the background.  The focus shifts to what is more important: being present and being an agent for change.

New Hope Recovery Center provides individualized treatment for all clients.  We understand that each client is unique.  If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you can reach us at 888-707-4673 (HOPE) or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

If you are looking into drug and alcohol rehab for yourself or someone else, it may be confusing to hear terms like inpatient rehab (or residential), outpatient rehab (or IOP) and partial hospitalization (or PHP).

What Are The Differences Between Inpatient Rehab, Outpatient Rehab And Partial Hospitalization?

Inpatient Rehab or Residential Treatment These programs involve completely removing the addict from the environment and the individuals that enabled or reinforced their addiction.  With inpatient rehab, the recovering addict can focus intensely on their addictive behavior instead of their drug or alcohol use.  Residential Treatment, sometimes known as an In-Patient Program, is often 28 days or longer, depending on the severity of the addiction. Inpatient rehab removes the addicted person from the current triggers in their environment and social circles.  The addiction rehab facility provides a safe place to temporarily live while dealing with addiction and any underlying issues the addict is facing.

Most inpatient rehab programs have restrictions on visitation, the use of electronics and cell phones and leaving the treatment facility.  These programs are staffed 24 hours a day. They combine a sober living environment with intensive group counseling and individual drug counseling.

Outpatient Rehab or IOP (Intensive Outpatient) – IOP involves attending treatment for a portion of the day while living in a location other than the treatment center.  The living environment needs to be safe and sober for the best possible outcome.  Generally, recovering addicts are allowed to leave the treatment center before and after treatment.  IOP is best for those who have a safe and sober environment to live, who are able to focus on treatment and who are able to handle the temptations and triggers that may arise when not at the rehab center.

Partial Hospitalization (PHP) - Partial Hospitalization involves full day treatment with living arrangements in a sober living facility or in a safe home environment.  It has fewer restrictions than inpatient rehab, but allows for more intensive treatment than IOP.

Similarities Between Inpatient Rehab, Outpatient Rehab and Partial Hospitalization – The goal of Addiction Rehab programs is to help the addict recover from drug/alcohol addiction by addressing the addiction and underlying issues that contribute to the addiction. Although drug rehab and alcohol rehab treatment options are somewhat unique, top quality addiction treatment programs contain certain core areas. Here are several aspects that the best drug and alcohol addiction programs have in common:

Group Therapy - Group therapy teaches the value of reaching out and relying on others, including other people in recovery who have similar experiences and challenges. Group therapy provides a sense of belonging.  There are other recovering people who believe in you and will identify and understand what you are going through. Group therapy also gives a chance to receive and offer feedback to specific issues that are being addressed in treatment.  This allows for a deeper understanding of your situation.

Individual Therapy/Drug Counseling - Individual therapy involves private meetings between you and your counselor.  It allows you to work through specific issues which you may have difficulty addressing in a group setting. It also allows you the benefit of direct confidential input from your counselor.  While group sessions are designed to teach you to receive support from, and lend support to, others, individual session allows you to work privately with a counselor.

Self Discovery - One of the most important benefits of the best addiction rehab programs is the amount of time and the tools provided to learn about yourself.  Learning includes discovery of your limitations, boundaries, assets, liabilities, strengths, weaknesses, losses in life and what is gained from ending addiction.

Family Involvement - Family programming is an essential part of any treatment program. Addiction is truly a family disease and impacts your family and friends.   Also, there are behaviors in the family dynamics that are wrapped up in the disease of addiction. Ideally these are addressed with the family members while the addict is being helped.  The success of any addiction rehab program depends on including family members and close friends.  Research suggests that including family and friends in the education and participation in the addiction treatment process improves the outcome.

In the family program, your family members and friends will learn about the disease of addiction and learn to identify strengths and resources to help themselves and to encourage you in your recovery. Some addiction treatment programs require family members and friends to attend Al-Anon meetings.

Which Is The Best Addiction Treatment?  The answer depends on your situation.  Some people are self-motivated and able to integrate addiction treatment into their current living environment and daily life.  The home environment is safe and sober and the person is able to resist temptations and triggers met during the normal day.  For these people IOP/Intensive Outpatient may be a good option.  Some people need a new environment, closer guidance and monitored surroundings in order to achieve sobriety.  For these people, inpatient rehab is likely the best option.  When inpatient rehab is completed, a transition to Intensive Outpatient is generally recommended.  The goals is to help transition the person back into their life with as many tools and supports as possible.

New Hope Recovery Center offers Partial Hospitalization Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Rehab in Chicago.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center