How Is Technology Helping Those in Addiction Recovery?

Advances in technology have impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. For those of us struggling with addiction, technology has helped us in many ways, like providing assessments, finding services, gaining information, and maintaining support. While many of these advances are helpful, some negative consequences, like cell phone addiction, have been commonplace. The key is to find a balance to gain benefits and minimize unintended consequences. We need to be cautious and verify information found on the internet. We also could become addicted to cell phones or other devices.

Access to Self-Assessments

Some people may be unsure of what their underlying issues may be. They may feel confused or misinformed about their behaviors and thoughts. Online, there are hundreds of mental health and addiction assessments available for people to take. Self-assessments are relatively quick and easy to complete. While they may not provide a comprehensive evaluation, self-assessments can help people narrow down some of their issues and can point people in the right direction towards getting help. We must also be sure to verify with our doctor or a medical professional about any problems uncovered during an online self-assessment. A self-assessment is not a diagnosis; however, self-assessments can help us open up a conversation with professionals to begin finding appropriate help.

Finding Services and Treatment Facilities

The internet has provided an easy way for people to search for services when they need help. Searching the web can help us find treatment facilities or out-patient clinics in our area. We can also find support groups in our community by completing an online search. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have a substantial online presence, which can help us find 12-Step programs in our communities. Treatment facilities and sober living homes, like Camelback Recovery, have been using technology and social media to spread their message of recovery and hope to those in need.

Access to Knowledge and Information

When in recovery, we may struggle with a specific issue and can benefit from more knowledge on the topic. Online magazines and blogs can provide a wealth of information ranging from tips on remaining sober to information on treatment facilities. We might find information on cooking healthy meals, exercise routines, yoga practices, mindfulness exercises, and other activities that we can engage in to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some apps offer entire exercise plans and even meal plans to help us. Unfortunately, we also have to be mindful of misinformation. Due to the ease of posting information online, people may post things that are not true or even harmful. Be sure to review the source of your information carefully to see if the information is valid. Sources from trusted publications or government websites are often more reputable than online forums, where anyone can freely post whatever they want–accurate or not!

Maintain Support During Lockdowns and Restrictions

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in our world. The disruption in our lives and routines has left many of us struggling with our mental health. While under lockdowns or other social restrictions, many of us felt alone and had a difficult time maintaining a support system. Technology has helped many people continue getting the support they needed during lockdowns. Apps, like Zoom and Facetime, allowed for people to continue meeting with their counselors or engaging in group therapy sessions. They also helped people maintain contact with family members and other supports. Telehealth sessions have become popular for medical appointments and screenings to provide help while minimizing contact in public spaces.

Issues Arising from Technology

Technology also has some negative consequences. Some people find themselves addicted to their phones or feel anxious to stay up to date with social media continually. Push notifications can be intrusive and disruptive to our daily lives. When entering treatment, cell phones might be a distraction to those who need to focus on their recovery. Many apps have been developed to help people curb their cell phone usage by limiting the number of times social media apps are opened or limiting our daily screen time. We can look at our phone usage in our setting menu to get an idea of which apps dominate our time on cell phones. People in recovery from addiction are also prone to cell phone addiction. They may replace their drinking or drug habits with excessive phone usage. Finding healthy habits, like exercise and healthy eating, can replace our bad habits more effectively. When we engage in recovery, we find healthy ways of living that can help us resist replacing our practices with other addictive behaviors.

 

Technology can be a handy tool for those in recovery. We can find services, information, support systems, or self-assessments online. We can also use technology to maintain contact with our support system and medical professionals when direct connection is not an option. Some issues can arise from the use of technology, like cell phone addiction or misinformation. We must be careful to find information from trustworthy sources. We also should be mindful of our usage on devices, as they may distract us from sobriety and from living our lives. Camelback Recovery has been using technology and social media to provide information for those suffering from addiction. We have a social media presence to spread our message to others in need. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information about our sober living homes!

Why Family Members of Addicts Should Seek Treatment Too

Addiction does not only affect those who are using. It affects everyone around them, leaving loved ones feeling betrayed, traumatized, angry, overwhelmed, sad, and lied to. Often, there are fights, slammed doors, and sleepless nights fueled by anxiety and stress. For these reasons, it is crucial for the family members of addicts to seek treatment to address your needs and help you learn how to support your loved one properly.

The Roles of Family Members During Addiction

There are various roles that loved ones of addicts take on to survive the stress of the addiction happening in their world. Many family members overcompensate for their addicted loved one, typically falling into one of three categories:

  • Persecutor: This person is often controlling, angry, distant, and believes that punishing their addicted loved one will fix the problems in the family. They also tend to isolate themselves from the issues and other family members.
  • Protector: This person is more naive and takes on a caretaker role, which often results in enabling addictive behaviors as they believe love will fix the problem. They tend to become overly involved in the situation.
  • Blamer: This person avoids taking responsibility for the problem. Instead of dealing with it head-on, they tend to project the blame onto others in the family in a form of scapegoating.

Benefits of Family Treatment

Addiction is a chronic disease. Treatment and support can offer a better understanding of addiction and the recovery process, so family members can help their loved one in the proper ways. Treatment and support can also help family members heal from the damage and pain that has occurred, enabling them to empathize with others who have gone through the ordeal of loving someone who is suffering from addiction.

Utilizing the resources offered by support groups can give you the necessary coping skills to take care of yourself first and then learn ways to help your loved one through this difficult time. Families as a whole experience various emotions during the process of addiction, as their loved one refuses to get help. These emotions encompass sadness, anger, and grief. Other emotions commonly felt include fear, doubt, and worry once the addict enters detox or rehab.

Support Groups

Support groups are typically free of charge, which can be a big help when money is being spent on your loved one’s recovery in a rehabilitation program or treatment center. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can be expensive, but this does not mean there are not affordable options for you to seek help.

Support groups such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Co-Dependents Anonymous are free of charge and open to those who have someone they love going through substance abuse. These groups can help by allowing you to discuss your thoughts and feelings in a judgment-free zone with like-minded people who empathize. They can also teach you to recognize enabling behavior, set boundaries, and talk with others who understand your situation.

Educate Yourself

Your loved one needs all the support they can get. But when a recovering addict sees their loved ones making an effort to get help and understand their situation, they will be more likely to stick to their recovery plan. In fact, studies show that when family members take an active role in the recovery process, relapse rates are lower.

This is likely because family involvement shows the recovering individual that they are actively participating in their efforts as well — everyone is working towards the same goal. The family will also benefit from getting help by being able to speak openly and honestly from a more educated position.

Alleviating the Guilt

Loved ones of addicts often feel tremendous guilt concerning the addiction. It must be said that addiction is a chronic disease that can never be cured, but it can be treated and managed. Therefore, curing and healing your loved one should not be your responsibility.

When you learn about addiction and all that it encompasses, you can begin to actively support your loved one in a healthy and more informed way. Thinking that you can and should do certain things to help them heal are misconceptions, often hurting you and them more than helping.

Take into account the three C’s of recovery offered by Al-Anon:

  • I didn’t CAUSE it.
  • I can’t CURE it.
  • I can’t CONTROL it.

These are written specifically to teach family members of addicts that it is not their fault their loved one fell into the grip of addiction. Understanding this fact can alleviate feelings of guilt and allow you to take the proper steps to help yourself and your loved one.

You Are Not Alone

Remember that you are not alone in your pain and grief during this difficult time. There are groups of like-minded people who have been through what you are going through and can offer support.

Loved ones of addicts are often forgotten as they try to help the person going through substance abuse. Trying to help your loved one is virtuous and important, but you cannot properly help them without first taking care of yourself and your needs. After all, you cannot pour from an empty glass.

Educating yourself on addiction helps you to take the necessary steps to provide support for your loved one. With transitional living homes across the state of Arizona, Camelback Recovery is available to answer any questions you may have. We understand exactly what you’re going through, and we are here to help. Call us today at (602) 466-9880.

How Much Time Should I Commit to a Sober Living Home?

For many addicts, the final step before returning home after rehabilitation is a sober living home. These homes serve as transitional residences that teach individuals how to acclimate into normal, everyday life again after rehab. Here, residents learn how to implement the coping, self-reliance, and communication skills they were taught in rehab into sober life.

Because rehab typically has strict rules and guidelines in place, it can be difficult to immediately return home and back into everyday life again. Sober living homes offer more independence than rehab and make this transition a gradual one, so residents learn how to be independent, manage their triggers, and use their newfound coping skills. Combining freedom and structure, these environments are perfect for those who want independence without returning home just yet.

Length of Stay Can Vary

The amount of time a resident stays can differ depending on their situation. This may include the severity of the addiction, other failed attempts at short-term treatment, a triggering home environment, finances, or if there are any underlying mental illnesses involved. A Journal of Psychoactive Drugs study on sober living homes found that the average stay is between 166 and 254 days. Three months, or 90 days, is the minimum recommended amount of time for most residents.

Staying longer allows you to receive more help through various programs at the home, such as job training. A basic rule of thumb is that staying longer is always better than leaving before you are ready.

Keep in mind that not following the house rules can get you kicked out. Some homes have a no-tolerance policy for rule-breaking. Make sure you are complying with all house rules to ensure a peaceful, healing stay.
90 Days Minimum

Again, the amount of time an individual spends at a sober living home can greatly impact their overall recovery. A resident typically chooses the amount of time they wish to stay at a sober home, with the average stay ranging from three months to a year. However, some do stay longer. It ultimately depends on the person and their preferences, as well as what they are looking for in recovery.

At Camelback Recovery, we typically recommend at least three months. In that amount of time, residents are able to cultivate a community that is built on mutual support and participation between the residents. This community of support helps with the recovery process by preventing isolation and depression, which are often triggers of relapse to those in recovery.

Longer Stays Produce Better Results

While the minimum recommended stay at a sober living home is ninety days, it is argued that longer stays are suited for long-term recovery. The same Journal of Psychoactive Drugs study found that sober living homes decrease drug and alcohol-related issues and arrest rates while increasing employment and stable housing in their local communities.

Research suggests that around 40-60 percent of those in recovery for substance abuse will relapse. Thankfully, sober living homes have caused a drastic decrease in this statistic. This is likely because sober living homes require abstinence from any mind-altering substances — and the longer a person is abstinent, the less likely they are to relapse. This is especially true for individuals who are abstinent for a year or more.

The study also found that of residents who were abstinent for less than a year, approximately two-thirds of them relapsed. The residents who were clean for an entire year in a sober living home were less likely to relapse. Those who leave before they are truly ready are more at risk for relapse and falling back into old habits.

Sober living homes are able to produce such incredible results through their encouragement of community support, 12-Step programs, and the promotion of abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Life in a Sober Home

Sober living homes are successful because they teach newly-sober individuals how to live an independently sober life. Through the use of rules, chores, and other guidelines in the home, a community is formed between residents as they care for the home, themselves, and each other.

Often, residents will be expected to help with cooking and cleaning, as well as mandatory self-care. At Camelback Recovery, self-care is incredibly important and involves exercising, meditating, going to church services, and more. Drug testing and breathalyzers are also implemented to help recovery rates. Residents know they will be tested at the sober living home, so why risk losing their place?

Who Is Best Suited for a Sober Living Home?

Sober living homes are a big commitment for those in recovery, meaning the resident must be absolutely certain they are ready to take on this next phase of their life. Sober living homes are best for individuals who:

  • Have been through a medical or mental health issue in addition to substance abuse/addiction
  • Do not have a proper support system for their recovery in their home environment
  • Have previously gone through a rehabilitation program
  • Are opposed or resistant to treatment for their addiction

Sober living homes exist to make transitioning from rehab to normal life a gradual process. Learning to live independently when you are newly sober can be challenging on your own. At these residences, you can learn to use your new coping skills to maintain a sober life that you are proud of.

You don’t have to do it alone. If you or someone you love is struggling, reach out to see if a sober living home is right for you. Call Camelback Recovery today at (602) 466-9880.

Substance Use in the Community

Which of the risk factors for substance use are present in your community of origin, or a community in which you currently live or work? Are there other factors that were left off the list?

An online search was conducted regarding risk factors for substance use, which are present in my community of origin. A youth survey was found for the State of Louisiana, Parish of Caldwell, of which I reside. The Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey Results for 2008 presents some information for Caldwell Parish regarding risks factors that consist of the main categories of demographics, social, behavioral, and individual. The chart given in the results of the youth survey involved the risk factors of community, the family system structure, school, and peer/individual, with demographics presented involving certain age groups of adolescents (Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, 2008). However, there were no demographics regarding gender given in this article. The information reveals that economic and social problems exist, which contribute to the substance abuse problem within the parish community. The community also suffers from a disorganized community structure that is causing a detachment in the neighborhood. This community a small rural area with very little funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment, which is a major concern for our community as the drug problem continues to escalate. The article shows that family problems exist within the community such as conflict and management of the family structure. Problematic behaviors in our parish such as alcohol and drug abuse are prevalent among the adolescent population. Such behaviors are family-oriented as many parents of the adolescents within this community are abusing substances. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (2008) also presents some evidence that show problems in the school system such as a lack of commitment, behaviors of an antisocial aspect, and failure in academic achievement, which contribute to substance abuse (p. 4). These problematic behaviors contribute to a high dropout rate. When examining the peer/individual risk factor listed in the youth survey, it shows that peer pressure is high with a favorable attitude toward using substances. Also, the information reveals that rebellion and withdrawal is a contributing factor to the drug use in my community. This information shows a strong need for more education and a greater awareness of the need for more funding and interventions before our community erodes even further.

There are other factors that interfere, which are not listed in this information. However, I have personally witnessed them, such as politics. This is a very political community that unfortunately, makes money off of our youth and adults who are using drugs by charging fines and putting them back on the street with no form of rehabilitation. As a past advocate for helping those abusing drugs, I witnessed the court system charge individuals $500.00 each and place them on probation for six months, knowing that these individuals would be arrested again so that $500.00 more could be charged. This is a major problem within our local court system.

Also, our local mental health behavioral health clinic does not have anyone on staff with a college degree other than a lady who represents a whole district of parishes. Most of her time is spent traveling from one clinic to another. While in a bachelor’s degree program, I wanted to take a class that required that I spend some time at a local facility to learn about how to conduct group counseling sessions. When I contacted this particular facility, I was told that they were too busy. This proves that our local parish has a disorganized structure, as indicated in the youth survey that was reviewed.

 

References

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. (2008). The Louisiana caring communities youth survey results for 2008. Retrieved from http://dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/BehavioralHealth/publications/CCYS2008-Parish/9162.pdf.

Co-Occurring Disorder – Anxiety Disorder and Substance-Use Disorder

What are the unique challenges in treating someone with an anxiety disorder and a substance use disorder? 

There are unique challenges in treating someone with an anxiety disorder and a substance use disorder. I have personal experience with someone who had an anxiety disorder. She used to have panic attacks on a regular basis. If she had a few drinks, she would not have a panic attack The drinks would help her relax. She would also take xanex on a regular basis. The xanex or alcohol was a way to self-medicate. Therefore, after the medication would wear off, the anxiety would surface. Often times, the anxiety would be worse than it was prior to drinking alcohol. I also had to take this woman to the emergency room several times because she literally thought that she was dying. When I would take her to the emergency room, the doctors would look at her like she was crazy. She was obviously not the first person that came to the emergency room due to a panic attack. It is so interesting how a person can actually think that they are going to die even though everything is perfectly okay.

 

When treating someone with both anxiety and a substance abuse disorder, both disorders need to be treated. The client could have resorted to self-medicating the anxiety, which in-turn could have caused the substance use disorder. Or the substance use disorder could have caused the anxiety disorder.

Substance Use Disorder Testing – Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST)

Description and Purpose

The Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST) is a self-report survey tool that was designed in 1982 by Harvey Skinner. The questions are modifications from the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST). It is used to determine if a person might have problematic drug use during the past 12 months. The classes of drugs tested are not limited too but include cannabis, solvents, tranquilizers, cocaine, stimulants, hallucinogens, barbiturates, and narcotics. Alcohol and tobacco are not included in the test. The DAST is used for purposes of screening and includes 28 binary (yes or no) questions related to prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal drug use. The test takes a total of 5-10 minutes. Each question yields a value of one point. Therefore, a total of 28 points are possible. A low score is an indication that a person does not have a problem with drugs. A high score is an indication that a person does have a drug problem (Yudko, Lozhkina, & Fouts, 2007). There are two other versions of the test, DAST-20 and DAST 10.

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Risk Assessment of an Alcoholic (cont’d)

In general, males have a higher risk of suicide. Jay is a male, which increases the risk of suicide. This risk of suicide increases as a person gets older. Jay is 56 years old, which increases the risk the risk of suicide. Not being able to see his family, being unemployed, and going through a significant amount of his retirement has sent him into severe depression. Being depressed increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information given, Jay has not attempted suicide in the past. Jay’s alcoholism is at its worst. He cannot stop drinking. Even though his life is falling apart, he could not keep his job, and his friends want nothing to do with him, he is not able to stop drinking. Having a substance abuse disorder increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information provided, it is not obvious that Jay is experiencing rational thinking loss. Jay has lost all of his social and family supports due to his alcoholism. His friends and family want nothing to do with him as long as he is active in his addiction. Having a lack of social supports increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information provided, Jay does not have an organized plan to commit suicide. Jay is separated and his wife has filed for divorce. He lives by himself. Being single increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information provided, Jay is not experiencing any sickness.

According to Assessment in Counseling, the higher an individual scores on the SAD PERSONS Scale the higher the risk of suicide. An individual with a score of 0 to 4 has a low risk of suicide, 5 to 6 medium, and 7 to 10 high. Jay’s score is a 7 out of 10 and the risk of suicide is high.

Risk Assessment of an Alcoholic (cont’d)

Risk Assessment (cont’d)

According to the SAD PERSONS Scale, Jay requires a risk assessment. The SAD PERSONS Scale provides a basic acronym for ten factors to be mindful of when determining if a client requires a risk assessment (Hays, 2014). The ten factors include Sex, Age, Depression, Previous attempt, Ethanol abuse, Rational thinking loss, Social support loss, Organized plan, No spouse, and Sickness. According to the SAD PERSONS Scale, an individual will receive a point for a positive answer to each of the following factors: sex is male; under 19 years-old or over 45 years-old; depression is present; previous attempt at suicide; ethanol or other substance abuse; rational thinking loss; social supports minimal; organized plan; widowed, divorced, or single; sickness.

Risk Assessment of an Alcoholic (cont’d)

Risk Assessment

The following questions would be a compliment to the information provided in the section above:

  • Do you think that you would be better off dead or do you wish you were dead?
  • Do you have thoughts of injuring yourself or others?
  • How often do you think about suicide?
  • Do you have a plan to carry out the suicide?
  • How would you commit suicide?
  • Do you have the weapons or items necessary to commit suicide?
    • What are the items or weapons?
  • Would you deliberately injure yourself without intending to die?
  • If you did commit suicide, would you hope to be rescued?
  • Have you ever attempted suicide in the past?
  • What do you think will happen to your wife and kids if you commit suicide?