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Treating the Whole Person for Long-Term Recovery

Recovery from addiction is a life-long process. Many people only seek treatment after substance use or a compulsive behavior has led to serious repercussions. Addiction impacts a person’s mind, body, relationships, goals, and spirituality. It only makes sense that successful treatment for addiction must address all of these areas.1

Key Contributors to a Healthy, Happy Life

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has outlined four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

  • Health – overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms. This includes abstaining from the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications and caring for any psychological concerns, as well. Health involves making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being.
  • Home – having a stable and safe place to live. Basic needs of shelter, food, and safety must be met for a full recovery to take place.
  • Purpose – conducting meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school volunteerism, family caretaking or creative endeavors, as well as the independence, income and resources to participate in society.
  • Community – having meaningful relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love and hope.

The process of recovery is highly personal and occurs via many pathways. It may include clinical treatment, medications, peer support, family support, self-care, and other approaches. Recovery is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness that may sometimes involve setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural part of life, resilience and learned skills become key components of recovery.

Co-occurring Disorders and Recovery

About 45% of Americans seeking drug rehabilitation treatment have been diagnosed as having a “co-occurring disorder”, which is a diagnosis of more than one condition, such as a substance use disorder and a mental health condition. These situations are also referred to as having a “dual diagnosis.”

To treat such complex health needs, SAMHSA has supported an “integrated” treatment approach (that looks at all of patient’s existing health conditions and views treatment from the perspective of multiple fields of expertise). Integrated treatment requires collaboration across disciplines and planning that addresses all issues at once. Such treatment planning should be patient-centered, it should address the individual’s goals, and utilize treatment steps that have been agreed to by the person being treated.

Integrated treatment is associated with lower costs and better outcomes, such as:

  • Reduced substance use
  • Improved psychiatric symptoms and functioning
  • Decreased hospitalization
  • Increased housing stability
  • Fewer arrests
  • Improved quality of life3

For best results, integration of treatment should also include the entire family – not just the patient with the substance use disorder and/or mental health condition. Treatment for family members used to be separate or distinct, but now we are learning the importance of family therapy for the successful healing and wholeness of everyone involved.4

The “Cookie Cutter” Approach Just Doesn’t Work

Female therapist with patientIndividual paths to recovery differ, and treatment should be tailored to fit individual needs. Supportive services, such as case or care management, medication, and counseling can all play an important role in promoting health and recovery.

Regardless of whether treatment involves individual counseling, group counseling, medication treatments, or supportive services, it is essential that treatment be evidence-based (that is, scientifically or empirically proven to be effective based on clinical trials or studies). Depending on the type of service, some or all of these can be offered in a variety of settings.3

Initially upon entrance, screening and assessment are used to make two essential decisions:

  1. Is the individual stable enough to remain in an outpatient setting, or is the need for more intense care indicated?
  2. What services will the patient need?

To answer either question, a provider must first determine the scope of the patient’s health concerns and circumstances, including her physical and mental status, living situation, and the support she has available to face these problems.

Once admitted to treatment, a patient needs regular reassessment as reductions in acute symptoms of mental distress and substance abuse may precipitate other changes. Periodic assessment will provide measures of patient change and enable the provider to adjust service plans as the individual progresses through treatment.5

Assessment and Treatment Tailored to Each Individual

Since conditions and circumstances can vary greatly from one patient to another, the best programs incorporate a variety of services into their treatment regimens. Services to meet the specific medical, psychological, social, vocational and legal needs of patients may include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – seeks to help patients recognize, avoid and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to abuse drugs.
  • Contingency Management – uses positive reinforcement, such as providing rewards or privileges for remaining drug-free, for attending and participating in counseling sessions, or for taking treatment medications as prescribed.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy – uses strategies to evoke rapid and internally motivated behavior change to stop drug use and facilitate treatment entry.
  • Family Therapy (especially for youth) – approaches a person’s drug problems in the context of family interactions and dynamics that may contribute to drug use and other risky behaviors.1

The decision to accept rehab treatment is often rewarded with a healthier life, a greater support network, and new skills to build a better future. Skywood Recovery offers a fully integrated treatment program that is designed around each patient. We are experienced at helping individuals overcome a number of recovery challenges so they may live the best life possible.

1 Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse.July 2014. Web. Accessed 24 June 2017.

2 Recovery and Recovery Support. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 5 Oct 2015. Web. Accessed 24 June 2017.

3 Behavioral Health Treatments and Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 19 Oct 2015. Web. Accessed 24 June 2017.

4 Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. Accessed 24 June 2017.

5 Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons with Co-Occurring Disorders. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. Accessed 24 June 2017.