On Supporting Those with an Opiate Addiction, from our Opiate Detox Centers
Psychiatrists have raised awareness to the fact that patients recovering from substance abuse addictions—like opiates and alcohol—are in need of more than treatment alone. The question of how to provide additional support continues to be a hot debate among clinicians, politicians, and law enforcement. What isn’t up for debate, however, is that there is a need for additional support for those in recovery. Medically assisted detoxification from one of our opiate detox centers is only the first stage of treatment. Addiction is a chronic disease, and therefore people who stop using substances like opiates and alcohol for a period of time are not automatically cured.
After detoxification, behavioral counseling is implemented into our patient’s treatment plan. Medications are also added if appropriate, as well as the evaluation and treatment of other conditions. Once treatment has concluded, long-term follow-up is necessary to prevent relapse. This involves medical professionals, coaches, religious leaders, mentors, family members and social workers.
Patients with Opiate and Alcohol Addictions Need Your Support
Most patients require long-term or repeated care to stop using opiates and alcohol and begin to live a life of recovery. The role of non-medical professionals and community support in long-term care is vital. Part of recovery and avoiding relapse involves gaining new life skills and having a renewed vision for life. Such transformation can be powerfully influenced by supportive people like you.
Network and building a positive community
Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of emerging from a lifestyle of addiction is the lack of support and community. Sometimes the friends and relationships that our patient has built contribute to their addictive behaviors, and they find themselves starting from square one and feeling alone. I remember a conversation with my aunt when she was recovering from alcoholism in which she said, “I had to leave my neighborhood. It kept me down. It kept me going back.”
She did leave, which was the healthiest choice she could make. But she was then plunged into loneliness. Isolation and loneliness also instigate relapses. That’s where people like you have a vital role in the recovery process. Are there support groups that you can help connect this person to? If support groups are intimidating, try other social outlets. A reading club. A running meet. An art night at the local library. Help your patient network by plugging them into new social circles. Remember to keep a lookout for safe, substance -free environments.
Allow our patient to choose the focus of conversation when you meet and listen. When appropriate, respond with open-ended questions that will help our patient consider how they are feeling and how they want to move forward. Questions such as:
- “How is your self-confidence increasing?”
- “How do you feel when you wake up in the morning, and how do those feelings affect your day?” OR (an alternative question still addressing guilt and remorse) “Can you see how your guilt and remorse changing over time?”
- “Do you know how not using affects your reputation positively?”
- “How can we celebrate your progress today?”
Avoid judgement and be as encouraging as possible. . This kind of conversational interaction creates emotional clarity, which helps move the person in recovery toward action.
Concentrate on where our patient is now and what they are willing to do to improve their life
The goal of opiates and alcohol treatment at our opiate detox centers is more than simply “stop using” and “stay that way”. Ultimately, it is our patient’s goal to return to productivity within their family, at work, and in society. This is a huge undertaking. What bite-sized step can you tackle together this week? Is there a family member that our patient would like to makes amends with? Or do they want to work on their resume? Do they feel up for a little community service? See what you can do to Facilitate the next step our patient is willing to take in order to move forward in a positive direction.
Increase awareness of personal choices, actions, and responsibility
By simply allowing our patient to observe your everyday life, you can provide a positive example of healthy choices and actions. Try meeting at a gym or at a park where you can exercise together and reap the benefits of fitness. Or skip the fast food restaurant and grab a smoothie or fresh juice together instead. While such a decision may seem small, it provides reinforcement for our patient to see another person striving to make great choices. Whenever possible, praise our patient in instances in which they have demonstrated responsibility or has made a healthy choice.
Remember, you are not responsible for the choices that your recovering patient makes. Relapses happen in the lives of even the most supported patients. No matter what transpires, you are a lifeline to those recovering from opiates and alcohol. I hope these four tips are helpful to you, and remember to celebrate the opportunity that you’ve been given to make a positive difference.
For support helping a recovering patient, don’t hesitate to contact Recovery Centers of America today at 1-800-RECOVERY.