National Safety Month: What is Safety Planning in Recovery?

Safety Planning for Addiction Recovery

June is National Safety Month so we’re taking this time to talk about safety planning in recovery. Safety planning is all about preparing for a sober lifestyle. As with anything, the recovery journey is full of ups and downs but it is the most worthwhile journey we will ever take. It’s important to prepare ourselves for the inevitable temptations, cravings, and challenges that will come our way in our new sober lives. 

Safety planning in recovery prepares us for difficult times and reminds us of the rewards we reap by remaining sober. 

 

Crisis Information

First, it’s important to assess what we will do if we find ourselves in a high risk situation, have slipped and used a substance, or are in crisis and considering using. 

Write or print this information out and keep it with you (including phone numbers).

 

Who can I call to support my recovery if I am struggling or in crisis? List them. 

__________________________

__________________________

__________________________

 

Where is a safe space I can go if I am struggling or in crisis? List them. 

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

 

My treatment center care number is: 

____________________________

 

Preventing What’s Avoidable

Remember your “why”

Remind yourself of why you are sober. Your sobriety and your reasons for it are your guiding force. Check back to this list often to make sure you don’t lose sight of your goals. 

 

Preventing unnecessary stress

Removing the risk of unnecessary stressors in our lives can reduce triggers that may tempt us to use. Stress isn’t always one big event but several small ones that can build up over a day, week or month and cause us to lose our heads. Preventing unnecessary stressors like lost house keys or having to pay late fees because you didn’t re-register your car in time can go a long way in protecting our mental health and therefore sobriety. 

Examples for organizing your life to prevent unnecessary stressors can include: 

  • Always put your keys in the same place.
  • Keep a spare key with a trustworthy friend or family member in case you get locked out. 
  • Keep a file folder of important documents and information so it’s all in one place when needed. 
  • Set reminders in your phone of important dates like your car registration, lease agreement, driver’s license expiration etc. 
  • Try to build some savings to fall back on when unforeseen expenses arise (if possible, of course)

 

Identify high risk people in your life

This is one of the hardest parts of recovering, realizing that there are people in your life, who you may even consider close friends, who can put your sobriety at risk. It might be someone you used to use with, or it could be someone who is emotionally abusive or triggering. Whatever the reason, making a list of high risk people and setting boundaries to protect your sobriety is an important part of safety planning. 

 

Keep a list of tools and actions that support your sobriety

Often we may struggle because we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Having a list of ways you can support your sobriety is helpful. Use them when you realize you are not putting yourself first. This list can be acts of self-care that you find helpful, activities you do to keep your head clear, or people you can see or talk to who make you feel safe and supported. Sometimes we forget all the different tools we have, keeping a list can be a good reminder for when you find yourself in need of support. 

 

Preparing for the Unavoidable

Identify triggers

Writing down and identifying triggers and early warning signs such as certain behaviors or changes in your attitude towards recovery are important so you can catch yourself early. Remember HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If you’ve relapsed in the past, include the triggers that led to that path in this list. 

 

What to do when cravings happen

What are some coping strategies I can use when cravings come up? List them. Examples could be going for a run, calling a friend or sponsor for support, or engaging in a hobby to keep your hands occupied. These should be actions that can be taken specifically to distract yourself from cravings rather than self-care acts. 

 

Things I can say if someone offers me a drink or drugs

It’s good to have some go-to lines tucked away for instances like this. Whether you want to explain that you are in recovery or opt not to give an excuse and simply say no, being prepared with your answers ahead of time will help when the moment comes. 

 

What If I Relapse? 

The purpose of safety planning is to support your recovery and prevent relapse. When committing to sobriety, the goal is maintain this new lifestyle long-term, but relapses do happen to some people. Having a plan in place can mean the difference between relapse as a slip and a full-blown reactivation. 

Create a plan for who you will call, where you will go, and who will take care of your children or pets (if applicable). Remember this does not give you immunity from relapsing, it is a worst case scenario plan. Be aware that if you are tempted to pick up, do not use the same dosage as you did before as your sobriety has lowered your tolerance. 

Lastly, if you do relapse, know that treatment can help get you back on the right track. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, addiction, or relapse contact us today. At Harmony Recovery Group we are here to help.

Experiential Therapy for Addiction

Experiential Therapy for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

.Treatment programs that take an integrated approach to addiction and mental health have been shown to offer the best outcomes. This is because integrated treatment addresses a broad range of problems related to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. It is comprised of a combination of traditional psychotherapies and evidence-based experiential therapies, which include hands-on activities. This blend of treatments can help people examine a variety of issues from different angles to promote meaningful, holistic healing.

Experiential Therapy for the Treatment of Addiction

Experiential therapies are a vital component of a high-quality, comprehensive addiction treatment program. They involve activities that help people feel successful as they work through obstacles in different settings. This is because these activities offer a sense of accomplishment, introspection, and self reliance.

Experiential therapies typically operate using the basic principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy and other conventional therapies. They offer a number of benefits for those in recovery from substance abuse, including helping them do the following:

  • Improve self-awareness by observing how they respond behaviorally and emotionally while engaging in a purposeful or enjoyable activity
  • Make sense of emotions that are difficult to express
  • Uncover buried emotions or memories in a safe, supporting environment
  • Identify emotional responses that manifest during certain life situations
  • Lastly, take action to initiate positive life changes

Experiential therapies are facilitated by trained therapists who help people make meaningful associations between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But these activities are also about having fun and may lead to the discovery of healthy hobbies that can be helpful to engage in during recovery.

Forms of Experiential Therapy

Art Therapy

During an art therapy session, participants engage in a diverse variety of art-based exercises, such as the following:

  • Recreating an experience visually
  • Expressing emotion in colors and shapes
  • Creating art to relieve stress and have fun
  • Viewing/discussing the creativity/art of others

In general, art therapy can help participants express emotions in non-traditional ways and integrate past experiences with creative self-expression.

Other benefits of art therapy include the following:

  • Healing of emotional wounds
  • Altering unhealthy thought and behavior patterns
  • Reduced denial and uncertainty
  • Increased motivation regarding recovery
  • Increased self-reflection and awareness
  • Reduced feelings of stress and shame

Experiential Therapy for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Music Therapy

Music therapy includes a variety of music-themed interventions that help people to address a variety of physical, emotional, mental, and social needs.

During music therapy, a therapist engages participants in activities, such as the following:

  • Listening to music for inspiration
  • Relaxation
  • Interpreting song lyrics
  • Writing songs as a means of self-expression
  • Creating music with instruments or singing
  • Moving to music to express oneself reduce stress

Music therapy has been shown to reduce feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety. It can also motivate people to change and actively engage in treatment.

Other benefits of music therapy include helping participants do the following:

  • Achieve and sustain a positive emotional state
  • Express and tap into difficult emotions
  • Relax and reduce stress
  • Discovered shared experiences with others
  • Foster communication
  • Experience significant personal change

Overall, music therapy is intended to promote creative thinking and self-awareness, which are essential to recovery.

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy takes place outdoors and may include activities such as hiking, climbing, camping, kayaking, etc. In adventure therapy, engaging with nature itself is therapeutic. As a result, participants experience individual growth, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

Activities used in adventure therapy include initiative activities that involve problem-solving and collaborating with others. They also feature cooperative activities that foster positive interactions and a sense of enjoyment, as well as support activities that teach participants to trust and count on others.

Adventure therapy is an active process that serves as a medium for change. A trained therapist helps participants relate the lessons learned during the adventures to their own experiences in recovery. In addition, the therapist observes the stress levels of participants and ensures that each person is achieving a positive momentum.

Outdoor adventures may be useful for the following:

  • Reducing the risk of relapse
  • Lessening drug and alcohol cravings
  • Decreasing frequency of bad thoughts
  • Reducing stress and mental fatigue
  • Improving focus and concentration
  • Fostering a positive outlook
  • Engaging in realistic goal-setting
  • Developing better control over impulsivity

Yoga

Yoga is combines controlled breathing with movement and meditation. It’s led by a certified instructor who guides the class through a range of poses that improve physical and mental strength, endurance, and flexibility. The instructor may also integrate inspirational teachings into the class to increase spiritual benefits. Likewise, the end portion of yoga typically includes a meditation exercise.

During yoga, participants concentrate on their breathing and poses, which keep them into the present moment where they are better able to examine their thoughts, feelings, and physical state. Mindfulness increases self-awareness and teaches the mind to exist in the present rather than fretting over the past or future.

Yoga is commonly used in addiction treatment programs for its many mental and physical health benefits to people in recovery, including the following:

  • A higher level of mindfulness
  • Greater awareness of body and mind
  • Deeper spirituality
  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD
  • Decreased stress
  • Reduced cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Greater physical strength
  • Reduced depression and anxiety

Experiential Therapy for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of sitting in a quiet environment while focusing on the breath and allowing thoughts to pass through the mind without responding to them or placing judgment on them.

Meditation encourages awareness of thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. It helps people accept their experiences and feelings for what they are rather than repress or fight them. Meditation promotes better decision-making, relieves cravings, and lessens the need to abuse drugs or alcohol during particularly stressful or emotional events or periods.

A substantial body of research suggests that mindfulness meditation is beneficial for treating addiction in the following ways:

  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Alleviating pain
  • Reducing depression, anxiety, and stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Improving responses to external events
  • Promoting feelings of calm and peacefulness

According to research, meditation can actually change the brain’s structure by increasing its volume in regions related to emotional regulation and decision making. It also reduces the volume of the area associated with stress, anxiety, and fear.

Experiential Therapies Support Healing

Choosing a rehab program that offers a holistic approach to addiction recovery can have several long-term benefits. For example, experiential therapies allow people to grow and reflect and make meaningful connections to the coping skills and strategies they are learning in traditional therapy.

Experiential treatments should be enjoyable, engaging, and enlightening. By integrating them in the recovery journey, healing and well-being can be promoted during the treatment process and beyond.

Get Help Today

Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs that feature psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. We also offer several experiential treatments, including art, music, and adventure therapy, as well as medication and yoga.

If you are struggling to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today! We are committed to helping every person we can to break free from the cycle of substance abuse so they may begin to experience the happy, healthy lives they deserve!

6 Tips for Staying Sober Over the Holidays

Staying Sober Over the Holidays | Harmony Recovery Center

It will soon be the season for family gatherings, work-related parties, and around the clock socializing. It’s also a season that poses unique challenges for people newly in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. The holidays also typically involve seeing old friends and family and engaging in rituals that may have involved drinking or using drugs.

Unfortunately, we might not get along with some of these “loved ones,” and there may be a history of trauma, resentment, embarrassment, and general unease. Emotional triggers, coupled with environmental ones, can be a threat to those who are not fully entrenched in recovery. Beware if you have yet to fine-tune the coping skills you need to deal with problems without resorting to the use of drugs or alcohol.

6 Tips for Holiday Sobriety

The following tips and advice can help those new to sobriety better navigate this time of year successfully and avoid relapse.

1. Reconsider Traditional Ideas Regarding Recovery

People in early recovery often refer to the need to “stay strong.” Unfortunately, an inability to do this presupposes that you are weak. Moreover, using language that stigmatizes addiction or implies judgment can be unhelpful and throw a negative element into your thinking.

Instead of promising to stay strong, for example, you could vow to remain in the present, and focus on each moment and day, one at a time. It’s common knowledge that in recovery, being committed to never using or drinking again is daunting for most people. What is helpful, however, is living in the present and not worrying about the past or the future. In other words, you can make it through New Year’s Eve without drinking and worrying about tomorrow.

Another way to go about this is to drop the word “relapse” and replace it with something that sounds less permanent, such as “recurrence.” The term relapse not only implies that there is a defect of character or moral failing, but also that a person has somehow fallen into a pit in which he or she must struggle to surmount. Looking at it another way can help you in the event you have a misstep. Know that having a recurrence of substance use, although not good, does not have to be the end of the world. Any setback, no matter how minor or major, can be overcome as long as you are still alive.

2. Stay Connected to People Who Support Your Recovery Endeavors

Many times, people who support you in sobriety are close friends and family, but not always. Sometimes, it might be a counselor or therapist, an AA sponsor, or even a coworker. In other words, showing up to a family gathering while everyone is getting their drink on might not be the most supportive environment for you. But by leaning on group support or professional help, you can still get the emotional buffering you need to get through the day.

Plan to engage with whatever support system you use during relatively normal times on the holidays as well. Stay connected to whoever is helping you and keeping you accountable, rather than falling back on those who might not be the best role models during this time.

Staying Sober Over the Holidays | Harmony Recovery Center

3. Make a List of Things Enjoyable About the Holidays That are Unrelated to Substance Abuse

Most children, although not all, have many fond memories of the holidays entrenched in their psyche long before drugs or alcohol came into the picture. Now may be the time to tap into those memories. For example, staying awake late trying to get a glimpse of Santa, or getting up early to open presents.

As adults, of course, our view of the holidays change a bit. But we can still look forward to getting and receiving gifts, cooking, eating, socializing, and engaging in activities that are fun or creative. You don’t have to be drunk to play cards with your cousin or watch “A Christmas Story” for the 50th time.

4. Reconsider Holiday Obligations

Unfortunately, the holidays are a time in which people feel obligated to participate by going to parties or family gatherings. You have to remember than you can opt out, and even do so for another purpose, such as attending AA meetings or volunteering.

If you decide to do this, you will also need to gauge the situation and figure out who needs an explanation and who doesn’t. Not showing up to an office party might not be a big deal, but not turning out at a family event might require some tactful, gentle explaining. Remember that this is your recovery, and it needs to be prioritized. If someone doesn’t understand or accept your explanation, that’s on them.

5. Pick Your Events Carefully, Plan Your Exit if Needed, and “Bookend” Triggering Situations With Support

Along with the potential for opting out, comes a little strategy and planning. Recovery occurs one moment at a time. If you structure your time during the holidays, sobriety can feel a lot more manageable. Also, including support group meetings or conversations with sponsors that surround these events can help you stay focused. Stay in the mindset that this is also your day, and it cannot be compromised for the sake of others.

For example, you might choose to go to a family gathering and stay for dinner—AA meeting, dinner, then talk to sponsor. Then you only have one or two hours at a time you need to manage. By the end of the day, it’s all over, and tomorrow, everything and everyone might be back to normal.

In terms of an exit plan, this may be as simple as telling the host your intention to leave by a certain time. Or, devising an excuse to use beforehand in case you need it.

Staying Sober Over the Holidays | Harmony Recovery Center

6. Plan Ahead to Manage Enablers

Almost every person in recovery will be offered drugs or alcohol at some point. The holidays may be particularly troublesome for this fact. People who occasionally have “one too many” may not understand what addiction really is. You might end up in a situation where you feel pressured—and therefore tempted—to imbibe.

For these reasons, when you attend a holiday gathering, you may have to be prepared to stand your ground. You can choose to be honest, saying “I can’t drink.”

Or, you can use another excuse such as that you don’t engage in substance abuse for health reasons.

Getting Help

If you are struggling to remain sober in recovery or feel you need help with a substance abuse problem, effective treatment is available. Harmony Recovery Center offers individualized, comprehensive programs that feature clinically-proven therapies, activities, and educational services that are extremely beneficial for the recovery process, including cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Addiction is a chronic mental and physical disease that can last a lifetime. But, you don’t have to overcome it alone. Call us today to find out how we can help you get on the road to recovery.

 

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How to Get Clean and Sober

How to Get Clean and Sober | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Helping people get clean and sober and sustaining long-term recovery are the primary goals of any substance abuse treatment program. Achieving this is often possible using a combination of intensive therapeutic services and continuing aftercare. Although this is possible to do on one’s own, research has shown that the best outcomes are achieved when a person undergoes a comprehensive addiction program and continues with long-term therapy and counseling.

The First Step is Recognizing the Problem

Before a person can get clean and sober, he or she must recognize the need for treatment. It may be daunting to admit that there is a problem, but if drug or alcohol abuse is interfering with school, work, school, or relationships, professional treatment is likely needed.

If a loved one is suffering from an addiction, it may be necessary to stage an intervention in an attempt to convince them that they have a problem and need help. Addiction specialists and those trained in these types of interventions can help guide loved ones through this process and offer the best chance for its success.

The next step is to seek professional treatment from a licensed and accredited rehab center as soon as possible. It is also essential to learn about the challenges you may face and begin to understand what the process of recovery is really all about.

Challenges

Withdrawal symptoms are a significant challenge for recovery from substance abuse. Some substances cause severe withdrawal symptoms when the user abruptly stops using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are the result of dependence, a condition in which the body has adapted a substance’s presence and cannot function “normally” without it. These symptoms can be highly pleasant, dangerous, and can compel the user to relapse to ease withdrawal symptoms. 

For this reason and others, it is not recommended that a drug or alcohol abuser try to quit “cold turkey” without undergoing a medical detox. Severe complications, both physical and emotional, can arise. In some cases, such as those related to alcohol or benzodiazepines, withdrawal can be life-threatening.

Another danger for many is that relapse can result in an overdose. This may be more likely as a person’s tolerance has been reduced, and if the user tries to return to a previous dose, their body may be no longer equipped to handle it.

How to Get Clean and Sober | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Never Underestimate Triggers

It may not be that hard to remain sober while undergoing a treatment program because the environment is drug-free and conducive to sobriety. And the longer a person receives treatment, the greater the likelihood that he or she will be equipped to remain sober long-term. However, after treatment is over and a person returns to the real world, he or she will be faced with many of the same stresses and triggers that were present before. 

Unfortunately, relapse is considered to be a relatively normal event in recovery. Overconfidence in one’s ability to cope with life’s stresses is one of the main reasons why people relapse, even those who have been in recovery for years. For this reason, it’s vital to use the coping skills learned in treatment actively and reach out for help at the first inkling that a return to using may be imminent.

Understanding Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery, in some ways, is a life-long process that involves several stages before a person can wholly be free from dependence on alcohol or drugs. Individuals go through these stages in different ways, and the duration of time required depends on the person’s personality and genetic makeup, the environment in which they live, and the properties of the specific substance of abuse.

For some types of drugs, such as benzodiazepines, a gradual tapering of the dose over time under the care of a trained healthcare provider may be needed to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. Such a tapering process may extend the length of time it takes to recover from chemical dependence and may affect emotional dependence, as well.

Leaning on the support of family and friends is another essential component of recovery. This, in and of itself, can sometimes pose a challenge, especially if many of the former user’s friends or family are still using drugs or alcohol. For this reason, the person in recovery may have to find a new support group of friends who are already clean and sober. Peer support groups and sponsors can often fill this role.

In some cases, family therapy or counseling may be necessary to help the former user’s family members understand the treatment process. Therapy of this kind can show loved ones different ways they can offer support and be helpful in fostering the individual’s recovery.

Treatment Options

How to Get Clean and Sober | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Treatment for substance abuse should be customized to the specific needs of the person seeking treatment. Not all treatment approaches work as effectively for all people. Also, chemical addiction often requires different treatment options than one that is primarily psychological in nature. 

And, notably, there are frequently co-occurring mental health conditions that people who abuse substances experience, such as anxiety or depression. These disorders must be addressed in conjunction with addiction in order for treatment to be effective.

Currently, the most common forms of intensive treatment are heavily based on behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support. In some instances, medication is also necessary to wean the person off of a drug or to prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings that could hinder a person’s ability to remain clean and sober.

Treatment can be performed in a hospital, detox or rehab center, or at home using outpatient services. In many cases, a medical detox followed by intensive treatment is the best approach to ensuring that an individual is given the best chance for recovery. 

During medical detox, a person is monitored by healthcare professionals and provided with medications and emotional support while the body rids itself of drugs and alcohol. While detox is the first step, it doesn’t address the underlying causes of substance abuse, which is something that an intensive recovery program is designed to do.

Addiction treatment programs offer clients assessment, support, structure, therapy, counseling, and medication to assist in their recovery. These programs can also help to address the underlying issues that contribute to drug abuse in the first place, and teach people how to replace their maladaptive substance abuse with healthy habits and behaviors.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive, individualized addiction treatment programs in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We specialize in both substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.

Our programs feature evidence-based therapies and services beneficial to the recovery process, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Group support
  • Art and music therapy
  • Mindfulness meditation and yoga
  • Substance abuse education
  • Health and wellness education
  • Aftercare planning

After the initial treatment is complete, the recovering addict should collaborate with a healthcare provider or other specialist to develop a plan to avoid triggers and prevent relapse in the future. Relapse prevention is just as vital as detox and treatment because failure at this stage can undo much of the progress already achieved.

If you or someone you love is struggling to get clean and sober, contact us today and find out how we can help!

What Is Holistic Healing for Addiction?

Holistic Healing for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

An ongoing trend in addiction treatment in the past few years has been to incorporate alternative or holistic treatment practices into more conventional therapies. In fact, a wide variety of holistic approaches are being used in addiction treatment centers across the United States.

What Is Holistic Healing?

The term “holistic” refers to interventions that address the “whole person” or a concurrent focus on the mind and body for total healing. Many addiction treatment centers view holistic practices as an opportunity for people to better address their physical, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes social needs. By using these complementary techniques, people may experience improvements in their recovery and other aspects of their everyday life.

What Is a Holistic Healing Program?

Addiction treatment programs that employ holistic techniques make thorough use of an integrated physical, emotional, and spiritual approach to develop a comprehensive treatment regimen. Many of these services are categorized as complementary or alternative therapies, some of which are rooted in practices that stem from cultural traditions.

Examples of holistic techniques include the following:

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Reiki
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Biofeedback
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Herbal treatment
  • Art and music therapy
  • Adventure therapy

These are just a few of the diverse treatments that are considered to be beneficial for holistic healing. The key element that these techniques have in common is that they are intended to treat the whole individual and improve overall well-being. This element contrasts with a focus on a single aspect of a person’s symptoms or behaviors.

Keeping this in mind, a holistic approach to addiction should, essentially, seek to curb isolated addictive behaviors. It should also address a broad range of factors that play vital roles in the development of addiction.

Using Holistic Healing Techniques for Addiction Treatment

In some instances, holistic techniques are employed to augment specific aspects of more traditional recovery treatment. In doing this, these practices may help with the following:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Anxiety, depression, or other psycho-emotional problems that appear to have contributed to the development of compulsive substance use
  • A lack of spirituality
  • Unhealthy eating habits and malnutrition in combination with substance abuse

Supporters of holistic practices contend that they can improve the chances of long-lasting recovery from addiction. It is generally advised, however, that holistic therapies be used in conjunction with traditional treatments, in contrast to merely using them as a substitution for more conventional approaches, such as behavioral therapy.

Holistic Healing for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

How Effective Are Holistic Healing Techniques?

People who are investigating holistic treatment programs may find it challenging to locate research that supports the effectiveness of these practices. Indeed, scant research has been conducted on many holistic approaches, and research that is out there has had mixed results. As such, the efficacy of some of these techniques in promoting lasting recovery is unknown. For this reason, they have often been the subject of debate.

Holistic practices may interest those who would otherwise be leery of more traditional therapies. Likewise, their presence may make a person more comfortable with receiving more conventional treatments. It may promote a willingness to try other evidence-based approaches that offer a higher likelihood of long-lasting recovery.

Also, the use of these practices can put people at ease and more engaged in their treatment, making them better able to deal with the challenges of rehab. For these reasons alone, holistic approaches can be beneficial components in a more extensive, conventional, evidence-based program, despite the lack of evidence supporting them.

Holistic and Traditional Approaches in Addiction Treatment

Most experts contend that conventional, clinically-backed intensive treatment for addiction is more likely to help a person to achieve sobriety and maintain recovery. Holistic approaches may include a broad range of therapies that may offer additional support and make treatment programs more interesting and fulfilling in general.

People who are considering rehab may need to research each specific facility’s holistic healing offerings. They need to inquire about the therapies that the treatment center provides and the qualifications of those who will be administering the therapies.

It is true that many alternative treatments do lack evidence regarding their effectiveness. However, some holistic techniques, when used to complement more conventional addiction treatment therapies, certainly contribute to greater treatment satisfaction.

Getting Help for Addiction

Harmony Recovery Center offers integrated, research-based programs comprised of therapeutic modalities shown to be essential for long-lasting recovery. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer group support
  • Health and wellness education
  • Substance abuse education
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Art and music therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Aftercare planning

Our caring staff specializes in the facilitation of both traditional and holistic recovery approaches. If you or someone you love is ready to end the vicious cycle of addiction, contact us today—we can help!

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What Is a Halfway House?

Halfway House vs. Sober Living House | Harmony Recovery Center

Halfway House vs. Sober Living House – Many people choose to reside in a group sober living environment following inpatient treatment for addiction. While people tend to use these terms interchangeably, it is important to understand that a sober house is not the same thing as a halfway house or three-quarters house.

One of the biggest dangers that people face coming out of treatment is relapse and vulnerability to high-risk situations. Both sober living homes and halfway houses help to protect people in the early stages of recovery by offering an environment conducive to peer support and accountability.

These residences also usually provide access to counseling, support groups, and employment resources. Residents are held accountable for their sobriety and must adhere to strict rules, curfews, and sometimes require drug testing.

What Is a Halfway House?

Halfway houses are places that are sometimes designated for people who have been released from prison or who may have also undergone an alcohol or drug treatment program while incarcerated. This type of halfway house is often sponsored by state funds to help those recently released from prison reacclimate to life in the outside world. Not all halfway houses are used solely for this purpose, however.

Some are designed to include any person with a substance use disorder who needs further support during or after an addiction treatment program. This environment can be very beneficial in allowing people to move forward while surrounded by a community focused on support as each member transitions from one way of life to another. Halfway houses often require enrollment in or completion of some type of treatment program, and these houses also tend to limit a resident’s stay.

What Is a Three-Quarters House?

A three-quarter house is a transitional environment that offers less supervision than traditional halfway houses. These sober living environments are unregulated. Reputable three-quarter houses can help people transition out of intensive treatment, and living in such an environment may be a positive final step that a person can take before their re-entrance back into normal life.

In a three-quarter house, drugs and alcohol are still banned, and they generally provide fewer resources and require less accountability. Also, residents aren’t usually drug tested, and support group attendance is optional. Moreover, these homes allow residents more freedom as they become accustomed to living without constant supervision and support.

What Is a Sober Living House?

Halfway House vs. Sober Living House | Harmony Recovery Center

After residential treatment, it can be challenging to transition to the outside world while continuing to commit to a substance-free life. The main function of a sober living house is to help those in recovery who need extra security and support by giving them a place to go that is free from drugs and alcohol and the triggers that they will eventually have to face in the real world.

Unlike a halfway house, however, residents do not always need to be enrolled in a treatment program to reside in a sober house, and there may not be a limit set on the duration of time that one can live there. This difference can be vital for those who are contemplating their long-term options and feel that they would be helped by access to community support and personal accountability for a longer period.

Sober living houses are frequently, but not always, owned and operated by treatment centers, or they are closely affiliated with them and located nearby. Transportation is often available to go to and from outpatient treatment and other services.

Aftercare Treatment in Recovery from Addiction

While inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment are fundamental, after treatment is over, a long-term plan is still needed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about half of all individuals treated for substance use disorders will relapse at least once. Therefore, aftercare treatment becomes just as vital to sobriety as the initial investment in addiction recovery.

A long-term aftercare plan should address the following:

  • Holding the individual accountable and responsible
  • Ensuring that he or she does not use addictive substances
  • Minimizing relapse triggers in the environment
  • Helping the person take care of responsibilities such as paying rent and performing household chores
  • Placing the person within a caring community of support
  • Giving the person a commitment to adhere to over time

Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Harmony Recovery Centers offers evidence-based psychotherapy, counseling, and group support in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. We also provide aftercare planning services as well as alumni activities to ensure that former patients remain supported and active long-term in their newly established sober lifestyle.

Recovery from addiction is often a lifelong endeavor, but no one should have to go through it alone. You can reclaim your life and begin to reimagine it in a way you never thought possible. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and foster the healthy, happy, and fulfilling life you deserve!

What Is a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?

Drug and Alcohol Evaluation | Harmony Recovery Center

What Is a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation? – A drug and alcohol evaluation, also sometimes referred to as a substance abuse evaluation, is used to determine the severity of a person’s addiction. Likewise, a drug and alcohol evaluation is needed in order to develop an effective treatment plan that is customized to the needs of each individual, and give him or her the best possible chance at recovery.

Substance abuse or addiction can impact a person’s life profoundly, and result in serious damage to their physical and emotional health, career, finances, and close relationships. When a person has arrived at this point and is in need of professional help, they may be confronted with a drug and alcohol evaluation. This evaluation is a tool used to help ascertain the presence and extent of a person’s abuse of drugs or alcohol and to determine what treatment a person should receive in order to achieve the best outcome.

Purpose of a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation

An evaluation is intended to do the following:

  • Determine if the person has drug and/or alcohol addiction
  • Evaluate the intensity of substance abuse or addiction
  • Identify any co-occurring conditions, including physical or mental health concerns
  • Assess the extent to which the substance abuse impacts the person’s life
  • Afford an understanding of the person and individual circumstances so that the treatment team may design a treatment plan that is best suited to their needs, goals, and recovery

What to Expect

A drug and alcohol evaluation is broken down into two steps: screening and assessment. A screening is a process used to identify the presence of a problem with substance use. Assessment is a process for analyzing the nature of that problem, determining a diagnosis, and designing specific treatment recommendations to address that problem.

These elements may be administered by a wide range of people, many of whom are trained to evaluate for addiction. The persons involved in some manner may be social workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, etc. Through interviews, these persons will inquire about a person’s health history, past and present drug and/or alcohol use, the ways in which it has affected his or her life, and any prior history of treatment for these concerns.

Substance Abuse Screening

The screening is a preparatory exam that helps the interviewer determine if there are circumstances present that justify a more in-depth inquiry. Screening is the first step in helping a person to see if drug or alcohol abuse or addiction is present. The screening may be administered online or in person.

The following are two examples of some of the most commonly used tools for screening purposes:

Drug and Alcohol Assessment

Drug and Alcohol Evaluation | Harmony Recovery Center

The assessment of a person who likely has a substance abuse problem is more in-depth. Its purpose is to identify clear evidence that supports either the absence or presence of drug or alcohol addiction.

At this point, a diagnostic interview is conducted. The interviewer will go over the results of the screening and ask more questions in an effort to get a broader picture of the individual’s drug or alcohol abuse. A person might find him or herself in the position of undergoing an evaluation if they decide to take the first steps toward entering a rehab program, or if they are mandated by a court.

Two commonly used tools in the assessment process are:

Treatment Program Evaluations

Any time an individual is planning to enroll in an addiction treatment program, staff must have a standardized way to understand the person and their specific circumstances. The first step is for the person to have their drug or alcohol abuse problem assessed by the facility’s team of experts. This evaluation gives these professional a unique perspective into the person’s situation and uncovers any specific concerns that he or she may need to have addressed in treatment.

Some people who suffer from a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, falsely believe that they must deal with the substance abuse problem before they can address this other condition. However, the opposite is true—in order for treatment to achieve the best outcome, it is vital that these co-occurring issues be addressed and treated at the same time.

Mental illness can exacerbate a person’s substance abuse challenges, making it harder to achieve abstinence. If not properly addressed, mental health concerns can also contribute to an environment in which a newly sober individual is more likely to relapse.

It is important to remember that any information obtained during these procedures is confidential. Personal details are used for the sole purpose of creating and following through with the best method of care for your unique situation.

Court-Ordered Evaluation

If a case involves suspected or confirmed substance abuse, the judge may order a drug and alcohol evaluation administered by an agency that is certified through the state.

These are examples of situations or convictions where a judge might mandate an evaluation:

  • Public intoxication
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Using a fake ID
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol
  • Minor in possession (MIP)
  • Arrest for drug or alcohol possession

During the evaluation, which usually takes between 60-90 minutes, a person who is trained in substance abuse treatment will interview the defendant and perform a comprehensive review of his or her substance abuse history.

This evaluation is essential because it determines if a chronic substance use disorder is present or if there may not be enough evidence to support the belief that a person is experiencing one. Even in cases of the latter, in many states, a person may still have to undergo various programs or treatment responsibilities as ordered by the court.

Drug and Alcohol Evaluation | Harmony Recovery Center

The court may determine that a person requires some of these activities before the evaluation:

  • DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP)
  • Random drug or alcohol urinalysis
  • Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings
  • Substance abuse education classes
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Addiction treatment program enrollment, either inpatient or outpatient

If this is your situation, it is vital to remember that although you did not choose these circumstances, it is most beneficial for you to commence this process immediately. By doing so, you will show to the judge and prosecution that you are taking the consequences of your actions seriously. It also allows you the opportunity to receive the help that you most likely need.

Getting Treatment

You might feel ashamed of your condition and not inclined to be completely honest about your substance use behaviors. However, you must remember that, by taking this evaluation, you are making a big step toward recovery, and you will be the one who will benefit the most. You have nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain.

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact us today to discuss treatment options. Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive programs that include evidence-based therapies, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.

Our team of addiction specialists is dedicated to providing each client with the tools they need to achieve a full recovery and experience long-term happiness and sobriety!

What Is a 12-Step Program?

12-Step Program | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

What Is a 12-Step Program? – The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) model of twelve steps and twelve traditions is one of the oldest established guidelines designed to help people overcome an addiction to alcohol. AA’s approach has frequently been lauded as the standard for recovery from nearly any type of addiction. The purpose of a 12-step program is to enable “members to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”

Since its inception in 1935, AA has achieved enough success for other support groups to adopt and modify the steps to fit the needs of their members. Currently, there are many 12-step programs for various addictions and compulsive behaviors, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Food Addicts Anonymous, and Debtors Anonymous. Regardless of the addiction or compulsion of choice, all 12-step programs are based on AA’s original model.

Although the original twelve steps are heavily based on religious spirituality, many non-religious people have found the program to be tremendously helpful in addiction recovery. The program’s language places emphasis on the presence of God or a “higher power” based on each person’s own understanding, which allows for different interpretations and religious or spiritual beliefs.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Because recovery is a lifelong endeavor, there’s no wrong way to approach the twelve steps as the person tries to figure out what works best for them. In fact, most members find that they will need to revisit some steps, alter their order, or undertake multiple steps simultaneously.

The following are the 12 Steps as given by Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

12-Step Program | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

The 12 Traditions

The 12 Traditions speak to the participants of Alcoholics Anonymous as a group. They are distinct from the steps, which are focused on the individual. Most 12-step programs have also adopted the 12 traditions for their own standards.

Here are the 12 traditions:

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
2. For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
3. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
6. An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Getting Treatment

Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step programs can be very helpful at motivating people to quit using drugs and alcohol, remain sober, and receive the support they need from peers. However, research has found that people have the most successful recovery outcomes when they also undergo professional addiction treatment and receive evidence-based services, including psychotherapy, counseling, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning.

Harmony Recovery Center is dedicated to providing the tools, support, and resources that people suffering from addiction need to achieve abstinence, prevent relapse, and experience long-term wellness and sobriety.

Contact us today if you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder to discuss treatment options. Learn how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction indefinitely!