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Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

When a patient comes to Addiction Alternatives whether they are struggling with a severe addiction to certain substances, such as heroin or oxycodone, or have a milder substance abuse problem, Dr.Charles Buscema will evaluate their needs. Some levels of addiction are typically best treated in an inpatient residential program to help manage detoxification and withdrawal. However, some patients cannot afford nor have the time to uproot their life to help fight addiction.

Outpatient rehab is ideal for people who are motivated to stop using their substance of choice but require the flexibility of a program that will work around their schedules. At Addiction Alternative, the focus is on various Outpatient rehabilitation programs that suit the patient’s needs.

Outpatient rehab can be a more affordable and effective form of drug treatment, but it isn’t necessarily right for everyone. Dr. Charles Buscema will evaluate to see if the following criteria are met, generally, those individuals do not fare best in outpatient addiction treatment:

  • Patients with severe addiction and need the 24-hour support of an inpatient rehab facility.
  • Anyone who is a danger to themselves or others.
  • Individuals without a strong support system and who face temptation in their day-to-day life (for example, if their family members or roommates use drugs or alcohol).
  • Addicts who have a history of chronic relapse.

If any of the above is met, then these patients tend to need more support than an outpatient rehab program can offer.

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehabilitation programs are a form of treatment that works around an individual normal day to day life. Depending on the severity an outpatient rehab program will offer drug and alcohol treatment sessions that are scheduled during select times throughout the week, tailored for the individual. This schedule will allow patients to continue with their responsibilities and continue living at home, the caveat is they are required to check into treatment at their allotted times for counseling and medication.

Outpatient programs come in a variety of formats, differing levels of intensity and offer an array of services — but the general focus is on counseling, education and providing a network of support.

Some of the services offered include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12-Step work
  • Alcohol and drug education
  • Spirituality group
  • Men’s group
  • Women’s group
  • Relapse prevention
  • Life skills
  • Re-socialization skills
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Mental health treatment
  • Referrals to sober living houses

Individuals with a strong will to succeed in recovery and who have a committed, disciplined approach may benefit from an outpatient treatment program.

Benefits to Outpatient Treatment

Affordability

Most outpatient rehab centers have lower costs. Inpatient programs can be expensive and generally require a significant out-of-pocket expense. Alternatively, Outpatient rehab is less expensive across the board, while still providing high-quality treatment.

Normalcy

Outpatient rehabilitation offers patients the ability to continue with work and/or school. In contrast, residential treatment program requires recovering addicts to put their lives on hold while they pursue their recovery. An outpatient addiction program allows participants to maintain a presence at work and/or school. Which can lead to building better relationships with family and friends as well as allow the person to support their family financially.

Financial

As previously mentioned, outpatient treatment is significantly more affordable than traditional inpatient treatment programs. But, it goes beyond that, with the person being able to keep up with a job and earn their living with seeking help. The patient will be able to support his family, new drug-free lifestyle and have a better sense of self because of having better financial security.

Support Systems

A huge benefit to outpatient rehab is the access to support systems. People going through recovery need a lot of support. With outpatient rehab, patients can stay in close proximity to their loved ones and their support network.

Continuing Care

Continuing care groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, AA, or Narcotics Anonymous, NA, are ongoing support resources to help an individual solidify their commitment to sobriety. These groups are typically facilitated by a licensed therapist and meet weekly. Some continuing care groups may be gender-specific or age-specific, and others may focus on a particular aspect of recovery.  Dr. Charles Buscema will be able to assist with finding the best continuing care that suits the patient’s needs.

Seeking treatment whether inpatient or outpatient is the first step in recovery. The Team at Addiction Alternative will assess and ensure the best treatment is provided.

If you have further questions or are ready to get the help you need, reach out to Dr. Charles Buscema, at Addiction Alternative, to get you on the path to recovery.

International Overdose Awareness

International Overdose Awareness

Addiction Alternatives wanted to take an opportunity to remind everyone that August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. This day is internationally recognized as an international opportunity to stand together for those that we have lost, family members as well as their loved ones to remind them that they are not alone and to honor them.

International Overdose Awareness was originally established in Melbourne, Australia in 2001. This global event gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of overdose-related deaths as well as an opportunity to spread the message of addiction as a disease.

On August 31st, we will all stand together to take a moment to honor and remember those we have lost while also reaching out our hands to help prevent more loss in the future of loved ones and their families.

The Goals of International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose awareness day is an opportunity for loved ones, families, friends and the community to publicly mourn the loss of addicts in a safe as well as accepting environment. Last year, more than 500 events spanned across the globe bringing awareness to overdose-related deaths and the disease of addiction. August 31st marks the day to educate the community on the Treasure Coast of the risks of fatal and non-fatal overdoses. The establishment of this day helps to promote a strong message against the stigma with addiction and overdoses.

International Overdose Awareness Day is the communities opportunity to partake in genuine conversation regarding drug use and overdose without the fear of judgment in a safe environment. At each of these events on the Treasure Coast and nationwide, resources and support services will be available for individuals and their families struggling with substance abuse. These resources and services will also be available to provide information to friends and family members of addicts.

August 31st, every year is our opportunity to bring more awareness to the disease of addiction and overdose awareness in order to prevent and decrease the number of drug-related deaths in the future.

How To Show Support on International Overdose Awareness Day

Wearing Purple

If you would like to show support on International Overdose Awareness Day, wearing a purple wristband, lanyard or badges are one way to signify the support of overdose awareness as well as signifying the loss of a loved one. Wearing purple wrist bands, lanyards or badges on August 31st is one of many ways to help reduce the stigma behind drug addiction and overdoses. At Addiction Alternatives we believe that every person deserves a chance to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. The stigma behind drug abuse often makes recovery difficult and makes the conversation of overdose complicated and confusing for many individuals.

Learn More about Overdose

As the abuse of addictive substances continues to rise, we see now more than ever the widespread fatality from overdose-related deaths. It is important as ever that friends, family members, and each community is aware of the risks associated with drug use, how to get help as well as what to do in the case of an overdose. International Overdose Awareness Day is an opportunity to reduce the stigma of drug use by learning about overdose and drug abuse in order to help addicts find the help they need. Family and friends play a vital role in making resources available to those who are searching for a way out of their drug addiction.

Important Things To Consider For Overdoses

  • A drug overdose is clinically defined as when your body can no longer cope with the amount of drugs in your system.
  • Overdoses are not limited to the specific classification of drugs. Nearly all drugs including alcohol can result in an overdose. However, depending on the drug symptoms may vary.
  • Depressants (including alcohol) and opioids slow down the vital activities in the body including breathing and heart rate—putting users at greater risk for overdose.
  • Stimulants increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, seizure or drug-induced psychotic episodes—potentially resulting in overdose and death.
  • Medications should be locked up and kept out of reach of children. Even if the bottle says it is childproof, children can be clever and often more capable than we think.
  • Call an ambulance if you think someone is at risk for overdose. Many states including Florida have implemented Good Samaritan laws that protect those who call the authorities to help in an overdose situation (even if the person calling has been using as well).
  • Signs include, but are not limited to:
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties (snoring, gurgling)
  • Paranoid, agitated or confused
  • Non-responsiveness, especially to stimulation such as shaking, shouting, or a rub to the sternum with the knuckles
  • In many cases, an opioid overdose may be reversed

Educate Yourself on Naloxone

“According to the CDC there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, 42,249 of these deaths (66%) involved some type of opioid, including heroin.” – Center for Disease Control.

Naloxone or better known as Narcan continues to grow as a proactive method for reversing the effects of overdoses. Narcan continues to reduce the number of drug-related deaths each year.

Narcan is a medication that can be given as an injection as well as a nasal spray that serves an antidote to opioid overdoses. Narcan works by reversing the effects of respiratory depression which is the leading cause of opioid-related deaths.

From 1996 through June 2014, surveyed organizations provided naloxone kits to 152,283 laypersons and received reports of 26,463 overdose reversals. Providing opioid overdose training and naloxone kits to laypersons who might witness an opioid overdose can help reduce opioid overdose mortality.” – Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Attend an Activity

There are many different activities available on International Overdose Awareness Day. Addiction Alternatives suggests attending an event near you on the Treasure Coast. Events range from Black Balloon release ceremonies to presentations from doctors in order to help provide the communities with more ways to learn about overdose-related deaths.

If you, or someone you know if struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and are not currently interested in attending a 12-step program or unable to attend a residential inpatient program, Addiction Alternatives offers outpatient programs to help ensure all addicts have an opportunity to recover. Our IOP program offers the same services as inpatient programs except our clients can continue on with their daily lives in an outpatient setting. This will allow those in need of flexibility an opportunity to recover.

 

Is Your Spouse Suffering from Addiction?

Is Your Spouse Suffering from Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic mental and medical illness that affects the brain and continues to adversely affect millions of Americans. Substance abuse and addiction not only cause physical harm but also affect the individual’s emotions while often causing behavioral issues. Individuals suffering from addiction cannot control their impulses. Untreated addiction can lead to life-threating consequences.  If you know or suspect that a loved one is facing addiction, it is important to first identify symptoms and consider consulting Addiction Alternatives where a mental health professional can advise you on how to proceed. Remember that addiction is neither your fault nor the fault of your loved one.

Physical Signs of Addiction

Often times, physical symptoms can lead to an initial assumption of an individual suffering from addiction. Substance abuse can lead to as well as aggravate different types of symptoms. When trying to assess whether your spouse or loved one is struggling with addiction, one of the first steps is to look for clear physical signs. If you think that your loved one may be struggling with addiction, the general physical symptoms of addiction to look for are described below.

  • Repetitive speech patterns, red eyes, and dilated pupils. Repetitive or irregular speech patterns are the result of changes in areas of the brain that control that function. Red and dilated pupils are a direct response to the use of substances. These are indicators that can be detected right away.
  • Over-active or underactive. Watching for extreme signs of changes in energy level are also a tell-tale sign of substance abuse. Keep an eye out of random burst of energy or extreme fatigue in your loved one.
  • Weight loss and change in eating habits. Extreme signs of weight loss can also be a sign of substance abuse or addiction. Look for their clothing to fit looser or just not fitting their frame the same way it once did. Often times, they may look pale or undernourished. You may notice your loved one eating more frequently or they may even abstain from food.
  • Body odor and/or other unusual odors. Personal hygiene often tends to fall by the wayside for someone suffering from addiction. This is due to the individuals growing inability to cope with stress and lack of energy levels. The impulsive nature of addiction causes individuals to disregard their once healthy habits of daily living.

Do not solely rely on physical symptoms to determine if your loved one has a problem. It is important to also look for signs of emotional or behavioral signs as they are all linked together. It is never too soon to voice your concerns to your loved one if you suspect they may be suffering from an addiction.

Emotional Signs of Addiction

Emotional or behavioral issues may be harder to determine as addiction produces a number of negative emotions making relationships with family and friends difficult and frustrating. Detailed below are common emotional symptoms of addiction to watch out for.

  • Denial. A person suffering from addiction can fall into two categories of denial. They can either admit the use of substances but minimize the severity. Or they can completely change the topic to avoid the conversation altogether. An individual suffering from addiction may or may not realize the negative effects of their disease but regardless are unable to stop due to a loss of control.
  • Decreased ability to handle stress. Often times, addiction and substance abuse can lead to a loss in of interest in their own lives, the lives of others and even activities they frequently loved or took part in.
  • Increased irritability. Unfortunately, your loved one is likely to become more defensive and argumentative. This behavior often leads to rationalizing and blaming others for their behavior. This includes finding excuses and other explanations for their using behavior, as well as placing the blame on another person or situation for their behavior.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Behavioral changes often accompany the physical and emotional changes in a person who is suffering addiction. Behavioral symptoms begin to develop as changes in the brain begin to occur. It is important to remember that your loved one is not a bad person and they are unable to control their decisions and behavior at this point.

The impulsive and compulsive behavior present in the beginning will often lead to more risky behavior. This is due to the fact the addiction actually hijacks your spouse’s control and judgment. Behaviors can range from engaging in criminal behavior, stealing, financial difficulties, as well as driving under the influence. Relationships are often strained between the addict and their families and friends. These relationships are strained through lying, manipulating and other negative behaviors. It may be difficult for your spouse to experience joy and happiness in the same things they used to.

What Can I Do to Help?

Many loved ones have asked us at Addiction Alternatives, “what can I do to help my husband/wife”? Our advice is to make sure you are having open and honest, judgment-free conversations. If they feel attacked they are less likely to be willing to hear your concerns. While it may be difficult to remain calm during this time, it is important to not take out your anger on your spouse. At this point, it is important to remember not to enable their behaviors. This includes lending money to them or lying for them. When the conversation turns to their addiction, finish off with a suggestion to seek professional help.

When To Seek Professional Help

If your loved one is struggling from addiction, they need to seek treatment with the help of health professionals as soon as possible. Anyone can achieve sobriety regardless of how long they have been struggling with this mental disease. Addiction is treatable with the appropriate treatment protocol, which consists of combinations of behavioral therapy, prescribed medications, evaluation and treatment for other underlying conditions, and follow-ups. Tailoring treatment programs to address the distinct needs of each patient, Addiction Alternatives is dedicated to guiding and assisting their patients on their way to recovery. Now is the time to get help, so call today!

 

 

Addiction & Chronic Pain

What is the process for diagnosing addiction? Addiction Alternatives

Addiction & Chronic Pain?

A vast number of individuals who struggle with addiction often face other conditions that seem to complicate their substance abuse disorder. In some instance, chronic pain or other physical health problem have at time exposed these individuals to addictive prescription drugs to combat the pain. This exposure is often the root to the initial physical dependence linked to their addiction.

Individuals with chronic pain or other physical conditions may have initially began taking the prescriptions to relieve their pain, however, the highly addictive qualities of these drugs have in return forced individuals to take more than what was prescribed. These individuals may at some level continue taking the drug to deal with the pain, the excessive amount these individuals take is actually used to feed their addiction.

It is often difficult for individuals with chronic pain to come to grips with their addiction as the idea of being addicted to the substance that “helps” their pain is hard to fathom. While the substance has in some way reduced the pain, when these individuals attempt to discontinue use, their pain returns. Of course, for individuals with chronic pain, this is a true concern when entering addiction treatment as the use of these prescription drugs must be discontinued. It would defeat the purpose of addiction treatment to continue use and make recovery impossible.

What Types of Chronic Pain Can Rehab Help You Relieve Naturally?

Some conditions leave both patients and providers without a diagnosis for the pain and thus resort to treating the symptoms of pain with addictive prescription drugs. Typically, resorting to these methods are in an effort to improve the patient’s day to day life by reducing the pain.

There are several commonly known conditions that cause severe and chronic pain. These conditions may include:

  • Congenital malformations
  • Acute and chronic illness
  • Acute injuries
  • Conditions that affect eh nervous system’s ability to function properly

For Patients with The Above Chronic Conditions, Your Needs Will Be Assessed Prior to Intake

It has been our experience at Addiction Alternatives that many patients fear their medical conditions whether physical or mental illness will not be considered during their treatment plan. This is actually not true. At Addiction Alternatives, we understand the importance of determining causes and conditions linked to the addiction in order to better the chances of long term recovery.

It has been found that individuals with chronic pain and mental illness who are not treated for their other conditions often relapse after completing treatment as they have no defense against the pain or mental condition.

For this reason, Dr. Buscema and our nurse practitioner will evaluate your needs while also teaching you to cope with the symptoms. As you begin your treatment protocol with Addiction Alternatives we will help you either determine a much lower does to help you manage your pain or to find new ways to deal with the pain. Our goal is not to have your sober and in pain, our goal is to have you sober and in less to no pain.

How Will Your Addiction Treatment Program Help You Cope with Pain?

While it is our goal to help you wean off of your pain medication completely, there are rare circumstances where a recovering addict must remain on a small regulated dose of a pain management prescription. If possible, we attempt to find a non-narcotic version that is not addictive to help you manage your pain.

Certain types of cognitive behavioral therapy have shown benefits to reducing chronic pain in recovering addictions. Various types of counseling are specifically designed to address pain management while also assisting in the process of reducing drug cravings. 

There are also other physical activities that been known to help the body manage pain more efficiently. These physical activities work to strengthen your muscles, increase muscle endurance and increase mobility. These activities are linked to the reduction of inflammation that is usually the root cause of pain. While there are other causes of pain, the primary cause is usually linked to increased inflammation that if managed or treated, can reduce the pain for recovering addicts.

Examples of pain management physical therapies may include:

  • Yoga
  • High-intensity strength training
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage therapy

At Addiction Alternatives we understand that the thought of dealing with your chronic pain while pursuing a sober life may be a scary thought. However, with our help, you can begin a positive road to recovery comfortably.

For more information about our out-patient program at Addiction Alternative, contact us at 772-618-0505.

How Can My Anxiety Affect My Recovery?

How Can My Anxiety Affect My Recovery?

What is the process for diagnosing addiction? Addiction Alternatives

How Can Anxiety Affect My Recovery?

At Addiction Alternatives we have seen time and time again the difficulty to separate mental health and substance abuse disorder as they often go hand in hand. More often than not, the two seem to feed off of each other. More than 50% of addicts suffering from substance abuse have what we consider the dual diagnosis. We also refer to this as a co-occurring disorder where both disorders are present simultaneously.

There is no cut and dry single type of dual diagnosis. At Addiction Alternatives, Dr. Buscema often sees a variety of substance abuse disorders accompanied by a wide range of mental health disorders. Each case presents a unique set of side effects making this diagnosis difficult to treat and diagnose.

When addressing anxiety is important to understand exactly what it is. The term anxiety is referred to the normal stress reaction that can be beneficial in certain situations. Anxiety disorders, however, are completely different from the normal feelings of nervousness and stress. This response is often inappropriate and can be expressed as fear or anxiety. Normal anxiety goes away fairly quickly whereas anxiety disorders tend to not go away and can become worse over time.

Quick Facts:

This type of anxiety often interferes with activities of daily living such as work, school, and relationships. A few types of anxiety are as follows: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.

If you suffer from both anxiety disorder as well as substance abuse disorder, it is important to find a treatment center such as Addiction Alternatives that follows an integrated care model. With our hands-on program, you will finally have the opportunity to get to the root of your pain and find ways to cope. When both conditions are addressed simultaneously, it has been shown to have more promising outcomes.

If you are one of the many who suffers from anxiety and substance abuse disorder, you may not understand how the two interact, but we can guarantee you understand how it feels. The best way we can describe it is tension, stress, worries, and feelings of restlessness creeping into your day; sometimes this feeling may be present when you first wake up. You constantly try to go about your life but your anxiety continues to consume you. Frequently, this is where drugs and alcohol begin to take over as a means to self-medicate to get the thoughts to stop. Unfortunately, this is when you fall into the vicious cycle of dual-diagnosis once again.

Dual-diagnosed anxiety can completely destroy the best intentions for a sober life. Don’t let your untreated medical condition stand in your way of a sober life. Entering a recovery program that teaches you about what you suffer from as well as offering you support and motivation to make changes in your life is important. Reach out to Addiction Alternatives who treated both substance abuse disorder and co-occurring disorders, you owe it to not only yourself but your loved ones.

If you, or someone you know, needs help with their substance abuse disorder or dually diagnosed disorder, don’t hesitate to contact us. Addiction Alternatives is here for you. At Addiction Alternatives we use an integrated treatment approach to treat both substance abuse disorder and co-occurring disorders. Each disorder needs its own treatment plan and our one-on-one support and family sessions help identify and treat patients.

Life After Rehab

Life After Rehab

Completing a rehabilitation program is a major accomplishment, give yourself a pat on the back. Becoming sober is one of the toughest challenges someone can go through, however staying sober is not a walk in the park either. Staying sober is a lifelong process. You will have to make a combined effort at maintaining sobriety.

Assuming the 28- or 60-day treatment program that you attend will fix all your problems immensely underestimates the severity of what you have and will be going through. It takes a little time, patience, and hard work to get back to where you were before your addiction. Don’t be discouraged; there are so many people who want to help you make it through life after rehab.

Sustaining a Sober Life

Once you have completed detoxification and inpatient rehabilitation, you, a recovering addict, will return to normal life. This includes going back to work or finding work, seeing family and friends and starting new hobbies or picking up old ones that were forgotten. All of these daily stimuli might trigger cravings and cause relapses.

Research suggests most relapses occur in the first six months after treatment. When you understand your triggers, you can better guard yourself against them.  To overcome the triggers, you have to have a game plan for continuing care once you leave the treatment center. It will be easier to integrate back into regular life and the next phase of treatment if you already know where to start. Remember – you are starting a new life for yourself and Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Get Started on the Road to Recovery

The road to recovery is a long arduous journey. Setting up a plan for post-treatment and sticking to the plan will help with the road to recovery. There are many programs out there for recovering addicts. Some of the treatments are broad, others are specific, based on the type of addiction you had.

Types of continuing care:

  • Check-ups- To be successful you will have to have an accountability partner or team. It is important to have regular check-ups with a mental health professional. This ensures you are making progress and staying on course. You have the choice of how often you need to check in and check-ups can be as infrequent as four times a year.
  • Individual therapy- A good therapist will recognize that addiction is not just chemical dependence. It is often based on a lifestyle that included stress and other triggers which led to drug abuse. Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy will help the recovering addict understand their underlying issues. Having the understanding will help address the addiction holistically.
  • 12-Step meetings: This has been the long the standard of addiction treatment support. 12-Step programs are available in both general and substance-specific formats. It originated with Alcoholics Anonymous but have grown to include many other drugs, from nicotine to crack cocaine as well as gambling and shopping/debt addictions. The 12-Step method relies on admitting powerlessness and relying on a higher power, often these are held in churches or in community centers.
  • Alternative support groups: It is important to find a support group of some kind, one that you feel comfortable going to, often. You will want to have the safety and security of the group so you can have somewhere to turn to when you start to have cravings. Whether it is based on the 12-Step model or not, finding a support group should be a priority. If the 12- Step model doesn’t seem to fit your personality there is Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART). SMART is one of the most popular alternatives to 12-step groups. SMART is based on research-proven methodologies for recovery. It teaches people that they can take control of their addiction.

12-Step Program

The 12 Steps were created by Alcoholics Anonymous founder as a way to establish guidelines for overcoming an addiction to alcohol. Since the program gained enough success in its early years, other addiction support groups to adapt the steps to fit their own needs. Although the 12 Steps are heavy on spirituality, many have found the program immensely helpful, regardless of their spirituality. The language of the program emphasizes the presence of God as each participant understands him, allowing for people to have different interpretations and religious beliefs.

The 12 Steps of 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 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.

What is Self-Management and Recovery Training? (SMART)

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is a support program for people with addictions and behavioral disorders. It teaches addicts how to control their addictive behavior by focusing on underlying thoughts and feelings. Participants in SMART learn skills to manage their cravings and urges for long term success. SMART continuously updates its methodologies based on emerging scientific evidence in addiction recovery.

How Does SMART Work?

In contrast to the 12-step programs that require participants to admit powerlessness over their addiction, SMART is consider a self-empowering program. Volunteers are trained to help participants to examine specific behaviors. Participants will discover problems that need to be addressed and will decide what needs the most attention. Participants are then taught self-reliance, they are in control of their addictive behavior. SMART uses techniques from cognitive behavioral and motivational enhancement therapies to teach the skills to help recovering addicts. Participants will learn these skills by following the 4-point program.

The 4-Point Program

In the SMART Recovery Handbook, it details each point in the program. It also provides tips and exercises to maintain a sober life after treatment.

The 4-point program is not a step program, in the way the 12-Step program is. Participants can tackle a specific point in any order based on their needs and is decided through self-examination.

  • Building and maintaining motivation- Having the proper willingness to stay sober is an important part of reaching long-lasting recovery. Participants may make a list of priorities and weigh the costs and benefits of using versus being sober.
  • Coping with urges- Addicts will examine what triggers a craving. Participants learn how to suppress cravings through methods such as distraction techniques. They also identify and overcome irrational beliefs about urges to use.
  • Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors- Participants will learn how to prevent relapse by examining thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to drug use. Participants learn self-acceptance and how to manage difficult feelings like depression.
  • Living a balanced life- Deciding to be sober is a drastic lifestyle change. Learning how to live a sober life is important for a successful recovery. Participants take an inventory of what’s important to them and are also taught realistic goal setting and planning for the future.

Similarities and Differences to 12-Step Programs

SMART has some similarities to the traditional 12-step programs. Both consists of recovering alcohol and drug users working through a series of endeavors to beat their addiction. Both programs are private, the identity of each participant is anonymous. People have successfully overcome their addiction when using both programs.

A few difference between 12-step programs and SMART is how each program defines addiction and handles the future of the participant. SMART does not label participants as “addicts” or as having a “disease.” They see these labels as discouraging and unproductive. Recovery is not a lifelong process in SMART; participants can “graduate” from recovery and begin a new, healthy life. Participants in the SMART approach view recovery as taking charge of their own lives instead.

Both 12-step programs and SMART provide helpful support for all people struggling to overcome addiction. It’s up to the individual to determine which is best for him or her. It best to view the journey of recovery as pointed out in the SMART Recovery Handbook, “What works for one person in one situation may not work for another in the same situation.”

Building a New Social Life

During rehab, new possibilities will open up and achievable goals that may have once seemed impossible are now attainable. As changes will start to shift in your life and lifestyle, recovering addicts have to prepare for it and how it will affect them. At first, entering a sober life often means coping with boredom, loneliness or helplessness, as the group of “friends” you once had won’t be an option to spend time with. Activities that once centered on using drugs or alcohol will no longer be available since you are trying to avoid triggers and temptation. There are many drug- and alcohol-free activities that can provide a mental and social outlet, some drug-free hobbies include:

  • Going to the movies – finding not just box office hits, but look for an indie film
  • Taking a class- completing your GED, learning new skills, or continuing education
  • Volunteering – helping others gives you a different outlook on your own life
  • Playing sports – allows focus to be on competition, but also search for sole sports which allows for inner reflection.
  • Playing video games – There are many places to get video games without breaking the bank, but you can also get group card and table games (Monopoly anyone??)
  • Learning how to play an instrument, speak another language or learn a new skill.

Building a daily routine will provides structure, which prevents boredom and thoughts about using. Going to bed at a regular time, attending support groups and making time for new hobbies creates stability and something to look forward to.

While the struggle of relapsing is something to be aware of, surrounding yourself with positive influential friends and family will help when old habits start to come back. It might be scary to start a new life or pick up where your old life ended prior to addiction, however, having a plan to help with continued recovery is going have helped you to be sober successfully.  No matter which method you prefer to use during your life after rehab, having support is important.