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Advantages of Residential Treatment Programs for Recovery Success
Featuring Fellowship Hall Clinical Director, Kelly Scaggs
A residential treatment program is defined as a live-in health care facility that provides therapy and aid for substance use disorder. Residential treatment programs also address and manage some of the health, mental illness, and behavioral issues that are caused by the disease.
Outpatient treatment and counseling programs are also utilized as a measure of substance use disorder treatment. This includes intensive day programs, individualized drug counseling, and group counseling. While all forms of treatment are beneficial to those suffering with substance use disorder, residential treatment has significant advantages.
It is a well-known adage in the recovery community that you cannot get well in the same place that you got sick. This is more pertinent now than perhaps ever before. Many impacted by substance use disorder are bound to their home due to the COVID19 shelter in place ordinance. While being home and having downtime is a haven for some, it can provoke challenges for those struggling with alcoholism and/or addiction.
Triggering home environments, idle time, isolation, financial strain, stressors, and anxiety about the rapid changes in the world, feed and drive the disease. Fellowship Hall Clinical Director Kelly Scaggs says that residential treatment programs can help combat some of these factors: “Anytime someone can come to residential treatment, it is advantageous because they are able to step out of their own environment into a new place that is completely recovery focused. Right now, you also have the advantages of personal interaction to combat isolation.
Fears associated with stepping away from a career, friends, and family members often serve as obstacles between the individual and residential treatment. Kelly believes that “now is the perfect time to seek help as everyone has been asked to step away from their life because of the virus. This is the perfect time to seek treatment, get help, and come out of this current situation better than before.”
Residential treatment provides individuals with an opportunity to focus exclusively on self-improvement and building their support network for life after treatment. “This is one of the only times where folks can focus solely on what they need to do to heal themselves while also stepping into a huge support network,” Kelly says.
According to Kelly, the ideal way to establish long-term success in recovery is to build a solid foundation during residential treatment, progress to an intensive outpatient program, then move to outpatient treatment.
At Fellowship Hall, we have nearly 50 years of experience in helping individuals discover the path to recovery and build lasting support networks to help them maintain their recovery for the long-term. For more information about our programs and services, check our Treatment section on our website.
It Only Takes Two People to Have a Meeting: At Home Recovery Meetings During Quarantine
From the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, Tradition 3:
“Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.”
The recent shelter in place mandate has presented new challenges to those in recovery, specifically in relation to the access to meeting spaces. The world is quickly adapting and digital resources are becoming readily available at a consistent rate. No matter the hour of day, thanks to the accessibility of the internet, individuals impacted by substance use disorder can find recovery meetings online. For more information on how to access these online meetings, please visit our website at https://www.fellowshiphall.com/alumni-online-resources.php.
However, there is something intimate and healing about meeting with others and sharing a face-to-face conversation. The shared connection and vulnerability that happens during a meeting is an agreed upon central component to long-term success and sobriety. While some are unfortunately isolated without roommates or family members, others are fortunate enough to be in quarantine with at least one other individual whether it be a spouse, roommate, friend, or family member. A recovery meeting can be held with only two people. These two people can be members of different recovery communities as well (for example, you may be someone that attends AA meetings, while your spouse or roommate attends Nar-Anon meetings.)
What works from person to person and household to household may vary, but the most important aspects of holding a meeting between two individuals are:
Carve out a comfortable place to meet in your home
Step away from work and high traffic areas for purposes of confidentiality.
Honor the traditional meeting structure:
- Open with the Serenity Prayer
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and
The wisdom to know the difference.
- Do the respective readings for the 12-step group of choice (or both!):
Alcoholics Anonymous examples:
-12 Steps of AA
-12 Traditions of AA
-Thought for the Day (Daily Reflections)Narcotics Anonymous examples:
-12 Traditions of NA
-Just for Today (Daily Reflections)
- Choose to read from one of the tools above and discuss, or pick a specific topic to focus on, perhaps from a step or a tradition, or something related to the thought for the day.
- Share with one another about the chosen or related topic.
- Close with the Serenity Prayer.
Respect traditional meeting rules:
Respecting the traditional meeting structure and observing formal rules is crucial to holding an effective meeting. The meeting should not feel like a casual conversation with a partner or friend. One very important rule to observe is “no cross-talk”. As tempting as it may be, it’s important to refrain from directly commenting on another person’s share — instead keep the floor open for them to express how they feel.
Addiction is a disease that thrives in the feelings of loneliness and isolation. Whereas quarantine and social distance rely on varying degrees of isolation to prevent the spread of disease. While the traditional format of AA and NA is the preferred method of meeting, many in recovery may continue to find themselves slowly making adjustments and adapting to new routines to remain successful. Review the tips above and continue to follow our blog and social media accounts for more resources to navigate your recovery during this time.
This blog is a part of our ongoing series on recovery tips. Each month, a Fellowship Hall counselor will give our readers their very best tips for getting treatment, being successful in therapy and maintaining sobriety. Be sure to read them all.
My name is Bernard Shalvey, and I am a “Men’s Primary Counselor” here at Fellowship Hall. I currently hold a M.S. in Couples and Family Counseling as well as a M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am a NCC (Nationally Certified Counselor) and have the following provisional licenses: LCMHC-A and LCAS-A. I started at Fellowship Hall shortly after finishing my M.S. from UNCG’s counseling program on May 15th , 2019. I started working at Fellowship Hall after completing my yearlong internship where I worked under Kendria Harris in the family program, and in the main program under Joe Peascoe.
I provide counseling services to individuals and groups with varying identities, primarily on 12 step based work addressing their SUD (Substance Use Disorder). Each treatment plan is created collaboratively with the guest in treatment and tailored to their specific needs. Treatment goals are added based on an individual’s presenting concerns. Additionally: I complete regular group counseling sessions, provide lectures, complete bio-psycho-social assessments, assess for safety and the appropriateness of a guest to remain at our level of care, work with families and our aftercare coordinator to provide appropriate referrals, and teach specialty classes via psycho-education. I use a variety of interventions with guests including EFIT (Emotion focused individual therapy) IFS (internal family systems theory) and MI (motivational interviewing) with a primary focus on the 12 step philosophy. I work collaboratively with a team to provide the highest level of integrated care (psychiatric, medial, clinical and after care). I meet with each guest for 8 individual sessions during their 28 day stay in treatment. I work diligently, and with great passion, with the team here at Fellowship Hall to ensure that each individual has the best possible opportunity for success in long term recovery.
There is an old saying that goes, “may you live in interesting times,” and we seem to be living in quite interesting times indeed. The COVID-19 virus outbreak is an unprecedented situation–bringing new anxieties and challenges to those in recovery. Work and gathering restrictions vary by state and region but nation-wide, the Center for Disease Control has encouraged individuals to stay inside and practice social distancing. Here at Fellowship Hall we are thinking of everyone in recovery and their families during this time.
Now is the time to look after yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. At Fellowship Hall, we are committed to the safety, well-being, and success of both our current guests and our alumni.
Bernard has put together some of his best advice and suggestions for recovery below. Though some of the suggestions offered involve face-to-face meetings and social contact (AA/NA meetings), we have provided resources at the foot of this post where you can find digital supplements for these components of the tips.
Bernard’s Top Tips:
- Getting through detox: Find distractions and people who have done it successfully to help remind you that it does not last forever and that it will pass in time.
- Getting through treatment: Allow yourself to be challenged [and] to investigate your internal emotional self. This type of internal work will be challenging but it is ultimately what will allow you to be successful in recovery. Also, listen to the guidance you are given even when everything in you is telling you to reject it. Figure out the difference between your diseased thinking and the truth.
- Making the first phone call: Talk to your counselor about guilt and shame first, and ask for their guidance. Don’t make amends to your loved ones at this point (amends come at steps 8 and 9 when they will be more meaningful). Also, set boundaries with your family members/loved ones. This is your recovery and if you find that you are shamed for your behavior, set some boundaries to protect yourself from that hurt (also talk to your counselor about the specifics of this, as well as recommend the family program to your family members).
- Handling your first event: Evaluate your motives. If there will be alcohol served or drugs present, ask yourself what your true motive for wanting to go is (you may be plotting your own relapse without really knowing it yet). You may be triggered, just by being with family members. Let someone know before you go that you will be in a potentially triggering situation, in addition to having an “escape plan”. An escape plan can be easy access to a vehicle or ride to leave the event, an alibi or someplace to be at a certain time (NA/AA meeting, coffee with your sponsor, meeting others in recovery somewhere, etc.), or come early and leave early.
- Generally Speaking: To be successful in recovery ask for help, listen to the guidance and act on it regardless of how you feel about it. Seek “outside help” as addiction/alcoholism is traumatizing. Act in self-compassion and see a therapist who can help you process what you have been through and what you are currently going through. Remain teachable and constantly engage with the concept that “I cannot use successfully just for today”.
Each morning on our Instagram page (@FellowshipHallNC) and our Facebook page, we will be sharing passages from the AA/NA Daily Reader, reviewing the 12 steps, and posting positive affirmations and helpful tips for recovery. Please turn on post notifications, check the pages daily, and share with friends. While those in recovery may not be able to attend face-to-face meetings, there are several digital resources available. Visit our Alumni Online Resources page for a current list of online resources.
Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a disease that impacts both the substance user as well as their entire family network. When we think of recovery, it can be easy to feel that the process is only applicable or crucial for the suffering alcoholic or addict. But, a critical component of combating the disease is the recovery of the family.
When a loved one is struggling, we may find ourselves in a state of tunnel vision–only focused on the needs, wants and feelings of the one we care about instead of our own. As the disease progresses, the added stress and turmoil continues to build atop our family’s foundation, and if not tended to, our foundation can crumble.
Family recovery begins when we admit and understand that our loved one is powerless over substances and that subsequently, their family life has become unmanageable because of their disease. As family members, we can gain insight from the 3 C’s of Addiction:
You did not Cause the addiction
Nothing you did or didn’t do caused your loved one to become chemically dependent.
You can’t Control the addiction
The alcoholic/addict is the only one who can take responsibility for managing their disease.
You cannot Cure the addiction
There is no cure for the disease of addiction, only treatment.
Once we understand the 3 C’s, working to improve our own healing can begin.
- You can take Care of yourself
Make time to do the things that are good for you and that make you feel good. Read a book, go for a walk, journal, make a good meal or soak in the bath. Do things that promote your own personal sense of connectivity, health, and well-being.
- You can Communicate your feelings
You are allowed to say how you feel. Addiction is a disease that is often associated with feelings of guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, grief and shame for alcoholics, addicts, and their family members. Own your truth and be honest, be direct and specific when sharing your feelings.
- You can Celebrate who you are
Remind yourself of the things that are special about you, your hobbies, your passions, your goals. Do not lose sight of these aspects of your identity. Addiction can blur many lines in the family system, allowing us to lose sight of where our loved one ends and we as individuals begin. Our identity can become so wrapped up in caring for another individual that we often lose sight of ourselves. By celebrating our individuality, our uniqueness, we are reminded of who we truly are and our purpose outside of the realm of the disease.
- Set aside time to heal
Addiction is a war of attrition at times. It can be time consuming and exhausting. Once a family member has agreed to accept treatment, it is easy to feel as though the work is done.
“I’ve already missed so much work/school/social activity and am so behind in life because of this disease I don’t have the time to try and heal myself!” You deserve to heal. You deserve to guiltlessly prioritize yourself and work through the trauma that addiction can cause.
- Set boundaries
Boundaries are an important component of family recovery. Boundaries provide us with a sense of individuality and allow us to own our feelings, our experiences and our problems. They also provide a sense of contentment and peace with the self and allow the family to work to not personalize the addict’s problems. To set healthy boundaries, the family must learn to detach with love. Detaching with love does not mean to shutout or isolate the loved one. It means to detach oneself from the disease
- Release guilt, shame, blame
Addiction is a disease that feeds on the power of dark and all-consuming emotions. Guilt, shame and blame often draw us inward and leave us unwilling to reach out for the support that is so incredibly important when a family is in recovery. Work to release these emotions as you focus on the positives of the journey ahead.
- Find your support system (NAR/AL ANON), ask for help, and rely on these support systems
Again, the way to heal is to make the time to do so. Prioritize yourself and your sanity and seek out support through groups such as NAR/AL ANON family group meetings. For help finding your local group, please call one of the phone numbers listed below
- Al-Anon and Alateen Family Groups
Phone Number 1-888-4525-2666
- Nar-Anon Family Group
Phone Number 1-800-477-6291
- Al-Anon and Alateen Family Groups
- Forgive yourself and focus on today
Unfortunately, you cannot change or undo the past. Move forward with confidence in regard to what you can control. Focus on what is directly in front of you. Ask yourself, what do I need to accomplish today to be well?
- Recovery is not an event, but instead an ongoing, evergreen process.
Family members can also relapse in a sense. We may relapse into old unhealthy behaviors or ways of thinking. The key to healing is understanding that recovery is not an event, but a process that will always require our attention and the prioritization of our self-care.
Finally, in times of trouble remember the serenity prayer:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
This blog is a part of our ongoing series on recovery tips. Each month beginning in October 2019, a Fellowship Hall counselor will give our readers their very best tips for getting treatment, being successful in therapy and maintaining sobriety. Be sure to read them all.
“It never too late to start and to start over. It’s a process. Don’t get discourage if it takes a while or if you make mistakes. Just don’t stop going forward. Keep trying and working at it.”
The 12 Steps have been established as a guideline to the best way to overcome an addiction. The program was created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Due to the success of the program, over the years it has been adapted to meet the needs of all types of addictions and not just substance abuse.
The original conception of the 12 Steps is based on spiritual principles, however; people with no specific spiritual believes also find the program to the helpful in recovery. The program allows for individuals to find the best approach that works for their particular needs.
Steps 1, 2,& 3 are considered the foundation of the 12 Step program. Here are all the steps as they are defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
- Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- 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.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. We suggest you find a treatment center that is based on the 12 Steps that can help you beat your addiction.
This blog is a part of our ongoing series on recovery tips. Each month beginning in October 2019, a Fellowship Hall counselor will give our readers their very best tips for getting treatment, being successful in therapy and maintaining sobriety. Be sure to read them all.
“There are no bad addicts or alcoholics trying to become “good.” Alcoholism and addiction are illnesses that impact all areas of life (emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.) If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, know that help is available. What I like about Fellowship Hall is that we offer hope and a better way of living.”
Joseph L. Peascoe, MS, CRC, LCAS, LPC-A
Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease, not a lack of willpower, not a moral weakness, not a sign of a weak character, not a result of life’s pressures, and not a symptom of another disease or disorder. Alcoholics and addicts drink/use because they have a disease. The bio-chemical changes in their brains create a physical craving for the chemical. This makes it very difficult for them to abstain from (to choose not to use) alcohol or drugs, especially if they don’t realize that they are addicted. You may have noticed the alcoholic or addict in your life trying to “control” their alcohol/drug use in a number of ways, not realizing that the disease is deciding for them, and indirectly, you. You cannot control the alcoholic/addict, their alcohol/drug use, or their disease.
Alcoholism/drug addiction is primary; it is not a symptom or a result of another condition or disease. For example, depression does not cause addiction but addiction often causes depressive symptoms. The addictive process can be arrested and managed, though never cured, just like many other chronic diseases such as diabetes. The alcoholic/addict, family and friends may not readily notice the changes caused by the disease until they reach crisis proportions and the problems become “unmanageable.” It is also a progressive disease that goes through stages, and if unchecked only gets worse, and is eventually fatal. The causes of fatalities because of addiction include organ damage/failure, overdose, suicide, and addictions.
What can I do as a concerned friend or family member? Learn about the disease, including the effects it has on you. Take the responsibility for your choices and learn to develop and set healthy boundaries. Allow and respect the addictive persons need to take responsibility for his or her choices and behaviors. Except your situation honestly, realistically, and lovingly. Reach out for help and learn from others’ experiences through community support networks. Give yourself credit for slow steady progress. There are no quick fixes.
The holidays are rife with triggers. For many, they are indicative of jovial social events and spending time with family. For others they can be a lonely and isolating time. But no matter what your personal circumstances, there is always the potential for unexpected feelings and emotions to arise.
The key to maintaining your sobriety and your emotional health during the holidays is to manage your expectations and follow the Boy Scouts motto of “Always Be Prepared.”
Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the cookies are a little burned, the wrapping paper is crinkled, and the tree is lopsided? The joy is in the doing and the sharing of the experience, not the outcome.
Hand in hand with “everything doesn’t have to be perfect” is that you don’t have to be happy all the time either. We often convince ourselves that we must always have a smile on our face and that our emotions must always be positive, but sometimes they’re just not. And that’s OK. The holidays are stressful. Family is stressful. By simply acknowledging that we feel sad, or angry, or less than happy, we can change our perception and expectation of any given situation.
So your mom drives you nuts, your brother still gets away with everything, and your aunt asks way too many personal questions. You know that they haven’t changed, but the most important thing is that you have. Go into these interactions knowing that the only thing that you can control is yourself and how you react. If the conversation takes an uncomfortable turn, take a deep breath and excuse yourself.
You know that your best friend from college is going to invite you to her holiday party. And you know that alcohol will be served. It’s OK to say, “Sorry, but I can’t make it this year”. And you might have to say that several times. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, make one-on-one plans with your friend in a more private setting where you can better control the situation.
For those that find themselves away from friends and family during the holidays, be mindful about how you spend your time. Research a cause that you’re passionate about and volunteer. Get a jump on your new year’s fitness goals and join the gym. Ask someone you trust to help keep you accountable to not just sitting around the house alone.
Start new traditions. Make new memories. A vital part of recovery is switching up your routine so as not to fall back into old, potentially detrimental habits. Why should the holidays be any different? Talk to your family about doing something new this year. Suggest hosting dinner at a different location. Instead of sitting around watching football after the Thanksgiving meal, play a game of flag football in the back yard. And don’t be afraid to skip some of the old traditions all together. (Nobody really likes fruitcake anyway!)
Always Be Prepared
If you decide to go the party after all, practice a few brief responses to use if someone offers you a drink. “No thanks! I’m good!” works just fine. Don’t feel obligated to tell anyone why you’re not partaking. Your reasons are personal and private; you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Don’t go around empty handed. Whether it be sparkling water, apple cider, or a soda, the best way to keep someone from offering you a drink is to already have one!
If you start to feel nostalgic for “the good ol’ days”, take a moment and bring yourself back to reality. Remind yourself of why your sobriety is so important; of all the positive things in your life that sobriety has made possible. If your emotions really start to get the better of you, head to a meeting or call your sponsor. Know that you are not alone and others are available to support and encourage you.
Have an exit strategy. If you are at a social event or even a family gathering, make a plan for when to leave. Take a friend with you who can make an excuse for stepping out of the room. Set a timer on your phone, and when it goes off, say you have to make a phone call. And if it all possible, always drive yourself to that you can leave when you want to. Who cares if you leave early? The thing is to do what’s right and healthy for you.
As you head into the holiday season, remember to be honest with yourself. You know which circumstances and which people are difficult to manage. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits and don’t berate yourself if you have to pull the escape hatch on a situation. Use the hard-won skills that you’ve learned in recovery: contact your sponsor regularly and stay in touch with your support network. Beef up your meeting attendance. There are even meetings held on holidays; make them part of your new holiday tradition. Remember: recovery is a life-long process. And you get better at it every day.
The holiday season can be tough for many, especially those experiencing homelessness, trauma, and mental health and substance use challenges. Marc Dones shares his tips for supporting family and friends living with substance use disorders during the holidays and throughout the year.
- Don’t Talk About “Choices.”
As Christmas and the New Year draw closer, many people living with substance use disorders (SUDs) are hearing a familiar refrain: “Make good choices over the holidays.” This is less helpful than you may think. While it certainly can be difficult to get through the holidays when folks around you are engaging in behaviors you’re no longer able to, “choice” has little to do with it.
Substance use disorders are chronic diseases affecting powerful mesolimbic circuitry in the brain. These diseases are compulsive disorders similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder or compulsive gambling. People living with SUDs don’t use substances to feel pleasure—they use them to feel relief. If you have trouble imagining the difference, think about being given a piece of candy in contrast to removing a nail that had been driven through your hand. Different, right?
To be helpful during the holidays—and all year long for that matter—focus on prevention planning. Rather than saying, “Make good choices,” ask, “Have you put together a use prevention plan? If not, is that something we can do together?”
Identify strategies for not using when the person experiences craving. For example, if he or she finds cooking to be relaxing, suggest spending time in the kitchen preparing meals. If time passes more quickly for him or her when reading, suggest a trip to the bookstore to splurge on some new reading materials. The holidays are filled with triggers for using and relapsing. By identifying strategies like these in advance, you can reduce the potential of harm.
- Adapt Family Traditions.
Many people think about how best to support loved ones over the holidays—especially if they are beginning a journey of recovery and are unable to have alcohol or other substances for the first time.
Many families may not know how to coordinate a meal. Do we serve alcohol and if so, how do we relate to a person in recovery? While family dynamics can be difficult and are unique to each situation, a good rule of thumb is to think of SUDs in the same way you think about other chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma.
We would never say: “Well, we generally have ice cream with this dessert, but since Jim is diabetic, we have decided not to serve it.” Why? Because it embarrasses Jim, makes it seem like he’s the reason we are depriving others of ice cream and like there is something shameful about his illness. Instead, we can say, “There’s ice cream in the kitchen for those who would like it!” Maybe Jim isn’t the only person who can’t have ice cream. Maybe the kids shouldn’t be having ice cream because of its high sugar content. If you wouldn’t say it about someone with diabetes, don’t say it about someone with SUDs!
- Remember that Words Matter.
In this post I haven’t used the terms “addict” or “addiction.” Instead, I have referred to people living with a substance use disorder. This is a deliberate choice. Many words are stigmatizing and can be hurtful. I encourage you to adopt the term “person living with a substance use disorder” instead of “addict” or “addiction.”
Person-first language describes the problem as a disease—not a choice or a moral failure. It separates the two in the same way I would say, “Person living with HIV.” These changes in our language are more than symbolic; they impact the way people think and interact. The more we shift away from stigma-laden words towards language that highlights the problem as a disease that people have to live with, the more we are likely to empathize and be supportive.
SUDs are powerful illnesses requiring that we work together to eradicate the stigma and shame so that everyone can get the help they need and deserve. Share your tips for supporting people with SUDs during the holidays and year-round!
Written by Marc Dones
Trainer for T3 and the Center for Social Innovation