Systemic family treatment involves including the family in the recovery process. There is more understanding about how addiction often runs in a family, so including the family in the recovery process is an all-inclusive approach that involves healing the family unit. This type of systemic treatment can help someone in recovery attain long-lasting sobriety. Genetics can play a big part in whether someone struggles with substance abuse.
Alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental health problems often run in the family. Sometimes an unhealthy family dynamic that isn’t conducive to recovery can be created, so by including the family in counseling sessions these important family relationships can heal. It’s also important to remember that sometimes the definition of the family can be flexible, and can include:
- Immediate family
- Extended family
- Elective families
- Non-traditional families
An Intervention May Be Needed
A family intervention may be needed at the beginning of the systemic family treatment to convince the addict to attend a rehabilitation facility. The family may recognize the unhealthy familial patterns that have developed, and realize they need to enlist professional support to reach the addict. This is the first step towards repairing the family unit and setting the addict on the path towards recovery.
The intervention generally involves the addict meeting the family at an arranged location, without knowing that an intervention is going to be staged. Then the family and close friends will state their case as to why the addict needs to attend an intervention. In some cases the family members may also state their intentions to enter counseling with the addict, acknowledging how a negative family dynamic may have contributed to the onset of chronic addiction.
Healthy Communication Between Family Members
When a family unit first has to deal with a member being an addict, the natural first reaction is panic and anxiety. Even if the other family members have never had firsthand problems with addiction, they are often greatly impacted by the addiction, as they struggle to save a loved one. They sometimes become so personally immersed in the day-to-day drama of an addict, they can lose themselves and their relationship to the addict.
Oftentimes, unhealthy interactions and patterns are established within the family unit, that everyone feels powerless to break. The addict will start hiding the substance abuse from the family, while the family members can become unhealthily obsessed with what the addict will do next. In situations like these, both the family and the addict need counseling to improve their interactions. And this is when systemic treatment becomes so useful.
The Systemic Family Model
Many cutting edge addiction treatment facilities now employ the systemic family model. Studies have shown that addicts who undergo this treatment, are more likely to have the tools to achieve a long-term recovery. The importance of having a strong familial support system can’t be underestimated in anyone’s life.
The core support system most people have unconditionally is their family, and having healthy relationships with them is crucial for an addict to have long-term recovery. The family members also need to learn how they can best communicate with the addict in a healthy and supportive way.
Meeting The Needs Of Everyone
Ideally, the counseling sessions that include everyone will result in meeting the needs of everyone, both the recovering addict and the family. The goals of the patient should be discussed and then put into the wider context of how the family can work together to make sure that those goals happen. Other family members may even discover that they have issues they need to address, and may seek to attend counseling sessions even without the primary patient present.
The end goal is that positive change brought to the family will work concurrently with the patient learning the tools to maintain long-term recovery from the addiction. If the addict is able to successfully complete an inpatient rehab program and receive systemic treatment with family cooperation, the chances are greater for success.
In the days of the Neanderthal, they had to deal with battling vicious animals, and finding enough food to survive on a regular basis. They may also have had to fight to the death to find a mate and a decent place to stay temporarily in their nomadic lives.
So modern man may not have to deal with more stress than their ancient ancestors, but they do seem to have a greater amount of activities to choose from to escape reality. Neanderthals didn’t have the abundant amount of activities to indulge in modern man does to escape their harsh realities. In modern times, there seems to be too much temptation to engage in activities that can lead to addiction, such as:
- Drinking alcohol
- Doing drugs
- Playing video games
The common denominator between these things is that people often turn to these activities as a form of escapism, to escape the daily stressors of everyday life.
What Is Escapism? What Are People Trying To Escape?
Escapism is defined as people seeking an activity that is a diversion from either stressful, painful, or boring parts of everyday life. In essence, people are seeking to enter an alternate universe they can envelope themselves in to numb the feelings that result from their regular life. Most people engage in some form of escapism, and in moderated doses, it can actually be helpful so that people can maintain a sense of balance in their lives. But in extreme cases, people often turn to a harmful activity for escapism, and it turns into an addiction.
Escapism becomes an addiction, when people are sabotaging their own lives with their activity, and it begins to take center-stage into their lives, instead of being merely an occasional distraction. This can apply to gambling, video games, or even alcohol. But when someone starts doing drugs or drinking and gambling excessively this can have a disastrous effect on someone’s life. An unchecked addiction can result in estrangement from family and friends, job loss, financial loss, and even death.
Healthier Forms Of Escapism
Fortunately, there are many other healthier activities that people can engage in which can also act as a form of escapism. While these may sometimes not be as immediately exciting, over time they can be more fulfilling. Some activities a person can try are finding various ways to exercise, such as hiking, playing tennis, swimming, biking, or even just walking. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins in a person’s body, which makes them feel good. And when someone is hiking they can find nature trails, where they can physically and mentally find escape and peace from the world.
Other activities that someone can engage in instead include reading, painting, playing an instrument, starting a garden, meditating, and even going to church. People often find solace in prayer and community. By engaging in these activities, they can be used as replacements for other, more dangerous addictions people have developed.
Develop A Different Reality
And, lastly, another thing a person must learn to do to break the reliance on the addiction as a form of escapism is to develop a different, more positive reality that one faces on a regular basis. This won’t happen overnight, but can evolve over time with guided imagery, and constantly reminding oneself of the things a person has to be grateful for in life.
People must change their thinking, so that they realize the world doesn’t owe them anything, and that finding the positive in the world is a choice. While there will always be events and things in life that people wish could be better or different, choose to focus on the positives. By doing this people will gain more control over their reality, and feel less of a need to constantly escape.
People are constantly trying to find new and innovative ways to battle addiction. The result is that creative and cutting-edge ways to help those in recovery keep coming out all the time. With the rise of the smartphone and the popularity of smartphone applications, it only seemed like a matter of time before an app would come out aimed at helping people maintain their recovery after rehab.
In essence, this app could be combining the best of both worlds, which is leveraging the advances in modern technology to help people overcome chronic addiction. A smartphone app has the ability to be part of a person’s everyday life in an unobtrusive way that a clinician would not be able duplicate.
Creating An App For Addiction Recovery
Nowadays, there seems to be a smartphone app for everything. They seem to have been particularly successful, because apps can target a very specific need for a niche audience and solve a problem the audience needs to be addressed. Smartphone apps have been helping people with:
- Time management
- Locating the best restaurants
- Attending local music shows
In this case, the A-CHESS app is targeted towards an audience with a very important need, recovering from addiction post-rehab without relapsing.
An Innovative Smartphone Application
The A-CHESS app is aimed at providing people who leave rehab with a community of people they can lean on for social support. It was originally built to support a need that people who leave rehab have. They still need a close community of people who understand what they’re going through, and the app provides a fast and convenient way for them to find an easily accessible community of support for them to rely on. The A-CHESS app has a rich variety of features aimed specifically at helping people suffering from addiction.
Weekly Check In
One of the most powerful features of the A-CHESS app is the weekly check in feature it has. This helps hold the recovering addict accountable for one’s actions on a regular basis in an easy and efficient manner.
Overview Of Past Behaviors
Users will be able to look at charts of their behavior, helping them give more insight into their own behaviors and patterns. This is a very powerful feature that many addicts in recovery would not have access to otherwise. By being able to see directly the patterns in their own behavior, this empowers recovering addicts to break the negative behavioral patterns that have lead them to addiction in the past.
Other Important Features
Besides charting behavioral patterns, the A-CHESS app has a variety of other features that has helped recovering addicts so much the app has even been called a “Comfort System In Your Pocket.”
- Sends Out Warnings – When someone is approaching a “danger” area that is associated with previous drug or alcohol use, the app will give off of a warning, as a reminder this is a dangerous area.
- Has More Reach Than Clinicians – The A-Chess app has the power to be with someone in recovery twenty-four hours a day, which is support no clinician is able to provide.
- A Safety Net – The app will provide the user with a built-in community of support so that if they feel like they are in danger of relapsing they have a safety net that might not otherwise exist.
Seeing Into The Future
The A-CHESS app in some ways might be the future of ways people in recovery from addiction stop themselves from relapsing. People who need extra support during their recovery journey may be relying on apps to connect them with others and find ways to monitor their own recovery. An app can help people empower themselves, so that they can ensure their own long-lasting success.
Healthcare reform has been a hot topic, and people are still educating themselves exactly how the reform impacts them on an individual basis. People who are battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol should pay particularly close attention to how the reform affects them. Under the new healthcare reform increased accessibility to alcohol and drugs treatment has been promoted, and is being regarded as a serious disease that needs treatment. In fact, substance abuse addiction may be more affected by healthcare reform than any other disease.
The Ten Elements Of Essential Health Benefits
The White House is trying to promote the ten elements of essential health benefits. This includes emergency services being covered, even for out of network visits. And also covers providing services for people who suffer from substance abuse addictions. One of the initiatives the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is taking is increasing the number of professionals who are trained to help people with substance abuse disorders.
Substance Abuse Treatment Will Become Significantly More Accessible
In the past, substance abuse treatment hasn’t been a part of many insurance health plans. People who suffered from addictions were supposed to be treated at clinics that specialized in substance abuse, but wasn’t available as part of general healthcare. However, under the Affordable Care Act, substance abuse treatment has named as an “essential health benefit” and a variety of other health problems are also included like:
- Treatment for chronic disease
- Mental health problems
- Rehabilitative services
- Behavioral health treatment
Since insurance companies are required under the new healthcare reform to cover treatment for people who are struggling with substance abuse, the belief is that more people will have access to alcohol and drug treatment. And since more people will have health insurance plans healthcare reform has been promoting accessibility to alcohol and drug treatment.
Promoting Preventative Treatment
With increased access to alcohol and drug treatment, people can also start engaging in preventative treatment, which can help people prone to addiction with long-term sobriety. Under the new healthcare reform laws doctors now can bill insurance companies for preventative treatments, so that long-term problems can be thwarted before they develop. For example, if someone is starting to develop problems with drugs or alcohol, the individual can consult with the doctor before the problem becomes a chronic addiction, and the doctor can recommend a treatment program to help prevent future problems.
And these services can be billed to insurance. Previously, patients would not have access to these types of services. As a result of an increased number of people seeking treatments for alcohol and drug abuse, more professionals who specialize in that field will need to be trained to meet the growing need.
Addiction Is A Disease
At the basis of the Affordable Care Act’s increased access to alcohol and drug treatment is the belief that alcohol and drug addictions are diseases that deserve to be treated with the same seriousness as other chronic diseases. Addiction being a chronic disease is being more understood with more research, as having to do with how drugs affect the brain. While previously, people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol were thought to have poor impulse control, addiction is a complex disease that has many triggers and pitfalls.
With more access to substance abuse treatments and preventative treatments, perhaps some of the costs associated with drug addiction can be reduced. Reportedly billions of dollars are lost every year with workforce losses, criminal-related charges, and health-related issues. With more understanding of how to treat substance abuse problems, and more access to treatments under the Affordable Care Act, perhaps preventative treatment is actually the key to reducing the amount of drug and alcohol abuse in society. Research has shown that preventative treatments are effective in helping people avoid chronic addiction.
The punishment an addict should face for drug-related crimes is a complex issue. Unlike when someone robs or assaults someone else, a drug user theoretically is not directly harming someone else by just doing drugs. And if someone commits a crime where drugs was the primary motivation or cause, some people might argue that rehab is the better alternative to prison time, and will also yield better long-term results.
Someone who is an addict might have a better chance of becoming clean if sent to a rehab facility instead of being sent to prison. While there are strong arguments advocating for prison time, rehab also seems like a viable alternative for some instances of drug-related cases.
The Importance Of Drug Rehab
Ultimately, the efficacy of drug rehab seems to be the strongest argument to how important it may be as an alternative to drug-related prison time. People who have received drug rehab treatment are significantly more likely to not re-offend within their first year of release. When someone is addicted to drugs, more than likely that individual doesn’t have the tools to cope with life without being reliant on drugs, particularly if it drove them to commit a drug-related crime.
Drug rehab helps give addicts the tools they need to negotiate life’s problems without relapsing on drugs. It also gives the addict very important treatment administered by addiction professionals who are best suited towards helping people who struggle with addiction. Undergoing drug rehab treatment can significantly increase the chances of someone starting a life without immediately re-offending.
Reducing Crime Rates
Another important part of drug rehab, is that people who undergo drug rehab as an alternative to prison are also less likely to re-offend in the first year. This gives credence to the belief that drugs are the root of the problem, and if the person is given the proper treatment, then reducing crime long-term is made more likely by using rehab as an alternative to drug-related prison time.
Another argument that people make is that many times drug offenders are housed with criminals who are much more violent and dangerous than they are. So instead of learning the skills to live a clean and sober life, instead the addict will be surrounded by dangerous and violent prisoners that will only exacerbate whatever issues triggered the drug use to begin with.
Evaluating Each Case
Drug courts have been created to deal with people who are drug addicts and their resulting criminal behavior. Increasingly, the legal system realizes that drug-related crimes need to be treated differently because of the unique issues that drug addicts face. People who are tried in drug courts have access to drug rehab, and also a variety of other services that can enable them to move forward with their life, and leave the life of drugs behind. Some of these valuable services include:
Overpopulation Of Prison System
Another reason why it’s important to consider rehab as an alternative to prison is the overpopulation of prisons. If programs can be set in place to assist those, particularly those who aren’t violent offenders, so they can develop the tools to become clean, then these will be invaluable in lowering the amount of people who re-offend.
Drug court also helps people with other areas of their life that need to be rebuilt, such as becoming better parents, dealing with relapse, and also transitioning back into living a regular life. Increasingly, being addicted to drugs is viewed as the root cause for many people who commit crimes, and by providing resources to help them become rehabilitated, long-term success has been found on a greater basis than sending people to prison.
I’m happy to say we do have many rehab success stories here and we make a concerted effort to follow up with people on a long term basis as well as in the short term. We’ve had so many wonderful successes and it’s thrilling when we get calls or follow up feedback saying. Well, one in particular that stands out to me is a very successful businessman that had been in rehab, I want to say, at least ten times before.
This one was absolutely pivotal for him. He has been sober and straight and feels really, really positive for several months now. And it’s just wonderful to see him blossoming, and his marriage is more intact now. His relationships with his children are blossoming once again. That’s the one that stands out to me the most right now.
I’ve been in the business about 15 years now and I’ve worked in a lot of different clinics, and a lot of different charity settings and in private practice as well. And I’ve got to say, the staff here is so cohesive. Really, really even, they meet everybody on their path, there’s mutual respect. It’s a wonderful, wonderful team effort here. It’s a beautiful thing, I’m very happy, very proud to be a part of this team.
The recovery philosophy here at Seasons seems to be very congruent with my own personal philosophy and that is patients are first. We believe in the power of treatment. We believe in healing and a shame free environment, a very positive psychology approach. The power of each individual person to reclaim who they truly are at heart and that’s what we endeavor to do here.
I believe that our most effective resources and programs here, things that really stand out for the patients are-number one, the art therapy program. Whether you’re artistically inclined or not, we find that that gets you in touch with that joyful infant that we all once were, and you’re able to explore your own creativity, and that naturally leads to healing. I’ve rarely seen that fail.
I personally offer hypnosis, which also is another great tool that is a natural, simple tool for getting in touch with the subconscious patterns that we are endeavoring to change here so we bring that into the conscious awareness to make a healthier choice.
Some of the other wonderful programs here, too, are, of course, the free time. The residents get to choose what they do in their free time. We have all sorts of programs where they go out in the community. They do fun things. They do miniature golf. They work out. They play tennis. They go surfing. They have all sorts of recreational activities which, of course, are naturally healing. We have them sometimes go to the zoo to explore all other facets of nature, which is naturally healing for all of us.
And also the one-on-one therapy is critical for the healing. Also the family therapy. We all believe in a family systemic method here, so exploring all of that in conjunction with all of these other activities and programs. Every person’s package is different, shall we say, and they sort of self-design it, if you will, and that leads to their path of healing.
I’m Dr. Nancy Irwin, and I have a doctorate in clinical psychology. And I’m also a certified hypnotherapist. I use hypnotherapy for therapeutic purposes only. I’m not trained in stage hypnosis, even though I do have a background as a professional stand-up comic.
As you can tell, I’m not from here originally, but I moved here because Hollywood needed more blondes. I made a re-invention into mental health because, as I always say, the road from comedy to mental health is very short indeed. I had a volunteer job in the community, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It waked up the healer in me, and that prompted me to go back, re-invent, and I couldn’t be happier with my career.