The Marriage of Clinical Services and Sober Living

When a person is admitted into a drug treatment center for drug and alcohol addictions, there is often a hope or a wish that after one month the issues have gone away. Many times professionals will hear the reasons why the individual has to go home. “I have so much to do,” “I have to get back to work,” “I have to go back to school,” and so on.  Going back into life is a challenge for anyone suffering from a chronic illness. The diabetic wants to eat sweets with impunity; the person suffering from lung disease wants to go back to playing sports; etc. Battling addiction can be harder to overcome and the consequences  from not “getting it right” are just as, if not more, deadly than the others. So, what to do?  The idea of long term structure following a stay at inpatient treatment is not a new concept, and 12-Step immersion plays a vital role.  Abstinence is at the core of the 12-Step philosophy, and it serendipitously follows the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement in relapse prevention.  This modality provides positive relationships, external supervision (network), and increased spirituality. integrating clinical services and sober livingAnother important factor to success is life skills education. Staying sober is more than just going to a 12 step meeting. It involves positive changes to your life. Learning how to be independent, while limiting the stressors that have been stumbling blocks. The 12 steps believe that one must “practice these principles in all of our affairs.”  Well, it’s hard to stay clean and sober if you can’t hold a job, do your laundry, cook a meal, or effectively budget your finances.  Learning how to make healthy choices does not come natural for anyone with addictions. Whether they were self-medicating or the life of the party, the symptoms of the disease of addiction make it difficult to follow through with life’s “daily” chores.  Getting the appropriate education on these details is crucial. This can also be used to have some fun. Learning how to live substance free shouldn’t be a punishment. Addicts need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We can live life, just live it without the use of drugs and alcohol. Continuing clinical services is another step to sustaining long term sobriety. In order for the individual or the sober living environment to be successful, they must fight the addiction from multiple directions. They must uncover every piece of the puzzle. The marriage of clinical services and sober living is a relatively new concept. Once we thought that 30 days of treatment was the golden ticket to success (I will point out that over the years we also once thought that addicts needed brain surgery and or to be lock in an insane asylum until they were cured).  So the evolution of what works takes many forms and a lot of times is trial and error.  History has shown that the most effective way to combat this deadly disease is to hit it from all angles.  Working in conjunction with 12 step immersion process and life skills education, Clinicians can continue to foster a therapeutic relationship with clients to work on developing and maintaining appropriate use of coping skills and clinical interventions.   …………………   BILL SIMMONS – CASAC, Associate Executive Director With over a decade of professional experience in the field of substance abuse treatment, Bill has held a variety of positions in both management as well as direct-care capacities.  He is a Nationally and Internationally Credentialed Drug and Alcohol Counselor, and a BLS & CPR trainer through the American Heart Association.  Bill’s passion and motivation for helping others stems largely from his personal experience in recovery. Bill is a certified firefighter, having spent time as an officer at his local Fire Department.  He believes in volunteering his time to those less fortunate, and is actively involved with his local food pantry.