Today, many people are not being served optimally by the current standard models for addiction treatment, which includes the Minnesota model, 12-steps and AA. These include many people who respond poorly to AA and/or 12-steps and others who are simply not prepared – or able –to achieve abstinence, either immediately or in the long run. The alternative is “harm reduction” or “life improvement” in the absence of total abstinence.
“In recovery” used to mean someone who is abstinent after a struggle with substance abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s revised their definition in 2011 and now reads as follows: “Recovery from Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders: A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life and strive to reach their full potential.”
They have also outlined four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:
- Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) as well as living in physically and emotionally healthy way
- Home: a stable and safe place to live
- Purpose: meaningful daily activities, including work, school, volunteerism, family, friends, independence, income and resources
- Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love and hope
GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF RECOVERY
- Recovery emerges from hope:The belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future – that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers and obstacles that confront them.
- Recovery is person-driven: Self-determination and self-direction are the foundations for recovery as individuals define their own life goals and design their unique paths.
- Recovery occurs via many pathways:Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, cultures and backgrounds, which include trauma experiences that affect and determine their pathways to recovery. Abstinence is the safest approach for those with substance use disorders.
- Recovery is holistic:Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.
- Recovery is supported by peers and allies:Mutual support and mutual aid groups that include the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in recovery.
- Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks:An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person’s ability to recover, who offer hope, support and encouragement and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.
- Recovery is culturally-based and influenced: Culture and cultural background in all of its diverse representations (including values, traditions and beliefs) are key aspects in determining a person’s journey and unique pathway to recovery.
- Recovery is supported by addressing trauma:Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical and emotional) and trust, as well as promote choice, empowerment and collaboration.
- Recovery involves individual, family, community strengths and responsibility:Individuals, families and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery.
- Recovery is based on respect: Community, systems, societal acceptance and appreciation for people affected by mental health and substance abuse problems – including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination – are crucial in achieving recovery.
Addiction is often referenced to as chronic and progressive, while this may be the case for some – it is not true for all.
Advances in neuroscience have great implications for the delivery of addiction treatments that allow for brain “opportunities” instead of brain “illness”.
The brain is very powerful due to the fact that it is so sensitive to experiences, this is also why experiential learning is such a successful tool to use. Where we place our attention defines us at a neurological level and we have far more power to alter our brains, our behaviours and our personalities than previously thought possible. Many methods are available to train our brains, some techniques include, focused concentration, mindfulness, repetition, mental rehearsal, positive experiences as well as new and novel experiences. These methods can help us to change our thoughts, emotions and our behaviours.
Drugs and alcohol have an impact on the brain and the body, but so do lots of other factors such as stress, strong emotions, loneliness or trauma. Therefore the “disease” argument could be applied to any number of environmental variables that result in brain changes that are not welcome or positive. For example, loneliness can result in chemical and even structural brain changes that predispose to anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Addiction can be described as any repeated behaviour, substance-related or not, in which a person feels compelled to persist, regardless of its negative impact on his or her life and the lives of others. A big mind shift is needed to think of people who abuse substance or experience addiction, or people who suffer from depression or schizophrenia. They are people first, not “addicts” or “schizophrenics”. This is our approach and philosophy to treatment, we see clients as humans first, people that requires help and support and must be treated with dignity and respect.
Connecting with the people we serve is a predictor of their success.
The program focuses on engagement, skill development, personalized and holistic interventions as well as concepts from neuroscience.
The program specializes in serving people who experience both substance use issues and mental health problems – known as co-occurring disorders.