The struggle to overcome substance abuse is a difficult one and no one should go through it alone. An estimated 20 million plus American adults and adolescents suffer from substance abuse disorders. Professional help is available no matter where you are on the path toward recovery. Whether you find yourself among those battling addiction and are ready to enlist some help in moving forward, or you’re looking for information on how you can help a loved one who is abusing drugs or alcohol, you are not alone.
In New Orleans, a city known for its food, music, culture, and festival life, recovering from drug or alcohol addiction be uniquely challenging. There sometimes seems to be a lax attitude toward alcohol and drug use that can make it difficult to get away from substances, making it harder to stay clean and sober. Recovery involves an individualized look at what habits, behaviors, and reinforcement that play into your addiction, so that real, meaningful change can occur.
Beware of thinking that you can stop using on your own. Has it happened before? Definitely. But the chance of relapse is far higher when the user goes “cold turkey” and the misery suffered is greater. Treatment typically involves developing new ways of thinking, as well as alternative behaviors. The reasons for substance abuse vary, but one thing they all seemingly share is the desire to be in a different mental and emotional state. These individuals need training to recognize self-defeating thoughts as well and feelings they create. One of the primary reasons people fall victim to substance abuse is their tendency to repeat cycles of self-defeating thought. Alone, the individual is apt to be the victim to their own erroneous thinking processes, but the individual can gain a new perspective with treatment.
Also, addicts tend to hang out with each other, but isolated from the rest of society. Someone trying to stop using alone will likely be alone when they need help, companionship and someone who understands. Those most affected often feel the most isolated, even when surrounded with other people. Someone newly sober desperately needs to find a peer group of other recovering addicts. Only someone who has walked the addict’s treatment path can understand what he or she is thinking and feeling during the recovery process.
Perhaps the best part of functional recovery is that you gain access to a community that can easily be compared to a large and extended family. It is a network of support that exists for you no matter where you go. It doesn’t matter whether you spend a week, a month or a year in treatment, you eventually reach the point where you cannot underestimate the importance of outpatient aftercare. Knowing there is structured support waiting for you when you need it can be comforting. Never underestimate the support given you by those who have shared the depths of your pain on life’s addiction path.
Treatment works if you work it. Recovery isn’t an event; it’s a process that you’ll recommit to every day for the rest of your life. While you never truly “recover,” the good news is that you’ll find yourself growing at an unprecedented pace, emotionally as well as spiritually. As a result, your life will change. In making different choices, you’ll begin to experience different results.
How We Can Help, What Services Do We Provide
Bridges to Hope takes a person-centered, holistic approach to treatment that empowers each individual to take their life back. This includes evaluating their needs and connecting them to the appropriate resources and services to ensure they have every opportunity for success and well-being.
Our treatment program addresses all forms of drug abuse, including underage use of legal drugs (e.g., tobacco or alcohol): the use of illegal drugs (e.g., marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth etc.); and the inappropriate use of legally obtained substances (e.g., inhalants), prescription medications, or over-the-counter drugs. Through treatment we work to target modifiable risk factors and strengthen identified protective factors. We provide substance use treatment to both minors and adults. All services offered by Bridges to Hope are Outpatient programs.
We believe that the key to successful treatment is accurate evaluation, which assesses all aspects of the patient’s symptoms and living situation. We provide a careful and thorough psychosocial and substance abuse evaluation to identify the problems that must be addressed in the treatment of the patient and the family. We coordinate with primary care to ensure any medical problems resulting from substance abuse are identified and to properly managed. Finally, if indicated, psychiatric eval is used to ensure that all psychiatric conditions are discovered and properly treated. This information is used to inform the individual treatment plan.
Intensive Outpatient Program
Our IOP is an intensive treatment program for clients with serious substance use issues or those with a co-occurring mental health issue. Our IOP treatment is based on the disease model of addiction, where addiction is seen as a chronic, progressive disease, meaning it will continue to get worse without the appropriate treatment. We teach the stages of addiction and how to identify where they are, how to identify and cope with the stressors that can lead to substance use, how to recover from addiction, and how to prevent relapse.
IOP provides a high level of care while still allowing clients to live at home and take care of their regular responsibilities. An IOP might be appropriate for a given client for several reasons. First, someone might need an IOP to address a serious substance use issue, which may also be paired with co-occurring mental health issue. However, the client may not need the kind of 24-hour care that would be necessary for someone with unstable medical or psychological conditions. Someone considering an IOP should also have a stable home environment that is safe, clean, and doesn’t create any additional pressure to use drugs or alcohol.
Clients sometimes choose an IOP for practical reasons. While some may benefit from the higher level of care they would get from an inpatient program, they may not have the luxury of being able to take so much time out of their lives for treatment. This is often the case for people who have children–especially young children–or people who have to work to meet their financial obligations. An IOP allows you the freedom to meet these obligations while getting a high level of care for substance use.
An IOP may be a good idea for clients stepping down from a higher level of care. Inpatient treatment programs provide a supportive environment free from drugs and alcohol and free from the stress of daily life. This helps clients break out of destructive patterns and start to build more positive habits but making the transition back to regular life can be quite a shock. Many people relapse in the early weeks after leaving an inpatient program because they have trouble applying their new recovery skills to regular life. An IOP can provide a supportive environment while clients adapt to the freedom and pressures of their normal lives.
Most people will spend about three or four months in an IOP but there is no set length of time. Everyone progresses at a different rate and how long they spend in an IOP depends on many variables including length and severity of addiction, relapse history, family support, co-occurring mental health issues, and commitment to the program. Clients can stay in the program as long as they need to. The length of stay is determined based on assessments from the licensed therapist and/or the psychiatrist, as appropriate.
Ongoing drug testing is also a required element of the IOP program (and Suboxone medication management) with specific expectations for continued participation in the program.
Individual, Group, and Family Therapy
Our program includes the use of group, individual and family psychotherapy. Therapy is a fundamental component of creating lasting success in overcoming addiction. Our therapists meet clients wherever they are in their journey and collaborate with them to create short-term and long-term goals as part of an individualized treatment plan.
Skills, Psychoeducation, and Resource Coordination
Social skills, independent living skills, stress management, and healthy lifestyle counseling are stressed.
Our counseling services also provide clients with the opportunity to better recognize triggers, develop coping skills and improve their overall mental health.
We provide supportive management of each client’s transition to whatever care services are needed, and maintain strong, collaborative relationships with outside professionals and community partners.
Psychiatric evaluation with supportive medication prescription is provided when requested (Suboxone is an available option in some cases). Medication use is not a required part of treatment, however, all clients must be participating in a minimum amount of other counseling-type services in order to receive medication management with our doctor.
Ongoing drug testing is also a required element of Suboxone medication management (and IOP program) with specific expectations for continued participation in the program.
Disease Model Of Addiction
Our substance abuse treatment is based on the disease model of addiction, where addiction is seen as a chronic, progressive disease, meaning it will continue to get worse without the appropriate treatment. Substance addiction is commonly understood as the inability to stop using substances despite the negative consequences to one’s daily life. It is also important to understand that substance addiction is a complex medical issue with neurological, emotional and behavioral aspects. In fact, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as “a primary chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.”