We believe that:
- Use of substances is common in the American culture. We do not see use of substances, in and of itself, as wrong, bad, sinful or shame-worthy. Certainly the laws of the land apply, but even laws vary by location and culture.
- Some people who use substances develop problems, but not all people who demonstrate the symptoms of substance abuse are destined to develop the disease of addiction. Our job as addiction professionals is to help such individuals understand their risk for developing more serious problems (including addiction) and introduce them to alternative methods for getting their needs met. This means helping them identify other ways to relieve stress, manage symptoms of mood disorder or anxiety, work through problems, set boundaries, accept personal responsibility, experience joy and fun, and find a peer group that supports an alcohol- and drug-free lifestyle.
- Those who do develop the disease of addiction should be treated with the same respect and dignity afforded to any sick person. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the disease are often offensive to others and destructive of relationships. Symptoms include dishonesty, deception, manipulative behavior, irresponsible and/or impulsive behavior, denial, and justifying the use of alcohol and/or other drugs. As distressing and challenging as these symptoms are, it helps us to keep in mind that they are symptoms demonstrated by a sick person in need of compassionate care.
- Similarly, when addicts and alcoholics demonstrate the symptoms of the disease, it is our responsibility as addiction professionals to take steps to encourage treatment as soon as possible. While waiting for the addict or alcoholic to “hit bottom” is well-established conventional wisdom, failure to make every effort to encourage treatment (even for those who don’t know they are sick) could result in considerable unnecessary suffering or even death. Compassionate, respectful intervention is a loving and responsible act for families and friends to consider when the individual truly cannot see their disease or take steps to get help.
- All strategies for helping individuals, couples or families must demonstrate professionalism, respect and dignity. “Hot seat” confrontation methods, shaming intervention approaches, and deliberate stripping away of defenses of the addicted person are not appropriate at Full Life. Such methods may be appropriate in some contexts under other circumstances, but not here. Our intervention services follow the tenets of the Love First and Family Invitational models.
- Use of some prescription and over-the-counter medications can begin legitimately and evolve into physical dependency with or without psychological dependency. We believe that those who have physical dependency without psychological dependency and who have never abused other substances may be excellent candidates for physician-only care, including the use of opioid maintenance programs such as Suboxone.
- We also believe that Individuals with psychological dependency, a history of addiction and/or those who are using other substances (besides opiates) are not good candidates for opioid maintenance programs and are best suited for abstinence-based recovery programs. Such individuals who enter into counseling with Full Life already on Suboxone will be encouraged to move towards an abstinence-based recovery program as quickly as is medically appropriate.
- The use of non-addicting medications to assist recovery may be appropriate for some individuals. Campral, naltrexone, Neurontin, Topamax, Trazadone, Antabuse and other medications that can support recovery and can be appropriate when administered by a physician who is well-versed in addiction medicine. Full Life staff are encouraged to stay open to the possibility that use of such medications could be helpful.
- Other conditions such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, ADHD, OCD or bipolar disorder can complicate recovery and may necessitate prescription medication to manage symptoms. While use of intoxicating medications, like benzodiazepines, should be avoided whenever possible, use of SSRIs, mood stabilizers and non habit-forming sleep aids have their place in the spectrum of care.
- While we all have something to learn from those who are different and we believe there is value in a diverse culture, often the best recovery experiences occur in the company of one’s peers. Full Life makes every effort to match those needing services with a treatment or recovery group who is of similar age, professionalism, recovery experience and/or gender whenever possible.
- Professionals providing counseling on behalf of Full Life are all seasoned and credentialed as addiction specialists. Despite such experience in the field, we are all are in need of support, objective perspective and clinical supervision. When the stressors of the job get the best of us, we are all challenged to take care of ourselves by reaching out, taking time off and striving to maintain meaningful relationships outside of work.
- It is the responsibility of both the addiction professional and the person in recovery to explore and develop a full array of activities and practices that support recovery. While 12-step groups are well-recognized as the most accessible, most affordable and are highly effective for many, there can be various paths to successful, sustainable recovery. Generally speaking, mutual support, sober fun, productive/purposeful lifestyle and some form of spirituality are ingredients for successful recovery, regardless of which path or program is chosen.