Facing down an addiction can be tough. Living in its wake can be tougher.
In fact, it’s often helpful to avoid thinking in time-focused terms because recovery is an ongoing process, says Glenda Burns, transition specialist at the Rosecrance Adolescent Treatment Center.
“Just because a person stops using does not mean that he or she is cured. Addiction is cunning, powerful and baffling,” says Burns. “No matter how much clean time a person has it is crucial to that they understand that the disease of addiction is patient and it will wait for the right moment to do what it has always done: hurt.”
Burns says a recovering addict has to deal with the pressures of a potential relapse often, and in most cases, they’re fully aware that they can’t rely on past successes to stay clean. But Burns says they should rely on the processes, lessons and encounters they participated in while in recovery. “Every interaction makes a difference. I believe that every client that we come into contact with wants to stay clean and sober and will take something with them when they leave treatment,” Burns says. “It may be something huge or something as small as a staff member staying behind to listen.”
And those memories and lessons don’t come with an expiration date. “Even if the client chooses not to stay clean and sober, there will always be something that they will remember,” Burns says.
And for many, those memories come with strings attached – strings that the former patient can use to pull him or herself back to Rosecrance to be a positive force for others. “There are clients who have left and have stayed clean for years that come back and give freely what was given to them, which is hope,” Burns says.
Throwing out a lifeline
Rosecrance’s Recovery Lifeline is a post-treatment resource that’s always available to Rosecrance alumni and family members. It’s a phone-based continuing care service which provides support to former patients whenever needed, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The Recovery Lifeline is important because it is a comfort to clients and the families when they know that they will have someone that they can call for support,” says Burns, adding that the service is offered to any client and family that completes the program.
For newly released patients, Lifeline counselors check in with them for six months after they leave the program. “When a client is discharged from treatment it can be scary for everyone involved,” says Burns. “Sometime just knowing that there is someone to turn to is a comfort.
Burns says that Rosecrance suggests that each client get a sponsor when they leave treatment but Burns says the chances of that happening are very slim. “It’s easier for clients and the family to call someone they already have a rapport with,” Burns says. “It’s amazing when you’re calling clients and they know your voice and you can tell that they are excited to talk with you, or when a client calls and they tell you that you’re a day behind with your check-in with them – that’s priceless. For some clients and families it is the only support they will have.”