Recovery is Possible

By Robert J. Budsock

Often people fail to understand why others struggle with addiction. They think that individuals struggling lack self-control.  With the tsunami of opioid addiction crashing over the United States and ripping apart New Jersey, it is essential to understand the true nature of addiction and the fact that it is a chronic disease, not a moral failing.

Repeated substance abuse leads to changes in the brain that affect decision-making. And because of these neurological changes, people in early recovery are at an increased risk for relapsing. There is no quick fix when it comes to the disease of addiction. That does not mean, though, recovery is impossible.

Recovery from substance use disorders is an on-going process, and as with other chronic diseases, it requires lifelong maintenance. The common assumption is that recovery can be achieved in a month. For the majority, that is not the case. The first month of treatment is really an opportunity to detox from substances and to start building a foundation for sustained recovery. 

At Integrity House, we are committed to helping individuals rebuild their lives by addressing the four pillars of recovery. Our experience, carved out over nearly 50 years, tells us that sustained sobriety requires treatment provided by licensed professionals, employment or vocational/educational activity, housing in a supportive environment and developing social, emotional, family, and spiritual support.

The first step towards recovery is connecting with a licensed professional who will complete a comprehensive assessment and offer a plan to treat the “whole person.” Addiction impacts all facets of an individual’s life and therefore the disease cannot be treated exclusively from the other medical, psychological and social aspects of the person. With the prevalence of co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders, as well as the necessity of medication-assisted treatment, treatment with licensed behavioral health and medical professionals is critical.

Employment or educational activity is a vital aspect of successful recovery as well. Maintaining a job or seeking further education, either vocational or academic, helps an individual to feel productive as a member of society. Idle time is extremely dangerous, and meaningful employment or education can help rebuild financial security, introduce the individual to new people and bring a new sense of purpose to their life.

Sustained recovery also requires living in a healthy environment. Going back to old people, places, and things can be disastrous. An ideal recovery environment is structured and keeps the individual accountable for their actions.

The fourth pillar of lasting recovery is developing positive support systems. These support systems offer a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation that often contribute to relapse. Some examples of support systems include family members, co-workers, community groups, religious groups and sports teams. For long-term recovery, it is imperative to maintain these relationships that provide support, friendship and hope.

Effective recovery requires significant life changes beyond detoxing. Integrity’s four pillars of effective treatment – proven for almost five decades of helping individuals achieve sustained, long-term recovery – demonstrate that treatment is effective and recovery is possible.

Addiction is a disease, but individuals and families should know they are not alone and help is within reach.

Robert J. Budsock is the President and CEO of Integrity House. Founded in 1968, Integrity House is one of the largest non-profit providers of substance use disorder treatment in the State of New Jersey. For more information, visit www.IntegrityHouse.org or call (973) 623-0600.