The struggle for recovery is real for Vinland clients every day. But before you can understand recovery, you must first learn about the addiction process.
Vinland Clinical Director Rick Krueger speaks to the addiction process and finding treatment to reach recovery.
“The addiction process starts with learning a client’s mood swing,” Krueger said. “The mood swing is when using a chemical alters their mood to feel good. But at some point using that chemical becomes a coping mechanism for stress.”
Clients begin to have problems in areas of family and relationships, work and financial life, health, and legal problems.
The Treatment Process
Consequences of addiction lead to a point where an individual feels enough pain and pressure to seek help. That’s when many go through the stages of pre-contemplation, contemplation, action, and maintenance.
“The key to working with a client is to understand which stage they are in,” Krueger said. “If they are in pre-contemplation, you need to increase their ambivalence and problem recognition.”
Usually when people enter into treatment in the pre-contemplation stage, they go through several phases that have been identified as denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.
“The anger is mostly with themselves and how their relationship with their chemical caused problems in their life,” Krueger said. “Bargaining could include changing the location or time of using, like ‘I’ll only drink on weekends or only with my friends.’”
In the contemplation stage, work on talking about change and finding a way to commit to change is important. And the action stage works on clients attending treatment groups, taking notes at meetings, finding healthy support networks, and generally being active in a treatment setting.
Focusing on relapse prevention is a big part of reaching recovery.
“One of the biggest challenges of recovery is learning to how to have fun without chemicals,” Krueger said. “It’s difficult for many to develop those skills to find enjoyment that doesn’t involve using or drinking.”
Many of Vinland’s clients face cognitive challenges, which leads to a slower and repititive approach to teaching skills such as time management, communication, drug refusal, problem solving, and self-soothing.
“We must then try to determine and assess if they have the ability to build that structure on their own, and if they are able to set boundaries,” Krueger said.
Finding positive, goal-oriented people is important to recovery. The more clients do that, the more they become a positive, goal-oriented person, he added.
“Recovery has to be internal and cannot be done for someone else, you have to do it for you,” Krueger said. “It’s their choice and we hope they choose not to use. There has to be accountability. You have to give them ownership of their recovery.”
The one-year recovery milestone is a big one because it’s a year of firsts—first time through each holiday, first time through anniversaries of losses, etc. The next few years of recovery marks a time of stabilization and often progress in goals and happiness.