The September, 2014, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a new study which found that those who overcame one addiction had a lower risk of developing a new addiction.
The study, which involved 34,653 individuals suffering from substance use disorder were interviewed twice three years apart during 2001 and 2004. The data taken from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions found the long-held belief that addicts would substitute one addiction for another to be erroneous.
Indeed, only 13% of former addicts replaced the first substance with a new one. Those who stopped using their original drug of choice had significantly lower risk, less than half, of developing a new addiction. Young unmarried men with psychiatric problems were most likely to fall victim to additional addictions. The study further revealed that the substitution hypothesis, which has guided many treatment protocols, evolved out of therapists’ assumptions.
These new findings raise many new issues. However, lifestyle changes, as well as strong coping strategies still play a crucial role in establishing a stable recovery. Therefore, the availability of strong aftercare programs remains a critical component to sobriety.
Technology Supports Continuing Care for Substance Abuse Disorders
In January, 2012, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published a study examining benefits of computerized continuing support for those suffering from SUD. The study spanned 18 months and included several disease management programs, as well as components such as recovery coaches. While participation fell after the first year, those that accessed a variety of program components maintained a higher rate of abstinence and consumed less alcohol or drugs. Those of who relapsed did not take advantage of the multilevel computerized aftercare programs. While the authors recommended the need to increase engagement, they also noted that clients received undeniable benefits from the computerized aftercare programs.
To date, evidence continues to support expanding and broadening aftercare approaches. Such individualized aftercare programs help those seeking to change their lifestyle, learn new coping strategies, and strengthen their ongoing commitment to recovery.
Technology is everywhere in our lives. This reality only heightens the demand that aftercare programs include technology. There are many variables that treatment facilities cannot control or manage once clients leave treatment. Individuals struggling to stay clean and sober may be far from their treatment facility. They may be far from a 12 Step program or other support group, and their schedules may be unwieldy or their family obligations overwhelming. However, in most cases, clients will have a computer or a phone with them. Technology makes accessing computerized aftercare programs easy thus allowing communications with support groups 24/7. Technology can provide more aftercare components for clients than just monitoring. Computerized aftercare components provide clients with a quick and easy way to connect with others.
Technology based aftercare components can short circuit a relapse or shorten the duration of one while enabling essential supportive communications between clients and therapists. In this way, the momentum began in treatment can continue in aftercare despite a client’s schedule or location.
Recovery Passport is at the cutting edge of this comprehensive aftercare technology.