Does online rehab really work?

Does online rehab really work?

 

The ongoing stress and uncertainty of COVID-19 has led to an increased demand for mental health services in Canada. While we often think of mental health issues like anxiety and depression as the predominant conditions people are challenged by at this time, we are also facing a public health crisis with increasing opioid, alcohol and stimulant addictions. More than ever, people need varied and accessible treatment options to recover from addictions.

One form of service filling this need is virtual or online treatment. Online programs make recovery more affordable and accessible – but are they effective in treating addiction?

What makes rehab effective?

Within the different types of treatment options that exist, there are common factors that make a rehab program effective. An effective rehabilitation program will focus not only on the individual’s substance use, but also on coping strategies, interpersonal relationships, and other important areas of functioning.1 While the definition of success may vary from one program to another, effective treatment should always include a few common results.

A person receiving effective addiction treatment should demonstrate some of the following:

  • Reduced amount and frequency of substance use, including longer gaps between relapses
  • Improved employment or education status and attendance
  • Improved physical health, indicated by fewer medical visits
  • Improved mental health, indicated by improved mood, personality traits and behaviors
  • Improved relationships with friends, family, and others2

A good program should ultimately help you reach and maintain sobriety, using the coping skills you develop while in treatment. As a result, other areas of your life should also improve.

Differences and similarities between virtual and in person

Some elements of in person and virtual rehab are very similar while others can be slightly different. Both are highlighted below.

Differences

Accessibility

One of the main differences between the two are accessibility. With an online program, you can seek help no matter where you or the program are based. With convenience and location removed from the equation, you can focus on the program and specialities best suited to your individual needs. You also don’t have to worry about factors like weather or access to transportation.

Travel and Time Commitment

Because there is no travel time for online addiction treatment, another thing that differs is your time commitment. You no longer need to factor in the time it takes to commute to and from your program. It is also worth noting that online programs may be very structured, but they also give you the freedom to recover from home while you continue to work or tend to family commitments.

Perceived Vulnerability

As with any recovery program, there is always a perceived vulnerability involved in trying something new and for some, anonymity can be an important aspect of a program. Because you can participate on a virtual platform further away from your home, there is less chance of running into someone in your program you know, which can provide a sense of greater freedom to be vulnerable. You also don’t run the risk of seeing someone you know in a parking lot or near the location of your program, which can remove a lot of anxiety involved in seeking and getting help.

Affordability

It is also worth noting that there can be a difference in cost. Because you are not living in a facility, online programs are not as costly as in-person rehab. In addition, you don’t have to worry about expenses like childcare or gas, as you are recovering from home.

Similarities

Personal Connections

Like in person rehab, virtual programs allow you to make personal connections with those in your program. Not only can you connect with the professional leading the program, but there is also the opportunity to connect with peers as you would in person. Group sessions and shared experiences, whether online or in person, have therapeutic benefits and encourage the creation of emotional connections with others.

Crisis Response

Both types of programs also offer interventions in case of an emergency. Those trained to run in person and online sessions know how to spot someone in crisis by reading their facial expressions and physical cues. Many programs also offer apps, where a person can self-report if they need immediate assistance.

Efficacy

For people experiencing mild-to-moderate addiction symptoms, online treatment can be equally, if not more, effective than in-person rehab. With the right program, you can meet all the “efficacy qualifications” listed above, with the added benefit of being able to practice and encourage the skills and coping mechanisms you are learning in real time. One area of your life where you can practice this is in your relationships. When you are doing the work from home, you have the opportunity to discuss and repair relations with your family and friends.

Proven benefits of online rehab

Online rehab offers many benefits, especially for someone with mild to moderate addiction issues. As mentioned above, virtual programs are often more accessible, especially for those who live in remote areas and would not have help close by otherwise.

While it would be great if everyone could occasionally take a break from their everyday lives to work on their wellness, for many, that is simply not possible. Online programs allow you to continue to live at home and go to work if you need to.

When your life has not been uprooted, you can recover without worrying about how much time you are away from home for, what it is you might be missing, or how soon you have to re-enter your day-to-day routine. It also helps you to recover without removing some of the stressors in your daily life, which gives you the opportunity to apply new coping skills in real-time, something you might not necessarily get to practice in a residential treatment program.

There is evidence that shows that those with social anxiety often do better in online settings as they are less concerned about encountering others face-to-face.3 This can make it easier to open up and express the challenges you are facing.

It is worth noting that even though they are online, these programs are structured. They have set times and specific activities or exercises that are designed to keep you on track and give you better support overall.

How EHN Online’s program sets you up for sobriety

EHN Online’s addiction recovery program has several benefits to help set participants up for success. The Substance Use Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is structured to provide an eight-week intensive rehabilitation course that provides a wide variety of education and skills to help participants regain control over their cravings, habits, and lives. Each week will include nine hours of treatment time composed of individual and group therapy, as well as psychoeducation about substance addiction and skill building.

Following the eight weeks of intensive care, participants have access to 10 months of aftercare, keeping up with progress tracking on the Wagon app, and meeting with a group once per week. This will encourage maintenance of positive habits and beneficial skills, while continuing the opportunity to build a strong support network of individuals with similar experiences and hardships.

If your loved ones are looking for better ways to support you, EHN’s IOP also offers a Family program as part of the package, so that loved ones can also receive advice and access better tools to aid in long-term recovery.

EHN Online’s substance use disorder program provides all the benefits of virtual rehab, such as accessibility and structure, while also making treatment affordable and providing the chance to work on challenges, skills and relationships in real time.

Most importantly, EHN Online’s virtual program is one that works. While there is no one “right” way to receive treatment, as the effectiveness of each setting and treatment approach is dependent on you and your unique situation, online rehab can be a sustainable and helpful option to consider.

How to access an online rehab program

If you have mild to moderate addition symptoms and believe online rehab may suit your needs, then don’t hesitate to call us. Our consultations are free and there are no wait times for enrolment. Book an assessment and see if this program is right for you.

It is always a good time to get started, so give us a call today!

 

Be prepared for conversations surrounding mental health. Contact us today to learn how EHN can help.

 

 

References

  1. Administration (US), S. A. and M. H. S., & General (US), O. of the S. (2016). Early Intervention, Treatment, and Management of Substance Use Disorders. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. US Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424859/
  2. May 28, E. S. L. U. & 2021. (n.d.). How to Find Effective Drug Rehab Programs? How to Evaluate American Addiction Centers. Retrieved September 6, 2021, from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/effective
  3. McCall, H. C., Helgadottir, F. D., Menzies, R. G., Hadjistavropoulos, H. D., & Chen, F. S. (2019). Evaluating a Web-Based Social Anxiety Intervention Among Community Users: Analysis of Real-World Data. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(1), e11566. https://doi.org/10.2196/11566

When to get help for mental health disorders and addiction — and where to find it

When to get help for mental health disorders and addiction — and where to find it

When we think of mental health challenges and addiction issues, we probably think of extremes. Sober or alcoholic. Healthy or not. Panic attacks where you’re bed-bound for days. Liver problems from excessive drinking.

You might start asking yourself questions like ‘Do I need help, or will this go away eventually?’ This article is designed to help you find the answer. Now, when it comes to struggling with addiction, depression or anxiety, there’s no substitute for being diagnosed and treated by a qualified medical professional. However, this article will give you some insight into where you or a loved one’s symptoms might fall within the range of mental health and addiction conditions, when you should start thinking about getting help, and what your options are.

 

Canada’s growing mental health and addiction crisis

 

Let’s begin with a little background. “Mental illness” and “addiction” can apply to a wide range of disorders that may affect how you think, your mood, and the way you behave. When we talk about these disorders, we are generally referring to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. While many people will struggle with varying degrees of these disorders, they become more and more worrying as they begin to get more frequent and/or harder to resist.

These disorders are incredibly common and affect people of all ages and lifestyles. In fact, every year, at least one in five Canadians experiences a mental health condition. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) points out:

  • About 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives
  • will have or have had a mental illness
  • Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment
  • Substance use disorders affect approximately 6% of Canadians.

CMHA also states that 21% of the population (six million people or so) will meet the criteria for addiction in their lifetime. Alcohol and cannabis are the substances that most commonly meet the criteria for addiction, but opioid use has also become a crisis.

 

Mental health, depression, and COVID-19

If Canada had a mental illness and addiction problem before, it was kicked into overdrive by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its “Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health,” the federal government revealed that 21% of adults aged 18 and older screened positive for at least one of three mental disorders: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The survey also said that mental disorders were four times higher among adults who were isolated by the pandemic, and 40% of Canadians who had financial troubles because of COVID-19 screened positive for one of three mental disorders.

“Since the beginning of COVID-19, we have been seeing some very troubling trends in mental health and addiction,” said Lanie Schachter-Snipper, the National Director of Outpatient Services at EHN Canada, in an interview with Georgia Straight.

“There are increased rates of addiction, overdoses, and addiction-related deaths, as well as an increase in rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Those who never or rarely experienced mental health issues pre-pandemic are reporting new issues emerging and those who had preexisting conditions are reporting the worsening of symptoms.”

 

How depression and anxiety affect your mental wellbeing

For some people, mood and anxiety disorders can hinder their ability to successfully manage life’s ups and downs. For others, mood and anxiety disorders prevent them from living life at all, creating such severe anxiety they can’t leave their house, work their jobs, or enjoy time with family. These disorders can make life incredibly difficult, leaving people feeling lost, isolated, and hopeless.

Depression can cause an unshakeable feeling of sadness, leaving people unable to engage in everyday activities — even enjoyable ones. People affected by depression, especially major clinical depression, can’t “just snap out of it,” and may require treatment, including psychotherapy, medication, or both.

Other mood disorders include bipolar disorder, dysthymia, and disorders related to health conditions and substance use.

Anxiety disorders often come with excessive and persistent feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear. Of course, occasional anxiety is a part of life, but anxiety disorders leave people with intense and excessive worries and fears about everyday situations. People may suffer from debilitating panic or anxiety attacks, forcing them to retreat and start avoiding places or situations that might trigger an attack.

When you couple these existing mood and anxiety disorders with the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic (such as isolation, fear about an uncertain future, and concerns about economic hardships), it’s no wonder that many people found their symptoms becoming even more pervasive.

 

When is it time for depression and/or anxiety therapy?

Many people wonder if their symptoms are normal, or if they might require some kind of treatment. The truth is that symptoms can range from minimal, to mild, to moderate, to severe. Where you fall on this range will determine whether you need to seek treatment, and also impacts what kind of treatment will be right for you.

At to identify where symptoms fall in the minimal to severe range. We encourage you to use these questions to help determine whether you or a loved one might be ready to seek help.

  • How you feel inside: Do you find little interest or pleasure in doing things? Do you feel down, depressed or hopeless? Do you feel bad about yourself — that you are a failure or that you have let your family down? Have you thought that you would be better off dead, or about hurting yourself in some way?
  • Physical effects: Have you felt tired or had little energy? Have you had trouble with insomnia or sleeping too much? Has your appetite been poor, or have you been overeating?
  • Behaviours or interactions with others changing: Have you had trouble concentrating on things like reading, work or watching TV? Have people noticed that you moved or spoke slowly? Or the opposite — that you’ve been fidgety or restless?

 

To identify where you fall within the range of anxiety symptoms, the EHN Online team looks for:

  • How you feel inside: Do you feel anxious, worried or nervous? Do you have moments of sudden terror, fear or fright? Have you had thoughts of bad things happening, such as family tragedy, ill-health, job loss or accidents?
  • Physical effects: Have you felt your heart racing, sweaty, trouble breathing, faint or shaky? Have you felt tense muscles, jaw clenching or teeth grinding, on edge or restless, or had trouble relaxing or sleeping?
  • Behaviours or interactions with others changing: Have you avoided situations that you’re worried about? Have you left situations or participated only minimally due to worries? Have you spent lots of time making decisions, putting off making decisions or preparing for situations?

 

Alcohol and drugs: how much is too much?

Substance use disorder affects a person’s brain and behaviour and can lead to uncontrolled use of a drug or medication, even when the person knows these substances are causing them harm. It’s important to remember that the legality or illegality of a substance doesn’t play a role in diagnosing substance use disorder, which is why alcohol, cannabis and nicotine can all become problematic.

Substance use disorder can sometimes begin by experimenting with alcohol or drugs recreationally, ‘just for fun,’ but getting drawn deeper and deeper into a complete dependency. In other cases, addiction can start with prescribed medications like opioids. In both cases, users will quickly notice they need more and more to achieve the desired effect, despite the physical, emotional, or financial toll it takes on them and the people they love.

While there are many possible different symptoms of substance use disorder, some signs to look for include:

  • Overwhelming urges to consume the substance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop consuming
  • Needing more of the substance to get the same effect
  • Spending money on the substance, even if you can’t afford it

Deep down, people often know their substance use is getting out of hand, but that’s a terrifying thing to admit to yourself and others. It takes honesty and immense bravery to admit you need help and to reach out for it, and people who do so require support from trained professionals and caring peers, friends, or family to reclaim their lives and start truly living again.

 

From self-rehabilitation to intensive outpatient programs: which is right for you?

When determining substance abuse and addiction issues, the EHN Online Team looks for the following. We encourage you to use these questions to help determine whether you or a loved one might be struggling.

  • How much do you consume and how do you consume it? Do you drink or take drugs in a particular way to increase the effect? Do you consume in the morning, afternoon and evening?
  • How do substances fit in with the rest of your day? Have you found yourself thinking about when you will next be able to have another drink or take drugs? Have you identified substance use as more important than anything else you might do during the day? Have you felt that your need for drink or drugs was too strong to control? Have you planned your day around getting/taking alcohol or drugs? Have you found it difficult to cope with life without drink or drugs?

 

A closer look at the range of addiction and mental health conditions

We’ve used the answers to our screening questions to create the infographic below. Use your answers to find where exactly you fall in the range of addiction and mental health conditions.

Download the full infographic here.

Minimal: Everyone should take care of their physical and mental wellbeing

If you look at the infographic and determine that you identify as “not using” on the addiction spectrum, and “healthy” on the mental health spectrum, that’s great news. You don’t need to seek professional help for these.

But mental health is like physical health — the more you maintain it, the better you’ll feel. Consider using online apps designed to support good mental health habits and check out free online mental health and addiction communities like the forums from the Mood Disorders Society of Canada.

 

Mild to moderate: try early intervention

If you found yourself in the mild-to-moderate section of the infographic, there are a few ways you can find help.

For mild-to-moderate use of drugs and alcohol, you may still be at the experimental stage. Perhaps you’re feeling peer pressure or find yourself turning to them a little too often. You might be able to stop using the drugs on your own initiative at this stage. Perhaps reach out to a close friend or trusted family member with whom you can be honest. Ask for their support and to hold you accountable as you begin cutting these substances out.

But what if your use becomes more habitual, if you’re consuming substances regularly and increasing doses to get the same effect, and you find yourself having trouble controlling your urge to use them?

 

If early intervention is not enough, it’s time for structured help

Structured help can come in the form of an intensive outpatient program, an industry term for a program made up of individual, group, or family therapy sessions, support groups, medications, and behavioural therapy conducted by a licensed addictions or mental health therapist.

The challenge is sometimes these types of intensive outpatient programs can be hard to come by. The treatment facilities only have limited spaces available or can be too far for people to get to.

This is where EHN Online’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) services come in. With EHN Online, geography doesn’t matter. You get the support you need for your mild-to-moderate symptoms at home, helping you change your path with the guidance of credentialled, caring staff. You get virtual mental health and addiction solutions, delivered by the professionals at EHN Canada, who have more than 75 years of experience successfully treating mental health and addiction issues.

The different online therapy programs include nine hours of group and individual therapy sessions for eight weeks, followed by 10 months of aftercare support. The programs also come with access to EHN’s online platform and app, Wagon, which gives you a personalized recovery plan, as well as different tools, exercises, and ways to record your progress as you achieve your wellness goals.

 

Not sure if online therapy is for you?

It might be the right fit if…

  • You are having increasing trouble functioning at work
  • You have symptoms triggered by specific events or situations
  • Your levels of depression, anxiety or stress are increasing
  • You are relying more on substances to cope with daily life challenges
  • You would like to reevaluate your coping skills to maintain your recovery
  • Your current coping strategies aren’t working

 

Severe symptoms: consider inpatient care

If the infographic places you on the far end of the range, you are grappling with the most serious symptoms and possible harms. You may be at risk for a full-blown mental health crisis, with outbursts of anger, excessive panic attacks, thoughts of suicide, constant fatigue, and falling prey to different addictions.

With symptoms as severe as these, you will require inpatient care with a stay at a professional mental illness and addiction treatment facility for your safety.

This may be unwelcome news, or perhaps you’ve known you needed help for a long time. Either way, you will soon be getting the help you need to take back control of the life that has been stolen from you by addiction or mental health issues. Inpatient care doesn’t just treat immediate issues — such as detoxing — but it will also help you identify and address underlying problems that cause your symptoms, teaching you better ways to cope. With the right help, you can avoid rock bottom, and begin your climb toward a healthy future.

 

A general guide, not a diagnosis

The information about where you may lie on the range of mental health or addiction issues is only offered as a general guide. To get an accurate diagnosis, you need to consult an experienced professional.

EHN Online makes the process of getting the qualified help you need easy. You can simply book a free consultation online, or do so by telephone or email. After the consultation, you can pick the program best suited to your needs.

Then you can start on the road to recovery, supported by EHN Online, a recognized leader in addiction and related mental health services. Wherever your symptoms fall, we can help you find a new and better place to thrive.

 

Be prepared for conversations surrounding mental health. Contact us today to learn how EHN can help.

 

Are you enabling a loved one’s addiction?

Are you enabling a loved one’s addiction?

If you’ve ever watched a loved one struggle with an addiction, you know it can be a heart wrenching, isolating, and frustrating experience.

There are many different ways to support a loved one going through an addiction, but how do we know if we’re — consciously or not — enabling  their behaviour? If we know the traits of an enabler, we can stop our behaviour in its tracks and better empower our family or friends to seek life-saving treatment or harm reduction services.

What is enabling?

Simply put, “enabling” means to contribute to or support someone’s self-destructive behaviour. According to the American Psychological Association, an enabler is typically an intimate partner or good friend who passively permits or unwittingly encourages this behaviour in the other person; often, the enabler is aware of the destructiveness of the person’s behaviour but feels powerless to prevent it.”

It’s important to remember that while there is often a negative stigma attached to the term, we’re most likely not acting maliciously or trying to do any harm as enablers. Most people are trying to be loving and supportive, but just don’t know how. That said, if we can be conscious of our enabling, we are in a better position to help our loved ones recover by empowering them to change.

What does enabling an addiction look like?

When it comes to addiction or substance use disorders, like alcoholism, there’s more to being an enabler than actively encouraging or participating in the behaviour. Here are some examples of enabling that are a bit more subtle:

Making excuses

When we love someone, it’s easy to make excuses for all sorts of negative, self-sabotaging behaviour. But when it comes to substance use, the stakes can be high. This might look like telling other friends or family that someone’s addiction “isn’t that bad,” or excusing it altogether.

This is tempting and can seem innocent, but it shields the person from the real consequences of their actions.

Bailing them out

Addiction can impact every aspect of a person’s life, making it difficult to keep up with important commitments or obligations. In more severe cases, they can fall into financial or legal trouble.

Family and friends help each other out in the toughest of times. So, if we have the means to pay legal fees, repay debts, or loan money to someone in a bind, we often feel like this is the right thing to do. While it is kind and understandable to want to make someone’s life a little bit easier, this can actually encourage their addiction.

For someone trying to recover from an addiction, knowing they have people in their corner can make all the difference. But financially supporting their habits might give them a false sense of security and delay the realization that their substance use has become a serious problem.

Blaming others

We know that addiction isn’t a “choice” and that there are several biological and social factors that make some people more vulnerable. That said, when a loved one is struggling with addiction, it isn’t productive to blame other people for their actions.

It’s easy to place blame on a friend who actively encourages or joins in on their substance use, the strict boss, the spouse or partner that broke their heart, our ourselves. But it’s important to remember that this doesn’t help.

There will be people that are objectively toxic for someone who is trying to recover from addiction — but blaming these people for the addiction itself takes away the addicted person’s agency and teaches them that they are not self-sufficient.

Covering up or lying

If someone you care about is constantly forgetting or skipping important commitments, you might find yourself lying to others on their behalf. While this might seem helpful, or like you’re saving the person some embarrassment or stress, it is not recommended. By hiding your loved one’s addiction, you’re making it less likely they will be held accountable. In order to seek treatment, someone must fully understand the consequences of their substance use issues. It might seem harsh to not cover up for someone you love, but doing so is ultimately counterproductive.


Check out our recent blog on how to support a loved one struggling with addiction.

How can I help? 

Addiction recovery is a group effort

A strong support system can make a huge difference in someone’s recovery. Here are some steps you can take to help someone in your family who is showing signs of an addiction or substance use disorder:

  • Educate yourself. There is plenty of stigma and misunderstanding surrounding addiction and mental illness. Having a better understanding of what your loved one is experiencing physically and mentally will foster empathy and open dialogue. In fact, your loved one might not fully realize that they have an addiction.
  • Express your concerns. If you have an intimate relationship with a person struggling with addiction, you are likely the best person to start this conversation. You don’t have to be an expert, but it is important to tell your loved one how much you care and that they have your support.
  • Support yourself. Supporting a loved one with an addiction can be extremely draining – you don’t have to do it alone. Consider joining a loved one support group like Al-Anon and sharing your experiences in a safe environment. Check to see if your loved one’s treatment program includes family support or therapy.
  • Research treatment options. Certified clinics offer outpatient or inpatient (live-in) treatment options and a variety of different therapies. Whichever facility you choose, make sure the clinicians are accredited and registered with their relevant professional college.

Edgewood Health Network can help

At EHN Online, we believe that all families impacted by addiction deserve support. Those who participate in our programs can invite loved ones to join monthly online Family Education Workshops and continuing care groups. In these workshops, friends and family can learn to assist their loved ones as they integrate recovery skills into daily life, as well as receive education on how to maintain their own wellbeing along the way. In addition, Family Aftercare is a weekly group offered virtually for family members. Learn more.

Contact us to learn more about our IOPs and Family Programs.

Resources to help you:

Info-Social 811
811

ParentsLine
1-800-361-5085

Wellness Space Canada
1-888-417-2074

Al-Anon
Support group for relatives

Sources

APA Dictionary of Psychology – Enabling. (2020). American Psychological Association. https://dictionary.apa.org/enabling.

Juergens, J., & Hampton, D. (2021, May 6). What Is an Enabler? – Stop Enabling Today. Addiction Center. https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/stage-intervention/what-is-an-enabler/

How to talk to and help someone with addiction

How to talk to and help someone with addiction

  Serious conversation between loved ones It is normal to be unsure of what to say and what to expect when talking to a loved one who is suffering from an addiction. Even if you are not comfortable talking about it, you should do so as soon as possible in order to help them. Problem use can trigger anxiety or depression, impair the proper functioning of organs such as the liver and kidneys, and can lead to serious and possibly fatal health problems. Fortunately, this disease can be effectively controlled with your support and evidence-based treatment tailored to the needs of the person suffering from addiction.

Does my loved one need my help with their substance use disorder?

How to know if someone is struggling with addiction

Your loved one may be exhibiting some worrisome behaviour, but how do you know whether they are experiencing a rough patch or a true addiction? Recognizing to increase their chances for recovery. In general, a person with a substance use disorder:

  • does not take care of themselves anymore;
  • has increased mood swings, is not their self on a daily basis;
  • has increased difficulty achieving daily tasks (ie at work or school);
  • is unable to control their consumption;
  • uses substances to help cope with difficult situations;
  • has increased the frequency and quantity of their substance consumption;
  • may lose consciousness and suffer amnesia as a result of the substance;
  • finds more pleasure in consuming than in being with friends or family.

There is no single cause of addiction; it is often the result of a combination of genetic and social factors. The individual may have a genetic predisposition or an underlying mental health disorder that triggers and fuels the cycle of addiction (called a concurrent disorder).  

Am I the right person to talk to my loved one about their addiction?

If you are the spouse, friend or family member or a person struggling with addiction, you’re likely the best person to start the discussion. Your loved one trusts you and knows that you care about their well-being. It’s normal to be worried or unsure of how to approach the subject. Here are some common mindsets that can set back the conversation:

I am afraid that they won’t talk to me anymore.
Understand that your loved one may be reluctant to have this conversation at first. In order to maintain your relationship, you should be clear that you are concerned for their wellbeing and want to help. By identifying yourself as an ally and following them on their steps to recovery, your relationship can become even stronger than it is now.

I am not a professional. I’m worried that I won’t say the right things.
Starting the conversation is definitely not an easy thing to do. You can’t predict your loved one’s reaction, but you can prepare yourself for the discussion. It’s all about the approach. Before you talk about it, make sure you understand addiction and have solutions to offer. Many people research potential groups, counsellors or programs that could be of use prior to starting the conversation.

How to prepare for a conversation about addiction

Educate yourself on addiction

Take the time to research and understand addiction, how it works, and why it happens. You don’t need to be an expert on the topic, but it is helpful to have a general understanding of their situation before beginning the conversation. This will help you to better understand and empathize with them so that you can have a more positive and open conversation. Below are some important things to know before approaching the subject.

How can an addicted person not realize that they are addicted?
While their addiction may seem obvious to you, it is more difficult for the person experiencing it to identify what is happening. Addiction begins in the unawareness stage. This is when the person consumes a substance in increasing frequency and quantities, but do not find this situation abnormal. They do not try to solve their problem because they do not recognize it. After a major event (such as an arrest, missing an important meeting, or letting down a loved one), an addicted person may enter into the awareness stage. However, this does not mean that they will always seek help. The misconception and stigma surrounding addiction often discourages people from seeking help.

Addiction is a disease, not a choice.
The World Health Organization identifies addiction as a disease in which an individual regularly experiences a strong or compulsive desire to consume a psychoactive substance (drinks or drugs, including prescribed medication, that affect one’s mental processes such as perception or consciousness). This compulsion is a results of profound changes in the brain. As the American Society of Addiction Medicine explains: “Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain’s reward circuitry, motivation, memory, and other associated circuits. Dysfunction of these circuits results in characteristic biological, psychological, social, and mental manifestations [ … ] This condition results in the use of substances to provide relief [ … ] .

A diagnosis is required for proper recovery.
Addicted persons require professional help to control and recover from their disease. Without proper care, their condition may deteriorate rapidly. They may develop serious health problems such as psychosis, schizophrenia or central nervous system degeneration. Remember that addiction is a heterogeneous disease, meaning it is often caused by a combination of different genetic and social factors. Because of its varying elements, proper medical intervention is required.

Identify the severity of their symptoms

While you cannot diagnose your loved one’s severity without the help of a medical professional, it is helpful to consider this so that you can guide them towards the best possible treatment. A person with mild to moderate symptoms is usually able to carry out daily activities and responsibilities with some control over their substance use. Individuals experiencing severe symptoms of addiction will struggle to remember, address or carry out important tasks and will have little control over their urges to use. At EHN Online, a specialist will make an initial assessment over the phone to determine the level of severity and propose a treatment plan adapted to the person’s needs.

Find support for yourself

Living with or being around someone who has a substance use disorder can affect you greatly. You may feel overwhelmed and need support in order to best help your loved one. Designated loved one support groups such as Al-Anon can help you to talk through your experiences with people in similar situations to find comfort and solutions. If your loved one decides to seek help, check to see if their treatment program includes support or therapy for loved ones. EHN Online’s intensive outpatient programs recognize the importance of family programming to not only support the person undergoing treatment, but to maintain the wellbeing of their loved ones.

Organize your approach

The way in which you choose to present your concerns and possible solutions is important. Don’t be afraid to write down your ideas and bring it with you for the discussion. Tell your loved one that you want to ensure you are able to communicate clearly and effectively so that you can help them. Being honest and transparent about this will encourage them to do the same.

Research certified addiction clinics.
Don’t walk into the conversation empty handed. Make sure you have prepared a list of possible solutions to the problem you are discussing so that you loved one understands that the purpose of the conversation is to help them. Research clinics to find out what treatments are available. Make sure you find treatment centres that are certified and offer quality, medically-based treatment. Certified clinics offer two types of treatment:

    • Outpatient treatment: for those with mild to moderate symptoms of addiction. EHN Online offers group therapy and individual meetings via video conference.
    • Inpatient treatment: for people with moderate to severe addiction symptoms. The person is accommodated in a center and supported at all times by professionals.

Choose the right time to talk about it.
There will never be a perfect moment to have this conversation, but some situations are better than others. Try to speak with them when they are not under the influence of a substance to promote a calm, rational and productive conversation. It may be helpful to plan this around a time when they may be coming down from a recent intoxication where they might feel guilt after excessive use. They may be more receptive, as they are experiencing the negative consequences of addiction. A person who is not experiencing the unpleasant effects of substance use will find it harder to accept that they have a problem. With that being said, try to focus on several concrete and frequent situations during your conversation rather than just one isolated event.

How to have an effective conversation with your loved one about their addiction

Not sure where to start? Talk about a change in behaviour. For example, you might point out that the person no longer participates in activities they previously enjoyed, doesn’t engage with friends, or their general demeanour has changed. Your examples should always be concrete, so try to think of very specific situations or reasons for your thinking. It is important to listen closely to their responses, and to demonstrate your concern for their well being. This will help them to see that the goal of the conversation is to help rather than accuse. Remember, you can always refer to the notes you prepared if you fear the conversation might derail.

Do’s and don’ts when addressing addiction

Make sure to:

  • find a private place so as not to be interrupted;
  • listen to what they have to say and address their emotions or concerns;
  • discuss the negative effects of their drinking on the most important people in their lives, such as their children or yourself;
  • remain calm at all times, even when addressing your concerns;
  • keep a positive and respectful tone;
  • show compassion and understanding to encourage an open conversation;
  • use your previous research to discuss potential solutions.

Try to avoid:

  • lecturing or criticizing them for their actions;
  • making judgements or jumping to conclusions;
  • using a confrontational approach which implies that they should feel guilty or ashamed;
  • making vague or debatable statements such as “You are always late when you drink”;
  • fuelling addictive behaviour (e.g. giving money that could be used to buy drugs or alcohol);
  • causing extreme distress, which could lead to increased substance use;
  • excusing their behaviour;
  • using ultimatums to force the person to stop using.

Remember that a person suffering from addiction relieves their negative emotions with substances. You don’t want your conversation to provoke such a situation.

Anticipating reactions to conversations about addiction

Reactions are difficult to predict, as each person is different. As a general rule, a person who is approached with the issue of addiction for the first time will likely have a strong and negative reaction, criticize you for discussing it, and deny their addiction. You should have realistic expectations about what might happen after the conversation. Be aware that your relationship may deteriorate temporarily and that you will not see an immediate change. Your loved one will require your ongoing help and support in order to stop using their substance. Stay on alert in the following days for any signs of increased use, as they may turn to their substance to cope with distress caused by this conversation. Rest assured that these reactions and situations are normal in this context. A person suffering from addiction does not want to face reality. They may feel ashamed and close themselves off to protect themselves. If you feel too much resistance, stop the conversation and offer to talk about it another time. You will have taken the first steps and the person will have time to reflect on your discussion. Make yourself available and attentive so that your loved one understands that they can talk to you at any time.

End on a positive note

Tell the person that you are there to support them at every stage of their journey. Explain that you will help them find a suitable treatment and accompany them throughout the healing process. Respect their choice if they are not ready to start right away and remind them that you will help them when they are. If possible, schedule a check-in for the near future to ensure that the topic is not brushed off and that your loved one doesn’t feel nagged when it comes up again.

Next Steps: How to help your loved one with their addiction

Finding the right substance use program

If your loved one agrees to accept help for their addiction, you can help them find the best treatment center for their needs. Make sure any centers you look into are certified and offer a relevant program. Some important questions to ask are:

  • Is there an initial medical assessment to provide your loved one with a personalized treatment plan?
  • Are there any subsequent assessments during treatment to ensure that they are still responding to the changing condition?
  • Is there any medical supervision?
  • Are the therapists accredited?
  • Is there aftercare? A family support program?
  • Are the practices evidence-based such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)?

Supporting a person in recovery

Following treatment, your loved one will have to reintegrate into their environment. The person in recovery needs to change certain aspects of their life to avoid relapse. Returning to an identical environment may provoke the same emotions or situations that initially triggered the cycle of addiction, so it is helpful to create a new routine with them.  You can do this by:

  • Helping them find new passions and activities to stay busy.
  • Offering to arrange your weekly schedules together to ensure you have time to attend each other’s support group meetings;
  • Making sure there is no alcohol or drugs in the house so as not to present any temptation.

Keep in mind that you do not have the power to cure a substance use disorder for your loved one. You can, however, support them through all the stages of recovery. Talk to your loved one as soon as possible before their condition has a serious impact on their health.

Call now or book a free and confidential consultation to learn more about EHN Online's Intensive Outpatient Programs for Substance Use Disorder.



Resources to help you:


Info-Social 811
811

ParentsLine
1-800-361-5085

Wellness Space Canada
1-888-417-2074

Al-Anon
Support group for relatives

5 signs you’re ready for an intensive outpatient program

5 signs you’re ready for an intensive outpatient program

Happy Lady on Laptop

When it comes to finding the right program for your recovery, it’s important to note that there are a variety of options available. While some programs don’t recognize things such as your previous experience in therapy, your demanding work schedule, or your commitments at home, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) does, and is a great option for someone looking to recover.

Intensive outpatient programs are full treatment programs that act as a great step up or down from where you currently are in your recovery. They are an accessible and affordable middle ground for people with mild-moderate symptoms of mental health or addiction who may not to to or be able to enter into a residential facility for treatment.

By determining whether an intensive outpatient program is right for you and your lifestyle, you are doing valuable research into the type of program that will benefit you the most. In this blog, we discuss some of the factors that can help you decide whether an IOP is the best choice for you. Keep in mind that not all the points listed below need to apply directly to you for an IOP to still be the right choice. Intensive outpatient programs fit into everyone’s recovery differently.

1. You recently finished inpatient treatment

Recovery is an ongoing process that doesn’t just end when you leave an inpatient program. Entering back into your everyday life presents its own set of challenges to tackle. IOPs offer a gradual step down from the work you have done in a residential facility so that you can maintain your growth with a steady support and education. Choosing an outpatient program that offers structure to your recovery will help you to better navigate the re-entry to your working and living environment and set you up for success in your long-term recovery. For those who have completed inpatient therapy and are asking themselves ‘what now?’ intensive outpatient programs are an excellent next step.

2. You can’t take time off from work or family

While inpatient treatments are an ideal environment for recovery, sometimes it is not feasible for you to enter into one when you are balancing work and family responsibilities. An IOP offers the flexibility you need to maintain your current duties, and the structure you need to meet your recovery goals.

While company assistance varies, there is an increased likelihood that employers will support employees in their rehabilitation process if they are able to continue working while they receive care. Many employers have policies in place to offer flexibility in these circumstances and it is always worth speaking with your boss to see if there is support available, whether it’s financial or otherwise.

Many IOPs can also be completed online, which removes more barriers for those who travel frequently or don’t have access to local outpatient services. Online IOPs allow for even more flexibility when trying to maintain the responsibilities of your daily life.

3. You have tried other methods of support but need more

If you have tried different methods of support such as medication, regular outpatient programs, inpatient treatment, counselling, or an app among others, but have found them to be ineffective on their own, an IOP is a great solution. By strategically bundling all the most effective elements of treatment together, IOPs can offer you a treatment plan that is cohesive and supportive. With individual counselling, group therapy, evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, and an app to tie it all together, the components of intensive programs work together to ensure you have all the support you need. 

4. You need more structure and accountability

Recovery is an uphill battle. Without a set plan to prioritize your healing, it can become difficult to maintain your progress after completing a program. Recovery is a life-long fight that requires consistent attention and support. IOPs can offer the structure you need to support a stable recovery. By connecting you with the right technology, people, and resources, these programs can help you maintain accountability for your personal recovery goals and achieve success. An IOP can offer the support you need, while at the same time, providing the flexibility that you need to maintain your busy schedule.

5. You need more support from loved ones

Our loved ones can be huge factors in our progress and play an important role when it comes to your healing. Those close to us are often very willing to help but may not have the knowledge or understanding to do so. IOPs often include family education and therapy to provide your loved ones and those who support you with the tools they need to effectively support you along your recovery journey. This ensures there is mutual understanding across your entire support team, and that you are in alignment regarding the best course of action. What they learn is cohesive with what you learn!

Still not sure if an IOP is right for you? Take our self-assessment quiz!

If any of the reasons above resonate with you, then an IOP is a great plan to look into. EHN Online’s intensive outpatient programs offer the structure and support that you need to get on track and stay there! Beginning with eight weeks of intensive programming, participants will benefit from a combination of individual counselling, group therapy, family support, education about mental health and addiction, and access to our Wagon app to track progress and practice skills. With ten months of aftercare to follow, you can continue to track your progress on our app and learn from peers in weekly group therapy sessions. This network of assistance helps to ensure that you are never without support. Best of all, IOPs make recovery work with your busy schedule, no matter where you are!

 

EHN Online offers IOPs for substance use disorder, mood (depression) and anxiety, and workplace trauma. For more information about IOPs and if they are right for you, call us for a free and confidential consultation.

 

 

Online programs for substance use disorder – understanding your options for recovery

Online programs for substance use disorder – understanding your options for recovery

The decision to seek care for your alcohol or drug addiction is an important step towards recovery. By researching the differences in treatment options, you are already demonstrating self-awareness and initiative to make a change. Nonetheless, with so much information available online, the researching process can be intimidating. In this article, we will help you understand what online options are available so that you can make an informed decision about which course of action is the best for you.

One option when seeking online therapy is an intensive outpatient program (IOP).  This is an addiction or mental health treatment program designed for individuals who need more structure and intensive treatment than they can get from standard treatment options such as one-on-one therapy, medication, and support groups. IOP’s can either be in person or provided through an online therapy platform. 

Online therapy for mental health and addiction

Online therapy, also known as e-therapy, virtual therapy or teletherapy can be an effective treatment option for mental health and addiction support over the internet. This can occur via messaging, texts, video conferencing, or other digital solutions in real-time. This method can be beneficial to those struggling with mild to moderate addiction or mental health symptoms. It is important to note that online therapy can be very effective for many, but it is not a suitable replacement for inpatient programming if you are experiencing severe addiction symptoms.

Online therapy is an excellent solution if you live in a remote area, have limited access to quality substance addiction support or prefer to get help from the comfort of your own home. Programs that are strictly online typically have fewer operational costs and therefore can often offer more affordable treatment options. Online therapy is convenient and affordable – gone are the days of long commutes to therapy, missing work, or booking a babysitter to attend a session. 

How to have the best online therapy experience

Convenience is often reported as one of the greatest advantages of online therapy, however; this is contingent on the assumption that patients have access to a:

  • High speed internet connection
  • Laptop or tablet (preferable to a smartphone)
  • Private and comfortable space 
  • Solid support system or loved one to help maintain accountability throughout the program

Accessing online therapy for addiction

To begin the process of joining an online therapy program, decide which medium you prefer (text, video call, etc.) and conduct an online search. Find a place that resonates best with you and call or request an appointment. They may ask questions about your current mental state and demographic information to help match you with a compatible counsellor or program. Some additional factors to consider when choosing an online addictions program include: 

  • Therapist designation: If you want insurance to cover the cost of your therapy, make sure that the company has what you’re looking for. You will want to ask about if the therapists are Masters-level and registered, as most insurance companies have policies around this.
  • Schedules: Find out how flexible the individual and groups session schedules are to ensure they fit into your work and home life.
  • Evidence-based: Therapeutic approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) have been researched and proven to help patients develop meaningful and lasting change in their lives. Ask the admissions counsellor about which methods their programs use.
  • Price: Determine how much the sessions cost and what your budget can support. It is also important to consider what else the program offers in addition to the therapy (i.e. family support, aftercare, etc).

Pricing and payment methods for online therapy vary. Some platforms might use a subscription structure, billing you bi-weekly or monthly, and some might have you pay yearly or by session. It is important to keep in mind which method works best for you when selecting a platform. Prices for online therapy typically reside between $60-100 per session, which is a nice contrast to the $150-240 average for an in-person therapy session.

Figuring out which program is right for you

Substance use disorders are classified as mild, moderate and severe. Use the following criteria to help understand where your symptoms stand. If you agree with 2-4 of the following statements, you likely have mild symptoms. If you agree with 4-6 of the following statements you might fall under the moderate category, and 7+ means you are likely experiencing severe symptoms of substance use disorder. Speak to a healthcare professional for a formal diagnosis.

  • Your substance use has created dangerous situations for yourself or others.
  • Your substance use has caused relationship problems or conflicts with others.
  • You frequently fail to meet your responsibilities at work or home.
  • When you stop using the substance, you experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • You have built a tolerance and have increased your use amount and frequency.
  • You’ve tried to cut back or quit entirely, but haven’t been successful.
  • You spend a lot of your time using the substance.
  • Your substance use has led to physical or mental health problems, such as liver damage or anxiety.
  • You have skipped activities or stopped doing activities you once enjoyed in order to use the substance.
  • You experience cravings for the substance.

Take our short assessment quiz to find out if online rehab is a viable option for your recovery.

 

Types of online therapy for addiction 

There is a wide variety of online therapy solutions. To determine which option may be best for you given the severity of your symptoms, see the checklist above. 

  • Individual counselling – One on one counselling with a therapist via secure video platform. Most effective for mild symptoms.
  • Self-help groups – AA or SMART Recovery groups via secure video platform. Most effective for mild symptoms.
  • Mental health and wellness apps – Websites/self-led apps dedicated to mental health and wellness. Most effective for mild symptoms.
  • Group counselling – Therapeutic support with peers led by a therapist via secure video platform. Most effective for mild/moderate symptoms.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) – Intensive online treatment via secure platform. Most effective for mild/moderate symptoms. 

For those experiencing severe symptoms of addiction, inpatient therapy with medically assisted detox treatment might be a more suitable action plan for you.

How can an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) help you recover from addiction?

Have you tried individual counselling or self-help groups but feel you need more help? IOPs provide a more structured and intensive solution as they combine individual counselling, group counselling, family support and an app into one bundled package. Both intensive and flexible, IOPs are effective for those who are unable to take time away from family or work, but require more structure in their treatment process. 

IOP patients can maintain their daily routines and access therapy outside of work hours. Some of the most notable benefits for substance use disorder IOPs are:

  • Flexible scheduling to prevent interference with family and work time
  • Receive support and connection from others in a safe and non-judgemental space
  • Manage progress and prevent relapse with a structured aftercare program
  • Involve loved ones in your recovery for additional long term support
  • Receive immediate support with rolling intake and support on demand
  • Stay on top of your own recovery with progress tracking
  • Complimentary to AA and SMART Recovery
  • Evidence-based and use curriculum that is proven to work
  • Compatible with an easy-to-use online platform and app 

The IOP at EHN Online is eight weeks of intensive treatment, for nine hours a week, featuring both individual and group therapy. Studies show that group therapy plays an important role on the route to recovery as it creates a close-knit support network to give and receive information from peers with similar experiences, and provides an opportunity for increased self-awareness.[1] [2]

For ten months following treatment, patients participate in aftercare, with one virtual group meeting per week and access to the outpatient app, Wagon. This will allow you to track daily progress, achieve your goals, and better communicate with your counsellor. EHN Online’s in-house clinical team ensures full cohesion across the network, so your designated counsellor can join you throughout your entire journey to recovery. 

Accessing an Intensive Outpatient Program

To begin your journey with an EHN Online Intensive Outpatient Program, book an assessment with one of our IOP counsellors. You’ll discuss your symptoms, your history, and your goals for the future before you agree on a program that’s right for you. If you decide to go ahead, your counsellor will register you in that program during your appointment.

Many employee benefit plans cover treatment programs for alcohol and drug addiction. Contact EHN Online with the name of your employer and insurance provider so we can help determine your coverage and financing solutions.

Other IOP streams

EHN Online offers a variety of Intensive Outpatient Programs to help individuals reach their recovery goals:

How much does an IOP for addiction cost?

When it comes to cost, you need to take into account the chance of future intensive program needs. If your initial treatment does not have lasting positive effects and you need to re-enter a program, your total cost of rehabilitation will increase dramatically. It is more cost-effective to select a program that you feel will best address your needs, immerse you with a supportive group of peers, and keep you on track the first time around.

While your mental and physical health doesn’t have a price tag, you do have to consider what type of support can fit into your budget. Because of the bundled nature of IOPs, the hourly cost is actually far lower than a stand-alone individual therapy session or group. Here’s a simple cost breakdown: 

$38/hour for 173 hours over one year:

  • 9 hours of individual/group therapy sessions for 8 weeks
  • 12 available hours of family programming
  • 10 months of weekly aftercare 
  • Access to a digital app for corresponding materials and progress reports 
  • A detailed discharge meeting and summary 

Compared to traditional prices for individual and group therapy at about $60-100 per hourly session, an Intensive Outpatient Program provides a bundled offering for proven results and affordable prices. 

There is no single method of recovery that is the right solution for everyone. Individuals will thrive when they find a mixture of therapies, education, and lifestyle changes that works for them. A great place to begin is to use the severity classification method listed above to identify whether or not you would benefit from separation from your current surroundings and habits.

Congratulations on taking the first step towards recovery! Beginning the process is the most daunting part, and your initiative shows your willingness to make a change in your life. Whichever course of treatment you choose, recovery is around the corner!

Speak to a professional today to find out if an Intensive Outpatient Program is right for you.

 

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

[1] Fogger, S. A., & Lehmann, K. (2017). Recovery Beyond Buprenorphine: Nurse-Led Group Therapy. Journal of addictions nursing, 28(3), 152–156. https://doi.org/10.1097/JAN.0000000000000180

[2] Epstein, E. E., McCrady, B. S., Hallgren, K. A., Gaba, A., Cook, S., Jensen, N., Hildebrandt, T., Holzhauer, C. G., & Litt, M. D. (2018). Individual versus group female-specific cognitive behavior therapy for alcohol use disorder. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 88, 27–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2018.02.003

[3] Inpatient vs. outpatient treatment: Recovery options. (2020, September 18). https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/inpatient-outpatient-rehab/

[4] Inpatient vs. Outpatient: Comparing Two Types of Patient Care. St. George’s University. (2019, June 18). https://www.sgu.edu/blog/medical/inpatient-versus-outpatient/.