October 13, 2023

Experts Give Insight Into Recovery From Substance Use Disorder

The latest episode of The Wrap podcast features a conversation with providers on the front lines of substance use disorder care -- Cameron Coleman, M.D., along with social workers Darin Szczotka and Coty Babon.

Experts featured:

Coty Babon, LMSW, CAADC: Practicing social worker, U-M Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS), Department of Psychiatry

George Cameron Coleman, Jr., M.D.: Clinical assistant professor, practicing physician with U-M Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS), Department of Psychiatry

Darin Szczotka, LLMSW: Clinical social worker, Addiction Consult Team (ACT), Department of Psychiatry

Here is a snapshot of some of this important conversation. To watch the whole interview, check out the YouTube video at the top of the page.

What are some of the steps for a successful recovery?

The path to recovery can be highly individual, but there are universal steps. Most importantly, recovery is possible for everyone. Acknowledging the problem is the first step, followed by seeking professional help such as therapy or support groups. Building a strong support network, including friends, family and mentors, is crucial. Establishing healthy routines, engaging in therapy, practicing mindfulness and adopting a positive mindset can help set you up for success. Exercise, proper nutrition and creative outlets often support overall well-being, making recovery more sustainable.

Successful recovery often involves determination, therapy and a strong support network. Individuals who remain committed to therapy, take prescribed medications as directed (if applicable) and actively engage in support groups have a higher chance of success. Learning to identify and avoid triggers, practicing stress management and finding purpose beyond addiction are essential.

Are medications for addiction trading one problem for another?

Taking medications for addiction, such as methadone or buprenorphine, can be a part of recovery. These medications help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms, enabling individuals to focus on rebuilding their lives. While some may question if this is truly being in recovery, it is widely accepted in the medical community as a valid and highly effective form of treatment. It's not merely replacing one drug with another; these medications are carefully prescribed, monitored and part of a comprehensive recovery plan.

What about relapse?

Relapses are common, especially in the early stages of recovery. Stress, exposure to triggers, lack of support and untreated mental health issues can derail progress. Overconfidence and neglecting aftercare can also hinder recovery. However, by acknowledging the relapse as a learning opportunity rather than a failure, individuals can develop stronger coping mechanisms, enhance resilience, and move forward with greater wisdom and determination on their recovery journey.

How can I support a loved one's recovery?

Supporting a loved one in active addiction involves expressing concern, encouraging them to seek help and avoiding enabling behaviors. During recovery, understanding and patience are key. Educate yourself about addiction, attend therapy sessions together and participate in family support groups. Celebrate their milestones and encourage them in their journey. Avoid judgment and maintain open communication. Remember that recovery is a process and setbacks might occur; it's essential to continue supporting without enabling harmful behavior.

Seeking recovery from substance use disorders allows individuals to regain control over their lives. By fighting the stigma around addiction, creating an understanding and supportive culture, and providing encouragement, you can make a major difference in a loved one's recovery journey.

If you or a loved one would like more information about recovery, please visit the U-M Addiction Center's Resource Guide or dial 988 for immediate help. Also please join us in person or via Zoom on November 15th to hear about the science of recovery & the sharing of personal stories. Learn more.