Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is a mental condition that leads to a person’s inability to control their use of substances such as drugs and alcohol. Addictions frequently occur alongside mood or anxiety disorders. If you treat the addiction without addressing the underlying trauma, anxiety, or mood issues, then you are at higher risk of relapsing, and it may be more difficult to stay in recovery.
“I compare treating SUD to diabetes,” explains Courtney Potempa, Physician Assistant at APS. “We give them insulin to help control the immediate problem, but also encourage eating right, exercise, and losing weight as the long-term care. In SUD, we often use medications to treat the withdrawal and cravings, but counseling, therapy, and group work are lifetime care. There’s always a reason why people turn to substances. Just taking away the substance and giving them medication doesn’t cure the entire problem. You have to treat the whole patient…Treatment is tailored to the way your body and brain need it – from how often you have counseling, to what kind and dose of medications you are on, or how quickly you taper off of your medication.”
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends four key areas that support a life in recovery. Courtney Potempa dives into each of the four areas below.
”I encourage our patients to follow up with or find a primary care doctor. Specifically, for women, I try to help them take care of their sexual and reproductive health. Those tend to go by the wayside when they are actively using. Also, exercise and diet are so important for the brain and body to heal. If patients have an underlying pain disorder or injury, I help them get to an orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist to address the cause of that problem.”
“We always encourage patients to involve as much of their family and friends as they feel comfortable doing. Let’s get your family involved in your recovery so when you are at home, it’s a safe and supportive place, where you’re following through with all of the work you are doing in clinic.”
“Often, when patients get into the rhythm of working, family time, etcetera, life seems a little boring. But boring is good because the chaos of substance abuse is draining and exhausting. They then find joy in getting up in the morning and getting their kids off to school, working out, or simply sitting with coffee. The mundane aspects of life become enjoyable.”
“Community is huge! We encourage our patients to find groups such as Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Support Groups in or outside of APS, as well as AA, NA, Recovery Dharma and others. They are an extension of their recovery community. Keep building, because the bigger your sober, supportive community is, the stronger your recovery is going to be.”
At APS, we understand the importance in treating the underlying conditions and therefore we use a comprehensive and integrated treatment method involving testing, psychotherapy, and medication/treatment management overseen by board-certified psychiatrists. We treat SUDs with comprehensive mental health care – including novel treatments – with the help of specialists in addiction, which gives you the best chance of success.