By Hans Morefield, CEO, CHESS Health
Recovery is hard; the journey is full of twists and obstacles, some expected and some unforeseen. Over time, with experience and confidence, individuals in recovery get better and stronger at navigating the journey and bypassing or overcoming the obstacles.
In early recovery – the first 12 months – most individuals need a lot of support and, ideally, this support is available to them anytime and anywhere because the dangerous relapse risk moments are mostly unpredictable.
Support comes from an individual’s provider, perhaps from support meetings, maybe from a sponsor, and, hopefully, but too rarely, from friends and family too (though the latter often don’t understand the difficulty and challenges of recovery).
At CHESS, we are committed to helping individuals achieve and sustain recovery. Part of this involves our Connections App and our peer specialist-moderated discussion groups providing a “safety net” for people on their road to recovery. This support system is always available — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Often, we find individuals new to recovery struggle to avoid situations that may threaten their sobriety – for example, connecting with old friends (who are often still using), or combatting the triggers of anxiety, stress, and anger. Part of recovery is creating a life where it’s easier not to use[i], and one of the most difficult parts is finding a new support system.
This was exactly the situation recently for Patti (not her real name), an individual who was just 47 days sober, when she reached out to the Connections app community at 1:40 AM. Patti’s story was both painful and all-too-familiar: her addiction had cost the custody of her children. While this often served as a motivation for her recovery, it also caused her periods of great anguish, especially after visits with her children.
12 hours earlier she had visited with her children. Since then, she had retreated into her apartment, alone, and was deeply upset with herself about the situation and pain she had caused for herself and her children. In the past, she would have numbed this pain by using substances. Before she did this night, she sought out her key support system – the Connections App. She posted a message sharing her pain and her thoughts about using.
While Patti was alone in her apartment, she wasn’t alone in the Connections App. Her message was read by our peer engagement team and by Patti’s peers – others in treatment and recovery. We responded first, acknowledging her pain and reminding her of her motivations and skills for getting through this tough moment.
The peer community responded too, with many messages of support, love, and suggestions. One message was from Steve (not his real name); he wrote:
OK listen the time away from your loved ones does hurt! It’s one of the hardest things we’ve got to persevere through, but this too will pass! Use this pain as the way of your gift of desperation. It can become your greatest asset and it can and will remind you of what you never want to go back to.
Another peer, a woman who shared she had faced the same issue early in her recovery, wrote:
…if you get to the point you want to use or you just need to vent and need more support please reach out on this app these people really do care and you can message me anytime.
Patti was incredibly appreciative of all of the support she got. She made it through the night and, I’m pleased to report, she’s now passed 70 days of sobriety and while the journey for her is still hard, she’s undoubtedly building confidence and strength every day. She remains active in the Connections App.
The truth is, none of us ever knows with certainty when risks or triggers will surface. Even with a solid support network of friends, family, and healthcare providers, individuals in recovery benefit from the 24/7 network of support that CHESS provides. With the right technology and people, we surround individuals battling SUD with multiple methods to achieve recovery. The result is patient-centric care that truly meets patients where they are – no matter the time of night.