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Nov24ThuSalvation Army addictions programs help people avoid the pain of relapse November 24, 2011 by Caroline Franks
For more than 30 years, The Salvation Army has used a relapse prevention program designed by Terence Gorski, founder and president of the Center for Applied Sciences Corporation in Spring Hill, Florida, as an integrated part of its services to people with addictions.
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"Recovery and relapse are on opposite sides of the same coin," Gorski explains, at a Proven Systems for Recovery and Relapse Prevention training day hosted by The Salvation Army last month.
"Recovery involves proactive things a person needs to do in order to stay sober, while relapse prevention is about having the person identify the warning signs indicating they are slipping off their path," he says.
The Salvation Army invited Gorski to Ottawa to address more than 100 recovery workers from various organizations across the country in recent advances in relapse prevention. Currently a lecturing professor and co-ordinator of the addiction studies concentration at the Tampa Bay campus of Springfield College, Gorski is internationally known as an authority on the addiction, behavioural health, social services and correctional industries for his work in recovery and relapse prevention.
According to Gorski, successful relapse prevention requires:
• adequate environmental support and strong limits to strengthen the person in their battle against what appears to be an overwhelming compulsion or craving.
• Same Level Solutions, which means that the most urgent needs of the person, such as hunger, shelter and medical concerns, must be dealt with.
• staff to help the person figure out how they came to be in their current situation, to identify their problems and how they are related to their addiction, to assist them as they unlearn habits and to determine where their addiction will take them in the future.
• the person to figure out what they initially wanted the alcohol and drugs to do for them, such as relieving pain. There needs to be a willingness on the part of the person to change, starting with how they think about themselves, and the identification of a personal code or standard to live by.
• the person to be taught what causes relapse, to identify the warning signs of a possible relapse and what can be done to prevent it.
• the client to develop new skills, including stress management, how to think clearly, how to manage their feelings and resist urges, and to get along with others based on love, caring and respect.
Gorski believes his relapse prevention program works so well at The Salvation Army because of the love, community support and commitment to their recovery that clients receive. He says they have the opportunity to stay for an adequate amount of time to clear their minds from the effects of substance use.
"The Salvation Army really stands out in its commitment to the care of alcoholics and others suffering from addictions," says Gorski. "The Army's work is exceptional worldwide. Among all the programs I have worked with, the Army has been more receptive to integrating advanced concepts of relapse prevention into their faith-based approach."
Gorski says the Salvation Army service providers meet the physical needs of clients but also help them to understand their addiction. "What I have noticed with The Salvation Army's staff is that they do not manipulate people to make expressions of faith for the services, but instead they start exploring where the person can find the strength, courage and hope to keep going."
Staff members ask clients about their spiritual experiences and if they believe in something greater than themselves from which they can draw strength. As clients move along one day at a time and start to trust the program and the staff, they can ask questions about who God is and how they can have a relationship with him. This process takes a great deal of patience as many of the clients have had their self-worth and trust in God damaged or destroyed.
"I have talked to many people who have recovered through The Salvation Army who have had incredible spiritual experiences. Not because they were forced to, but because they were in an environment where the support, love and caring allowed it to happen," says Gorski.
The Salvation Army's principal of giving hope coincides with Gorski's belief that relapse-prone patients are not hopeless. "There is no such thing as a hopeless alcoholic or addicted person, only those who have not had the opportunity to work on a longer term basis with a relapse prevention program."