At True North Recovery Services, we use a 12-step based approach to treatment. With that said, we are not a simple indoctrination into a 12-step program. We are not interested in selling Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous is free and open to anyone with a desire to stop drinking. What we do provide at True North, is an array of evidence-based therapies that deliver the best possible outcomes to our clients. We have many patients who also participate in SMART Recovery and other support groups, and we have found that this is not an issue for them in our groups. Our treatment paradigm views addiction as a physiological condition that occurs in the brain of the addict and is treatable. We believe that evidence-based treatments work to keep the brain operating properly, and we educate those we treat with this mindset. Some of the treatments we use include Motivational Interviewing, supportive group therapy, and educational family support groups.
Motivational Interviewing is a non-confrontational therapy style that has been shown to be far more effective than the old “denial smashing” models of alcohol and drug addiction treatment. All of the counselors and therapists at True North are trained in and use this evidence-based therapy practice.
Our treatment model is both relational and supportive. Most people are amazed at how quickly the sessions seem to go by, as a result of the lively and active engagement between group members. Counselors act as facilitators, not just as top-down experts. Many of our clients are quite skilled in their own right and do not need an authoritative approach to treatment. They would be justifiably offended if one was taken with them.
True North believes that the family of an addicted individual has suffered greatly as a result of the disease of addiction. Exhaustion, anxiety, depression and many other difficulties arise amongst the family members of addicted persons. Getting help and support for the family is an integral part of the treatment process. At True North, we provide weekly family support groups that offer a forum for exploring difficult situations from the past, that are currently taking place, or that may occur in the future. We can help your family develop a plan for success with this process. Education about the disease of addiction will also be provided in these sessions, as well as discussion on the finer points of how to get through the day-to-day issues. Something that is unique to outpatient care, is that people are dealing with their lives in real time. When families receive therapy in residential programs, they are often exploring the issues of the recent and distant past, and tend to focus on the major events that occurred. They do not get into the day-to-day issues, such as talking to a friend of the family about what is happening and how each member of the family feels about doing that. They do not get to explore the changes in the family, evolving trust, and determining responsibilities. These are all important aspects of a successful recovery and support is often indispensable. Private family sessions can also be arranged.
Some issues that often need to be addressed by families in treatment include:
- Parenting/Co-parenting of children
- Impact of the substance use on children
- Sexual dysfunction as a result of marital strain or impulsive behavior
- Managing extended family
- Staying together vs getting a divorce
- Financial support of addicted family members
- Past trauma
- Getting help for other family members in need
- Accessing appropriate services/finding referrals
- Anger/resentment/feelings of betrayal
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- Reality checking boundaries with others
True North believes addiction involves major physiological components and we support medical interventions when they are needed. Cravings can be reduced significantly with various medications. An individual’s anxiety and/or mood can sometimes be regulated much more effectively with medical support. This is done by a medical team with expertise in addiction. They do not prescribe medications that have an abuse potential, because, as one provider puts it, “Your brain can’t tell if the drug came from a dealer or a doctor.”
12-Step vs Other Types of Support Groups
True North has a programmatic policy that its participants attend peer-led support groups outside of treatment. We aren’t really interested in engaging in a debate on what the best approach for long-term support is for each individual. We are much more interested in supporting the individual to create a successful plan that they will continue to use when they leave treatment. Our larger concern is that whatever types of support activities a patient engages in, they engage fully. If they attend SMART Recovery meetings, we encourage them to learn the material thoroughly, so that they can become a group leader. If they are attending AA, then, by all means, get a sponsor, work the 12-steps, and be of service. If Women for Sobriety is a group a person belongs to, then the 16 points are crucial to recovery and we support the process. The most important part of this is that the person is in a process that is conducive to long-term recovery. In our experience, forcing any plan over another makes a patient feel resentful and ultimately disinterested in that plan. This leads to higher treatment drop-out rates and lower rates of individuals engaging in support following treatment. This makes no sense for anyone, so we take a supportive approach to any reasonable recovery path!
At True North, many of our clinicians are in recovery themselves. They can tell you their own stories in their own time as you participate in the program, but rest assured most of the staff have been there. Some have had many relapses in the past before their recovery stuck, others stayed clean from the first time they entered recovery. The average length of time each staff member has in the field of addiction treatment is over 12 years. This is a substantially higher average when compared to most facilities, many of which have clinical directors with less than half as much time in the field. Our staff is a mixture of certified/licensed alcohol and drug counselors and psychotherapists. The blending of disciplines positions our team to see each case from the day in and day out fine details of addiction to the bigger picture of what makes a relapse happen, to what personality quirks or dynamics tend to be problematic. You have to be able to address it all to be a truly effective staff. At True North, we have done an excellent job of developing a team that is experienced in the field, and who has stayed with True North itself for many years.