What Are Recovery Alumni Services, and Why Are They Critical for Long-Term Recovery?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Nutrition May 25, 2024

What Are Recovery Alumni Services, and Why Are They Critical for Long-Term Recovery?

An iconic Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, once said, “A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.” Now, the same is true of recovery. Recovery is not just about how everything is going in the moment (though, of course, that is important). No, it is about making every moment count toward a successful long-term recovery.

The Importance of Healing at the Cellular Level for Long-Term Recovery

Recovery is also about a lot more than merely fixing the surface issues. For example, healing from an anxiety disorder must go well beyond healing one’s anxious behaviors. It must go deeper and get to the root/core causes of those anxious behaviors.

Healing at the cellular level is also about the “interconnectedness” we have been our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. One cannot fully heal one aspect of the self, without healing all four. This is especially true for recovery because if one of those four components goes unaddressed, the chances of relapse go up exponentially.

Many people don’t realize just how prevalent relapse is in the U.S. According to the peer-reviewed journal Current Psychiatry Reports, “It has long been known that addictive disorders are chronic and relapsing in nature. Recent estimates from clinical treatment studies suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of initiating treatment.” Also, “For 1-year outcomes across alcohol, nicotine, weight, and illicit drug abuse, studies show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within 1 year of treatment.” This is, of course, an ultimate hindrance to long-term recovery.

The Importance of Long-Term Recovery Over Short-Term “Fixes”

Unfortunately, many recovery centers and treatment facilities focus on the short-term “fix,” so their clients can get “on with their lives” as soon as possible. This is often referred to as “bubble recovery,” and is a 28-day recovery program that takes little account of the needs post-treatment center.

Now, this is not the case here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. All of our recovery plans have a focus on what life in recovery is going to be like in the long term. Part of this process is also ensuring that all of our recovery plans are both individualized and integrated.

The Importance of Individualized Care for Long-Term Recovery

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we know that “one-size-fits-all,” “cookie-cutter” recovery rarely works. First of all, it does not take the individual into account; rather, it just focuses on an individual’s diagnosis. This is a fallacy. As the great Greek philosopher and father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, said, “It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”

Focusing on an individual’s needs also helps to determine the exact means, methods, and modalities that will best suit them. Also, these various types of treatments need to be comprehensive and pull from many different areas of the recovery realm.

The Importance of Comprehensive Care for Long-Term Recovery

Comprehensive care is all about having options and using them. This includes recovery options that range from the neuro-psychotherapeutic to the experiential to the holistic.

It is also important to remain malleable when it comes to comprehensive recovery planning. This means that when one type of treatment is not working (or not suiting the other modalities in the recovery plan), a change can comfortably be made. The key is to use all the recovery tools at one’s disposal, and at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab we are proud to say that we have many. Comprehensive addiction and mental health care must also be about focusing on the long term. This includes utilizing alumni services.

What Are Recovery Alumni Services?

Staying strong and connected to a recovery program is a critical component of long-term recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Recovery is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness and managing setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural part of life, resilience becomes a key component of recovery.”

Recovery alumni services support this need for resiliency. Alumni services are services offered by recovery centers after an individual finishes their initial stay or round of treatment. These services may include recovery center-appointed sober companions, online support groups with other recovery center graduates, various workshops and events, and a connection to local recovery meetings and communities. 

Why Are Recovery Alumni Services Critical for Long-Term Recovery?

Recovery alumni services can also be crucial for keeping an individual accountable to their set long-term recovery plan. This means that alumni services may check in to ensure that an individual is staying on the positive path that was worked out while in treatment.

Now, this may include ensuring that an individual is keeping up with their therapy session, is adhering to an effective relapse prevention plan, is remaining connected to a recovery community, and is progressing in their goals for family recovery. Recovery alumni services can also ensure that an individual is staying connected to the set nutritional therapy plan that was established while in treatment.

Staying Committed to Nutrition for Long-Term Recovery

At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we adhere to a very important maxim: “Food is medicine.” That is because we know that food addiction and mental health issues are closely correlated. As Hippocrates also said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

For example, diet has been closely linked to issues of anxiety. According to the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, “There is evidence of an association between healthy eating patterns and reduced anxiety symptoms. In the absence of a contraindication such as an allergy or specific medical condition, dietary interventions are considered low in risk, cost-effective, may confer secondary benefit to physical aspects of health, and have at least some evidence suggesting a beneficial effect. However, the delivery of nutritional counseling as part of the treatment of anxiety disorders by primary care, psychiatry, dieticians, naturopaths, or other care providers is currently limited.” 

Fortunately, this type of dietary care is not limited here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. We have some of the best nutritionists and dieticians in the country working directly with our clients to meet any needs and answer any questions they might have. The same attention to excellence can also be seen in the quality of our psychotherapeutic department.

Staying Committed to Psychotherapy for Long-Term Recovery

At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have exceptional psychologists who are highly regarded in the field of “traditional” mental health therapies. Now, these are therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

These therapists and their psychotherapeutic methods help get to the underlying issues of what individuals are dealing with externally. For example, CBT can help individuals identify how they negatively view themselves and thus adjust these negative viewpoints accordingly.

According to the clinical journal Cognitive Therapy and Research, “Consistent with the medical model of psychiatry, the overall goal of [CBT] treatment is, improvement in functioning, and remission of the disorder. In order to achieve this goal, the patient becomes an active participant in a collaborative problem-solving process to test and challenge the validity of maladaptive cognitions and to modify maladaptive behavioral patterns.” These effective “modifications” can also be greatly bolstered when other types of therapies, like nature immersion therapy, are added.

Staying Committed to Nature Immersion for Long-Term Recovery

It has long been known that getting out into nature can be highly beneficial for one’s health and well-being. According to the National Park Service, “5 minutes walking in nature improves mood, self-esteem, and relaxation. Frequent exposure to nature reduces anxiety and depression while promoting a sense of wellbeing and fulfillment.” Also, “Physical activity in a green space can reduce stress and lower cortisol levels by 15%.”

Of course, those are not the only benefits offered by nature immersion. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Besides improvements to physical and psychological well-being, exposure to natural environments has been shown to bring about positive impacts on cognitive functioning.” Also, “While cognitive restoration and physiological well-being are the prominent and renowned benefits of nature exposure, there is one important construct that is often overlooked in environmental psychology research studies – that is, the human-nature relationship; also known as connectedness to nature (CN).”

Like keeping active with one’s traditional mental health therapies like CBT, it is also important to keep focusing on the “connectedness to nature” after leaving initial treatment. This is an ideal way to ensure long-term recovery. It also keeps recovery fun, especially when that nature immersion involves an activity like surfing.

Surf Therapy: Staying Physical for Long-Term Recovery

A mere 15-minute journey from our luxury 30-acre property on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island sits one of the best surf breaks in the country: Honoli’i. Here, our clients can catch some of the best waves in Hawaii while also taking the time to meditate during the breaks as local green sea turtles swim below.

Surf therapy also has many unique benefits. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “During physical activity [like surfing], hormones are released, and other physiological processes occur, leading to an overall improvement in mental health, and improving sleep quality. Regular physical activity in the natural environment can bring even greater benefits, such as reducing anger, depression and stress, and contributing to wellbeing.” Also, “The outdoor environment offers a wide range of sensory experiences (air, temperature, sound, smell, etc.) that stimulate the whole body, although in outdoor sports, the full potential of these experiences is limited.”

Surfing is also an activity that one can take with them after they leave the treatment center. In fact, many people who fall in love with surfing via surf therapy end up making various “mental health wellness trips” just to engage in surfing and get all of the benefits that it has to offer. This is also true for many holistic wellness methods that people learn while in the recovery center.

Staying Committed to Holistic Wellness for Long-Term Recovery

Some of the best types of therapies that can be utilized after leaving treatment are holistic therapies. This is because many of them don’t require a specific location or any extensive equipment.

For example, one can spread out a yoga mat and practice that form of wellness basically anywhere they are. The same is true when one utilizes a daily practice of meditation. Both of these holistic options are also often offered via classes and workshops via recovery alumni services and are great ways to bolster recovery in the long term.

Yoga and Meditation for Long-Term Recovery

The influential philosopher and master, yogi B.K.S. Iyengar, said, “Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.” This life-changing form of wellness can be practiced both while in treatment and long after treatment ends.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Initially, it was solely a religious or spiritual practice, but it has since moved into many realms. Most recently, it has begun to be used to help people in their mental health and addiction recovery.

Yoga has a myriad of benefits that can aid in long-term recovery. According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions. Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional and spiritual pain, suffering, or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.”

Now, like yoga, meditation also offers an opportunity to easily maintain a connection to a recovery plan post-treatment center. Also, like yoga, it has been practiced religiously and spiritually for thousands of years but has only recently begun to be widely utilized in the mental health and addiction recovery field.

The benefits of meditation are exceptional and extensive. According to the International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda (AYU), “Research has confirmed a myriad of health benefits associated with the practice of meditation. These include stress reduction, decreased anxiety, decreased depression, reduction in pain (both physical and psychological), improved memory, and increased efficiency. Physiological benefits include reduced blood pressure, heart rate, lactate, cortisol, and epinephrine; decreased metabolism, breathing pattern, oxygen utilization, and carbon dioxide elimination; and increased melatonin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), skin resistance, and relative blood flow to the brain.”

When the various means, methods, and modalities discussed here are utilized post-treatment center, the chances of long-term recovery and avoiding relapse go up exponentially. Recovery alumni services aim to keep clients connected to these various therapies (as well as many others).

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Carl Jung also famously said, “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” The goal of cellular-level recovery is not just to kindle that light but to keep it lit for the entire journey.

At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we know that recovery is about the journey, never the destination. Our goal is to ensure that that journey is happy, joyous, and free. Also, our goal is to keep connected to that journey, because we are not just here to help people recover, we are here to help people stay recovered.

It is important to understand that recovery doesn’t end when a person leaves a treatment center’s doors. That is why recovery center alumni services can be so critical. They can keep an individual critically engaged in their recovery plan and can also help them to avoid potential messy relapses. Alumni services are also a great way to maintain a healthy and effective “sober network.” If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the right road to long-term recovery right away. For more information about the benefits of recovery center alumni services, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.