You know your patient’s weight.

You know their “real” age.

You’ve even seen them naked.

Then why is it too personal to ask how much they drink, smoke or if they’re feeling depressed.

It is time to get personal with your patients.

Knowing more about their struggles and habits can help you identify how to best integrate their medical care and address potential issues, such as depression and/or substance misuse. Providers have the unique opportunity to assist patients traversing the journey to recovery. There are many ways a provider can assist, but the first must be recognizing that there is actually a problem and getting the patient to see that there is an issue as well. Sometimes patients don’t see the warning signs that their doctors may see.

Screenings provide a standard approach to identifying depression and alcohol/substance misuse. Once identified, the following will help you help your patient:

Awareness and Early Acknowledgement involves a growing recognition that there is a problem. It may have come to light through interactions with family and friends or through an outside source like work, healthcare or the legal system. One of the most important parts of recovery is the transition from awareness of the problem to the acknowledgement that action is needed. Few experiences are as meaningful as moving from denial to willingness to change.

Education of Health Risks is necessary for the person who is making the move to action. In addition to becoming aware of the negative impact their behavior has had on their lives and others’ lives, it is time to start learning about their disease and the health risks related to addiction.

A Planning Strategy for behavioral change and recognizing potential triggers is crucial. At this stage, recovery actually begins. There are less denial and more movement toward learning what it is like to live a sober life. The recovering person will need to actively reach out to people who have been through the process.

Patient Relapses can occur at any point in the process, but the most vulnerable time is in the early recovery phase. Even though the patient has made positive progress, it is crucial to identify and act on the triggers that might jeopardize their sobriety. The person is at risk for relapsing as they move through the process of leaving their old lifestyle, choices and friends behind.

A Social Support System will help as the person starts developing new coping skills and healthy habits while rebuilding damaged relationships. Help them identify recovery groups that allow them to connect with those who share similar addictions.

Family Support Resources increase the patient’s success through this journey. Both the person addicted and those affected by the addiction need tools to help them through the process. All involved in the recovery process will need good resources and support to get to this point and ongoing support throughout their life.

Recovery is more than overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol.  It is a complete transformation of mind, body, and spirit. For additional informational about recovery and tools to assist your staff and patients, please visit our Behavioral Health page. You can also contact us for further assistance.