Faculty News

New Approaches to Addiction and Recovery: A #UMichChat Recap

September is #RecoveryMonth.Today we’re joined by experts from Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan Depression Center, and the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation to talk about creating lasting recoveries for those dealing with substance use disorders. Join the conversation! #umichchat

Posted by University of Michigan on Thursday, September 27, 2018

By Terry Kosdrosky

Public Engagement & Impact

 

The public health and societal effects of substance use disorders are stark — vehicle accidents due to alcohol, opioid overdoses, and early deaths from smoking.

 

But there are new ways to treat substance use disorders that can create lasting recoveries. Two leading experts on the subject, Amy Bohnert and Brian Hicks, joined #UMSocial for a Facebook Live #UMichChat to share with the community these best practices and give research-based advice on what to do if you or someone you know might have have a substance use disorder.

 

Bohnert, PhD, MHS, is associate professor of psychiatry and workgroup leader at U-M Precision Health. Her research focuses on prescription drug overdoses and interventions regarding substance use and related disorders. She has led a number of projects related to overdose and prescription drug safety.

 

Hicks, PhD, is associate professor of psychiatry and a researcher at the U-M Addiction Center. His research focuses on examining the interplay of the genetic, environmental, and developmental influences of substance use disorders.

 

They dispelled myths and emphasized the importance of treating substance use disorder for what it is — a medical condition that requires medical attention and therapy.

 

September is #RecoveryMonth.Today we’re joined by experts from Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan Depression Center, and the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation to talk about creating lasting recoveries for those dealing with substance use disorders. Join the conversation! #umichchat

Posted by University of Michigan on Thursday, September 27, 2018

 

Among the highlights:

 

Though the opioid crisis has become top of mind, alcohol and tobacco use disorders still cause more early deaths, Bohnert said. There’s an ongoing need for research and treatment resources to address those issues.

 

Bohnert and Hicks outlined signs that might indicate a substance use disorder:

 

  • Using more than one wants to use.
  • Continuing use even when it causes problems in daily life — at work, in parenting and relationships, or by driving under the influence.
  • Needing more of the substance to get the same effect.
  • An inability to stop using even when it’s not needed anymore.

 

The time to take action is when substance use is “having some effect on your ability to do your work or be a parent and maintain your health,” Hicks said.

 

What steps should you take if there’s a problem?  Information gathering is key, they said. Talk to your doctor, or attend a group meeting — such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery — even just as an observer. Listen to what people are saying and see if it connects with your experience.

 

But it’s important to know that, like any other medical condition, it’s not going to get better on its own.

 

“Because of stigma we think of addiction as something people should be able to take care of themselves, or should be able to control, and don’t think of it the way we think of any other medical condition,” Bohnert said. “It is a medical condition. People should be able to go to their primary care doctor and talk about their concerns and get referred to the right level and kind of treatment for them.”

 

The sooner someone gets treatment the better. The idea of “hitting rock bottom” before getting help is a myth not supported by evidence, Hicks said. The earlier treatment starts, the more more successful the recovery.

 

If you are concerned about someone else, it’s best to discuss it with them when they are sober, and not be drawn into an argument. A person’s first reaction is often to become defensive, so it’s important to focus on your concerns and help them connect the dots on how their actions affect other people.

 

Depending on the severity of the addiction, recovery often involves medication and therapy. Bohnert said evidence from treating opioid use disorder shows medication-assisted recovery reduces mortality after someone starts treatment.

 

It’s also important for people to know that relapse is not a failure. In fact, it is a very common part of recovery.

 

“Addiction is a chronic disease, and like any other chronic disease, it would be unreasonable to expect that someone who starts treatment never shows any signs of illness again,” she said.

 

Hicks said today’s treatments involve a holistic approach that looks at  a patient’s mental and physical health alike. Often there are underlying conditions that can lead to substance use disorder, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

 

There’s a need to treat both physical and mental conditions so patients develop coping skills that are effective in reducing their level of distress, Hicks said.

 

WATCH THE DISCUSSION