Author Archives: James Haggerty

About James Haggerty

Experienced Chief Executive Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Professional Business professional in the Addiction Recovery and Mental Health industry for the past 26 years. Caring, compassionate and strongly motivated to make a difference in the organizations I am affiliated with and welfare of the population we serve. Currently focused on advocating, educating and developing projects leveraging evidence based, real time technology to support individuals in recovery.

Supporting Those in Sober Housing

Supporting Those in Sober Housing

People in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) frequently develop the need to find alternative housing – and for a number of reasons. For example, some people who are homeless find themselves relying on alcohol or drugs to cope with their struggles and need a safe place to continue their recovery. Others find that their previous living situations are not conducive to recovery. For these people and many others, sober housing can be crucial for providing security, avoiding relapse, finding community, and developing healthier methods of managing stress.

While the importance of sober housing is more accepted than ever before, organizations that offer sober housing cannot do it alone. Many individuals who are looking to treat their SUD don’t have the financial means to do so, while others may not have the resources available to find sober housing. Still others may not have access to sober housing options in their local communities. However, all individuals completing treatment need a place to practice the principles of recovery and continue to care for themselves in a safe, secure place.

What Is Sober Housing?

What Is Sober Housing

While sober housing can take many forms, the most important component is that sober housing allows people with SUD a safe place to live while in early recovery. Sober living arrangements are developed specifically for those with SUD and are designed to be a safe and healthy environment free from many common triggers. Sober housing often employs staff trained to empower residents to make changes and improve their lives.

As residents address their SUD and other mental health issues, recovery housing can provide a supportive environment that makes navigating these challenges easier. In this way, sober housing arrangements can prove to be a cost-effective and reliable resource for maintaining recovery, especially when compared to ongoing residential treatment. In addition, another advantage sober living environments have is that they serve as a valid transition from treatment to the individual’s intended living situation – instead of a cold or institutional setting, sober housing tends to look like private residences in order to maintain the feeling of “home.”

How Does Sober Housing Work?

How Does Sober Housing Work?

While sober housing options are not uniform, sober housing generally uses a tiered system to determine what types of resources patients need. Some people with SUD need more support and treatment options than others, and these homes may have these options organized over a few various levels. Depending on the level, different rules may be in place.

For those who intend to live in a sober home while recovering from SUD, there are certain ground rules that must be followed and mandatory activities that must be completed each day.

These rules often include things like:

  • All residents must pay rent on time.
  • Residents must attend individual and group therapy
  • Residents may not have intoxicating substances in any capacity. (Some homes will allow prescription medications.)
  • Residents must attend house meetings.
  • Residents must contribute to the running of the household, including cleaning, laundry, maintenance, and other duties.

Most sober houses are overseen by people who are in recovery themselves and are occupied entirely by people who have had their own struggles with substance use disorder. That way, nobody needs to fear social isolation on the recovery journey; sober housing arrangements enable people to support one another while walking the path toward recovery.

The Housing First Model

A unique approach to sober housing, known as Housing First, relies on finding permanent housing for people with SUD before seeking treatment. In this model, there are no prerequisites for becoming sober. This model allows people to make progress on their mental health disorders and SUD both before and during treatment.

The main idea behind this model is that people who have stable housing are more willing to accept treatment and more able to make significant progress. Housing First believes in reducing harm rather than preaching abstinence only. Programs in this model also vary, and staff at these homes will monitor residents daily and as needed.

Why Is Sober Housing So Important?

Why Is Sober Housing So Important?

When people have personal struggles they feel are too difficult to manage on their own, they may turn to substance use in an effort to address them in another way. However, substance use only aggravates the problem and makes the daily routine more challenging. Some people experience difficulty maintaining the employment and personal relationships necessary to manage housing on their own. While treatment can help them cease substance use, it is often difficult for people to maintain the resources necessary to return home.

In addition, many individuals complete treatment only to be thrust into the same environment as they occupied before. They may have been surrounded by other people who used substances or other reminders of substance use. Returning to that environment is, unfortunately, conducive to relapse.

Other people may not be welcome in the home they occupied before recovery or may be unable to continue to afford living there. Unfortunately, becoming homeless can lead to continued substance use disorder issues. Roughly 35% of homeless individuals have a substance use disorder. While we recommend dialing 211 or contacting the National Alliance to End Homelessness for those experiencing homelessness during recovery, proper funding for sober housing can help prevent homelessness for many of these individuals.

Sober Housing Arrangements Work

Sober Housing Arrangements Work

When given the support and care they need to continue to give attention to the principles of recovery, people can go on to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Sober housing is essential in helping people maintain an environment conducive to creating a meaningful future. Taking the first step in seeking help can be daunting for many, and the prospect of returning to or staying in an unsafe or triggering environment can actually derail recovery. If someone truly does want help, it’s crucial to find an environment that contributes to recovery rather than taking away from it.

Research shows that sober housing programs can improve the overall well-being of residents with SUD. People who lived in sober housing arrangements maintained recovery longer than those who did not. While this is promising, there is a shortage of affordable sober housing in the nation. For every 100 low-income households, there are only about 29 available housing options available.

This is a key indicator that policy must be adapted to make housing more affordable for those with SUD. In other words, while statistics show promise, more work must be done. This is where the efforts championed by the ECHO Foundation’s Sober Housing Initiative come in.

How Much Does Sober Housing Cost?

How Much Does Sober Housing Cost

Sober housing rates can vary widely depending on a variety of factors. While there is no unified cost structure for sober housing, there are some ways to assess the cost.

Factors may include:

  • Average rent in the local area
  • Mortgage cost
  • State funding and allowances
  • Sober housing programming considerations

For example, we’ve heard reports of cheap sober housing costs at about $400 a month, but there’s no guarantee the cost will be this low. In fact, the average sober housing rate significantly exceeds this amount in most states. For more comfortably furnished homes that include other activities and services, sober housing rent can exceed $10,000 per month and can fluctuate depending on how many people reside in the home to contribute.

Why Do Those in Sober Housing Need Monetary Support?

Why Do Those in Sober Housing Need Monetary Support?

Affordable housing is an issue for individuals in many groups, but it is especially difficult to find affordable housing that supports sobriety. For all the reasons listed above, people with SUD depend on sober housing to maintain recovery before, during, or after SUD treatment. So, what barriers are in place that are preventing people from accessing sober housing?

People Can’t Afford It Alone

While housing programs for people with SUD have been shown to be effective, free programs are rare. Many people in recovery are experiencing financial issues, job loss, legal troubles, lack of transportation, and more, which can cause difficulty paying for sober housing. By donating to a sober housing initiative, you can help ensure that people in recovery have the housing support they need to continue practicing the principles of recovery.

Government Programs May Not Pay

While there are federal and state healthcare programs in place, they often don’t cover many recovery necessities. Medicaid and Medicare, for example, won’t always cover the costs of sober housing.

There are certain conditions people must meet to qualify, including:

  • Age restrictions
  • Income restrictions
  • Restrictions from the state of residence

The same can be said for other social services, depending on the situation. In Maryland, where our headquarters are located, the Department of Housing and Community Development has enacted programs that assist low-income families and offer foreclosure protection. However, residents must meet specific requirements to qualify.

Policy Changes Are Necessary

While there is research that shows the efficacy of sober housing programs, policymakers haven’t made adjustments. Unfortunately, addressing housing issues takes time and careful planning, and there are currently thousands of people in need of sober housing as a recovery tool. We can’t wait for others to act; donations are the best way to ensure people can access affordable sober housing.
Policy Changes Are Necessary

How Can I Help Those in Sober Housing Programs?

If you’re ready to help people with SUD make the recovery journey more sustainable, it’s important to consider the following steps.

Be Patient and Supportive

People who have made the decision to seek help with SUD have made one of the most difficult and influential decisions in their lives. It can be a stressful time for them, and they may be anxious regarding what will happen in the future. If you know someone who is in need of a sober housing program, listen to their concerns and be patient. Offer your patience and emotional support; even listening to someone share their story can make a significant difference in their life.


Some sober housing programs may offer volunteer opportunities, but this isn’t guaranteed. Volunteering can help you make connections, especially if you’re in recovery yourself, which will also allow you to spread the word about the impact of sober housing. Whether you’re participating in a community event or simply contributing to a household item drive, you can make an impact on the lives of those in recovery.

Support the Recovery Process

If you have a loved one looking for a sober housing arrangement, it’s highly advised you participate in the recovery process as much as they wish. Recovery is a lifelong process, and your support is valuable as they complete treatment and re-enter the world. If you’re engaged with moving forward from SUD, you’ll be prepared to help when they feel overwhelmed.

Make a Financial Donation

Making a financial donation to a sober housing initiative like the ECHO Foundation Sober Housing Initiative is the simplest, most effective way to help people afford safe, sober housing. Your contributions can help provide sober housing scholarships for people with SUD, as well as programming like art therapy and more. Relieving this financial stress can not only ensure safe housing for others but remove a major factor that can contribute to relapse.

Donate to Our Sober Housing Initiative Today

Donate to Our Sober Housing Initiative Today

ECHO Recovery created the ECHO Foundation Sober Housing Initiative, which is a program meant to offer financial assistance to those in recovery. We are not a sober housing facility, nor do we offer case management, but we offer assistance to those who need help finding and funding safe, sober housing.

Our mission is to help keep people on the path toward recovery, and we need your help to do it. Consider donating to our initiative today. Housing needs for people with substance use disorder must be met to prevent relapse and ensure proper care. Your donations can help support those who need sober housing to meet these needs. Thank you for your support.

Resources :

Techniques for Coping with Trigger

Techniques for Coping with Triggers

Dealing with triggers in recovery can feel like an ongoing battle – and that’s because, in large part, it is. Triggers are a lasting, repetitive reminder of your substance use and are unique to you and your situation. They can also look different for each individual and could be a person, place, situation, or even an object. Understanding how to handle addiction triggers can help you prepare for when you find yourself in a triggering situation, and the coping skills that work best for you can help you stay on your path to sobriety.

Handling triggers can be difficult at any stage of recovery. What is most important is identifying your unique triggers and learning to cope with them in a way that is healthy and positive. As someone on a lifelong sobriety journey, I can attest to moments where triggers still pop into my life. Our ability to overcome and stay focused minimizes the impact these triggers can have.

In this post, I will highlight some of the techniques that have worked not only for myself but others as they continue on in their own recovery journey. I hope they can help you as well!

What Are Triggers?

Psychologically speaking, triggers are any sort of stimulus that can cause the urge to use a substance to resurface. Triggers can come in many different forms depending on you and your experiences. As mentioned, they can be people, places, objects, or even sights and sounds that remind you of intense or overwhelming emotions and your past substance use. They can be a reminder of instances where substances ruled your life or of a past trauma that once led you to use substances.

When faced with these triggers, you are at risk of both emotional and physical consequences, like breaking down or trying to cope with the trigger in a way that is counterproductive to the recovery journey. For someone who once used alcohol as a coping mechanism, this could be as simple as walking past a bar they used to frequent, a friend who would party with them, or even a holiday or celebration where drinking is normalized. Triggers are dangerous because they can increase the risk of relapse if not appropriately addressed.

Types of Triggers

Types of Triggers
While triggers exist in many forms, there are two main types: external and internal. External triggers are associated with objects, people, places, sights, sounds, activities, and memories that bring back certain feelings or cravings associated with past substance use. Many external triggers can be avoided, such as taking a different route to work if it brings you past a bar or hangout spot. It is often best to learn to face those triggers and to be prepared for the emotions or cravings external triggers can create.

Internal triggers are experienced in the form of emotions and thoughts and can be difficult to cope with. Emotions can be at an all-time high during recovery, especially in the early stages when you once again begin experiencing the emotions you’ve been stifling with substance use, along with a host of new ones. You may feel angry, guilty, or shameful about past choices, and these intrusive, negative thoughts can deter the recovery process. Having a plan of action and developing coping techniques can help prevent internal triggers from compromising your success.

Internal and external triggers you may experience include:

  • Extreme emotional states
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Loss of control
  • Social settings
  • Feeling unsafe
  • Certain locations
  • Trauma
  • Feelings of being judged or attacked
  • News stories
  • Memories

Keep in mind that each person’s potential triggers are unique. They can and do happen to everyone, no matter how long they have been on the path toward recovery, which is why a significant component of recovery is to handle each trigger as it comes. Burying your feelings or coping in a negative manner can increase your risk of relapse, while positive coping techniques can help you overcome any obstacles you may face.

Triggers, Healthy Coping Skills, and Addiction Recovery

Fortunately, while there are several ways you may experience a trigger, there are also several ways you can positively cope with those triggers. Since triggers are so varied and individualized, self-awareness is vital in the recovery journey.

Substance use often begins when someone has the desire to numb an emotional response to a trauma trigger. That’s why treatment and recovery are so focused on helping people develop the ability to look within and face some of the hardest aspects of their lives without the crutch of substance use. As you move forward in recovery, working to identify triggers that lead to certain behaviors is essential to managing them effectively.

Here are some essential practices to employ to begin identifying and managing triggers.


Embrace Honesty
The ability to be honest can be difficult for individuals in recovery because substance use and dishonesty often go hand-in-hand. We may lie to friends, family, coworkers, and even ourselves about the severity of the situation. In time, lying begins to seem much easier than telling the truth, revealing your inner self, and addressing the root of the issue, which is a key reason addiction can be so isolating. Reestablishing the ability to truly be honest with yourself and others is a great step to coping with triggers.

Be honest with yourself about what triggers you. Some triggers can be especially hard to face, but attempting to ignore them can lead to relapse and more pain. It can be difficult at first, and you’ll likely have some tough truths to face, but over time you’ll learn to show yourself some grace and compassion. In addition to being honest with yourself, you should strive to be honest with others. This is especially important when you’re in situations where you feel anxiety, depression, guilt, anger, or anything that feels like a potential trigger – being honest about your feelings can help others help you manage the situation.


Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness in recovery helps you develop the ability to stop, reflect, and choose how you want to react by shifting your focus inward. It’s important to recognize that the body-mind connection can be rewarding or harmful, given the circumstances. For example, if you are someone prone to dwell on stressors, these feelings can manifest in muscle pain, heart strain, and other physical complications. However, practicing mindfulness can help your inward focus become positive, and you can find your muscles relaxing, stress levels diminishing, and a renewed sense of clarity toward the trigger.

Mindfulness can take practice, but it can be a valuable tool when handling triggers. Relaxing the mind and body in the moment can begin by taking slow, deep breaths. Controlled breathing gives you something that you can control and focus on, slowing the heart rate and allowing you to process your thoughts. You can also use mindfulness practices throughout your day, including various meditation techniques, soothing music, or a warm bath to aid in relaxation. Yoga and outdoor activities are also great ways to step away from the stresses of life and focus inward.



Journaling can be a wonderful tool for discovering and overcoming various triggers. A journal provides a safe space where you can be open and honest without fear of judgment or criticism. You can also look back and see the growth you’ve achieved. This can be a valuable practice on days when nothing seems to be going right.

How you use your journal is up to you. You may simply want to write about your day, use your journal as a place to keep a list of moments that brought you joy, or even construct a gratitude list. There are also recovery-specific journals available that include inspirational quotes and reminders to help you on your path. These journals may provide various prompts or inspirational stories to aid your recovery journey.

Suggested Reading: Journaling for Mental Health

Support System

Create a Support System

Substance use disorder can be extremely isolating. In the depths of substance use, you may have cut yourself off from friends and family, or they may have distanced themselves from you. However, when you choose recovery, you must not only rebuild the positive relationships damaged by SUD but also end relationships with people who could be a potential trigger.

Developing a healthy support network is vital to recovery. Surrounding yourself with people who support your decision to be sober and building connections with others who are choosing to live life without drugs or alcohol is an essential way to ensure you have the support you need when triggers occur. While you don’t necessarily need to cut yourself off from friends and family who aren’t sober, the less you are put in tempting situations, the better chance you have of staying in recovery. Like-minded individuals will want to participate in activities that are healthy for you both.

It’s also important to construct your support network of people you know you can be honest with. These people can help keep you accountable, encourage your recovery, and share their experiences as well. Surrounding yourself with positive, honest people helps to minimize the triggers you may face and gives you the security that when triggers do occur, there’s someone you can turn to.


Consider Therapy

Therapy is an essential step to learning to identify and manage your triggers. A therapist can help you identify triggers and walk you through various methods that can help you overcome those triggers. Practices like cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, enable you to rebuild the brain pathways and negative thoughts that lead from triggers to unhealthy responses.

Whether individual, group, or family therapy, you’ll have a safe space for an honest exploration of what you are thinking and feeling. Family sessions are a fantastic way to rebuild relationships and learn to be supportive of one another when triggers arise. Group therapy can provide an important reminder that you are not alone on your path to recovery – there are others who are experiencing the same triggers, and all can benefit from sharing coping techniques.

Suggested Reading: The Benefits of Art Therapy



Exercise can serve as a healthy outlet for the emotions that often arise from cravings and other triggers. Working out can also add structure to your day, giving you something to look forward to. In addition, exercise can help your body begin recovering from the negative physical effects of prolonged substance use. Exercise is a great way to practice focusing on the task at hand, and you’ll feel good for hours afterward.

There is no form of exercise superior to another when it comes to developing a healthy coping mechanism. Whether you like biking, dancing, hiking, yoga, Pilates, or anything in between, what matters most is the effort and consistency you put into it. We suggest participating in group workouts so you can begin forming positive social connections.



Substance use disorder often coincides with poor nutrition or even malnourishment. Drugs and alcohol deprive the body of the essential nutrients it needs to function properly and can also increase or decrease appetite, which can snowball into further health concerns. When you aren’t fueling your body as you should, you can develop sleeping issues, headaches, and depleted energy. You may also find yourself feeling short-tempered, on edge, and emotionally unstable. When you are already struggling with regulating emotions, this can feel overwhelming.

The best way to keep your body feeling good and your mind feeling focused is to eat a healthy, nutritious diet. Hydration is another important aspect of nutrition and is vital for everyday health and overall happiness. With proper nutrition in hand, you can confront triggers and focus on developing a positive response.


Participate in Activities You Enjoy

One of the most rewarding aspects of recovery is rediscovering your passions and finding new things that bring you joy. Immersing yourself in something you enjoy, whether it’s kayaking, painting, crafting, golfing, or crafting something new in the kitchen, can help you cope with unwanted feelings and thoughts. It can be hard for those in recovery to realize they do deserve happiness and to enjoy the little things in life. If you are feeling stuck, lonely, or fear certain triggers are on the horizon, get out and enjoy yourself.

The ECHO Recovery Community Helps You Cope with Triggers

The ECHO Recovery Community Can Help You Cope

Positive coping techniques can include practicing mindfulness, surrounding yourself with a solid support system, finding a regular exercise or activity you enjoy, or any of the other tips listed above. What is most important is finding techniques that work best for you. Triggers can be difficult, but their impact can be fleeting with the right coping systems in place.

Our mission is to help those in recovery by providing a safe place to connect with others in recovery as well as a place to find helpful resources such as art for recovery, sober housing support, free treatment links and educational addiction recovery articles.

Connect with us on social media and fill out our form or DM us if you need to chat!

The 4 Key Pillars of Addiction Recovery

The 4 Key Pillars of Addiction Recovery

One way to create a strong foundation is through the four key pillars of addiction recovery. Recovering from a substance use disorder is a challenging process and may require significant changes in your life. A substance use disorder impacts many aspects of your life, including mental health, physical health, relationships, connections with the community, and more. Altering these aspects of your life during recovery does not make the process any easier but is often necessary to retain the progress that’s been made.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone in the challenges you face. Many people nationwide and around the world are going through the process of recovery. You’ll also have support along the way, as it is possible to continue your journey in treatment and rehabilitation while working toward long-lasting recovery. To do so, it is key to provide yourself with the environment and tools needed for success.

SAMHSA’s Four Pillars of Recovery

To begin, it is crucial to note that there is no perfect path to recovery. Just as every individual is different, so is every SUD story and every recovery story. As such, there are many methods used by professionals to define a healthy approach to recovery, as well.

However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines the four essential pillars of recovery :

  • Physical health
  • A stable home
  • Community support
  • Purpose and meaning

These pillars are meant to provide a foundation for recovery, change, and a healthier life. Recovery is a long process that has different challenges throughout. The first few months and years of recovery are not the same as recovery later in your life. Recovery takes time to become established and lasts a lifetime – and a strong foundation supports you in success.

SAMHSA’s pillars provide insight into the four areas of your own health that are important to maintain for recovery. When you care for these four aspects of your mental and physical health, you can develop the strength and well-being essential for lasting recovery.

Four Pillars of Recovery

What Are the Pillars of Addiction Recovery?

Recovery is not a straightforward path, but by taking care of the four pillars of your personal health, you provide yourself with the strength, support, and care necessary to avoid substance use. Without caring for your own mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual health, you leave yourself significantly more vulnerable to future relapse.

Physical Health

An essential first step of recovery is taking care of your physical health. When you look after your physical health, your body is better equipped to handle stress and recover from the physical damage caused by substance use. You’re able to make more informed decisions, and your body is able to heal.

Physical Health

Take care of your body and health by making ongoing changes, including:

  • Abstaining from substance use – This may include any potentially addictive drug or alcohol, not only the substance you are in recovery from. Find support from a treatment center to look after your physical health during this time.
  • Schedule appointments with healthcare professionals – See a doctor, physical therapist, counselor, dentist, or other healthcare provider who can help improve your physical health.
  • Eat a nutritious and balanced diet – and stay hydrated. Eating high-quality foods and complete meals can help your body heal and recover from substance use. When you’re hungry or eating non-nutritious foods, your body and brain are more vulnerable.
  • Get enough sleep – Try to get quality time asleep and maintain a regular schedule to keep mentally sharp and improve your physical health.
  • Take breaks – Find time to meditate and relax to engage in mindfulness.
  • Get regular exercise – Exercise increases serotonin and endorphins, and there is a link between getting exercise and limiting the effects of depression, anxiety, and stress. Regular exercise can also improve your overall physical health – even something like a short walk every day can make a significant difference.

When your body is healthier, you can reduce the symptoms of mental health disorders and deal with stress or sudden emotional changes. These are all common effects of the recovery process. When your body is happy and healthy, it is often easier to avoid the temptation of substance use.

Psychological Health

Physical and mental health are interconnected, and it’s essential to look after your psychological health. Substance use disorders may result from mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and combinations of these and other disorders. Treating these underlying causes of substance use can support physical health and recovery.

Treatment for mental health disorders or general psychological help during recovery includes:

  • Attending professional counseling or therapy – This may include talk therapy or otherwise working with a mental healthcare professional to address trauma and learn coping mechanisms.
  • Joining group therapy and 12-step meetings – Talking with or witnessing others who are going through the same struggles and joys during recovery can be cathartic, make you feel supported, and give you hope for the future.
  • Going offline – There are several ways that social media can help and harm recovery. It’s important to recognize how the use of technology is aiding or hindering your journey so you can take steps that benefit your mental health.
  • Practicing mindfulness – Take time in your day to center yourself, whether through meditation, yoga, or journaling. This can help your brain manage stress.

Practicing mindfulness

Another important aspect of your psychological health is a stable and safe home. Living in an unstable environment causes immense amounts of stress. If your current living situation includes people or circumstances with substance use, it could have a negative impact on your recovery.

It’s not always easy to find stable and safe housing. For many, it’s not financially possible. Substance use can cost a lot of money and make it hard to find work, leading to significant financial issues.

If you’re unable to move to a new place, reach out to friends, family, a sober living community, or temporary housing programs. When you’re in early recovery, a recovery and sober living community may be ideal for providing community support and a stable environment. Independent living or housing with safe friends and family can be ideal later in your recovery journey.

Social Support

Social Support

Community and social support are other essential aspects of your personal health. Every human needs connections, whether that means family, friends, relationships, or any community of people who you can relate to. Healthy interpersonal relationships promote mental and emotional health and support your efforts toward sobriety.

You may find community in several ways, including:

  • Group therapy, support groups, and peer support programs – You can find others who have been through or are currently dealing with the same issues as you.
  • Local volunteer organizations – These can combine other aspects of health and allow you to make connections with others while giving back to your community.
  • Therapy or counseling – Not only can therapy help with mental wellness, but it can help you determine the healthy relationships in your life and determine ways to make new connections. This also enables you to have a professional emergency contact if you are worried about your path during recovery.
  • Close connections – In addition to or in lieu of therapy, have close individual friends or groups of friends that you can emotionally connect with and rely on. You may want to repair relationships that were harmed during your substance use, or you may want to reevaluate relationships that were abusive or otherwise unhealthy.
  • Spending time with supportive groups of friends – Having a network or group of friends that support your journey to recovery is important, and it can be helpful to find friend groups who can enjoy time together without substance use and who have similar passions to you. Friends who are not supportive of your journey, pressure you, or engage in behavior that makes you uncomfortable are harmful friends, whether or not you are recovering from substance use.
  • Adopting pets – For many people, a pet is a wonderful way to develop routines, have company throughout the day, and provide hope for the future. Pets also provide unconditional love that can help during recovery.

A supportive community and network of people you can rely on is essential to social and mental health and helps you feel a sense of belonging. Meaningful relationships help you improve your communication skills as well as your personal self-esteem. They also help with accountability, healing, hope, and encouragement during recovery. Your recovery will benefit from strong social ties.

Spiritual Health

For many people, recovery involves eliminating habits, hobbies, and activities. Though necessary, you have to replace those hobbies and activities with healthier alternatives. Otherwise, boredom and lack of focus make recovery more difficult.

When you have a focus and a passion in your life that doesn’t revolve around a substance, your recovery journey is more likely to be successful because you have motivation and joy from other sources.

Spiritual Health

You can find hope for the future when you engage in new and meaningful passions with people you love and who support you. Taking care of spiritual health means you find a purpose or a meaning in your life.

This is something different for every person and may include:

  • Educational endeavors or goals – These are especially useful when you’re passionate about your learning.
  • Work or a career path – In addition to a purpose, working gives you the financial resources needed to thrive.
  • Volunteer work – You can spend time with others, work toward a common goal, and maybe even get some exercise. Most importantly, volunteer work gives you a purpose and allows you to give to your community.
  • Caring for others – This may include family members, friends, or others in the community that you love, and your support may be financial, emotional, or physical. Helping a loved one can provide much-needed meaning and purpose.
  • Mindfulness and meditation – This may include finding your purpose in centering yourself with your thoughts and emotions, connecting with the natural world, meditating through art, or other forms of mindfulness.
  • Religion – Spiritual health may come in the form of spiritual practices and faith in their religion. You can find meaning in life by contributing to and working with your religious community.
  • Creativity and art therapy – There are many creative activities that you could find a passion for, such as dancing, painting, singing, writing, or creating music. Art therapy is an effective way to merge a passion with mental healing.

There are many other avenues that may help you find a healthy path to finding meaning and passion in your daily life. Those in your support system may be able to help you.

How the Four Pillars of Recovery Work Together

When you focus on health and improvement in these essential pillars, it can aid in your recovery. They have helped many individuals form strong foundations in recovery, including someone very familiar to us here at ECHO Recovery, a person we’ll call Sarah. Sarah dealt with an opioid use disorder for many years. She attempted recovery time and again but suffered several relapses.

Focusing on the four pillars of recovery provided Sarah with a more comprehensive treatment and recovery program.

She did the following to address the four pillars:

  • She focused on yoga and exercise to improve her physical health. This had the added benefit of a consistent and healthy routine, as well as increasing her confidence.
  • She found psychological treatment for the underlying causes of her substance use and received care for trauma. Through this, she was able to learn techniques and coping mechanisms to manage triggers for substance use.
  • She found support through peer support programs and group therapy. This gave her connections, belonging, and accountability during recovery.
  • She practiced mindfulness and meditation. This helped her find purpose in life, hope for the future, and motivation to continue with her recovery.

Through this encompassing recovery, Sarah has been in recovery for more than two years and is continuing her recovery journey toward a productive, healthier, and happier life.

Find Long-Term Addiction Recovery and Support

As you can see, each of the four pillars of recovery is essential to supporting full, lasting healing from SUD. Without any of the four, the other three are unable to support recovery. In this way, all aspects of your personal health are interconnected. Therefore, focusing on each of the four aspects can help you manage your needs.

For recovery to be a successful journey, it is essential to take care of yourself and all your needs, whether physical, emotional, community-based, or spiritual. While recovery is not always a straight line, attention to these pillars can help you persevere and give yourself grace along the way. With these things in place, you, too, can reach lasting recovery. ECHO Recovery is here to provide you with addiction treatment and sober living resources.

References :

How Community Can Help with Addiction Recovery

How Community Helps with Addiction Recovery

You may not have considered how a community helps with addiction recovery, but I’d like to discuss several ways that a community can make a difference. It’s common for those recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) to feel isolated from the rest of the world. However, you don’t have to navigate this journey on your own. With community support, your journey toward sobriety can be completely altered in a positive and engaging way.

I’ve met countless people who struggled to find – and stay on – the path toward recovery. In fact, I was one of them. Whether we were ashamed of our past or felt we wouldn’t be accepted, I, and others like me, felt isolated – as if the goal I was working toward was so far away it was unobtainable.

However, by connecting with others who are walking a similar path, we can share our own stories and encourage others. This is one of the essential roles of the recovery community, and it’s one we felt strongly enough about to assemble the ECHO Recovery community.

Finding an Addiction Recovery Community

Finding Community Support

Most people who choose to pursue recovery once struggled to make that difficult first step. Among other issues, they may have felt they would be left behind by loved ones or even may have felt as if they had nobody that would be supportive of their journey. However, it’s crucial to remind yourself that this is a journey you do not have to take on your own.

Finding a community of people you can relate to and share similar experiences with can make a significant difference as you walk the path toward recovery. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it from scratch – there are many community-building resources already in place. Let’s explore some of the most common.

Addiction Recovery Community Options

Some of the most common examples of resources you can use as you begin to build your recovery community are 12-step programs. The best-known examples are the “Anonymous” groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Individual 12-step groups typically meet once each week, but you can find these groups in abundance in most areas so that you can attend a meeting each day if you’d like.

In 12-step meetings, members listen to one another’s struggles, stories, and progress and offer support in any way possible. Depending on the type of meeting, members may discuss working through one or more of the steps or defining one of the major principles.

Overall, the purpose of the meeting is to provide a shared sense of community, reduce the isolation that often comes with substance use disorder, and perpetuate the goal of the 12-step program. This goal is not to remain sober forever but simply to refrain from substances that day. By setting meaningful and achievable goals and working in community with one another, 12-step groups like AA and NA can help you build resources for the future.

Another community-building example is SMART Recovery, which stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. In SMART Recovery, there are four basic guidelines to follow:

  • Find and maintain motivation.
  • Manage your urges.
  • Properly handle thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Find a balance in life and maintain it.

As you can see, neither of these community resources is focused on finding a cure or diagnosing co-occurring conditions. Instead, they focus on supporting others walking similar paths and building up both the givers and the receivers of support. In fact, the 12th step refers to living all the steps in your daily life so that you and those around you can continue walking the path of recovery.

If an in-person support group is not feasible for you, or you want to explore elsewhere, you can always visit online forums, where you can discuss your struggles with people from across the globe.

How to Choose Addiction Recovery Support

You may not know where to look for a support community, and that’s okay. To find a community, you can speak with your physician, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or reach out to a recovery community like ECHO Recovery. You may feel you’re the only one needing support, but the reality is that more than 40 million people had SUD in 2020, and many are still on the path toward recovery.

Types of Groups to Avoid

While a recovery community can make a significant difference in the lives of those with SUD, there are types of support groups you should avoid. For example, if a group is requesting high attendance fees or pressuring you to purchase certain products, you may want to look for support elsewhere. Many groups exist due to donations and support from those who attend, but high costs should not be a roadblock for anyone who needs community.

If a group promises to cure your problems, you’ll definitely want to look elsewhere. SUD isn’t a curable disorder, but it is a disorder that can be managed with motivation, effort, and genuine support.

Why Join an Addiction Recovery Community?

Many people who have completed a treatment program or are beginning recovery may not understand the significance of how community helps with addiction recovery. However, joining a community of people all walking the path toward recovery can provide several unique benefits. Here are a few key reasons to consider participating in your own recovery community.

Improved and Increased Communication

It can be daunting to open up about your struggles, especially as someone who has struggled with substance use. You may worry about being ridiculed, shunned, or ignored as a result of your past. However, participating in a recovery community means people are there to facilitate discussions about these struggles and help you see that you are not alone.

While you are not forced to share, if you do choose to speak, the floor becomes yours for a period of time. By being honest with the community, including yourself, you can develop a clear focus on what’s next in your recovery journey. If you’re feeling isolated, you can create and strengthen relationships with others who have been in your situation.

Measuring Success

Taking that first step and accepting help from others is incredibly difficult, especially for those battling SUD. Similarly, when you interact with others in a recovery community for the first time, you may feel nervous and confined. As you progress, however, you’ll open up more and have the support of others ready to cheer you on. Because of this, you can more easily gauge your progress in recovery. In return, you can help to provide this support to others as they experience pitfalls and successes.

Becoming Inspired By Others

Becoming Inspired By Others

You can find inspiration in a recovery community in many ways. For example, you may meet someone who didn’t want to be there or felt the experience was a waste of time. However, you may then see them become an integral part of the community.

Others may thrive in the recovery community from the beginning, and by witnessing their successes as well as their struggles, you can get inspiration for handling your own journey. Seeing the multitude of ways others navigate the difficult journey toward recovery can help you find the motivation you need to keep going. This is an important feature of a recovery community.

Pushing Through Difficult Times

It’s important to remember that tough times will not go away just because you’re in recovery. You will have bad days, you’ll slip, or a crisis will pop up when you least expect it. The point is that difficulties don’t just apply to people with SUD; everyone experiences tough times. When you do encounter a tough situation, your recovery community is there to help you navigate your struggles.

Repaired Relationships

SUD is notorious for damaging and even completely destroying relationships, but this doesn’t have to be forever. With the support of others, you can not only build new relationships, but you can learn how to repair or strengthen the ones you already have. A community can help you practice interacting with others who know what you’ve been through so you can put the same skills to work in relationships that may have been suffering due to your SUD.

More About Accountability and Inspiration

Accountability is crucial for those of us with SUD to make meaningful changes in our lives. With community support, we’re more likely to take responsibility for our actions, and we can encourage others to be accountable as well. Being accountable can be inspiring to others looking to make changes in their own lives, which is why being responsible is essential in the recovery process.

How Community Support Facilitates Accountability

How Community Support Facilitates Accountability

By frequently engaging with others in a community setting, you’ll be more prepared and motivated by others to make changes in your life, and vice versa. For example, on your own, you may put off important recovery tasks and habits. You may choose not to do step work or skip writing in a recovery journal.

However, by meeting with your peers regularly, you’ll be more motivated to do what needs to be done because you have encouragement, support, and accountability – and you’ll learn to expect it from others, too. When everyone is committed to mutually supporting success, you’ll learn to take ownership of your recovery.

More About Rebuilding Relationships

As mentioned, SUD frequently contributes to damaged and broken relationships. You may have distanced yourself from others while actively using substances, treated one another poorly, or even sought unhealthy relationships with others in the midst of SUD. After you’ve spent your time using substances to cope with your daily struggles rather than looking to your friends and loved ones for support, it can be difficult to not only repair those relationships but become comfortable opening up with one another once again.

With a support community by your side, you have a strong chance of repairing broken relationships and healing from past hurt.

Community Support is Crucial in Repairing Relationships

People with SUD tend to isolate themselves from others as a result of substance use. While repairing relationships is challenging, it is possible. One of the best ways to stay motivated in recovery is by rebuilding trust with others. People in recovery who want to repair a relationship often begin by making amends to those they have harmed with their substance use (a critical step in a 12-step program) and then find forgiveness for those who harmed them in the past. After forgiveness, you can begin a fresh start, one that doesn’t include fixation on substance use.

It can seem daunting to offer amends and forgiveness to those in relationships damaged by SUD. However, if you truly want to start fresh, asking for and offering forgiveness is an essential part of the process. Recovery communities can encourage you along the way and offer support and new friendships if your relationship cannot be repaired.

Should My Friends and Family Be Involved in Recovery?

As indicated by the broken and damaged relationships most people in recovery have in common, SUD doesn’t impact only one individual. Instead, it impacts friends, family, and other important people in your life. If you have the option and the desire to involve your family and friends in your recovery, consider adding them to your recovery community. Your friends and family members may have developed their own ways of dealing with your SUD in the past. They may have kept their distance from you, tried to control your actions, or established boundaries that preserved their physical and mental health.

While it’s important for them to make their own decisions regarding their involvement in your recovery community, being open and honest and providing mutual love and support can benefit you both as recovery continues. Your loved ones want you to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, and it’s essential that they understand what they can do to support you when things become difficult.

Many recovery centers, support groups, and other community resources host family education sessions that can help your loved ones understand multiple aspects of SUD. These topics range from how to best support your loved one in recovery, communication methods and strategies, setting healthy boundaries, and more. Encouraging your loved ones to join your recovery community and build one of their own can positively affect your recovery and your relationships with them.

Consider these options:

  • SAMHSA offers several different therapy options to anyone walking the path toward recovery, and your loved ones can get involved in the process, too.
  • Another option for families who want to be involved in their loved one’s recovery from SUD is Al-Anon. Al-Anon offers family therapy for those who have misused alcohol, and their website contains plenty of resources for those considering other avenues of community building.
  • You can also visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse website for information regarding SUD, including statistics and programs.

ECHO: A Healing Addiction Recovery Community

Online Recovery Community

Recovery is an arduous process, and many believe they must navigate it alone. However, recovery doesn’t have to be done on your own. By seeking support and building a community of other people walking similar paths as you, you can learn healthier strategies for managing your life’s difficulties and encourage others as well. In addition, you can bring your friends and family along with you and begin repairing relationships broken by SUD.

Whether you’re aiming to repair relationships, find inspiration, and develop accountability, or you’re simply yearning for others who understand your experience, ECHO Recovery can help provide the resources you need. Our goal is to educate and encourage those with SUD so they can work toward living a robust, fulfilling life. Our sober housing initiative can help those unable to support themselves during the initial steps of treatment, and we also offer a platform to support art as a means of expressing thoughts in recovery.

How to Help Someone With SUD That Resists Rehab

What to Do When Someone Doesn’t Want to Go to Rehab for Addiction

What do you do if someone needs help, including SUD rehab, but won’t accept it? One of the best things anyone battling an SUD can do is to seek professional treatment, and most friends and family members want to aid in this process however possible. Unfortunately, getting someone the help they need and deserve isn’t always easy.

Many people with SUD refuse, at least at first, to go to rehab. This brings up a difficult question for many people in the same spot. While it’s important to remember that every person—and every situation—is unique, there are some things you can do to help both yourself and your loved one after they’ve refused treatment.

How Do You Help Someone that Doesn’t Want to Stop Drinking or Using Drugs?

Sometimes, helping someone that doesn’t want to be helped can seem impossible. Whether your loved one doesn’t want to come to terms with their substance use or they don’t understand the scope of their problem, it’s important to take some time to evaluate the actions you’re taking and whether you’re truly helping. To do so, follow these seven tips for dealing constructively with someone who is resistant to your help without overwhelming them or pushing them away.

Educate Yourself

Researching Addiction Recovery Help Online

Experiencing a situation where it seems as if someone you love is purposely hurting themselves by ignoring your attempts to help them is never easy. That’s why educating yourself on SUD is so important, both for you and your loved one.

A substance use disorder is considered a mental health disorder. SUD is incredibly complex and can occur for a variety of reasons, from a person’s genetics to a trauma response, a poor coping mechanism, or even self-medication to deal with physical or emotional pain. It’s crucial that you understand the various aspects that can contribute to your loved one’s substance use disorder so you can also do your best to understand why they are struggling. Educating yourself can help you gain a better perspective of a situation that may make you angry or hurt and allow you to understand the sort of help your loved one may need.

Identify Your Role in the Situation

Your role in a substance use disorder situation depends heavily on your relationship with the person that is struggling. It’s important to identify your role so you don’t overstep boundaries while still supporting them in the way they need. Consider how your role as someone’s partner may look different than if you were someone’s parent, child, or close friend.

For example, if you are a parent and have a child that is struggling with alcohol, you may need to decide to stop supporting them financially to slow their substance use. If you are an adult child of a person with SUD, your role may be completely different. Keep in mind, too, that every situation is incredibly different and unique to the people involved. To identify your role, ask yourself questions like whether a relationship with this person is supportive and whether your behavior may enable them. This can help you better understand what you may need to change moving forward.

Identify and Remove Enabling Behaviors

This tip is a critical follow-on tip for Tip 2—if you’ve been approaching your role with your loved one in a way that enables them to continue their substance use, it is critical to evaluate and remove your enabling behaviors. Of course, it’s natural to want to help the people that you love, especially when you know they are struggling. Unfortunately, some of the things you may do to try to help your loved ones may end up enabling them further.

For example, one of the most common enabling behaviors that family members and close friends engage in without realizing the trouble it may cause is funding their loved one’s substance misuse. However, establishing boundaries like not giving money to a close friend who is struggling with SUD can help both your loved one and you. Other enabling behaviors include making excuses for your loved one’s poor behavior, covering for them when they make mistakes, lying to/for them, doing work for them, and even providing them with their substance of choice to minimize conflict. In general, many of the things friends and family members do in an attempt to “help” loved ones with SUD wind up enabling the person to continue to use.

Establish Boundaries

Establishing boundaries is an important way to protect both you and your loved one. Boundaries are essential for any relationship and can help you ensure that you are comfortable and not taken advantage of. Sometimes, when someone is struggling with a substance use disorder, they cross boundaries, whether intentionally or unknowingly. Often, their behavior creates the need for you to establish boundaries in the first place to protect yourself.

It’s crucial that you set firm boundaries with your loved one for your health, both emotionally and physically. If you feel like you need to walk on eggshells around this person, cover or lie for them, or protect them from the consequences of their actions, it’s time for you to create boundaries. Most urgently, if you feel you are in emotional or physical danger due to your loved one’s behavior, you must create boundaries to protect yourself.

Allow Consequences to Occur

Once you establish firm boundaries between you and your loved one and stop enabling behaviors, you will likely notice that they’ve begun to experience consequences of their actions. These consequences are what so many friends and family members have been trying desperately to “help” their loved ones with SUD avoid. However, it is important for all involved to realize that nobody is immune to consequences.

Whether your loved one is fired from their job because you stopped calling in for them or they fall behind on bills without your financial help, it is critical that consequences do occur. While it may hurt to see your loved one struggling, it is also important for them to understand what their actions are doing to both themselves and others. It can be near impossible for people with an SUD to recognize how much their own actions affect others when they’re deep in active substance use. Because of this, consequences can serve as an unfortunate wake up call.

Offer Positive Support and Practice Empathy

One of the best things you can do for someone struggling with substance use disorder, especially when they say they don’t want help, is to simply offer your support. SUD can cause extreme isolation and make people feel like they are alone in their struggle. Sometimes, just offering positive support can mean the world to your loved one.

If you haven’t had conversations about these issues with your loved one before, it’s important to remember to be as empathetic as possible. It can be easy for your loved one to feel attacked and be hurt when you suggest help or insinuate that they are in the wrong. By offering positive support and letting your loved one know you’re there to help them when they’re ready, you are taking steps in the right direction.

Consider Staging an Intervention

Interventions can help your loved one more than you know. An intervention can be done with just a few close family members or someone’s entire friend group—what’s most important is effectively communicating how this person’s actions are affecting others. Using “tough love” is important during interventions because it puts responsibility on the person who has been hurting those around them and emphasizes the importance and urgency of the issue.

In many interventions, friends and family members choose to lay out boundaries and consequences for violating those boundaries. For example, you may tell a partner with SUD that you have established a boundary that involves them not being intoxicated around your children, and that they must seek treatment, or they can no longer live in the same home as the children. Then, be prepared to follow through with the consequences you’ve established. Remember, too, to remind the person how much you love and care for them, and that this is the reason you want them to seek treatment in the first place.

Addiction Rehab FAQs

When you ask a loved one to seek treatment for SUD, they may refuse. Often, refusals are based on three common themes:

  • “You can’t make me go.”
  • “Rehab doesn’t work, anyway.”
  • “I can stop on my own/I don’t need to stop.”

Q: Can You Make Someone Go to Rehab?

A: The answer to this question varies from state to state, as well as from person to person. In some cases, you can send people to rehab involuntarily. This can be done in a few different ways. If you are the parent or legal guardian of a minor under the age of 18, you have the right to make legal decisions regarding their health and well-being. In most states, this also allows you to send your child to rehab for a substance use disorder.

If your loved one is over the age of 18 however, it is much more difficult to try to commit them to treatment without their consent. Some states allow family members to send their loved ones to rehab through a process called involuntary commitment. Involuntary commitment is legal in 37 states and can occur if a person demonstrates that they are unable to take care of themselves, are a threat to themselves or others, or are neglecting their life and duties. The case must usually go through a court to be approved before a person is committed. The state of Maryland does not have outpatient commitment laws and you cannot use involuntary commitment legislation to try and force someone into rehab if they don’t want to go.

One of the only other ways someone can involuntarily be sent to rehab is via a drug court order. For example, this situation can occur when a person is taken into custody for possession, is willing to plead guilty to the nonviolent crime, and accepts rehab in lieu of other penalties. However, this method only works for some substance use disorders and isn’t helpful for people struggling with alcohol.

Q: What Percentage of Users Relapse After Rehab?

A: Some sources claim that as many as 30+ percent of alcohol users and as many as 80% of illicit drug users relapse after completing rehab. However, this statistic simply isn’t reliable, as there is no true way to document how many people relapse. Even documented relapses do not account for the type of treatment program experienced, repeat experiences in rehab, or the eventual recovery of many individuals after subsequent treatment.

In addition, for many people, relapse is a part of the recovery process. Most importantly, relapse does not mean the person has “failed.” Relapse does not erase the recovery tools and resources gained during SUD treatment and should not be a reason to avoid going to rehab.

Q: Can People Stop Using Substances on Their Own?

A: When someone with SUD ceases use of that substance on their own, they will almost inevitably experience physical and mental withdrawals. These are extremely difficult to manage alone, without medical intervention. In some cases, as with alcohol or benzodiazepines, withdrawals can cause seizures and even become fatal.

In addition, SUD is often co-occurring with mental health disorders, trauma, and other physical health problems. For that reason, while being willing to stop using drugs or alcohol is a positive sign, it is very hard to accomplish alone. Encourage your loved one as much as possible but remember that it is critical they stay safe while curbing substance use.

Getting the Help Loved Ones Deserve

Getting Loved One Addiction Support

If you know someone in need of substance use disorder treatment, find them help as soon as possible. When that time comes, it’s natural to want to help in whatever way you can. Whether you’re a family member, friend, or partner of someone with SUD, worrying about someone you love can be both emotional and exhausting.

Social Media Use While in Drug and Alcohol Recovery

Social Media Use While in Drug and Alcohol Recovery

Recovering from an addiction is a complicated process that requires dedication and commitment for long-term, positive effects. It may be obvious that routines and lifestyles must be changed for your recovery to be successful. However, an area that you may not have considered changing is your social media use.

Unfortunately, there is a significant link between social media use and substance abuse addiction. Ironically, social media use is also linked to substance abuse recovery. It’s important to fully understand these links so you can start working on your recovery with fewer obstacles.

How Are Social Media and Addiction Linked?

The link between social media and addiction may not be obvious to you. Things like cute cat videos on social media do not have ties to substance abuse and addiction; however, there are still many connections between the two.

Glamorization and Normalization

Social media tends to glamorize drug and alcohol use. People can easily share photos and posts showing alcohol and drug use, making these activities appear fun, wild, and interesting. Though the average person’s post will not reach many people, celebrity posts create a lot of interaction and widespread viewing. Snoop Dog, Wiz, Khalifa, Drake, the Kardashians, Nina Dobrev, Cara Delevingne, and many other celebrities have photos of alcohol or drugs on their social media platforms that are followed by millions of people.

This effect can make people more likely to try commonly abused substances, which can then result in developing addictions. This glamorization is even more significant for teenagers, as roughly 81% of teens aged 12 to 17 use social media, much higher than the same figure for adults (67%). Their still-forming brains are more likely to be affected by what they see on social media, and they are more easily influenced into participating, either to impress peers or for attention.

Ease of Access

As mentioned, a vast portion of the world has access to social media. Therefore, social media makes a lot of things easily accessible to the public that are not normally so prevalent. Social media has been used to connect dealers with both current and potential customers. Substance dealers can use social media platforms to contact purchasers and reach a wider audience.

Location-based platforms like dating apps and Instagram make connecting dealers and those in their areas interested in buying the substances quite simple. Though the apps claim they attempt to prevent this use of their platforms, they are not effective at monitoring and shutting down violators.

Mental Health Impacts of Social MediaMental Health Impacts

For some people, there is a link between social media and poor mental health. Most people only post positive aspects and filtered versions of their life, which can cause others to experience dissatisfaction with their own lives. This can spiral into sadness, depression, and isolation. These emotions may lead people to turn to substance abuse, which they’ve seen glamorized in other social media posts, to cope with their struggling mental health.

This is an important connection, as about half of individuals who develop substance abuse disorders will also have mental health disorders. This research also suggests that over 60% of adolescents in community-based substance use disorder treatment programs meet the criteria for mental illnesses.

Social Media as an Addiction

Finally, a major link between addiction and social media is the fact that it is possible to develop an addiction to social media itself. All addiction processes alter brain chemistry and damage reward pathways. A healthy reward pathway is activated when we experience something rewarding, winning a game, eating tasty food, or even having sex. At this point, dopamine is released, causing a positive emotional rush. This reward pathway intends to drive humans toward stimuli or behaviors that increase fitness and survival, while also driving them away from harmful stimuli that do the opposite.

Addiction damages this reward system and creates a dysfunctional reward pathway that is activated by addictive behavior. The reward system begins to function improperly, only becoming activated with the use of that substance or behavior. Further, less dopamine will be released with each experience, and the person will need to increase their exposure to get the same positive rush. This same type of damage occurs in any addiction process, whether the addiction is to drugs, gambling, sex, or even social media.

Can Social Media Worsen Addiction?

Not only can a person become addicted to social media, but social media use can also increase addictive behaviors and make an active addiction worse. A person that overuses social media is also more likely to have brain impairments like those seen with a clinical addiction. Decision-making skills are decreased, and heavy social media users are more prone to poor choices.

Since social media addiction affects the brain’s reward system, a person may search for new ways to achieve a dopamine rush. Since their decision-making skills are impaired, some may turn to drugs to experience the dopamine rush they are no longer experiencing with social media alone.

Social Media and Addiction Recovery

Recovering from an addiction is a massive undertaking that requires making deliberate choices and utilizing any resources. With that in mind, social media can be both a hindrance and a support to recovery, depending on how it is used. You must be able to remain vigilant about your social media use and how it is affecting you during that specific time in your recovery process.

Identifying how social media influenced you during active addiction can help you positively alter your habits. Using social media while in recovery for addiction is a delicate process and may be aided with the help of a professional. Let’s take a look at how social media can help and hurt your recovery.

Hindrances to Recovery

Social Media Hindrances to Recovery

Negative Self Image

As mentioned before, social media is full of people posting about the positives in their lives, like job promotions, relationships, and fun vacations. However, these posts often leave out all the less than glamorous parts behind the positives. A job promotion may have followed many long days at their job, a good relationship may have been found after a string of bad dates, and the vacation may have been the first one they’ve taken in many years.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to remember these negatives when confronted with post after post of other people’s lives working out well, and this can result in feelings of inadequacy, envy, and the fear of missing out (FOMO). One may choose the comfort and familiarity of their addiction instead of these negative emotions, making recovery more difficult.

Sleep Deprivation

Those that struggle with addiction are far more likely to have a sleep disorder than the general population. Disturbances in sleep patterns and cycles can increase the likelihood of relapse, as your brain and body lose out on the healing that occurs during sleep. Overusing social media can decrease the time you have available for sleep and make recovery a steeper hill to climb.

Depressing/Harmful Content

We know depression can be a significant contributor to addiction. Unfortunately, being bombarded with information that hurts your mental health while scrolling social media can further hinder recovery. In addition, social media exposes you to many more people and situations than you would experience in person. Some of these people will have bad intentions and can spread their own negative emotions to you via online interactions like cyberbullying (abusive messages, images, or posts directed at an individual). Maintaining a positive headspace will be next to impossible if you’re bombarded with negative content on your social media.

Advantages to Recovery

Family and Friends

Social media can be used to maintain contact with family and friends. Having a strong support system made up of the people that care for you is important for recovery and preventing relapse. These people can quickly provide support by liking and commenting on your content. Preventing feelings of isolation will help with the confidence it will take to follow through with recovery.

Online Recovery Forums/Groups

Social media provides access to millions of people that you will never see in person. Some of those people will have had similar experiences to yours and they may openly post about their struggles and what helped them recover. Seeing their success stories may be bolstering enough for you to aid your recovery. There are also many online groups created to offer support for those undertaking their recovery process.

These online groups offer some anonymity that may help you feel more comfortable with sharing and confiding your story in the support group. Finding support in a community is vital to lowering the chance of relapse and creating habits that will result in lifelong sobriety.

Apps Created for Recovery

Support programs have taken advantage of social media and created apps to aid with your recovery. There is an FDA-approved app for substance abuse treatment, Pear reSET-O, that offers a 90-day behavioral program for adults, available with a prescription from your doctor. There are also many different apps available without a prescription that can help track your sobriety, manage cravings, find treatment providers in your area, create an online community specifically for those going through recovery, and offer inspirational content about addiction and recovery.

Seek Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Seek Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Ultimately, treatment and recovery for addiction is a massive undertaking that frequently requires that you seek help from outside sources. A lack of support likely had a hand in the addiction, so leaning on a support system—no matter the source—may be a valuable tool to help pull you out. I believe social media can help, but it must be used correctly, in conjunction with other resources. As you can see, our addiction recovery community uses a few social media platforms, and they can be an excellent resource when used correctly.

What Is Mindfulness?

There’s More Than One Path to Mindfulness

When people think of mindfulness, they often confuse it for meditation. As a result, many picture practicing mindfulness in a quiet room, eyes closed, deep in thought. Fortunately, meditation is only one mindfulness technique. While not everyone is successful with meditation, mindfulness is a much broader practice than most people realize.

Proper mindfulness techniques can help you destress, appreciate the natural world around you, and become more compassionate towards yourself and others. With various techniques to choose from and apply to your own life, you can practice being mindful anywhere any time. The important part is that you can achieve peace. Anyone can practice mindfulness, and once you find the technique that works for you, you’ll be able to achieve multiple mindfulness benefits.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state in which you’re paying open and active attention to the world around you. When you practice mindfulness, you observe your thoughts without judgment or reaction, and extend the same courtesy to others by being compassionate and accepting. To be mindful is to be in the moment and at peace with what the moment brings. When you practice mindfulness, you can learn to destress and go with the flow, wherever you may be.

Meditation is, of course, the best-known mindfulness technique. This technique involves closing your eyes, focusing on your breath, and/or listening to auditory stimulations and visualizations. During meditation, you’re usually in one place for a few minutes at a time, in a state of deep concentration and thought. While meditation is the most famous mindfulness technique, it is not the only type of mindfulness. In fact, this stereotypical image of meditation is only one type of meditation, all of which fall under the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help with depression and anxiety. As a part of the larger category of mindfulness, it is a very useful technique to not only begin practicing mindfulness, but also to begin discovering which other mindfulness techniques may appeal to you. Let’s explore some of the options.

A Variety of Mindfulness Techniques

The goal of a mindfulness exercise is to enter a state of relaxation and personal acceptance, all while being one with the world around you. While this may sound difficult to achieve, the truth is that there are a great many mindfulness techniques, so there’s bound to be one that clicks for you. The key is to practice your favorites, learn to accept your current mental and emotional state without judgment, and focus on the present. Here are some of the most common.

Arts and Crafts

Described as “art therapy” when it pertains to the mindful participation in art to reduce stress and improve mental health, working on art is a good way to stay present and centered on something tangible, while still being able to just let your emotions be released and embraced without suppression. Any sort of art will do, from working with clay to drawing in pencil, to all forms of painting and even coloring. Whether art therapy is done in a clinical setting with a specific format or you’re simply sketching in your free time, art therapy has been proven to decrease stress and increase the general quality of life.

The subject you choose is up to you. However, one recommendation is to create art about a place you like. Start by attempting to depict the lake you camp at, the beach you went to as a kid, the city you dream of living in, and similar. This focus can help you mentally transport to those places and the calm they produce. Creating art about things that make you happy is a good way to calm down and focus on something positive and relaxing, especially if it’s about nature.

Finding Mindfulness in Nature

Finding Mindfulness in Nature

Whether you’re going for a walk in the park, adventuring through a local hiking or forest trail, or just sleeping out under the stars for a night, enjoying the outdoors doesn’t only help you appreciate the beauty of nature; it can also be incredibly relaxing and therapeutic. Going outside can improve both your mood and your connection to the natural world. One study even found that practicing mindfulness while out in nature may enhance these already present benefits.

If you’re simply sitting down and taking it all in, this sort of nature-based mindfulness exercise can even be considered a sort of meditation. All you have to do is focus on the sensations around you; the sound of the animals, the warmth of the sun, the feeling of the breeze, the smell of the salt water—anything that you can connect with and think about. You’ll be able to enter a state of deep concentration and relax, much like with visualization-based meditation exercises.

If you’re going for a walk, however, you’ll be practicing a mindfulness technique that also involves physical activity. This strategy works for multiple reasons. First, exercise has been proven to reduce stress due to a release of endorphins and norepinephrine, chemicals that make you feel happy, euphoric, and less stressed. Second, you’re out in nature, which, as already mentioned, also improves your mood. However, to get the most mindfulness benefits out of this exercise, you need to find ways to stay present and focused on the world around you. If you’re out in nature enough that a nature walk is already routine for you, you can do this by changing your route or taking pictures.

5-4-3-2-1 Sensory Grounding

This mindfulness technique is much more portable than either art or time in nature, and can be done anywhere. That’s because by using your senses, you can ground yourself in the moment regardless of where you are. For example, if you’d like to destress on your daily bus commute to school or work, this is an exercise you can do without much time or practice required.

All you have to do is focus on 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1:

  • 5 things you see
  • 4 things you feel
  • 3 things you hear
  • 2 things you smell
  • 1 thing you taste

If you consider the bus scenario mentioned above, you may be able to focus on things like the other bus passengers, the cars outside, the music on the radio, the feel of the leather seats, and the rumble of the ground and wheels beneath you. If you’re in public, however, you might not have all of your senses available to you. You can omit these and replace them with another sense, or tap into your sensory memories and use those.

By making use of your senses, you’re once again focusing on something tangible without judging either your surroundings or your reaction to them. This doesn’t work for people who are sensory averse, but for those willing to give it a try, you’ll be able to calm down even in an otherwise stressful moment. Better yet, the more you practice grounding in the moment regardless of your circumstances, the easier it will be to focus the next time a stressful situation presents itself. This sort of technique may even help you calm down during a panic attack, if you’re able to redirect your thoughts and accept your negative mental state.

Body Scanning

Body scanning is similar to sensory grounding, with the difference being your point of focus. Instead of noticing all the sensory stimulations that have to do with your surroundings, you’re instead focusing on your own body and how you feel. Just lie down and, starting from either your head or your toes, work your way over your body. During this process, you’re focusing on and calling attention to any pain or discomfort and, for the time being, accepting the feeling.

Mindfulness and Meditation Games

It may seem unusual, but playing games on your phone, computer, or TV can also help you destress and practice mindfulness.

Body Scanning

The calming nature of some games gives you an activity to focus on and rewards you with positive feelings for doing it right. In fact, video games have been proven to release dopamine.

In small doses, playing calming video games can make you happier while giving you a goal to focus on. In fact, there are mindfulness apps and games dedicated to helping you relax through simple, yet satisfying, gameplay. Some even feature physical effort that can further release physical tension and stress.

Apps like I Love Hue 2 and #SelfLove, as well as console video games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons are all designed to be relaxing, yet rewarding. Users experience an activity one can play for both fun and to practice mindfulness techniques in an indirect way. There’s a reason New Horizons is the best-selling Animal Crossing game since the franchise began. It was released at the beginning of the pandemic, so people who were both stuck inside and stressed by the virus had an easy, fun outlet to relax and hang out with their friends.

Mindfulness Benefits

Mindfulness Benefits

In the short term, mindfulness exercises can be used to relax during or after a stressful situation and become more connected to the world around you. The more you practice, the easier it’ll be to ground yourself in the moment and connect with your future self. This helps to relieve temporary stress and appreciate your current surroundings and emotions.

In the long term, mindfulness exercises are used to train your body and brain to relax more effectively, accept yourself and your feelings, and extend that same focus and compassion to the environment and the people around you. The various techniques used can also teach you other skills in the meantime.

For example, mindfulness practiced by playing games has the same benefit as playing video games in general, including an increase in detection skills and strategic thoughts. Mindfulness through exercise gives you physical benefits as well as mental and emotional boosts, allowing you to become healthier all around. Mindfulness through art can help you become more creative. Each of these mindfulness endeavors can help you shift focus away from the relentless thoughts that fuel addiction and towards healthier endeavors.

While it may be hard to get into the rhythm at first, practicing proper mindfulness and meditation techniques can teach you skills you’ll use in your daily life. You’ll be able to avoid triggers, calm down, and stay centered to solve problems, become more healthy, and see things from a new perspective.

If one technique or artform doesn’t work for you, there’s no harm in trying another until you find something that helps you reach your goals. After all, this is about personal connection and acceptance just as much as it is about relaxation techniques and relapse prevention. Different exercises work for different people, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find something that fits.

Does My Loved One Need an Intervention?

Does My Loved One Need an Intervention?

Addiction rarely only affects the person struggling with it. When drugs or alcohol become someone’s priority, friends and family can be left in the dark. This changes relationships, causing strain in some, and dependency or enabling behavior in others. As friends and family, it can feel like you have no control over the situation.

When someone is dealing with addiction, it must be their ultimate choice to get help. This ensures that they have the best chance of becoming sober and staying in recovery for the long term. While this is the loved one’s decision, there are still options for friends and family to express their concern and love in a controlled environment. This environment can also help the family seek care for themselves to better understand what they can do. We call this controlled environment an intervention.

Many of us have a preconceived notion of what an intervention is due to movies and television. While those are examples of some intervention techniques, there are many different approaches available for families dealing with addiction. An intervention can help a family come together to help their loved one and move towards a path of healing. If you worry that you’re losing a loved one to addiction, an intervention could help.

What Is the Purpose of an Intervention?

There is a misconception that someone has to hit rock bottom before they will change, as well as a varied understanding of what rock bottom truly is.1 This thinking reflects back to a mindset where addiction was a series of bad choices, not a disease that requires treatment.2 We now have a better understanding of the way addiction truly works, and why care and compassion can go much further than punishment. An intervention is an opportunity for friends and family to advocate for recovery and express their love and concern for a person struggling with addiction. The hope is that through this process, the loved one will seek treatment.

So, what is an example of an intervention? An intervention is a chance to interrupt a person’s destructive patterns with the help of a professional interventionist. This can become a new starting point for everyone involved.  There are different models an interventionist may choose to follow, including the Johnson Model, the ARISE Intervention Model, and the Love First Model. These methods share the same goal of healing the family system and helping your loved one accept treatment.

What Does an Interventionist Do?

The interventionist is the person who leads the intervention process. The requirements to be an interventionist vary — many networks require certain degrees to qualify, while other interventionists may have gotten a start via their own journey to sobriety or by working in treatment centers. When selecting your interventionist, it is important to do some research first to ensure you’ve found someone you can feel comfortable trusting through this delicate process.

The interventionist develops a team of friends and family who can help to appeal to the loved one struggling with addiction. This person is there to provide support as well as education. It can be hard to understand that addiction is a disease, especially when dealing with emotional distress as well. As a result, the interventionist also provides guidance, keeping the intervention on track and positive. This person can then help to determine the best aftercare options for the individual.

When Is the Best Time for an Intervention?

Addiction is a chronic disease that involves compulsive drug or alcohol use, despite knowing the negative consequences.3 In many situations a person may be self-medicating through their addiction and may not even be aware that they have a problem. As such, there is no true “best time” for an intervention. In general, when you or other family members start to notice that your loved one can’t control their issue, and they have already stated they wouldn’t want help or think they don’t have a problem, this could be an ideal time for an intervention.

You can look for some of the common warning signs someone is dealing with an addiction problem, such as losing interest in normal activities and hobbies, behaving differently, or hanging with a new crowd. There are often physical symptoms too, such as weight fluctuation, tremors, bloodshot eyes, and bad breath.4

What Are the Stages of Intervention?

The exact stages of an intervention may vary depending on the method of your chosen interventionists, but most of the main stages are the same:

Find Professional Help

If you’ve decided your loved one needs an intervention, the first step is getting help. An intervention is all about support. You’ll want to contact a professional interventionist, as well as different friends and family members.

Form Your Team

There should be a core group of individuals who are organizing the intervention. This can include the interventionist, family, friends, and co-workers. It is important to be mindful of contacting others who may also be dealing with substance abuse. This can take the focus away from your loved one or give them a reason to refuse help since others involved also have addiction struggles. You will also want to keep the number of people involved to a minimum, as too many people can feel overwhelming.

Start Planning

With your core team of organizers, you can decide on the date, time, and location for the intervention to take place. You can choose somewhere neutral, or a space where you know your loved one will feel comfortable and can accommodate a group of people.

Gather Information

It is helpful to learn as much as you can about not only addiction but the resources available for both you and your loved one. An intervention is beneficial for more than just the person struggling with addiction—it is for everyone impacted by the addiction. Learn all you can about the process and programs that can provide support for everyone involved.

Create Impact Statements

Each member of the core group should develop a short impact statement to share with the loved one. This statement should be an open and honest expression of what addiction has done to the relationship with the loved one. It is important that the focus is love. The loved one should never feel personally attacked.

Offer Help

During the intervention, it is helpful to express the ways you are willing to help. This can include things like driving the person to treatment or attending support group meetings. Family therapy can help the whole family heal from the destruction of addiction. When helping, it is also important to set clear boundaries with that person in the event they decide not to seek treatment. You want to end the cycle of codependency and enabling.


An intervention can be a high-emotion event. Rehearsing beforehand helps you to find the rhythm of the intervention, determining speaking order and seating arrangements. This allows you to have a reliable system in place on the day of the intervention.

Follow Up

In many circumstances, interventions are successful, with your loved one willing to receive treatment.5 However, even a well-executed intervention can still end in a refusal to seek treatment. In either circumstance, it is important to follow up on the commitments and boundaries expressed in the intervention.

What Is an Example of Intervention?

What Is an Example of Intervention?

An example of an intervention would be a situation where you’ve met with an interventionist, determined your core group, and have set a time and location for the intervention. Once your loved one has arrived, you’ll first want to greet them, introducing the interventionists and inviting them to sit with you. In most situations, the interventionists will orchestrate the actual intervention proceedings.

During the intervention, friends and family will have a chance to share their impact statements. This gives them the opportunity to share with their loved ones how much that person means to them and what the addiction has done to their relationship. Once everyone has had a chance to share, the interventionist can present treatment facilities or programs the family and interventionist feel will be the best fit for that unique person.

Keep in mind, however, not all interventions operate in this way. Interventions are more of a process for the whole family than they are one single event.

How Do You Intervene With a Friend?

Whether you are looking to help a friend or a family member, the process is the same. Friends can be just as impacted by addiction as the family. In some circumstances, a person’s friends may even have a larger role in their life than their family. As a friend, you still have the right to want to see your loved one get help. You can reach out to other friends or try to contact the family of the loved one to build your core team.

Intervention Helps Everyone

An intervention may focus on the loved one who needs treatment, but the process is designed to provide help and support for everyone involved. An invention can help friends and family by providing drug and alcohol abuse education. This allows them to move past stigmas that still haunt people struggling with addiction. An intervention also helps families to learn about local resources they can access and additional care that they might also need. This creates a greater sense of unity for those participating, creating a strong united front of support for the struggling loved one.

Personalized Intervention Help

Personalized Intervention Help

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, an intervention could help show them the path to recovery. This starts with finding the help and support you need to develop a successful intervention plan.

My partner, Brad Langenberg and I started A Time to Heal: Family Interventions, to offer professional and compassionate substance abuse intervention services for the family.

We know that together we can help your loved one seize their best chance for long-term help. We also know that support for the family is key. We will be with you every step of the way.

Head on over to my recovery site to learn more, take my intervention quiz and contact me to request more information about our intervention services.



  1. Kirouac, M., & Witkiewitz, K. (2017). Identifying “Hitting Bottom” Among Individuals with Alcohol Problems: Development and Evaluation of the Noteworthy Aspects of Drinking Important to Recovery (NADIR). Substance use & misuse, 52(12), 1602–1615.
  2. Heilig, M., MacKillop, J., Martinez, D., Rehm, J., Leggio, L., & Vanderschuren, L. J. (2021). Addiction as a brain disease revised: why it still matters, and the need for consilience. Neuropsychopharmacology, 46(10), 1715-1723.
  3. Dennis, M., & Scott, C. K. (2007). Managing addiction as a chronic condition. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 4(1), 45.
  4. Pasha, A. K., Chowdhury, A., Sadiq, S., Fairbanks, J., & Sinha, S. (2020). Substance use disorders: diagnosis and management for hospitalists. Journal of community hospital internal medicine perspectives, 10(2), 117–126.
  5. Tracy, K., & Wallace, S. P. (2016). Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 7, 143.
Homelessness: A Disguised Housing Crisis?

Homelessness: A Disguised Housing Crisis?

Walk down the streets of any major U.S. city, and you’re likely to see many people who appear to be homeless. They may be sleeping in the doorways of businesses or in public parks. From the outside, it may appear that the only problem is a lack of housing. However, the problem is much more complex.

In fact, several contributing factors can lead to homelessness. It would be nice if one solution could solve all the issues, but the truth is, homelessness requires a multi-faceted approach that includes both short- and long-term solutions. With a stronger understanding of the root causes of homelessness, we can better address the problem to help those affected, restore our communities, and improve the quality of life for all Americans.

The Causes of Homelessness Are Complex

Everyone has their own opinion on the leading cause of homelessness, but there is no one correct answer. Some people believe that a lack of affordable housing is the root cause, while others think the issue is more social. The fact is, homelessness can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • The most common reason for homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. When people cannot afford to pay their rent or mortgage, their options for shelter are dramatically limited, especially if they are unemployed. It’s no secret that the cost of housing has been on the rise for years, and this is especially true in major cities. There is a limited supply of affordable housing in these cities, and homeless people are not the only ones who compete for it. Even families with some income can find themselves struggling to afford a place to live.
  • Poverty is also a significant contributor to homelessness. People living in poverty are often unable to make ends meet, especially when faced with additional expenses such as illness or job loss. In many cases, people living in poverty find themselves in a downward spiral, unable to afford basic necessities like food and shelter.
  • Mental illness is another major cause of homelessness. Depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia are just a few conditions that can lead to homelessness. People with mental illness often have difficulty holding down a job or accessing necessary services. As a result, they may find themselves on the streets without any support system.
  • Substance abuse is another common cause of homelessness. When people are addicted to drugs and alcohol, they may find themselves unable to hold down a job or maintain stable living arrangements. They may also have trouble accessing resources and services, making getting back on their feet even more difficult.
  • Domestic abuse is another major cause of homelessness. Victims of domestic abuse often find themselves fleeing from their homes with nowhere to go, no money in the bank, and few resources. They may be fearful for their safety and the safety of their children, making it difficult to stay in one place for very long.

What Is Being Done to Address the Problem?

addressing homelessness

The causes of homelessness are complex, so there is no single solution. However, a number of programs and initiatives are working to address the problem. Some of these include:

  • Housing assistance programs. Several government and private programs provide housing assistance to low-income families and individuals. These housing programs can help people afford a place to live, even when their income is low.
  • Mental health services. Many mental health services are available to people who need them. These services can help people with mental illness access the resources they need to maintain daily life.
  • Substance abuse treatment. Several substance abuse treatment programs are available for people struggling with addiction. These programs can help people get clean, stay sober, and reclaim their lives.
  • Domestic violence shelters. There are a number of domestic violence shelters available for victims of abuse. These shelters provide a safe place to stay, as well as access to resources and services.
The combination of these programs and initiatives has helped to decrease homelessness in recent years. However, there is still more work to be done.

What Comes First: Homelessness or Substance Abuse?

Similar to the age-old question of the chicken and the egg, there is often an ongoing debate of what comes first: homelessness or substance abuse? While there are several factors that can lead to both homelessness and addiction, there is no definitive answer to this question.

Homelessness and substance abuse often go hand in hand. In fact, many people who are homeless struggle with addiction, and many people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are homeless. However, it is possible for someone to be homeless without being addicted, and it is possible for someone to be addicted without being homeless.

How Can Homelessness Lead to Substance Abuse?

While not everyone who is homeless struggles with addiction, there are a number of factors that can lead the homeless to substance abuse.

These include:


Stress is a major factor that can lead to both homelessness and substance abuse. People who are homeless often experience high levels of stress due to the lack of resources, safety concerns, and other factors. This stress can lead them to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in an attempt to cope.

Lack of support

People who are homeless often lack the social and emotional support they need to get through tough times. This can lead them to turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort.


People who have experienced trauma are also more likely to struggle with addiction. This is especially true for people who are homeless, as they may be more likely to experience trauma due to the lack of safety.

How Can Substance Abuse Lead to Homelessness?

Similar to the factors that can lead to homelessness, there are a number of factors that can lead to addiction. These include:

Mental illness

People with mental illness are more likely to struggle with addiction. This is especially true for people who don’t have access to mental health services. When a mental health issue goes untreated and unsupported, it can lead an individual to reach for drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. As time goes on, the use of substances can spiral out of control and result in addiction. And when someone is struggling with addiction, it can become difficult to maintain stable employment and housing, which ultimately leads to homelessness.

Financial Instability

Financial instability is another common factor that leads to addiction. When people are struggling to make ends meet, they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape their problems. As addiction takes hold, it can become increasingly difficult to keep up with bills and other financial obligations, which can lead to homelessness.

Family History

This is a big one. While not everyone who grows up in an unstable, dysfunctional family will struggle with addiction, it is a major risk factor. If there is a history of addiction in your family, you are more likely to struggle with addiction yourself. This is due to the fact that you may be more likely to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms and be predisposed to addictive behaviors.

Difficult Life Events

People who experience a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one or losing their job, are more likely to struggle with addiction. This is because these events can be incredibly overwhelming and lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, and despair. When people don’t have healthy coping mechanisms to deal with these feelings, they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope and eventually transition from addiction to homelessness.

There are a number of factors that can lead to both homelessness and addiction, and these problems often feed into each other. It is important to be aware of these risk factors and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with either homelessness or addiction.

Strategies to Address Homelessness and Substance Abuse

Several strategies can be used to address homelessness and substance abuse. Some of these include:

Providing Access to Mental Health Services

One of the biggest factors that can lead to both homelessness and addiction is a lack of access to mental health services. By providing access to these resources, we can help prevent homelessness and addiction before they start.

Providing Support

People who are struggling with homelessness or addiction often lack the support system they need to get through these trying times. By providing access to resources, such as 12-step programs, we can help people who are struggling to cope and provide them with the support they need.

Incorporating Holistic Treatment

Holistic treatment approaches, such as yoga and meditation, can be incredibly helpful for people who are struggling with addiction and homelessness. These approaches help to address the whole person, not just the addiction. These are just a few of the strategies that can be used to address homelessness and substance abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with these issues, incorporating one or more of these strategies may be a good option. Remember, it is never too late to get help.

Sober Housing for the Homeless in Recovery

Sober Housing for the Homeless in Recovery

We would love to help more individuals through our ECHO Housing Initiative – however, the need is great and the funding is low. With more donations we can help recovering individuals, who do not have the means to support themselves while in the initial stages of treatment, take the first step back towards becoming productive members of society by providing financial assistance towards safe and supportive sober living housing, personal needs and art for recovery programs while in recovery.

ECHO Recovery is a non-profit organization helping individuals in recovery. We’ve found that many individuals in early recovery do not have a safe place to live.

Please consider donating to help fund this sober housing campaign. Every dollar counts. Even if we can help one person together, it’s worth it, right?

If you or someone you know is struggling with homelessness or dependency, visit our free recovery and treatment resource page for a list of helpful free and low cost services. If you’re in Maryland we also have a list of local recovery resources for those in Harford County.



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  2. Davis, J. P., Diguiseppi, G., De Leon, J., Prindle, J., Sedano, A., Rivera, D., Henwood, B., & Rice, E. (2019). Understanding pathways between PTSD, homelessness, and substance use among adolescents. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(5), 467–476.
  3. Lombardi, K., Pines, J. M., Mazer-Amirshahi, M., &Pourmand, A. (2020). Findings of a national dataset analysis on the visits of homeless patients to US emergency departments during 2005-2015. Public Health, 178, 82-89.
  4. Fowler, P. J., Hovmand, P. S., Marcal, K. E., & Das, S. (2019). Solving Homelessness from a Complex Systems Perspective: Insights for Prevention Responses. Annual review of public health, 40, 465–486.
  5. Gannotta, R., Malik, S., Chan, A. Y., Urgun, K., Hsu, F., & Vadera, S. (2018). Integrative Medicine as a Vital Component of Patient Care. Cureus, 10(8), e3098.
  6. Perri, M., Dosani, N., & Hwang, S. W. (2020). COVID-19 and people experiencing homelessness: challenges and mitigation strategies. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 192(26), E716–E719.
  7. Benavides, A. D., & Nukpezah, J. A. (2020). How Local Governments Are Caring for the Homeless During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The American Review of Public Administration, 50(6–7), 650–657.