IHAT Institute Blog

The Importance of Family Support for Addiction Recovery

“Addiction is a family disease”- a quote many have heard but the application is not always fully understood.  Too often there is a compartmentalization within a family system regarding addiction.  This can lead the family member with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) to be viewed as the one who needs to work on themselves, while […]
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Can the Pandemic Inspire Recovery?

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC For many, the pandemic has brought health to the front and center of their minds for the past 2 years.  Realizing that those who have weaker immune systems, diabetes, high-blood sugar, lung conditions and other medical comorbidities have led some individuals to gain motivation to make healthy changes […]
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No More Excuses…

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, LADC “I don’t have enough time”, “I can’t miss work”, “I cannot afford treatment”, “There is so much traffic to drive there”, “I don’t want anyone to know”, “I won’t be like the other people in treatment”…  These are just a few of the many excuses that individuals […]
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Back to School…Now What?

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Parents around the country are relieved, stressed or ambivalent about their children returning to school.  The past 2 years have led to irregular schedules for many families and a sense of chaos that has become somewhat normalized.  However, this month- school is back…how does this impact you? […]
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Pandemic: An Opportunity for Wellness

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Throughout our lives we are presented with challenging periods that ebb and flow.  This pandemic has been a rare time that we are all sharing a common stressor and experience throughout our country and world.  For many, this has been a hard time to manage stress and […]
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Treating High-Functioning Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC “My family does not support my getting sober and continues to drink around me.” “My friends do not think that my drinking is that bad and don’t want me to change.” For high-functioning individuals with alcohol or substance use issues, it can be common for loved ones […]
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Recovering…In College

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC As summer marches on, it is getting close to the start of college- a time of anticipation for some students and temptation for others.  Much of the research and articles about college drinking and substance usage can paint a grim picture of the chances that college students […]
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Socializing is Back: Coping with Cravings

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC As the country begins to reopen, many people are reporting “social fatigue”, interpersonal stress and a lowered tolerance for socializing. This follows a lockdown and over a year of minimal social interaction for many individuals.  The reopening and increase in summer events may put individuals with substance […]
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Sober Summer Survival Guide!

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC This summer poses many unique challenges with social events and drinking. The country is reopening following the pandemic, and a previous Summer shutdown. Most people have socialized in-person less frequently over the past, while research indicated that there was a rise in alcohol purchases and usage. While […]
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Timing is Everything…

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Timing is everything…especially when it comes to addiction treatment and recovery.  When an individual with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is able to acknowledge that they need help and is willing to take the necessary steps to get sober, it is important that social, clinical and financial/insurance […]
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Why Is It So Hard to Recover from Substance Use Disorder?

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC “You only have to change one thing…everything” ~Source unknown The idea of getting sober can sound simple to those less familiar with the process.  “Just don’t drink/use.”, “Why can’t you just stop?”, “Can’t you find another way to handle stress?” are some of the overly simplistic thoughts […]
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Addiction Recovery: It Takes a Village…

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Over the past year, we have all experienced changes in our sense of community.  The pandemic caused us to socially distance, which inevitably led to emotional distance and a sense of disconnection.  Each individual experienced different types of social changes, and this shift brought unique challenges for […]
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How Do We Learn About Addiction Recovery?

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC When we want to learn about cooking, we can read a cookbook, take a cooking class or watch online videos and shows.  When we want to learn how to drive, we can take Driver’s Education classes and we practice. When we want to become a Realtor, we […]
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Springing into Change!

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Spring is a time of rebirth- when nature’s dormancy begins to bloom with new life.  Spring can be a time of anticipation for the warmer months for those who live in four season areas.  While Winter can decrease energy and be a time of quieter reflection, Spring […]
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The Short Window of Treatment Opportunity

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Jen is 30-years-old and has been binge drinking alcohol for 15 years and smoking marijuana intermittently.  She has always felt that because she is able to maintain a stable job, housing and friendships that she does not have an addiction.  This month, she had a breakup with […]
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There is Not Just One Way to Get Sober!

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC There are many views and opinions about what is needed for individuals for Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) to maintain long-term sobriety/recovery.  There are therapeutic models, levels of care, evidence-based research, 12-Step model, SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, alternative treatments, spiritual/religious perspectives and more… The good news is that […]
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Finding Balance in Unsteady Times

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Finding “balance”…a concept that has been very challenging to achieve over the past year.  People who did not have substance use issues before the pandemic, may be questioning their drinking or substance use patterns now.  The lack of structure or many changes to individual and family schedules […]
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When is it Time to Make a Change?

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC “The Quarantine will just be a month, I will wait until it is over.” “I am so stressed out with remote work and school right now.” “It is Winter, and I will be more motivated in the Spring.” “I am just waiting for things to get back […]
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Finding Connection During Disconnected Times

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC The past year has led to many changes in people’s lives.  The pandemic has caused us to find virtual and remote ways to work, receive an education, deliver medical and behavioral health services, engage in spiritual practice, dating, attend self-help groups and communicate with loved ones. “Virtual” […]
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New Year’s Recovery Resolutions!

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC It is FINALLY 2021!  For many this is a fresh start from the challenges of 2020.  COVID-19 has changed the fabric of our lives in many ways, and for some this was a year of turning to unhealthy coping strategies to manage the various stressors which included: […]
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Sober Holiday Survival Guide

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC The Holidays can be a challenging time for those in recovery, particularly for individuals in early sobriety.  But why?  There are a variety of reasons and this time of year can prove to be emotionally charged even for non-alcoholics.  COVID-19 has brought unique challenges to the Holiday […]
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Aware Recovery Care- IHAT Model in the News!

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model began in Connecticut, but has been expanding to New Hampshire, Maine, Florida and now in Massachusetts.  Given the current pandemic, it has been ideal timing, because this model is allowing clients more access to addiction treatment care delivered in a way […]
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2020 and Recovery Resiliency

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC This year has been challenging for most people and for a variety of reasons. Those who are in long-term recovery have had many opportunities to test the coping skills that they have been learning for years into real life scenarios.  Individuals who have gotten sober ideally have […]
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Protecting Your Recovery

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC There is a military slogan “Protect what you have earned”.  This wise statement also applies to addiction recovery in so many ways.  The substance use disorder (SUD) recovery process is a life changing process and that takes an incredible amount of time and dedication.  Every area of […]
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Treating the Secondary COVID-19 Epidemic: Drug Overdoses

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Many research studies and articles have been confirming what many addiction professionals have been fearing- that the pandemic is leading to an increase in drug overdose deaths.  There is an existing overdose epidemic that is now being exacerbated by so many variables that include: job loss, economic […]
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Change: It Takes a Village…

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Why is change so hard?  While it is a constant in our lives, we so often resist it.  It is human nature to create patterns that bring a sense of comfort, relief or excitement to our lives.  People also differ in terms of what “vices” they are […]
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My Loved One Needs Addiction Treatment- What Do We Do?

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC “Where do we begin?” This is the question that families ask most frequently when they have a loved one struggling with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).  It is also an additional stress that these families do not need during this painful time.  Unfortunately, the healthcare system has […]
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Fall for Recovery!

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Fall…in the past it has been the season of starting school, transitioning from the summer, returning to routine, starting sports seasons and so much more.  However, this Fall is a unique and challenging time for many families and individuals.  The mental health and social impact of the […]
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Addiction Support for the Family System

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Many families struggle to cope in a healthy way with a loved one who has a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Friends and observers may try to understand the experience of the family and may watch, sometimes with judgment, as family members try to navigate this stressful situation. […]
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Sobriety in College During COVID-19

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Labor Day is approaching, and some colleges are beginning to reopen their campuses.  Other colleges are offering remote classes and some students are living locally in apartments or at home.  COVID-19 has created an unconventional start for school in general.  Additionally, college poses a unique challenge for […]
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Recommitting: The Secret to Long-Term Sobriety

By: Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC Recovery is an ongoing process and those fortunate to have long-term recovery have one thing in common- an ability to recommit themselves.  It has been observed that people often get sober and as a result expect that life should go their way—a reward for their “good” behavior.  […]
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Sober Summer!

Summertime often involves many social events, the beach, vacations and warm weather.  This can be a challenging season for those in early sobriety.  However, this Summer poses unique obstacles in that most people have been more isolated due to COVID-19 lockdowns in the previous months.  Businesses are now starting to reopen and smaller social events […]
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Effectively Navigating the COVID-19 Reopening

For many individuals, it has felt like forever since they were able to sit outside at their favorite coffee shop, shop in their favorite small store, get their hair done, see friends and attend small social events. Summer is upon us, and this reopening may be a time of relief for many as well as a newfound sense of freedom. People may be experiencing a lift in their mood and in their sense of hope. However, for others, this time may be stress and fear producing.
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Adapting to Changes in Addiction Treatment

The prevention efforts surrounding COVID-19 have led to various changes in the way that addiction treatment services and support are delivered. The most notable change is that many services are being delivered remotely through telehealth. While the addiction and mental health care field are fortunate to have the technology to offer this option, there are both benefits and drawbacks to this modality.
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Redefining Recovery Progress During the Pandemic

This has been a time of change, unknowns and confusion. Progress can be defined as “forward or onward movement toward a destination”. For those in early recovery, the path towards progress that they had laid out initially to maintain sobriety has inevitably been altered in some way as a result of this pandemic. A typical […]
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Addiction Treatment During COVID-19

This has been a time of adapting to change, to new schedules and in many cases, less structure within our days. There have also been many health and mental health stressors associated with COVID-19 that have added another layer of complication to individual’s lives. Many parents are multitasking homeschooling their children while working from home. […]
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Avoiding Social Isolation During COVID-19

“Social Distancing”. The term is being used daily, and is the complete opposite of what individuals in early recovery from substance use disorders (SUD) should be doing under normal circumstances. The addiction treatment field and mutual help groups focus on the healing benefits of community and social support.
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Keeping Your Home Environment Peaceful Amidst the Panic

If you watch, read or listen to the news right now, it is hard to hear about anything other than concern about the Coronavirus.  While it is important to stay informed and to adjust your life accordingly, it can be harmful to hyperfocus on this topic. For those who have preexisting fears around germs, contamination, […]
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Dealing with Winter Blues and Recommitting to Resolutions

January and February are often months that people may experience Winter Blues or seasonal mood issues. As Holiday celebrations subside and we get deeper into Winter, some people may experience a decline in their mood and motivation. For those living in regions with four seasons, many struggle with seasonal mood fluctuations. This can be a result of many factors that can include less exposure to sunlight, cold weather, boredom, increased substance usage, relapse, limited activity and exercise, less visible sunlight, Vitamin D3 deficiency, serotonin level changes and more.
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Sober Travel: How Not to Get High in the Skies

We are approaching the time of Winter when people often travel to warm destinations, or even cold locations to engage in Winter sports. This is also the season for school vacations and Spring Break. Many people look forward to as well as save money and work vacation time to enjoy. However, for those in early […]
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We all Need Support During the Holidays!

Many people pride themselves on “doing it all” throughout the year and especially throughout the Holidays. Our society praises the go-getters, the super moms and dads and keeping up with a fast paced technology driven culture. However, when an individual gets sober, they are given the opposite suggestions.
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It’s the Happiest Time of the Year…and Most Stressful!

“Are we having fun yet?” Is a question I often think of in the midst of Holiday chaos. This is supposed to be an enjoyable time of year to connect with friends and family and to celebrate the New Year. The problem is, life continues to march on while additional expenses, tasks, social events and traditions pile up.
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Families Need Help Too!

Everyone knows of a family or family member struggling to deal with a loved one with a Substance-Use Disorder (SUD). Friends and acquaintances may watch, sometimes with judgment and confusion, as family members try to navigate this stressful situation.
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There is No Place Like “Home” for the Holidays!

Enjoying the Holidays at home can be both comforting but also challenging for those in early recovery and their families. There are many holiday traditions that can include alcohol and substance usage, but most importantly, family. Addiction is a family disease, and these relationships can often be emotionally loaded. This time of year can exacerbate […]
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Recommitting to Recovery: The Key to Long-Term Recovery

Recovery is an ongoing process and those fortunate to have long-term recovery have one thing in common- an ability to recommit themselves. It has been observed that people often get sober and as a result expect that life should go their way—a reward, in a sense, for their “good” behavior. However, that is not generally what happens. In fact, many individuals report that their lives often get worse before getting better. While this may seem unfair, it can be a blessing in disguise- for it can ensure that the motivation to remain sober becomes intrinsic.
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Trauma, Sobriety, & 9/11

This week marks the 18th Anniversary of 9/11- an unforgettable and traumatic date for so many. It reminds us that even though time passes, wounds can be reopened as anniversary dates come to pass and memories surface. The word “trauma” can imply a terrifying and cosmic event that occurs in a person’s life. However, traumatic events can come is so many forms-some subtle- and are proportionate in terms of their impact on an individual. What may be traumatic for one person many not be for another.
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Embracing Life’s Transitions

August 29, 2019 Summer is coming to an end, which means that a transition is approaching- small for some and more difficult for others.  Kids and young adults are getting ready to go back to school, parents, are changing gears to a more regular schedule with their children in school and the season is shifting […]
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Sober Scheduling

Active addiction can infiltrate every aspect of one’s life and occupy a significant amount of time and mental energy When an individual is in the throws of addiction, their life revolves around substance usage and the negative side effects in a conscious or unconscious way. The people they spend time with, their work and academic schedules, leisure time, lack of schedule are all impacted by substance use.
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Sober Summertime Survival Guide

Things are heating up and that means more challenges for people in recovery. Summer is a time that is notoriously more difficult to stay sober. People in recovery frequently struggle are often bombarded with the constant barbecues, pool parties, and trips to the beach. How do we enjoy the season and not get off track?
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Independence From Addiction

July 3, 2019 July 4, 2010 was the least freeing Independence Day I have ever experienced. Like most days, I focused on one thing: how to avoid the withdrawal sickness I was feeling. I was addicted to heroin and cocaine, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to stop. I watched the fireworks […]
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Take PRIDE in Quality Care!

It's National Pride Month; a time in which we celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ community and all of the hard-fought progress we have made towards equality. However, there are still ongoing challenges. The LGBTQ Community historically has experienced significantly higher rates of mental illness and increased barriers to quality healthcare
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Barriers to Accessing Treatment

“I’m sorry, we just can’t let you stay. You haven’t used long enough.” I was 19-years-old, the secret I had been keeping had just been revealed: I was addicted to opioids.
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