There’s a reason why Florida has become synonymous with drug rehabilitation. It’s the same reason why people vacation and retire here: sunshine, warm weather, natural beauty – it’s good for the soul. Not to mention, there’s an abundance of things to do and places to explore.

Long-term drug or alcohol treatment can range from 3-6 months on average, with some programs lasting a year. Individuals will typically transition from detox to inpatient care, then outpatient care, and possibly sober living housing. Committing to a long-term program can be difficult, but there are so many benefits that will have a lasting impact on your recovery.

Individuals who attend long term drug rehab in Florida might be surprised to learn how much sunshine affects their recovery. From decreasing depression to increasing motivation, sunshine has a positive effect on a person’s mental health and well-being.

With more than eight distinct ecosystems, what Florida lacks in the mountains it makes up for in every other way. From oceans, lakes, and rivers to forests and marshlands, the Sunshine State provides for both thrilling adventure and reflective meditation.

On top of the innate benefits of attending drug rehab in Florida, long-term programs such as those provided at St. Johns Recovery Place provide a host of additional advantages:

  • Focused and consistent therapies
  • 24/7 access to a medical team and support staff
  • Structure and routine
  • Peer support network and camaraderie
  • Safe environment away from old influences and triggers, minimizing the risk of relapse during treatment
  • Holistic treatment
  • Empathetic counseling

Empathy in Recovery and the Motivation for Change

Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Empathy is the basis of a good relationship. In a treatment setting, empathy plays a decisive role for the recovering individual who needs to both receive empathy as well as offer it. When paired with an empathetic therapist, the individual has a better chance of successfully completing their treatment. When empathy is learned and offered to their loved ones, it can mend and strengthen broken relationships.

In the past, it was believed that substance misuse was linked to rigid defense mechanisms, particularly denial and rationalization. The treatment approach for addicts became highly confrontational and aggressive. One treatment community even became known for their group sessions in which individuals would verbally attack each other.

Not surprisingly, rehabs began to alter their treatment methods in the 1970s after poor outcomes. By 1985, the former method was officially renounced, and instead, studies revealed that counselors who showed high levels of empathy were far more successful. Rather than authority and power, a counselor’s use of empathy was the key to increasing an individual’s motivation to change.

Motivational Interviewing is now the recommended evidence-based approach to counseling used in many drug rehabs in Florida. The main goal is “to express empathy and elicit clients’ reasons for and commitment to changing substance use behaviors.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released an update to applying these motivational methods in addiction treatment. They include:

  • Focus on client strengths
  • Individualized and person-centered treatment
  • A shift away from labeling
  • Therapeutic partnerships for change
  • Use of empathy, not authority and power
  • Focus on early and brief interventions
  • Recognition of a continuum of substance misuse
  • Recognition of multiple SUDs
  • Acceptance of new treatment goals
  • Focus on risk reduction
  • Integration of addiction, behavioral health, and healthcare services

An empathetic approach seems easy but requires a counselor to be trained in effective communication. Counselors who successfully employ empathy and support, show higher “positive treatment outcomes, including decreased substance use, abstinence, and increased treatment retention.”

Developing Empathy During Recovery

Not only is it important for counselors to exhibit empathy but also for the recovering individual to learn empathy.

Studies have proven that adults with substance use disorders are noticeably less empathetic, both cognitively and affectively. Inherently, addiction is about survival, and in that mode, an individual will typically act selfishly. They have a decreased ability to understand others’ perspectives. As such, relationships between addicts and their friends and family are often strained and damaged.

Empathy, however, is crucial to recovery. And not only to recovery but to life in general. It is a key component of good communication and successful relationships. When empathy is practiced in recovery, it can help an individual:

  • Improve communication skills
  • Become more compassionate
  • Understand someone else’s side and not pass judgment or rush to conclusions
  • Not be selfish and self-absorbed
  • Reduce apathy and learn to care about others
  • Repair relationships

As an individual goes through the recovery process learning about themselves, communicating with their peers, and discovering positive behaviors and habits, they will have the opportunity to learn empathy. Some methods in which a person can practice empathy include:

  • Practice being mindful of your own feelings; noticing when and why they occur.
  • Don’t judge others; stay neutral and try to understand alternative points of view.
  • Know that you can still understand and appreciate someone else’s point of view without agreeing with them.
  • Don’t plan your responses while another person is still speaking. Give them your full attention, and then think about your response.
  • Consider the other person’s feelings and point of view. Imagine removing yourself from your body and view the situation through their eyes. Think about how they might see a situation differently than you.

As you can see, empathy plays a great role in recovery. If you’re thinking of attending long-term drug rehab in Florida, particularly near Jacksonville, Melbourne, or Central Florida, consider SJRP. Our professional and empathetic therapists and counselors understand that you are far more than just your disorder. Our entire team is dedicated to helping you not only begin but maintain lifelong sobriety. Call our admissions team today at 833-397-3422 to get started on your journey to recovery.

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