Benefits of Remote Alcohol Monitoring in Private Practice

May 18, 2020
Benefits of Remote Alcohol Monitoring

Humans are social beings by nature. At the root of human existence is the desire to connect with others and feel seen. Providing that deeper level of connection, private practice addiction counselors and therapists take a personalized approach to sobriety that encourages long-term recovery, despite everyday challenges and unprecedented circumstances.

What is an Addiction Private Practice?

“An addiction private practice is similar to a regular private practice, but we specifically see substance abuse clients for the purpose of substance abuse counseling, interventions, drug testing, monitoring and oftentimes family counseling sessions,” Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (NCAC II) and National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC I) Michael O’Brien says.

For O’Brien, it starts with a conversation – if clients are willing to discuss making changes in their lives, O’Brien’s confident that together they can make a plan to address substance use issues. Operating as a 100% telehealth practice for the last two years, each of his client consultations begins with a complimentary introduction phone call that typically lasts 30 minutes, to review key factors, including1:

  • Determining if the individual has a substance abuse problem and whether it is their primary issue
  • Understanding what the client would like to achieve and answering questions
  • Explaining the process of working with clients (intake, assessment, counseling)
  • Determining eligibility to arrange an assessment appointment or provide referrals

Long-term clinical goals are discussed and agreed upon following an assessment. “I refer to treatment plans as recovery plans,” O’Brien writes in his book, Addiction Private Practice. “I feel this is a more positive term than “treatment” and clients feel less stigmatized.”2

An expert in the addiction recovery space with 13 years of experience, O’Brien has been utilizing Soberlink alcohol monitoring to promote lasting recovery in his clients’ journeys since opening his private practice in 2013.

Why Utilize Soberlink Alcohol Monitoring for Lasting Recovery?

Benefits of Remote Alcohol Monitoring

For clients struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), the decision to get sober can be challenging. Remaining committed to this decision in stressful situations can be even more difficult, not because clients don’t want to stay sober. It’s because, “the brain creates a path in itself in support of that habit,” according to Psychology Today. Similar to lifting weights and experiencing muscles grow stronger, reaching for a drink after certain contextual cues can result in a reflex.

In O’Brien’s practice, outpatient counseling, medication, substance use monitoring, and social support groups are the most effective forms of treatment. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, Soberlink’s comprehensive alcohol monitoring system sends results in real-time. Allowing for custom testing schedules depending on clients’ unique situations, Soberlink keeps clients and treatment professionals connected. Not only does the monitoring system allow clients to document their sobriety, but it reminds clients that they’re not alone. This sense of accomplishment can be the driving force in the brain’s new “recovery” loop.

Used as a tool to promote accountability, Soberlink can help clients achieve lasting sobriety. O’Brien shares that his clients’ success rates increase due to the accountability that Soberlink testing provides. “Clients who are willing to do the monitoring for six months or a year often have a higher success rate than those who choose not to do monitoring or only do it for a short period,” he adds.

Offering discreet monitoring, Soberlink Devices provide convenient, compact, and portable designs that don’t interrupt daily life. The system allows clients to test remotely to avoid stigma often associated with having to wear a device or complete trips to a lab. It also provides practitioners with peace of mind knowing they will be notified if a client misses a test, submits a positive test result, or cannot confirm their identity.

“Soberlink was the first option for monitoring that didn’t involve a big inconvenience for the client, so it is much less intrusive,” O’Brien says.

How Can Private Practitioners Implement Alcohol Monitoring?

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While certain practices may require remote alcohol monitoring, O’Brien determines need on a case-by-case basis. “[Clients] may be required to do so by a third party. They may also request drug testing, or we may decide to add it to their recovery plan if we feel it beneficial,” O’Brien states. “If cases involve child custody or the client’s freedom, I require them to utilize Soberlink.”3

If any of the following scenarios are present in your clients’ recovery plan goals, Soberlink may be an effective solution:

Demonstrate Abstinence in Mandated Cases

It’s not uncommon for addiction professionals to treat clients that have been required to request services from them for legal or employment reasons. “Over the years, many of my clients have been mandated to complete a substance evaluation, counseling, drug testing, or all three,” O’Brien says.3

Improve Personal Accountability

Helping clients to build accountability, Soberlink is the right tool “For clients who have trouble remaining abstinent at home or have certain unique circumstances where an extra level of accountability can be helpful,” O’Brien explains. This may include working professionals who live alone or clients who slip up, relapse or want to get back on track.

Increase Accountability with Others

Soberlink gives clients the option to share their testing results with their recovery circle. A client’s circle may include their addiction recovery professional, family members, spouses, sponsors, or close friends.

Rebuild Trust

Excessive drinking can strain relationships. Soberlink allows clients to rebuild trust by demonstrating proof of sobriety in a minimally intrusive manner. One client shares the impact that the system had in helping him rebuild trust with his family during recovery. “I genuinely believe that Soberlink not only helped me to be accountable but also relieved my family of any worry about me drinking. Right now, I’m nineteen months sober!”

As O’Brien mentions in his book, addiction professionals can help clients address underlying issues, such as repairing relationships. Clients aligning with addiction counselors can help them to achieve sobriety.4Therefore, clinicians should be viewed as strategic allies rather than competition.

When Should Private Practitioners Incorporate Alcohol Monitoring?

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As O’Brien described, the time to incorporate alcohol monitoring is not the same for everyone; it depends on a client’s circumstances, history, and treatment goals. However, there are certain times out of the year that can present heightened stress for clients across the board. According to O’Brien5, these include Holidays where there is a lot of social drinking like Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.

“If clients’ families know they are trying to stay sober, they tend to have more incentive to remain sober on those holidays. The major relapse holidays tend to be ones where clients spend more time with friends…” O’Brien states.5 Working with clients in the weeks preceding holidays to discuss strategies on how to handle issues that may arise dramatically reduces the chance of relapse. Combining these approaches with Soberlink can help ensure clients feel fully supported and prepared during times of increased risk.

How Can Alcohol Monitoring Help During Times of Crisis?

Today’s rapidly evolving climate presents added stresses for clients in recovery. Uncertainty, isolation, and economic difficulties are just a few predicaments clients may face at this time. The question is – how can addiction professionals help? By encouraging clients to stay connected with their recovery circle.

“Helping clients have a plan on which things they are going to stay connected to virtually. Also, having a plan for accountability, despite the closures and the inability to be more personal,” O’Brien shares. As his practice has been 100% telehealth for the past two years, O’Brien shares that there are many available resources for online support. By expanding the accessibility and ease of telemedicine, Soberlink allows O’Brien and other practitioners to help their clients work through these changing circumstances in real-time.

If you are looking for a way to provide your addiction recovery clients with added accountability and support during today’s evolving climate, Soberlink can help. Contact our team to get in touch today.

About the Author

Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.

Learn More About Soberlink

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