Substance use disorder is a life-limiting and often life-destroying disability. Services provided at VR's Palmetto Center can help guide individuals through the emotional and physical aspects of confronting an addiction so that they can replace it with a rewarding lifestyle.
“We help our consumers understand how their whole body is affected by substance use disorder,” says Helene Goldsmith, Supervisor at Palmetto Center.
Addiction is a disease that changes the brain, and these changes remain long after a person stops using drugs or alcohol, she explains. “Addiction can also cause physical problems and disorders, as well as mental and emotional distress. It can lead to changes in behavior and interrupt daily life patterns, such as eating and sleeping.”
Recovery from addiction means not only ending alcohol or substance use, but learning new ways of thinking, feeling, and dealing with problems. It isn't easy, and there are no short cuts.
To better reflect the types of therapeutic services offered at Palmetto Center, VR has changed from using the term “treatment” to “recovery.”
“Palmetto Center has been at the core of service delivery for VR for several decades,” says Felicia W. Johnson, Commissioner. “We are dedicated to helping our consumers overcome barriers to employment and substance use addiction is a barrier that negatively impacts the individual, as well as their family and community. Palmetto Center offers a holistic approach to recovery, providing rehabilitation services to help consumers achieve their ultimate goal of employment.”
Recovery is a lifelong process and each person’s journey of recovery is unique.
“We help individuals begin to modify their attitudes and behaviors, improve their life skills, and address co-occurring issues that may be present, such as anxiety or depression,” says Goldsmith. “A unique aspect of our services is the the focus on helping each person find or maintain employment. And after they complete the program here, consumers continue to receive services and support from their local VR office and their community.”
The primary approach used at Palmetto Center is group therapy, which encourages participants to learn about themselves and others with similar struggles through open discussions. It is often a deep, emotional experience. Combined with other behavioral therapies, this provides a strong foundation and structure for recovery.
To enter the voluntary four-week residential program, a person must be a VR consumer, be tested for tuberculosis, and be opioid, stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen free for at least 10 days or alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana free for three days.
Consumers beginning the recovery program are given a full assessment by the nursing staff. They participate in group and individual therapy sessions throughout their stay and address issues including anger management, conflict resolution, personal development and relapse prevention. Family therapy sessions are offered each week. Consumers also learn how nutrition, exercise and recreation benefit their health and recovery.
During their second week job preparedness instruction begins, and by the end of the program, consumers will have completed a vocational assessment, participated in career exploration and mock interviews, learned how to dress for success, and created a resume. They also receive information about resources available in the community they live in.
Substance use disorder continues to be a significant problem for South Carolina, especially with the rise of the opioid crisis. It is estimated that more than 400,000* individuals in the state aged 12 or older are dependent on, or misuse, alcohol or drugs each year. This makes the services provided at Palmetto Center more vital than ever.
Goldsmith adds that there is also an increase in dual diagnoses. Many individuals may have depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or some other physical issue such as diabetes.
“It's not just substance misuse alone that we're dealing with any more,” she says. “To effectively address the substance misuse, we also have to address these other issues. Treating both increases a person's ability to successfully recover.”
Palmetto Center can house up to 60 individuals in an environment featuring exercise, meditation and healthy living programs. More than 40 therapeutic groups have been added to the program and address topics such as understanding the effects of substance use, intervention, managing emotions, and effective recreation.
For almost 60 years, recovery services for substance use disorder have been provided at VR’s Palmetto Center. More than 30,000 South Carolinians have passed through the Center’s doors, where they received care, guidance, structure, and a foundation for recovery from addiction. Although treatment and methodologies have changed and evolved over the years, the core mission remains the same: to help individuals with substance use addiction achieve or retain competitive employment.
The Recovery Process**
Recovery happens over time. The process occurs as people learn how substance use addiction affects them physically and mentally and they begin to manage their behavior. Recovery encompasses the following:
- Stopping use of alcohol and drugs
- Staying away from negative influences and establishing social networks that support recovery
- Stopping negative and self-defeating behaviors
- Learning to manage feelings and emotions responsibly
- Learning to change addictive thinking patterns
- Identifying and changing mistaken beliefs that promote irrational thinking
Addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, meaning there is no cure. But addiction can be managed, and people with addiction can, and do, recover.
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.