Living in Balance is a SAMHSA approved treatment recovery model used as the basis of our chemical dependency programs and overall recovery model.
What is Living in Balance?
LIB is a comprehensive addiction treatment program that emphasizes relapse prevention. LIB consists of a series of psycho-educational and experiential training sessions. LIB is delivered on an individual basis and in group settings with relaxation exercises, role-play exercises, discussions, and workbook exercises. The psycho-educational sessions cover topics such as drug education, relapse prevention, available self-help groups, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The experientially based or interactive sessions are designed to enhance the client’s level of functioning in certain key life areas that are often neglected with prolonged drug use: physical, emotional, and social well-being, adult education opportunities, vocational development, daily living skills, spirituality/recovery, sexuality, and recreation/leisure. These sessions include a large amount of role-play with time to actively process personal issues and learn how to cope with everyday stressors.
How Does it Work?
LIB uses didactic education and instruction, group process interaction through role plays and discussion, daily relaxation and visualization exercises, informational handouts, videotapes, and group-oriented recreational therapy exercises.
The major addiction-related topics include RP, drug education, and self-help education. Physical health issues addressed include nutrition, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV/AIDS, dental hygiene, and insomnia. Psychosocial topics include attitudes and beliefs, negative emotions, anger and communication, sexuality, spirituality, and the benefits of relationships. In addition, there are sessions on money management, education and vocational development, and loss and grieving.
Throughout the LIB program, clients learn to monitor their own feelings and behavior and use relaxation and visualization techniques in the self-assessment and goal-setting processes. Throughout the program clients learn to become actively involved in treatment—learning how to conduct self-assessments and actively implement coping and RP skills. One of the strongest emphases in the LIB program is to teach clients how to become their own relapse preventionists. This includes teaching them about the psychological and physiological components of addiction and recovery, and the various types of interventions and “life skills areas,” in which ongoing intervention is necessary.
What Do Patients Learn From LIB?
The basic rationale of the LIB model is that persons addicted to drugs develop a sense of imbalance in major areas of life functioning. Continuous drug use generally impairs a person’s physical health, emotional well-being, social relationships, work performance, and other major areas of functioning. Recovery involves regaining a reasonable balance in these critical areas. Balance in the major areas of life allows clients to free themselves from their addiction to drugs and provides protection against relapse to drug use. The concept of “living in balance” is essentially a broad, holistic approach to RP.
RP is the single most important component of the LIB program. The first section of the program is devoted primarily to developing RP skills; RP sessions are scheduled strategically throughout the program. The understanding and skills that clients develop in these segments are meant to be used throughout the LIB program on a daily basis. The LIB program approach to RP is based in large part on a cognitive-behavioral model of RP developed by Marlatt and Gordon (1985). In this model, the former drug user confronts a high-risk situation for which he or she has no effective coping response. According to the model, high-risk situations can occur for many reasons, including social pressure to use drugs, negative emotions, and, less frequently, withdrawal symptoms and positive emotions. The lack of a coping response combined with positive expectancies for the initial effects of the drug in the situation greatly heighten the risk of a slip (Hall et al. 1991).
Regarding relapse, the model suggests that “a person headed toward a slip makes numerous small decisions at the time which, although seemingly small and irrelevant at the time they are made, actually bring the individual closer to the brink of the slip. A chain of small decisions can lead, over time, to relapse” (Marlatt and Gordon 1985).
The biopsychosocial LIB approach to this patterning and slip chain is to rework it—to offer clients information about high-risk physical, social, and psychological situations and the potential impact of “small decisions”; to offer clients training in coping responses and stress reduction strategies; and to guide clients down alternative paths to pleasure and other life satisfactions.
LIB RP helps clients:
- Identify situations that trigger cravings.
- Understand the chain of events, including “small decisions,” that lead from trigger to drug use.
- Disrupt the chain at an early point.
- Cope with triggers by using thought-stopping, visualization, and relaxation techniques.
- Develop immediate alternatives to drug use.
- Develop a long-term plan for full recovery.
RP is viewed as a fundamental component of treatment and is consequently emphasized in the LIB manual by the use of repeated RP sessions. These sessions are intended to reinforce critical RP concepts and allow clients the opportunity to discuss and process difficult situations that they face in their daily lives that could easily lead to slips or full-blown relapse. Intensive use of visualization exercises is intended to strengthen RP skills and aid in forming and reinforcing personal goals.
Agent of Change
The agent of change in the LIB model is multidimensional, involving interaction among the group counselor, the client, and the other group members. Although a highly structured format is provided for conducting the group sessions, the counselor is encouraged to utilize his or her personal skills and experience to engage and involve the clients in treatment. In addition, group interaction is highly encouraged, and many of the activities such as role plays, discussions, and games are designed to facilitate group interaction and elicit emotional responses and social bonding. Interpersonal techniques such as visualization, meditation, and even homework exercises are also extensively used, as they require personal responsibility and discipline on the part of the client for maximum benefit.
Conception of Drug Abuse/Addiction, Causative Factors
In the LIB approach, addiction is viewed as a biopsychosocial process that not only handicaps an individual’s functioning but also may destroy the cohesiveness of family and community relationships. Biopsychosocial processes refer to the inherited biological vulnerabilities, psychological predispositions, and pervasive social influences that converge to both form and perpetuate addictive behaviors.
Although related evidence is equivocal regarding biological contributions to addictive behaviors, it has been a common belief that some people are born with a genetic predisposition for developing an addiction when exposed to psychoactive drugs. Following chronic drug use, all people experience a severe biological (neurochemical) imbalance. Drug hunger, intoxication, and withdrawal are all manifestations of drug-induced imbalances of biologic homeostasis.
Some people begin their drug use to diminish potent emotional and psychiatric symptoms. In turn, addiction causes a variety of psychological problems; drug use and withdrawal can cause numerous psychiatric symptoms. Even recovery can cause severe emotional turmoil. Importantly, addiction causes distortions in thinking such as denial, minimization, and projection.
Various environmental factors increase the likelihood of exposure to specific drugs. For instance, certain drugs are more frequently used within certain cultures, and certain drugs are more easily found in certain geographic areas. For many people, drug use occurs in the context of a social network. In addition, addiction frequently causes severe disruptions in people’s social lives. Various social and environmental factors can also contribute to the triggering of drug hunger and relapse.
Addiction is further viewed as a chronic, disabling condition in which relapses are common. Each client’s unique history and evolution of addiction must be evaluated at each of these levels, so that an effective treatment plan can be tailored to the client’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses. The more comprehensive the intervention, the more successful the outcome is likely to be. Because addiction affects multiple areas of clients’ lives, treatment efforts should address all major areas of living.
The LIB program takes a nonjudgmental approach to addiction and lifestyle issues. In general, clients are viewed as people with a compulsive disorder that often overwhelms good intentions and willpower. Clients can be taught RP techniques to avoid a reemergence of the symptoms of addiction: compulsion, loss of control, continued use despite adverse consequences, and relapse.