How Spectrum Helps Clients and Staff Cope with Death

“We didn’t need news articles to tell us how bad the opioid epidemic is,” claims Heidi DiRoberto, MA, LMHC, program director at Spectrum Health Systems. Before news of the opioid epidemic was being reported in almost every media outlet across the nation, our medical and clinical staff were already into the weeds treating opioid addiction. It is estimated by the Department of Public Health that Massachusetts is experiencing 4-6 fatal opioid overdoes a day.

Reactions to the opioid epidemic are wide-ranging. When news circulates within the addiction community of an untimely death, it shakes not only people with the disease, but family members of those struggling with an addiction and the professionals responsible for providing treatment to them. While some individuals openly express their grief, others are unable to share their emotions and become disconnected as a result. Often, these individuals resort to drug use as a way to cope.

“Risk factors are so much greater for people in recovery. Their coping strategies can kill them,” said DiRoberto. “The chances of relapse are much higher when individuals in recovery are faced with major life issues – we worry about how they’ll deal with them and the choices they will make.”

Loss is a part of every human experience, yet it is one of the most difficult and isolating life events for anyone to manage, even under the best of circumstances. Many of our clients lack the skills and supports needed to cope with death and the emotions that result from it. Recognizing the need to help both clients and staff cope with untimely and traumatic deaths, Spectrum now offers a clinical group to address this issue. The group is designed to help participants talk about their loss, process what they are feeling and learn coping skills for dealing with these emotions.

As part of Spectrum’s ongoing commitment to sharing best practices with other practitioners, staff members recently presented on this topic at the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) 2018 Conference held in New York City.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center are here to help. For more information about our wide-range of treatment options, call us anytime at (800) 366-7732.

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