Calm, Cool and Connected - The Guide Book to Peace of Mind

Navigating Relapse and Recovery

December 13, 2021 Calm, Cool and Connected Season 1 Episode 118
Calm, Cool and Connected - The Guide Book to Peace of Mind
Navigating Relapse and Recovery
Show Notes Transcript

Navigating Relapse and Recovery

Substance abuse is a widespread issue, that does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status- to name a few.

60% of Americans over the age of 12 have abused some kind of substance in the last 30 days. On this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected we have Charlene Cutting, a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist here to tell us more.

Key Takeaways from Dr. Fedrick’s chat with Charlene:

• Hear about Charlene and her background
• Find out what exactly constitutes relapse
• Learn some common factors that can lead to relapse
• Hear the best course of action if relapse occurs
• Learn ways to keep a relapse from occurring in the first place

All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.

Find more information on Western Tidewater CSB on their website at

For more information on Dr. Elizabeth Fedrick, visit her website:
Connect with Dr, Fedrick on Instagram: @drelizabethfedrick

Watch the video interview here

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Dr. Fedrick: Hello, and welcome to calm. Cool and connected. I'm your host, Dr.

Elizabeth Fedrick substance abuse is a widespread issue that does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, or really any other factor. Substance substance abuse is common among all demographics and statistics indicate that about 60% of Americans over the age of 12, have abused a substance of some type in the last 30.

One of the biggest barriers with overcoming substance abuse is certainly the [00:01:00] willingness to recognize there's an issue and then to seek help. However, another huge barrier is the concern for relapse. So here at this today, Charlene cutting a certified peer recovery specialist from Western Tidewater community services board.

Charlene is here to help us to understand possible reasons for relapse as well as effective ways to provide. Hi, Charlene. Welcome to our show. 

Charlene Cutting: Good 

Dr. Fedrick: morning. Good morning. I'm so happy to have you here with us. This is a very interesting topic. It is often we've, we've talked quite a bit about addiction on the show, but relapsed specifically is not something that we've addressed.

So I think this, this will definitely be interesting for our audience. Let's start by talking a little bit about you and the work that you do in the mental health. 

Charlene Cutting: Okay. Sure. Yeah. Thanks for having me. So I am a certified peer recovery specialist and I work for the Western Tidewater community service board.

That's a local agency that offers, it offers mental health and [00:02:00] substance use disorder services, and also developmental services. Being a certified peer recovery specialist essentially means that I am somebody who has lived experience we've either mental health or substance use disorder and and living in recovery life.

When I share my experience with those who may be experiencing those challenges. 

Dr. Fedrick: Okay. So you have quite a breadth of knowledge, as well as it sounds like your own personal experiences that probably make you really relatable when working with this demographic. 

Charlene Cutting: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So it helps to bridge the gap between those that were serving in the community with perhaps some of the services that we're offering.

So perhaps outpatient therapy, et cetera. So it helps to kind of build trust, build rapport and help those that are in need of these services to realize that they can recover, that they can have. 

Dr. Fedrick: Yes, absolutely a good, good, good source of hope. So tell us a little bit about relapse. What, what is consider, [00:03:00] can we start with kind of like the technical description of what is relapse?

Charlene Cutting: Relapse usually is identified as a return to if we're talking about substances. So it's usually identified as return to substance use after a period of abstinence So, so important to realize that relapse is a process, not necessarily just an event. We often think of it as being something that just happens.

But there's usually a, a buildup that happens before a person will actually then go on to use a substance. 

Dr. Fedrick: Okay. So that makes sense. And that's actually a really important distinction that it's not generally somebody just decided. On a whim all the sudden, but rather there's maybe life stressors or there's triggers or there's various life events that kind of lead this person to then that's, that's what ultimately ends up happening at the end of this process.

Is that accurate? 

Charlene Cutting: Yeah. I mean, th the, the thing to [00:04:00] remember is that, you know, everybody's experience is different. So there's obviously going to be. And quantifiable or identical amount of different factors that can play a part in why somebody would return to use. But self-awareness is definitely a key part in this process.

So when we say that it's a process rather than an event we have found that seldom does a person randomly just choose. I'm going to return to something that has. Problematic for me in the past, that's affected my health. There's usually a number of different factors that would lead to that happening.

Dr. Fedrick: Sure. And what so I completely understand that every situation is very unique. Are there any common factors that you see that, that lead to relapse more often than others? 

Charlene Cutting: Usually it's a self-awareness issue. And lack of understanding about. Substance use disorder. Lack of understanding on what the person is actually dealing with, lack of understanding or education that this is [00:05:00] an actual illness and it's chronic and it's progressive.

So substance use disorder is also characterized by a denial of the illness. So that is a core factor in what would encourage somebody to try to use again is not being aware. That once they've arrived at a certain point within their illness, that they're probably going to end up with the same results and they may continue to deteriorate within that illness if they don't receive.

Dr. Fedrick: Okay. And so then when this takes place, the, when the relapse takes place, what is usually, what do you prescribe as the best course of action for somebody to take? And I, I hear what you're saying that the self-awareness piece is huge. So not being in denial about it and really coming to acceptance of, oh boy, here we go again.

And so then what, what is the best approach from this. 

Charlene Cutting: So of course, you know, it's person centered and the person has to be a [00:06:00] willing to want to go through the necessary stages of change I'm going to have to happen in order for a person to achieve any kind of lasting recovery or supervisee. So safety and support is usually the first two things that we want to be thinking about.

Is the person going to be able to establish any kind of safety? Oftentimes when a person returns to substance use, they're placed in environments that aren't safe, unfortunately. And a lot of the time when times when a person does relapse, they're often lacking in support. So those are the first two things that we're kind of trying to emphasize to somebody to help them to understand so safety and support and connecting And realizing that actually connection is the antidote to addiction to suffering.


Dr. Fedrick: And that's exactly. I was about to ask what are some protective factors that you usually see to be most effective? So it sounds like the support and having, having a group of people around them that is. Really getting them to where they need to go, as you're saying to the [00:07:00] safety or to the self-awareness what other protective factors do you guys find to be effective?

Charlene Cutting: So it's, it's really kind of just meeting the person where they're at and demonstrating understanding and that's, and that's exactly why peer support is so effective. Because they're oftentimes there's a trust barrier. When dealing with this. So being able to kind of like, just meet someone where they're at and just say, I, I may not have been exactly where you are, but I, but I understand.

And being able to kind of like share those experiences, some of your selective lift experiences with them building that rapport is about establishing a relationship, basically building trust and kind of like demonstrating that you can really. No matter what you can recover. 

Dr. Fedrick: Right. And that's huge for a lot of people because there is the fear of being shamed or put down or rejected likely experiences that they've had throughout their lifetime with their substance abuse that [00:08:00] when somebody relapsed, there's obviously the fear of all that happening again.

And so. A peer support specialist can show up and say, I'm here for you. No matter what. And I'm going to support you through this. I'm sure that's really powerful for that person. 

Charlene Cutting: Yeah, absolutely. And again, it's, it's it's about kind of meeting that person where they're at and that person having an internal willingness to want to, to be helped essentially.

And that's where it all starts. And then it's just about a lot of listening and validating their experiences. Because as you say, there is a lot of stigma. There's a lot of disbelief. There's a lot of doubt. There's a lot of judgment. So a person needs to be hard. They need to feel safe and they need to trust you.

They're speaking to and that's where that connection is formed. And that's when we usually start to see some results and you know, just encouraging them that they can take those healthy risks. They can You know, start to change things. And that's why we start to implement those different stages of change that [00:09:00] unnecessary to, to achieve the desired outcome.

Dr. Fedrick: Right? Yeah. That is all so important. And when we think about preventing the relapse to even begin with, so once the relapse has taken place, meeting them where they're at providing that support and safety, what are a couple of things that you might suggest to a client? To prevent relapse from happening in the first place.

Charlene Cutting: So there has to be an understanding of how they've arrived at where they are in the first place. So I know we've mentioned it already, but self-awareness is really important. So for a person to identify what has led them into that substance use disorder, that is generally what is going to save them from repeat in those.


Dr. Fedrick: So in other words that self-awareness that's needed to get treatment was obviously paramount, but that self-awareness has to stay active. They have to stay intentional in that self-awareness throughout recovery. As you're saying to [00:10:00] prevent the risk of relapse. 

Charlene Cutting: Yeah, there has to be a vigilance. And they have to be willing to commit to the idea that they're going to have to engage in a new lifestyle, basically a new processes until that becomes almost a bitch or like a working part of their mind.

Sure, sure. 

Dr. Fedrick: And that can be really hard to completely change up your life and do something that's really 

Charlene Cutting: uncomfortable. Absolutely. Absolutely. But obviously, you know, 

Dr. Fedrick: Right. Absolutely. What, where can our audience find you? What, what's your website or are you guys on social media? Where can our viewers learn more about you?

Charlene Cutting: Western title work, community service board at WT. WT S And there you'll find a full list of everything that we do, or the services that we offer and more about the program that I'm particularly connected with, which is the solar program, which is state opioid response, but we are the Western Tidewater community services board.

Dr. Fedrick: [00:11:00] Perfect. Thank you so much for being here, Charlene. That was really informative. I appreciate it. Thank you so much. And thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cooling, connected. Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well.

Thank you again for joining us in this episode of calm. Cool and connected. .