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Long-Term Recovery Interview and Paper

Long-Term Recovery Interview and Paper

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Long-Term Recovery Interview and Paper

Long-term Recovery Interview and Assignment: Johnson Jefferson

1. How does the student know this person (Johnson Jefferson)?

Johnson Jefferson, a 45-year-old African American male, and I enjoy a client-therapist relationship. We first met during my placement in 2019 at Memorial Hermann Prevention & Recovery Center, located in 1015 Central Parkway North, Suite 125, San Antonia, Texas. Memorial Hermann is one of the leading substance rehabilitation and treatment centers in San Antonio that specializes in drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and addiction. As a nationally recognized center, Memorial Hermann offers individualized alcohol and drug outpatient therapies, which cover issues with anxiety, anger management, chronic relapse, coping skills, codependency, dual diagnosis, medical detox, emotional disturbance, self-esteem, parenting, relationship issues, as well as substance abuse. I decided to use Mr. Jefferson for my interview because we have interacted closely for a couple of months. He is presently working at Macdonald’s as a salesman but is also enrolled in Memorial Hermann’s programs for alcohol abuse and addiction. Mr. Jefferson joined the program after struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction for almost 25 years, a condition that started when he was just a high school teenager. The situation worsened in college as Johnson habitually engaged in binge drinking episodes with friends but eventually dropped out of college due to poor grades and lack of tuition fees. Prior to his enrollment in the Adult Evening Program that begins at 6:00 pm and ends at 9:00 pm, Johnson had been arrested and released on parole several times for possession of illegal substances, driving while drunk, fighting in the clubs, and other petty alcohol-related offenses.

In 2010, his alcoholism worsened as he was arrested and jailed for two years after being found in possession of firearms and threatening to shoot a reveler after a night out. He was eventually released in 2014, which prompted him to seek medical assistance at Memorial Hermann immediately as part of reintegration back to the community. He has now been with the program for about six years and has never relapsed to alcohol use again.

2. What were the contributing factors that lead you to use alcohol, drugs, or behaviors in excess?

I believe that some of the factors that significantly influenced my decision to start using alcohol were peer pressure, poverty, as well as growing up in an environment where almost everyone used drugs, especially alcohol, including my parents. As you know, it is not always comfortable being black in America because we are faced with all types of inequalities and racial segregation, ranging from poor healthcare access to inadequate education facilities. We are also from impoverished economic backgrounds and have always struggled even to pay for basic needs, including house rent. As such, our parents often engage in drinking to relieve their lack of employment and other social problems their families are facing. Therefore, yes, it is true that I tasted my first bottle of beer while still a teenager, one day after my parents fought and were both detained in a local police station for causing a disturbance. My parents were both drunkards and would often fight over petty issues, and most of their quarrels emanated from lack of money. As for my addiction, I believe peer pressure and the general ghetto lifestyle fashionable in most neighborhoods populated with African Americans played a significant part. I am black, and most of our communities are impoverished, and unemployment rates are high. Thereby, most youths turn into alcohol and drug abuse, prostitution, robbery, drug trafficking, and other crimes at a very young age to make ends meet for their unemployed fathers and mothers. Almost everyone abused drugs during my days, and I was not to be an exception, considering I even dropped out of college.

There is arguably a vast pool of research to support Mr. Johnson’s reasons for starting to abuse alcohol, especially as an African American. For example, most researchers, such as Carliner et al. (2014), agree that alcohol and drug abuse is rampant in African American communities or neighborhoods because of racial discrimination, poverty, and inequality in the distribution of resources, including educational facilities, infrastructure, healthcare, and many others. Carliner et al. (2014) also argue that lack of education significantly results in unemployment and poverty, thereby implying that a majority of residents cannot afford to live comfortably, including getting decent and secure housing, accessing healthy foods and a balanced diet, paying for mortgages and health insurance, and many others. The outcome is that most of these individuals end up using, abusing, or trafficking drugs. They also find themselves involved in prostitution and other criminal offenses, such as burglary and gun violence.

3. What were the circumstances that led you to believe that you were not in control?

Although I used alcohol in high school and college, and also a few years after dropping out, with caution, it reached a point I realized that I was alcoholic or addicted because I could no longer control my drinking. One circumstance that made me come to this realization is that I could often continue drinking even though it made me feel anxious and depressed, especially after I dropped out of college. Another indication was my lack of interest in every activity other than alcohol drinking, including watching movies and basketball, which was my childhood favorite sport. I also realized I was not in control because of the constant cravings for alcohol, even in the morning, the increased cases of self-harming behaviors, persistent withdrawal symptoms, and the continuous issues with law enforcement. Lastly, I was often agitated by constant criticism from friends and family.

Several empirical studies support these alcohol addiction signs (lack of situational control) exhibited by the client. For example, O’Brien (2008) contends that four CAGE clinical questions can assist physicians or patients in recognizing they are addicted to alcohol. These questions include eye-openers, guilty feelings, annoyance by critics, and cutting down. Mr. Jefferson exhibited all these signs when he realized he was no longer in control of his situation.

4. How did the person stop using (arrest and jail time, treatment, cold turkey)?

As I mentioned earlier, I stopped drinking alcohol directly after a series of events and on several occasions. The first time I stopped using alcohol was after dropping out of college because I felt drinking ruined my grades. I never really attended a class or submitted assignments, with most of my school weekdays spent in clubs or nursing hangovers. I relapsed after one year after undergoing severe depression. I was lonely and had no one to talk to since even my family and closest college friends had deserted me. I had suicidal thoughts, and only alcohol provided me with the solace I needed. The next time I stopped alcohol use was after being released from prison in 2014 following a two-year jail term. I purely went to jail because alcohol got the better part of me. My friends and I had just left a particular club in our neighborhood after a fight broke out involving a shootout. I was the least involved in the brawl but received the most massive punishment. After serving my jail term, I decided to call quits, and I have never looked back.

Although there is some absolute truth in the argument that incarceration can provide answers to the problem of drug use, including cessation, a few researchers tend to think that it does not offer a long-lasting solution since a majority of inmates might end up relapsing if appropriate rehabilitation and reintegration measures are not put in place. For example, according to Chandler, Fletcher, & Volkow (2010), whereas things like incarceration, arrests, and treatment can occasionally trigger drug abuse cessation, they are often bound to fail eventually.

5. How did you feel different in the beginning (first three weeks) of your recovery?

Honestly speaking, the first three weeks of my recovery were never that easy. The initial three days were the most treacherous as my body was indicating severe withdrawal symptoms. In fact, I was at some point admitted to a detoxification center because I was experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms like delirium tremens, body tremors, hallucinations, disorientation, erratic thought patterns, and extreme mood swings. I was also continually experiencing headaches, insomnia, nausea, sweating, and anxiety. Doctors placed me on some medication like benzodiazepines. However, within the next week, most of these signs had receded, with the exception of a few delirium tremors, which eventually also ultimately decreased in the second and third weeks. I somehow started enjoying my sobriety at this point, even though occasional mood swings were present.

Empirical research also supports the signs and symptoms experienced by Mr. Jefferson within the first three weeks as well as the use of benzodiazepines. For example, a study conducted by Sachdeva, Choudhary, & Chandra (2015) revealed that most alcohol-dependence patients on their road to recovery encounter the challenge of severe acute withdrawal signs, including delirium tremens, hallucinations, and sometimes seizures. The researchers also suggest that benzodiazepines have been habitually used as a gold standard for treating these withdrawal symptoms sometimes, even though barbiturates, anticonvulsants, GABA agonists, and adrenergic drugs can as well assist.

6. Tell about the process of early (first six months) recovery

Although acute physical symptoms had significantly lessened within the first six months, including tremors, I still faced psychological and emotional withdrawal signs, including variable concentration, disturbed sleep, low enthusiasm, variable energy, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, as well as mood swings. Sleeping was mainly a problem because I was previously used to drinking at night. I could one day wake up irritated and with low energy. However, this lasted for just a few days.

Several recent studies back up Jefferson’s claims of facing emotional and psychological symptoms. For instance, Sachdeva, Choudhary, & Chandra (2015) argue that patients encounter post-acute withdrawal from one month to approximately two years. These symptoms can include disturbed sleep, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and tiredness. The researchers also debate that these symptoms disappear for a few months or weeks only to reappear again.

7. What were the relapse triggers? How did you manage relapse risk?

Similar to other drug addicts, I faced the challenge of altogether quitting alcohol because I was always feeling the urge and desire to relapse. The intense cravings for alcohol were the worst triggers, which almost made me get back into drinking. These cravings were accompanied by other acute withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, headaches, tremors, shakiness, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. I also faced the challenge of overcoming peer pressure, especially my other alcoholic friends, who were always nagging me to try just “one last drink.” This was so tempting, although I managed to shrug them off. In fact, I ended up making a whole new bunch of sober friends to change my lifestyle. The situation was however worse, considering that some of my family members were drinking, and alcohol was constantly circulating at home. It was so easy and very tempting for me because I could continuously bump into a bottle of beer in the fridge.

Researchers have arguably found enough evidence to support the various relapse triggers faced by my interviewee. For example, O’Brien (2008), in their study, discovered that a majority of addicts relapse into their drinking behavior after being exposed to compromising situations. A majority of these aspects often trigger or pressurize reformed users to get back to their past drinking habits. Most of these factors include physical contact with alcohol, hanging out with drinking friends, and persistent withdrawal symptoms.

8. What people, places, things, and activities did/do you turn to for your stability?

Sincerely speaking, and you can ask a few people who have struggled with addiction recovery, it is never easy to completely turn down the cravings and triggers associated with drinking alcohol. It is like being thirsty and refusing to drink water when offered by a friend. I genuinely needed something very engaging, healthy, and perhaps emotionally connected to increase my abstinence stability. After being advised by my therapist, I decided to turn to watching basketball, movies, and American football, reading novels, traveling, visiting some of my family members in Ohio, and other things to keep my mind busy. Before long, I realized that I had fewer and fewer cravings for alcohol. However, I can attest that it was not easy at first because of the constant irritability, fatigue, and lack of sleep.

I totally agree with Mr. Jefferson’s response that certain activities and places can assist in the recovery process. In fact, scientific research supports this claim. For instance, according to an investigation conducted by Brown et al. (2009) and published by the Behavior Modification Journal, activities like aerobic exercise can significantly reduce relapse issues drug addicts face during the recovery process. The experts, however, argue that these activities should be combined with other healthy lifestyle changes, including eating healthy diets.

9.How did you know that your life was taking a turn for the better?

I realized my life was taking a turn for the better the moment I started embracing and enjoying sobriety. I can attest that although it was not easy for the first few weeks, I enjoyed every bit of my former sober self after one month of recovery. Things even got better when I realized that I no longer had mild cravings that previously forced me to borrow money just to quench my alcohol thirst. I also noticed that I was no longer dependent on alcohol for anything because the cravings whenever I saw a bottle of beer or someone else taking alcohol were gone. I could now do what I enjoy without thinking about drinking.

Mr. Jefferson’s statements are indubitably true because patients on positive alcohol or drug recovery path often realize they are getting better the moment their dependence on alcohol begins receding. They truly no longer feel the strong urge to consume alcohol at the expense of even the very critical things they love doing. Most importantly, this stage is marked by the disappearance of acute withdrawal symptoms, lack of tremors, irritability, and many others. Research strongly supports these claims. For example, according to Sachdeva, Choudhary, & Chandra (2015), the gradual and eventually complete loss of post-acute withdrawal signs, such as disturbed sleep, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and tiredness, can be the first indications of a positive response for alcohol and drug use walkout.

10.How is your life different now?

For sure, my life is entirely different now after being in the rehabilitation process for now nearly over five years. As I mentioned earlier, I no longer feel even the slightest urge to drink, and I cherish every effort I put into getting sober. Whereas I struggled with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, I think today I can sleep well at night and feel energized as well as emotionally in control. I do not harbor any feelings of going back to drinking, and I’m planning to start a campaign that will convince other addicts in San Antonio and the neighboring regions to try local rehabilitation institutions. I can confidently say that I am now completely free from alcohol.

I believe empirical research finds Mr. Jefferson’s claims correct, especially as it concerns a lack of complete interest among addicts after spending several years in sobriety, without relapsing. A majority of people at this stage also often start to enjoy their sobriety. For instance, in empirical research conducted by Laudet (2007) that interviewed over 289 individuals with resolved addiction, most people reported experiencing “total abstinence” (86.5 percent), and entire social life change as being the goal and objective of drug recovery. A significant percentage indicated reclaiming their former “self,” self-change, and having a bountiful new life as some of the aftermaths of recovery.

11.What do you most appreciate about your recovery?

One of the very few things I really appreciate about my recovery is that I have regained my health, including my weight, normal blood pressure, and heart rate. In 2010, a specific doctor during a random checkup told me at one point that I had a body mass index (BMI) of 32 and that I was obese. In fact, I remember because of my excess weight, I had problems with my breathing, blood circulation, as well as blood sugar. I was also diagnosed with diabetes, although I never received any severe medications after being in jail. I can confidently say that I am now clean and have a healthy weight. Subsequently, my sugar is once more reasonable, as well as my pulse rate, BMI, and blood glucose. I also appreciate my recovery because I am financially stable and no longer have to worry about where I will get the funds to support my alcohol.

I concur with Mr. Jefferson’s response that sometimes excessive alcohol intake can result in being overweight and, subsequently, obesity. This, together with other factors, can trigger diabetes, heart problems, breathing issues, and many other health complications. In fact, empirical research supports these claims. For example, a survey conducted by Shelton and Knot (2014) to establish the relationship between alcohol and obesity among 8864 people in England found a positive correlation. The mean alcohol calorie intake for women (19 percent) and men (27 percent) was directly related to obesity cases.

12. What were the most helpful and least helpful things people did during your recovery?

I firmly believe that the things other people (especially family members, friends, and therapists) do to an individual attempting to recover from addiction can significantly impact their rehabilitation step. These things can assist them in abstaining, or they can influence their relapse. Individually, I feel one of the most helpful things my uncle did (who played a significant role in my reform process) was to take me to Memorial Hermann Prevention & Recovery Center. This rehabilitation facility is the reason I have completely changed and never relapsed because I learned how to deal with relapse triggers. They also placed me on the right medication and dosage that I needed to deal with acute alcohol withdrawal signs during the first month of my recovery process. On the other hand, I think the worst and least helpful thing someone did to me was offer me free drinks a few months into rehabilitation. A friend offered to pay me if I consumed one bottle of vodka. I think this was the hardest temptation I have ever faced in my recovery journey.

I think there is a vast pool of research that supports the fact that people and the surrounding environment play a fundamental role in assisting drug addicts to maintain sobriety and never relapse to drinking. For example, in a study conducted by Moos & Moos (2006) on the predictors of relapse following a treatment program, it was established that individuals who obtained assistance were less likely to relapse than those who never received any aid. The researchers further pointed out that those that receive support can maintain a three-year remission and never relapse.


Brown, R. A., et al. (2009). Aerobic exercise for alcohol recovery: rationale, program description, and preliminary findings. Behavior Modification, 33(2), 220-249. Retrieved from

Carliner, H., et al. (2014). Racial discrimination, socioeconomic position, and illicit drug use among U.S. blacks. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(4), 551-560. Retrieved from

Chandler, R. K., Fletcher, B. W., & Volkow, N. D. (2009). Treating drug abuse and addiction in the criminal justice system: improving public health safety. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(2), 183-190. Retrieved

Laudet, A. B. (2007). What does recovery mean to you? Lessons from the recovery experience for research and practice. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 33(3), 243-256. Retrieved from

O’Brien, C. (2008). The CAGE questionnaire for the detection of alcoholism. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 300(17), 2054-2056. Retrieved from

Moos, R. H., & Moos, B. S. (2006). Rates and predictors of relapse after natural and treated remission from alcohol use disorders. Addiction, 101I(2), 212-222. Retrieved from

Sachdeva, A., Choudhary, M., & Chandra, M. (2015). Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: benzodiazepines and beyond. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, 9(9). Retrieved from

Shelton, N. J., & Knott, C. S. (2014). Association between alcohol calorie intake and overweight and obesity in English adults. American Public Health Association, 104(4), 629-631. Retrieved from


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Long-Term Recovery Interview and Paper

Assignment 4: Long-term Recovery Interview and Paper – 35%

The student will identify and interview a person of their choice who has been in addiction recovery for over 5 years, without relapse. Then, the student will write a paper addressing the following questions.

Use lots of specific detail when asking questions and recording their answers. Do not submit just a transcript of your interview as the interview is only a portion of the assignment and submitting a transcript of the interview will result in not adequately meeting passing expectations. Please use the following bullet points as headings. The student will use at least 5 academic references when making assertions and to support and explain what the interviewee said. Please exercise APA style of referencing. The student is encouraged to use first person voice when writing this paper. The expected

number of pages for the paper is 10 pages (not counting cover and reference pages), however the student is encouraged to write as much as needed to feel confident that understanding of the course content has been adequately communicated. This paper is due on the day before the last day of class and will be posted to a place of the instructor’s direction.

Please use the following headings to organize your paper. Each heading should include 1) a summary of the interviewee’s response and 2) academic material to explain and support each response.

Long-Term Recovery Interview and Paper

Long-Term Recovery Interview and Paper

  • How does the student know this person?
  • What were the contributing factors that lead you to use alcohol, drugs, or behaviors in excess?
  • What were the circumstances that lead you to believe that you were not in control? (Be specific.)
  • How did the person stop using (arrest and jail time, treatment, cold turkey, etc.)
  • How did you feel different in the beginning (first 3 weeks) of your recovery?
  • Tell about the process of early (first 6 months) recovery. (See your notes for points.)
  • What were the relapse triggers? How did you manage relapse risk?
  • What people, places, things, and activities did/do you turn to for your stability?
  • How did you know that your life was taking a turn for the better? (Be specific.)
  • How is your life different now?
  • What do you most appreciate about your recovery?
  • What were the most helpful and least helpful things people did during your recovery?

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