July 5, 2022

How Sober Monitoring Can Help Your Recovery

Read time: 8 minutes

If you are considering treatment for substance abuse, you most likely have tried to stop using substances on your own. You may have tried to quit cold turkey or taper off over a period of time. You probably had certain people you were trying to get sober for, like your spouse or children. Maybe you have been at risk of losing your job if you could not quit using drugs or alcohol. 

Even the most incredible incentives cannot easily get you out of active addiction. Fighting substance use disorder (SUD) is not about willpower or discipline but about rewiring the brain. If you could stop, you would. The reality is that it is not that simple, and this realization is what has likely caused you to admit you needed help.

The extra support of substance abuse treatment serves as a scaffold to success in quitting substances and staying sober. Licensed clinicians can work with you to identify triggers, explore and practice coping strategies when you are presented with cravings and triggering situations, and address underlying and co-occurring mental health and emotional struggles. Family recovery programs are designed to recuperate important relationships that have been damaged by addiction and strengthen your support network to contribute to success in treatment and beyond.

All of these resources are meant to guide you toward a future free of drugs and alcohol by giving you the tools to take control once more and shake off the shackles of addiction. You may be wondering how, even with counseling, a treatment program can actually keep you from using at the end of the day. After all, all of the coping skills in the world will not eliminate cravings, and the temptation to use will still be there. That is where sober monitoring or accountability can help.

What Is Sober Monitoring?

Successful treatment programs might require drug and alcohol testing at various frequencies as part of your care plan. This typically would happen upon stepping down from residential treatment into an outpatient setting or as part of your recovery process after formal treatment ends. There are several ways this testing can be imposed, but one of those is through Soberlink, a testing device for those in recovery from alcohol abuse.

Soberlink is a handheld breathalyzer that sends live data to your care team while allowing you to test in a non-invasive manner from the comfort and privacy of your own home. It has facial recognition software to confirm that you are the person using it and other safeguards against tampering with the sample you are providing. It requires testing at certain intervals throughout the day and will also alert your treatment providers if you have missed a scheduled test. Its extremely precise sensors are able to detect small amounts of alcohol after an extended amount of time.

A breathalyzer might make you think about the police, but Soberlink and other similar testing devices and protocols are not a punishment. If you were to test positive for substances upon taking a test, or if you were to miss a test or tamper with the device to forge results, this data would all be communicated to your clinicians. 

Another option for non-invasive at-home testing is Sharetek. Through oral swab and urine collections, Sharetek quickly and accurately screens for the specific type and amount of substance. This accuracy and specificity are important if relapse occurs.

Rather than using that data to remove you from the program or take other punitive actions, your therapists or counselors would reassess the treatment plan and work with you to meet your needs and prevent further relapses. This could look like more frequent therapy sessions or more intense treatment.

In addition to helping the mental health professionals give you the best care possible, sober monitoring can help you and your family. With a negative drug or alcohol test, your family members and other loved ones have concrete proof that you have been abstaining from substances. The beginning phases of recovery can be a time where trust is being rekindled, and having that tangible proof can further develop that trust and honesty. Taking tests on time and consistently passing them is a testament to your dedication to sobriety and evidence of your hard work in treatment.

Help With Fighting off Cravings

Knowing that your decision to drink or use drugs would not go undetected by either your family or your care providers might also encourage you to fight off cravings and stay sober even when it becomes difficult. Removing the secrecy and replacing it with accountability is a powerful tool in recovery. 

This is not just wishful thinking; Soberlink has research to back up its testing method. Over the course of a six-month testing period, 85% of tests came back negative, and only 1% came back positive, with the remaining 14% being missed tests. This means that, on average, participants in the study only consumed alcohol on three days out of those six months. 

Frequency and Duration of Testing

Soberlink’s technology is able to detect alcohol use for several hours after drinking, so a regimen of three tests a day would be able to account for a substantial portion of the day. The number of tests per day can be altered depending on the clinician’s assessment of your current needs.

According to an article published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, sober monitoring should continue for at least one year. When you maintain consistent sobriety over a 12-month period, there is a decreased risk of relapse, and the effects of substance use on the brain begin to improve. Using sober monitoring during this time period could be a crucial step toward long-term recovery if you are struggling with SUD.

Addiction is a chronic health condition and recovery is a long-term journey. Being prepared for this from the very beginning is instrumental to your success, and that is why carefully choosing a treatment provider makes a difference. Family-Centered Services is dedicated to your success from the very beginning. Our team of licensed clinicians is able to provide comprehensive support for individuals and their families through therapy, case management, family recovery programs, and sober accountability. We are a certified Soberlink provider, meaning we can incorporate this technology and other testing methods like Sharetek into your care plan to support you through the early stages of recovery while giving your family back their peace of mind. By utilizing our sober accountability services, you will stay connected with a support network in the most vulnerable phases of your sobriety while increasing your chances of success. Call (509) 991-5822 to learn more.