Q&A with Author Kayla Scoumis, Adams Recovery Center

Kayla Scoumis is the clinical coordinator for Adams Recovery Center and the primary author behind Accept, Reflect, Commit: Your First Steps to Addiction Recovery. Applying the hands-on clinical experience she and her colleagues have gained in the field, Kayla wrote Accept, Reflect, Commit to serve not only individuals battling addiction, but the loved ones supporting those individuals, as well.

What’s more: The core concepts addressed in Accept, Reflect, Commit are issues faced by all people at one time or another, whether addiction is present in their lives or not. Here’s the background on Accept, Reflect, Commit and how it can help readers of all circumstances and walks of life.

1. What prompted you and the Adams Recovery Center team to write Accept, Reflect, Commit?

Addiction is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. It’s not something we can just ignore or pretend affects only certain people or areas. It’s widespread and it’s making an impact on people of all demographics. Opiates are especially concerning, and overdoses are happening daily. With all of this happening, there is a lot of confusion and judgment when it comes to addiction and its treatment. We wanted to create more access to information about addiction treatment and the issues present for those in early recovery. We want people to gain a better understanding of what it means to recover from addiction and the changes that are necessary to live a life of sobriety.

In a way, our clients inspired it, too! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a client say, “Wow, I wish my mom/brother/cousin/friend/etc. could learn this stuff,” and we agree! So, we basically put our program into a book, as well as information about seeking treatment. Reading this book is like attending some of our most important group sessions. Though it does not replace treatment, it can be a great asset for those seeking recovery, and it can provide valuable information and insight for the people supporting individuals battling addiction.

2. There’s so much news about the heroin epidemic nationwide—what are you seeing in your day-to-day experience?

Here’s the thing: The clients we see fully recognize that they are in a miserable situation. They desperately want to get out of the cycle they are in and don’t want to continue using. However, that requires change, and change can be super hard, especially when addictive substances are involved. Drug and alcohol addiction incites people to develop certain behaviors and thought patterns that are problematic and destructive. We discuss many of these thoughts and actions—such as manipulation, dishonesty, black-and-white thinking, etc.—in the book.

Another thing we are seeing with the heroin epidemic is the roadblocks clients face with seeking treatment. It can be overwhelming to acknowledge a need for help, let alone to actually seek that help! Many people seeking treatment are facing obstacles such as difficulty with insurance companies and wait lists at treatment centers. When someone is already feeling down and out, the perceived impossibility of actually climbing out of the hole can feel too great to accomplish. In the book, we offer information about different treatment options and provide guidance for those seeking treatment to hopefully make it feel more doable.

3. What are the primary misconceptions about drug addiction?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that people who are addicted to substances can “just stop it.” Many people still believe that people choose to be addicted and can stop at any time. This is so far from the truth! Once a person becomes addicted to a substance, he has a physical and mental dependence on it. Also, even when the substance is taken away, the behaviors and thought patterns are still there and probably will lead a person back to using. People need more from addiction recovery than to simply take away the substances. Individual needs will vary based on a lot of different factors, which is why we recommend seeking a professional assessment to determine the best option.

That leads me to another huge misconception, which is the belief that the “cure” for one will be the “cure” for all. Just because Dad was able to stop drinking one day and never look back does not mean it will be the same for his son. Understanding and accepting an individualized approach to treatment can assist people with the frustration they may feel toward themselves or their loved ones for not “getting it.”

4. How does this book help those in addiction and their loved ones take steps toward recovery?

The book outlines many issues that people face when seeking treatment. My hope is that people who are struggling will read this book, be able to identify themselves within the pages, and gain a better understanding of themselves through its content. My goal was to write this in a very casual, relatable way. I think one thing that often drives people away from seeking help is the fear of judgment, or the belief they are “lesser” than others. Hopefully people who read this will feel understood and accepted—like they aren’t the only person who is struggling with this, they aren’t the only person who thinks, feels, and behaves the way they do. I think when people find that connection and relatability, they feel a lot more open to change.

When it comes to loved ones, I also hope they can better understand their people and their struggle. What I hope for even more, though, is that they can begin identifying their own issues. Addiction is often a systematic issue—meaning it does not just affect a singular person but also those around them. People often adapt to the addicted individual’s behaviors and develop their own problematic responses. Loved ones reading this book can hopefully identify with their own issues and learn about the changes they need to make, as well, not only to better support their person but also to better care for themselves.

5. What gives you hope that those battling addiction can get clean and sober and stay healthy?

Seeing the changes our clients make every day brings a lot of hope and inspiration. People come in feeling so lost and unsure of themselves, but with time and effort, they are able to begin seeing a lightness in life again. The amazing thing about sobriety is that, regardless of how people find it, when they truly want it, they can have it. Stories of inspiration, hope, and connection are all around us if we look for them. It’s difficult to see that sometimes in the wake of terrible stories on the news and statistics, but the reality is that people can make positive changes and drastically improve their lives.

6. This book is a great read even for those whose lives haven’t been touched by addiction. What common issues, faced by all people, do you address?

Oh, wow—so many! Honestly, I think people could easily ignore the addiction-specific information and still learn a ton about themselves. The book touches on very human issues such as comparing ourselves to others, instant gratification, holding others and ourselves accountable, being afraid to show our true selves, dealing with grief, and engaging in a victim mentality. Those are things that anyone (I would even say everyone at one point or another) can have issues with and can benefit from learning more about. We all have changes we can make to be the best versions of ourselves and stop engaging in problematic coping skills to deal with life’s stresses.

7. What’s the number one thing you hope readers take away from Accept, Reflect, Commit?

That change is possible if you allow it to be possible. Though there are many roadblocks in addiction recovery, the biggest one people face is often themselves. It’s not just the drugs or the alcohol or the relationships or the neighborhood—it’s them. While that may be difficult to accept, my hope is that people can actually find empowerment through that knowledge. Literally nothing can hold you back or drag you down unless you allow it to do so. In the book, I encourage people to challenge their perspectives and try on some new ones that might be better suited for a happy life. My hope is that everyone who reads this book can walk away from it believing that life is within reach.