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Determining the signal and the noise

Posted byWritten by David

Issue — #4

The other day, I was visiting with someone who was curious about the Recovery Capital Index. They started telling me about noise versus signal and that the only signal of meaning was consumption of alcohol and drugs. Everything else was noise.

I waited, respectfully, as long as I could and said, “You just called life, noise.”

Seems like that call did not go very well, but on the contrary.

For the next five minutes, this person began to exclaim that I clearly did not understand the true evil and all consuming force that is addiction. And while doing that, started checking through nearly every one of the 22 recovery capital indicators that are directly affected by the use of alcohol and drugs.

Signal for this person was the addictive substance. You cannot “tune in” to all the other signals if the primary signal is out.

You know what? That’s sort of true.

The problem is perspective.

Contrary to a strong belief … most substances are not immediately addictive. Becoming addicted to something is a process. And, the addiction typically has a starting point – be it the trauma of abuse as a child, divorce, economic stress, social disconnection, inability to cope with normal stress, general anxiety; you see the point.

Most people who solve or manage these underlying issues no longer need the effects of a substance to cope. And some can even return to use because the pleasure pathways are rewired, if you will.

If all you look at is a single indicator, everything else will look like noise. But, you are missing the broader signal or signals that likely determine the outcome of that single indicator.

I wasn’t able to convince this person that recovery capital is the signal and single indicators like use are noise. That’s okay, because I know what’s signal and what’s noise.

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Our series on recovery capital continues with our partners at Sigmund Software. This week we are sharing the question and answer transcript of our recent webinar. Here’s a sample:

Evan: That’s great to hear because it just goes to show how having that raw data breeds compassion in how you consider the patient, but also gives you that wider context of everything that may be going on in their life.

This next question I like a lot: is there anything you’re most excited about in the recovery capital world in the next year? In the next 5 years?

David: I think for the first time in a long time, although we are starting to trend this way, we’re going to move the conversation around addiction or substance use disorder, away from substances. Every decade there’s always a substance that occupies our attention. Currently, it’s opioids, previously it was methamphetamines, and then it was heroin, cocaine, and underneath all of that is alcohol. But it’s never really the drug that’s the problem. It’s the environmental, behavioral, economic, social fabric elements that carry these conditions from decade to decade. I think we’re going to have a much deeper relationship to the underlying and upstream factors that cause – and I’m using that word carefully – addiction. We’re going to move beyond it and we’re going to start to find community-based solutions or policy solutions that will protect against addiction. I think it’s going to be really exciting to see how that all comes together.

Always more to come. In the meantime, be sure to visit the blog – HERE – and share the link so others can read and subscribe to the newsletter.

With gratitude and until next week … Be Well.

Commonly Well uses a text messaging platform to design custom automated and
personalized engagement strategies for data capture, performance monitoring, and
outcomes measurement.

Got questions or want to learn more about our Recovery Intelligence Model?

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On understanding the problem