The Hope House, ASU Edson College of Nursing partner to support addiction recovery

The DREAMER Project uses wellness and mindfulness to aid those recovering from addiction

Through a five-year partnership between the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and The Hope House, an addiction rehabilitation center in Scottsdale, nursing students and health care practitioners will use exercise and mindfulness to improve the recovery process.

The partnership, called The DREAMER Project: Defying Relapse through Exercise and Mindfulness to Extend Recovery, started with two advanced nursing practice students at ASU: Hayley Avino and Courtney Routson.

The purpose of the partnership is to implement natural ways of recovering from addiction, such as mindfulness. It also aims to give nursing students hands-on experience treating and working with residents at The Hope House. 

During the program, which all patients of The Hope House will participate in, the ASU nursing students conduct three-week educational sessions on mindfulness, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. The free sessions take place three times a week on Zoom because of COVID-19, Routson said.

“The reason it was important to me is because of my brother’s own struggle with addiction,” Avino said. Once she started learning more about addiction, she said she was surprised at how complicated it is. “I thought I knew a lot about addiction and boy, did I have my mind blown."

Alex Spritzer, a nurse practitioner at The Hope House, said he is grateful for the partnership with ASU to take a holistic approach in tackling addiction. 

“We were really excited when we were talking with ASU, because at our treatment center we do whole body and mind treatment for addiction disorders and the opportunity to incorporate mindfulness and meditation was something that appealed to us,” Spritzer said.

According to a study on the effects of a mindfulness-based relapse prevention program on people in recovery compared to standard treatment, the mindfulness-based program resulted in "significantly lower rates of substance use" after completion.

“Mindfulness has the ability to reduce stress and help individuals accept their feelings and channel them in a productive way,” Spritzer said. 

Routson said she saw the partnership as an opportunity to improve that experience by having more face-to-face interactions with people, even if "most of their mindfulness activities (are) through YouTube."

Avino said they are adapting to limitations imposed by the pandemic by creating videos and presentations to continue the education process outside of meetings.

“It offers that sustainability piece that wouldn’t have been there if it was me and Courtney to begin with,” Avino said. “We would just be there and then gone, they wouldn’t have these recordings.”

Routson said having these interactive sessions is important to improving the well-being of recovering individuals and to prevent relapses.

“Bringing addiction into the forefront and community is important because it is around us and tomorrow's healthcare professionals have to be educated and be prepared to handle it because it exists on many levels,” Spritzer said. 

Clarification: A previous version of this article misstated The Hope House's goals in regard to individuals' relapses and who said it. The article has been updated to reflect the change. The article has also been updated to include The Hope House's full title on all references. 


Reach the reporter at anatar12@asu.edu or follow @AnushaNat1 on Twitter.

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