The Benefits Of Drug Testing In Recovery: Tabitha Arnsdorf's PharmChek® Sweat Patch Testimonial

August 4, 2023

The road to recovery is not a straight path. Recovering addicts navigate obstacles of all kinds: old habits, toxic relationships, self-doubt, and financial instability can all cause setbacks to sobriety. But Tabitha Arnsdorf has fearlessly battled through them all. Her journey has strengthened her resolve and ignited a renewed sense of purpose in life.

The benefits of drug testing in recovery played a key role in Tabitha’s story, but it takes more than just accountability to transition from a life of addiction to one of purpose. Tabitha recently sat down with us and told us how she went from a victim in a “trap house” to a case manager in the same drug court that changed her life forever.

A Life of Addiction

Those suffering from substance use disorders (SUDs) have diverse stories to share, including family backgrounds, demographics, and life experiences that contributed to their addiction. But often, their stories share some common threads, such as exposure to drugs early in life. Tabitha’s story starts here.

“I started using at the age of 11 years old. It started with cocaine.”

And from there, she began using methamphetamine and Xanax.

Early exposure to stimulants or opioids leads to an ever-present search for more powerful highs, a familiar path for many people with SUDs. Tabitha’s addiction led her to two separate prison sentences, the second of which ended four weeks after the birth of her son.

Unfortunately, Tabitha returned to old patterns, habits, and relationships after being released from prison. She could not end the cycle of addiction and move forward despite having a child.

“I left my baby at this trap house we lived in. I left to get more drugs but ended up in a holding cell instead. And on February 12, 2017, it finally clicked. Not just the handcuffs, but it clicked in my head: I cannot lose my child. From then on, I said I will never return here (jail) again.”

But that promise meant getting clean and staying clean, and that would take an enormous amount of hard work, as well as the right support system. So Tabitha pleaded into a drug recovery program through New Horizons Behavioral Health in Columbus, GA. And there she began her recovery journey living with a greater purpose.

How Purpose Plays a Role in Recovery

Recovery efforts greatly depend on setting goals beyond sobriety, which was (and still is) true for Tabitha.

“Of course, people in recovery want to stay clean. But if that's your only goal, then you're just a person that's clean. Instead, you need to make a goal that becomes your life purpose.”

For Tabitha, her new purpose in life was raising her son.

“I wasn't doing it for me, I was doing it for him. I loved him enough to know that he deserved a better life.”

That greater purpose drove every aspect of recovery for Tabitha. And she finds that it makes a difference in the cases she’s worked with since.

“Now that I’m a case manager for the Muscogee County Adult Drug Court, whenever I sit down and talk to people entering the program, their goals usually revolve around just getting clean or living a sober life. That’s not enough to keep you clean, though. I know that from experience. It has to be more significant.

"So I ask a different question: ‘What is something that you want so bad that it’s going to keep you clean?’ And their answer, whatever it is—that’s usually the greater purpose they need to make it beyond the program.”

And that purpose becomes a driving force in each individual’s recovery.

“Whether you want to own your own business one day, become CEO of a company, or be the best grandma you can ever be—at the end of the day, drugs won’t allow you to be an awesome grandmother.

"Drugs won’t allow you to be a CEO. And drugs won’t allow you to own your own business. So, have a purpose and a meaning; a goal that's so rich and great that staying clean is just a part of it, but it's not the goal itself.”

Having a purpose beyond mere sobriety is central to addiction recovery, but it’s far from the only component of that success.

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A Multi-Faceted Approach to Recovery

So what does the recovery process look like in its entirety? While it varies for each individual, Tabitha’s recovery journey included four specific support systems to achieve her goals: self-discipline, lifestyle changes, behavioral therapy, and improved relationships.

Lifestyle Changes

Tabitha believes it takes a lifestyle change to break free from old habits.

“Recovery is both mental and physical. It must be a complete recovery. Not doing drugs is just a small piece of the puzzle. If you have to change the type of music you listen to, you change the type of music you listen to in order to go into complete recovery.”

From hangouts and friends to music and internal beliefs, no aspect of a recovering addict’s life should go unchecked.

“You're raised in a home where you weren't taught anything but the wrong way. Yet you grew up thinking this is how we behave and how you're supposed to do it. It takes self-discipline to break those habits of what we were taught from an early age.”

Eliminating Toxic Relationships

In many cases, SUD sufferers are surrounded by people that perpetuate their addictions. If not severed completely, these toxic relationships often lead to relapses in both substance use and behavioral patterns. Tabitha’s relationships, including the one with her son’s father, had to be evaluated honestly to keep her recovery on course.

“My son’s dad was my drug of choice. That was the hardest thing I've ever had to break free from.”

Along with dangerous places and thoughts, dangerous people are considered one of the top 3 factors in relapse for recovering addicts. Breaking free of those relationships is a top priority in any treatment plan.

“The moment I broke free from him, walls came down for me and my son,” says Tabitha.

Support and Therapy

Tabitha dealt with self-doubt, self-loathing, and strong emotional reactions to her circumstances. These internal beliefs often limited her ability to change her circumstances and move forward. It’s a common experience for many addicts, and these damaging internal beliefs can lead recovering addicts back to old patterns.

The solution Tabitha found was dialectical behavioral therapy. This form of cognitive behavioral therapy is specifically tailored to people with strong emotional reactions to life events. But the right treatment changes from person to person. The key is having the right support to help find the best therapy for each individual.

Her supervisors were that support system for her, acting as the parental figures she never had growing up.

“Instead of looking at drug court as something I had to do, I looked at it as ‘I'm about to use y'all for everything you have, every resource you have. I am about to hold onto you like a child holds onto their mama.’ And that's what I did. I made them my parents.”

And through their guidance, she learned how to be a better parent for her son and rebuild her credit and become financially stable. Combined with a commitment to self-discipline, she was able to remind herself daily how her decisions would affect every aspect of her new life.

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Self-Discipline and Accountability

Tabitha says, "The word to describe getting clean is self-discipline. You discipline yourself every day to do the right thing until doing the right thing becomes natural. That's all. It's just like a diet. It takes self-discipline not to eat a slice of pizza. The longer you go not eating the slice of pizza, the easier it will become."

Along with having sponsors and case managers to guide her, Tabitha said the accountability of the PharmChek® Sweat Patch made it possible to overcome the desire to use drugs again. According to her, wearing the patch was like having a constant reminder of her goals.

"When the PharmChek® Patch goes on the arm, in many ways, drug court is always with you. It's like having a sponsor stuck to your arm."

Drug testing provides an accountability factor that keeps probationers and parolees on track, especially with proven testing methods like the PharmChek® Sweat Patch. With its 24-hour, long-term accountability, it changes the trajectory of sobriety.

The Critical Benefits of Drug Testing in Recovery Programs

Recovery programs need several tools to help guarantee success. And according to Tabitha, it’s more than just staying clean. Recovery requires changing every aspect of your life, from habits to relationships and everything in between.

Responsibility for Results

Recovering addicts don’t start their programs with all the skills they need to succeed. One of those missing skills is personal responsibility. But when your ticket to freedom and recovery is always on your arm, personal responsibility becomes a critical skill to adopt.

“When we’re in full addiction, we don't go by rules. We don't go by regulations. And we definitely don't go by laws. We don't care about them. What PharmChek® can do for you is teach you responsibility. When I was in Florida with my son, I knew that I had to take care of the PharmChek® Sweat Patch. If I came back and it was messed up, that was an automatic failure, whether or not I used. So PharmChek® teaches you the responsibility to do something correctly.”

A Reward for the Right Choices

The tamper-evident design and continuous monitoring of the PharmChek® Patch offers specific benefits in recovery programs and drug courts, where staying clean from the program's start is the key to long-term success. Patients know their actions will have consequences, whether positive or negative. And in Tabitha’s case, that monitoring was a major reward.

“The first time I was asked to wear one, it was a proud moment. Getting the PharmChek® Patch means you've followed the program well enough to go out of town. So for me, it was a reward.”

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Tabitha’s Advice to Case Managers

As a case manager, Tabitha uses her recovery experiences to help her clients work through daily challenges. She encourages case managers to remember that mistakes will happen. But she believes this is where clients learn and grow the most.

“The thing about making a wrong choice is that you fail, but you fail forward. Yes, you made a mistake, but now you know you don’t want to make it again.”

That “fail forward” mentality helps clients keep their greater purposes front and center rather than falling back to old habits. But Tabitha has a warning that goes with the encouragement:

“People won’t learn from anything when they’re high. They can only learn when they’re clean.”

The PharmChek® Sweat Patch plays an important role in maintaining that forward progress. With the right resources, accountability, and support, transformation is possible. And with that growth comes freedom from addiction.