Staying Sober After Rehab: Chatting with Addiction Expert Kyli Hingley

Rehab, of course, is a major step towards recovery for anyone fighting addiction. But what about staying sober after rehab? How do we make sure the hard-earned progress in rehab truly sticks in the outside world, with all its triggers and challenges?

The answer lies in something that doesn’t get nearly enough spotlight, but is absolutely critical in the addiction recovery journey: Aftercare.

It’s about building a comprehensive plan for relapse prevention – and that plan should take a myriad of variables into account. Perhaps more than you think.

Meet one person covering a multitude of bases: aftercare expert Kyli Hingley, Director of Continuing Care at Greenestone, part of the largest network of substance abuse rehabilitation facilities in Canada. Hingley has a unique, holistic approach to relapse prevention and her team works with clients extensively, even after leaving Greenestone.

Kyli Hingley of Greenestone
Kyli Hingley, Greenestone’s Director of Continuing Care

We asked her to share some of her insights, where she sees the future of aftercare heading, and tips for anyone working on their own post-rehab plans.

Check out the conversation below, slightly condensed and edited for clarity.



BV Team: You mentioned that there was like a big gap with what addiction treatment centers and that you’ve got a unique approach to aftercare. What do you think you do differently from other treatment centers? And how do you think your approach and just general perspective on aftercare differs?


Kyli:
I would say we have a really personalized, holistic approach. So we try to consider the whole picture of a person. We’ll work directly with the client. We work with their families and their loved ones, with their communities, with their medical teams. We consider their spirituality, their environment, their usage rate, their past experiences, their current relationships, life circumstances, co-occurring disorders, ages and phases. Like all of these things – we have the ability to take [them] into consideration. And if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be effectively creating treatment plans for people. We wouldn’t be able to anticipate their needs when they leave us if we didn’t do these things.

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash


So that’s the beauty of having an in-person treatment center and having people with us for so long, because it takes a certain amount of time for a person to feel comfortable and drop the walls that have been up for so long. And so once we’re able to establish safety and stability and rapport, then we can work with them. And so when we get to that point, it’s all about allowing them to spearhead their own journey, spearhead their own care, because if they’re not buying in, they’re not going to have success when they leave.

So it’s kind of about empowering the client and collaborating with them and everybody in their world to find a plan, a treatment plan, and a continuing care plan that works for them in their life.

And if it’s unattainable – if it’s unattainable before they leave – it’s going to continue to be unattainable. So [it’s about] just kind of getting real with them and making sure that we’re poking holes in plans and things like that.

“If it’s unattainable before they leave, it’s going to continue to be unattainable.”

Kyli Hingley, on creating a continuing care plan while in rehab

Staying Sober After Rehab: Integrating BACtrack View into Aftercare


BV Team: How did you get started using BACtrack View in your aftercare? Because we know you’ve been developing so many different parts of your aftercare program, which we’ll talk about. But we’re curious: When and how did you start adding BACtrack View to the mix, and what prompted that?

real customer Gary using BACtrack View
Gary, real BACtrack View user


Kyli: I had a mentor when I first came into the field, and she’d been in the addiction recovery field for quite some time. And in her personal business, she used things like Soberlink with her clients, and it was actually a stipulation for her to be able to work with the client. They had to agree to utilizing this service. And so when I started to work with her, I really wanted to adopt that, because you can only take a person at their word and trying to work through trauma or therapy – and just not having a good sense if the person is sober or not really kind of gets in the way.

So that was kind of the introduction there. I really liked the black and whiteness of it. Like, I can for sure know that this person is in a mind frame that they can work with me today. So that’s kind of what started it. And then getting more into the field and diversifying our client. We’ve really diversified our client population over the years, and with that has brought different financial needs and things like that.

And so BACtrack View was a little bit more attainable as far as cost went for my clients. So when I had all of the options that BACtrack View offers in terms of different payment plans, that was something that was a lot more attainable for a lot of the people that I was working with, and it also generally covered the black-and-white of what I needed to know.

Overcoming Barriers in Addiction Aftercare


BV Team: Makes perfect sense. And it’s been about, you said, like four or five years now since you’ve been using BACtrack View. And then I guess just because obviously there are aftercare methods in other places like sober living and of course alcohol monitoring support groups. And I guess, what’s your take on some common aftercare methods? What do you see as more or less effective, from your experience?

Kyli: When I first hear about [typical] aftercare methods, things like sober living, what comes up [for me] is all of the barriers that we experience when trying to get a client connected. Most of the services are completely unattainable for most populations of people.

I’m in a privatized kind of center, so a lot of times we do have self paying clients, but when we have clients who are coming here funded from a different kind of service, oftentimes we’re looking at financial barriers. And so things like sober living are often really unattainable.


BV Team: They’re super expensive, right?


Kyli: Very expensive. Then, [there are] also long wait times. So with alcohol monitoring, it really reduces quite a few of those barriers. It is generally cost effective and it’s immediately attainable for a lot of people. So it’s all about barriers and lessening those barriers.

The Importance of Personalizing Rehab Aftercare

BV Team: Okay, so we’ll go back to Greenstone now. You’ve got so many different programs under the general umbrella of continuing care at Greenstone. What are they, and what are some recent changes you’ve made to your aftercare program? And, do you have anything interesting coming up on the horizon in terms of continuing care that you’re going to offer?

Greenestone in Ontario
Image credit: Greenestone


Kyli:
There wasn’t an aftercare program when I first got here. I think they were, like, outsourcing to some phone number and it was sort of up to the client to make that connection… and there’s no accountability. That’s not something they’re going to do. So I would say in the last five years, we’ve grown our recovery community.

We’ve provided our clients with an alumni network that they can rely on. It’s a network of their own peers, people that have been through the same program with them that they can continue to connect with over the years. It’s basically endless. Through our acquisitions, over the years, we’ve grown significantly. We’ve acquired different treatment centers, and we’ve also acquired our virtual platform. So this allows us to provide outpatient care as well.

Community is the opposite of addiction.

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And we utilize this most effectively in our aftercare program with Greenstone. So through that, we have basically endless therapy opportunities. They can be in person. They can be virtual. Clients can come home to us and continue their work in person even after they’ve left us. Families and clients can connect from all over the world virtually with us. They can access skills groups and different therapies like EMDR and trauma therapy and PTSD and all of those sorts of umbrellas.

And then I would say, currently, the trends [we’ve observed] and through the evidence, we’ve noticed that more group work and is more effective in terms of people staying connected through continuing care. I think there’s like a quote that’s, like, “community is the opposite of addiction.” So helping our clients kind of stay connected to that recovery community is vital.

Photo by Hans M on Unsplash

Addressing Population Differences in Addiction Aftercare


BV Team: It’s great that you’re addressing all these different populations. So obviously, every person with addiction is different, and you talk about recognizing those differences. So, how do you account for those differences? Individual differences, generational differences, gender differences in aftercare, etc… and how you go about customizing that for people?


Because you have different groups already set up, for example, like your group for young adults, for people in the military, etc. So what differences do you think are the most important to address in aftercare?


Kyli: I know it, there are so many differences [to consider] – like income, job status, access to services, accessibility in general, whether it be physical or not, and culture is a big one.

The military program, like for first responders – that’s a big one. That one’s pretty close to my heart. We’ve done a lot of work with our military population. It’s been wonderful.

We also do a lot of work with our indigenous populations, and their needs are so niche and the most important part of dealing with our indigenous populations is being able to have cultural relevancy when we’re providing care and when we’re creating treatment plans.

So, taking into consideration all the niches of the different populations of people is definitely the biggest one. So with our clients, we create something that’s called a recovery plan with them closer to the end of their stay. It’s something they’re continuously working on, but it really kind of gets honed in on close to the end of their stay with us.

indigenous person in canada
Image credit: Conde Nast Traveler


And so when we’re helping them build these plans, we’re considering all of the vast needs like we’ve mentioned, and trying to anticipate for them kind of areas of weakness and distraction. We’re trying to assess risk, we’re trying to encourage accountability tools. And so this is where BACtrack View comes in a lot. This is where that kind of conversation starts. So we’re considering [their] personal history so that all of these different factors can be addressed.


BV Team: So, the answer is basically, you get to know them throughout their journey, and then maybe towards the end they’ll also let you know [what they need] – and maybe it’ll be clearer what sort of is the thing that they need to have customized the most for them and what [factor] plays the biggest role in their life that they might need – for example, if you’re indigenous, and [would benefit from] a support group that is with people who are in the same boat.


Kyli: Absolutely.

How Alcohol Monitoring Complements Other Elements of Aftercare


BV Team:
We talked about this a little bit before, but how do you think alcohol monitoring plays into aftercare? And how do you think it can complement other elements of aftercare that are really important – like community and therapy? And be implemented in conjunction with those elements?


Kyli:
I think the biggest one is, and for my clients specifically, and why they’re drawn to [BACtrack View] the most, is its direct ability to provide increased trust and credibility, like within their personal lives.

It’s always really interesting when we’re introducing BACtrack View to somebody and they’re like, “Oh, I want to have my partner on it as my accountability partner.” And then the conversation that ensues from there is like, well, actually we don’t recommend that. And they’re like, “Really? Why?” And we say because it puts that burden on that care person and they’ve already been burdened with everything that’s kind of happened up until this point. And if they’re not kind of living a life of recovery alongside you, then this is just another burden placed on them for child custody and things like that.

A lot of our clients utilize the program for this reason – [child custody]. So, I can’t have access to my kids unless I prove my soberness, basically. And so it’s the most wonderful way to have a very black and white answer for how that person is physically doing anyways. Also, it’s such a great way to build structure into a person’s life. A lot of times, that’s what’s lacking: structure, accountability, and routine. And BACtrack View creates so much space to do that, with testing schedules and things like that.

BACtrack View breathalyzer
The tiny BACtrack View app-connected breathalyzer


BV Team: Love that. It also helps with those other elements as well – that aren’t just [answering the question], “Are you drinking or not today?”


Kyli: Exactly.


BV Team: Because when things are unstructured, that’s when chaos could sort of ensue in anyone’s life.


Kyli:
And this one is maybe super weird, but so many clients explain their nightmares – “I had a dream that I drank last night, and then I woke up and I wasn’t sure. So I used my breathalyzer and I was sober. It said zero.” But they’re not sure where they are in their consciousness at that time. And having that tool for them to decrease their stress is incredible.

Helping a Loved One Stay Sober After Rehab

BV Team: So we talked a lot about the person who’s in aftercare, and I know you mentioned the importance not burdening the people in your life – i.e. your partner – since a lot of people might choose their partner as their accountability partner, which makes sense. It seems like the first instinct, but it’s interesting that you mentioned not putting that burden on them.

So I guess for those people who might be reading this blog who are not in aftercare themselves, but supporting a person who is, what should they know about aftercare? How can they help in that process while also protecting themselves, mentally?


Kyli: Yeah, I think the biggest one is living a life of parallel recovery alongside the person that they love, who’s suffering or recovering from addiction. Psycho-education about addiction is, I think, the beginning of that understanding how to support a person’s needs while also maintaining your own boundaries and making sure that you’re caring for yourself. Because, obviously, we all know you can’t pour from an empty cup.

So that’s the first thing that we address with our clients families, is we start by providing them with a psychoeducation through a family education session.

[The session covers] joining support groups for caregivers, learning about caregiver burnout, addressing your own needs throughout your life, getting your own therapist, all of these things.

How to Assess a Rehab Facility or Addiction Aftercare Program


BV Team: We have readers and customers all over the US and Canada – not just in Canada, where Greenestone is located. So, no matter where you are, if you’re a person who’s in the midst of recovery – what should you look for when you’re assessing a rehab program?

And once you’re in an aftercare program, how do you think you can assess whether or not it’s working for you? Obviously, it’s not going to be easy. So it might be tempting to think, “This isn’t working,” but how do you know if it’s actually not working for you?

Greenestone in Ontario
Image credit: Greenestone


Kyli: I think first and foremost is your ability to trust the person that you’re working with and your ability to be vulnerable and open with them. If you are lying to them and you have the awareness that you’re lying to them, I think that’s obviously your first hint that it’s not going well.

My number one thing is: If you’re uncomfortable, you’re in the right place. I think if you’re comfortable with the person you’re working with and they’re telling you what you want to hear, you’re just in another pattern of enabling and repetition. You should be looking for a team that can challenge you and won’t always tell you what you want to hear.

If you’re uncomfortable, you’re in the right place. You should be looking for a team that can challenge you and won’t always tell you what you want to hear.

Kyli Hingley

I think [it’s also key to be] looking for providers that don’t preach that there’s a “one step” or a very black-and-white approach to addiction recovery.
Somebody who’s open minded, a place that’s open minded, a place that’s holistic, that doesn’t speak in firm prescriptions – I think that’s huge. And avoid places that preach statistics because they’re just lying, in my opinion.


BV Team: Statistics about their recovery rates and things like that?


Kyli: Exactly. Yeah, I think that there is no such thing in my experience. Also, look for a place or a person that is present and can stay present and current in their own learning and that also have their own mentors – like a therapist who also is seeking supervision continuously, are growing, and always learning about the new modalities and things like that.

Because we are learning about so many different ways to provide addiction recovery. And there are so many prehistoric almost approaches that are still floating around out there and they’re not so effective. So yeah, anywhere.

The Future of Addiction Aftercare


BV Team: That leads to the last question, which is: Where do you see the future of aftercare heading? What changes do you anticipate on the horizon, either for your team or just in general?


Kyli: Yeah, it’s definitely a growing field. I think it’s always been catching the attention of changemakers in the world. However, only some niche populations are really honing in on it. So I do see that changing in the years to come, just because the addiction rates are ever-skyrocketing. So I do see it becoming more and more personalized as kind of we’ve been talking about throughout this whole interview. I think the roles are expanding. Things like sober companions, this type of alcohol and drug monitoring in person, and having specialists to kind of fulfill these sorts of roles in a holistic way. I really do see it kind of going that way and just becoming bespoke, almost, and individualized. That’s kind of how we are at Greenstone, that it’s just not one size fits all.

And I think the aftercare world needs to live up to that.


About Kyli Hingley

Kyli Hingley is the Director of Continuing Care at Greenestone Centre for Recovery, a leading provider of addiction and mental health recovery services. With a passion for helping individuals on their journey to recovery, Kyli brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role.

Kyli holds an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Human Services, specializing in Police Studies. Additionally, she has completed an Addiction Medicine diploma from the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and has successfully undertaken the Provincial Opioid Addiction Treatment Support Program through the University of British Columbia.

Kyli is known for her compassionate and individualized approach to client care. From admission to transition back into the community, she ensures that each client receives the support they need to achieve lasting recovery.

As a changemaker within the organization, Kyli has implemented new programs, services, policies, and procedures, as well as sourced additional resources to enhance the overall client experience. She oversees the entire process of continuing care and aftercare, while leading a team of dedicated clinical associates and recovery coaches.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Kyli is a devoted mother of two. She finds joy in spending quality time with her family, whether it’s cheering her children on at the ice rink or the gymnastics center.

Kyli’s commitment to building long-lasting relationships with clients once they leave Greenestone is not only personally fulfilling but has also proven to be instrumental in their ongoing recovery journey. With her expertise and dedication, Kyli ensures that clients receive the support they need to thrive beyond their time at Greenestone. 


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