Why America’s Addiction Treatment System Is Broken & What You Can Do
How to Find a Good Addiction Treatment Facility
While addiction treatment needs an overhaul, effective programs do exist. The key is to do your homework. If you’re looking for a treatment facility, searching online can give you information about different providers.
But “[the Internet] lacks the ability to match actual patient needs with actual provider capabilities,” Levenson said. This is where the interview comes in. “[I]t’s important that you ask the right questions when talking with the admissions department.”
Levenson suggested asking these questions:
- Are you licensed? For what level of care? For instance, if a person requires detox, the facility must be licensed for medical detox, he said.
- Are you accredited? “This means that [a facility is] held to higher standards,” Levenson said. The facility might be accredited by either CARF or The Joint Commission.
- Do you have full-time physicians and nurses on campus? Are they board-certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine? Will I see a physician? “Addiction is a disease that never exists in a vacuum,” Levenson said. Again, individuals usually have co-occurring psychiatric and nonpsychiatric conditions, he said.
- Do you have Masters-level therapists who are trained in a variety of treatments? For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective for addiction.
- How many individual sessions will I have with my therapist per week? Levenson said that it should be two or more sessions. “If it’s just one session, you can do that at home.”
- What is the typical continuum of care? The support a patient receives after treatment is just as important as what they receive during treatment. It’s vital to ascertain whether a program offers additional support after you’ve finished the inpatient program. A 28-day program with no aftercare help is like “giving a diabetic 28 days of insulin, and then patting them on the back and wishing them luck. On day 29 they’re going to have a problem,” Levenson said. Origins offers 30- to 90-day inpatient treatment and a treatment stepdown program along with a year-long monitoring and accountability program. You can learn more about their programs here.
- What type of aftercare is included in the cost? “At minimum, there should be a free alumni meeting every week that you’re welcome to attend.” However, preferably, they have some type of monitoring and accountability program that provides recovery support to the patient and their family for six months or more and includes drug testing, he said. The best scenario is that they’re “going to be involved in your life for 16 to 18 months.” Levenson noted that “treatment is just the first stage of care.”
- Are there separate programs for men and women? When men and women are in treatment together, “the data show we lose eight to 10 points in efficacy,” Levenson said. This is because men and women have different treatment needs. Compared with men, women are more likely to have mood disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. “In addition, because many of the issues that women must deal with in their recovery process is related to relationships, in the early phases of treatment being with men can detract from the therapeutic goals necessary to engage in the treatment process.”
How Loved Ones Can Help
“When addiction is present in the family system, the entire system gets sick,” Levenson said. “[O]ptimal outcomes happen when the entire family system is engaged in transformative work for recovery.”
For instance, if you’re a parent of a child who’s in treatment, Levenson suggested seeing a therapist yourself and attending Al-Anon meetings. While loved ones don’t cause addiction, they can help in providing a healing environment for the individual. Providing this environment also means making changes.
Addiction is a complex, often chronic, disease. Our addiction treatment system must evolve in order to help patients recover for good. You’ll find specific recommendations in the Columbia University report. This piece in The New York Times also offers valuable information.
Tartakovsky, M. (2013). Why America’s Addiction Treatment System Is Broken & What You Can Do. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/why-americas-addiction-treatment-system-is-broken-what-you-can-do/00017229