Stay Connected to Treatment
September is Recovery Month, sponsored by SAMHSA, hoping to educate others about the disease of addiction and to celebrate those that are battling it and winning by staying in recovery.
Stay Connected to Treatment
September is Recovery Month, sponsored by SAMHSA, hoping to educate others about the disease of addiction and to celebrate those that are battling it and winning by staying in recovery. However, the reality is the recovery most often eludes people suffering from the disease and puts them in an endless loop of substance misuse, treatment, relapse, followed by more treatment.
It is a viscous cycle that impacts 85% of those that enter rehab and relapse in the year following treatment. Addiction costs our economy almost $1 trillion in healthcare costs, criminal justice expenses, and lost productivity at work. The overproduction and misuse of opioids, the proliferation of heroin and fentanyl and the ease of getting illegal drugs contributes to 70,000 deaths a year, more than the loss of life in the entire Vietnam War.
Because preventing relapse and staying in recovery is a complex problem, let’s focus on one change in strategy that can make a difference. The change in strategy starts with the treatment program itself. Many rehabs do an excellent job at stabilizing the individual, getting drugs safely out of their system, giving them an understanding of the disease, and showing them strategies to start their recovery process.
Most programs discharge their patients and then move on to the next person that needs their help. When that trusted relationship between treatment provider and patient ends, the potential to relapse goes way up. Why is that? Here are some thoughts:
Patients need more structure and accountability. In rehab, your day-to-day schedule is defined and for 30-45 days you know when it’s time to eat, go to therapy, attend group, and exercise. That structure and accountability to adhere to the rules of the program is comforting to those who struggled to make decisions to manage themselves.
A wellness strategy takes time to implement. Wellness and recovery require a multi-faceted approach. The individual is going to be asked to make lifestyle changes and with any new habits, those changes take time to take hold.
Staying connected to community may be difficult. Individuals in treatment were connected to a community of individuals that were struggling with the same issues. Having others to relate to shows people that they are not alone and helps them find common ground with people who are trying to stay in recovery. Reaching out and finding that common bond may be more difficult for people have had struggles with relationships.
Individuals may lack the skills needed to “adult”. If someone is misusing drugs, they likely have struggled managing their money, keeping a job, and maintaining relationships with friends and family. Being able to pay your bills, have a job and relate to others is critical to maintain a normal life that doesn’t include selling and using drugs.
Treatment programs are often in the best position to maintain the trusted relationship with the individual who committed themselves to addiction treatment. The benefit to the individual is longer-term treatment that gives them time to make the adjustments needed to stay in recovery. It helps create structure, provide accountability, give them more help in wellness strategies and keeps them connected to trusted relationships.
For the program, who is constrained by bed space, a well-executed treatment relationship after an in-patient stay improves recovery results, allows the program to follow their clients, and gives them an opportunity to monetize the client relationship after rehab. It’s time for programs to expand their role and improve their results.