For some of us, the holidays can be hard. Whether you are new to sobriety, in long-term recovery, or just a human being who just happens to live in a world with holidays, certain times of year can bring on a lot more stress than you would prefer to deal with. Thanksgiving can be one of these difficult times of the year. Some of us find it overwhelming to be surrounded by so many relatives and close friends because it can lead to high-stress social situations. Like when that one uncle brings up politics or that one aunt talks about their much more successful child. Or like when the parents bring up that time you pawned all their jewelry and crashed their car running from the cops.
No? Okay so maybe that is a very specific example.
Either way, Thanksgiving can be tough. Some of us in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction might not be able to spend this holiday with our families. We might feel isolated or even left out if our addiction has placed us in a situation where we cannot be directly present with our loved ones. Or we may find it a challenging situation simply because it is usually a day we remember drinking.
But still, there is always a great deal to be thankful for.
This week, as the holiday season comes in full force, we wanted to share 4 ways to get through Thanksgiving in sobriety for those who might be having a little more trouble than others.
Too often people forget that holiday gatherings aren’t so much about the food or the partying. They are about the quality of time being spent together. Being present and in the moment will help you to actually enjoy the holiday instead of stressing over it. Even if you are not physically present with your family, being more available to those you are able to be with can make Thanksgiving in sobriety more enjoyable.
And you can still be available for your family and friends that aren’t around by reaching out over the phone and giving them some of your time as well.
If you go into the holiday with the head-space of being a drag, you will probably follow through with that. But if you chose to be actively engaged in you can easily give new meaning and feeling to the experience.
Decide how to talk about it
Sometimes the fact that you are in recovery will come up, so you should decide how you want to talk about it… if you want to talk about it. The great thing is you aren’t required to tell anyone who doesn’t know. You don’t have to explain yourself. Just let people know you don’t drink.
When it comes to family or friends who do know about you issues with substances, decide how comfortable you feel with this conversation. Be willing to address concerns, but also set boundaries. You still have to take care of yourself, especially in early recovery.
Try to focus the conversation on the good side, like the fact that you are enjoying a Thanksgiving in sobriety with them. Some people will want to focus on the bad, but you can still decide how you are going to talk about it. To stay in the spirit and be present, talk about the solution you have now, not the problem you were facing.
Include your support system
Having a strong support system is a vital part of long-term recovery. Whether it is relatives, close personal friends or people from the recovery community, having people to have your back definitely helps. Holidays are all about connection, so stay connected to those who share your experience. Let your family members know you’re going to be leaning on them for support if things get hectic.
Also, have people outside of the family to reach out to. If you are involved in a recovery fellowship or support group, connect with your peers to learn how they handle similar situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Include people who know what you are going through and who can help keep you on track.
Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit
One way to enjoy Thanksgiving in sobriety is to actually commit to the idea of Thanksgiving. This is a holiday all about being grateful for what you have and giving thanks and love to those closest to you.
If you are grateful this Thanksgiving, be sure to give some of yourself. You can help the family with making food or setting up, or you can go beyond that and give in other ways. Sometimes people in recovery find ways to volunteer for the holidays. Participate in some form of community activity that gives back and helps those in need.
Being enthusiastic about the opportunity to share this time with your loved ones and give to others can help you overcome the hang-ups you might encounter. If you can try to get in the spirit of the holiday, it won’t be so much about drinking or stressing over everything and more about spending the time with the people you love.
The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate what you have. If you are sober you have something pretty significant to be celebrating, right? Thanksgiving in sobriety lets us reconnect with those we love and show gratitude for the second chance at life. It shouldn’t be all that hard to get into the spirit of being grateful. The real good feeling comes from loving and giving back.
We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
Click for FREE GIFT
Always remember during the holidays to take care of yourself. For Thanksgiving in sobriety be grateful for how far you have come. If you are still struggling with an addiction, now is the time to get help, so that you can give your loved ones the peace of mind they deserve so you can have even more to be thankful for. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
In 2015 the Journal of Employee Assistance published an article to help Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) looking for addiction treatment programs to recommend for their clients. Guess what, challenge accepted!
When we at Palm Healthcare Company took a close look at the outline provided by the Journal of Employee Assistance on methods of treatment, we were happy to note that our treatment programs fit the description perfectly.
It is important for employers and their assistance groups to have a clear and comprehensive idea of what an effective addiction treatment program looks like, so they can provide their employees with options for quality care. The Journal of Employee Assistance article goes on to identify some of the aspects of the addiction treatment outline for EAP professionals should consider as vital for effective recovery. In order to make confident recommendations, Palm Healthcare Company also believes EA professionals should do all they can to understand all levels of care and the methods of treatment.
We understand and appreciate the power of information. Let us provide a detailed look, point-by-point, at how Palm Healthcare Company can best serve your clients by meeting the suggested specifications of the Journal of Employee Assistance.
As stated in the article by the Journal of Employee Assistance, the current focus for treatment of chronic diseases like addiction is based on dynamic treatment, also known as adaptive interventions or multi-stage treatment strategies. The idea is to continuously evaluate the individual’s progress in order to adjust their treatment.
One-size-fits-all tactics fail to address unique life issues that are connected to substance use and addiction. Personalized treatment that is tailored to each individual’s specific needs is a crucial element to effective holistic treatment.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health have stated that the best programs provide a combination of services that take into account all aspects of the individual, including:
Palm Healthcare Company does not believe in the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of treatment. We know that every person has their own unique experiences and circumstances. We all live and learn differently, so addiction treatment should take those differences into consideration.
Palm Healthcare Company, like most traditional programs, provides the basics of addiction treatment. Looking at the addiction treatment outline for EAP professionals, the most traditional methods to look for include:
All detox facilities are staffed with medical professionals experienced with treating those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Every individual is given a thorough intake assessment to ensure the safest and most comfortable method of medical detox is offered to fit each client.
Because addiction is about far more than substance use, behavioral therapy is extremely important to the recovery process. Not only do these sessions examine destructive behaviors, but they also assess the thoughts and feelings that might cause them.
As part of offering behavioral therapy, Palm Healthcare Company facilities also offer unique classes on building social skills and personal development opportunities.
Palm Healthcare Company also believes that a crucial aspect of overcoming addiction is to understand it through educational, evidence-based therapeutic intervention. Classes are consistently provided explaining various aspects of addiction and mental health disorders so each individual can better understand and cope with their illness.
Support groups and 12 Steps
Historically, group therapies and a sense of community has always been a big piece of addiction recovery. Opportunities to get involved with 12 Step fellowships and other support groups can help individuals to find a sense of community with others recovering from drugs or alcohol. Palm Healthcare Company programs consistently facilitate these options.
Family weeks or weekends for those over 13 years old
The Palm Healthcare Family Program is a unique and empowering experience for individuals trying to overcome their addictions, as well as for their loved ones. Part of the family program is the Palm Healthcare Family Weekend which includes various events designed to educate family members and bring each other closer through connection and support.
However, the Journal of Employee Assistance notes that the more “novel yet effective” programs also include more innovative addiction treatment methods. These facilities go above and beyond the basic outline of services to provide holistic treatment programs. So how does Palm Healthcare Company match up to these recommendations?
A range of therapeutic approaches
Again, Palm Healthcare Company does not believe in the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treating addiction. Because not every form of therapy will be as influential for everyone our facilities offer a variety of therapeutic courses. Some of these include:
Palm Healthcare Company believes in utilizing cutting-edge treatment methods to create a more in-depth and personal recovery experience.
Provide multiple levels of care
There are several reasons why having different levels of care can be a big deal for EA professionals seeking treatment providers. For one, different levels of care allow for different levels of contact with the outside world.
With partial hospitalization, intensive or residential levels of treatment there is a much more secure and controlled environment with daily schedules full of therapy options and courses. If the individual is approved for Outpatient or Intensive Outpatient treatment they can attend work for part of the day while attending classes periodically.
Palm Healthcare Company helps the patient choose the level of care that is best suited for their needs. Monitoring individual progress and adapting the aspects of treatment to fit their progress is an important way to personalize the experience and support the transition from addiction to independent recovery.
Treat co-occurring mental health disorders
When an individual is struggling with a mental health disorder and substance use disorder the best method for them is dual diagnosis treatment. This allows the individual to address the addiction and the co-occurring disorder individually and simultaneously for a complete recovery.
Palm Healthcare Company understands that if someone only addresses one disorder without the other then they are more likely to have difficulty maintaining their recovery. These conditions tend to feed off of one another, and one going untreated can cause a relapse in the other.
Address underlying issues related to addiction
Palm Healthcare Company also cares a great deal about understanding substance use disorder; where it comes from and how it influences the lives of those who suffer. Therefore, we believe in exploring each individuals experience to help them find out what underlying issues are connected to their drug or alcohol use.
Addiction is such a complex disorder. There is no one way that someone ends up addicted. While there is a genetic predisposition, there are numerous other factors that contribute to the development of substance use disorder. Because things like trauma and family dynamics play a big part in the development of addiction, an effective treatment program should also examine and address these issues if the patient is going to experience lasting recovery.
Involve the entire family, including children
The Palm Healthcare Family Program is committed not just to offering brief visits with loved ones. Our Family Program is designed to:
- Give the family essential educational information
- Establish deeper connections between loved ones through recovery
- Teach about emotional well-being and healthy boundaries
- Offer life-changing breakthrough experiences
- Create a strong support system
The Palm Healthcare Family Program is a FREE service offered by our facilities because we believe that family involvement is incredibly important for lasting and worthwhile transformation.
Explore performance at work
Clients who are professionals are often very focused on how their substance use affects their career. Along with life skills and behavioral therapy, there is an important element of understanding how addiction impacts your professional life. Everyone from CEOs and executives to labor workers in every industry needs to be aware of how addiction affects the workplace.
Of course, EA professionals are more likely to recommend a treatment program that pays attention to addictions impact on the workplace. So teaching clients how to safely and effectively transition from treatment back to work is an important element of these programs.
Examine legal and financial issues resulting from addiction
Our facilities also take pride in providing teams of skilled individual case-workers who consistently work on behalf of each individual to maintain their personal interests regarding legal issues or other concerns they may have. It is important that an addiction treatment provider has experienced staff members who understand the difficulties that can arise from substance use and know how to best support each individual with these concerns.
Working with the Workforce
All Palm Healthcare Company facilities provide the more holistic and effective approach through this criterion of additional services. We know that addiction is an illness that impacts every walk of life. It also impacts any career position in every industry. We work every day to provide safe, effective and personal recovery plans to every individual we come into contact with.
Another part of providing recovery options to professionals can be to allow EA professionals to get involved in the aftercare process. An EA professional can inquire about policies relating to communication with the source of the referral. If the appropriate consent is given, the EA professional themselves can even become an important part of the recovery team for helping create a discharge and aftercare plan.
Looking at these very important suggestions coming from the Journal of Employee Assistance we are confident in our dedication to providing revolutionary and holistic care above and beyond the addiction treatment outline for EAP professionals. Palm Healthcare Company wants to support you and your clients to create a happier and healthier future. Please call toll-free now for more information.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
The devastating path of Hurricane Harvey has caused unprecedented and catastrophic flooding throughout southeastern parts of Texas. The Lone Star State has been all over the news since the tropical cyclone touched down, becoming the first major hurricane to make landfall on American soil since Wilma in 2005.
Some areas received over 40 inches of rain in a 4 day period, with peak accumulations reaching as high as 51.88 inches. The flooding and damage from the storm has besieged hundreds of thousands of Texan homes, displacing over 30,000 people.
Since its initial landing in Rockport, Texas there are reports of at least 46 confirmed deaths.
Sadly, the tragedy is not yet over. As efforts continue to pour in to relieve the suffering communities, Brock Long calls Hurricane Harvey the worst disaster in Texas history. Long says the expectation of recovering from this destructive natural disaster will take many years.
Still, there is hope. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is telling the world that they are happily on the road to recovery. Turner states:
“We’ve turned a corner,”
Yesterday the Mayor also noted there are already numerous signs of hopeful progress, including:
- Declining shelter numbers
- Power restored to most of the region
- The Astros’ doubleheader on Saturday
- More Metro bus lines resume service Friday
- Shipping channel reopening on limited basis
Leave it to the state where they do everything bigger to have such an inspiring bounce back after facing such difficulties. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone where the motto is friendship and the country is uniting to help those in need.
As the nation pulls together during a time of crisis, so too must an individual pull their own personal resources into maintaining their mental, emotional and physical well-being in the face of disaster. So to add more to the conversation, we want to talk about 5 ways to stay sober during a natural disaster.
The news of another possible threat in the form of Hurricane Irma has been worrying many communities, while there has yet to be a definite answer as to whether or not it will make landfall in the United States, and if so- where.
So let us talk about something that is important for those in the recovery community to keep in mind.
Trauma and Relapse
We want to point out that because natural disasters can be traumatizing experiences, they can put some who are struggling to overcome addiction in a more compromised position. These events stir up anxieties concerns important parts of life, like:
- Personal security
- Physical health
- Psychological well-being
Even healthy people with no history of substance use disorder are frequently traumatized by these sudden and uncontrollable events.
Therefore, it only makes sense that some who are unequipped with healthier coping mechanisms will often turn to trying to escape these fears with drugs or alcohol. It is their natural defense.
Some may find that the traumatic event itself does not inspire cravings, but the aftermath is far more influential. Survivors of natural disasters may be more vulnerable to relapse as they struggle to cope with what has happened.
5 Ways to Stay Sober During a Natural Disaster
Have a network
One way that people are able to stay sober during a natural disaster is that they have a strong network of reliable friends, other individuals in recovery and even sometimes counselors they can stay in contact with. Keep your A-team on speed dial and stay in touch with them, even when the disaster is over.
This is pretty much always crucial, but we should emphasize it because too many people will overlook it when it matters the most. Stay honest with those around you about your emotions and how the disaster has affected you, especially when you are feeling like you are in a bad place.
Maintain a routine
Having a routine, even in the face of tremendous difficulties, can help you to retain some semblance of normalcy while dealing with a tragedy. When trying to stay sober during a natural disaster you may find comfort and coping skills in the simple things like taking care of your hygiene, exercising or even meditating. Have a healthy routine to fall back on when the dust settles.
Helping others is already a huge part of continued sobriety for a lot of people. Many recovery programs promote a life-style that suggests helping others and being of service. Do what you can to be there for those around you, and your community. However, always remember to take care of yourself as well. Don’t push yourself too far and avoid putting yourself in danger.
Find a support group
While support groups already exist for those in recovery, sometimes they are especially useful with trying to stay sober during a natural disaster. Don’t rush out in the midst of something dangerous trying to get to a meeting, but immediately after the traumatic events seek out a support group or some form of counseling to help you process the tragedy. Even if you don’t feel specifically vulnerable at the time, it is healthy and productive to try and connect with others in a time of crisis.
In fact, if not for you… do it for them.
There is often no way to predict how something so damaging will show up in your life and what it may do to you physically, mentally or emotionally. Yet, having an effective strategy in place might help you be ready for anything.
Do everything you can to make sure that you stay sober during a natural disaster, so that one tragedy doesn’t create another in your life.
Stay safe everyone!
In the face of great adversity and turmoil we are gifted the opportunity to be better than our anxieties and our traumas. Staying sober during a natural disaster may not seem as important as just staying alive, but for some of us it is essentially the same. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
We are pleased to announce Dug and Heidi McGuirk of Palm Healthcare as special keynote speakers for this year’s Broward Recovery Month Event!
The Broward Recovery Event will honor special individuals in the community who are powerhouses for the recovery community.
Dug McGuirk is an accomplished entrepreneur and inspirational speaker. As co-founder of Revolutionary Health, Dug is committed to transforming lives. Dug McGuirk is the VP of Training and Development for Palm Healthcare Company where he regularly teaches a variety of transformative classes.
Heidi McGuirk is an author, co-founder of Revolutionary Health, Master Relationship Coach and addiction professional who teaches several weekly classes at Palm Healthcare.She is the creator and CEO of Love Coach Heidi where she helps recovering co-dependent women learn how to love themselves first.
Dug and Heidi both created an amazing family program for the families of addicted loved ones. The Family Program helps families navigate addiction and understand how to help their loved one instead of hurting them.
We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
Click for FREE GIFT
We encourage all to come out and support them in this year’s Broward Recovery Month event. Even if you are not familiar with the incredible work Dug and Heidi McGuirk do, you will gain so much from attending the event and hearing their words of inspiration and hope.
Here are the details:
Broward National Recovery Month Event:
When: September 9th from 11-3
Where: The War Memorial Museum
800 NE 8th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
What: Join special keynote speakers Dug and Heidi McGuirk for FREE food, fun, and inspiration.
This year’s theme for Recovery Month 2017 is Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities.
September marks the 27th anniversary of National Recovery Month. The purpose of National Recovery Month is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorder and celebrate people who DO recover.
The 2017 theme highlights the value of family and community support. Recovery Month invites individuals in recovery and their family members to share their personal stories and successes to inspire and encourage others.
Broward Recovery Month will be an exciting, INSPIRING event for all to attend. You can make a difference by joining in the Recovery Month Effort.
Support is crucial when it comes to addiction recovery.
Events that support recovery help encourage and inspire those struggling with their addiction, as well as give an outlet to those who have had amazing success in recovery. These events were created to join the recovery community together and celebrate those who have achieved success in their journey.
Broward’s Recovery Month Celebration “honors outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to helping people in our county remain sober.”
Overall, National Recovery Month helps instill a sense of belonging, safety, and security to the recovery community. This year, we encourage you to participate in events in your community that support addiction recovery. There are events happening nationwide for you to attend.
Whether you are new to recovery or have years of sobriety under your belt, everyone can benefit from attending major events like this. Families of addicted loved ones are strongly encouraged to attend because this year’s National Recovery Month specifically focuses on strengthening families. Families know more than anyone that addiction does not affect just the addict, it affects everyone around them too.
Millions of lives have been transformed through recovery. Often, these successes go unnoticed. Recovery Month is an excellent way for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments.
Addiction affects everyone, not just the addict. Therefore, if you or someone you know is currently struggling, please reach out. We want to help. Do not wait. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Let’s Not Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater!
by Thomas G. Beley, PhD, LCSW
There has been an enormous amount of negative publicity regarding substance use treatment facilities and so called “sober homes” in the south Florida area. So much so that the integrity of the entire treatment industry has been under scrutiny. And perhaps so it should be. Given the accounts of fraudulent billing, “patient brokering,” and human trafficking occurring, it is disheartening to know that we continue to live in a society where vulnerable groups of people are preyed upon for monetary gain. There is a definite need to take a closer look at what is actually going on. However, let’s not let the emotional sensationalism of these news stories cloud the facts and issues of what is really going on.
Our nation is currently under siege by a problem that has been a long standing health issue that seemingly continues to be the “step child” of our healthcare system despite the fact that it is one of the leading contributing causes of death in our country. Addiction has become a menace to our society. Illegal drug use, legalized drug use, prescription medications, and alcohol have infiltrated all segments of our population. While pharmaceutical companies have well intentionally figured out ways to introduce an assortment of new medications to combat the side effects of prescribed opioid medications, deaths from opioid overdoses have become the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United States outnumbering car accidents.
The problem of addiction is not going away and, unfortunately, it is only going to get worse. The fact is that we need treatment centers and we need “sober” homes. They have been a main stay for people suffering from the scourge of alcohol and drug addiction for decades. What we do not want to do is to scare people away from getting the help they need. Let’s not forget that there are many established quality treatment centers and “sober” homes throughout the nation.
One of the problems that legitimate treatment centers have encountered is the limitation that insurance companies have placed on them in providing effective treatment. Treatment is often cut short by insurers, often citing “there is no medical necessity” in favor of a less intensive program meaning they are often discharged from the facility without really getting the full care that is needed. As a result, there has been a proliferation of these “less intensive” treatment programs which is where the insurance loophole begins to expand. Many of these “less intensive” programs are ineffective at best because of a lack of credentialed professionals running them, or they have been established with the sole purpose of milking the insurance companies of benefits.
A problem is occurring that many of these well-established treatment facilities and “sober homes,” historically known as halfway and three-quarter houses, are being overshadowed by these bogus; make shift facilities that have taken advantage of the insurance loophole. Make no mistake, some of these places have little interest in providing the necessary help needed to address those suffering from an addictive disorder. The primary goal is to make money. Their sole purpose is to prey on a vulnerable population, many of the victims are young adults in their early twenties with little or no life skills who are still on their parents’ insurance. Many of these individuals have been in the throes of their addiction for years and have little choice. Either they and the family do not know any better or they simply feel resigned to play along within a deficient system.
Many of these victims are offered easy money to recruit other patients to live in a so-called “sober home” who will often have connections with a so-called “treatment” facility. In many instances, there is an established unethical relationship of “brokering” whereby there is an exchange of money for patients between the “sober” home and the “treatment” facility. Each supplying the other with a steady stream of “insured” bodies. Patients are actually encouraged to go out and recruit other patients from other “sober” homes and treatment facilities in exchange for money, free room and board, or both. In some instances, the owner of the “sober” home also owns the “treatment” facility.
Many people leaving a bona fide treatment facility will need a halfway or three-quarter house for support and a transition back into sober living. However, a legitimate half-way or three-quarter house, now often referred to as a “sober home,” will be just that, a place where people can live and receive the necessary support and structure to transition back to a normal life. The halfway and three-quarter house has been an integral part of recovery since addiction was recognized as a medical condition decades ago. The concept of the halfway and three-quarter house is basic. The person pays rent for a safe, structured place to live with other recovering people. The concept being a person can engage in life responsibilities such as work or school and return to a supportive setting until such time the person can live independently.
However, for some, the concept of the halfway and three-quarter house has morphed into the so-called “sober home” where clients are more or less forced to participate in a “less intense” treatment program in exchange for free room and board. While in theory this sounds like a very reasonable proposition, the reality is we have vulnerable people being “brokered” into, at best, untenable and ineffective facilities. Many of these individuals do not need “less intense” treatment, what they need is guidance and direction in developing life skills and purpose, which is often a part of more intensive treatment
Families are also enticed by these facilities with the promise of not needing to pay rent for their loved one to live in such a “sober home.” The catch is their son or daughter will have to participate in a highly ineffective “less intense treatment program” which is usually compromised of other patients who have no desire to recover or are simply just trying to get by; to survive playing what now amounts to a very deadly game of so-called “recovery.” Life for some of these individuals has become not trying to recover as much as trying to negotiate a better “treatment” deal. They bounce from one treatment program to another, from one “sober home” to another, with no real direction of getting back on track with their life.
Legitimate treatment centers often encounter prospective patients and families negotiating treatment terms because they have been offered free plane fairs, waived co-payments and deductibles, free room and board post treatment, and other enticements by these questionable treatment facilities. Somewhere along the line, treatment for a deadly disease has become more like purchasing a car. People, unfortunately, have been seduced into looking for the better deal rather than effective treatment that is going to save a life.
The Politics of Addiction
How is it that the treatment industry for substance use disorders has become increasingly more suspect of unethical practices over the years? The answer is a very simple one, neglect. Neglect at all levels of our society except one and that is the criminal element.
Regardless of how much research that has been conducted over the years, and there has been a plethora of research in better understanding addiction, it seems to be still falling on deaf ears. People continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that substance use disorders and addiction is one of leading health hazards and causes of death in our country.
Despite the fact that it has long been recognized as a medical condition requiring medical and professional interventions, there continues to be the stigma of the ‘addicted’ person suffering from a lack of will power, fortitude, and discipline. Research has clearly demonstrated that this is not the case. There are neurobiological and behavioral underpinnings to this disease that have impacted key areas of the brain including a person’s genetic make-up. What is even more important regarding this research, which has been around for decades, is that there are effective interventions and treatment approaches that can be utilized. The old adage of relapse being a part of recovery is simply not true anymore. Unfortunately, this research seems to be slow in reaching our treatment industry forcing many people suffering from addiction to be treated with antiquated and ineffective approaches.
What compounds this malaise even further is the fact that the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry seem to have little incentive for change making it difficult for legitimate treatment facilities to do their job effectively. These facilities are often limited in the amount of treatment they can provide and are often in a battle with the insurance companies to prove medical necessity for further treatment. Even when medical necessity is proven, insurance companies are reluctant to authorize further treatment, in part because of the abuses that tend to occur across the board in our healthcare-insurance paradigm, but also because they are tired of paying for treatments that are seemingly ineffective.
Insurance companies are fighting back. Why should they pay for another intensive treatment when that person has been through a similar “treatment” four or five times previously? As a result, the insurance industry has relied on the premise that treatment needs to be provided on a shorter-term basis and in a less restrictive setting. As a result, there has been a proliferation of these less intensive programs that have focused on relapse containment, which is not necessarily a negative goal, but they are extremely limited when it comes to addressing the coping and life skills necessary to live a more productive and meaningful life.
The insurance industry has also relied on the pharmaceutical industry’s propensity to develop better maintenance medications. These medications, creating a multi-billion dollar windfall of their own, are geared more toward reducing symptoms and maintaining the person so they do not decompensate any further, not necessarily getting the person back on track with their life. The goal of stabilization and maintenance is not enough. People with addiction issues need a treatment program that will address the neurobiological, psychological, and behavioral aspects of this illness.
All of this creates a vacuum of need for the person suffering from an addictive disorder. As such, they are left vulnerable with little or no options to choose. They are preyed upon by the opportunists whose only intent is financial gain subjugating these individuals to less than supportive living conditions and participation in ineffective programs that will only lead to relapse, hospitalization, or worse, death.
Yes, the reality is there does need to be a crackdown on these unethical and fraudulent “sober homes” and ineffective “treatment” facilities. However, what is going to happen after that? Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The problem is not with the fact that there are unscrupulous people out there ready to take advantage of a faulty system. This happens in any organization or industry where there is a faulty system in place. The real problem is that there is not enough attention being paid to the real issue, the disease of addiction and the need for more effective treatment.
The problem of addiction needs to be the focus of our attention. Last year alone there were over 52,000 deadly opiate overdoses in the United States outnumbering that of car fatalities. Add in another 88,000 alcohol related deaths and the number of deaths from addictive substances becomes staggering. This is close to the equivalent of a passenger 747 jumbo jet airliner crashing every day for a year. This does not even include the deaths of other addictive legal and illegal substances. It is estimated that the use of addictive substances costs our nation $740 billion dollars annually. Let us not lose focus on the true issue.
Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that there are a number of well-established and effective treatment centers and “sober homes” throughout the country that have been in operation for years. These are facilities that are committed to working with a population that have long been neglected and now preyed upon. These are the facilities that need to be recognized and supported.
Established treatment programs will be staffed with credentialed licensed professionals. The facility is also usually certified or is in the process of getting certified by an external credentialing organization such as the Joint Commission or the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The facilities will have established levels of care with clear clinical guidelines as to treatment philosophy and outcome. Involvement with the person’s family and support system will also be an integral part of the program. Transparency and openness for others to see the work they are doing is tantamount to their efficacy and success.
The credible sober home will also have the same transparency and openness. The facility will usually have structured ground rules and 24-hour supervision. The main goal being a time limited supportive living environment geared toward assisting the recovering person getting back into the mainstream of life and personal direction. Most important, it will not have any affiliations with insurance or with a treatment facility. A credible sober home may be endorsed by a number of treatment facilities but they will operate independently and separately of those treatment facilities.
The bottom line is that there is effective and meaningful treatment out there. It is just a matter of finding those places. It is going to take a concerted effort of accountability at multiple levels to address all the problems at hand with addiction. There is no one entity to blame. Lawmakers, healthcare professionals, treatment programs, the insurance industry, and families are all going to need to take a closer look at what they can do to address the problem of addiction.
– Thomas G. Beley, PhD, LCSW
Palm Healthcare Company
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Talking politics has always been a bit of a point of contention. It isn’t considered polite dinner conversation, and these days the political arena seems more polarized than ever with opposing opinions. However, many advocates on both sides of the isle agree that addressing the issue of drug abuse and addiction in America is a very important topic today. With so many differences of opinion regarding strategy it should be more important than ever to pay attention to the statistics. We must learn from our mistakes. So the fact that the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions still supports the War on Drugs is a little disheartening. Now, Sessions is sticking to his idea of keeping it old school by endorsing the D.A.R.E. program.
The only problem is the D.A.R.E. program doesn’t have the successful record he seems to think it does.
Jeff Sessions Speaks at D.A.R.E. Conference
Tuesday, July 11 Attorney General Jeff Sessions attended a D.A.R.E. training conference in Texas. While at the conference Sessions gave a speech in which he praised the D.A.R.E. program’s work in the ’80s and ’90s, saying D.A.R.E. is:
“The best remembered anti-drug program today.”
“In recent years, people have not paid much attention to that message, but they are ready to hear it again.”
While D.A.R.E. may be the most ‘remembered’ anti-drug program, being practiced all over the country with one of the most recognizable names next to ‘Just Say No’, the real eye-brow raiser was when Jeff Sessions stated:
“We know it worked before and we can make it work again.”
However, the majority of the data suggests that D.A.R.E. didn’t really ‘work’ as well as Sessions thinks. Some would go as far as to say it didn’t really work at all, despite what Jeff Sessions claimed to know.
The D.A.R.E. program was created in 1983 in Los Angeles. In the years following the implication of the program, states and school districts made a great deal of investments into the program. Yet over time studies began showing that all this effort may have done more harm than good, much like the War on Drugs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance:
“To date, there have been more than 30 evaluations of the program that have documented the negligible long-term impacts on teen drug use.”
The agency also states that one intensive six year study even found that the program increased drug use among suburban teenagers, albeit a small amount.
According to a 1994 federal study, if students grew up and learned the dangers of drugs had been exaggerated or misinformed, they would distrust the lessons. Some insist this led to high rates of experimenting with drugs. Ironically enough, when D.A.R.E. was at its peak of activity in across the nation, between 1995 and 1996, teen drug rates were actually at their highest.
In fact, the American Psychological Association conducted a study including one thousand D.A.R.E. graduates over a ten-year period. After the decade, the study found no measurable effects were noted. The researchers compared levels of drug use, including:
- Marijuana and other illegal drugs
The data was collected before and after the D.A.R.E. program. Students were in sixth grade for the first period of the study, and were surveyed again when they were 20 years old. Although there were some measured effects shortly after the program on the attitudes of the students towards drug use, these effects did not appear to last.
D.A.R.E. to Do it Different
In defense of the D.A.R.E. program, the methods have changed since back in 2012 after the overwhelming empirical data influenced multiple levels of government to pull funding for the program. But it seems Jeff Sessions might want to push government funding back into the archaic attitudes that got the program nowhere.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s the program primarily involved police officers going to schools to educate kids about the dangers of gang violence and drug use. But many call the old techniques more ‘fear-mongering’ or ‘scare tactics’ than actual education. The majority of data shows these methods don’t seem to have the impact people thought they would.
Most drug policy experts believe that the attempts made to frighten kids away from drugs more often backfired. Even DARE’s own front-runners have acknowledged the program’s failures after years of denying the evidence.
The new strategy the D.A.R.E. program uses it evidence-based instead of fear-based. This reinvention includes the “Keepin It Real Program” that focuses on better decision making for kids. We should celebrate that D.A.R.E. is doing things a little different.
But the issue is most people are taking with these statements is that it appears Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to think the old way was better. This jives pretty well with his ‘tough on crime’ agenda that aims to pursue harsher punishments, push for mandatory minimum sentencing and echoes negative stigma against people who use drugs. If Jeff Sessions makes a shift to supporting the new and improved D.A.R.E. then we can all breathe a little easier, but right now it isn’t looking that way.
Most people who are familiar with the War on Drugs, D.A.R.E. programs and other early attempts at addressing substance abuse in America will know that it definitely hasn’t been an easy road. We should focus on what we have learned about making treatment options more effective and showing more compassion for helping people suffering instead of punishing them. Getting help can save a life, and treatment can offer a far better future than prison. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398