In this third post of my series on Understanding Treatment for and Recovery from Addiction, I will focus on ways to make treatment effective and efficient for our patients. For addiction treatment to work, certain elements have to be included and must also be assembled properly. Two of these key elements are an opportunity to build relationships through group-based psychosocial interventions and the elimination of barriers to treatment. Clinicians have an important role to play in both areas.
People who have managed to establish a stable recovery regularly report the central importance of one or more “helping relationships.” Formal treatment, through the use of appropriate psychosocial interventions, is one venue where this can occur. What differentiates addiction treatment from some other forms of medical and psychological treatment is that the help comes as much from relationships with other addicts as much as it does from the treating professionals. One of the chief tasks of the treatment professional is to facilitate the development of these relationships between patients and ensure that they are productive. This is achieved through the creation of a therapeutic environment that resembles other social structures but has an artificial structure to achieve its purpose. Although it can resemble an informal social gathering, such as a party, the program is more like a laboratory. Patients sometimes confuse the environment with such gatherings or with recovery support groups until they learn the guidelines to be followed in the treatment environment. This is important to consider to make treatment effective and efficient.
Removing Obstacles to Make Treatment Effective and Efficient
Opportunities to build “helping relationships” and other essential elements of treatment must be arranged into a system that makes them effective. For example, external obstacles, such as cost or geographic distance, can make even the most effective programs inaccessible. Another set of barriers are internal to treatment programs. For example, withdrawal management, rehabilitation, and continuing care are sometimes fragmented because they are delivered at separate sites. Such discontinuities can result in premature discontinuation of treatment leading to a revolving door of partial and unsuccessful treatment.
At Kolmac, we have designed a treatment system to make treatment effective and efficient and address these obstacles in three ways.
1. We strive to make our program accessible by offering outpatient treatment that is outside of work hours and is covered by insurance.
2. We promote continuity of care by building bridges. For instance, we do face-to-face admission evaluations of hospitalized patients prior to their discharge. Internally, we optimize transitions between program phases by having our patients participate in the next phase before they leave the one in which they are currently participating.
3. We encourage patients to become involved in the outside recovery support community while they are still in our program.
The importance of patients being involved in the outside recovery support community will be the next and final area that this series will explore.
Contact us to learn more about how we make treatment effective and efficient.