How to Select an Appropriate Level of Addiction Treatment (Part 2 of 2)

By:  Michael Plahn

In Part I of this article, I wrote about 12-Step programs, individual and group counseling, and different levels of Outpatient Treatment.  The highest level of care and support is available at an in-patient ‘Residential’ program.  These programs are designed to encompass 30-90 days of primary treatment (but length of stay depends on the patient’s condition and progress as well as family resources).  There are some amazing residential treatment facilities that can help your loved one.

I am a big proponent of facilities that offer comprehensive multi-disciplinary assessments (e.g. Caron Treatment Centers) to determine the correct diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan.   It just makes sense, doesn’t it?  Facilities that I personally like offer an entire continuum of care, as is the case at Promises, which allows the patient to continue to progress while maintaining the continuity of the same surroundings and treatment team.  Facilities such as The Canyon and Casa Palmera treat addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders (also called ‘Dual-Diagnosis’) for individuals struggling with mental illness along with addiction.  Some residential facilities, such as The Meadows, specialize in treating addiction and trauma.  For licensed professionals, there are facilities that offer specialized tracks catering to their specific concerns and needs (available at Hazelden’s Center City location).  I have also found companies such as Treatment Solutions Network to be very helpful as they represent a variety of facilities.

Although programs may share a similar classification (IOP, PHP, or Residential) there are tremendous differences in one facility’s program versus another.  This is one of the big reasons why a knowledgeable objective professional can help with this decision (you may be comparing apples and bowling balls without realizing it).  To further complicate the situation, if you are counting on your health insurance plan to cover the treatment, think again.  It is essential to ascertain the level of coverage you have in your particular plan.  Many residential programs do not accept any insurance coverage (it can be a self-pay facility), but some do and I hate to keep making you read this, but without an objective professional, you may never find the facilities that may be appropriate for your loved-one AND accept your loved-one’s insurance.

The goal, as I see it, is simple, you want to make sure that if your loved one is going (that is a big if without a professional to facilitate an objective and compassionate Intervention) to an addiction and/or mental health treatment facility, that they get APPROPRIATE TREATMENT to meet their needs.  If not, it is very likely they are going to get discouraged, struggle, possibly drop-out of the program, and or relapse (or worse).

It can play out like this: the afflicted person who was pushed into treatment by their significant other and without professional guidance required a different or higher level of care, they were approached with this by the treatment clinicians and staff, the patient became agitated and refused to change levels of the program, let alone facilities, and leaves the program.  Another sad, but common situation is:  the afflicted person agrees to enter treatment but only if they can go to a program that they approve.  Being an over-achieving people pleaser, who is certainly not telling the staff how they feel or divulging all of the secrets they are ‘taking to their grave,’ does everything necessary to quietly and successfully complete an outpatient treatment program.  They say they plan on attending AA as a maintenance program, but are hiding bottles and pills in a matter of weeks.  Many times, in either of those cases, those same individuals are even branded with “they just weren’t ready to change or stop using,” by family or friends.

Addiction (let alone adding mental illness if present) is a progressive and potentially fatal disease that rips apart families and takes lives prematurely.  A comparison to another potentially terminal disease, Stage IV Lung Cancer, is on point.  So, if a professional recommends professional treatment, I would not suggest that you navigate the different levels and facilities on your own (no matter how adept you are at Google searches), look for a convenient program that is “In-Network” for the insurance plan, or ignore it because “your loved-one would never agree to it” (you might be surprised if you have a professional facilitate an Intervention/Family Meeting).  Get the best and most appropriate help! In my experience (clinically and experientially), to do so will likely require an objective professional.  Contact LSA to work with an objective professional who will help with every aspect of this process in the LSA Pre-Treatment Solution.


62% of new college kids teetotalers – Chicago Sun-Times

Given the increasing trends of adolescents and drug use, it is not often we hear positive news about kids and drug use these days, so this story caught our eye.  It appears there may be a positive effect of the down economy on students taking their lives more seriously and foregoing the booze.

Read the full story  here:  according to the Chicago Sun-Times, 62% of new college kids are teetotalers.


Drug Study Shows Alcohol is Most Harmful

A new study published online Monday in the medical journal, Lancet, shows that alcohol is  more dangerous than illicit drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.

The study assessed harms caused many substances, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, and ranked them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to others in society.  Measures of analysis included how addictive a drug is, the harm it causes to the human body, environmental damage caused by the drug, such as its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.

In the overall rankings, alcohol outranked all other substances, followed by heroin and crack cocaine.  Alcohol was the most destructive overall for several reasons such as when drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems.  Alcohol is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.  Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, or crystal meth, ranked as the most lethal to individuals. Lower on the list were marijuana, ecstasy and LSD. 

The study was paid for by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and can be viewed online here at the Lancet Medical Journal.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, LifeSkills Authorities can help.   Call 312.265.0909 or click here to contact us now and learn more about our addiction consultation, intervention and recovery coaching services.


MSNBC: Tough economy poses challenge for addicts

New article from MSNBC.com talks about how the loss of jobs and inability to find work can make it harder to stay sober. Author Eve Tahmincioglu states, “During tough economic times, it can be even harder to fight an addiction. It can also be more challenging for workers trying to clean themselves up to hold onto their jobs.”


“There are more financial stressors today,” said Dr. Barbara Krantz, CEO and medical director of research at Hanley Center, an addiction recovery center in West Palm Beach, Fla., adding that such stress can contribute to alcohol and drug use, both illegal and prescription. From 2007 through 2009, Hanley Center has seen more than a 60 percent increase in the number of patients citing work-related problems as one of the top reasons they are seeking substance addiction help.

In many cases, she added, workers lose their jobs because of substance abuse, but most employers don’t fire them outright over an addiction. “People tell us they lost their jobs because of absenteeism or poor job performance,” she said.

About the alcohol / drug distinction:

Protections for a worker with a substance abuse problem under the nation’s labor laws are not as clear as those for people with disabilities such as blindness or paraplegia.

“The ADA actually treats drug and alcohol abuse somewhat differently,” Chris Kuczynski, an attorney with the EEOC said. “An alcoholic who is currently drinking can be covered, although he or she can be held to the same standards as other workers concerning use of alcohol at the worksite, can be disciplined for violating rules that say employees cannot be working under the influence of alcohol, etc.

“The distinction between drug and alcohol use can be important in some situations, particularly where treatment is concerned. Because persons engaging in the illegal use of drugs aren’t covered and aren’t therefore entitled to reasonable accommodation, an employer doesn’t have to offer them the opportunity to take leave for treatment. On the other hand, because alcoholics who are currently drinking can be individuals with disabilities, reasonable accommodation in the form of time off for treatment may be required.”

If you were a former abuser, an employer can’t hold that against you in most cases.

About getting treatment:

In cases where the employer suspects a worker is high while on the job or that the employee has an abuse problem — and the employee has not owned up to it or asked for help — and the abuse is negatively impacting his or her work duties, the employer can terminate the employee, added Anthony Oncidi, partner and head of the Los Angeles labor and employment law group for Proskauer Rose.

Oncidi’s firm had a financial services client last year with a high-level employee who was repeatedly coming to work under the influence and even going to client meetings drunk. The female employee had been with the firm for five years, but the alcohol problem had surfaced only recently.

“She even went to a conference where she clearly had too much alcohol and embarrassed herself and the company,” he said. “They talked to her about it, but she denied she had a problem. She was fired.”

On the flip side, if an employee needs to take time off to go into a treatment program, the employer typically has to reasonably accommodate the worker, Oncidi said.

Read the entire article here on MSNBC.com.


Gratitude? There’s an App for that!

Post by Sarah Wilde

The feeling of sincere gratitude is believed by many in the recovery community to be a strong defense against relapse into alcohol or drug abuse.  An “attitude of gratitude” is coined for someone who has a good sense of what is important in life and the ability to remain grateful for the fundamentals, sometimes as basic as just another day sober.  Being grateful for many little meaningful things over time can be like insurance to overpower the negative impact that could result when life throws a challenging curve ball your way.

Thanks to technology and the iPhone, being grateful just became even easier to prioritize.   With Gratitude! Journal Positive Thoughts, available in the Apple App Store, you can track the five things you’re grateful for daily.   For 99 cents you can keep a running tab on how much you have to be grateful for and boost your mood in the meantime.  This might come in particularly handy on those days when life seems a little tougher.  Oprah Winfrey said it herself, “the gratitude journal truly changed my life.”

Now the next time someone holds the elevator for you, lets you in front of them in traffic, or the coffee you spill misses your lap, fire up that iPhone.  When you wake up with a clear head, take a walk and breathe in fresh air, the sun shines on your day off, or you get to see the smile of someone special, go ahead and make a note of it the instant it happens.  You might be surprised how many little areas of gratitude can add up by the end of the day if you’re tracking them.   Keep adding to the list and make being grateful a priority, because as another saying goes, “a grateful alcoholic doesn’t drink.”

Note:  LifeSkills Authorities is not affiliated in any way with the Gratitude! App or its developers.  We just think it is really cool.

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