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Men-only program in Texas seeks to eliminate distractions

May 9, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Addiction treatment can be hard work, and at the Anchor West long-term residential program in Austin, Texas, the act of going to treatment each day resembles work. Program director Dennis McCarty, MA, LCDC, believes a strength of the male-only program involves its separation of the residential facility from the treatment site where patients attend groups and receive other clinical services.

“We have a hybrid model,” says McCarty. “Our young men have a routine just like you and me in going to work every day. At the end of the day when they return to where they live, they can have some detachment from it, but not too much.”

Anchor West is a program of The Arbor treatment organization based in Georgetown, Texas. It has 21 beds and serves largely a young adult population (McCarty says that at present the average age in the patient population stands at around 27). The program's establishment spoke to the need for highly structured treatment for men who are generally from a middle-class background. A typical 90-day stay in treatment costs $24,500, with Anchor West receiving some insurance reimbursement along with private pay.

Removing a hindrance

Not only does the Anchor West program create a gender-specific environment for young men, it also prohibits its patients from having any contact with women outside the campus.

“At the outside meetings they attend, our guys are not even allowed to talk to women,” he says. “If a woman tries to engage one of our guys in a conversation, he's instructed to say, 'I'm in a treatment program and I'm not allowed to talk to women.'”

This allows the patient in treatment to begin building a healthier relationship with himself before working on relationships with others, McCarty says. However, if the patient is in a relationship when he arrives in treatment, his girlfriend may visit the facility one Sunday per month. Patients also are not allowed to use computers or cellphones while in treatment, and have limited access to a land-line telephone and television.

McCarty says that once substances are removed from the young adult male's environment, he usually will pursue women next, and that of course would include other patients if he resided in a coed program. “These guys are always looking for the next way to seek pleasure,” he says.

“What we do just removes most of the distractions,” McCarty adds. “The guys will tell you this too, after they've been here for a while. They just don't need that hindrance.”

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