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Many Clients Disappear After Treatment

September 14, 2010
by Gary Enos
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The results of our most recent reader poll indicate that the addiction treatment field still has a long way to go in moving away from an episodic approach to care and toward a chronic disease model.

We asked readers about their facilities’ most commonly used method for staying in touch with clients after they complete treatment. While “telephone contact” was the most frequently offered response, about one-third of respondents marked, “We don’t stay in touch with clients after treatment.”

In addition, only about 3% of respondents said they used online communication as their primary method for maintaining contact with clients.

Fortunately, some treatment centers do appear to be developing more formalized programming involving their graduates, as evidenced by the recent interest among centers in participating in the new association called Treatment Professionals in Alumni Development (TPAD).

We invite you to cast your vote in our Web polls. The comments that you provide with your responses help to encourage dialogue and also shape our editorial coverage.

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Comments

This is an area that should see significant growth over the next few years. I've had several centers request assistance in setting up e-mail autoresponder programs with companies like http://budurl.com/InfusionSoftAlumni. List building is one of the smartest ways to build any small business.

I believe this will change in the next 5-10 years. We have been treating addiction as if it is an acute disease when it is clearly defined as a chronic one that demands ongoing care. The programs that I have seen work best are state programs for licensure and those programs are usually 3-5 years long.
Recovery Coaching can be offered after treatment by phone and is particularly useful if the graduate lives in a rural area where aftercare is not offered.

When I owned an outpatient facility in Hawaii we started an Alumni Group that met once a month. It was potluck (food always brings folks out) and this was very successful way to maintain contact with many of our alumni. The group was centered on socializing, but everyone did a check-in. I was amazed at the level of self-disclosure and when someone was struggling a peer would step-up to help. This helped to avoid another treatment episode.

I've recently began working at a facility that doesn't have any type of continuing care or alumni program. The facility that I left did have an aftercare/continuing care program. I definitely believe there is a great benefit to the individual and the agency in having such a program

Should treatment standards actually be AGREED UPON and then certified by a national board? If 30% of all treatment centers are not even in contact with graduates, and have no incentive to be in touch...what's going to motivate them to do the "extra work"? This seems to be a really good first (and logical) step to systemically treating addictions.

Thanks for posting this topic. Many treatment facilities and alumni professionals across the country recognize that the services we offer clients after they leave our programs are as important as what happens during the treatment process. We know from our own experiences that recovery is a life long commitment. If a treatment facility can continue to support clients through alumni programming, this will not only positively impact our former patients, but also will help to sustain an insure the future of our organizations. The more support we can offer alumni in their recovery efforts, the more we will receive their support in the form of referrals. The organization mentioned in the blog, TPAD, (Treatment Professionals in Alumni Development) will establish standards of excellence and best practices for alumni programs so that the goals of supporting our former patients as well as supporting our organizations can be realized.

Gary Enos

Editor

Gary Enos

@apeditor

www.addictionpro.com

Gary A. Enos has been the editor of Addiction Professional since its inception. He...