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Hazelden Betty Ford chronicles journey to becoming a recovery center

February 5, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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About three-quarters of its way through a transition from treatment center to recovery center, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has reviewed each of its programs for meeting recovery management principles with patients, and now considers recovery management to be a core competency for clinicians. Hazelden Betty Ford's executive director of recovery management opened this week's Addiction Professional Summit in Anaheim, Calif., by outlining how the renowned treatment organization has instituted the significant cultural change.

Janelle Wesloh told attendees that her embrace of a recovery-oriented approach took hold early on in her career. As an on-call counselor eager to learn all roles, she particularly enjoyed filling in for an aftercare counselor who worked with patients on what would happen after discharge. Today, Wesloh borrows heavily in her approaches from national voices such as William White, David Mee-Lee and Tom McLellan, leaders whose calls for a broader vision for treatment often garner ovations at professional conferences but not enough follow-through when their fans return to the trenches of treatment programs.

With research showing that the average patient in traditional treatment programs ends up needing three to four episodes of care to achieve one year of continuous abstinence, organizations need to establish a more comprehensive continuum of services from detox all the way to technological support for recovery monitoring, Wesloh said. And patients need to be introduced to recovery concepts during treatment, as early as possible, she indicated.

“We need the person to feel comfortable with these resources before they leave,” Wesloh said.

The Feb. 4-5 summit, “From Treatment to Recovery: Embracing a Continuing Care Model,” was presented by the publishers of Addiction Professional in conjunction with association partners the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).

Counselor mindset

Wesloh estimated that Hazelden Betty Ford is situated around mile 75 of a 100-mile journey to becoming a recovery center in its overall approach. Clinician attitudes play a big part in the shift. Their mindset emerges when a patient asks a typical question such as, “How long do I have to be here?”, as if there is an ideal answer to when treatment of a chronic illness should end.

“How you answer that says a lot about where you are on the journey from treatment center to recovery center,” Wesloh said.

How Hazelden Betty Ford's clinicians apply a recovery management approach now is taken into account in each counselor's annual performance review. The organization is governed by a set of goals and principles for recovery. An example of a goal is patient self-management of recovery. One principle is staff attitude toward a patient's readmission (“I guess he had to go out and do a little more research” probably isn't the desired response).

Wesloh cited several examples of recovery-focused activity in Hazelden Betty Ford programs. In Oregon, patients' recovery plans are crafted through information garnered when patients are on passes away from the facility. In Chicago, peers are immersed in many aspects of programming, including work with family members of patients.

“There are questions family members will ask of someone else that they won't ask of their loved one,” Wesloh said. One example is, “How can tell if my loved one is lying to me?” The honest answer from the third party who's been there: “You don't.”



A prime example of the cultural change that the profession of treating addictions is experiencing was The Summit on Continuing Care. Gary Enos's excellent articles help those of us who couldn't be there be a part of the experience. The trend is exciting. My contribution is suggesting that treatment for addictions truly adopt a chronic care model and a language that will allow us to communicate with professionals who treat other chronic diseases. I've never heard a physician treating hypertension or asthma talk about "aftercare."