I would like to devote this blog to anything having to do with treating a chronic disease as a chronic disease needs to be treated, and the steps we can take as professionals to eliminate the stigma that we blame on the culture at large.
That being said, I was recently waiting for a meeting to begin in one of the nation's finest treatment centers. There was a man sitting close by chatting with a person who worked at the facility. It sounded to me like the man had worked very hard on his recovery from the very first day he walked in the door. What caught my ear was the comment “I'm in the home stretch.” It was fairly obvious that this person perceived himself to be completing treatment.
Who can blame him? That's the way most people perceive treatment for substance use disorders.
I suspect this person had a very solid continuing care plan. However, that's not perceived as treatment. When a person uses the phrase “I'm going to treatment,” most people understand it to be residential care.
Words such as “aftercare” persist. That clearly connotes “afterthought,” something not terribly important.
Yet research is telling us that when treatment is perceived to include every level of care, patients do remarkably well. What do we need to do?
Addiction professionals annually convene at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders to share what’s working: Clinicians hear from thought leaders on delivering treatment, while executives of behavioral healthcare organizations learn how to run more effective, more efficient, and ethically minded businesses.