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Willingway Hospital stresses 'full continuum of care' for recovery

September 15, 2011
by News release
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Statesboro, Ga. — September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, and Willingway Hospital, a comprehensive treatment facility in Georgia, is stressing the need for a full continuum of care—beyond initial detoxification—to give those addicted to alcohol and drugs the best chances for recovery.

National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month is hosted nationally by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. This year's theme is "Join the Voices for Recovery: Recovery Benefits Everyone."

"Patients in recovery significantly underestimate the impact their drug or alcohol addiction has had on those around them, whether it's family, friends or co-workers," said Robert W. Mooney, MD, addiction psychiatrist and medical director of Willingway Hospital. "Many mistakenly believe that they go through a magical treatment then everything returns to normal. Recovering addicts often struggle with the enormity of life changes. Therefore, they need access to ongoing programs and services that help them gradually ease into sobriety as well as help build a strong support network to ensure their recovery success."

The societal challenges those in recovery face include returning to work, reconnecting with family and friends, and recognizing the need for ongoing peer support as well as dealing with the general stigma attached to addicts. According to Dr. Mooney, "One of the major contributors to relapse is being ill-equipped to deal with these types of day-to-day challenges."

Willingway advocates developing a treatment program tailored to the specific needs of the individual, and one that include a full continuum of care. After adequate detoxification (removing all hazardous substances which are known to contribute to relapse), patients should discuss the need for the following types of ongoing programs and services with their attending physician:

Inpatient/residential services
The patient/client actually lives in the facility for a period of time which may vary from two to eight weeks, depending on the program and need. The facility is staffed 24/7. Treatment focuses on emotional stabilization, education about the illness, development of recovery resources and skills, and personal adoption of recovery principles. Day treatment/partial hospitalization is often available for patients who no longer need 24-hour care but do need more structure than outpatient treatment provides.

Extended treatment
This is a longer-term solution and is designed for patients who need an extended period of time in a structured setting in order to establish a solid recovery program. Length of stay generally ranges from 90 days to one year. This level of care provides a structured, supportive environment. Group and/or individual therapy is provided. Patients/clients begin to assume responsibilities for daily living activities.

Outpatient treatment
This level of care is designed to allow the patient/client to live at home and attend sessions during the day or evening. Program participation averages about 10 hours a week. Therapy includes a combination of didactic (educational), group, individual, and family therapy.

Comprehensive family program
Addiction affects the entire family, therefore, it is important that the family be involved in the treatment process. The patient/client's spouse and other family members participate in education programs, meetings with the attending physician and counselors, and family counseling sessions.

Continuing Care Plan.
This plan is jointly devised with the patient/client and counselor. It addresses any unresolved issues from treatment and provides recommendations for the best chance of success after discharge, including participation in 12-step recovery meetings, obtaining a sponsor, and living in a non-toxic environment.

Dr. Mooney adds, "Experience has shown that those who follow an aftercare plan are more likely to maintain sobriety. Establishing a peer-support network is a lot like buying life insurance, the benefit is never fully realized until you actually need it."

National Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of treatment for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.