Recovery from drugs and alcohol may take a lifetime, but rehab can’t. How can addiction treatment facilities extend the continuum of care?
As the industry looks to control costs and improve outcomes, many facilities are adding post-treatment support services to their treatment programs. These are a few of the models being adopted by providers.
Alumni Support Programs
Many treatment centers now offer programs for their alumni to connect after treatment has ceased and the long process of recovery continues. These programs have formalized what Rich Knutson describes as his “self-organized, self-supported” buddy system in The Fix. His organization worked better than Alcoholics Anonymous, he says, because they all knew each other from rehab and held each other accountable. Together, he says, they learned how to “have fun sober.”
“Today, all 15 of us are still sober—no one has had a single case of relapse.” Compare that to the national relapse average and you can see why the case for an alumni support network is so strong.
Telehealth models offer online, video or telephone support as needed to help patients get ongoing, virtual, care. New and existing companies are getting into the “telehealth” game with insurance companies agreeing to pay for at least some form of virtual healthcare. Providers, payers and employers can all partner with telehealth companies such as American Well to provide ongoing virtual support, something that, Forbes Reports, the behavioral health industry desperately needs.
Employing Paid Peer Providers
According to MAP Health Management, an analytics provider for the substance abuse industry, risk of relapse decreases after 12-18 months of sustained recovery. For this reason, they point to the use of “peer providers,” individuals who have been through recovery themselves, to help those in recovery stay clean.
By making use of paid peer providers, treatment facilities can continue to be a part of a patient’s recovery support network in ways that are both casual and cost-effective.
New Paradigm Programs
Like many of the models described here, New Paradigm programs are aimed at treating addiction as a chronic disease that requires long-term care. But unlike these models, the New Paradigm model uses a carrot-and-stick approach, and spells out consequences for failed drug tests. These are typically personal to the individual and can be used in accordance with law enforcement, schools, employers, or within an addiction treatment program.
Variations of this model are described in the 2014 paper A New Paradigm for Recovery.