While the timeline and process for overcoming an addiction at a treatment facility may differ from person to person, one thing is constant: the hope and plan for an eventual discharge.
Those plans actually start at the beginning of the process, says Glenda Burns, transition specialist at the Rosecrance Adolescent Treatment Center.
“Once the client has entered treatment and assigned a primary counselor, he or she will do an initial staffing which will include anyone who will play a role in the client’s return back to the community,” says Burns. “Throughout the client’s treatment, we continue to keep in contact with these sources to update them on the client’s recovery success or lack of progress in treatment.”
That information is also sent to a specific transition specialist. Burns gets involved at that point as well by looking for post-treatment resources available in the client’s area. These adolescent service resources can consist of IOP programs, a therapist, an AODA counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist and various support groups.
Burns says that during the discharge meeting, the client shares what he or she has accomplished during the treatment stay as well as his or her plans for the return home. Parents and other participants then share any concerns they may have. For Burns, this pre-release meeting is just part of a discharge process that began as soon as the client entered the facility.
“It really does start as soon as the client walks through the door,” she says. “We have to work together as a team to ensure the best quality for the client as he or she enters treatment and their return home.”
Assistance continues after treatment
At times, Rosecrance patients are afraid to leave the facility for a number of reasons. “They build a bond with the staff and other peers during their stay and they know that Rosecrance has been a safety net for them,” Burns says. “Unfortunately some clients do not have the opportunity to go to a substance abuse recovery home or relocate. They know that returning to the same environment can be a trigger. They may return to a household that’s dysfunctional and they may have a lack of support.”
Burns says the idea of leaving behind the very system that helped them overcome their addiction to reenter the environment where that addiction might have been formed can be challenging. “Leaving a safety zone for some clients can be frightening not because they do not know what to expect but rather they know who and what is waiting when they return,” she says
That’s why Burns and other Rosecrance officials stress the importance of aftercare plans in the client’s future and former environments in the form of support groups and concerned individuals. “In the case of a student, a plan is put in place so that the client will have someone to talk to at his or her school,” says Burns. “We also encourage the clients to seek new friends who are not using drugs or alcohol.”
That post-treatment care also extends to families, who are offered various support services.
Preventing a relapse
Burns says a person can be prone to a relapse at any time, which is why Rosecrance staff members encourage their clients to be aware of the people, places and things that surround them. “It’s important for clients to evaluate who they are hanging with, where they are hanging and what they are doing,” Burns says. “Most clients who return to treatment share that they did not let go of friends who are still using or went to the same locations they went to before being treated.”
Burns says that associating with substance-using friends is one of the main reasons clients return to using. “It’s been proven over and over again that if a client continues to hang around the same place, with the same people, doing the same thing it is only a matter of time before he or she is pressured to use, especially if there is not a strong support system in place,” Burns says. “Being in recovery means that you have to change your old ways and start doing something different.”