30 Is Not A Magic Number
“How long does recovery take?” We hear this question daily. The general answer is that treatment, from detox through step-downs in level of care to outpatient, is generally a 90-120-day process, though this can vary widely, depending on an individual’s needs.
“But I thought 30 days was the norm.” We hear this reaction pretty frequently too – it’s perhaps one of the biggest myths that exists about treatment. There’s a common misperception among substance abusers and their families that they can recover if they check-in to a 30-day treatment program. And to hear otherwise can be discouraging.
The 30-day myth stems from a number of factors including the fact 30 days of treatment feels less disruptive than longer-term options, 30 days used to be the amount of time members of the armed services could enroll in a treatment program without being reassigned, and it’s become the standard amount of time many insurance providers will cover inpatient treatment. But there is no medical evidence to support that number.
Don’t let reality discourage you. Consider this: It didn’t take you 30 days to get to where you were and it won’t take 30 days to get you to where you want to be. Science actually shows that your brain doesn’t usually begin healing until somewhere alone 30-60 days, so it makes sense that treatment should extend beyond that point. As our co-founder Ashley Loeb Blassingame likes to say, “You wouldn’t buy a Bentley and never get an oil change so don’t do that with your recovery!” You should expect to follow your inpatient treatment – whether it is 30, 60, 90 days or more – with an outpatient treatment and support.
So what can you expect from treatment? While there are some parts of a program that all clients will have in common, at Lionrock we tailor your program for your particular needs. To give you a general sense of what that might look like, here’s a list of the program’s pieces from which we’ll together create the right program for you.
When you contact us, the first step will be an admissions interview. In this process, we make sure that we can provide you the appropriate level of care for your needs, and that online treatment makes sense for you. A member of our staff will discuss your situation with you, and explain to you how we work. The goal is to make sure that you get the great care you deserve.
Assuming that Lionrock’s program is a good fit for your needs, next we begin the admissions process. This includes getting all the information from you that we need to properly effect your treatment, going over how our fees work, what technology you’ll need to participate, how our program works, and scheduling your first sessions. You’ll get a ‘welcome pack’ of information that helps you get oriented.
After all this is done, you’re ready to begin treatment. You’ll start your first group sessions, and in your individual therapy sessions, you’ll begin an in-depth assessment which helps us design a customized treatment plan that meets your personal needs. Although many of the group sessions work on common themes in recovery, one size does not fit all in Lionrock programs.
You’ll continue to attend group sessions and your individual sessions, and combined with your assessment results, you and your primary therapist will create your treatment plan. This plan consists of a list of the problems you want and need to resolve, and it sets goals and milestones that represent your achievement when you reach them. Reaching your goals means moving your treatment plan forward towards the healthier person you want to become, and it helps your treatment team assess your progress through the program.
Along with your group sessions and your individual sessions, your primary therapist will organize therapy sessions which include your family or family of choice, and will also provide case management, by ensuring that you are provided with whatever other services you may need in a coordinated, effective, and efficient manner.
When you’ve completed your treatment by achieving your goals, you and your treatment team will focus on whether extended care at some level makes sense to support your new-found health.
Evidence-Based Treatment Approach
Lionrock programs utilize both group and individual therapy to balance the benefits of both. Several recent studies confirm that, for delivering relapse prevention training, a group approach is at least as effective as an individual therapy (McKay et al. 1997; Schmitz et al. 1997). Group therapy offers the following benefits:
Providing opportunities for clients to develop communication skills and participate in socialization experiences without drugs or alcohol.
Establishing a safe environment in which clients support one another, and when necessary, confront one another constructively to help move recovery forward through a feeling of shared purpose and community. An important part of creating a safe environment is a set of norms that reinforce healthful ways of interacting.
Introducing structure and discipline into what may have been chaotic lives.
Providing a venue for group leaders to transmit new information, teach new skills, and guide clients as they practice new behaviors. Group members who are further along in recovery can help other members, which advances their own individual recovery too.
Typically conducted by a primary counselor, Lionrock programs use individual therapy to make sure that a client’s individual needs are being met, as opposed to those of the group in which the client participates. Key topics addressed in individual therapy include custom treatment planning, measuring progress towards achieving treatment goals, as well as discharge and transition planning. Clients meet with their therapist for individual therapy once each week.
These groups assist clients’ relatives and other significant individuals in learning about the detrimental effects of substance use on relationships and how these effects can be ameliorated or resolved.
An important goal of involving families in treatment is to increase family members’ understanding of the client’s substance use disorder as a chronic disease. Lionrock programs focus on the following goals for family therapy:
- Increase family support for the client’s recovery.
- Identify and support change of family patterns that work against recovery.
- Prepare family members for what to expect in early recovery.
- Educate the family about relapse warning signs.
- Help family members understand the causes and effects of substance use disorders from a family perspective.
- Take advantage of family strengths.
- Encourage family members to obtain long-term support.
These groups provide a supportive environment in which clients learn about substance dependence and its consequences. These sessions are delivered in a low-key rather than emotionally intense environment, and focus on rational problem-solving to help change dysfunctional beliefs and thinking patterns. Some topics include:
- Learning about biopsychosocial disease and recovery processes
- Understanding the effect of specific drugs and alcohol on the brain and body
- Placing symptoms of substance use disorders in the context of other behavioral health problems
- Learning about early and protracted withdrawal symptoms for specific drugs and alcohol
- Knowing the stages of recovery and the client’s place in the continuum of care
- Conducting self-assessment, setting goals, and self-monitoring progress
- Overcoming common barriers to treatment
Skills & Interpersonal Process Development Training
These groups offer clients the opportunity to practice specific behaviors in the safety of the treatment setting. Common types of skills training include:
Drug or alcohol refusal training – Clients act out scenarios in which they are invited to use substances and role play their responses.
Relapse prevention techniques – Using relapse prevention materials, clients analyze personal triggers and high-risk situations for substance use and determine ways to manage or avoid them.
Assertiveness training – Clients learn the differences among assertive, aggressive, and passive behaviors and practice being assertive in different situations.
Stress management – Clients identify situations that cause stress and learn a variety of techniques to respond to stress.
Interpersonal Process Development includes:
- Finding pragmatic ways to change negative thinking, emotions, and behavior
- Learning and trying new ways of relating to others
- Tolerating or resolving conflict without resorting to violence or substance use
- Understanding how members’ actions affect others and the function of the group
Support Group Orientation and Participation
Lionrock programs require active participation in a community-based 12-Step program, or in certain cases, an approved alternative mutual-help group, as an integral part of the treatment process. Formal substance abuse treatment is a brief step in the long journey to recovery, and actively working with a sponsor and attending meetings is a key component of our program. Clients need to develop a support network of positive role models and friends who can help guide their continuing recovery. Local support groups serve as an important adjunct to structured therapy, and are particularly important for program participants as a “real space” component of Lionrock’s online program. Through the Support Group Orientation component of our program, Lionrock counselors will actively support this aspect of our clients’ individualized treatment programs.
In Lionrock programs, clients will be introduced to the basic tenets of both 12-Step and non-12 step mutual-help groups.