America is caught in the grip of a devastating opioid abuse epidemic, and now is an excellent time to define what the nation should expect of addiction treatment providers. The last thing individuals and society need is to throw money into addiction treatment programs that do not ultimately help people recover long term.

If you are researching treatment options, either for yourself or someone you love, take the time to define what you want and need before committing to a program. Here are several key aspects of addiction treatment that you should expect to be provided.

Personalized Recovery Plan

One-size-fits-all treatment is far from ideal. Unfortunately, in dealing with insurers and other third-party payers, time constraints can be all too real. However, anyone entering addiction treatment should expect to work with treatment professionals to create a personalized plan for recovery that goes beyond inpatient care to expectations for returning to work, returning home, and continuing the recovery process after being discharged.

Fast Access to Addiction Treatment After Detox

Timely access to addiction treatment is another vexing problem, but at least more communities are recognizing how important it is and are trying to shorten the time between detox and treatment (or time between law enforcement intervention and treatment). Ideally, every person who completes detox should be immediately transferred to an addiction treatment program. In reality, this can be a huge challenge, particularly for communities that have been hard hit by the opioid epidemic. Nonetheless, timely transitions from detox to rehab should become the norm.

Coordinated Care for All Illnesses

Rarely does addiction exist in a vacuum. Particularly with opioid addiction, people are often dealing with conditions that cause chronic pain or recovery from surgery or injury. Furthermore, many addictions are commonly diagnosed alongside mental illnesses like depression.

Just as addiction treatment should be personalized to each individual, it should also be comprehensive, in that it attempts to address co-occurring illnesses as part of treatment. In an ideal world, all providers would be looped into the addiction treatment process, so that the best treatment choices are made at every step.

Addiction treatment

Aftercare and Nonmedical Support Services

While completing an addiction treatment program is cause for celebration, recovery is not complete once a person leaves rehab. It is reasonable for the person entering addiction treatment to expect to be connected with relevant resources that can help with continued recovery once he or she returns home or to work. Such resources may also help those who are unemployed to find stable employment as part of the long-term recovery strategy. Acting as if recovery is over once rehab is over only increases the likelihood of relapse.

Three Critical Outcome Expectations

If you want to maximize your chances of successful long-term recovery from addiction, you should expect the following three outcomes and ensure that your addiction treatment provider understands and supports them as well:

  • Reduction of disease symptoms to levels that can be self-managed
  • Improvement of general health and day-to-day functioning
  • Ability to anticipate and manage personal relapse triggers

If you are entering treatment for opioid abuse disorder, learn your provider’s commitment to medication-assisted treatment. Fewer than 20 percent of addiction treatment programs prescribe FDA-approved medications used in the treatment of opioid abuse disorders, and lack of medication-assisted treatment is associated with worse outcomes.

Some people with substance abuse disorders feel as if they somehow do not “deserve” proper addiction treatment. If this is you, please do not sell yourself short. Comprehensive addiction treatment, along with medication assistance for certain addictions, should be considered as a baseline, regardless of your background or length of addiction. If you are considering treatment options or have questions, we encourage you to learn about admissions. We are here for you at every step of your recovery journey.

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What Should America Expect of Its Addiction Treatment Providers?
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