One thing is certain in the world of addiction treatment, there is no one, nor ‘right’, way to “do it.”
The following is a guest post by Jonathan “Todd” Barlow, MS, about his new addiction treatment model. Todd has spent the last 25 years working in the field of addiction treatment as clinician, clinical supervisor, director and executive director. During that time, he worked with hundreds of families through a revolutionary program “Rehab at Home.” This program was shown to be six times more effective in bringing lasting change as compared to traditional treatment alone. Today, Mr. Barlow brings his experience and insights into his work at the internet-based company he founded called Recoverymaps, offering families and individuals free instruction, as well as programs, that reflect this new model of treatment. Todd can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow him on Facebook.
A NEW TREATMENT MODEL FOR ALCOHOL AND DRUG PROBLEMS (ADP) by J. Todd Barlow
The New “Treatment” model for alcohol and drug problems (ADP) looks rather different than the traditional model: it’s swift, it’s attractive and it’s without walls….. in fact, it doesn’t really look like treatment at all.
The medical field of Oncology fundamentally altered its attack on cancer roughly 75 years ago. It shifted from cure to prevention. Today’s “pink ribbon” movement both celebrates the field’s great progress and marches ever forward. Oncology’s mantra is “catch it quick and treat it fast.” Any potentially cancerous mass — be it a tumor, a spot, or collection of unusual cells — becomes the target of early stage intervention and monitoring. Apparently, the best way to treat late stage cancer is to keep it from happening at all.
The new ADP treatment model has a similar logic. The “catch it quick and treat it fast” mantra is its central message. Inpatient rehabs, Twelve Step recovery, and even outpatient therapy are largely late-stage strategies. The new treatment model detects ADP and relapse in weeks of onset, not years. Families, and at times friends, relay simple information through text, app or computer interface to a data analysis center. Professionals then filter through the information to identify potential threats and warning signs. Timely feedback reports are then sent to the family and individual. This “early detection” service is low-cost, user friendly and convenient: it takes but a few minutes a week. Most importantly it detects developing ADP and relapse within weeks of onset. Early identification is but one leg of a three-legged stool for the new model.
ADP is a most clever illness. It hijacks the pleasure centers of the brain incapacitating the individual’s normal warning responses. Alcohol and drug use offers a strong and immediate reward: it feels good! In the new model, professionals track high risk ADP sufferers through weekly timeline data. As soon as ADP or relapse is identified, it is time to “treat.” This is no easy task since eighty-seven percent (87%) of those with active ADP have no interest in today’s traditional treatment approach.
The new treatment model partners individual, family and professional to design an approach that is both attractive and appropriate. This “win/win” partnership maximizes attractiveness and assures effectiveness.
“Attractive treatment” blends the perspective and experience of individual, loved one, and professional. With two legs established, the new model needs but one more leg.
If ADP is caught quickly or ADP treatment is made attractive, then suddenly the tables are turned in how “treatment” is delivered. Rehabs, 12 step groups, family counseling, medication and “therapy” become adjunct rather than primary tools for recovery. A new set of tools become the new way to create change: video conferencing, phone, email, texting, e-education, and webinars.
Furthermore instruction is dispensed seven days a week in a manner that makes sense to the individual and family. Learning is mastered more quickly because it is taught in real life situations and in real time.
The new model for ADP and addiction relapse is to “catch it quick, make “treatment” attractive, and “deliver” “treatment” through today’s technology. Adjunct treatment, such as doctor’s visits, 12 steps groups, and therapy are at times still used but with far less frequency and far more precision.
There will come a day when addiction will have its own “pink ribbon.” We will no longer fear addiction the way we do now. If so, we will have followed in the footsteps of the Oncology movement. It is far smarter to “catch it quick and treat it fast.