The Short Window of Treatment Opportunity
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By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC
Jen is 30-years-old and has been binge drinking alcohol for 15 years and smoking marijuana intermittently. She has always felt that because she is able to maintain a stable job, housing and friendships that she does not have an addiction. This month, she had a breakup with her partner of 4 years and has been feeling some symptoms of depression. She recently woke up after blacking out from drinking for the first time and realized that she had put herself in danger that evening from her substance usage. She called her best friend Tyler and explained that she needs help and admitted she is an alcoholic. She says that she has not drank since her blackout 4 days prior. However, she refuses to go away to treatment because she is afraid to lose her job but is willing to get help locally. Tyler contacts addiction therapists and outpatient clinics in her area and there is a 4-6 week waiting list to have an intake. He is afraid that Jen will start drinking again if he cannot find her clinical help immediately.
This type of scenario happens often, and even more frequently throughout this pandemic. More people than ever have been reaching out for therapy services due to the many stressors that COVID-19 has caused. Additionally, Substance Use Disorders (SUDs), overdose and overall substance usage rates have been on the rise and this past year and so have the number of people reaching out for help.
SUDs are clinical conditions that are unique to treat in many ways. It is often extremely challenging for an individual to acknowledge or fully internalize that they have a SUD. Additionally, a person may have a moment of clarity that allows them to reach out for help. This moment can pass quickly and then their minds can easily forget the pain of the previous time they used a substance and they return back to their addictive behaviors. Therefore, it is crucial that those with SUDs have treatment options that are promptly available for them to engage in when they reach out for support. It is also key that the type of treatment available is flexible and able to adjust to the changes in motivation and schedules of the client.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model is able to accommodate a large number of new admissions because they offer services throughout a state based on region and not clinic size and location. They are able to increase their staffing to support the current needs in a community which prevents waiting lists. Access to care and ease of admissions are key components of effective SUD care that increase the chances these clients will follow through with services. The window of opportunity and willingness is SHORT for SUDs and the IHAT model is designed to streamline this admission process.
As an addiction healthcare provider, it may be frustrating to feel that you are not able to support as many clients as you would want to due to the structure of your admission process. The IHAT Institute is training clinicians and healthcare providers to administer this model of care. The efficiency of this model has never been more important, as more and more people are reaching out for SUD treatment services- and they need this help NOW.