When patients come to Sameem Associates, Inc. for outpatient treatment they are usually referred from hospitals, insurance companies, schools, courts, city health departments or others who have sought treatment in the past. Most patients however regardless of their age expect that treatment will be either meeting with a therapist once weekly for a brief period, or briefly consulting with a therapist to conquer the immediate problem or crisis. What most patients don't understand is that addiction treatment is a lifestyle change that takes months and years to treat. This is why many who come through our doors have tried and failed many previous treatments before landing on our doorstep.
Addiction treatment is a process of helping the patient recover physically, mentally (emotionally) and spiritually. During the active stages of addiction, individuals are altering their brain chemistry through their use of substances and their behavior; they are compromising their thought process and positive decision making; and they are moving away from their values system and spiritual growth. All of these changes affects a whole person and thus it takes time to help an individual recover.
It is shocking to most when we at Sameem demand that patients commit to a minimum of 3 months of treatment as the first step. We inform patients that this commitment is the initial stage of treatment and that treatment will probably go on for some time after that. In reality, part of the initial stages of treatment are teaching patients what treatment is all about and how to use treatment to best effect change. Staying focused and committed is probably the hardest step for most patients, but once they learn how to stay focused, change comes more rapidly and smoothly.
For adolescents, we usually recommend group treatment or therapy rather than individual or one on one therapy. Most adolescents that we encounter do not know how to use therapy to best effect change, and the idea of meeting with a therapist weekly one on one and being in the spotlight and having to talk for the hour raises anxiety. Thus most adolescents after just a few weeks are trying to find ways to stop coming. A group on the other hand lowers anxiety because the adolescent does not have to talk if they don't want to but will probably get just as much out of the group by listening as they might by talking. They are not always in the spotlight. We find this approach very effective. For some adolescents, after attending group for a few weeks, they might have heard something in group that triggered a response but were too embarrassed to talk in front of the group. For them, we give options of meeting with the group leader for a few minutes after group to address their ideas and thoughts. This gives adolescents an additional time to learn how they might best use one on one therapy without committing to weekly visits.
These are a few ideas on what patients need to know, as we at Sameem experience how individuals approach treatment.