Caregiver conundrum: ‘Which addiction treatment center should I refer patients to?’
For the majority of patients, primary care providers have no problem recommending additional medical care for problems beyond the scope of their capabilities. But when it comes to addiction or alcoholism, those same providers may find themselves asking, “Which addiction treatment center should I refer patients to?”
For major medical issues — heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other ailments that affect a patient’s body — family doctors and other primary caregivers are often part of a broad network of associated services, either through a physician’s management group or a local hospital. Follow-up care with a specialist is often a routine part of medical care, but those first-line health care providers often find themselves stumped when a patient needs help for drug and alcohol problems.
However, those same caregivers can often make the biggest difference for patients receiving the help they need for those problems: “The physician can be a powerful influence for getting the patient to accept treatment, especially when the physician is empathic without being judgmental,” according to a 1999 article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After all, the article goes on to point out, it’s almost certain those same physicians will run across patients needing drug and alcohol treatment at some point in their practice: “It is virtually impossible to avoid chemically dependent patients in the modern practice of medicine. Drug abusers include people of all ages, sexes, and ethnic and socioeconomic groups. All generalists and specialists will encounter patients with chemical dependency. Twenty-five percent to 40% of hospital admissions are related to substance abuse and its sequelae, and 10% to 16% of outpatients seen in a general medicine practice are suffering from problems related to addiction.”
Well-connected primary care providers likely have access to a number of options, but for those in East Tennessee and the surrounding areas, there’s one that stands out above the rest, ready to answer that initial query: “Which addiction treatment center should I refer patients to?”
The answer? Cornerstone of Recovery, and we’ve got 10 reasons why.
Reason No. 1: Medical Care
In addition to counseling patients on potential care, physicians should endeavor to also “prescribe and connect,” according to a 2015 article in the journal Canadian Family Physician: “Prescribe: Offer medications … to all patients with moderate or severe (alcohol use disorder, or AUD, the medical term for alcoholism). Connect: Encourage patients with AUD to attend counseling, day or residential treatment programs, and support groups. If indicated, refer patients to an addiction medicine physician, concurrent mental health and addiction services, or specialized trauma therapy.” However, many physicians, especially family doctors, are hesitant to prescribe medication to detox a patient from alcohol (and drugs, for that matter) without some level of accountability. After all, withdrawal from some substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, come with serious health risks. For that reason alone, ensuring that medication designed to ease withdrawal and to wean patients from these harmful substances is best done under medical supervision, which we provide in our Medical Detox program.
Reason No. 2: Consultation
At Cornerstone of Recovery, we work closely with primary care providers, providing our patients grant us permission to release information to and communicate with those providers. That working relationship can be critical for many physicians, because according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “patients in specialty addiction treatment benefit from close primary care coordination, particularly regarding prescriptions for controlled substances or other psychoactive medications. Referral for psychiatric or pain management consultation may also be appropriate based on the presentation and response to treatment.”
'Which Addiction Treatment Center Should I Refer Patients To?' Reason No. 3
Dual diagnosis treatment: In many instances, individuals who develop problems with alcohol and drugs are often self-medicating conditions such as depression and anxiety. While treatment for a addiction and alcoholism can address the issues caused by those substances, those underlying mental health issues must also be addressed in order for those patients to achieve a desirable quality of life. At Cornerstone of Recovery, Dr. Lane Cook and our Psychiatric Services department evaluates the needs of each patient for treatment of co-occurring disorders, so that they receive both therapy for addiction and a regimen of mental health care.
Reason No. 4: Physical Health Care
Physical health care: According to a 2007 paper in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, “There is consistent evidence regarding the positive and rapid impact that exercise can have on the physical health of those in alcohol misuse treatment.” For that reason, ensuring that patients are encouraged to rehabilitate their bodies in drug and alcohol treatment should be a key consideration for any physician asking, “Which addiction treatment center should I refer patients to?” At Cornerstone of Recovery, patients in every program will take part in Fitness Therapy, designed to promote the production of natural endorphins and to help overcome the physical toll that excessive drug and alcohol use takes on the body.
Reason No. 5: A Well-Balanced Diet
“Proper nutrition and hydration are key to the substance abuse healing process because they help restore physical and mental health and improve the chance of recovery,” writes Alyssa Salz for a 2014 edition of the journal Today’s Dietician. At Cornerstone of Recovery, we partner with the company Unidine to provide three nutritious, healthy meals each day. A well-balanced diet isn’t a priority for many addicts and alcoholics, and returning them to healthy eating habits is a crucial component of restoring normalcy to lives disrupted by their disease.
'Which Addiction Treatment Center Should I Refer Patients To?' Reason No. 6
Psychotherapy: In asking “which addiction treatment center should I refer patients to?,” primary caregivers hopefully understand that stopping the cycle of addiction and alcoholism is one small part of the recovery process. The fact that addicts and alcoholics continue to return to use and abuse in spite of negative consequences is evidence that these illnesses hijack neural pathways and drive obsessive and compulsive tendencies, and to help the brain heal, evidence-based therapy is a crucial component. As the American Psychological Association points out, “There are many forms of evidence-based behavioral treatments for substance abuse,” including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and many, many more. At Cornerstone of Recovery, we utilize all of these to help our patients address the issues that drive their problems with drugs and alcohol.
Reason No. 7: Family Therapy
Primary caregivers have enough on their plates. Treating their patients is priority, but in the vast majority of cases, addicts and alcoholics have caused a great deal of damage to their family unit. Those issues should be addressed in a treatment setting in order to provide a healthy environment to which those patients can return after treatment. At Cornerstone of Recovery, our family therapy program is an immersive experience designed to help mend relationships broken by drugs and alcohol.
Reason No. 8: Different Strokes for Different Folks
While the end results of addiction and alcoholism are often similar, the addicts and alcoholics themselves are varied. What works for one patient population may not work for another, which is why it’s important to seek out a facility that has a variety of programs. At Cornerstone of Recovery, we have four unique treatment tracks — Newcomers, for those seeking help for the first time; Recovery Renewal, for individuals who have been through treatment in the past but haven’t been able to stay sober; Young Adults, for men ages 18 to 26 whose lives have been derailed before they’ve truly begun; and our Women’s Only Program, which provides a safe space for female patients to process issues unique to their gender.
Reason No. 9: Extended Care
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.” At Cornerstone of Recovery, every patient who enters our residential inpatient program has the opportunity to transition to our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), an additional eight weeks of therapy in which they can take part from home or while living as part of our Sober Living community. It’s an extension of the treatment safety net that eases the transition back into the “real” world.
'Which Addiction Treatment Center Should I Refer Patients To?" Reason No. 10
Aftercare planning: Drug and alcohol treatment isn’t a “one and done” process — it’s often just the beginning of a lifelong commitment to sobriety. Once patients complete treatment, they need a plan that will help them stay sober once they return home, and that’s where aftercare planning is critical. At Cornerstone of Recovery, we help them find local recovery resources in their area and make follow-up appointments with their primary care physicians, so that they return to your care in better shape than when you referred them to us.
If you’re asking, “Which addiction treatment center should I refer patients to?,” know this: You can’t go wrong by calling Cornerstone of Recovery. It may be tempting, we understand, to discharge patients with a drug and alcohol problem from your care, especially if they’ve resisted your overtures or have been so far incapable of being honest with you about their problems.
That’s the nature of addiction, and if you’d like to learn more about how to effectively provide care to addicts and alcoholics, we love nothing more than working closely with other medical providers to help them do so. As the aforementioned Journal of the American Medical Association article points out, “Patients with substance abuse problems can be frustrating to treat, but it can also be a rewarding experience when a physician helps a substance-abusing patient return to normal and productive functioning in society.”
As both a partner, a resource of information and a source of referrals, we want to help you experience that reward for yourself. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 1-866-461-4811.