Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Addictions and mental illness are often steeped in shame, and people who are impacted by these illnesses often feel as though they simply can’t share their thoughts, dreams and questions with people around them. Families of people with addictions and mental illnesses might also feel as though they’re all alone in the fight, with no one to talk to and no help forthcoming. Treatment facilities know this all too well, and often, they make counselors available around the clock in order to answer questions from addicted people and the families who love them.

Foundations Recovery Network facilities, for example, ask counselors to man the phones 24 hours per day, and these talented professionals do their part to ensure that everyone who calls gets the vital help needed to fight back against an addiction. These are questions we’ve heard from families researching their treatment options when they call us. If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, please call us.

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What Therapies Are Provided?+

Addictions and mental illnesses are solidified and supported by thought patterns and habits of behavior. A person addicted to marijuana, for example, may come to believe that a hit of drugs is simply required when the sun begins to set and the time for sleep draws near, while a person with an eating disorder might believe that controlling weight is much healthier than dealing with a source of stress that causes pain. People may spend years developing these habits, and they may be hard to break alone, without help. Therapy is designed to help people break through the denial and learn new ways of thinking and new ways of acting. While the therapy options provided can vary dramatically depending on the type of issue the person has and the kind of help the person needs, many programs utilize a therapy known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).In a CBT session, people are encouraged to identify the thoughts and actions that come just before an episode of destructive behavior. When these little triggers are identified, the person can come up with a new set of behaviors and actions, and the issue can begin to fade away. It sounds like a simple therapy, but it can bring about transformative results. For example, a study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that CBT had a significant impact on people with schizophrenia, above and beyond the gains that could be attributed to standard care with medications. Other studies have found similar gains in people with all sorts of addictions.

In addition to CBT, people might be provided with:

How Much Time, Per Week, Is Spent in Treatment?+

People enrolled in outpatient treatment can expect to spend several hours each and every week engaged in the recovery process. Some programs require people to spend a short period of time in active therapy, but others might treat recovery like a fulltime job, and they might mandate that people spend the majority of each and every day working on the healing process. In general, the severity of the symptoms the person faces as well as the length of time the person has been dealing with the issue help to drive the length of time the person spends in treatment.

Do Medications Play a Role?+

Sometimes, addictions cause such persistent damage that the addicted person feels a deep longing for drugs, and that feeling can linger long after the last hit has faded away. People with cravings like this are constantly distracted by a need for drugs, and they may be incapable of focusing on their recovery as a result. Medications can be an immense help here, as they can correct the chemical imbalances that cause cravings and bring the person the kind of clarity and relief that can lead to healing. For example, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, providing heroin addicts with methadone while they’re waiting for addiction care can increase the changes that people will enroll when space opens up. Studies like this suggest that drugs have the ability to help people, even when they’re not paired with therapy. It’s clear that they have a major role to play in a successful addiction treatment program for some people.

Chemical imbalances can also lie beneath mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. People like this may benefit from therapy, of course, but they might also be stymied by a restlessness and sadness that’s hard to touch without pharmaceutical help. Medications can help to smooth out the imbalances and provide people with the ability to think clearly and participate fully, and this could make their therapy all the more effective.

Medications might be provided in the treatment facility, under the watchful eyes of the medical professionals who prescribed them, but they might also be given to people for their at-home use. In either situation, medical professionals stay involved to make sure the medications are working and that the person isn’t dealing with unwanted, overwhelming side effects.

What About Physical Problems? Are Those Treated Too?+

Some outpatient treatment facilities have doctors and nurses on site who can step in and provide medical therapies when people feel ill or overwhelmed, but not all facilities provide this kind of care. Those that don’t might require people to visit their doctors on a regular basis and report back with the results of each visit. It might seem intrusive, but persistent pain and physical disease can lead people back into the arms of their addictions. For example, an article in the American Journal on Addictions suggests that undertreated pain leads people to seek out drugs on their own. Since they’re not getting help they need from their doctors, they look for solutions on their own, and they develop addictions in the process. By assisting people with the physical problems they face, addiction specialists could be removing yet another trigger that could cause an addiction to resurface.

Do Facilities Utilize Alternative Medicine?+

Medications and psychotherapies are considered core parts of Western medicine, and they’re commonly used as a front-line treatment for addiction. There are many facilities that sprinkle in treatments that might be considered alternative, however, and these treatments could be quite beneficial for people struggling with addictions, mental illnesses or both. Common treatments provided include:

  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Art therapy
  • Animal therapy

The mix of Western and alternative therapies can vary dramatically from facility to facility, and not all facilities offer the kinds of treatments a person might want. Some facilities, for example, might not offer any alternative treatments at all, while others might rely exclusively on alternative treatments. This is a point families should be sure to research carefully, if it’s an issue that’s important to the person who needs care.

How Long Does the Program Last?+

Once again, programs can vary dramatically on this score, but in general, most programs require people to participate for many weeks. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that a six-week commitment is common, with a step-down to less intense forms of treatment when that time has passed, but even this time commitment might not be long enough. In order for people to really make a change that will stick with them for life, some people need to stay enrolled in care for a year or even longer. It’s an issue most treatment programs discuss at the outset, when care is beginning, and the plans can change as the person’s recovery process moves forward.

What Happens When It’s Over?+

When the intensive outpatient portion of treatment is complete and the person has achieved a sobriety lasting for several weeks, the therapy team might declare this portion of the work complete. It’s a cause for celebration, to be sure, but it doesn’t mean that the hard work of recovery is over. At this point, the person might be able to transition to a less-intense form of treatment, however. The person might attend therapy sessions weekly instead of daily, for example, or the person might begin to taper away from medications that have been used to maintain sobriety. This tapered portion of treatment might last for several more months.

How Much Does It Cost?+

In general, outpatient care is considered less expensive than inpatient care, as programs provided on an outpatient basis don’t provide food, housing or other daily necessities. This doesn’t mean that outpatient care is free, however, as facilities still need to pay for medications, therapists and other necessary items. In general, it’s difficult to provide a price range for care as the costs can vary on a variety of factors, including:

  • Medications used
  • Frequency of therapy sessions
  • Length of time spent in care
  • Medical treatments provided
  • Physical location of the treatment facility
  • Number of staff members involved in care

Some programs may offer their services on a sliding-scale format, allowing people with low incomes to get the help they’ll need and pay only what they can afford to pay. Other programs don’t provide this kind of assistance to their clients.

It can be hard to think about paying for care when an addiction or a mental illness has likely decimated the family’s savings already, but there is evidence that suggests that treatment is really cost-effective. For example, a study in Health Services Research compared the cost and the benefit of addiction care, and here, researchers found that the overall advantage of outpatient programs was much greater than the overall price. Studies like this might help families to justify the fees they pay, as they may know that they’re making an investment in the future health of the person they love.

Will Insurance Help Pay for Care?+

Insurance programs often cover mental health care for a diagnosed illness. In fact, several states have specific laws that require health insurance plans to provide coverage for mental illness treatment. However, some insurance plans place restrictions on the facilities that can be used to treat an addiction, and some plans won’t cover specific treatments used for a mental illness. The same could be said for addiction issues, as some plans will cover this care and other plans place deep restrictions on the kinds of funds they’ll pay. It can be confusing for the average consumer, but treatment facilities often keep trained professionals on hand who can work directly with insurance companies and handle issues of payment for families in need. This kind of assistance could be vital for families who want to utilize their insurance plans but aren’t quite sure how to do so.

Who Typically Succeeds in Outpatient Care?+

outpatient treatmentAlmost anyone can enroll in outpatient care, and it’s considered an ideal form of treatment for people who have strong family connections and a deep desire to get well and leave dysfunction behind. There are some people, however, who might need a little more help than a standard outpatient program can provide. People like this might have long histories of disordered behavior or very deep and troubled pasts, and they may have few friends and family members to lean on as they heal. People like this might be all too likely to skip appointments, relapse to drugs or just drop out of care altogether. People like this might do better in inpatient programs, as they’ll have around-the-clock supervision and a stronger pool of resources to lean on.

How Well Does It Work?+

Studies of the effectiveness of outpatient treatment are of somewhat limited value, as studies don’t compare the progress of the same person going through two different kinds of programs. Instead, studies compare two very different types of people with different histories and expectations, and the ways in which they heal can be very different as a result. However, there are some studies that do seem to demonstrate that outpatient care can be incredibly valuable for people with all sorts of mental illnesses and addictions.For example, in a study in the American Journal on Addictions, people with both addictions and schizophrenia were treated in outpatient care, and eight months later, those who stayed enrolled had made significant improvements in both addictions and psychiatric severity. These people just felt better and were functioning better, and outpatient care could be credited for their success. It’s something most people would want for those they love.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

See a side-by-side comparison on the benefits and drawbacks of the two different treatment options.

How Can I Get Started?

Enrolling in outpatient programs is remarkably easy. In fact, once a family has made a choice about the facility they’d like to use, they can make a few calls, fill out a few forms, and get the process started. If you’re ready to take this step, please call us. Foundations Recovery Network facilities are designed to help people with addictions, mental illnesses or both, and we’re happy to set up an intake appointment for someone you love.