by Kathy Golden, Director/Manager of Extended Care at The Meadows
Most people seem to come to primary treatment because they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. When they near the end of their primary treatment, the counselor starts recommending extended care. The client may think, "I can't do this. I have a job; I can't afford to spend the money. I don't want to spend more time away from my husband, children, family..." They feel the best they've felt, perhaps in many years, and can't imagine why they need to continue treatment. I always ask my clients to consider treatment as one little inch out of the mile that is life. Clients most likely have spent years developing acting-out patterns, being depressed, wondering why they are so reactive to things that don't seem to bother other people, being filled with shame that they continue to sabotage their lives.
I ask them: "Do you think you have completely addressed all of your issues in the space of 29 to 35 days? Do you believe that you have worked through all of the trauma issues that have developed throughout your life journey?" The "pink cloud"that most people have as they near the end of treatment soon dissipates as they hit the real world and the reality of their life journey. They may have changed, or at least begun to make changes, however their best friends haven't changed with them. Those co-workers they can't get along with haven't changed or been to treatment. Perhaps their family attended Family Week sessions and has good intentions, without the benefit of 30 days in treatment.
The benefits of extended care can be immeasurable. They provide the chance to continue to address trauma issues, solidify the best relapse-prevention plan possible, encourage necessary self-examination, and provide time to incorporate the tools learned in primary care so they become a new way of life- a life of recovery and health. Extended care allows a recovering person to transition into the real world through supported outside activities, outside 12 Step meetings, a relationship with a sponsor, Step work, limit setting, and structure development. Those with co-occurring disorders can benefit greatly from extended care; the extra time, support, and scope of an extended-care treatment process can make a significant difference.
Statistics show that, the longer a person can remain in extended care, the lower the probability of relapse. In a study by Castle Craig Hospital, 48 percent of those who completed a recommended period of continued treatment had "maintained unbroken continuous abstinence (from all drugs including alcohol and cannabis), and a further 14 percent were in a good outcome category, abstinent at the time of follow-up. The abstinent and improved outcome figures for this group of treatment completers was 62 percent. The results, therefore, for this group of clients who completed an average of 17 weeks in extended care are very good indeed."
Extended care at The Meadows helps a client develop a personalized treatment plan, continue trauma-reduction work, and settle into a new life of recovery. We recommend a minimum 90-day stay: 30 days in primary care at The Meadows and another 60 or more at Mellody House, Dakota, or The Meadows Texas. Each of these facilities addresses trauma reduction through use of Pia Mellody's model. Additionally, Dakota helps clients continue to address compulsive sexual behaviors, while The Meadows Texas provides a safe place for women to continue their recovery journeys.