The Importance of a Continuum of Care in Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment providers must encompass a multi-faceted treatment modality that ensures the appropriate clinical response for these complicated disorders. It is not enough to provide naloxone to revive overdose victims without hospitalization in the same way that medication-assisted-treatment is more effective when coupled with post-detox behavioral treatment.
This article explores the need for a continuum of care for addiction treatment. Why is it not enough to prevent overdose, facilitate detox, and provide a 28-day rehab program?
Addiction Treatment and the “Patient Hand-Off”
“Recovery from addiction, a chronic, relapse-prone disorder, is a lifelong dynamic process.”
-Pathways to Long-Term Recovery: A Preliminary Investigation Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
The complexities of substance use treatment must be handled in the same way as any life-threatening health event. Just like a heart attack or stroke, there are multiple steps toward health that must be accomplished and then maintained long-term.
Many times in the case of these serious medical events, cross-specialty treatment is provided by hospitals, medical practices, and rehab centers. Complicated diseases bring together specialty providers in a continuum of care that stretches across the healthcare paradigm.
Substance use disorders and addiction treatment are no different. An article last year in TribLive illustrated how new programs such as the “warm hand-off” concept at Excela Health is more effective for treating addiction than one-off programs. In this Pennsylvania example, cross-functional teams of providers have been coming together to combat substance use disorders wherever and whenever the disease manifests itself.
Could this be a model for the medical community to forge tighter partnerships with addiction treatment facilities?
In fact, the studies show that the long-term effects of addiction can last a lifetime, requiring a continuum of care that can combat these diseases — sometimes for years. The research yields the following three facts:
- Addiction encompasses mental, behavioral, and physical health in the patient.
- Treatment modalities should be geared toward all three manifestations of the disease in a variety of short- and long-term addiction treatment approaches, from detoxification to group therapies to 12-step, and more. We now know that long-term psychosocial factors affect treatment outcomes, so behavioral therapies designed to motivate substance users are just as important as early-stage clinical interventions designed to lessen the effects of withdrawal.
- These treatments must be provided in a variety of physical and clinical settings. The stigma of addiction may require changes to clinical treatment settings that encourage the substance user to get treatment.
The disease of cancer requires proactive screening, a variety of clinical treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, periodic checkups, and even, group therapy. In the same manner, the continuum of care in addiction treatment must encompass:
- Medication-assisted therapy
- Individual and group counseling
- Inpatient and/or residential treatment
- Intensive outpatient care
- Long-term recovery support
Just like cancer, treatment is individualized, which means every substance user will not utilize all of these types of treatment. The point here is that the stigma associated with addiction seems to preclude the long-term access to care that any other serious illness would warrant.
It is for this reason that it is imperative for the medical community to continue to work closely with addiction treatment providers to fight the growing addiction epidemic.
The Recovery Village Ridgefield believes in the importance of a continuum of care for addiction treatment. To learn more about our programs, contact us today!