Author Archives: James Haggerty

About James Haggerty

Experienced Chief Executive Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Professional Business professional in the Addiction Recovery and Mental Health industry for the past 26 years. Caring, compassionate and strongly motivated to make a difference in the organizations I am affiliated with and welfare of the population we serve. Currently focused on advocating, educating and developing projects leveraging evidence based, real time technology to support individuals in recovery.

Choosing sober living

Tips and Professional Advice for Choosing a Sober Living Program

If you are considering choosing a sober living home for yourself or a loved one, take a moment to appreciate this victory. Choosing sober living is a major step toward lifelong addiction recovery. Now the question is – which sober living program is right for you? Use these tips and advice from professionals to get started.

Find Recovery Homes with Structure, Consistency, & Predictability

The last thing a recovering person needs is a chaotic or confusing environment. The best sober living facilities ground their programs and daily living in stability. Look for a facility that has staff members coordinating each day, or at least a basic framework for how activities should go. Without someone telling you what to do in your new sober lifestyle, you may end up feeling intimidated and overwhelmed. This can easily lead to relapse in the wrong circumstances.

Search for structure beyond just a daily routine. Your sober living home should have mandatory rules and regulations, including curfews and a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol-free environment. Anything less is a risk you shouldn’t be willing to take. Stability is especially important in the first weeks and months of recovery. Rules and responsibilities can give you a sense of accountability for your actions, and motivate you to continue on your path toward long-term sober living. When it comes to maintaining sobriety, the more structure the sober living home has, the better.

Don’t Compromise On Safety Or Security

As someone recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, you’ve dealt with enough bumps in the road. You need a sober living program that ensures your safety – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Ask about the home’s security measures and the technology it uses to keep the grounds safe, free from weapons, and free from intruders.

Take a look at the location of the facility. You don’t want to live in a bad part of town, where drug use and dealing are rampant. This would be counter-intuitive to your goal of sober living, and make your life harder than it has to be. A location close to your job, meetings, church, and hospitals is ideal – especially if you don’t have a vehicle or license to drive. Choose a house where you feel safe, comfortable, and cared for.

What You Can Do to Help Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Get To Know The Recovery Staff

Visit the sober living home in person to get a sense of its mood, spirit, and atmosphere. You should feel a sense of positivity, or have a gut feeling that it’s the right place for you. The people currently living there should appear well taken care of and happy – at least for the most part. Search for a sense of friendship or camaraderie among residents. Talk to some of the staff members, making sure they treat the residents appropriately.

The staff at the facility should be well trained, professional, and dedicated to the safety of residents. A strong staff is the backbone of a good sober living home. The staff should truly care about the success of the residents. They shouldn’t be afraid to enforce the rules and kick residents out who break them, such as those who bring drugs across the threshold. Finally, the staff should have experience in the field of addictions and recovery.

Avoid Scams And Fraud In The Sober Living Industry

Protect yourself from fraud in the sober living industry by watching for the common signs of a scam. This can include patient brokering, or when a recruiter “sells” patients to the sober home. Kickbacks, or when a sober home receives money for patient referrals, are also red flags for fraud. Any home that allows its residents to keep using drugs, as long as they attend treatment, is a fraudulent treatment center. Report these facilities if you happen across them.

Scams involving sober homes billing for unnecessary services have also fooled hundreds of unsuspecting people. Watch for lab tests such as urinalyses or other diagnostics that seem unnecessary or overly expensive. On the other end of the spectrum, homes that waive all co-payments and other financial responsibilities for patients are also suspicious. These facilities attract patients with addiction who do not have the means to pay for treatment, but always waiving all patient responsibility could violate contracts and laws.

Read Sober Living House Reviews

Glean valuable insights into how a program really functions by reading sober living house reviews. Reviews from clients who have participated in the sober living facility will offer deeper insights than the facility’s website or spokespeople. Look up reviews on Google or Yelp, and read them carefully before choosing a facility. Keep in mind that one or two bad reviews in a sea of good ones might not mean much. Some people may have gone through something that casts the entire experience in a bad light. Multiple negative reviews, however, should be a red flag.

The reputation of a sober living home can speak volumes about the success of its residents. Conduct an online search for the home and see what you can find. Ask around to friends and family members to get their opinions. The more you can learn about the facility before enrolling, the better. If time is of the essence, there are services such as ECHO Recovery that can help you investigate a potential sober living facility quickly and efficiently.

Reach Out To ECHO Recovery

People struggling with addiction, parents, and loved ones can contact ECHO Recovery and receive information about licensed, desirable living facilities. The ECHO Recovery Foundation is a non-profit rehabilitation charity that provides affordable sober living housing, addiction education, and recovery advocacy. ECHO Recovery helps people vet sober living programs thoroughly, to make sure they fit the bill. You’ll feel confident sending yourself or a loved one to a safe sober living environment when you conduct your search through ECHO. Start your search today.

Join The ECHO Recovery Movement By Donating

Increased Benzodiazepine Overdose Rates in the United States

Increased Benzodiazepine Overdose Rates in the United States

Opioids are the drug at the root of the current overdoses and addiction crisis in the United States, and benzodiazepines are the drug at the heart of a silent epidemic that is happening at the same time, but hasn’t garnered as much attention in the media.

The results of a study on “Increasing Benzodiazepine Prescriptions and Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1996–2013” found that the percentage of American adults filling benzodiazepine prescriptions had increased from 4.1% to 5.6% in the 17 years between 1996 and 2013. Shockingly, revised numbers by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as of 2018 put that increase at 67%. Representing an increase of 8.1 million to 13 million.

With the number of people addicted to drugs alike Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin increasing, and subsequent benzodiazepine overdose and addiction treatment admissions skyrocketing, the case for a possible benzodiazepine epidemic in America must be made.

The Benzodiazepine Epidemic in the United States

The number of opioid prescriptions being filled in the United States has decreased since 2016 – a sign that prevention measures put in place in-response to the opioid epidemic are working. While we haven’t seen the trickle down effects of opioid epidemic responses lowering the number of overdose deaths, we are seeing early wins.

If low prescription rates for opioids signal a positive trends in the opioid epidemic, increased benzodiazepine prescription rates signal a negative and dangerous trend that appears to be getting worse every year.

Opioid Deaths involving Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines Overdose Statistics:

Benzodiazepines were involved in 30% of all prescription drug deaths in the year 2013 – a number that would shock the medical community, and spur a response from the public, if it wasn’t being overshadowed by and even bigger number. 70% of all prescription drug deaths involved opioids.

“75% of benzodiazepine deaths in the US also involve opioid use”

The overdose rate for benzodiazepines alone quadrupled from 1999 to 2010 in Adults 18-64 years in age.

Key Statistics on Benzodiazepine Addiction:

  • Benzodiazepine overdoses increased from 1,135 (1999) to 8,791 (2015) in 16 years.
  • The increase in benzo overdoses between 1999 and 2015 was more than 700%.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 3,677 deaths in 2010.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 4,043 deaths in 2011.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 3,785 deaths in 2012.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 3,696 deaths in 2013.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 4,217 deaths in 2014.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) is consistently involved in more deaths than Diazepam (Valium).
  • The percentage of people using benzodiazepines increases directly with the age group (the older the age group, the higher percentage of benzodiazepine use).
  • Emergency room visits involving mixed opioids and benzodiazepines increased from 11 (per 100,000) to 34.2 between 2004 and 2011.
  • Increases in benzodiazepine overdose deaths between 2004 and 2011 hit every age group except the 12-17 year old age group.

Maryland Benzodiazepine Overdose Statistics:

  • Emergency room visits involving mixed opioids and benzodiazepines increased every year in all demographic groups in Maryland since 2007.
  • Overdoses involving benzodiazepines and opioids make up 53% of overdose cases in Maryland.
  • Overdoses involving benzodiazepines and fentanyl make up 45% of overdose cases in Maryland.
  • Overdoses involving benzodiazepines and heroin make up 43% of overdose cases in Maryland.
  • The total amount of overdose deaths in Maryland has increased every year, from 649 deaths in 2010 to 20189 deaths in 2016.
Xanax Vs Valium Overdose Deaths

Xanax Vs Valium Overdose Deaths

Percentage of the U.S. population in 2008 with any benzodiazepine use, by sex and age

Percentage of the U.S. population in 2008 with any benzodiazepine use, by sex and age. Source: IMS

Why is Benzodiazepine Use, Abuse, Addiction, and Overdoses Increasing?

There have been a lot of theories as to why benzo use is increasing in popularity in recent years. However, to understand why more people are using and becoming addicted to benzodiazepines, you really only need to look at what benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat, and the uses of benzodiazepine.

Statistic of Americans That Had an Addiction to Prescription or Illicit Opioids

What are Benzodiazepines Used For?

Benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat anxiety, sleeplessness, seizures, and pain and discomfort caused by a number of medical issues. They are also used in treating addiction to alcohol, opioids, and even addiction to benzodiazepines. Further, benzodiazepines are often used in conjunction with antidepressants to treat depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, and a host of other mental health issues.

When we put together all of the issues that benzodiazepines treat, we come up with a list:

  • Anxiety and Panic Disorders
  • Depression
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction
  • Insomnia
  • Personality Disorders
Given the fact that recent studies have shown a high correlation between mental health disorders and substance abuse, it would seem that the reason for an increase in the use of benzodiazepines can be tied back to mental health disorders.

We have a mental health crisis in America and across the world that we are not dealing with adequately – just medicating its symptoms.

Why Has the Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders Increased in Recent Years

There are innumerable reasons why mental health disorders have increased since the year 2000 – the whole world has been under a lot of stress. From the September 2001 terrorist attacks and following wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the world changed rapidly in the past nearly 2 decades. Add to that a housing and financial crisis, technological advances bring technology deeper into your life and threaten your privacy, and – of course – social media.

In short, the past 20 years have taken a toll on humanity and most assuredly can be to blame for the increase of mental health illnesses in those without a genetic predisposition to mental health illnesses. We are a world of people that are self-medicating the very real pain and injury we feel from a world moving faster and becoming more chaotic and aggressive in nature.

It is believed that the opioid epidemic was the first wave of a response to changes in society and in our world. While we are making strives to address the opioid epidemic now, we must not forget that a second wave is following closely behind the opioid epidemic, in the form of a benzodiazepine epidemic.

Preventing a Worsening Benzodiazepine Addiction Epidemic

Inaction in the beginning is what caused the opioid epidemic to become out of control so quickly, and we must not let inaction worsen benzodiazepine addiction rates in the U.S. and cause a benzodiazepine addiction epidemic. We need to cut off the growth of prescription benzodiazepine abuse – just as we have with prescription opioid abuse, and we need to make more addiction treatment and housing options available for those struggling with addiction.

The United States is lacking the treatment capacity to deal with those needing treatment for opioid addiction in the wave of the opioid epidemic. Adequate housing, housing assistance, and transitional living options are in high demand and short supply. We do not have the resources to deal with the current addiction epidemic, and we will be severely hit with a greater lack of resources if a second wave of an addiction epidemic comes in the form of a benzodiazepine epidemic.

Learn more about ECHO Recovery’s efforts to provide affordable drug and alcohol recovery housing in the United States. Our efforts aim to help with opioid epidemic recovery, and to help prevent benzodiazepine addiction from becoming America’s next prescription drug crisis.

Who Is ECHO Recovery?

prescription drug abuse in the United States

How You Can Help in the National Fight Against Opioid Addiction

Most Americans are at least somewhat aware of the ongoing opioid crisis in America, but looking out your front door, it can be hard to spot the signs of opioid addiction in your community. Prescription drug abuse in the United States affects all Americans, in every state, across racial, cultural, economic, and educational lines. While many states have passed legislation specifically targeting opioid abuse, the average citizen can have a profound impact in several ways.

Advocacy, Education, And Support For Addiction Recovery

The first step any average person should take to fight the ongoing opioid crisis is to learn about the effects opioids have had at the local, state, and national levels. If you are wondering what you can do to help fight the opioid epidemic, start by researching the impact the epidemic has had in your community. Most of the people suffering opioid addiction started with prescription medication for legitimate medical issues like chronic pain or surgery recovery. Opioid dependence takes root and worsens very quickly, and many people become addicted without realizing it until withdrawal and cravings emerge.

Talk with Friends

Talk To Your Friends And Family about Prescription Drugs and Addiction

Do some research into the effects of opioid addiction in your area, and then talk to your loved ones and friends about what is happening. They may be misinformed, believe faulty information, or simply not realize the breadth and depth of this ongoing issue. Try to have conversations with the people in your life so they can research the issue on their own time. Advocacy starts at the personal level, so start conversations in your social circles so more people become aware of the opioid crisis.

Volunteer Your Time

Opioid epidemic advocacy can take many forms. While it can start with the conversations between you, your loved ones, and your friends, there are many existing programs that are always in need of volunteers. Substance abuse support groups, needle exchanges, food drives, and other events are a great way to lend your time and energy to worthwhile causes. These events are also great opportunities to have more conversations and drive awareness even more.

Find Prescription Drug Disposal Programs Nearby

Many states and communities have organized prescription drug disposal programs and events to help remove potentially addictive drugs from communities. When a person receives a prescription for opioid painkillers, he or she should consult with a doctor about when to stop the medication. In some cases, the individual may only need to take the pills for a few days. Mistakenly continuing opioid doses needlessly is very dangerous, but many people simply assume they should finish the bottle they received. No one should take opioid medication for any longer than absolutely necessary, and prescription drug disposal programs are a great way to collect leftover medications and safely dispose of them.

Addicted Newborn Baby Cuddling, Volunteer Work and Support

There are many babies in the United States born addicted to opioids due to their mothers’ addictions while pregnant. These babies enter the world feeling the effects of withdrawal, an extremely distressing experience for a newborn. During their time in NICUs and neonatal care, touch is a valuable comfort. Some hospitals have started programs for volunteers to act as “professional cuddlers.” They simply hold and soothe these struggling babies to provide them with the healing power of personal touch they probably wouldn’t receive otherwise. Consider reaching out to your local hospital to see if they could use more volunteers to cuddle opioid addicted babies.

Never Lose Faith

Contact ECHO Recovery For Addiction Recovery Advocacy And Support

The ECHO Recovery Foundation works closely with clients at the local level to help drive awareness about substance abuse and provide relief for the people affected by it. If you can’t find an advocacy program in your area to help, you can contact ECHO for advice about how to start a community outreach program. Let us know whether you think your community could benefit from events like prescription drug disposals, recovery resources, or awareness campaigns. We can provide pointers for how to get started.

Help Fighting Addiction

Donate To The ECHO Recovery
Advocacy Program

Prescription opioid abuse problems and responses are different for every community, and not every person has the time to volunteer. If you have a busy schedule but still want to do your part to help, a donation to the ECHO Recovery Advocacy Program can help make a tremendous difference in the lives of people suffering the effects of prescription drug abuse. We work closely with communities to provide recovery housing, addiction education courses, and advocacy programs. Contact ECHO Recovery if you have ideas for advocacy programs in your area or to make a donation to the Advocacy Program today.

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Understanding the Full Continuum of Addiction Treatment and Care

Understanding the Full Continuum of Addiction Treatment and Care

Substance abuse treatment professionals and researchers in the medical community agree that a continuum of care provides the best chances of recovery for a person struggling with addiction. While most people think of substance abuse recovery and imagine detox and an inpatient rehab program, the reality is that these are only two of the elements that should comprise a continuum of care.

What Is A Continuum Of Care?

Establishing a continuum of care requires careful analysis of the patient’s medical history, drug of choice, mental health, and lifestyle. It’s essential to address the root cause of addiction, not simply treat cravings and the negative symptoms of withdrawal. Substance abuse treatment professionals must meet one-on-one with a patient to develop a comprehensive plan to address the patient’s substance abuse problem holistically.

The logic behind crafting these long-term treatment plans is simple: detox and rehab only go so far when it comes to breaking addictive cycles. It’s essential for people in recovery to learn coping tactics for handling addiction triggers and toxic influences. Many people benefit greatly from support groups and sponsorship programs after rehab. A continuum of care extends from a patient’s intake and detox through rehab and counseling to aftercare and long-term support for sober living.

Early Steps In Recovery

If you or a loved one needs addiction treatment services, it’s vital to find a facility or organization that can address your specific issues with addiction. Some organizations only provide detox while others are robust inpatient facilities. There are also outpatient programs for people with less severe addictions or who simply want a more thorough transition from an inpatient facility to regular life. A caregiver should be able to provide a care plan that extends beyond detox and admission into an inpatient treatment program, but these are still critical first steps.

Medical Assistance In Detox

Detox can be a fatal process for some. People struggling with alcoholism or opioid addiction experience severe withdrawal symptoms that can turn deadly. The detox process is essential to recovery, however, and medical assistance during this process is essential. Many people suffering with addictions experience malnutrition, dehydration, and vitamin depletion. During medically-assisted detox, caregivers supply nutritional support and monitor the patient’s vital signs. They can also administer medication to help make the symptoms of withdrawal less uncomfortable and treat emergency conditions as they arise.

A solid continuum of care needs to begin with medically-assisted detox. A proper detox process can lead to withdrawal symptoms fading within a few days, while they can last for months for individuals who attempt self-detox. Medical assistance not only narrows the chance of a life-threatening crisis during detox, but also helps prepare the patient’s body for the next stages of recovery.

Substance Abuse Treatment Options

After detox, the next step in a continuum of care is to select a rehabilitation organization and format. People struggling with substance abuse experience it in unique ways, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to substance abuse treatment. A continuum of care could include one or more different types of rehabilitation based on the patient’s needs and personal preferences.

Rehab And Inpatient Treatment Services

Traditional rehab typically takes place in an inpatient facility. Similar to vacation resorts, these facilities typically offer patients private rooms with easy access to medical and counseling services. Most of the therapeutic work will take place on facility grounds, and residents will have to abide by the facility’s code of conduct and operational policies.

While inpatient options are a popular and effective choice, some people may not feel compelled to enter a residential treatment program, or may have other obligations that prevent them from doing so. Inpatient rehab is long-term and intensive.

Outpatient Options

Outpatient programs offer services on a regular basis but do not require patients to remain in a specific residence during the course of treatment. For example, an outpatient program could include counseling services at specific times during the work week that a patient can visit while maintaining a typical work schedule. Outpatient treatment options are also a popular choice for transitioning from an inpatient facility back to normal life. Many people who finish rehab still do not feel ready to confront their old lives or may feel daunted at the prospect of managing relapse triggers on their own. Outpatient support services will help these individuals transition more easily into sober living.

Addiction Government Report

Long-Term Care For Sober Living

A full continuum of care doesn’t end with rehab. When developing a continuum of care with a substance abuse treatment professional, a patient needs to consider the transition from rehab back into regular life. This can include ongoing support in various ways. Some people benefit greatly from traditional 12-step programs, while others prefer one-on-one counseling or other group counseling options. Still others may simply prefer close contact with another individual who has completed treatment who acts as a sponsor or mentor.

Whatever form it takes, long-term aftercare needs to have a place in any continuum of substance abuse care. Relapse is a very real problem in the substance abuse world, and the old methods of returning to normal life after a 30-day stint in rehab are long gone. Substance abuse researchers now understand the value of maintenance and aftercare in substance abuse recovery, so every continuum of care should account for these necessities.

Addiction Recovery Support Networks

Support networks take many forms, and groups are available in just about every city and town. If you’re curious about the available support networks in your area, take some time to research online, visit community centers to look for posted flyers, or ask neighbors and relatives in the area what they recommend. These networks can be lifelines when facing intense cravings or temptation to fall back into old, bad habits.

Mentoring, Group Counseling And Sponsorship

Many substance abuse treatment programs offer patients the chance to participate in ongoing peer counseling programs. These benefit both the counselors and the people they counsel in many ways. These relationships can easily blossom into valuable friendships and provide the kind of intimate support most people need during recovery. It can also be very rewarding and cathartic to offer guidance and assistance to someone else who is traveling down a similar path to what you previously experienced.

Ultimately, the continuum of care in today’s world must include prevention and advocacy, detox and rehab, and a plan for relapse prevention and long-term care. Echo Recovery helps connect people in need of addiction treatment and support services through a vast network of support groups, treatment centers, professional specialists, and countless therapy options. A full continuum of care provides the best chances of achieving lifelong sobriety, so every person struggling with addiction needs to forget the old days of going back to work immediately after rehab.

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Drug Rehab Fraud and Its Effect on Insurers and Access to Addiction Treatment

Drug Rehab Fraud and Its Effect on Insurers and Access to Addiction Treatment

Rick and Drew want to help people get better. As licensed therapists and shareholders in a rehab center, these dedicated addiction and mental health professionals lost everything five years ago due to insurance fraud. Meaining, through no fault of their own, Rick and Drew paid the price for other rehab centers’ unethical practices.

Although the names have been changed, this sad but true story is becoming more and more the norm today.

The Rise of Insurance Fraud Cartels

Rick says sketchy facilities were billing patients’ health insurance $1,200 for a urinalysis, which should have been billed for about $10. Using a typical schedule of three urinalyses a week per patient, some addiction treatment centers were gouging the insurance companies big time.

Holding themselves to a higher moral standard, Drew and Rick refused to over-bill for their services to survive.

Burdened by outrageous bills from other rehabs, insurance companies became slow to pay and eventually stopped paying altogether. Drew spent many hours trying to collect insurance debts of more than $1 million.

The lack of payments drove Rick and Drew out of business, and both therapists lost their life savings that was invested in their dream of helping people.

It brings new meaning to the phrase “drug cartels.”

Insurance Companies Sued

Insurance companies like Health Net, which serves Arizona and California, are suddenly not paying claims for drug addiction treatment. Health Net was sued by nine drug and alcohol treatment centers last year for delayed or incomplete payments for policyholders’ addiction treatment.

The nine treatment centers claim Health Net improperly withheld funds from virtually all drug addiction rehab facilities in Arizona and California.

Similarly, a group of California treatment facilities filed a lawsuit against Health Net for halted payments for medically necessary services.

The New Drug Cartels

This trend of health insurers absconding reflects poorly on the new drug cartels. Insurers control the ebb and flow of industry money, and for each company that gets away with the money, there’s another company that follows suit.

In the same way, sketchy rehab centers act like drug treatment cartels by inflating their claims, gouging insurance companies and learning underhanded tactics from other rehabs.

The Fraud Fallout

Like Rick and Drew’s story, some rehabs have been squeezed financially to the point they could no longer operate, closing their doors permanently. Health insurers blame drug rehabs for filing claims with grossly inflated prices in an attempt to regain their losses impacted by fraud in the industry.

Laws Governing Mental Health Care

Although the rehab industry is not regulated by state or federal government, there are laws requiring mental health care benefits for all insured patients.

Here are a couple of the laws governing mental health care in the U.S:

  • Under federal law, insurance companies are required to provide equitable coverage for substance abuse and addiction treatment.
  • Equitable coverage is relegated under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act.
  • The Affordable Care Act reiterates the mandate for essential health benefits, including behavioral health services.
  • Insurers are forbidden from denying these benefits due to a preexisting condition.

A few unscrupulous substance abuse programs misapplied these laws and billed exorbitantly, believing the insurers would be required to pay for services no matter what. Additionally, in some circumstances, the services were not medically necessary or not performed at all.

Patient Brokering

Another way disreputable addiction treatment centers have skirted the laws and taken advantage of insurers is by patient brokering. Patient brokering involves hiring sales agents to convince prospective clients into traveling to a certain rehab facility. The sales agents get a kickback for each client referred.

Potential clients are offered everything from free airfare to perks and financial help to go to the advertising rehab. The recruiters use deceptive advertising and urgency tactics, and when the client’s insurance benefits run out, he or she is immediately discharged.

Early discharge is certainly not in the best interest of the client, as some are released too early and immediately relapse. Death by accidental overdose happens fairly often during a relapse.

Of note, when someone has a relapse, they qualify for readmittance into rehab, and the insurance benefits reset for a new round of therapy.

Patient brokering is illegal in some states, like Florida. Florida rehab facilities are forbidden to fly out-of-state clients in for treatment. They are not allowed to waive fees, copays or give any other monetary compensation for coming to their rehab.

Some rehab facilities have gone so far as to bring out-of-state patients into treatment and help them apply for health insurance from an insurer that pays out high benefits. There are even cases of addiction centers applying for insurance for a patient who is unaware the center is doing so.

Despite these laws, drug rehab fraud is still occurring, and health insurance companies are spending additional time and resources sifting through legitimate and illegitimate claims.

How Insurance Fraud Is Affecting Availability of Treatment for Americans

The availability of addiction treatment for patients is limited. The problems:

  • Insurance fraud
  • The out-of-network designations with higher patient responsibility
  • Increasing number of rehab centers falling into the out-of-network providers’ category
  • The impact of the opioid crisis demanding more services than are available in some areas

These factors make it difficult for some to find a rehab center that accepts their insurance and that the patient can afford to go to.

Many who are insured are discovering that most rehab centers are becoming out-of-network providers under their plans. Because more costly rehabs are being excluded from the in-network list, patients are responsible to bear the lion’s share of the costs.

In an unregulated industry, the little man gets the brunt of the bill. For instance, many rehab facilities are refusing to admit patients with certain types of health insurance — like Health Net. Non-payment became an insurmountable hindrance to the aforementioned California and Arizona facilities, and they had to start refusing care to patients with Health Net insurance.

In this way, Americans are losing the freedom to go to the rehab of their choice.

Between soaring premiums, deductibles, copays and the out-of-network factor, patients are paying the price. Patients are not only paying the financial price, but also receiving a lower quality of mental health care.

Soaring Costs for Patients

The cost of substance abuse services covered under PPO plans surpasses all other types of medical treatment. Cancer, childbirth and even surgeries are less expensive than lengthy rehab stays.

Even when insurance policies require prior authorization of treatment — and when that treatment gets approved — the big business of health insurance stiffs the small business rehabs. It has been documented that insurance companies are doing audits of the claims, invoices and services of drug and alcohol abuse programs. But even when the audits come back clean, insurers often find a reason not to pay.

Patients receive huge bills after coming home from rehab. Quite a few people who’ve struggled with addiction have been ravaged by their disease and come to treatment broke and homeless. When the emotional, mental and physical work concludes and individuals regain their health, the financial aspect of life may take longer to recoup.

In other words, people who trusted their insurance to pay as agreed are left with a big bill they can’t pay.

In the end, the drug addiction and sober living homes suffer. Their patients can’t pay and their insurance won’t. The smaller facilities, like Rick and Drew’s, are forced out of business. Health insurance companies are bought and sold for billions of dollars; it is a highly profitable industry.

Having difficulty finding an in-network provider can be a roadblock for families seeking help for their loved one. Addiction devastates one’s whole life and whole being, and those dealing with addiction need the proper help to recover.

Insurance Premium Hikes for Policyholders

Health Net reports that due to widespread fraud at drug rehab centers in California and Arizona, they have lost tens of millions of dollars and have had to pass the costs on to individuals in the way of higher premiums.

If it hasn’t already affected your insurance premium, it may be coming. Attempting to balance the deficit caused by fraud, insurers are passing on the expense to employers and policyholders. Even if you get your health insurance through your job, your company will likely only take on a portion of the increase in cost and make you responsible for the rest.

It’s a dirty needle business.

Insurance companies have to be cautious that claims are not fraudulent to protect themselves. They certainly can’t turn a blind eye to blatant misuse or providers taking advantage of the system. But also, insurers must keep their agreements to pay and not penalize all rehab facilities and patients because of a few underhanded for-profit facilities.

Opioid Epidemic Killing People and Prices

At a time when, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 115 people die every day from overdosing on opioids, we need addiction treatment centers more than ever. The CDC also reports opioid-related deaths are still continuing to rise. In a country divided on how to solve the opioid issue, one thing we all agree on is something needs to change. We need to help our people.

With the swelling opioid crisis, a continually growing number of beds and treatment centers are needed to meet the demand. The rehabilitation industry booms because the opioid epidemic booms. Along with more rehab centers springing up and sober living communities growing, the demand cannot be met fast enough.

However, the effects of drug rehab fraud on insurers and the trickle-down effect on patients trying to gain access to addiction treatment are concerning obstacles. Proper health care needs to be a priority, and the rising number of opioid-addicted citizens means an increasing burden on insurance companies to pay out mounting costs from more rehab patients.

Like Rick and Drew discovered, insurance is foremost a for-profit business and their bottom line is their top priority.

While it’s true that the substance abuse treatment field is littered with bad apples, that’s only half the story. The other half is people like Drew and Rick who lost everything because insurers failed to keep their agreements.

The Impact of Halted Payments

It’s now five years after Drew and Rick lost their life’s work. They only recently received the records and files their attorney requested for review. In viewing the documents, they were shocked to find so many late and unpaid claims, along with trumped-up excuses from health insurance companies.

A few months after their loss, Rick and Drew pulled themselves out of the situational depression engulfing them and they found work as therapists in a bigger rehab center. They spearheaded a new program at the center, and as a team still working together, they run the obsessive-compulsive process addiction department.

They don’t make the money they used to, but their hearts are full once again, doing the work they love and helping people recover. Rick is 81 years old and Drew is 79.

Rick, Drew and many other addiction treatment providers are still waiting for their money from insurance companies.

ECHO Recovery Is Helping

Because the opioid epidemic and rehab fraud are making it more difficult for some people to receive addiction treatment, ECHO Recovery is working harder than ever to help as many Americans as possible find affordable addiction treatment, housing, and help.

If you can empathize with the plight of those struggling with the debilitating disease of addition, we encourage you to be a champion of those who need it the most and join our grassroots movement.

Success is found in the small, compassionate, everyday acts of goodness. Donating to the cause alleviates the suffering of those addicted to drugs and alcohol, one dollar at a time.  If you’re considering donating, click below to see where your money would go.

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We Need Your Help in Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

We Need Your Help in Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

Countless people throughout the United States have experienced substance abuse in some way, either personally or through a relative or close friend. Although there are many destructive substances causing havoc in American communities, opioids are the deadliest. The numbers of opioid prescriptions, opioid overdoses, and opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s up to everyone to fight this ongoing epidemic.

How Can I Help?

One of the best ways you can help fight the opioid epidemic is by talking to your friends and loved ones about substance abuse. Even if you believe that no one you know is struggling, many people hide their addictions or simply don’t pay enough attention to them because they do not realize the danger. Starting conversations is one of the best ways to drive awareness of this issue, so be sure to talk to the people you know and love.

It’s also important to know how to spot the warning signs of addiction. If a friend or relative starts displaying odd behavior, seems preoccupied when you spend time with him or her, or has sudden financial trouble, these could all be signs of a blossoming addiction. Let him or her know you are concerned, and if you discover that any type of substance abuse is happening, help him or her find resources for treatment and recovery.

Advocacy Programs

Starting conversations in your own circles is definitely helpful, but you can take this a step further if you have the time to join an advocacy group. There are addiction advocacy organizations all over the country, so you should be able to find one close to you relatively easily. When you take part in an advocacy program, you may work toward informing your community about the dangers of substance abuse in your area, but these organizations offer other opportunities as well. People who have completed recovery often participate in such programs to act as mentors, guides, and sponsors to people just starting their recovery journey. You can also plan and participate in community actions, charity drives, and many other events.

Donating To Help Substance Abuse Treatment

Echo Recovery is a not-for-profit organization that helps connect people struggling with addiction to specialists and treatment centers that can help them recover. You can help this endeavor by donating items that sober living and addiction treatment homes greatly need.

Living in a residential treatment program or transitioning from rehab to recovery are difficult times for people struggling with substance abuse, and the items you donate can make a tremendous difference in many peoples’ recovery experience.

Basic items like bedding (twin size), pillows, pillowcases, and comforters help people in recovery live comfortably as they work toward lifelong sobriety. You can also donate paper items and cleaning supplies like paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, soaps, detergents, and disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. During a stay in a residential treatment program, patients start to relearn the basic requirements of daily life like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. Dish soap, laundry soap, dryer sheets, cooking utensils, and pots and pans are tremendously helpful in this regard.

You can also donate lawn care equipment like mowers, weed whackers, and gardening tools. We accept new and some gently used items. Donations can also take the form of gift cards to gas stations, grocery stores, and department stores like Target and Walmart. These donations will allow recovery patients to shop for basic living essentials in their areas. You can also donate nonperishable food.

Questions About Donating?

If you’re unsure what type of donation to make, want suggestions for a future donation, or simply don’t know where to send your donated items, contact Echo Foundation today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about donating. We can also let you know of items in high demand or whether a gently used item qualifies for donation.

Mailing a donation of supplies may not work for everyone, so if you’d prefer to make a cash donation, you can do so through the Network for Good. Your donation may be tax deductible as well, so be sure to speak with a tax advisor in your area about your donation to make sure you meet any applicable regulations or donation caps for your area.

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The Echo Foundation blog covers the latest news in substance abuse, treatment, and the latest statistics across the country. We are dedicated to providing the public with the latest and most accurate information regarding substance abuse and treatment in the United States. Continue following our blog for the latest news and to learn more ways you can help those in need during recovery.

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What Will Insurance Cover for Addiction Treatment?

What Will Insurance Cover for Addiction Treatment?

Anyone struggling with an addiction is likely to have countless questions about detox, rehab – and how to pay for both. Thanks to the Federal Parity Law enacted in 2008, large employers with more than 50 employees who purchase group healthcare plans must secure coverage for employee mental health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Additionally, a plan that offers such coverage cannot restrict it any more than coverage for other medical issues like surgeries and emergency care. “Parity” implies that coverage for mental health services and substance abuse treatment is equal to more “traditional” medical coverage.

While the Federal Parity Law ensures large employer coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment, smaller employers with fewer than 50 employees do not need to meet this requirement. However, many states have enacted their own parity laws concerning mental health and substance abuse coverage for employee insurance plans. Roughly 96% of American employers report that their insurance coverage applies to mental health and substance abuse. When an insurance plan falls under the jurisdiction of both federal and state-level parity laws, whichever one provides the greater benefits applies.

Depending on your health insurance coverage, your plan may cover all or part of your substance abuse rehabilitation. However, it’s vital to carefully review your policy to look for disclaimers or network restrictions. You may need to attend a rehabilitation center from a specified list provided by your insurance carrier or within a certain radius of your primary residence. Some insurance plans will require a referral before coverage applies, and some plans may not cover your type of addiction.

What Does Insurance Cover For Drug Rehab?

If you want to get the most out of your existing insurance coverage, you should first look at the differences in benefit allowance for in-network versus out-of-network care. For example, your plan may cover 100% of the cost of visiting an in-network provider, but only cover 60% of the cost of an out-of-network provider.

You should also investigate your deductible obligation to find out how much you’ll have to spend out of pocket before your insurance coverage takes over. Your plan may also include an out-of-pocket limit. Once you reach this limit, all of your remaining medical expenses for the year receive 100% coverage. Your insurer will also want proof of good faith that you are taking rehab seriously, so you should expect some type of monitoring during your recovery.

There’s no solid answer to what your insurance will cover for drug rehab. Coverage will vary based on insurance carrier, employer, location, state parity laws, and individual details. Some of the largest medical insurers in the country offer drug rehab coverage under certain conditions.

Aetna Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Aetna offers a variety of drug rehab coverage, and plan details vary by plan option as well as by state. Aetna plans offer coverage for inpatient and outpatient rehab services as well as behavioral health services, so it’s up to you to find a plan that works for you. Some Aetna plans will cover a portion of inpatient substance abuse treatment, outpatient rehabilitation services, and behavioral health counseling. The covered portion of the cost can sometimes exceed $9,000 per individual per the calendar year, depending on the plan. As a baseline, most Aetna plans will offer up to $1,500 toward detox and withdrawal treatment and another $2,500 per year for additional services.

Anthem Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Anthem is part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance network and upholds the belief that behavioral health is integral to overall health. Anthem plans can include 100% coverage or partial coverage for substance abuse treatment, psychological counseling, and behavioral health services. Policyholders will also have the option of purchasing partial coverage for lower premiums or participating in a health savings account. The exact details of Anthem’s coverage vary from plan to plan.

Assurant Drug and Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Assurant provides a wide variety of mental health and substance abuse coverage options in their insurance plans. Most Assurant plans will cover most inpatient and outpatient treatment services, typically requiring a $30 copay per calendar day. Some plans limit the number of service days you can have in one year while others have no limits. This is especially valuable for intensive treatment programs like inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the largest medical insurance carriers in the country, and the details of a Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plan will vary on an individual basis. Coverage options vary between states, so it’s vital for policyholders to understand the coverage they have in their state.

While there are limits to certain types of coverage, most Blue Cross Blue Shield plans include coverage for family counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication coverage, and psychotherapy. A distinct benefit to Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage is that there are no dollar limits you will need to meet throughout the year that affects your ability to receive treatment.

Cigna Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Cigna coverage can include outpatient rehabilitation services, intensive inpatient rehabilitation, and some residential treatments. Like all other insurance carriers, it’s important for policyholders to carefully review the terms of their coverage to confirm in-network and out-of-network rates, disclaimers, and restrictions for coverage. Cigna also has a unique Alcohol Specialty Care Management Team including licensed professionals with training in alcohol abuse disorders. This team helps connect policyholders to providers in their area.

Coventry Health Care Drug and Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Coventry is part of the Aetna insurance network and offers access to the First Health Network, one of the largest and most reputable Preferred Provider Organizations in the country. Coventry also offers Medicare Advantage plans that may cover both inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment services.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Harvard Pilgrim offers coverage through United Behavioral Health, a network of specialists and professionals including medical doctors, detox experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, and holistic therapy experts. Harvard Pilgrim also offers family counseling, marriage counseling, and even access to social workers and individual counselors.

Health Alliance Plan (HAP) Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Based in Michigan, the HAP is part of the Henry Ford Health System and assigns a unique service coordinator to every policyholder. HAP also covers emergency services and urgent care anywhere, even outside of Michigan, and detox and rehab programs throughout Michigan fall under HAP coverage as well.

Humana Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Humana is one of the largest insurance carriers in the country and offers both individual and group healthcare plans. Every plan is different, and there are several options for coverage for inpatient services, intensive outpatient services, and behavioral health counseling.

Medical Mutual Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Medical Mutual offers coverage for substance abuse, dependency, individualized therapies, and both inpatient and outpatient addiction care. This insurance carrier also sets itself apart by guaranteeing at least partial coverage for all the typical expenses associated with a rehabilitation program. A Medical Mutual plan may also cover alternative, faith-based, or holistic therapies.

Oxford Health Plans Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

Oxford Health Plans operate under the umbrella of United Healthcare in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, but coverage often extends outside of these states as well. As a branch of United Healthcare, Oxford offers a wide variety of individual plan options for policyholders in many states, and plans can cover inpatient, outpatient, and mental health services.

United Healthcare Drug And Alcohol Insurance Coverage

United Healthcare offers nationwide coverage, so you won’t have to worry about traveling out of state for substance abuse treatment. United offers several plans that cover a wide range of treatment options for substance abuse and rehabilitation programs in every state. Coverage can extend from detox through inpatient and outpatient intensive care and behavioral health counseling.

Learn More At The Echo Foundation

The Echo Foundation is committed to providing the public with the latest news concerning addiction, substance abuse, advocacy, and treatment in the United States. Visit us to learn more about our work and the latest treatments available in addiction recovery.

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help for veterans with PTSD

For Veterans Suffering Trauma, Prescription Drugs Push Abuse and Addiction

Thirteen years of war and the now ongoing Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East have resulted in the highest number of veterans of foreign wars since the Vietnam era. These men and women who have made great sacrifices on behalf of our country come home and face a variety of problems, including:

  • Lack of job opportunities
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness
  • Mental health disorders

Mental health issues – such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders and other stress-related disorders, such as major depressive disorder (MDD) – are especially common due to traumatic wartime experiences. According to a 2015 VA report, around 24 percent of veterans returning from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD. And about 30 percent of Vietnam War era veterans have had PTSD at some time in their lives.

ptsd military man

PTSD Symptoms

The cause of PTSD is the body’s inability to come down from the flight or fight response and “gets stuck” or the person’s inability to move forward after going through a traumatic event. It can also manifest days, weeks or months down the road when something that reminds the veteran of the traumatic event triggers it.

Although diagnosis can only be done by a medical professional, here are some basic PTSD symptoms. These are not the only symptoms, there are others any of which could manifest or not, because not all PTSD sufferers are the same:

  • Reliving the trauma, hallucinations or having intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event
  • Hypervigilance, feeling unable to relax, always “keyed up” or on edge, irritability with no specific or rational cause, feelings of aggression, etc.
  • Nightmares, sleep disturbances, insomnia, other sleep-related problems

 

Dept Veterans Affairs Sign

Because treatment of PTSD relies on a certain set of criteria to manifest and if not all those criteria are met, many a veteran is misdiagnosed and not given the proper treatment. In 2014, the VA system was woefully inadequate to properly serve the needs of our veterans. In 2017, after a $10 billion program was instituted to reduce wait times and get vets faster care, the wait times for first appointments and specialty care appointments has gotten better, however there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially in patient care.

Not only do vets still face fairly long wait times, but when they finally see a doctor they are often simply given prescription medications that have a host of potential side effects, including addiction.

Help for Vets with PTSD: Are We Too Reliant on Prescription Meds?

organizations that help vets with PTSD

Trauma-related mental disorders are complicated to treat because each individual has different circumstances and varied responses to medication. Doctors need to be able to carefully diagnose the needs of each individual and try different treatment regimens to see what each patient responds best to, while minimizing harmful side effects. Many veterans also have co-occurring psychiatric issues, such as MDD, which occurs in about 50% of veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

But if it takes weeks and weeks for a vet to get one doctor’s appointment, and even then, getting the right diagnosis within a cattle-call system that still requires a lot of overhaul, then it’s very difficult for vets to get the individualized care they need. Simply giving them a prescription and then hoping for the best opens up vets to the very real risks of drug abuse and addiction, which only adds to the problems our vets face when they return home after serving our country.

The list of medications that can be used to treat mental illness in vets is extremely long (see below). What are the odds that the doctor is going to get it just right the first time when the patient is finally able to get an appointment?

Drugs that vets can be prescribed to treat PTSD-related symptoms fall into the following five categories.

Antidepressant Medications

These can be selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and are meant to balance the chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotions. They should help improve mood, allow for better sleep and concentration.

  • Amitriptyline (sold under brand names Elavil, Endep, Levate, others)
  • Amoxapine (Asendis, Defanyl, Demolox, others)
  • Bupropion or bupropion hydrochloride (Wellbutrin)
  • Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil, Clofranil)
  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
  • Doxepin (Deptran, Sinequan)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, others)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane, Dalmadorm)
  • Fluvoxamine (Faverin, Fevarin, others)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Maprotiline (Deprilept, Ludiomil, Psymion)
  • Mirtazapine (Avanza, Mirtaz, Zispin, others)
  • Nortriptyline (Sensoval, Aventyl, Norpress, others)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Phenelzine (Nardil, Nardelzine)
  • Protriptyline (Vivactil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral)
  • Trazodone (Oleptro, Trialodine)
  • Trimipramine (Surmontil, Rhotrimine, Stangyl)
  • Venlafaxine(Effexor)
  • Vilazodone (Viibryd)
  • Vortioxetine (Brintellix)

Anti-Anxiety Drugs

These work by increasing serotonin in the brain and decreasing dopamine levels,or by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, a stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response. thus relieving the symptoms of anxiety.

  • Alprazolam(Xanax)
  • Buspirone (Buspar)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Estazolam (ProSom, Eurodin)
  • Hydroxyzine (many names)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan, Orfidal)
  • Midazolam (Dormicum, Hypnovel, Versed)
  • Oxazepam (Serax, many others)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion, Trilam, others)

Antipsychotics

Usually used for bipolar disorder, these also work for anxiety, as they treat the hallucinations, aggression and flashbacks that may be a part of PTSD

  • Aripiprazole(Abilify)
  • Asenapine (Saphris)
  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin, Modecate)
  • Haloperidol (Haldol, others)
  • Iloperidone (Fanapt)
  • Loxapine (Loxapac, Loxitane)
  • Lurasidone (Latuda)
  • Olanzapine, sometimes in combination with fluoxetine (Zyprexa, Zypadhera or Symbyax)
  • Perphenazine (Trilafon)
  • Pimozide (Orap)
  • Prochlorperazine (Compazine, Phenotil, others)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Thiothixene (Navane)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon, Zeldox, Zipwell)

Mood stabilizer

Also mostly used for bipolar disorder, these literally stabilize the mood swings caused by PTSD, by reducing overreaction to stressful situations.

  • Carbamazepine(Tegretol, Carbatrol, others)
  • Divalproex sodium(Depakote)
  • Lamotrigine(Lamictal)
  • Oxcarbazepine(Trileptal)
  • Valproic acid(Depakene, Valproate)

Sleep Aids

These drugs help the brain reduce production of adrenalin and allow a person to go to sleep. Some of these are adrenergic blockers or beta blockers. These all also allow for a restful sleep.

  • Butabarbital (Butisol)
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Prazosin hydrochloride (Minipress, Vasoflex, others)
  • Ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)

Bottom line: Simply medicating our vets, especially without giving them adequate follow-up care with their physicians, puts them at greater risk for problems stemming from prescription medication.

PTSD and Substance Abuse

Vets with PTSD are at greater risk for substance abuse in three ways:

  1. Some prescription drugs used to treat PTSD symptoms can be addictive.
  2. Vets who don’t get proper treatment for their symptoms may turn to alcohol and/or drugs to ease their symptoms on their own.
  3. Not enough or no psychotherapy or family support to help with PTSD symptoms.

While improper treatment can lead to addiction, many vets simply don’t get any care for their trauma-related illness, which can lead to:

  • Withdrawal from or disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Job loss
  • Financial difficulties
  • Relationship problems
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or shame
  • Homelessness
  • Death

woman soldier ptsd

The suicide rate for veterans with PTSD is 50 percent higher than the national average. Overdoses are more likely to occur when substances are mixed (like prescription meds and alcohol), which is more likely to happen without proper doctor supervision.

Vets who have already developed a substance use disorder need treatment for both the addiction and their PTSD. This requires timely access to dual diagnosis professionals who can properly assess the individual’s needs and provide appropriate treatment.

Healthcare organizations that help vets with PTSD and addiction need to use a combination of therapy, medication and other proven treatment methods. The important thing is to ensure that each veteran gets the care he or she needs in a timely manner and with appropriate ongoing treatment.

How Can I Help Veterans with PTSD?

stressed soldierJust as our servicemen and women have fought for freedom abroad, it is up to us to help fight for their well-being here at home. While there’s not a single solution to the problems that plague the VA medical system, our country can find solutions when concerned citizens take an interest.

The first step is engaging in open conversation about the issues and ways to solve them. We invite you to join the discussion online and share your thoughts on how we can better care for our soldiers when they return home.

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This was originally posted on May 15, 2018 and updated on August 8, 2019.

The Need for Addiction Recovery and Support after Drug and Alcohol Emergencies

The Need for Addiction Recovery and Support after Drug and Alcohol Emergencies

It can take quite a lot to encourage a person to enter rehab for a substance abuse disorder. In many cases, the event that finally spurs a person into recovery is a medical emergency, such as a near-death experience from withdrawal symptoms, an overdose, or an accident caused by drug or alcohol use. While most Americans are aware of the startling growth of the number of overdoses and overdose-related deaths in the U.S., many don’t know what happens to the people who experience such medical emergencies.

Many addiction advocacy groups are trying to bring this issue to light with the public. While awareness and prevention campaigns remain highly necessary, it’s also important to draw attention to the growing number of people who go to the emergency room for a drug or alcohol-related emergency and have no idea what to do next. At the Echo Foundation, we understand that overcoming a drug or alcohol-related medical emergency requires much more than a trip to the emergency room. After initial recovery, it’s important for people who experience drug and alcohol-related health emergencies to enter substance abuse treatment, and they’ll need help along the way.

Why A Continuum Of Care Matters

The best way to address any substance abuse case is to carefully analyze the individual’s lifestyle, medical history, social status, and other factors to determine the root cause of the addiction and the parts of the individual’s life the addiction effects. A comprehensive continuum of care should address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of recovery in an individually-tailored treatment plan for the best results. there is a more fundamental commitment to a focus on experience and all that encompasses, from detox to sober living.

Detox And Rehab

After a medical emergency such as an overdose or drug-related injury, the patient may not know what to do next when it comes to insurance, rehab, and getting back to “normal” life. Recovery coaches all over the country are starting to devote more resources to encourage people in these situations into rehab, using their emergency room visits as the first point of contact. After a serious emergency, the victim and his or her loved ones will likely have many questions about what to do next. Recovery coaches who participate in emergency department recoveries help organize treatment and support services such as transitional housing for addiction treatment.

Preventing Relapses

One of the most valuable aspects of substance abuse treatment is learning how to prevent relapses,or falling back into addiction after starting the rehab process. This is one of the most challenging aspects of rehabilitation, as most people who leave rehab suddenly confront familiar places and people who may have negative influence over them. Medical emergencies are very common following relapses, as a person who suddenly falls back into bad habits may take things too far with too large a dose, or the sudden shock of drugs in the system again creates a negative reaction. Emergency department recovery advocates can help people in this situation realize the danger of relapsing again and enter treatment quickly.

Sober Living

The Need for Addiction Recovery and Support after Drug and Alcohol Emergencies

After detox and rehab, an individual in substance abuse recovery will need to relearn how to function in everyday life without drugs, and may also need to learn a few key strategies for making sober living easier. Rehab transitional housing is a common segue between inpatient rehab programs and returning to normal life. In these arrangements, people who complete rehab enter a transitional home to prepare for sober living on their own. Some of these arrangements are group homes while others may be traditional housing subsidized through advocacy programs.

Securing acceptable housing for these programs is challenging, which is part of the reason why increasing awareness of post-emergency care is so important. If the public grows more aware of the problem, advocacy groups will likely receive more funding to find acceptable transitional housing for the patients they help. Emergency department recovery advocates may also make use of transitional housing to help remove people struggling with addiction from high-risk or dangerous environments until they can enter treatment.

Drug And Alcohol Emergencies In Maryland

Drug and alcohol-related emergency room visits have been a big problem in Maryland for many years, especially in light of the ongoing opioid crisis. A report from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in 2015 collated statistics from 2008 through 2014, highlighting incidents of drug and alcohol-related emergency room visits in the state during those years. This study uncovered several disturbing trends.

In 2014 alone, there were 11,242 emergency room visits for drug and alcohol-related emergencies, and 5,103 occurred due to alcohol use. The highest rate of admission to an emergency room for drug or alcohol-related emergency was for white males between the ages of 45 and 64. Baltimore City residents visited the emergency room for drug and alcohol-related causes at more than twice the state rate.

Alcohol-related emergency room visits from 2008 through 2014 involved men at three times the rate of women. From 2008 to 2014, the number of heroin-related emergency room visits increased sevenfold, and the number of prescription opioid-related visits quadrupled. This staggering increase in emergency room visits indicates that Maryland could benefit greatly from an emergency department program focused on transitioning emergency patients to rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment.

The Echo Foundation Can Help

The Echo Foundation aims to educate and raise the necessary funding to provide more housing options to help combat the growing addiction issues in Maryland. We understand the challenges a person faces after an emergency room visit for a drug or alcohol-related issue. Traditional housing options are great for people struggling with insurance issues or who simply want to get the most out of their recovery experiences.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, or you would like to lend your time and talents to an advocacy program focused on recovery from substance abuse, reach out to The Echo Foundation to be part of the movement to provide more housing and treatment options for those that are struggling with addiction.