If you are looking into various alcohol treatment program options, we suggest that you start by using Anne Fletcher’s “Consumer Checklist For Checking Out Rehabs” as taken from her book, “Inside Rehab.”
Here are some of the questions she suggests you ask, along with our own answers:
How soon do you accept people into your outpatient alcohol treatment program? As we only accept one or two new clients or couples per week, the wait can be anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks.
What is your overall alcohol treatment program philosophy? We work from the research based model that alcohol abuse is a choice that can be “un-chosen,” that a variety of methods and components are available, that short term individualized professional help is most effective and that a variety of outcomes are possible.
Are your clients required to attend AA meetings? We strongly suggest avoiding AA and 12 Step meetings. Clients seeking an alcohol focused support group are referred to Smart Recovery, Women for Sobriety, Life Ring, and other non-exploitive groups.
How are alcohol problems evaluated? We use self-reports, DSM-4r criteria, and, spouse or family input when available. Dr. Jane Loevinger’s Washington University Sentence Completion Test provides an additional personal guide to establishing rapport, identifying underlying factors, and establishing strengths and interests to be used in leaving alcohol abuse behind.
Do you offer detox? We are not a detox facility. However, all clients are evaluated by our consulting physician for any concerns regarding withdrawal and also for the use of the effective anti-craving medication Naltrexone.
Are clients searched and items confiscated upon arrival? While residential programs frequently confiscate personal items and cut off communications in order to facilitate brain washing, we assume you are an adult and that you are responsible for policing yourself in any case – as you certainly will be when you leave any program.
We are also an intensive accelerated outpatient alcohol program so policing you would be as futile as it is pointless.
How long is your intensive outpatient accelerated alcohol treatment program? We provide 5 days of individual intensive treatment which involves you with both Dr. Barnes and Dr. Wilson along with our consulting physician. This occurs on site at our offices on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, 45 minutes south of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This is followed by 12 or more weeks of scheduled sessions and “as needed” access which may be distance delivered by Skype or phone, in person, or a combination, depending on your preference and location.
What approaches does your non 12 step program use? As appropriate to you and your situation, we use a mosaic of motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, assertiveness training, couples counseling, mindfulness practices, hormone and medication considerations, co-occurring disorder evaluation, and diet and exercise recommendations as needed or desired.
What is the staff to client ratio at non 12 step alcohol treatment? Dr. Barnes and Dr. Wilson both work with each client and/or couple and Dr. Norcross conducts an individual medical evaluation regarding and withdrawal issues and the advisability of Naltrexone support. So our staff to client ration is 2:1 – 2 staff for every 1 client.
How much client time is spent in group counseling at non 12 step alcohol treatment ? We do not waste your time in group counseling and other “filler” activities that make up the bulk of other program’s offerings. You will not be subjected to AA meetings, equine “therapy” (playing with horses); rope courses (playing with ropes); helicopter therapy (we kid you not), fire walks or other mindless time wasters.
Nor do we destroy your confidentiality which all group settings do.
How much time is devoted to in individual counseling at your AA alternative outpatient alcohol treatment program? Dr. Barnes and Dr. Wilson each devote approximately 12-15 hours of time to each individual or couple during the five day intensive portion of the program. They provide, on average, an additional 12-18 hours of follow-up session time during the 3 months of on-going work
What are the non 12 step, AA alternative, primary counselors’ qualifications? Dr. Wilson and Dr. Barnes hold Ph.D.s in Educational, Counseling, and Developmental Psychology and multiple state and national certifications in all areas of alcohol counseling.
Is any counseling done by students or interns? No. We employ neither students or interns, nor do we expose you to incompetent para-professionals, and risk your confidentiality.
At non 12 step alcohol treatment, do you provide medical evaluation? Clients are evaluated by our medical director, Dr. Norcross upon admission for any withdrawal symptoms, relevant conditions, and also for the use of the anti-craving medication Naltrexone.
What percentage of the non 12 step staff consists of recovered people? Dr. Wilson has been fully recovered from approximately 5 years of episodic alcohol abuse occurring between 1982-86. Dr. Barnes was actively involved in the recovery of a family member from 1998-2000.
We note that people who describe themselves as “in recovery” are obviously unqualified and unwilling to assist you to recover.
What happens when clients “slip,” “lapse,” or “relapse”? We assume that some regressions are a part of the process and are learning opportunities. As with the words alcoholic and alcoholism, “relapse” is a destructive, traditional concept that should be avoided.
Do you have a program for people who’ve been through rehab before?
We see many clients who have been through inappropriate and ineffectual 12 Step rehabs before finding us. They enjoy the same benefits and success as our first time clients and frequently do even better, having shed many of the destructive myths traditional rehabs promulgate.
What proportion of clients complete your program? 98% of our clients complete the program.
What about aftercare? Our clients participate in 12 or more weeks of scheduled and guided aftercare as a part of the program package and this is included in the $8,750 program cost.
How do you monitor success? Because we only see a small number of clients, 40-50 annually – and we are not punitive – we are able to do individual follow-up with accurate self-reporting.
How many of your clients are court ordered? We do not accept clients who are third party ordered, nor do we accept third party payments. This comes from both motivational and confidentiality concerns.
What is your policy on drug testing? We do no testing of any sort. Again, we are not the alcohol police – that’s your job.
One piece of information she omits is the importance of what the program’s based on – as noted in Dr. Miller’s review of the research, cited in our Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works . It is good to remember that the so called Minnesota Model, 12 Step Facilitation, and AA rank at numbers 36, 37, and 38 in terms of effectiveness.