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LCSW, CCS
Clinical Social Worker/Therapist

There’s a pretty glaring deficit in most addiction treatment models. As professionals we somehow forget that people need to work, pay bills, and take care of their families. The world doesn’t stop to accommodate our needs when we’re getting the help we need.

Even more staggering is that millions of Americans are either without health insurance or otherwise unable to afford the cost of treatment. Too many of us find ourselves trapped in a world in which we can’t afford to continue in active addiction and we can’t afford to enter treatment.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Common sense dictates that:

  1. We consider a person’s physical health and related risks first.
  2. Second is their cognitive functioning, mental health, and related risks.
  3. We must also weigh the needs of dependents and loved ones.

What we’re really doing is triaging emergency needs and factoring available resources. The fewer resources we have, planning becomes a simpler (albeit less pleasant) process.

Rock Bottom

For the broke and uninsured, we’re at the mercy of entitlement programs and charity. In planning for emergency situations, it’s important to consider that hospital emergency rooms cannot legally turn away any urgent need. If we are experiencing acute symptoms of withdrawal or other dire circumstances, this should be our first step.

Free Care

Advocacy is the name of the game when we’re struggling to get care. The social workers of community clinics and hospitals are able to identify free treatment centers and charitable organizations like the Salvation Army that provide free rehabilitation. Seeking out grant funded and federally funded health centers and rehabs may yield long waiting lists. Get on them anyway.

Get Clever

Rehabs and outpatient programs for addiction are staffed at most levels by professionals who are themselves recovering addicts and alcoholics.

Tip – we hate turning good people away because we were where you are and could be again. Some of us do pro bono work and some of our employers offer scholarships. Beat our doors down and ring our phones off the hook. Approach us with genuine humility and be persistent.

Low Cost

Sliding scale treatment is often available from nonprofit organizations that accept federal funding. Avoid for-profit entities and private organizations. If possible, seek out programs that offer evening treatment or appointment times that let you continue to work if possible.

Churches & Services Organizations

My heroes are primarily people who do good deeds very quietly. The challenge is to find such folks.

We know to reach out to our places of worship and volunteer organizations for our emotional and spiritual needs but tend to overlook them as options for potentially helping us through early recovery and attaining treatment. Consider too that some ministers and priests have mental health and addictions training. Again, humility is key. Ask what the organization can do to support you.

Reverse Intervention

In rural areas, or when options are otherwise limited we may have to go way outside of the box to find the solutions we need. Desperation is a gift that creates possibilities.

Consider this: do an intervention in reverse. In a traditional Intervention, the loved ones and associates of the active addict gather to confront and demonstrate need. If we’re willing to get help and can’t get past systemic or financial obstacles, let’s gather all of our loved ones and invested parties and invite them to collaborate and problem solve!

Consult the Experts

In addition to all the other benefits of the fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, these experts also tend to be the most knowledgeable regarding local professional resources. They know if free or low cost resources exist and how to access them. They know which professional might be willing to meet after hours, accept small payments, or even barter for services.

They’ll point you toward the best group therapy and skills groups (solid free or low cost options). They’ll weigh in regarding areas of expertise amongst their members. They’ll alert you to housing and safe sober meeting places. Learning from the experiences of others is infinitely more efficient than reinventing the wheel. It simply takes a willingness to reach out and ask.

Once we move beyond acute withdrawal, the importance of professional services is a relative thing. Recovery coaches and sponsors are excellent mentors who often have willingness and ability to assist in coordinating use of multiple supports (natural and professional). The importance of incorporating contacts and developing close ties to many individuals within your local Recovery communities cannot be overstated. These are folks who will answer your phone call at 3am. Try doing that with a professional!

Tell Everyone

Form a plan and be accountable for everything you agree you’ll do. Draw on support from every safe person in your life. We must surround ourselves with good people in every part of our lives who know our struggles and needs. This not only garners greater support – it also keeps us honest.

Getting and staying sober is one of the hardest things a human being can do. If we can table our guilt and shame, we can be mindful that it feels good to help those in need and then we can allow ourselves to be helped.

About the author Jim LaPierre:
My story is I'm forever a work in progress and I love connecting with REAL people who are doing great things. I'm blessed to be making a living doing something I love. I'm a proud dad and the luckiest husband ever. I'm an aspiring author - check out my recovery blog at: recoveryrocks.bangordailynews.com Thanks! Jim
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Page last updated Dec 16, 2013

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