Breaking the Industry Cycle of Banking On Relapse

Breaking the Industry Cycle of Banking On Relapse


Relapse. A slip. The event has many names that all carry the same weight. It is perhaps one of the most troubling incidents to occur in the quest for sustainable recovery and typically leaves many affected. Relapse, though disheartening, is sadly too common in recovery and too often happens after an episode of treatment.

“Studies show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within 1 year of treatment….”

Relapse happens for a number of reasons. There are “red flags” that a recovering addict can display that would indicate a potential setback, commonly referred to as the “relapse before the relapse.” The meaning relates to the noticeable behaviors an addict engages in before the actual use of a substance including being dishonest, manipulative, hostile or simply not following direction from peers or participating in healthy behavioral alternatives. It is difficult to simply point the finger at any one aspect that can lead to a relapse. The tragedy that is relapse has created an environment where treatment facilities now bank on relapse in their business models as a mode for profit.

Though not always the cause, the problem lies with the treatment. The facilities, programs, and tracks that are supposed to help and support addicts to achieve sobriety are not doing the due diligence to prevent relapse. These programs range from residential centers to intensive outpatient programs. Not all programs are poor choices, there are in fact some amazing facilities available that offer comprehensive care. Sadly, in my professional experience, they are few and far between. I want to highlight two major gaps in care that plague treatment services and share what Catalyst Recovery has done to fill those gaps.

Multiple Clinical Relationships

If you’re a man or woman seeking mental health support you will commonly be referred to a therapist or an appropriate mental health professional. Engaging with this person will require a lengthy amount of time to build rapport and trust due to the complexities of the issues.

For addicts and alcoholics seeking treatment in a traditional treatment setting they will experience, on average, three different clinical relationships. You’ll be assigned a therapist in your residential program, a different therapist when you transition to intensive outpatient and then, hopefully, another therapist when you finish IOP and need to find one in private practice. The constant breaks in these therapeutic relationships are extremely detrimental to a newly sober individual’s recovery. Opening up about childhood experiences, past trauma and one’s addiction is a true test of vulnerability. Too often have I seen relapse occur due to this break in such an important bond. To have a therapist that you can trust and open up to and then having to start over because you’ve moved down a level of care in your treatment program creates the same chaos that the therapy is supposed to be helping ease. Sometimes driven by greed, some programs prohibit a therapist from continuing to see their client outside of the program due to their fear of losing a readmission in the event of a relapse.

Catalyst Recovery has modeled our program to specifically end this harmful practice. Because our services happen outside the walls of a facility, we connect our participants with therapists who have existing private practices. Once a participant has completed services with Catalyst, they can continue seeing the same therapist that we introduced them to. No more breaks, restarts and unsettled work. A healthy and productive clinical join is more important than retaining a participant for financial gain.

Unrealistic Structure

A residential program provides containment and supervised structure. You are told where to go, when to wake up, who to talk to and what to do while you’re residing in their care. For some addicts, this level of containment is necessary as most of us come from the extreme opposite; complete chaos. The problem, of course, arises when an addict leaves that structure, returning to their home environment after having their entire day and time dictated for them. Not to mention the fact that your standard stay in a residential facility (30 days if you’re lucky) is not nearly enough time to truly unpack, regroup and adopt new behaviors to have lasting effects after you’ve completed the length of your stay. 30 days compared to years of behavior… the math just doesn’t add up. Duplicating the level of structure which shields an addict from the stressors of life and the responsibilities that come with living as a functioning adult is near impossible. Most people were not meant to live that way for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the result from this drastic change in environment is often a slip back into old behaviors as a way to cope with real life outside the facility walls.

Catalyst Recovery engages our participants from their home environment, as we believe that is truly where recovery must happen. We want to get our participants out of the walls of containment, get them right in the thick of it so they can actually create their own successful routine. We want our participants to feel the stressors, experience the discomfort of being newly sober in the world, and then guide them to create structure that is both realistic and individual to themselves. By meeting our participants on their turf we can effectively assist in discovering a sustainable, recovery based lifestyle that they can continue long after we’re gone.

A Hopeful Future

Treatment itself is at a crossroads. With overdose related deaths reaching an all-time high in 2017, we are in need of a desperate overhaul to the way we work with addicts and alcoholics. While there are some programs that provide quality, long-term care, there just aren’t enough to meet the need. Too many addicts relapse and fall back into active substance abuse because the treatment they received was subpar. Too often the result of these relapses is death.

Catalyst Recovery is proud to be a pioneer. We sought to create a whole new modality and bring treatment services out into the world. We want to move away from the facility walls, the overpopulated groups, and the unrealistic structure. We believe that recovery is possible from home, in fact that is where the true test lies. Our in-home method allows our participants to truly build a new life, under the close direction of our Recovery Agents and clinical team. We encourage continued growth which comes from a solidified therapeutic relationship that is not broken by shortsighted company policy. Catalyst Recovery believes that relapse does not have to be a part of anyone’s story.



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