Jean-Machelle Benn-Dubois, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, ACS
Director of Admissions & Continuum of Care
Crossroads Centre, Antigua
Drug Treatment Success
I had the honor of speaking to an inspirational client this month. He was seeking admissions to our residential treatment program and shared his past efforts at recovery. The unique and inspiring elements of this conversation were the words of wisdom he shared on achieving and maintaining successful recovery. He insightfully noted that the moment his ego took control, he no longer felt the need to follow any of the guidance harnessed over the years from professionals, friends in recovery, or even family members. He began re-designing his recovery to fit his new lifestyle rather than let his recovery direct his lifestyle. He concluded, ‘Recovery was no longer a priority; this was the start of my relapse.’ I share this nugget from the conversation as it eloquently encapsulates my response to a common question often asked by people contacting our treatment center. That looming question is ‘WHAT IS YOUR SUCCESS RATE?’
The question is a valuable one, but the answer is as varied as our human nature. We at Crossroads Centre, Antigua can boast that each month over 96% of our clients completed their treatment program with us. However, while this is commendable does it define success? Our data support existing research, which indicates clearly that the longer clients follow their continuing care plan after leaving a treatment program, the longer they maintain their sobriety. Perhaps this should be the deciding factor in determining success, with the accompanying question of ‘ARE YOU FOLLOWING YOUR CONTINUING CARE PLAN?’ Thus, as we walk the journey with our alumni for up to two years post-discharge, we see continuous sobriety for those who hold steadfast to their continuing care plan, while those who admitted straying especially early in their recovery, often relapse.
However, for our alumni showing courage, in admitting that they have faltered and needed additional support to regain their sobriety, do we identify them as failures? Indeed not! For these alumni, we view their renewed commitment to the recovery journey and their call for help as another element of success. Once again, if we consider mainstream addiction research, and recall the high relapse rate in addiction, we know for some it will take more than one attempt before sobriety is sustained. Hence, at Crossroads Centre Antigua, we also define success using the learning curve of our clients and inquire into what the client learned from their relapse that could support and maintain future abstinence. Our aim is always long-term continuous abstinence, but we also acknowledge the strength and victory in each client that miraculously pulls away from their drug of choice to ask for help and resume their recovery.
Elements of an effective substance treatment program
Here are three elements considered essential to an effective treatment program, thus strengthening individuals’ chance of maintaining successful outcomes.
- We do not live our lives in one dimension; thus, treatment programs should recognize this and seek to address as many facets of clients’ life as possible. It must be holistic, examining the physical, nutritional, spiritual, mental & emotional needs of each client. This means also reaching beyond the client to the family and at times their community for ongoing support.
- Recovery is a lifelong process. It is vulnerable to obstacles, but also strengthen with consistent application and support. Effective treatment programs must prepare the client for this in the after-care planning. Clients must be equipped to leave treatment with a toolbox that will guide their future steps. At Crossroads Centre Antigua, we are rooted in the 12-steps tradition because it provides unwavering support at every step of our client’s recovery journey. We also encourage our clients to return to us for renewal retreats thus safeguarding against the inevitable obstacles. For 24 years, we have walked the12-steps with each client.
- Evidence-based treatment modalities, provided by trained and experienced staff are essential ingredients for success in any program. People with substance use disorders are heterogeneous, thus treatment interventions should be specialized but empirically grounded. In so doing comorbid conditions that may pre-date substance use is also addressed. An effective treatment program recognizes the individuality of each client and ensures that their needs are cared for by staff equipped to meet such needs.
At Crossroads Centre Antigua, we believe that recovery is having a life worth living. We believe your efforts define your success. We congratulate each alumnus blessed with continuous sobriety, but also recognize the endeavors of those struggling. We support you to find a quality program with those essential ingredients to enhance your success.