Finding a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center For a Loved One Is Not As Overwhelming As You Think
FINDING A DUAL DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT CENTER
Having had my moment of clarity – the realization that I could not manage my daughter’s recovery – and having realized that I needed to turn her care over to professionals, it dawned on me that I had no idea where to look for a suitable residential treatment center. I was so adrenalized that it had become hard for me to focus. I felt totally jumbled and chaotic and kept getting paralyzed by questions like, how are we going to pay for this? Although it felt like my husband and I had made the right decision, the question remained: Would my daughter agree to go? Finally, was I “opting out” of my own responsibilities by sending her away. I was her Mother and therefore was it my mess to clean up ? My head just kept spinning and I needed to get some advice so I went to AL-anon.
My Al-anon sponsor had asked me, “What is the greatest good for all concerned?” and quoted the first tradition of Al-anon which is: Our common welfare should come first. When I applied this to our family situation it left no doubt in my mind: Sending my daughter to treatment was the best for all of us and it gave us a break to all get some healing and recovery.
CHECKLIST FOR THE IDEAL TREATMENT PROGRAM
Luckily (and in another moment of clarity), I decided to ask for help from two friends. One was an eminent Los Angeles psychiatrist and the other was a family therapist. Both had worked with clients with dual diagnosis issues. Both knew about my daughter’s addiction and mental health problems, and were aware of our family’s history going back several years. And of course, both were highly supportive of our decision. When they asked me what I wanted for her, I wrote a list (Mary Poppins style, I might add) and here is what I came up with:
1. A rehab program modeled on the 12 steps of AA. This seemed to be the most effective and long lasting way of treating alcoholism and addiction. I had many friends who had multiple years of sobriety and were leading healthy productive lives.
2. A place with an awareness of secondary illnesses such as food and sex addiction. My husband and I had noticed that our daughter had a tendency to swap one addiction for another, so this was a priority.
3. Our ideal treatment center would identify itself as a legitimate dual diagnosis (mental health issues as well as addiction) facility. If the treatment center had a psychiatrist on staff, all the better. There was a giant question mark looming over our daughter’s depression diagnosis; we wanted to know that it would be correctly identified and, if necessary, medicated. If there was no on-site physician, then it was mandatory that she be in regular contact with a doctor.
4. It was also important that she receive intensive family therapy and support, as I was aware that our family dynamic needed attention. We were all at each other’s throats at the drop of a hat and used to scapegoating the alcoholic. Our whole family needed to find a way to heal and to learn to live peacefully with one another.
5. We wanted highly trained therapists who were used to dealing with young people.
6. My daughter had lost the ability to look after herself in very basic ways, so nutrition and exercise were also really important.
7. Given the nature of my daughter’s problems, we hoped for a place that offered long-term treatment so she could gradually assimilate back into normal life.
8. Finally, we wanted somewhere that took our insurance and that would be able to work with us (financially speaking) should our coverage expire before her treatment was finished.
After reading this wish list to my psychiatrist friend, he suggested a place that met all the criteria. I was lucky enough to have a guild insurance that covered my family, but I was not sure it covered residential treatment. When I called the admissions office at the treatment program he suggested, they informed me that while they did not accept my insurance they worked with and heartily endorsed a place that might. I Googled their recommendation and found that it met all of my requirements, plus it also offered a comprehensive aftercare program. They were exceptionally compassionate and went out of their way at every step of the process…and yes, they worked with my insurance company (which agreed to cover up to 45 days of treatment). The synchronicity was extraordinary!
Everything seemed to fall magically into place and I began to feel the tiniest bit of hope.