Answers to Your Questions as Your Loved One Enters Treatment
Once a person with substance use disorder or behavioral or mental health issues decides to enter treatment, family members often feel a sense of relief. They’ve been spinning around in a circle, not knowing what to do. Now the unknown is becoming the reality. There’s a path forward. However, in most families, new issues and questions arise between the decision to enter treatment and their loved one walking through the door of the treatment center. Here are answers to four questions family members often have before their loved one enters treatment.
What different types of treatment are available?
With thousands of treatment facilities and programs in the United States there are an array of different types of behavioral health and addiction treatment. Families new to the experience will be exposed to phrases and concepts they’ve never heard of, which can add to the sense of overwhelm. Broadly speaking, treatment centers typically offer:
- Residential treatment. Patients are immersed in a live-in community of people with similar struggles, in a campus environment or in some cases a group of houses in a neighborhood.
- Inpatient treatment. For insurance purposes, this is a hospital or in cases of acute mental illness, a locked facility.
- Intensive outpatient. Patients attend treatment full time but sleep at home
- Regular outpatient treatment. This might take place in the evening after work, on weekends or with limited scheduling during the day.
They have varying levels of structure, clinical programming, intensity, time commitment and of course, cost. In addition, treatment centers will often have a specialization such as trauma-informed care, 12-step focus, religious affiliation, demographic focus such as LGBTQ, or many other differentiators. It’s important for a family to understand the particulars of the treatment center they’re considering to make sure it’s the right fit for their loved one.
How are we going to pay for treatment?
The short answer: it depends. All treatment centers have different payment structures. Many treatment centers take insurance. Some only take so-called “private pay,” where the total cost is self-funded. Others take government supported programs such as Medicare. When considering a treatment program for a loved one, finding the best match between their needs and the modality and focus of the treatment center program ensures the best opportunity for long-term recovery.
Thinking about treatment from a return on investment perspective, getting professional guidance on the best treatment options can save the family money in the long run. A behavioral health consultancy can help guide the family toward the right treatment option that fits available resources for their loved one. A good consultant will have up-to-date working knowledge on the types of insurance and payment accepted by the treatment centers they recommend and any scholarship or assistance programs available. Be wary of any consultant who accepts referral fees from providers, as this can cloud objectivity.
What if we can’t afford the treatment center we want to send our loved one to?
Families sometimes struggle with the idea of knowing about facilities that would be a good clinical match but they can’t afford to send their loved one there. A good behavioral health consultant will act as a bridge for the family to piece together other resources so that whatever treatment option they choose is a healing, impactful experience for the whole family. That might mean taking advantage of other community resources such as church, support groups such as Al-Anon, or other behavioral health options offered by their insurance.
How should I talk to my loved one about the experience they’re going to be having?
Going into treatment is a high-stress experience and people usually feel a lot of apprehension. Individuals who’ve never been to treatment before have no idea what’s going to happen when they begin. Even when someone has been to treatment, there’s a lot of unpredictability and unknowns. Most family members can’t speak with knowledge and authority on what the experience is going to be like, so it’s important that they don’t try to make predictions or give advice.
It’s also important for family members to be aware of what they’re saying in terms of encouragement. Telling someone that everything’s going to be okay is an oversimplification. Treatment can be a very challenging experience. Instead, family members should simply be present and acknowledge that their loved one is facing a lot of scary unknowns, and let them know how courageous they are for taking this potentially life-changing step.