The harsh reality of rehab
RedEye / Alison Neumer
Plush oceanside retreats where well-heeled patients recover from drug use, complete with spa treatments and horseback riding, is a rarity.
That may be the way Kirsten on "The O.C." recovers, but in the real world, drab hospital hallways with bedrooms and meeting areas are more typical.
At New Hope Recovery Center, the 28-day, 14-bed residential program is behind closed doors in a corner of a single floor of Lincoln Park Hospital.
The first step is detox. New Hope runs a rapid detox facility for those addicted to opiates such as heroin and Vicodin. Doctors administer medication to patients under anesthesia that cause them to detox suddenly, experiencing about 90 percent of withdrawal in a matter of hours instead of the six or seven days it can take for opiate addiction.
As at most residential facilities, days at New Hope are structured from wake-up to bedtime with group, individual and family therapy, plus sessions to learn about the disease. Patients must follow a schedule with designated times for when to clean their rooms, when they can socialize and when to rest.
How do patients react at first?
"Some are resentful, but the vast majority are relieved," said Jake Epperly, director of New Hope's Lincoln Park program and president of New Hope centers nationwide. Ultimately, no matter how patients end up in the program, patients must develop an internal drive to recover, Epperly said. "If everyone was motivated, they wouldn't need us. Part of our job is to share reality with them."
Intensive outpatient treatment typically follows--three-hour sessions, five days a week for several weeks, for example. The program includes group and individual therapy, sessions on how to rebuild normal life and education on drug addiction and long-term recovery.
Intensive outpatient is often the beginning step for many addicts. Residential rehab programs are not the go-to recovery option for many because insurance often doesn't cover it and the facilities can be prohibitively expensive, as much as $20,000 for one month of treatment.
New Hope, where about three-quarters of residential patients merit some insurance coverage, costs $13,000 out-of-pocket.
During intensive outpatient and into extended care programs, people can return or continue to work, said Joe Camper, director of VALEO, a behavioral treatment facility for gays and lesbians at Lakeshore Hospital.
"The more they can structure their lives the better. A common relapse problem is having too much time on their hands," Camper said.
Recovering addicts often continue outpatient therapy indefinitely through 12-step meetings and more group and individual therapy.
"It's not something you ever get cured from," said Greg Simpson of the New Hope Recovery Center. Around 80 percent to
90 percent of the time, he said, people are genetically predisposed to addiction.
"People have a real hard time understanding that chemical dependency is a disease, it's not a moral weakness."