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Published on August 04, 2020

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Addiction: What Happens After I Reach Out For Help?

Addiction care is health care, and for the average individual, there are many questions that come with care of any form. You want to know: what happens next?

The first step for getting help is just to ask. Ask your primary care provider, call the 24-hour Avera Behavioral Health Center assessment line at 800-691-4336 or call the Avera Addiction Care Center in Sioux Falls at 605-504-2222.

“When people make the first call, we get some basic information and complete an abbreviated clinical assessment,” said Malia Holbeck, CSW-PIP, LAC, manager of Avera Addiction Services. “At that point, there are options. People who meet criteria for residential treatment can do so at the Avera Addiction Care Center.”

Holbeck said the journey from that call to admission to recovery has a number of stops. She spells out the typical path for people and the stops along the way.

Thorough Clinical Assessment

Outpatient treatment, without overnight stays at a facility, is best for some people. When looking at outpatient treatment, a person will meet face-to-face with a clinical member of the team for assessment.

“We meet with you and discuss current use and other aspects of your life,” Holbeck said. “Individuals who are recommended for in-patient care, and who voluntarily want to participate, then will receive financial counseling to evaluate insurance or payment methods. Afterwards, an admission date and time is scheduled.”

The person would also have a physical exam with an internal medicine provider at Avera Specialty Hospital – right next door to the Avera Addiction Care Center – prior to checking into the center. They receive clear instruction on rules and what they are allowed to bring via email. If the person seeking treatment gives permission, loved ones are encourage to be involved in the admissions process and ongoing care.

“Their continued support of the person seeking help is important,” Holbeck said.

Arriving at the Center

Residents, as people who receive addiction care are called, check in with receptionists upon arrival, and the receptionist will assist them with initial paperwork. They meet with a technician and therapist after that.

“A technician will inventory their belongings and conduct a safety check to ensure nothing disallowed comes in with the person,” said Holbeck. “Residents will meet with nursing staff and a psychiatrist, and they will take a breathalyzer and provide urine for analysis so the medical team is aware of all substances the individual has in their system. That information helps us provide the best possible care.”

One item not allowed is tobacco. “Research shows tobacco-free recovery can be more effective and that people can use cessation programs while they’re with us,” she said. “The health impacts of tobacco use, for both staff and residents, are at the heart of this policy.”

Some residents may stay in a medical-stabilization setting – more like a hospital room – if withdrawal is a factor. If that’s not needed, residents go to private rooms in facility’s wings.

A Typical Day and Week

The majority of residents engage in a 28-day clinical program. Morning routines are flexible with a meal offered from 7:30-9 a.m., and access to a fitness room and perhaps a mind-body exercise class. Group therapy takes place until around noon, and organized treatment also takes place for two hours in the afternoon, with supper served at 5 p.m.

Evenings are often less structured and allow residents opportunities to relearn approaches to activities without alcohol or drugs. This daily routine occurs seven days a week, but is shorter on Sundays. Visitation is encouraged on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. The Avera Addiction Care Center also offers two-day programs that all loved ones are encouraged to attend.

When It Is Time to Go Home

Not every resident stays for the 28 days – some leave sooner if they meet goals, and others may extend their time at the center.

“The 28-day guideline is not prescriptive, but it is the most common duration,” Holbeck said. “Those who are doing well and feel confident in their recovery may depart sooner. Much of that decision is based on not just evaluations from our team, but from the individual.”

When residents leave, weekly phone calls help with support as well as monitoring, so that if something arises and threatens their earned progress, intervention and resources can be brought to bear.

“We see the inpatient time as the first step in a year-long process of recovery, and we stay with you through that journey,” said Holbeck. “We have a ‘virtual alumni’ group where former residents join sessions online or by phone. It lets them remain engaged. We provide clinical references as well if someone needs to talk to a therapist. They may have departed our care in person, but they are still part of our program.”

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