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The Benefits of Extended Care

Dr. Bono discusses Length of Stay in Residential Treatment

Dr. Marc Bono, Psy. D.

Primary Therapist

  For many client’s extended care has come after multiple shorter term treatments have not had a lasting impact on their addiction. This common experience among Turnbridge residents is reflected in the research on addiction treatment outcomes. The literature reflects the fact that gains made in shorter term residential treatment are quickly lost without significant follow up treatment. A major theme of my phase one therapy group is facilitating motivation and education around the benefits of extended care. While in the midst of this growth process it is difficult to see the benefits or even the change itself. One client who had been to Turnbridge and left for 90 days before returning told the group that his friends from phase one were now “unrecognizable” to him, in that they had matured and changed to such a large degree. I often bring phase three residents to speak to the phase one group so that they can hear from their peers how the program will benefit them if they stick it out. As a therapist, I am in a unique position to work with a client over the course of a year. The growth and transformation I see is nothing short of miraculous at times. It is not unusual for this growth to occur late in the year as the efforts over moths prior begin to come to fruition. My experience has been that clients grow in so many critical area that there is a cumulative effect providing a true base for recovery after Turnbridge. Specifically, I have seen clients develop social skills that they lacked upon entering treatment, learn to cope with frustration and build skills in this area, learn to delay gratification and work towards long term goal, increase personal accountability, re-discover old hobbies and interest, etc, etc. None of the above happens overnight. None of these areas of growth happen without the basic components of Turnbridge including living with a group of peers, working with a case manager, therapy, sponsor, etc. The structure at Turnbridge is geared at increasing independence and personal responsibility gradually over time. This well thought out strategy avoids sudden transitions (like leaving a 30 day program and returning home) and provides support for the transitions that do occur between phases. Goals and freedoms are moved forward in a thoughtful manner (e.g. volunteer before work, limiting coursework in college, using public transportation before driving your own vehicle) and adjusted to individual’s needs and abilities. I have heard Turnbridge staff say the phrase “slower is faster” and many Turnbridge clients have tried to do what comes naturally; reenter your life at full speed soon after the acute impact of addiction has passed. This approach often leads addicts to circle back into addiction and treatment. Thus, when Turnbridge staff says to residents “slower is faster”, they mean do it right (including put the time in) the first time, and you will get your life back faster in the long run. For some residents the long road back starts with learning basic information about themselves. Who am I without drugs? What is my value system sober? What interest or goals do I have? What is my identity without drugs? These are very real questions and they definitely do not resolve themselves in thirty days. A year is a good start. My advice to residents is to trust in the process, work your program every day to the best of your ability and know that Turnbridge staff has the collective wisdom, passion and investment in you to guide you to a life beyond addiction. …………………………………………………………………….. Dr. Marc Bono, Psy. D.