Addiction is a chronic disease with relapse rates similar to rates for diabetes, hypertension and asthma, explains Janelle Wesloh, executive director of recovery management for Hazelden. "What this means for Hazelden patients is that getting sober is their first step. Learning how to stay sober is a lifelong journey. We start patients off with the web-based MORE® program to begin their transition from treatment, but many people need more intensive support and attention. And, with the right level of care and support, we know that the likelihood of long-term sobriety increases greatly."
Hazelden alumni already have access to a variety of continuing care resources and services through the online MORE program, continuing care groups, recovery-sensitive mental health services, sober residences and outpatient programs. The new program leverages and consolidates these important resources and more under the direction of a Hazelden Connection coach.
"Hazelden Connection does for the average person what intensive monitoring and diversion programs of boards and licensing agencies do for health care professionals, pilots and lawyers," explains Wesloh. "And people who are under the guidance of a licensing board post-treatment have excellent outcomes.
Providing first-rate addiction treatment is a given at Hazelden, says Richard Choate, manager of recovery support and the former supervisor of the Simpson Unit on Hazelden’s Center City campus. "Now we are looking beyond the treatment experience and providing guidance and support as people transition out of care. We want to be there for them as they’re moving out from Hazelden’s cocoon of care and support. If they stumble, we can help them get back on track. We can intervene quickly. That’s critical."
Hazelden Connection extends the continuum of care beyond treatment, using protocols and techniques developed from time-tested recovery management methodologies.
Coaches are keyThe main role of the Hazelden Connection coach is to be an advocate for recovery. This starts with an initial meeting during treatment to align the newly recovering person, the family, the treatment counselor and the Hazelden Connection coach. This team provides the foundation of support and accountability during the critical early months of recovery. An individualized continuing care plan, developed by Hazelden’s interdisciplinary treatment team, informs and guides the work of the Hazelden Connection recovery coach.
In addition to ongoing communication with the person in recovery, the Hazelden Connection coach meets with other parties, including family, employers or school administrators, as appropriate. Telephone-based communication begins the first week post-discharge and gradually decreases in frequency over the 18-month program. Contact sessions include ongoing screening of individual needs and intervention for emerging issues, with solution-focused coaching to address the person’s current level of action toward recovery goals. The family receives coaching in tandem, gaining the education, access to resources and guidance they need to understand and support their loved one’s recovery. In addition to monitoring the newly recovering individual, the coach compiles monthly verification reports that are sent to key stakeholders including the participant, family, and other contacts such as the legal system or employer.
This intensive level of post-treatment support and assistance is ideal for people who need additional encouragement and accountability, such as those facing legal issues, custody matters, or loss of their professional license; people who’ve been in treatment multiple times; and students who are returning to college.
"We are excited to extend Hazelden’s reach of hope and help in this whole new way," adds Wesloh.
Published in the Voice, Spring 2011