PHCS News

Intensive Approach to Drug and Alcohol Rehab Getting Results

Sep 24, 2008

September Designated Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month


The 19th Annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in September shines a needed spotlight on the challenge of addiction as well as the treatment options that can transform lives, enhance recovery and generate hope.

One New Jersey treatment center, The Retreat at Princeton is putting people on the road to recovery with an approach far different from traditional rehab programs. The Retreat at Princeton is located on the main campus of Princeton House Behavioral Health, a unit of Princeton HealthCare System.

While traditional programs rely almost exclusively on group therapy and strict adherence to the 12-Steps program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), The Retreat utilizes a more broadly-based or integrated treatment approach. This model makes use not only of group therapy and AA meetings, but also intensive individual psychotherapy and other techniques to get at the core psychological issues underlying the addiction and motivate patients to make lasting change.

This innovative approach is getting results. A recently conducted study of patients who completed treatment at The Retreat showed a significant drop in drug and alcohol use together with substantial reductions in anxiety and depression.

Researchers evaluated Retreat patients at key times in the recovery process: once at the start of treatment, again upon discharge, three months later, and again at six months post-discharge. Using standardized assessment tools for evaluating substance abuse treatment, the researchers gathered information about various areas of clients' lives, including physical health, drug and alcohol use, family/social relationships, and psychiatric problems.

Notably, at the three month and six month follow-up points, the study revealed a significant decrease in alcohol and drug use, as well as in each of the life areas typically related to substance use. The study also showed a significant decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Retreat Clinical Director Dr. Arnold M. Washton, PhD, said that the traditional inpatient rehab model, with its emphasis on group rather than individual counseling, was designed to serve large numbers of patients as efficiently as possible. While people can do quite well in that type of treatment, Dr. Washton said others require treatment that focuses not only on their addiction, but also on the psychological and emotional issues intertwined with their addiction in order to avoid relapsing over the long term.

Accordingly, The Retreat is designed around the philosophy that the key to successful treatment is getting patients to address the psychological conflicts and other longstanding issues that are intertwined with their addictions in a personalized, sophisticated treatment program with a range of therapeutic options, including individual psychotherapy, group therapy, medication, professional coaching, and family counseling.

"We view substance abuse as a self-medication problem. People who develop problems with alcohol and drugs are using these substances as coping tools," said Dr. Washton. "The Retreat gives people an opportunity not only to stop their substance use, but also to see what those underlying issues are and to practice new coping skills that will make relapse less likely."

The Retreat offers an excellent value for its customized, intensive treatment. In addition, The Retreat's new, short-term inpatient option is now covered by many types of insurance - a recent development that is expanding access to treatment to greater numbers of people.

In the year since it was established in a 14-bed wing of Princeton House in Princeton Township, The Retreat has attracted patients both locally and nationally. Patients have attended the program from outside the tri-state area, including Maine, North Carolina and California. Not only geographically diverse, Retreat patients also come from many walks of life: corporate CEOs and clergy members, stay-at-home moms and carpenters, college students and healthcare professionals. These adults all share one thing in common -- if it weren't for chemical dependency, they would otherwise be functioning in their daily lives.

Another unique feature of the program is its degree of medical oversight. The Retreat's affiliation with Princeton HealthCare System's University Medical Center at Princeton enables the program to serve people whose addictions are accompanied by other co-occurring medical problems that require ongoing attention.

About National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month is an annual awareness program that recognizes the accomplishments of people in recovery, the contributions of treatment providers, and advances in substance abuse treatment. It is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To celebrate this month, there is the "7th Annual Rally for Recovery from Liberty State Park to the Brooklyn Bridge and Back," and the Recovery Cruise, both on Saturday, September 27, 2008. Staff from The Retreat plan to attend the rally to show support of this important cause. For more information about The Retreat at Princeton, please call 609.497.3355 or www.RetreatAtPrinceton.org.