This program has a psychiatrist who can evaluate Robert’s mental health issues and prescribe medication. This program is not set up as a mental illness and chemical abuse program, however it does address both issues.
The topic of prescribing medication for individuals struggling with substance abuse has been the subject of much discussion and debate in the profession. Many feel that a client should address issues pertaining to their recovery, free of all chemicals. They believe that this helps to ascertain if substance abuse triggered the depression or anxiety, or if the client abuses substances to manage their mental health issues.
Many feel that medication assisted treatment (M.A.T) should occur after a person has had substance abuse treatment and has utilized a variety of other tools. After a period of sobriety, some will use M.A.T. concurrent with treatment, therapy, and/or 12 step meetings.
After Robert was in intensive outpatient treatment for 3-4 weeks and produced negative drug tests, staff at the treatment center and I, agreed that Robert should have a psychiatric consult. After the initial consult and subsequent sessions, Robert addressed his long-standing depression. It was agreed that Robert would benefit from a mild anti-depressant. He began to take the medication, continued to work on his steps, as well as tools for recovery, and attended 12 step meetings.
Robert’s parents declined to attend the family program, but did some reading on their own. Further, Robert shared the program and what he was learning with them. Robert explained how alcoholism is a family disease that impacts everyone and can go back generations.
Robert struggled at times in treatment. He often felt that he didn’t have anything in common with the other patients, as he wore a suit to work and indulged in fancy cocktails. This aspect of denial of the severity of one’s substance abuse is common among those in recovery.
After 6 weeks, I recommended to the company that they consider Robert for return to work, on the stipulation that he must continue to attend the program until he has successfully completed it. Most treatment centers offer programs in the day and evening to accommodate a variety of work schedules.
My role was to have weekly discussions with the treatment facility regarding Robert’s care, as well as to speak to the HR liaison regarding Robert’s attendance and compliance with the program.
When Robert returned to work, HR had a re-entry meeting with him and set parameters about what they expect of him. They also discussed the issue of admitting that one has a problem and praised the fact that Robert was willing to seek treatment.
Robert was able to return to his duties and remained clean and sober with the assistance of the treatment program, 12 step meetings, and family support.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.