Getting Psychological and Medical Help


Melissa Killeen

[This is the second in a series of short posts about my interactions with recovery coaching clients. I want to share what happens during a recovery coaching engagement, the discussions that take place, what usually comes up for the client and how as a recovery coach I respond.]

In this post, I am still working with the gentleman who had relapsed. One of the consequences of his relapse is that he was discharged from his Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). We spent time during one of the afternoon appointments I had with him using Google search to find another therapist, and an outpatient program he could attend.

Getting psychological help when needed is important. With many of my clients, their addiction is a symptom of an underlying mental health issue; this is often called a co-occurring symptom or disorder. Seeking and getting the necessary psychological help for this client, and medication for suspected psychiatric illnesses, was crucial. It is important that he learns better ways of coping with life events than drinking and drugging.

Treatment options for addiction are not limited to psychotherapy or support groups. In our research for a new psychiatrist, my client commented that he wanted to consider medication-assisted recovery options. I provided him printouts describing the many medications that are available for the recovering person. We reviewed these printouts and discussed what he thought about each medication, while further discussing the perception of medication-assisted recovery as a positive sign. People in this client’s 12-step meetings consider taking medication to assist in recovery another form of addiction. We talked further about this prevailing 12-step-group attitude and I made it clear that it was never a mark of failure or inadequacy to take medication as prescribed and needed. I assumed the role of an educator, pointing out the possible side effects and interactions, asking him to keep in mind that it is important for him to complete a full psychiatric and medical evaluation before considering these medications. He expressed a willingness to look at medications like Disulfiram (Antabuse®), Naltrexone (ReVia®), or Acamprosate (Campral®).

As a result of our investigations into finding a new psychiatrist and doctor, my client scheduled two appointments the following week to interview prospective doctors. Both physicians use medication-assisted therapy as part of their treatment plan. And my client scheduled at the end of the month an evaluation for a new outpatient program, as well.

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2 Responses to Getting Psychological and Medical Help

  1. Deborah Johnson says:

    I strongly agree with your statement and read your article. Patients seeking treatment for addiction should be made aware of programs that practice “harm” reduction” and of statistic that strongly supports psychotherapy along with medication assisted treatment (MAT); empower patients to be able to support their decision to participate in MAT programs and still be an asset in 12-step programs. Psychotherapy along with medication assisted treatment (MAT) is highly recommended in that you treat the psychological and the physiological symptoms of withdrawal.

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