Hampstead Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital in southern N.H., recently launched a new residential treatment program for adult men and women who are managing substance abuse and addiction. The program, Recovery Matters, utilizes a highly-structured approach that combines therapeutic groups, individual therapy and family meetings.
Recovery Matters started on April 15 and can house up to 10 adults. The clinical team, which rotates through three, eight-hour shifts per day, includes master’s level clinicians, licensed drug and alcohol counselors, nurses, recreational therapists and a psychiatrist.
“The main reason [for adding this program] was being able to provide a resource for people to meet that in-between level of care from inpatient detoxification to an outpatient treatment system,” explains Stacy Carpenter, MSW, director of Recovery Matters.
The transition – from a medically-necessitated hospitalization to an outpatient counseling program – has proven to be difficult for many recovering addicts, resulting in relapses and other behavioral issues. The goal of Recovery Matters is to bridge that gap, providing the necessary structure to educate and prepare clients for a successful re-entry into public life.
“[In some cases], it was very difficult for people to stay in the recovery process and maintain some sobriety after a short time in detox,” says Carpenter.
Another issue is the limited number of residential programs in the region. “We would be referring a lot of people to other residential programs but they would often experience some pretty significant wait lists,” adds Carpenter. “That made it difficult for people to maintain some of the initial gains they were making in the hospital.”
Now that Hampstead Hospital has its own residential program, these three essential levels of care – detoxification, inpatient treatment and out-patient programs – are now available at one location. “We provide a continuum of treatment so we can really meet them where they’re at,” says Patti Shea, Psy.D., the hospital’s director of clinical operations.
Clients “graduating” from residential treatment can then shift into Hampstead’s intensive outpatient program, Quitting Time, which consists of two, three-hour group sessions per day, four times per week.
Recovery Matters runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with six therapeutic group sessions taking up most of the day. These groups focus on addiction education, relapse prevention and coping skills. Although an average length of stay is 10-14 days, the individually-tailored treatment plans vary; some clients spend a few days in the program and others up to a month.
“We also do some DBT life treatment in terms of helping people manage emotions,” Carpenter says. “We’ll do some cognitive behavioral therapy. We focus on support building for their recovery and include some life skills training. There’s also some time in the evening when we focus on leisure education, helping people learn how to structure their free time without using substances.”
In addition, the group ventures out into the community three nights per week to attend other support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.
On Saturdays, there’s an intensive five-hour family program where family members are educated about addiction, have lunch with the client and learn about providing support and trust.
“It’s an opportunity to join together around the client’s struggle,” says Shea, “and then for everybody to talk about how to move forward.”
Recovery Matters not only provides a structure for overcoming addiction but the relatively small size of the program makes for a close-knit therapeutic community. “We all have a pretty good sense of who the clients are and they have a very good sense about us,” says Shea. “There’s a lot of continuity. It provides safety and trust for the clients.”
By Howard Newman