It’s no secret that incredibly large numbers of people struggling with addiction don’t receive treatment. Discrepancies with insurance, barriers in health care, lack of support… these are essentially all giant concrete roadblocks for addicts. But there’s also the pure fact that standard treatment programs don’t easily fit into a person’s life. Enter: Kentucky’s new in-home drug treatment program.
Imagine participating in an addiction recovery program from the comfort of your own home.
Fentanyl Catalyzes Record-High Deaths
Kentucky saw record-high overdose death rates just two years ago. Fatal drug overdoses rose by a whopping 11.5% to 1,565 in 2017. A toxicology report was available for most of those deaths. According to the 1,468 toxicology reports, fentanyl was present in 52% of the overdose deaths.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate. The drug is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl is used legally generally as an after-surgery painkiller for patients who are more tolerant to other opioids. But fentanyl is also illegally distributed on the streets where the lack of control over potency has led to an enormous spike in fatal overdoses. Fentanyl is essentially pushing the already snowballing opioid crisis into a full-blown avalanche.
87% of the almost 400 accidental fatal overdoses in Louisville, KY in 2017 involved opioids.64% also involved fentanyl. Only 50 cases had no opioids present in their toxicology reports.
New Care Model Tries to Turn the Tides
After the disturbingly high numbers of 2017, Kentucky was listed among the 37 states that saw a decrease in overdose deaths the next year. It’s the first significant decrease in long over 10 years. However, numbers are still much higher than the data preceding the emergence of fentanyl.
In an attempt to combat this, Renew Recovery partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky to offer in-home drug treatment. Anthem explains that the program will launch in Louisville first and hopefully roll out across the whole state following success.
“. . . We have a lot of people that aren’t seeking treatment and we really think this care model will be a powerful new way to sort of turn that tide.”
— Dr. Jeff Reynolds, Anthem medical director
What Does an In-Home Drug Treatment Program Look Like?
This new in-home drug treatment service is designed to bring more individualized treatment to addicts. The pilot program shows that clients will receive treatment within their own homes for one to two months before transitioning to an outpatient model. Clients will also receive medication-assisted treatment if needed and have access to a care team, including a psychiatrist and recovery coach.
To make up for the lack of immersion that would normally accompany an inpatient residential program, Renew Recovery’s in-home drug treatment program will include telehealth and virtual reality components. The VR technology will provide both motivational and educational content to aid clients in staying on the path to recovery.
Pros and Cons of In-Home Drug Treatment
Many people’s lives don’t allow for the time and structure requirements of a standard residential treatment program. People who have full-time jobs, families, and other time-consuming obligations end up falling through the cracks of treatment because of their inability or reluctancy to commit to a program. An in-home drug treatment program can greatly benefit these people.
The program also hopes to attract professionals who might have avoided more conspicuous treatment programs in the past because of the stigma associated with addiction.
On the other hand, a familiar environment can hinder recovery and even encourage relapse. Environment is a very pervasive factor. Simply put, it affects every aspect of our lives because it literally surrounds us. This means that if the familiar environment houses triggers, it can become dangerously toxic for those in early recovery. Even if an addict is all-in and gung-ho about getting sober, there’s not much someone can do to overcome the involuntary memories associated with triggers.
To that effect, a change of scenery can actually provide better success for a recovering addict. Long-term recovery is all about change, after all. In some cases, environment may need to change along with behaviors and mindsets.
But if the goal is to provide more accessible treatment to more people, in-home drug treatment could very well one of the guiding candles along that path.