Getting help for addiction is an overwhelming process. There are many factors that can bring someone to rely on chemicals or alcohol, and it can get even more complicated if the individual also struggles with a co-occurring disorder. People often wonder what comes first, addiction or mental health issues, but the two are often so intertwined that it can be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.
Dr. Gregg Jantz is the Founder of The Center, A Place of Hope, in Washington, and was the keynote speaker for this year’s Innovations in Recovery Conference in San Diego. He refers to treating addiction and co-occurring disorders as a 1000-piece puzzle, a process where everyone involved must try to fit each piece—emotional health, physical issues, brain chemistry—one by one as they go.
As we all know, the hardest part of the puzzle is picking up the first piece to start. We spoke to Dr. Jantz at the conference where he breaks down this daunting task into 6 practical baby steps.
1. Make a decision.
The first crucial step to successful treatment actually starts with yourself. A lot of times people don’t actually believe that they can live a life of recovery or that they can change. That is like shooting yourself in the foot before you even get out the door. To that, Dr. Jantz says that the individual just has to make a decision in their mind that they are going to change and recover. “If you think you’re ready for help, then you probably are.”
2. Contact 3 different treatment centers.
After you have fully committed to the idea of treatment, it’s helpful to have a concrete goal in place in terms of next steps. Dr. Jantz advises picking up the phone and making three calls. “Just begin to ask questions and see how you feel after contacting 3 different places,” he says. Usually after talking to actual people, you’ll be led to go to one place in particular. You may start by calling 800-772-8219 to inquire about addiction specialists in your area.
3. Ask about insurance.
“So many folks that we see get halfway through treatment and can’t complete it,” Dr. Jantz says. This is a common issue at rehab centers and something that you don’t want diverting your long-term success. That’s why it’s important to address insurance issues right from the start. One question he suggests asking is, “What happens along the way if my insurance denies my care? How do you handle that?” Before you sign up for treatment anywhere, you want to know that you can complete it.
4. Ask about aftercare.
While you’re on the phone, another important topic to inquire about is aftercare. What’s the aftercare going to look like? Is there continuation of care? Are you going to be plugged into some alumni? All of these are good things to ask because, as Dr. Jantz puts it, “When you leave [rehab], that’s when part two of treatment begins.” You should have a plan in place and the facility that you end up going with should help you in making it. Here are a few tips on how to prepare yourself for life after rehab.
5. Understand their treatment approach.
Lastly, make sure you have a good understanding of the treatment center’s methods and philosophy. For instance, is the treatment singular-focused or are they about bringing together the whole person? Is there respect for spirituality or faith issues? What about nutrition or natural interventions? Dr. Jantz stresses that it’s important to know how you want to be treated before going into treatment. After all, if you’re making a choice of going somewhere, you want to be in a place where you will be treated consistently with your own individual values. Use our directory of rehab centers to browse around and see what treatment centers in your area have to offer.
6. Look at a calendar.
After all this is said and done, now it’s time to put it all in place—and the clock is ticking. Dr. Jantz says that the next thing to do is “to actually go back and look at a calendar and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to make a decision about where I’m going.’” Usually, the person needs to make the decision within 48 hours or else he or she is going to talk him or herself out of it. Dr. Jantz reminds us, “You’re going to find multiple reasons not to. We can start with money or it’s too far to go—you’re always going to have a reason not to do it, but you also need to ask yourself, ‘What if I don’t do it?’”
The longer you wait to get help, the longer you’ll be living a life of regret. The time to make the decision is now—if not, your regret is only going to get greater and you’ll never know what a masterpiece you can be.
The Center, A Place of Hope, is the #1 depression treatment center in the nation. Dr. Gregg Jantz’s lecture at the 2017 Innovations in Recovery Conference was titled “Depression: Origins, Coping Mechanisms and New Approaches for Treatment.”