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I am Hitting Walls with the Treatment System

couple talk on couch showing brochure

“Navigation on finding treatment is insane. I know I can't change the system right now, but I am hitting walls. I am a doer by nature and am trying to educate myself as much as possible and have found many great resources to do that, but no where do I find a clear understanding of how to put a plan in action. I'm not sure an intervention (at my expense) is the way to go. I live 3,000 miles away from my family and they have reached out to me, but it is very difficult to make anything happen. Please understand that I am committed to supporting them, but I am feeling helpless and can only imagine how they feel. I went to my first Al Anon meeting because I thought I was going to go insane.

Desperate because its a matter of life and death now.

1 has been sectioned (nothing happened) and has been in and out of detox 4 times in the last 3 weeks alone, and now is at a point where he has no security of a "holding" before he can go into treatment. 1 has been been to detox, holding and then Intensive Outpatient Therapy and trying to get into a sober house. And the other is their Mom who is in total denial. Almost died last year and won't even consider going to a program.”

Finding treatment for a Loved One can indeed be infuriating, more an art than a science.

The process of finding treatment has two parts:

  1. find the treatment and get answers to your questions: admission criteria, openings, payment, insurance coverage, details of the program, including amount of therapeutic support and whether it is evidence-based.  
  2. engage your Loved One to accept and go to treatment while slots for that treatment remain available.

From the moment you come on to this site, regardless of where along the trajectory your Loved One is, start your research into treatment.

I am certain we can cut in half the rate of people who don’t seek treatment, by having this list of treatment options at-the-ready. There are moments when your Loved One’s motivation for treatment pops through; having the list to show them at that moment and gently urging them to choose and call a place is key. We need treatment on demand in this country and we fall well short of it.

Finding treatment that is good and available is difficult. In this post, we provide a description of the various treatment modalities.  In researching your list, see if you can find something for each of these modalities. We provide a method for finding treatment in Our Treatment Resources.

The Shortcomings of Our Current System

The reality though is that your list will end up short. We’ve done treatment research for years. Inevitably, the long list grows woefully short as problems arise with each potential treatment place: insurance doesn’t cover the program or your Loved One needs a certain length of sobriety before admission or there is a wait list.

You have three family members in trouble with addiction. The mother is not considering treatment.  Make that list for her, and follow the suggestions on this site to improve your communication and behavior in order to reduce her reluctance to speak to you and ask for help.

Her two kids are in the treatment system so they have some degree of recognition of the addiction problem but barriers to further treatment are blocking progress.

Detoxification is short and is too rarely followed by solid aftercare that gets a Loved One into the next modality. Families need to step in early and push on the system. Get your Loved One to sign a release so that you can talk to the program staff. Detoxes are typically swamped. Even with a release, you may have trouble getting them on the phone.

The wait list for sober homes is also a problem. Assessing whether a home is well run is also difficult.

A gap between care settings is a huge problem for someone trying to stay sober. Going home after detox in not acceptable unless there is a community-based plan in place.  Being advised to go to AA/NA is fine, but it is not enough.

See The Treatment Episodes, However Short, As Positive Movement

Both your nieces/nephews are trying. As frustrating as this all sounds, there is movement for them. 

Being 3000 miles away is very difficult, your level of contact with them is too limited for regular intervention, an intervention in which you sense moments of motivation to seek help. The research and coordination you are doing is the right thing for you to be doing.  Keep working on those lists, and provide your Loved Ones with updates.

Know that this is what you can do.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Thank you for the modules and education on how to be more effective in assisting those I love, to recovery. I can’t thank you enough for the support.

    Since my last post, I have visited my family and am very happy and encouraged that one family member has gone onto a 30-90 program and continues to thrive.

    His brother continues to do it his way and says he’s going to meetings and we had a very scary conversation where he lied to me in person about not being high, then called and apologized that he lied. When I was completely honest with him about something I thought he did, and that the thought was outside of my norm, he became defensive and felt he was dead to his family and thought it best to not talk for a while. I was relieved when he texted me the next day and said I love you, and he knew I loved him and needed some time. Since then he has called and didn’t want me to think he was mad at me, that he was in a bad way. Yet, he was very happy about a court case that was dismissed and he was going to continue to work and go to meetings.

    How honest should I be with my loved one?

    1. Dear All,
      It has been a learning experience, to say the least. I am so happy to share that one of my nephews is coming up on his 1 year anniversary of sobriety and I am so proud and happy for him. I cannot express how grateful for all the support, kindness and education you all gave me. Especially, Dominique Simon-Levine, PhDFounder & CEO. I am in awe of you and your dedication and support. I was at my wits end and and you were amazing to me. He successfully, networked and started meetings the day after we landed in LA. Completed his IOP. Found a Sponsor who is amazing. Got a job that he has held for 6 months and is now living with a few other friends who are also sober. Continues to network and is thriving. I am so grateful and he is very proud of himself, which is huge! I continue to educate myselef and one of the most important lessons was and still is. It’s not about me, it’s his journey, I only provided an opportunity and could not have done it without you Dominique and AIR. It’s so hard to watch someone you love struggle and if you need to take a step back. Do it, because if you don’t you will suffer just as much watching.
      Light and love to all. Desperate aunt is not desperate anymore 🙂