Doctors might not make house calls anymore, but one addiction recovery program does. Palm Beach-based Addiction Reach Home offers “concierge”-style treatment, delivering what patients want and need to their own homes at times to suit them. But can an addict focus on recovery amid all their domestic distractions—including the people and stresses that might have led them to addiction in the first place? Sue Merklin, founder and CEO of Addiction Reach, thinks so, arguing that in-home treatment addresses some of the weaknesses of inpatient recovery. "[Patients] are thrown back into the same situation with the same issues they had to face before they left, and sometimes its hard to manage without the support system they had as inpatients,” she tells The Fix. “But our treatment providers will be available three months, six months, nine months from now.”
Specialists also do family counseling to create a supportive home environment. But in-home recovery isn't for everyone. Those who aren't fully motivated, or who need an intervention, won't benefit—Addiction Reach recommends suitable inpatient treatment in such cases. In-home recovery isn't marketed as a replacement for inpatient programs, but an alternative; it can't replicate a facility which offers a month of recovery with no distractions. So who is it for? “People that are committed to recovery and somewhat functional,” says Merklin. “Working moms with smaller children, anyone who cannot leave for 30 to 60 days: people in business, high profile peoples, lawyers, doctors, judges,” who would otherwise forgo treatment for fear of disruption and stigma. And in-home treatment costs less. Merklin says there aren't set prices because of the highly individualized “concierge” model, but claims that bypassing real estate costs makes it much cheaper than $20,000-$90,000 inpatient rehabs.
A former tour manager for The Beatles and recovering addict will lecture college students this evening at Arizona State University about substance abuse in the entertainment business. Chris O'Dell had a 20-year career in the music business that took off when she worked for the Beatles' record label in London—she even got to join in the recording for the multi-person chorus of "Hey Jude." She went on to work with other legends like The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. But the rampant drug use in the music industry during that period led her to believe that picking up drugs for the musicians that she worked for was simply "part of the job description." Today, she's an addiction counselor in Tucson, and she leverages her personal recovery to help others on their path to sobriety. For O'Dell, it was only becoming a mother that was able to convince her to get clean once and for all. “It was hard at that time to look back and go, ‘This is a problem,’ because if you’re sitting in the back of a limo and everyone is smoking pot and drinking and doing cocaine, what’s the problem?" she says. “We’re off to a show. We’re listening to music every night. How horrible can your life be at that point?"
Vipassana—a form of meditation in which practitioners train themselves to observe bodily sensations without reacting to them—has a growing reputation for helping addicts. "I nearly walked out three times during my first course," Alex, a former heroin user from England, tells The Fix. "It was so painful to observe all the negativity I had stored away inside me." But the results were impressive: "Cravings do not effect me like they used to. If I have a craving, I just observe it and it passes away." Vipassana teaches the mind not to react to the emotions and thoughts that result in harmful behavior; adherents claim that with enough practice it's possible to become permanently free of all negative behaviors—addiction included.
Back in 2002, a four-year study reported that drug-addicted prisoners who practice Vipassana are 20% less likely to use drugs and commit crimes when released. Conducted by the University of Washington and funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it found that a group of prisoners in the King County North Rehabilitation Facility who practiced Vipassana "used significantly less marijuana, crack, and powder cocaine in the three months following release" compared to a control group.
The benefits seem to hold from jailhouse to penthouse. John Frusciante—once the most-addicted Red Hot Chili Pepper—has used Vipassana in his recovery. "It stops your mind from interrupting all the time and getting in the way…it's also created an open space inside me; there's this light that shines through that wasn't there before," he told Guitar World. The Vipassana Institute recommends that addicts detox and gain a little clean time before they attempt the initial Vipassana course.
How much do you drink? In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month in April, non-profit treatment organization the Gateway Foundation has conducted a survey to encourage people to examine their own drinking habits. Altogether, 73% of adults surveyed confirmed that they drink; when asked how many drinks they down per session, the most popular response was two drinks—in line with government recommendations for men (they recommend one for women). On the other hand, nearly one in 10 confessed to drinking four or five drinks per drinking event, which could indicate trouble. "Most people can have a couple drinks and be fine; but for some people, drinking alcoholic beverages creates a strong craving for more," says Dr. Phil Welches, Clinical Director for the Gateway Foundation. "For example, when a person consistently drinks four to five drinks a couple nights a week and experiences blackouts and frequent hangovers, it is possible that a drinking problem is developing." The online survey sampled 2,265 adults ages 21 and over. The National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health—administered by the federal government—found that of the 23 million Americans who need help for alcoholism, only 3 million actually seek treatment.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is currently racked with issues including divorce, owing child support and alcoholism. The colorful Chicago Bulls legend claims he's unable to pay an alleged $860,376 in child support for his two kids because he has no money. Representatives say that his heavy alcoholism makes it difficult for him to work. "In all honesty, Dennis, although a very sweet person, is an alcoholic," says Peggy Williams, Rodman's finance manager. "His sickness impacts his ability to get work.” The outspoken Rodman shared his alcohol problem during the third season of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. The 50-year-old's condition seems to have deteriorated since his wife, Michelle Rodman, filed for divorce earlier this month, following many tumultuous years of marriage. "This case, especially his wife filing for divorce, has put him on a binge that I have never seen before. He is extremely hurt and extremely sick,” says Rodman’s attorney Linnea Willis. She claims Michelle Rodman is putting together a “smear campaign” against Rodman, and that he already owes over $350,000 in back taxes. Rodman’s manager, Darren Prince, says of his client, "He's not hurting, compared to [other] retired athletes, with what he makes. But he's certainly not making what he made when he was playing with the Bulls."
A Malaysian mosque outside Kuala Lumpur is dispensing methadone to the scores of heroin addicts who come to its doors. The Ah-Rahman—the first mosque in the world with a methadone program operating out of it—currently helps 50 people aged 18-60 who want to kick their heroin addictions. Patients take methadone under the watchful eye of pharmacists for the first two months and must continually pass urine tests before being allowed to take three doses home with them. The conservative Muslim country is generally severe on drugs, which are forbidden by both Muslim scholars and Malaysian law; heroin possession is punishable by life in prison, while selling it earns you a death sentence. But the doctors at the University of Malaya who put together this program have been able to get religious authorities on board. They plan to expand it to two more mosques in the coming months. "It makes me no longer take heroin on the street," says one man in the program. "It makes me want to work." Before the introduction of methadone, heroin addicts were sent to government rehab centers for two years, where they would go “cold turkey”—an approach doctors said led to a high relapse rate. Malaysia has an estimated 170,000 intravenous drug users, with heroin the most commonly used drug. The doctors at Ah-Rahman hope to reduce the stigma surrounding drug users in order to help them more easily.