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Stop Ignoring the Facts

There is this assumption that recovery from drugs or alcohol is achieved through a 28-day inpatient program or 90 days of outpatient treatment. The court system and other professionals involved in making these types of decisions see recovery as easily obtained. We must understand clients are already seeking divine intervention, and as a professional with ethical obligations, we should consult with a seasoned clinician to assist in such an important decision. Please remember clients usually do little to get sober, and if we ask for little, then nothing really changes, and we continue this cycle together. If you aren't making wise, informed decisions on behalf of these clients, then you are part of the problem. I'm not placing sole blame on you, but I'm boldly stating you are part of this equation. Clients we work with are in desperate need of guidance and support to replace the dysfunction they have been living.

We are in a great position to link them to programs or therapists that can facilitate the change process. Ask the questions and hold treatment professionals to a higher standard than just doing the minimum. Client's in active addiction will need more than 90 days of outpatient treatment. Consider how long they have been using, do they have pro-social values, what does their support system looks like, and are their family relationships intact or broken. I've seen too many clients that began using as an adolescent and now have faced problems with finances, family, health, employment, and the law. These issues aren't resolved with short-term measures, and we need to stop pretending we can have them do a 180-degree turn with limited services. I acknowledge individuals are coming to our programs that have low prognostic risks and low criminogenic needs, and they can be successful in short-term treatment.

Let's ensure the others don't get placed into the same category and then are set up for failure when they continue to use after a 28-day inpatient program or a 90-day outpatient program. The government must demonstrate its extension of support when making decisions regarding the practice of behavioral healthcare. There are many obstacles to overcome to conduct business or services when, as a state, we lack enough treatment providers. Our communities across the State of New Mexico are in desperate need of specialized services that are delivered from people that are experienced and skilled in doing so. The government must stop making it so difficult to obtain specific credentials that can assist a business in reaching out to those in need of treatment. Businesses run into government representatives not answering the phone, not returning calls promptly, not being able to provide guidance, and trying to halt you're attempting to grow as a business. This issue trickles down to our universities, and they place these mountains to climb to get a footing into higher education.

Our graduate programs place too many restrictions and policies that are preventing talented professionals from obtaining the education they desire and need to prosper. The solution is very clear and easy to administer. Treatment providers are trying to reach some of our most vulnerable citizens in our communities, and we need to release the handcuffs placed on them. We have educated individuals wanting a graduate degree so they can do more in the fight against substance abuse and mental health. Allow them to enter your program and gain the knowledge and degree that can get them where they need to be.

It's important this message continued to be carried out and shared until changes occur. We can't place our treatment agencies in a position where they are fighting a battle to get support from the government and, at the same time, fighting the behavioral healthcare war. The state wonders why we don't see many successes in our field, but too many tragedies are witnessed instead. The state is continuing to see professionals leave the state or not venture into social work or counseling because there isn't the support they need to have.


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