Details on Aetna Inpatient Rehab Coverage

Does Aetna cover rehabilitation for substance abuse and addiction?

If a medical provider or mental health professional thinks you can’t get well without treatment, Aetna will almost certainly pay at least part of your expenses for rehab. However, the specific amount depends on your insurance plan and your location.  

In general, Aetna covers medical or outpatient detox, inpatient and residential rehab of varying lengths, partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient treatment, aftercare planning, and many types of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Your insurance provider can provide details of your particular coverage.

Does Aetna Cover Mental Health Services?

The mental health of Aetna’s members is a high priority. Aetna works with research groups and top universities to stay current on the most effective, evidence-based treatment.  The company’s behavioral health website provides support and extensive information on various mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and support for those in crisis. 

Aetna’s behavior therapy, often known as “talk therapy,” provides essential support for people struggling with mental health issues, whether or not the mental illness is associated with substance abuse

According to Aetna’s website, members can benefit from therapy sessions, either one-on-one, in a group, or with family. Therapy sessions are led by a psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist, either in person or via televideo. Certified peer support specialists are also available. Like rehab, however, specific coverage varies depending on your plan and the state where you live. 

Aetna In-Network Inpatient Rehab

In-Network or Out-Of-Network: What’s the Difference? It nearly always makes sense to use a aetna inpatient rehab treatment center. Why? Because in-network providers have negotiated with Aetna to offer treatment at an agreed-upon price. Out-of-network providers, on the other hand, can typically charge any amount they like. The difference in what you end up paying for rehab can be substantial. 

If you’re interested in an out-of-network rehab, give the rehab a call and ask what they will charge for your treatment and if they accept Aetna insurance. Some plans don’t cover out-of-network care at all. Other plans may cover out-of-network rehab, but you may be responsible for higher copays or coinsurance. 

It’s also important to know that if you need emergency care, your plan will cover costs at an out-of-network doctor, emergency room, urgent care center, or walk-in clinic, whether you’re close to home or traveling. 

What You Need to Know

Understanding your insurance coverage is complicated, but it’s essential to know what to expect and what questions you should ask before you begin treatment. The following information will help you sort it out, but be sure to call the toll-free number on your membership card for your plan’s specific detail. 

Will I need preauthorization for rehab? It’s always a good idea to check with Aetna Member Services before seeking treatment because preauthorization may be required for some substance abuse or mental health services. In short, preauthorization is basically a review to determine if treatment is medically necessary and whether or not your plan covers it. 

Figuring out Your deductible: Most insurance plans have a deductible, which is the amount you must pay for treatment each year before insurance coverage kicks in. For instance, let’s say your annual deductible is $1,500. This means you must pay 100 percent of covered healthcare expenses before Aetna begins to pick up the bill. In general, plans with a higher premium mean you’ll pay a lower deductible, and vise-versa. Some services, such as prescription drugs, require different deductibles.

Your responsibility for copays or coinsurance: Copays are flat fees that you may be required to pay up-front for some types of healthcare services. Your plan determines your copay, which varies depending on the kind of service. In some cases, your copay may count towards your deductible amount. Coinsurance is your percentage of a covered service that you must pay once you’ve fully paid your deductible. Many plans are 80/20, which means you will pay $20 for every $100 in allowable expenses, and your insurance plan will pick up the remaining $80. 

Your out-of-pocket maximum: This amount is the most you will pay for covered medical expenses in a single year, including any deductible, copays, and coinsurance. Once you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, your plan will pick up the tab for covered medical costs for the remainder of the year.

Tools Aetna Uses to Help Determine Your Best Treatment Options

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a scientifically proven way for primary health care providers to spot problems quickly, identify the severity of substance abuse, and determine the most effective treatment level. SBIRT screening targets people with risky behaviors who may benefit from a brief intervention, prevents the development of more severe problems in those at moderate risk, and helps addicted people enter and stay in treatment.  According to Aetna, early intervention can reduce health care costs while preventing illness, hospitalizations, motor vehicle accidents, and premature death. 

ASAM  guidelines: Most insurance companies, including Aetna, use ASAM guidelines to determine the most effective level of care to help with your substance use disorder. The guidelines, established by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, recognizes that all people are different and that treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. ASAM guidelines consider several factors, including your potential for withdrawal, mental health issues, medical complications, living environment, and relapse potential.

Our Treatment Is in Aetna’s Network

Determining the specific details of your insurance coverage is complex, but at 1st Step Behavioral Health, our experienced, highly trained staff can walk you through the process. All information is completely confidential and free of any further obligation. You can also use this online form to verify your insurance coverage quickly. Please pick up the phone and give 1st Step a call at 855-425-4846,  or contact us online

What is LSD and Can You Get Addicted To It?

LSD, commonly known as “acid,” is a powerful hallucinogenic drug that completely alters and distorts the user’s perception of reality. Can you get addicted to LSD? Although the matter is up for debate, most professionals agree that LSD isn’t physically addictive. However, it’s possible to become emotionally and mentally hooked on the drug’s mind-altering effects. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), LSD is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which means there is a high potential for abuse, but no currently accepted medical uses.

What is LSD Made of?

 LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide, a chemical synthesized from ergot, a toxic fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is considered a semi-synthetic drug because creation also involves manmade chemicals that change its physical makeup into a crystallized form. 

What is LSD?

 Crystallized LSD is liquified into a clear, odorless substance with a slightly bitter taste. Single doses of the liquid are dropped onto square pieces of blotter paper. Users place the paper on the tongue, and the drug absorbs into the body. Blotter paper is the most common way people use LSD, but it is also incorporated into gelatin squares, sugar cubes, or capsules. LSD is rarely smoked, sniffed, or injected. 

LSD has been around since its hallucinogenic properties were accidentally discovered in the 1930s. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense experimented with the drug as a chemical weapon that could control entire populations.  LSD was widely researched as a psychiatric drug, and showed promise as a treatment for severe pain. 

In the 1960s, when it was still legal, LSD was widely used recreationally in the United States, soon spreading to the U.K. and across Europe. The United States banned the drug in the late 1960s after the potential hazards became apparent. Although LSD isn’t as popular as it once was, many people still use it illegally.  

People who use LSD refer to the experience as a trip. A good trip is marked by changes in perception, a heightened sense of clarity and awareness, and intensified emotions. Shapes and sizes may pulse or appear distorted, and users may see geometric shapes on walls and other surfaces. Users may experience a rush of euphoria, a total absence of fear, and a feeling of superhuman strength. Objects may appear to ripple, and colors seem brighter. 

Although LSD’s effects on the human brain aren’t widely studied, research suggests it temporarily interferes with serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates senses, thinking, mood, and behavior.  

Is LSD Addictive?

Experts don’t consider LSD as a physically addictive substance, at least not in the same sense as drugs like heroin, meth, or cocaine. While LSD doesn’t cause uncontrollable cravings and compulsive use, people who use the drug frequently may quickly develop a tolerance, which means more and more is needed to attain the same hallucinogenic effects. Typically, normal tolerance returns after stopping the use of LSD for a few days.

Just because LSD isn’t physically addictive doesn’t mean it’s safe. Using large amounts of LSD is risky because it is unpredictable and doesn’t always act the same from one use to another, or from one person to another. 

A bad trip can involve terrifying hallucinations, confusion, and a sensation of being disconnected from reality. Users may experience despair, severe depression, delusions, panic, frightening thoughts such as fears of dying or going insane. It’s not uncommon to swing rapidly from one emotion to another or to feel several emotions simultaneously.  

A person having a bad trip may be combative and may want to harm others or himself, or he may do dangerous things that lead to injuries or fatal accidents. It’s impossible to predict if using LSD will trigger a good trip or a bad one. 

LSD Side Effects

LSD side effects begin to kick in within 30 to 60 minutes after taking the drug, peaking in four to six hours, and typically lasting eight to  12 hours. Physical symptoms may include:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Incoherent or garbled speech
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Bizarre behavior

LSD Presents a Variety of Risks to Mind and Body

Although bad trips are terrifying, they aren’t usually life-threatening. LSD overdoses are uncommon, and fatal overdoses are virtually nonexistent. However, altered perceptions and distorted thinking may lead to reckless or unpredictable behaviors resulting in legal problems, violence,  strained personal relationships, injury, or death.

Although it’s uncommon, some people experience mood changes, psychosis, paranoia, or suicidal thoughts after large doses or frequent use of LSD. Research suggests that people with schizophrenia or other underlying mental illness, or those predisposed to addiction, are more likely to experience adverse effects. 

Some people experience flashbacks, or feelings of being on a “bad trip,” occurring up to a year or more after using LSD. Flashbacks are more common during times of stress or exhaustion and may be severe enough to interfere with everyday life. 

It’s rare for LSD to be cut or diluted with other substances, but it may cause severe reactions when used while taking certain prescriptions, including some antidepressants; or lithium, a medication prescribed to treat bipolar disorder. Using LSD with alcohol is extremely risky. 

Treatment for Psychological Addictions

Consider treatment if you’re having trouble controlling your use of LSD or if your use of the drug has impacted your life in negative ways. Behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) are often helpful with psychological addictions to LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs. 

Stopping LSD generally causes no physical withdrawal symptoms, but you may need support and guidance if you experience feelings of confusion, fear, agitation, or depression. 

Don’t Delay

Each person is unique, and at 1st Step Behavioral Therapy, we’ll work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your particular needs. We’ll help you work through your dependency on LSD in a calm, supportive environment. To learn more, give us a call at 855-425-4846  or contact us online

Does TRICARE Cover Alcohol Rehab?

If you’re struggling with an alcohol use disorder, you can be confident that your TRICARE insurance will cover treatment that will help get your life back on track. TRICARE covers several different types and levels of treatment for TRICARE enrollees.

However, like any insurance, your TRICARE coverage may vary specific to your plan type and location. 

Understanding Your TRICARE Alcohol Treatment Coverage

TRICARE will likely help cover expenses if a medical provider says treatment is a medical necessity — basically if your addiction affects your ability to function in everyday life, or if your withdrawal symptoms are so severe that you require medical assistance.

Like all insurance providers, TRICARE must meet standards established by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Keep in mind that some plans, and some forms of treatment, require prior authorization.

The TRICARE Network

In-network alcohol substance abuse treatment providers have negotiated with TRICARE to establish an agreement for fair and reasonable pricing. However, you may be required to pay a small out-of-pocket deductible or co-pay. 

Some TRICARE plans, including TRICARE Select, Young Adult Select, Reserve Select, Prime Remote, and Family Health, offer members an option to select an out-of-network provider. If you’re covered by one of these plans and opt for out-of-network treatment, you may need to file individual claims, and you will probably pay higher out-of-pocket expenses. 

TRICARE Covers Various Levels of Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Your TRICARE plan may cover inpatient treatment for an alcohol use disorder.

  • If you need emergency inpatient treatment, TRICARE will cover detox, stabilization, and medications to help manage withdrawal and any medical complications that may arise. No referral or pre-authorization is required for emergency treatment; still, if you’re admitted for continued treatment, you’ll need authorization, and somebody must inform your regional contractor within 72 hours of admission.
  • Treatment is considered non-emergency if you seek treatment on your own. TRICARE will cover detox and stabilization and may help cover treatment for depression, PTSD, or other co-occurring mental health issues. Prior authorization and referrals are required for all non-emergency inpatient treatment or residential rehab. Your regional contractor can provide specifics on authorization requirements.

You may have access to various levels of outpatient treatment, depending on your level of need. In most cases, authorization isn’t required for outpatient treatment, but you may need a referral before you get started. 

  • Standard outpatient treatment is often suitable for people with less severe addiction, and typically involves one visit to a treatment provider per week. 
  • Intensive outpatient (IOP) typically involves about six hours of treatment per week, which may be during the day, or evenings, nights, or weekends. 
  • Partial hospitalization (PHP), also known as day treatment, is the most intensive outpatient treatment. It involves attendance five to seven days per week, up to eight hours per day, but you’ll go home every night. Partial hospitalization works well for people who need a higher level of care (but not full-time), or have completed inpatient treatment.

Can I Use My VA Health Care Benefits With TRICARE?  

Yes, you can use VA health care benefits along with your TRICARE plan; your TRICARE coverage doesn’t affect your VA healthcare benefits. The VA has behavioral healthcare programs in VA facilities across the United States, and most are TRICARE network providers. 

However, veterans are the primary beneficiaries of VHA, and care at VA facilities is available to TRICARE enrollees on a space-available basis. Check with your regional contractor or the representative at your local VA healthcare facility for specifics on how VA benefits and TRICARE coverage work together. Also, note that requirements for pre-authorizations and referrals aren’t necessarily the same. 

Don’t Wait to Get Started

We are proud to accept TRICARE at 1st Step Behavioral Health. Our treatment professionals will discuss your options and work with you to ensure you receive the best treatment for your particular needs. We can verify your benefits package immediately, and we’ll let you know if any prior authorizations are needed. Please pick up the phone and give 1st Step a call at 855-425-4846 or contact us online

TRICARE Mental Health Coverage for You & Your Dependents

TRICARE covers mental health care for active-duty military service members, retirees, and their families. Although coverage is wide-ranging and comprehensive, specifics vary depending on your TRICARE plan and your location. Some services may require a referral or preauthorization.

Does TRICARE Cover Mental Health Treatment?

Yes! TRICARE covers treatment for mental health issues in a wide range of settings. However, the level and type of care depend on the severity of the problem and other factors. 

Inpatient treatment: TRICARE covers inpatient treatment only when provided by a TRICARE-authorized hospital or substance use rehab facility. If you believe you or a family member need inpatient treatment, make an appointment with your primary care provider, and request an assessment. You’ll need a referral and preauthorization for all non-emergency mental health treatments. 

Emergency treatment: Call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room if your or a family member is at risk of harming himself or others or needs skilled, around-the-clock care. You don’t need preauthorization for emergency mental health treatment, but if you are admitted for further care, you must report the admission to your regional contractor within 72 hours.

Acute inpatient care: If mental health disorder creates a risk to self or others, and around-the-clock care is needed, a medical provider may refer the person to acute inpatient treatment. 

Residential treatment: A medical provider may recommend this form of inpatient treatment for children and adolescents with a diagnosed mental health disorder. The facility must be authorized by TRICARE, and you’ll need a referral and preauthorization. Residential treatment is useful for youth who need structured care until they are stable and can continue with regular outpatient treatment. A youth in crisis may need emergency treatment or acute inpatient care.

Partial hospitalization (PHP): People who are partially stabilized and don’t need full-time, inpatient treatment often benefit from partial hospitalization. PHP generally involves attending a mental health or substance use treatment facility five to seven days per week, up to eight hours per day. This treatment may not be available in areas outside the U.S. and its territories. 

Outpatient treatment: In most cases, you don’t need prior authorization for outpatient treatment from a TRICARE-authorized provider. If you want to work with a pastoral counselor, you must get a referral first, and a medical provider must supervise treatment, even if the counselor is in the TRICARE network. 

Psychotherapy: TRICARE covers inpatient and outpatient counseling or psychotherapy for individuals, families, and groups when treatment is psychologically or medically necessary. Treatment must be provided by a TRICARE-approved provider, limited to no more than two sessions per week, and only one session of the same type in a single day. 

  • Individual therapy: TRICARE covers psychotherapy sessions lasting up to 60 minutes, and up to 120 minutes for crises.
  • Family therapy: TRICARE covers sessions lasting up to 90 minutes, and 180 minutes for crises.
  • Group therapy: TRICARE covers sessions lasting up to 90 minutes.

Psychoanalysis: This type of specialized, long-term therapy aims to explore repressed emotions to gain a deeper understanding of troublesome thoughts and behaviors. Therapists must be approved by TRICARE and must have special training in psychoanalysis. Preauthorization is always required. 

Medication: TRICARE may cover medications as part of a treatment plan when prescribed by an authorized medical or mental health provider.

Psychological testing and assessment: TRICARE may cover psychological testing and assessment in some situations when deemed psychologically or medically necessary. However, TRICARE doesn’t cover:

  • Job or academic placement
  • General screening
  • Child custody disputes
  • Referrals by teachers or parents
  • Testing for learning disabilities or learning disorders

Does TRICARE Cover Online Therapy?

Yes, TRICARE covers many telehealth services, but some are available only during the Covid-19 pandemic. Check with your mental health provider to see if they have telehealth capability and what services are available. Also, contact your regional contractor for specifics; you may need a referral or authorization.   

What Will TRICARE Mental Health Treatment Cost?

You may be responsible for a copayment or cost-share percentage, but the cost varies substantially, depending on the type of treatment, your location, and your TRICARE plan. You can minimize expenses with treatment provided by a military clinic or hospital or a TRICARE network provider. 

Active duty service members pay nothing for mental health treatment provided or authorized by military clinics or hospitals. If you receive care from a civilian mental health provider, you must first get a referral and prior authorization. Keep in mind that treatment will almost certainly be more expensive. 

Reach Out for Help Today

At 1st Step, we are proud to partner with TRICARE, and we are here for you. Let us lend a helping hand as you explore the issues affecting your life. For a confidential consultation or verification of your TRICARE plan, give us a call at 855-425-4846 or contact us online.

Does TRICARE Cover Suboxone Treatment?

If you, or a dependent, is struggling with an opioid addiction and have TRICARE health insurance, Suboxone treatment is covered.

TRICARE Suboxone Treatment Coverage Details

TRICARE buckets Suboxone treatment coverage under Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) — which includes the coverage of services that combine drug and mental health therapies to treat substance abuse. However, not all physicians that prescribe buprenorphine (the generic name for Suboxone) are covered by TRICARE; they must be authorized. Prescribers have to have completed training and certification set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and state and local government. TRICARE MAT coverage includes two types of opioid substance abuse programs that typically include the use of Suboxone; opioid treatment programs and office-based substance use disorder treatments.

Opioid Treatment Programs

Opioid treatment programs (OTP) are covered by TRICARE when an authorized provider deems it necessary for a patient to be enrolled in a comprehensive detox program that is supported by medication therapy and mental health services. Covered OTP treatment can include both opioid detoxification and medically managed withdrawal from maintenance medications. OTP care is generally only covered and available for TRICARE members based in the U.S. and U.S. territories.

Office-Based Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Office-based Suboxone treatment programs are covered by TRICARE when the providers have been authorized according to TRICARE requirements. These are generally covered for members based in the U.S. and overseas — pending compliance with the host country’s specific licensure or certification requirements for providers. 

Talk to a TRICARE representative to determine referral and prior authorization requirements, which may vary depending on your specific plan, location, and other factors.

How Do I Start Taking Suboxone?

TRICARE requires that Suboxone treatment is accompanied by mental health therapy. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reports that the combination of medication and therapy has proven to be effective for people suffering from opioid use disorders. 

Generally, a physician will evaluate your situation and will determine the best course of action. He may recommend that you enter medically managed detox to ensure you are as safe as possible while the drug leaves your body. The doctor will also work with you as you transition from your current opioid drug to Suboxone and manage your continued use of Suboxone. 

You’ll take the first dose of Suboxone between 12 and 48 hours after your last dose of an opioid drug, or when you begin to experience mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. Starting Suboxone too early can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Withdrawing from Suboxone

With the use of Suboxone as an effective opioid addiction treatment, there’s always the concern of what to do when withdrawing from the drug. Ideally, you don’t want to be on Suboxone forever, and when the time comes to remove Suboxone from your addiction treatment plan, there’s typically two ways to withdrawl; through a taper or through a direct detox.

Through a taper, most people begin with a daily dose of Suboxone, gradually decreasing to a dose every other day. Depending on your needs, you may stay on this dosage or gradually move to a monthly maintenance dose. Suboxone isn’t intended for “as needed” or occasional use.

If you come to First Step for Suboxone, we will discuss all options as we curate your specific addiction treatment program plan. 

1st Step Accepts TRICARE Coverage, but We Don’t Offer Medication-Assisted Treatment

At First Step Behavioral Health, we accept TRICARE health insurance but we do not offer Suboxone treatment programs.

We do take a holistic approach to care, and screen all our clients for dual diagnosis to make sure we’re treating any mental or behavioral health issues along with drug addiction. We offer a variety of different types of substance abuse programs including drug detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, and mental health services. 

For more information about 1st Step Behavioral Health treatment options or to make an appointment to talk to one of our compassionate, knowledgeable counselors, please call (855) 425-4846 or contact us online

Can You Leave Rehab Early | Open Door

Can You Voluntarily Leave Rehab Early, Or Can Rehab Make You Stay?

Can you voluntarily leave rehab? If you’re an adult, nobody can keep you in rehab against your will, even if treatment is court-mandated. You can leave anytime you want, but before you walk out that door, ask yourself why you want to stop treatment. Consider the potential consequences and how leaving early may impact your life. 

Reasons for Leaving Rehab Early: Problem-Solving

If you’re struggling in rehab, tell somebody how you’re feeling. Your counselors and therapists have heard this many times, and they will help you through the rough patches. Here are a few typical reasons for leaving rehab early.

I feel terrible. Detox is tough, and it’s normal to experience a range of unpleasant symptoms, depending on your substance and the severity of your addiction. For instance, you may have nausea, muscle aches, chills, tremors, or headaches. Withdrawal isn’t limited to physical symptoms, and it’s normal to feel depressed, anxious, angry, or irritable. Cravings may be intense, and you may feel empty, like you’ve lost your best friend. 

The good news is that most of the symptoms will ease in a few days, and you’ll begin to feel better. Don’t hesitate to let someone know how you’re feeling; you may receive medications that can make withdrawal more manageable. 

I hate this place. Maybe things just aren’t going well, and you feel like you chose the wrong rehab. Your bed is uncomfortable, the food is terrible, or you just don’t fit in. Maybe you’re bored or frustrated, or you miss your family. It’s normal to feel like a fish out of water at first. Try to be patient; the first couple of weeks are nearly always the hardest. 

I don’t need rehab: Maybe you think you can stop using without help, but be honest with yourself — if you could stop on your own, you would have done so by now. If you’ve made it through withdrawal, or you’ve been in treatment for a while, you may feel like you’ve got the problem licked, and further treatment isn’t necessary. 

Your chance of a positive outcome is substantially improved if you stay in treatment longer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research indicates most people need at least three months and sometimes much longer. Think about the progress you’ve made so far; don’t throw it all away. 

What is Court-Ordered Rehab?

If you’re convicted of a crime such as drunk driving, theft, fraud, or selling or manufacture of a controlled substance, the court may offer you a choice to enter rehab instead of spending time in prison or jail. 

After considering your case, the court may believe the crime is connected to your use of drugs or alcohol, and that it might not have occurred if you hadn’t been under the influence. If a court offered you this option, it’s because a  judge thinks you’re not a threat to society and that you have a good chance of making positive life changes. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that for many people, legal pressure is motivation to enter treatment and remain there longer. NIDA also notes that people who complete treatment are less likely to commit drug-related criminal behavior in the future.  

It’s a win-win solution for everybody. Rehab is less expensive than prison, and treatment eases society’s burden of tremendous public health costs associated with substance abuse and addiction. 

The Possible Consequences of Leaving Court-Ordered Rehab Early

Nobody can force you to remain in treatment. The ehab center won’t lock you in a closet or chain you to your bed, and they won’t send the dogs out to track you down. However, the bottom line is that you’re violating a legal agreement, and that’s a serious crime that can land you in a whole lot of trouble. In some states, leaving court-mandated treatment is a felony. 

If you leave court-ordered rehab early, the drug treatment center is legally required to notify local authorities. Then what? It depends on your history and why you landed in the court system in the first place. The court will consider your progress, behavior, and attitude while you were in rehab. They will want to know if you played an active role in your treatment and why you walked out. 

The court might decide to go easy on you, or they can prosecute you to the full extent of the law. The judge can send you to jail immediately or require you to pay a large fine. If this shows up on your record, you may have a hard time renting a house or landing a good job. If you’re guilty of a felony, you may not be able to receive college scholarships or live in public housing.

On the flip side, the court may dismiss your charges when you complete treatment, although you may still need to pay restitution or perform community service. The court may also stipulate that you continue with a 12-Step group or some form of ongoing treatment. It’s a small price to pay when you consider the alternatives.

What Happens if You Leave Rehab Early?

Whether you’re in court-ordered treatment or you entered rehab voluntarily, there are many good reasons to see it through. Rehab is a supportive place to address your substance abuse or addiction and can help if you’re facing challenges such as medical issues, employment problems, or lack of secure housing.

In treatment, you’ll learn how to manage stress and problems such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and you may receive meds that will help. Most importantly, you’ll learn strategies to help you avoid relapse in the future.

Don’t Wait to Seek Help

Substance use is considered a chronic disease that should be taken seriously. If your use of drugs or alcohol has landed you in legal trouble, or if you’re finding it difficult to stay in treatment, we are here to help and support you. Feel free to contact 1st Step Behavioral Healthcare here, or give us a call at 855-425-4846.

NAD IV Drug Detox

Everything You Need to Know About NAD IV Drug Detox

IV drug detox, also known as NAD IV therapy, is touted as an answer for people struggling with addiction and difficult withdrawal symptoms whenever they try to stop. Detoxing from drugs or alcohol is never easy, and fear of painful withdrawal is enough to deter some people from entering much-needed treatment. 

It’s tempting to bypass challenging withdrawal symptoms, but is IV drug detox all it’s cracked up to be?  A quick online search produces countless examples of businesses eager to take your money, but their lofty promises may be too good to be true. 

What is NAD IV Therapy?  

NAD is the acronym for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, a naturally occurring compound that helps the cells produce energy from food.  Drugs and alcohol can deplete the amount of  NAD in the body, thus limiting the body’s ability to convert food into energy. There’s also a possibility that some people don’t produce enough NAD naturally, making them more susceptible to substance abuse and addiction. 

Proponents claim that NAD IV therapy is beneficial because it allows NAD to bypass the stomach and go directly to the bloodstream and the brain. 

IV Drug Detox: How Does it Work?

If you decide to give NAD IV therapy a try, a physician will assess the severity of your addiction and your overall health. Once the doctor has determined the best course of treatment, you’ll receive IV therapy for 10 to 14 consecutive days. In addition to NAD, the IV may also contain other substances to help prevent infection and regulate nerve function, such as vitamins C and B12, magnesium, and zinc.

You’ll be seated in a comfortable chair while NAD IV drip is administered slowly through a vein. You can watch TV, nap, work on your laptop, read, or eat during the treatment. The first couple of sessions are lengthy, generally lasting between two and 10 hours.  After that, treatments are shorter in duration, typically between 45 minutes and six hours. The doctor will probably ask you to return for a follow-up in a month or two.

Side effects, including mild nausea or chest pressure, appear to be mild. A slower NAD drip usually prevents symptoms, and discomfort usually goes away when the session is completed. Also, there is always a slight risk of infection when needles are inserted into the body.

NAD Drip: Lofty Promises

According to NAD IV therapy providers, treatments flush drugs out of the system and allow the body to produce energy naturally while minimizing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 

Additionally, some clinics claim that IV NAD therapy will:

  • Enhance mood and energy,
  • Promote weight loss
  • Boost metabolism
  • Slow or reverse the aging process
  • Reduce chronic pain and inflammation
  • Prevent or delay certain diseases, including diabetes and heart disease
  • Lessen symptoms of fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Improve mental clarity and concentration
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Restore energy levels and endurance
  • Improve appearance
  • Provide an overall sense of wellbeing
  • Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Repair damaged DNA
  • Promote restful sleep and ease insomnia
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Relieve symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Treat symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Help with autism

NAD IV Therapy: Good Medicine or Expensive Snake Oil?

In 2019, National Public Radio (NPR) reported that such claims aren’t supported by scientific research or evidence. Not only that, but unsubstantiated claims may indicate false or misleading marketing of medical treatments. 

Addiction treatment professionals express concern that quitting alcohol and benzodiazepines suddenly is dangerous and may result in psychosis, hallucinations, tremors, or grand mal seizures, which can be fatal. Tapering the drugs slowly, with a physician or treatment center’s support, is safer and more likely to result in long-term recovery. 

Medical experts have called NAD IV therapy “bogus” or “quackery,” which takes advantage of vulnerable, desperate people struggling with substance abuse or addiction. NAD IV therapy is expensive, ranging from a few hundred dollars per session to $1,000 or more. Don’t expect your insurance to pay for unproven treatment. 

The Bottom Line: If It’s Too Good to Be True…

The bottom line is that NAD IV therapy shows promise, but more research is needed before we know if treatments are safe, effective, and dependable. If you think the treatments may help, talk to your doctor or a treatment professional first. Ensure IV therapy is administered by registered, trained nurses who will monitor your vital signs throughout the IV drip treatment.

Avoid popular IV bars and clinics that make unrealistic claims or promise miracle cures. NAD IV therapy is likely to be more successful along when combined with regular treatment or support groups.

Remember that you can boost your body’s level of NAD by exercising more and by eating more raw, nutritious, protein-rich food. You can also buy over-the-counter NAD supplements, but so far, there is no evidence they help with substance abuse and addiction.

Traditional Therapy May Be Your Best Hope of Recovery

Many experts think that NAD IV therapy prevents people from engaging in regular treatment using counseling, education, support, group therapy, and relapse prevention. Also, NAD IV therapy generally doesn’t address depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional issues. 

Reputable treatment centers and rehabs make sure you are safely detoxed before treatment begins. You will receive medications to prevent seizures and ease nausea, pain, headaches, and other difficult withdrawal symptoms. 

Many treatment centers and rehabs also offer medicine-assisted treatment (MAT), which is highly effective when used in conjunction with traditional therapy. Medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are proven to be effective and FDA-approved.  The meds work by minimizing withdrawal, curbing cravings, or blocking the pleasurable effects of drugs and alcohol.

Reach Out for Help Today

Quality treatment for substance abuse relies on a range of tools and methods that can help you say goodbye to addiction for good. There are no miracle cures for addiction, but at 1st Step Behavioral Healthcare, our compassionate professionals are ready to answer your questions and discuss your treatment options. Give us a call today at 855-425-4846, or contact us here.


What Are Adventure Therapy Programs and Can They Aid in Recovery?

Adventure therapy programs are for at-risk youths or young adults that are frequently in alternative to youth detention or probation, or are a last-ditch attempt to reach a troubled child when nothing else has worked. 

Often known as wilderness therapy, adventure therapy activities allow participants to step outside their comfort zones and focus on their problems in an unfamiliar outdoor environment, free of the noise and temptations of everyday life.  

What is Adventure Therapy?

There are various types of adventure therapy programs, and so far, there is no standard definition. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) defines them as “residential placements that provide participants with a series of physically challenging outdoor activities designed to prevent or reduce delinquent behavior and recidivism.”  

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says adventure therapy programs provide an alternative to hospitalization or incarceration for youth with behavioral or emotional challenges, such as substance abuse or addiction, self-destructive behavior, family conflict, grief, trauma, or psychological disorders.  

Programs vary significantly in length and intensity. Some may consist of relatively easy day trips, while others focus on challenging activities like wilderness expeditions, challenge courses, or rock climbing. Adventure therapy activities may include camping, canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, sailing,  or horseback riding. 

Duration ranges from a few days to several months. 

Adventure Therapy Benefits

Adventure therapy programs are staffed by licensed therapists and wilderness experts who have gone through specialized training and comprehensive background checks. 

The goals of adventure-based therapy activities are to help children develop self-reliance, responsibility, social skills, teamwork, emotional control, conflict resolution, and healthy coping strategies.  Participants are typically expected to join with other children to accomplish daily chores and tasks and complete various service projects. 

Often, adventure therapy is more effective than weekly visits with a therapist or a stint in detention. Many children can open up and share their feelings with others who have similar issues. 

Although adventure-based therapy activities require children to work hard,  activities are designed to be fun.  Often, troubled youth can break through barriers that prevent them from enjoying life to the fullest.  Rebellious children, or those who have been bullied, regain trust in others while building emotional strength.   

Many children go home with a more positive attitude,  greater self-understanding, improved impulse control, and renewed hope for the future.

Adventure Therapy or Boot Camp? What’s the Difference?

If you’re considering an adventure therapy program for your troubled teen, beware of military-style boot camps that advertise their programs as adventure therapy. 

Discipline-based boot camps for adolescents and young adults have received a lot of bad press in recent years. Such camps, intended to teach self-control and respect for authority, are typically overseen by a drill sergeant who metes out harsh punishment if children don’t adhere to a strict routine. 

Teen boot camps are often staffed by inexperienced, unqualified, or unlicensed individuals that rely on fear and physical or mental aggression, with little time set aside for counseling or therapy. Although some youth initially do well in such a rigid environment, changes are often temporary. Soon, children become angry and resentful, and problems are intensified. 

Legitimate adventure therapy programs aren’t based on fear or harsh punishment, and tough love rarely works. Adventure therapy should promote life skills, responsibility, and self-discipline while exploring problems, empowering personal development, and nurturing body, mind, and spirit.  

Choosing an Adventure Therapy Program

Sending a troubled teen to an adventure therapy program is a huge decision that shouldn’t be made on the spur of the moment. Take time to research the matter carefully. If necessary, speak to a counselor, medical provider, or addiction expert.  

Licensing and Accreditation 

Many states don’t license or regulate adventure therapy, and programs can open and close at will with little oversight. On the other hand, some states have general guidelines, while others have clear, specific rules, regulations, and procedures. Requirements generally govern administration, staff training, staff-to-participant ratios, location, health, nutrition, treatment goals, safety plans, infectious disease control, and transportation. 

Adventure therapy programs may also be accredited by national organizations such as the Joint Commission, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities  (CARF),  or the Council on Accreditation (COA). Programs may also be members of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBH), the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), or the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), or the Therapeutic Adventure Professional Group (TAPG). 

Making  a Decision: Ask Questions First

  • How long has the adventure therapy program been in operation? Be careful of new programs with no proven track record.
  • Has the program had any license suspensions or reports of problems? Any serious injuries or deaths in the last five years?
  • Will you be allowed to call or visit your child? How are families involved in the program?
  • Are staff members credentialed? Do they have training and experience working with youth? What is the staff to child ratio?
  • Will you have an opportunity to meet the program administrator and staff?
  • Is the staff trained in first aid and CPR? Is a doctor or nurse on staff? What happens if your child is ill or injured?
  • Is there a safety plan in place? What happens in the event of extreme heat or cold, or a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or fire?
  • Does the program carry liability insurance? 
  • Are the sleeping areas and shower facilities clean and safe? Will special diets be accommodated?
  • What types of counseling are offered. Is therapy based on sound research and evidence? 
  • How will the staff deal with an angry, combative, or struggling kid, or one who wants to leave? Is it ever necessary to restrain a youth? If so, how, and under what circumstances.

Looking for a Healthier Perspective? 

If your teen or young adult faces difficult challenges, the compassionate team at 1st Step Behavioral Healthcare can help. We offer effective rehab programs for youth, including inpatient and outpatient treatment, psychotherapy, intervention, and family therapy. Give us a call at 855-425-4846 or contact us here for more information. We’ll work with you to investigate treatment options. 

What Is Nar-Anon & How Can It Help Families of Recovering Addicts?

If you’ve been reading about substance abuse and how it affects families, you’ve likely run across information about various support groups and organizations, including many 12-Step groups. You may be wondering, exactly what is Nar-Anon? How can it help?  

What is Nar-Anon?

Nar-Anon is a 12-Step fellowship established to provide support for people with an addicted family member or friend.  Nar-Anon is separate from Narcotics Anonymous, which offers support for people who are battling a drug addiction.   

It can be confusing, but it may help to look at it this way: Alcoholics Anonymous, which was created to help alcoholics get clean and sober, is the original 12-Step group. Al-Anon is a program for friends and family members of alcoholics. Narcotics Anonymous and Nar-Anon are built on the same principles and operate much the same way; however, the focus of Nar-Anon isn’t alcohol, but drugs.

Nar-Anon Family Support Groups

Addiction is a chronic disorder that changes the chemical and physical makeup of the brain. It isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw, and it can happen to anybody without regard for wealth, education, upbringing, or social standing. Addiction is a family problem. Although the struggle is devastating for the addict, it can be just as difficult for the people who care about that person, including parents, children, spouses, partners, and close friends. 

Nar-Anon is an international fellowship created to support people with an addicted loved one and to help them understand the disease of addiction. Twelve-Step groups have a strong spiritual component, and members recite the Serenity Prayer at all meetings. However, beliefs are personal and are never discussed. Although you may hear members talking about a “higher power,” or “God as we understand him,” you will never be asked about your faith. 

Nar-Anon meetings are safe and welcoming, and anonymity is an essential component. Chairs are generally arranged in a circle to encourage open communication, and you will be encouraged to share your story with other members when you feel comfortable. Membership is free and open to everyone, and donations fund expenses such as supplies, refreshments, or rent for the meeting space. Meetings are usually weekly, although individual groups may have different schedules. 

The Nar-Anon fellowship also includes Narateen groups for young people whose lives have been affected by a friend or relative’s drug addiction. Narateen meetings are facilitated by two Nar-Anon members — one male and one female.  There’s no doubt that all family members play an essential role in recovery

What Are the 12 Steps of Nar-Anon?

The 12 Steps of Nar-Anon, based on the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, are devised to help people who are coping with the addiction of a loved one. Members focus on tenets such as looking inward, willingness to change, surrender, self-disclosure, humility, hope, acceptance, making amends, continued spiritual growth, and service to others.

1. We admitted we were powerless over the addict — that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 

5. Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.  

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.  

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

How to Start a Nar-Anon Group

If you don’t have Nar-Anon family support groups in your area, it isn’t difficult to form a new group with at least three members. Begin by finding a meeting place, which may be a room in a church, community center, hospital, office building, or meeting hall. 

Once you’ve established a core group and a meeting place, you’re ready to register the new group on the Nar Anon website or by snail mail. You can also purchase a new group packet that includes sample meeting guidelines and formats, information for families and newcomers, and other literature to get you started. Outreach packets and posters can help you spread the word about the new family support group. 

Nar-Anon Online Meetings

Many Nar-Anon groups offer virtual meetings as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some have returned to in-person meetings, while others continue to meet online. Contact individual groups in your area for specific information. 

Nar-Anon in South Florida

If you’re looking for a Nar-Anon meeting in Florida, there’s a good chance you can find one in your area. At least 70 fellowships, including in-person and virtual groups, are listed on the Florida Region Nar-Anon Family Groups website.  You can also call the Florida Region Helpline at 1-888-947-8885.

Take the First Step: Find Support Today

If somebody you love is battling drug addiction, you may be overwhelmed with feelings of anger, frustration, confusion, anxiety, guilt, or shame. You may feel afraid, isolated, and alone. Relationships may be hanging on the precipice or damaged almost beyond repair.

If your life has been affected by the addiction of a loved one, the team at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help with resources and information on available programs, including Nar-Anon and other 12-Step support groups. If you think your loved one may benefit from professional treatment, we can discuss that, too. Contact us online or give us a call at 855-425-4846. 

Why Some Doctors Recommend Gabapentin for Withdrawal Symptom Relief

Why Some Doctors Recommend Gabapentin for Withdrawal Symptom Relief

Studies suggest that gabapentin, an anticonvulsant medication that reduces the intensity of withdrawal, may be a valuable tool in the ongoing battle against opioid addiction. 

Withdrawal from opioid drugs is so difficult that addicted people may relapse into substance abuse to relieve the painful symptoms. Others are hesitant to enter treatment at all for fear that detox from opioid drugs will be overwhelming. As a result, too many people remain trapped in potentially deadly addictions.

Opioid addiction is a massive problem across the United States, with no sign of going away anytime soon. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that overdoses have claimed more than 770,000 Americans since 1999. Nearly three-quarters of those deaths were due to opioid drugs, including heroin, fentanyl, or prescription painkillers.

More research is needed before understanding exactly how gabapentin works and whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

Taking Gabapentin for Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Gabapentin, marketed as Neurontin, Horizant, and Gralise, is a relatively new drug first approved for use in the early 1990s. Doctors prescribe gabapentin for certain types of seizures, diabetic neuropathy, restless leg syndrome, and nerve pain that often accompanies shingles. Doctors also prescribe the medication off-label to relieve anxiety, migraine headaches, insomnia, and to ease withdrawal from addiction to alcohol and benzodiazepines.

For opioid addicts, gabapentin reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms, including muscle cramps, anxiety, depression, restlessness, tremors, agitation, irritability, and insomnia. Medical experts aren’t sure exactly how it helps, but basically, gabapentin alters and calms the way the brain responds to pain.

Although it isn’t a magic bullet, gabapentin for recovering addicts may help some people stay in treatment longer and remain abstinent when used in conjunction with standard addiction treatment and other medications. However, taking gabapentin for opiate withdrawal isn’t entirely risk-free.

Gabapentin for Opioid Withdrawal: Possible Side Effects

Gabapentin is well tolerated by most people when taken as prescribed, and most side effects tend to be relatively minor, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hoarseness
  • Lethargy
  • Fluid retention in legs, arms, feet, or hands
  • Involuntary eye movements and problems with coordination are possible and may be more severe. 

The following side effects are less frequent and usually not severe:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Cough or congestion
  • Dry or irritated mouth and throat
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Backache
  • Weight gain
  • Hyperactivity

Depression, anxiety, irritability, mood changes, and respiratory difficulties are infrequent but may be more severe. Side effects such as confusion, hives, serious allergic reactions, increased thirst, gas, liver problems, insomnia, decreased sexual desire, and suicidal thoughts are possible but rare. 

Many side effects are mild and go away as your body gets used to the medication, but call your health care provider if the effects are uncomfortable, or if you have worries or concerns. Some side effects may need medical attention.

Gabapentin is Dangerous When Misused: Addictive Potential

Prescribing gabapentin for opioid withdrawal has helped many people kick the habit and is generally safe when used as directed. However, gabapentin itself can be addicting when misused. 

Gabapentin is a non-narcotic medication, initially thought to present a low potential for abuse. However, law enforcement officials and first responders report that illicit use of gabapentin has risen substantially in the last few years. Gabapentin purchased on the street is typically used to enhance the impact of heroin, methadone, prescription painkillers, and other opioid drugs. 

Opioid addicts may take gabapentin to hold off withdrawal symptoms when a drug of choice isn’t available, or to attempt at-home detox from opioid drugs. Oral use of the medication in pill form is most common, but the medications can also be crushed or snorted, chewed, or injected. 

Gabapentin alone doesn’t generally cause overdoses, even when used at high doses, but the risk is increased significantly when opioid drugs and gabapentin are used together. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that serious consequences include respiratory depression and a greater risk of fatal overdose.  

The combination of opioid drugs and gabapentin is hazardous for people with substance abuse disorders, the elderly, or those with COPD or other respiratory problems. Although gabapentin isn’t a federally controlled drug, spikes in illicit use and a high potential for abuse have prompted several states to move the drug to their controlled substances lists. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that prescriptions dispensed for gabapentin have increased substantially since 2011.

Gabapentin During Pregnancy: Infants May Experience Withdrawal at Birth

It’s common knowledge that unborn infants exposed to opioids can have severe withdrawal symptoms after birth. More recently, the CDC reported that unborn babies exposed to both opioids and gabapentin could have severe and unusual withdrawal symptoms, including involuntary muscle twitching, tongue thrusting, restlessness of the arms and legs, back arching, and rapid eye movement. 

There are legitimate reasons for women to use medications during pregnancy. Still, physicians should ensure that women who use opioids and/or gabapentin are monitored, and infants should be closely watched for several days after birth. The FDA advises that the drugs be prescribed for pregnant women only when a physician determines that the potential benefit justifies the risk.

Learn More About Gabapentin for Opiate Addiction 

Kicking the opioid drug habit is tough, but 1st Step Behavioral Health and a local research-based drug detox facility will work with you to ensure your withdrawal from opiates is as safe and comfortable as possible. Together, we will devise a personalized treatment plan and determine if gabapentin is the right choice for you. 

If you’re concerned about a dependence on gabapentin, we can help with that, too. Don’t wait to get started. Give 1st Step a call today at 855-425-4846 or contact us here for more information