In this final conversation between MAP Clinical Directors Kerby Stewart, M.D., and Tom Kimball, Ph. D., LMFT they discuss how to save lives by extending the continuum of care.
Kerby: Extending the continuum of care is more than just a clever catch phrase, although it is that. I like the idea that care can be extending beyond treatment phase, for example. Addiction is a chronic disease, and it is associated with changes in the brain that take time to heal.
Kerby: The length of time in which we engage in recovery promotion efforts, the continuum of care, if you will, will be individualized according to the data we’ve gathered on that individual’s progress in recovery.
Tom: In general, the most vulnerable times in recovery support is 12 to 18 months. We know that more relapses occur during that time, but the vulnerability can extend to up to 5+ years -- and of course, individually people have to take a look at that. We do have some evidence that extending the continuum of care to 4 or 5 years can be very successful. Collegiate recovery programs that offer recovery support to college age students across the nation are very successful in helping people extend that recovery for long periods of time. Really recovery support is indefinite because addiction is a chronic illness, a chronic disease, and so some forms of recovery support may have to be in place for the rest of somebody’s life.
Kerby: Providers benefit from recovery support because recovery support enhances the effectiveness of treatment. So it allows them to extend their efforts to provide effective treatment over the continuum of care -- a longer period of time.
Tom: Payers benefit with those successfully navigating their recovery by allowing them to stay in recovery long term. Often times there’s a pattern where people get out of treatment and then they struggle in their recovery and then have to go back to treatment sometimes several times. So by providing recovery support and extending that period of time people are in recovery it saves tremendous amounts of resources and it also saves lives.