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New substance abuse program seeks better outcomes for ‘nation’s heroes’
FORT BELVOIR, Va. – Many members of the armed forces find themselves battling addiction. Events that take place during active duty or a difficulty adapting to life upon their release can cause some to become dependent on drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Fort Belvoir Community Hospital launched an intensive Substance Abuse Residential Treatment Program in May as part of a comprehensive model aimed at reducing relapse rates among active-duty service members. The 20-bed, inpatient section is one of nine departments in Behavioral Health at Belvoir Community Hospital and offers round-the-clock comprehensive care for those in need of the highest level of intervention. (Department of Defense photo illustration by Navy Seaman Tina Staffieri)
by Kristin Ellis, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital Public Affairs
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (August 2, 2012) --
Though an average civilian substance abuser requires six to seven admissions to a treatment facility before achieving sustained sobriety, a new military addictions program at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital aims to expedite that process and yield better, more long-lasting results.
“The military can’t wait that long,” said Fort Belvoir Community Hospital’s Chief of Addiction Medicine Dr. Anthony Dekker. “We need higher success rates, to be cost-efficient, and to serve the mission of the military to maintain the fighting force.”
In partnership with Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, Belvoir Community Hospital launched an intensive Substance Abuse Residential Treatment Program in May for active-duty service members with alcohol and substance dependent disorders and dual diagnosis disorders such as PTSD and TBI.
The residential program is the last piece to the comprehensive model aimed at reducing relapse rates, ensuring continuity of care and providing proper oversight to military members in the National Capital Region.
The 20-bed, inpatient section is one of nine departments in Behavioral Health at Belvoir Community Hospital and offers round-the-clock comprehensive care for those in need of the highest level of intervention. In a military population, there is a higher incidence of PTSD, combat trauma, and chronic pain than in the civilian world, and the hospital’s residential program specifically addresses those issues.
“We have thought of the adjacencies and integration of the different services from the beginning,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Yarvis, deputy commander for Behavioral Health. “We’re not looking at one piece of the puzzle, we are looking at the whole system so the warrior is not out there alone and isolated. Occupational therapy, physical therapy, TBI … we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder here.”
Prior to the start of this program, service members with substance abuse disorders would be sent out to civilian treatment centers around the country, making it difficult to monitor their recovery. Joint Task Force CapMed evaluated the current model, the challenges, and designed this program to ensure no warriors are lost in the system.
For many, the military is like a ‘second’ family, explained Maj. Joshua Morganstein, a psychiatrist and behavioral health officer for JTF CapMed. “We keep people inside the fold here. The civilian world is vastly different than the world of a service member’s in a military treatment facility.”
Consolidating the services in one place maintains that continuity of care for service members, Dekker said. In the military world, there is also a high level of monitoring and command-directed intervention, which greatly reduces the likelihood of relapse.
Although relapse is anticipated, 50 percent of civilians will again be using drugs or alcohol within the first year after completing treatment. That rate decreases in military treatment. The residential treatment facility at Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, Ga., has a relapse rate of 27 percent.
Family and environment also play a big role in relapse and recovery, and the Substance Abuse Residential Treatment Program is designed to engage the family in intervention strategies.
“There is a very subtle but powerful impact on the family structure,” Yarvis said. “Just like you transmit your healthy values, you transmit the toxic.”
With the “one team” approach, the command, patient, treatment team, and family all have one objective: successful treatment.
“Treatment is more than just four weeks in a hospital,” Dekker said. “It’s a commitment to a change in how someone lives. By helping this person become sober, we help them become human again; to live again.”
The residential treatment program provides service members with those tools through evidence-based addiction intervention for successful recovery.
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9300 DeWitt Loop
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060
Information: (571) 231-FBCH (3224)
TTY: (571) 231-1799
Appointments: (855) 227-6331