Dec 23

For those in recovery, especially new recovery, the holidays can bring increased risk of relapse.*  AA provides a wonderful extra resource at this time of year:  the “Alkathon,” a very long, ongoing meeting welcoming walk-ins at any time with a sober, encouraging embrace.  Click here for a link to the Boston-area list of alkathons for both Xmas and New Year’s. (Scroll down to Page 3.)

*Watch out, too, for the post-holiday relapse phenomenon, that goes something like this.  “I got through the holidays; the danger is past, and now I deserve…..”

Sep 27

 

LCL attends Harvard Wellness Fair

I was pleased during my recent visit to Harvard Law School Wellness Fair to be able to speak with so many students about how Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (“LCL”) exists to help lawyers, judges and law students.  Although many students were not aware of LCL and its mission, they were certainly attentive when I explained the services provided by LCL.  As can be found at the students’ tab, LCL is here to help students learn to cope with common issues like stress and procrastination, and successfully overcome more difficult issues such as mental health issues, substance abuse or alcoholism.  LCL’s clinicians are experienced and helpful, and our recovery meetings are welcoming to law students.  Moreover, Harvard Law students need not travel far for a recovery meeting, because there is a LCL recovery meeting at the law school.  In addition to LCL resources, Harvard Law School also provides helpful information at its HLS Wellness blog

I not only enjoyed meeting with the law students, but I also had the pleasure of meeting a fascinating individual traveling through life.  Samuel Jay Keyser, Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), took the time, as he strolled towards his office at MIT, took time to stop and chat.  He was also kind enough to introduce me to his blog, The Reluctant Traveler.  Included in his wide ranging discussions about travel, are two posts pertinent to Harvard Law School, justice and judgment, My Favorite Spot.  Thank you, John Safer and the related Releasing the Sword in the Stone, September 15, 2013 Not surprisingly, given Professor Keyser’s profession, the posts were educational and thoughtful in discussing issues of justice and judgment.  For me, however, the power of the posts was that his discussion would not have been possible but for the author’s willingness to slow down, to contemplate that which was about him, to allow curiosity room to explore, and to give himself time to understand.  As a result, blobs became objects from which lessons could be learned.  Go ahead, slow down and read Professor Keyser’s posts.     

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Mar 21

More than 20 years after Managed Care aggressively changed the world of health insurance, for better or worse, many people still believe that they are covered for “rehab” of the sort that they see Dr. Drew providing on cable TV.  I still have fond memories of the days when it was a fairly simple matter, when meeting with an alcoholic or addict whose personal and family life was in disarray, to get him or her a bed at places like Spofford Hall or Edgehill Newport – these were perhaps the premier rehab facilities in New England, and neither of them survived the advent of managed care.  I must admit a 28-day (inpatient) rehab was “overkill” for some of these cases, but at the time, that was the default clinical approach, and when an addiction counselor spoke of “treatment,” it usually referred to that type of program.

For years now, with the exception of a couple of nationwide insurance plans (which seem to cover facilities largely in Florida) as well as specially configured union plans for individuals such as pilots and pro athletes, health insurance covers very little in the way of inpatient treatment – generally limited to medically necessary detox (only when necessary to mitigate withdrawal symptoms).  Sometimes it is possible to get insurance to cover a subsequent couple of weeks in a “partial hospital” or “intensive outpatient” program (consisting typically of 3 to 5 clinic visits per week, each lasting from about 2 hours to about 6 hours), and in a few places one can also arrange to reside on site while attending a partial hospital program – these approaches are much less costly than rehabs, and provide a diluted version of some of the same benefits.

A more traditional rehab will cost over $30,000 for a month’s stay; do not expect your Blue Cross, Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim, etc. policy to cover it.  There are programs that cost somewhat less (e.g., with reduced lengths of stay or staffs consisting mainly of counselors with less in the way of medical care).  And if a person needs a sobriety-oriented residence as a next stage of recovery, there is also a 2-tiered world – very comfortable accommodations for those who can afford to spend well over $1000 a week, or relatively rough [but sometimes life-saving] halfway house environments (with long waiting lists) for those without wealth.  (More to come at a later date.)

Jeff Fortgang, PhD, LADC-I

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