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Posted: 01/29/14

NWMPC learns rehab
is only the beginning

Observer Staff Writer
      The Northwest Macomb Prevention Coalition (NWMPC) learned about the reality of rehabilitation, discovering it isn't the miracle cure of resorts as portrayed on TV.
       The NWMPC is a group of prevention specialists, law enforcement, parents and others that works to educate the communities of Armada, Romeo and Richmond about drug prevention, especially among youths.
       The coalition spoke with Nancy Joye, an outpatient therapist with Macomb Family Services and residential therapist at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center, about the typical addictions and recovery process in the local area. She said the top addictions she sees treated are heroin and alcohol, with most addicts starting on marijuana or prescription drugs before moving to harder drugs.
       "I get people with bachelor's or master's degrees, and I get people with a fifth-grade education," she said. " I get people that start using at 5 years old, some that don't start until they're 27."
       She said there are stigmas associated with rehabilitation, mainly that it is the end-all-be-all for addiction. Instead, she said it's just the beginning.
       "I actually don't like that word, rehab, because that gives you the false impression that you're going to be rehabilitated, go off into the world and life is great, but that is not what rehab is," she said.
       She said only 1 or 2 percent of cases are fine after one round of rehabilitation, and most need six attempts at residential treatment for it to stick. She said withdrawal can take up to two years to end.
       "Your brain has morphed into something that wants a drug," she said. "Abstinence is the ultimate goal."
       Sacred Heart has about 150 beds available, with at least half of them filled by people coming to the facility on their own as opposed to a court order. Joye said, however, that the success rate between the groups is the same.
       Joye said a typical stay in rehab is 21 days, though some can be seven days to 28 days. Clients start by going into detoxification, or detox, and aren't allowed any access to narcotics. She said the main drugs that require detox are alcohol and those found in pills like Xanax or Valium.
       She said rehab with Sacred Heart is a 12-step program that involves education as well as specialty groups, peer groups and group therapy. She said the idea is to give clients structure and education with the limited time.
       "The problem is the drug is not the problem, it's the solution," she said. "It's their solution to whatever problem they have, so our job is to come up with a different solution."
       Residents aren't allowed to fraternize, and are made to leave if they test positive for drugs or are found in possession of them during the treatment.
       She said a patient's recovery largely depends on attending after-care meetings and appointments. This can be a problem because they often don't attend and go back to old friends or family that might enable them.
       "We can't hand deliver them to their after-care," she said. "This is the only life they know and it's not just the drug they're addicted to, it's the lifestyle."
       This isn't to say there is no hope for addicts. In fact, Joye said many of the Sacred Heart employees are in recovery or completed a successful recovery themselves.
       Macomb Family Services provides resources for recovery and other services. Contact the Romeo offices at (586) 752-9696 for more information.
       To access Sacred Heart, residents can contact CARE of Southeastern Michigan at (586) 541-2273.

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