Not far from the Potomac River and Washington, D.C., Arlington County hosts numerous government agencies. One of them, Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare, offers a myriad of services to local residents who are often indigent or without means. These include detox, residential treatment and outpatient services for addiction and co-occurring disorders. While Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare was founded in the early 1960s, they didn’t launch their substance abuse department until 1995. Since then, their doors have been open to the recovery community, regardless of ability to pay.
Accommodations and Food
Unlike most county-funded programs operating out of sterile facilities, Arlington County’s medical complex is an office-building-town-house hybrid. This self-contained campus provides clients with centralized treatment and a less institutional domestic environment.
The detox unit consists of 10 to 12 twin-sized beds. During this phase, clients have their own quarters or share with one other person, depending on the census. The second-stage residential program has 10 beds, which are organized in a dorm-like setting, with two to a room. In each unit, one bathroom is shared between three or four clients.
Detox clients have their own TV lounge and residential clients have two group rooms—one for media and the other for treatment. TV watching is restricted to evening times. Both detox and residential clients have access to a patio for fresh air or smoking. All clients work with an on-site dietician who teaches them the basic food groups and how to prepare meals. Menu items follow basic dietary standards: meat, dairy, vegetables and grains. Caffeine is not allowed and while sugar is highly discouraged, it’s not absolutely restricted.
No outside electronics are allowed during either phase of early recovery. However, there is a phone available to clients. Personal calls are limited to one a day, but business-related calls are not as restricted.
Treatment and Staff
During Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare’s seven- to 14-day detox, clients are treated with the Social Model of recovery and participate in process groups, orientation, substance abuse education and 12-step meetings. After completing this phase of treatment, they often move into the residential program. Residential clients remain here for at least 90 days and are treated using CBT, Motivational Interviewing (MI), addiction education and process groups—dual diagnosis support is available as well. Clients participate in 12-step meetings, group therapy and one-on-one sessions. Individual therapy is available at least once a week, but often more frequently. While there are on-site meetings during detox, they are not available to residential clients. The rehab provides transportation to mandatory off-site recovery meetings where sponsorship is encouraged but not required.
During the residential phase, clients wake at 7 am for breakfast. Afterward, they are in groups until their noon lunch. The rest of the schedule varies from day to day. Twice a week, clients are taken to a local gym; they see their therapists at least once and they take part in different groups until dinner. Evenings are reserved for 12-step meetings and lights out is at 10:30 pm. Visitation is not allowed during detox, but in residential, an hour and a half is reserved on Sunday afternoons for clients to see their loved ones.
Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare employs a program director, four counselors, a lead counselor and overnight techs. At any given time, there are two people per shift. There is also an on-site nurse and a consulting physician who visits once a week. For detox, their staff-to-client ratio is one-to-five and it’s one-to-four in the residential phase. Staffers are highly credentialed, are certified and often have life experience in substance abuse. If there is some kind of medical emergency, clients go to the main facility’s emergency room.
The local gym is a county recreational facility, so it’s open to all Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare clients. Extra-curricular outings are planned by the clients and include parks, museums and free concerts. In addition to relaxation techniques like yoga, the rehab provides art therapy to residential clients and people in detox get acupuncture sessions. For vocational resources, later-stage clients have access to the county’s employment center, which includes a computer lab for job searching and resume building.
On the weekends, Arlington offers a family education meeting and, throughout the week, there’s also a multi-family process group available in the evenings. In the multi-family setting, there are 10 clients, maximum. When adding family members, this may seem rather large; however, most of these people don’t necessarily have a large support system—typically only one or two relatives per person. Please note that clients and their loved ones are in the room together, rather than separately.
Access to SMART Recovery is available sporadically to residential clients, but it is a regular option for people in the outpatient program. Once clients have completed residential treatment, they often move on to outpatient services. While EMDR is not offered in residential treatment, Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare does provide it in their outpatient program, along with dual diagnosis support. If clients need ongoing medication for their addiction issues, like methadone or Suboxone, Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare refers them to an outpatient program that specializes in detox services of that kind.
Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare is a good recovery option for local residents looking for help with their addiction issues. Clients needing detox and those who have suffered extreme psychiatric events can start treatment here and remain in residence for up to three months. On top of that, there is a comprehensive family program and the option of extending care even further through outpatient services. And all of it is free.
Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare Location
1725 N George Mason Dr
Arlington, VA 22205
Arlington County Behavioral Healthcare Cost
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