Hurricane Katrina was no Mardi Gras for the city of New Orleans. For many residents who endured the storm and were left stunned in its aftermath, Katrina not only left them homeless and without shelter or food, but it caused many to develop PTSD. Not surprisingly, substance abuse escalated in the city. At that time, the Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit, a division of Ochsner Medical Health Systems, rose to the occasion and helped the city by providing necessary substance abuse and mental health services.
Accommodations and Food
The Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) are located on the fourth floor of the Brent House Hotel on the campus of Ochsner Medical Health Systems. The hotel offers lodging to the general public, but emphasizes the needs of the hospital.
For most tourists who just want to see the city of New Orleans, the experience of sharing a hotel with rehab clients may be uncomfortable. But for clients, the hotel provides a relaxed setting. They meet for group therapy in the fourth-floor conference room while hotel rooms are used for one-on-one counseling and group sessions. During lunch break, a client can stroll the hotel grounds, which are landscaped with water fountains, gazebos, and tropical foliage.
Although clients are allowed to go home at the end of the day, the hotel provides accommodations at a reasonable cost for them and their families. There is also a 24-hour fitness center, heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, as well as in-room refrigerators, microwaves and complimentary Wifi.
Treatment and Staff
Clients receive a systematic assessment upon entering the program. For those who require detox, ambulatory services are available. If a client has extreme withdrawal symptoms, he or she is referred to the hospital’s emergency room.
Both PHP and IOP typically last between 20 to 30 days, with PHP running Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4 pm and IOP running Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 3 pm. The rehab treats up to 14 clients at a time, combining CBT and the 12 steps to aid recovery. There is also dual diagnosis support. If deemed necessary, recovery is assisted with drugs including Suboxone, Naltrexone and Antabuse. Clients who receive medication meet with a psychiatrist once a week.
On arriving at 8:30 am, a client undergo breathalyzer testing, and a urine “tox screen.” Group therapy starts at 9 am. The schedule consists of six hours of daily group therapy, as well as individual therapy for an hour once a week.
Lunch lasts one hour. When clients return from lunch, they head back to group therapy, and depending on which program they are in, they will leave at 3 or 4 pm. Group therapy includes relapse prevention and stress management. In addition, clients must attend seven 12-step meetings per week. On Thursdays, the Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit provides a meeting from 3 to 4 pm inside the conference room.
Clients also attend 12-step based lectures that discuss alcoholism and/or drug abuse, as well as surrendering to a Higher Power. Before a client leaves the program, he or she must find a sponsor as well as embark on 12-step work.
Cell phones are taken away at the beginning of the day, and given back to clients when it’s time to go home. This rule is strictly enforced.
There are two MSWs, a psychiatrist, an addictionologist, two clinical psychologists and a registered nurse. And because the unit is part of the Ochsner Medical Center, help is a stone’s throw away if client requires a consultation with a medical specialist. The usual ratio of clients to staff is two-to-one.
Aftercare is provided for a year during which the client attends group therapy at least once a week, and see a psychologist and/or psychiatrist as needed. Aftercare includes attendance at local 12-step meetings, as well as random “tox screens.”
As far as family members, they are encouraged to attend weekly lectures that discuss the disease of addiction. Groups are offered for families and clients where they can learn how to support each other during a client’s recovery. Family members are encouraged to create their own recovery protocol, and perhaps consider going to Alanon meetings.
The Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit also offers individual therapy for family members who wish to discuss co-dependency issues.
Besides substance abuse, the Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit treats pathological gambling.
According to a staff member, most Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit clients are highly motivated to maintain their sobriety. The rehab conducts quarterly surveys to see how discharged clients are doing, and a majority are still attending aftercare and going to 12-step meetings. The Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit appears to be an intense rehab, where the goal is to achieve total sobriety, be it through the 12 steps, CBT or a medication-assisted protocol.
Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit
1514 Jefferson Hwy
New Orleans, LA 70121
Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit Cost: Call for cost. Reach Ochsner Addictive Behavior Unit by phone at (504) 842-3999 or (800) 231-1969.
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