By Mr. Wesley P Elliott (Army Medicine)September 17, 2013
FORT GORDON, Ga. -- Substance abuse disorders can affect anyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity or gender and National Recovery Month is intended to inform people of the struggles and treatment available for substance abuse problems here at Fort Gordon, Ga.
September is National Recovery Month and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center is working to inform our Service Members, Families and retirees that treatment can help those with addiction problems to live healthy lives.
During Recovery Month, recovery and treatment centers across the nation celebrate the successes and lives they have helped to overcome addiction problems.
At DDEAMC the Residential Treatment Facility has had over 800 patients pass through the program since its creation four years ago according to Col. Phil Horton, Medical Director at the Residential Treatment Facility.
The program at DDEAMC currently has a 21 percent relapse rate compared to the national estimates of 40 to 60 percent according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The patients are also tracked by the program at post-treatment intervals of 30, 90, 180 and 360 days to check on progress and monitor relapses to intervene before issues arise.
According to Horton, what sets DDEAMC's program apart is the peer motivation and support coupled with the desire that most of the Service Members have to heal and stay in the military. There is an intense bond when Service Members can relate to each other as warriors but also as people who are struggling with addiction and personal pain.
The program is based upon the 12 Step Program and all patients are required to be an active member of an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous program outside the military gates with a civilian sponsor to lean on for support.
During working hours at the RTF the patients are required to dress in military uniform and maintain a military environment to give them a familiar yet structured environment and to keep them focused on the goal of continuing their military career.
"Group Sessions are an important part of the process, the relief that our Service Members feel when they finally share a secret that they have been carrying and a fellow patient acknowledges that they have been through the same trauma is important to their progress, they find validation," said Horton.
In order to help more patients, the RTF is planning to increase the capacity to 30 beds next year and the Department of Defense is looking to create regional treatment centers across the United States to increase access to care.
On Fort Gordon a Service member can self refer themselves for drug and alcohol problems through the Army Substance Abuse Program and get the help they need with addiction problems.
"Don't hesitate to get help, this is not a sign of weakness," said Horton.