JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Jan. 5, 2016) -- Overcoming addictions is the mission of the new program on San Antonio Military Medical Center's 7W.

Called the Substance Use Disorder Residential Treatment Program, or RTP, the chief of the unit, Army Maj. Sandra Shelmerdine, explained that the RTP is a rigorous six-week program designed to help patients overcome their addictions to alcohol or illicit drug use.

The program will not only better serve our active-duty patients, but will bring patient care back into San Antonio Military Medical Center, which had often been referred out to local facilities.

The program is open to all active-duty service members and activated National Guard and reservists who are eligible to receive military medical services. Patients must have a primary diagnosis of a substance use disorder and be enrolled in the Army Substance Abuse Program or service branch equivalent.

Patients were going out to the network, Shelmerdine explained. "We felt, as a military program, we can better work with service members to reintegrate them back into their units."

"We have a program that utilizes evidenced-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancements," Shelmerdine said. "Occupational and recreational therapy add a unique aspect to the program."

Patients do make daily trips off the ward to perform PT, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and participate in other community reintegration outings such as golf, bowling, horseback riding and some chaplain-sponsored outdoor activities like a trip to Canyon Lake.

"We apply an integrated-treatment model consisting of social work, occupational therapy, nursing, recreational therapy and psychiatric services," said Patricia Shaw, clinical program manager. More than 30 medical professional staff make up the entire team including psychiatric/psychological technicians.

"While substance use disorders are the primary focus of treatment, patients can also receive treatment for other co-occurring psychiatric disorder[s]," Shaw said. "The treatment and skills provided along with the unique aspects of our program will enhance their recovery."

The vision of the RTP is to become military medicine's leader in supporting service members along their journey to recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction.