Many individuals suffering from substance use disorders also have behavioral health issues. Behavioral health services can be tricky to find when we are trying to manage our health. When it comes to mental health, ultimately we want a trained specialist for our specific needs. Often times a primary care physician has a limited amount of education and experience with behavioral health, mental health and substance abuse issues. They will often simply give us a referral to a mental health specialist. Many of these will not take our insurance, have an extremely long waiting list or have stopped taking on any new clients.
What Are Behavioral Health Services?
Behavioral health services vary depending on an individual’s specific needs. Behavioral health, mental health, and drug addiction services are offered in several different ways. These include inpatient, residential and outpatient treatment settings. We must first understand that behavioral health is the scientific study of the emotions, behaviors, and biology relating to a person’s psychological well-being, their ability to function in every day life, and their concept of self. These three areas significantly affect our ability to function in everyday life, and problems in one or all of these areas can be devastating. Some of the issues people battle when they have behavioral health problems may include:
- PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Mood disorders
- Personal and marital relationship problems
- and many more
Counselors, therapists, life coaches, psychologists, nurse practitioners or physicians can help manage behavioral health concerns with treatments such as therapy, counseling, or medication.
The Difference Between Behavioral Health and Mental Health
Many individuals that suffer from mental health issues also have substance abuse issues. On the flip side, many individuals that have substance use disorders also have behavioral or mental health issues. This is known as co-occurring disorders. For these reasons, a qualified addiction treatment center that truly offers comprehensive behavioral health care is a solid choice to seek help. These qualified treatment centers have the credentialed professionals on staff to immediately get you an appointment, and many take insurances, unlike the mental health professionals described above. Some of these services are short-term and some may be long-term. Qualified mental health drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers provide both. Behavioral health services can generally be obtained at:
- hospital emergency rooms
- hospital inpatient, and drug rehab inpatient
- partial hospitalization and addiction treatment partial hospitalization
- addiction treatment centers
- outpatient mental health services and drug rehab intensive outpatient centers and drug rehab outpatient centers
Behavioral Health Services and Drug Rehabs Role
Behavioral health services are greatly needed within substance abuse and outside of substance abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) did a 2016 national survey on drug use and health. The results were eye-opening with 18.3% of US adults suffering from mental illness. That is a whopping 44.7 million adults in the United States. In many instances, individuals are not seeking help. This is most likely from the stigma of both substance abuse and mental health. The negative stigma, guilt, and shame play a big role.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Obama Care ensures that insurance companies must provide behavioral health services. All individual and small group plans after January 1, 2014 are included in this legislation. These plans also have no annual limit of lifetime dollar limit. This reform provided a list of 10 areas that the insurance companies must now have benefits for. Number 5 on this list provides services for those suffering from mental health disorders and problems with substance abuse. Since many individuals suffer from dual diagnosis, this opened the door for some qualified addiction treatment centers. Some drug rehabs have well qualified behavioral health professionals on staff that can take you immediately. As opposed to taking the long path through your primary care physician that have limited education and experience with behavioral health, mental health, and substance abuse issues. This path then takes you to the referral stage that can end up them not being on your insurance panel, a long wait list or not taking on new patients.
How to Find Behavioral Health Services or Substance Abuse Treatment
Seeking behavioral health services or a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center is not an easy task. Dealing with the insurance company, finding providers that accept your insurance and the deceiving costs of co-pays quickly become stressful and daunting. This combined with finding the correct fit of individual treatment makes it extremely frustrating. Our Director of Admissions at Integrative Life Center in Nashville, Tennessee, Byron Simpson experiences the frustration from 100’s of calls a day from individuals seeking help. Here are some of his experiences and helpful tips when seeking behavioral health services or substance abuse treatment.
Reaching Out for Behavioral Health Services or Substance Abuse Treatment
The phone rings just after midnight – your 22-year-old son just got his second DUI. Or, your otherwise responsible and respectable husband loses his job – too many no-show/no-calls because he can’t lean over from the couch and press 10 numbers, and not out of laziness. Or, you know that it’s not normal to weigh the merits of not being here as much as you do.
You cross a difficult line and decide to ask for help for yourself or your family. You feel a faint hope, even some peace that help may be possible. Then, you google addiction treatment near me, and the digital assault begins. The onslaught of comfort adjectives (“client-centered” “comprehensive” “serene” “collaborative” “wooded”) mutually voids all meaning and brings no clarity – other than learning (from website photos) that sobriety and healing require contemplative young folks to loiter around fire pits.
This is not what you need. You are highly vulnerable and likely ill-equipped to navigate the crisis. However, this is one of the most important decisions, and often requires the third largest check you’ve ever written. It is difficult to think critically when life is fracturing, but I encourage consumers of behavioral health services to decide based on sound inquiry, and not impulse.
Chemical Dependency and Mental Health Treatments Are Different
Avoid a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center that purports to be all things to all people. Ask the marketer or admissions staff what makes their drug rehabilitation facility unique. What is their specialty? With the most crucial being, if there is a strong mental health component driving the chemical dependency. Ask what licenses they have that relate to behavioral health. Many treatment centers advertise treatment for depression but address it only in passing. This leaves the mental health client struggling and ill-served. For that client, ensure that a mental health license is in play, and not just a license to treat chemical dependency.
The “We Can Admit You For Your Deductible” Admission Is Tricky
When fortunate enough to find a drug rehab facility that accepts your insurance on an in-network basis, understand there may be a second chapter. Often your only option, admitting on the basis of in-network coverage provides immediate relief but no guarantee of length of stay. So, your insurance company determines what’s necessary (often from a cubicle hundreds of miles away) instead of the addiction treatment center team that is keenly aware of clinical nuances.
- Pitfall number one: when treatment recommendations exceed the number of days authorized by insurances continued treatment will require discharge or conversion a cash-pay contract. This is cash that you may not have.
- Secondly, if you are admitting for work on trauma, a reliable time horizon is crucial to formulating a responsible and effective treatment plan. When the treatment plan timeframe exceeds the client’s ability to remain in treatment, there may be adverse consequences and an immediate loss of gains upon discharge.
Financial Questions Deserve Direct Answers
Ask about total costs and any hidden costs that are involved. Hidden costs typically take the form of ancillary services that can be requested by staff or elected by clients. Ask upfront about pricing and payment methods. Families may wish to be informed before ancillaries are booked or provide the requested deposit with a full understanding of how the ancillary services work. That information can keep costs manageable and predictable. Also, ask about labs including frequency and cost. Frequency is based on therapeutic standards and is appropriately a non-negotiable but be armed with the information anyway. Also, treatment centers typically utilize third-party labs with unknown or undisclosed pricing. In some very rare cases, the lab work exceeds the cost of treatment. Lack of transparency on this issue is a key source of client dissatisfaction.
Referrals Should Serve The Client Not The Facility’s Company
So, you are unable to work it out with the drug and alcohol addiction treatment center you first contacted. Hopefully (and helpfully), they recommend a different substance abuse facility that is truly qualified to handle behavioral health issues. If so, you can call your insurance company and ask for the in-network providers that take your insurance. You can also speak with the drug rehabilitation center that stated they could not help you. You can ask if they have relationships with other facilities that take your insurance. It’s probably best to do both and compare the services and pricing. You can ask the addiction treatment center If they are owned by the same company they are referring you to, it is important that your inquiry remain diligent to ensure a good fit. Inter-company referrals are often very sound, but also may serve a business interest that deserves disclosure.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Centers Are Not A Magic Wand
Finally, behavioral health services and addiction treatment are not a magic wand that will completely cure you or a family member in 30 days. Likely, there will be an extension recommendation based on sound therapeutic standards. Everyone moves along the path of recovery at different times. Some families are embarrassed that they have to “put a price” on their child’s recovery, but that is a very practical, real-world concern. When considering the cost of the initial treatment, it is important that you consider that continuing care will very likely be recommended and necessary. Be smart, and plan ahead.
Few things are more frustrating than post-treatment entanglement with the business part of the behavioral health business. The satisfaction of meaningful treatment dissipates when replaced by stress over additional costs, unrealistic time expectations for healing, and suspicion about corporate self-interest. Ask ahead to ensure that the legacy of behavioral health treatment is transformation, not frustration.
Best Ways to Seek Behavioral Health Services
Behavioral health services and substance abuse treatment are available if you know how to find them. The Affordable Care Act has ensured that many Americans have access to behavioral health treatment and drug and alcohol addiction treatment. However, finding qualified professionals that carry your insurance and can see you right away is a difficult task. This combined with stigma, stress, and anxiety often prevent those suffering from having a healthy mental life. Use the helpful tips provided in this article when seeking services. Addiction treatment centers have qualified professionals in place to get immediate treatment. However, you need to make sure they have the proper mental health licenses and qualified mental health or behavioral health credentialed staff on site. We are always available to help guide you to the correct care you need.