This list of frequently asked questions (f.a.q.) is a helpful guide for people who are preparing to enter treatment or who have a loved one receiving treatment at one of our facilities. “SLBTS” is an abbreviation for Sober Living by the Sea.
First Week of Inpatient Questions
What about insurance? How does that work?
Sober Living by the Sea programs include both “in network” and “out of network” facilities. Because insurance policies and benefits vary greatly, our admissions department can verify your insurance coverage to determine if any portion of your treatment can be covered under your policy.
Here are the steps that need to be taken:
First Step. The first step in courtesy billing is the verification of benefits. We will need a copy of the client’s insurance card or information in order to contact your insurance company to find out what the “out of network, substance abuse residential treatment center” benefits are. If benefits are available, we can attempt to obtain pre-certification / authorization for the client’s treatment stay. If the plan does not include those benefits, we cannot courtesy bill.
Pre-Authorization. Although benefits may be available, the client will have to meet your insurance company’s specific criteria in order to access those benefits. SLBTS staff will contact the insurance company to initiate authorization for treatment based on the client’s clinical assessment. If the client meets the criteria for residential treatment, your insurance company/managed care entity will authorize approximately 3 to 7 days. You will be notified of authorizations and denials.
Concurrent Review. When the initial authorized number of days has passed, SLBTS staff will contact the insurance company for a progress review. The most current information about the client, including current symptoms, progress and overall status is communicated in order to seek additional authorization for continued treatment. The current information will need to meet the insurance company’s criteria for continued stay. If the criteria have been met, an additional set of days will be authorized. This process will continue until the client does not meet the criteria for continued stay, or discharges from the program. We will notify all appropriate parties regarding the outcome of the concurrent reviews. When additional authorization is obtained, the next review date will be communicated as well.
When should I visit my loved one and attend family group?
After your loved one has admitted to treatment, you will receive our Family Workbook via email. This packet will detail our program, including our monthly Family Program dates so you may plan ahead. Your loved one’s Case Manager will also be in contact to schedule your attendance at the Family Program. We welcome your questions hence you will be provided with a telephone number and e-mail address so you may contact your Case Manager.
My son/daughter told me not to come to family group—what should I do?
While this is a very painful thing to hear from your son or daughter; it is not uncommon. The Case Manager will work with your son or daughter to understand the importance of working with the family. We highly encourage all clients and their families to be active participants in the Family Program. Please contact your case manager via phone / email to express your concern.
My loved one seems so groggy and “out of it.” How long is his/ her detox going to take?
First and foremost, you should be commended for calling with your concerns, and we to assure you that the SLBTS detox team is providing your loved one with the best possible care. We can have the detox specialist working with your loved one call you and give you an update on the status of his or her care, and the specialist can answer any other questions you might have about the detoxification process.
My daughter is angry with me. When we talk on the phone she says she is not going to stay after the 30-day primary program, she wants to come home now and is threatening to leave. How do I respond to that and other questions about “what’s going to happen next?”
This is typical behavior for a patient going through treatment. We encourage you to set boundaries with your daughter and try to remember that love is in the “no.” It’s important to trust the process and know that the clinical and admissions team is here to support you. We will help you with your response, but we need you to work with us as a team, to hold to the commitment to complete treatment and if advised, cut off all avenues of financial support if they choose to leave.
What is the appropriate amount of communication we should be having? My son is calling me five times a day. He wants me to bring him special foods and personal items and is making unreasonable demands. I can’t be running over to SLBTS every time he wants something.
This is a great question. First of all, we want to assure you that all of your son’s needs are being met. He may not have all the things he wants, but he has everything he needs. Secondly, this is a great opportunity for you to practice setting boundaries with your son. The next time he calls with unreasonable demands, ask him to start making a list of the things he needs. Let your son know that when he is finished with the list, he should give it to his Case Manager rather than call you. Inform him that SLBTS gives him multiple opportunities to shop for personal items and that the staff are more than happy to assist him with his purchases. If more questions come up or you need further support with this concern please contact your son’s Case Manager.
How available is my family member’s Case Manager when I have questions or need to talk about what’s going on? Or should I be contacting someone else with questions?
Please feel free to call the admissions team with any questions or concerns you might have about your family member. Our Case Managers typically call families once a week to update them on the client’s status and well-being when there is a consent in place. If you choose to contact the Case Manager, please remember that they are in therapy groups or individual sessions for most of the day. The Case Manager will be in contact within 24 hours if not sooner.
Is it important to participate in the family telephone conference therapy sessions?
Yes! It is very important to participate in family telephone conference sessions because addiction is a family disease, and everyone—including you—is affected. We encourage you to also attend some local Al-anon meetings for further support and education on the disease of addiction.
Our SLBTS counselor calls my daughter’s addiction a disease. Is it really a disease, or something that most teenagers go through? I thought diseases were conditions like diabetes. Can’t she just get over it?
Yes, addiction is a disease, and no, she can’t just get over it. At SLBTS we treat the addictions and any other co-occurring disorders that your loved one may be struggling with. SLBTS is dedicated to helping educate your loved one as well as your family members about the disease of addiction so that the client can live a productive, rewarding, healthy, and sober life, “one day at a time.” This does not happen overnight, so we recommend that you attend the Family Program, the weekly telephone conferences, as well as Al-anon meetings in your community for ongoing support.
Second and Third Weeks of Inpatient Questions
When do I get the person back I once knew?
It’s really important to trust in the process. Clients have a lot of work that they need to do in regards to their recovery program. It’s not about just staying sober. Sometimes it takes a long time for families to see the results they are looking for. This is why Al-anon is so important for you to explore. Al-anon offers you tools and coping mechanisms that will be beneficial in many areas in your life. Your loved one is working on building a support system for a lifetime of recovery, and it will help you to have your own support system.
Once my son gets clean and sober, when will he be ready to start working and going to school again?
This is a great question. Each client is different and I think it would be really helpful for you to write down all the questions you might have and then present them to your case manager. We individualize treatment for each client and we will approach you when we believe the client is clinically ready to start looking at working or school.
How long does my son have to go to these 12-step meeting for?
I’ll answer this question the same way I would answer this question for your son—let’s take this one day at a time.
My daughter is pressing me to give her answers about her life in her house. She says she needs her car to get to meetings and that everyone there has a car. Is this true? Can she get rides for whatever she needs to do?
I commend you for calling before answering your daughter. We will talk to you about this when it becomes an issue that all of us, including the family, are ready to discuss.
My loved one is not responding to the idea of a 12-step program. He does not believe in God or a higher power and won’t participate in a program that requires him to do so. Will meetings still help him in his recovery?
This is probably one of the most common experiences people have when they come in for treatment, as most of our clients do not identify themselves as being religious. The purpose of a 12-step program is to find strength through a higher purpose—whatever that might be for them. Not believing in God or a higher power doesn’t mean a client won’t recover, and attending 12-step meetings will still greatly benefit your loved one. There are plenty of clients and staff members at SLBTS that have been down this very road and can sit down with your loved one and share their experience. At SLBTS, we meet the clients where they are.
My daughter claims that although she intends to remain clean and sober, and will not use her drug of choice, she does not believe that alcohol is harmful and intends to drink “socially” when she leaves SLBTS. She said she might also smoke some pot occasionally. Is this okay? Aren’t these both “gateway” drugs? Is this still considered to be self-medicating?
SLBTS promotes complete abstinence form all mind-altering drugs, including alcohol and marijuana.
Fourth Week of Inpatient Answers:
How do we know our son is clean and sober while he is living in one of your houses? Is there regular drug testing?
Yes, there are random drug tests that are done weekly. If your son were to relapse, SLBTS would be aware of it and you would be notified.
My wife’s counselor has recommended that I participate in the Thursday night family teleconference with the SLBTS therapist. I don’t do well in groups and I’m not comfortable talking about private family matters. Why is this necessary, and what can I expect there?
This is an educational opportunity for you to come and learn how to contribute to your loved one’s recovery. Our intentions are to support you in this journey. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, that is fine as you will likely learn a great deal just from listening to other families relate similar stories to that of your own. The therapist will be there to educate you on addiction and the processes your loved one is going through while in treatment.
Other parents are talking about having drawn up “contracts” with their kids when they come out of sober living. How do I get more information about this?
This is a great thing to talk to your Case Manager about.
What happens if my loved one relapses after treatment? Does SLBTS guarantee that he will be drug-free from now on? How effective is the program and what percentage of clients remain clean and sober?
We recommend to every patient and their family that they have a relapse plan in place when their loved one leaves treatment. Your Case Manager can assist you in developing this plan. We are unable to give you an exact number or percentage of clients who remain clean and sober as this information is almost impossible to gather, but we can point to our amazing alumni program which speaks volumes about our success.
I need new coping skills and parenting skills to deal with my child’s addiction, which has been devastating to our family. I have been advised to look for an Al-anon meeting to attend regularly. Will this help?
Not only will it help you, but it will save your life. If you live locally it would be wonderful if you could attend the Wednesday night family group held in our Outpatient Office from 6:00-9:00 PM. If you’re not from the area it would be helpful to talk to a Case Manager who will assist you in finding a group in your hometown.
Now that my husband is sober I hardly see or hear from him. He’s always busy with meetings and “being of service.” Is this normal?
While we understand your husband’s new found sobriety can alter your family’s routine, this is a completely normal part of the recovery process. We encourage you to attend Al-Anon meetings, as well as reflect on what life was like while your husband was still in his addiction.
I see the steps on the walls of my Al-anon meetings and am wondering why my daughter hasn’t made amends (step 9) to me for everything she put me through. It’s been close to 6 months now since she has been sober. How long do I need to wait?
It’s important to trust in the process and know that your daughter will go through the steps at her own pace.
Should I drug test my son? Where do I go? How often should I test him? What if the results are positive?
If you want to do ongoing testing for your son it would probably be best to get a third party involved. If your son’s test shows up positive, please contact SLBTS immediately for support and guidance. You can call our toll free number at (800) 323-5609.
Do clients have to be in sober living to attend the Intensive Outpatient Program?
No, you do not need to live in a sober living home or halfway house to attend SLBTS’ outpatient program.
Is there going to be room in a sober living house after the 90 days? What happens if there isn’t?
SLBTS has many resources in the community, and if that were to be a problem we would work to secure a space elsewhere.
What if my son wants to move back home after the 90 days of residential treatment? Should I allow him to move back home?
No. It is very important to have a step-down program after residential treatment and is imperative for long-term sobriety. Clients who live with active addiction forget what it is like to live without drugs and alcohol. SLBTS strongly encourages clients and family members to trust in the clinical team’s recommendations for treatment and discharge planning.
What happens after the 90 days?
Part of the process is a Continuing Care Plan. A team of staff members will be involved, helping make sure that the client has all the tools and resources he or she needs before being discharged.
The Intensive Outpatient Program is only from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Monday through Thursday -what happens during the other hours?
If there is a concern that transitioning to the night program may not be appropriate at this time, the admissions and clinical teams will get creative and decide what the next steps are.
Will clients receive help with getting employment?
Your loved one’s Case manager will discuss options for employment if it is a goal or a concern. Our treatment facility offers many different resources to aid our clients in finding employment including resume writing workshops and interview skills training.
Can clients bring their animals to sober living with them?
No—arrangements will need to be made for any pets while the client is in residential treatment or sober living.
If my loved one says she won’t stay in California for the continuing care program if she can’t have their cat with her, what do I say?
There are a few different options that can be discussed with your case manager if this is a major concern. We would encourage you to assure your loved one that their pet is being well cared for by the family and that her own personal health is the primary concern.
How do I say no to my loved one?
An effective answer to give your loved one is “I will support your recovery, but I will not support your disease.” We encourage families to attend Al-anon support groups and when necessary, seek private therapy.
Why do I need to go to Al-anon? I don’t have the problem.
Addiction is a family disease and everyone involved with the client is affected. Al-anon is merely a suggestion, but remember that the support given in Al-anon is for you.
My son has gone to 4 different treatment centers. What should I do if he relapses again?
This must be really hard for you. Sober Living by the Sea is here to help you and I hope you take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. Your son’s Case Manager would be the best person to talk to in regards to a relapse prevention plan or coming up with creative new ideas.
When my children ask where their father is, what should I say?
Here at SLBTS we advocate honesty. A simple way to respond is that their father is getting help. You can also contact your husband’s Case Manager for other possible answers.
I plan on divorcing my wife after she leaves treatment. Should I tell her while she is in treatment so that she can deal with it there or should I tell her after she gets out?
This is a good question for your Case Manager as often our recommendation will be based on the individual’s progress while in treatment.
After my daughter completes treatment, I don’t want her coming back home. I want her to go to sober living for a minimum of 6 months. Is this harsh?
No, it is not harsh and in all likelihood, absolutely appropriate. This is something that you’ll want to bring up during your family sessions with your case manager. We do not have a time limit on the amount of time a loved one can stay with us and we are always happy to assist in putting a plan in place that works for the entire family.
I’ve gone to ten Al-anon meetings in my area and I don’t connect with anyone. What other supports groups are out there for me?
There are Coda (Codependents Anonymous) meetings as well as private therapy with a clinician that has experience with chemical dependency and the family. You may also consider attending open AA meetings to learn more about the disease from those in recovery. Have you tried attending the same Al-Anon meeting week in and week out for two months? Often times it just takes time to get to know those in the meeting and find the similarities rather than the differences.
SLBTS told my son that I am a huge trigger for him. What does that mean?
Clients are going through many psycho-education groups on the disease of addiction and are asked to identify what their triggers are, or the things that prompt them to use. This is a great question for your Case Manager.