“Three out of every four people who are currently using heroin
started with prescription opiates. Not only are they addictive,
but they are also potentially deadly.”
– Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Billy was just 14 years old when we (that’s his Mom and me, his Dad) first started to get suspicious that there was something going on, something we certainly wouldn’t like the sound of, and something he wanted to keep as a top-secret from us as a Kennedy government assassination cover-up.
The truth, when it finally came out, through a mixture of heavy sobbing, actual body tremors, and pointed accusations towards ourselves, was no national secret – a conspiracy, yes. A real conspiracy. All of Billy’s friends knew.
As for us, we didn’t have a clue until about a week before.
One night, not long before the truth finally came out, Billy arrived home after “studying” at a friend’s house. I think the only text that they actually read that evening was what was on the label of the prescription opioid painkiller bottle he and his friend had partied on since leaving class for the day. I only knew the signs because I’d been reading about it online – just out of curiosity, really – nothing more.
Anyway, Billy came through that back door like a weekend hippie from the 1960s, smiling weirdly, eyes floating around his skull, walking into chairs, and giggling sporadically – I wouldn’t haven’t been surprised to see a foot-long reefer hanging out the side of his mouth. Our boy (remember, he was just 14) was as high as the proverbial kite. He kept repeating the following words, “Good shit, good shit.”
How did I know it was opioids? The itching. He couldn’t stop. Billy was continually scratching his forearms, one and then the other. Oh, and then shortly after his arrival, he threw up his chunks, as they say. Right there on the kitchen floor. Mostly undigested Cheetos. Nice.
His Mom put him straight to bed, and I stayed up most of the night to see if he was ok. I’d read that this type of prescriptions can affect breathing if too much has been taken. Thankfully, he slept like a baby.
Although we grounded him for the foreseeable, he was his own man after school (with us both working), so, as much as we wanted him home, the choice was his.
However, as we later learned, his “choice” was no longer his own.
Let’s cut to the chase. Over the previous 6 months or so, Billy and his friend had been stealing prescription opioids from the parents’ medicine cabinets of friends. It was like a dare at first, but then they started swallowing them, they liked the effect – the calmness, the chilled out feeling, and both became addicted pretty quickly.
As mentioned before, all their friends knew. They’d even started doing it themselves, and some of those were getting addicted too. After a few phone calls and a few house calls from my wife, most all of these parents fitted locks to their medicine cabinets.
Before long, after appointments with the family doctor and an addiction specialist, Billy walked into an outpatient rehab center that may or may not save his life in the long run. As parents, we did our “due diligence,” and hopefully we chose the best of what was available, insurance and other factors permitting.
If you ever find yourself where we did as a family, here’s some useful advice for you to take onboard. Like us, you’ll have many questions you wish to ask any potential outpatient rehab center that you’re going to send your child to for addiction treatment. However, there are 3 crucial questions you must ask.
Here they are:
#1. Is The Outpatient Rehab Center Licensed & Accredited?
The first of essential and crucial questions that you need to ask relates to what licenses and accreditations are held by the facility that you’re considering. If a rehab center is a reputable one, this will normally be proudly proclaimed on their website. If there is nothing there with regard to these, not even a statement, proceed with caution. In fact, just proceed, and move straight on to the next center on your list.
Professional accreditations are a firm indication of an assured standard of care that you can expect from a rehab center. These are considered the most respected professionally:
- JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations)
- CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) International
- NAATP (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers)
#2. If My Child Requires Detox, Is That Possible with an Outpatient Rehab Program?
Alcohol detox and drug detox are an essential part of the recovery process for most patients with a substance use disorder (SUD). For that reason, and that you are considering an outpatient rehab program, it is crucial you ask whether this is possible. If a center cannot provide this service themselves, they should either have an agreement with a nearby hospital or be able to refer you directly to an addiction treatment center that does do this.
Please be aware that a drug or alcohol detox is possible on an outpatient basis; however, at times, a medically-supervised detox may be necessary as it is far safer.
#3. Can The Outpatient Rehab Center Work With Our Health Insurance Company?
Yes, it’s your child, and you would happily pay the earth to see them well. However, this is the real world, so ensuring that your chosen rehab center can work with your family’s health insurance provider is a peace of mind – at a time when you need that the most. A professional rehab center will happily be able to verify your insurance company as one they can work with.
The Importance of Due Diligence
Choosing the right outpatient rehab center requires your best due diligence. Yes, these 3 crucial questions are just that – crucial; however, there are many other factors you need to consider before making your selection, such as location, reviews, and treatments available, to name but a few.
These questions, these factors – accreditation, detox, and insurance – are the most important, and it’s vital you get the answers – the correct answers – you require. As someone who has been in your shoes, may I wish you all the best? Just so you know, Billy, a year older now (and, hopefully, a year wiser too) is clean, sober and healthy. He continues to work on his recovery.