This year is a special year.
It is the ten year anniversary of saving lives, healing families.
Ten years of progress and not perfection.
TEN YEARS of embracing those who have found the courage to reach out for their addiction.
This article will be like nothing you have ever read. This article is about the 10 years of accomplishments, progress, struggles, and recovery for our patients and for our employees. This article is about a handful of people deciding to help those struggling with an addiction and actually doing something about it. This article is about the people that make saving lives and healing families a reality and not a slogan.
Hi, I am an employee at A Better Today Recovery Services (ABTRS).
It is true, I am employed at A Better Today Recovery Services and I have been given the opportunity to write their ten-year anniversary article. Not because it is my job, but because I am here, I am involved, and all the years I have worked here, I have had the opportunity to watch them develop. I have witnessed the best and the worst and through it all, I will be honest with you, I love this place. The best part is, I get to tell you about it and why.
Who is A Better Today Recovery Services? How Much Have We Grown in Ten Years?
In 2009, a group of people united for a cause. To save lives and heal families. I was not there, but I know a couple of them who were and are with the company today and the stories they’d recollect pull at my heartstrings.
They started with ten beds, a small office suite, and their personal phones. Ten opportunities to lend a hand at someone’s rock bottom, ten beds to offer the dope sick, 10 families to educate and offer hope. But that was all they needed to change a slogan of saving lives and healing families to a movement of change.
Given those ten chances to change lives, they decided on their core beliefs as a company:
- Patient-focused care that is comprehensive and effective.
- Medical professionals that are passionate and dedicated like themselves, but thorough and masters of their craft. They needed to focus on the whole person- mental, physical, social-not just the drug of choice.
- Treatment plans that are tailored to the individual and their needs. Trauma therapy if needed, anger management if needed, special diets if needed. They had to be able to help everyone, no matter their past or special needs. The founders believed that addiction can affect anyone of any social status. It was important that they did not turn any out reached hand away. It was important to help everyone.
- Lastly, the treatment that they wanted to offer to their patients had to be balanced with evidence-based treatment modalities and practices from group support methods like AA, Smart Recovery, and Faith-based Celebrate Recovery.
With the ambition, passion, and those core beliefs, those ten opportunities became 20 in 2011 and by 2018, ABTRS would have a total of over 170 beds.
It fills my heart with joy, it brings tears to my eyes, it fuels my passion to save lives and heal families to say that as of May 2019 we have treated over 4,000 people who were struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction.
I must say it again, over 4,000 people have walked through our doors and received treatment that changed their lives, opened their minds to a life more than their next fix, told them that their life had more potential than being chained to their active addiction lifestyle.
4,000 people with families, children, and now futures.
Patient-focused Care and Passionate Therapists
When it comes to drug and alcohol treatment, knowledge and experience is so important.
Not only do you have to have the college courses, the licensure, and the credentials, you must have the experience with those who struggle with addiction, the patience to respect progress on an individual level, and the heart to hold someone up when they feel down.
Our therapists have all of that. The dedication and passion that our therapists have tends to come from their own experience with addiction and the journey of recovery. Their own journey empowered them to go back to school and find a career in substance abuse treatment to help others live fulfilling lives like themselves.
Many believe it becomes a calling and find such satisfaction watching people recover and rediscover their passion for life after their active addiction. ABTRS supports their journey and their ambition. ABTRS offers our therapists to make videos of their knowledge, educate their patients about Substance Use Disorder (SUD), and let their voice be heard about what makes them passionate about working in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Running Effectiveness Studies on ABTRS Treatment in 2015
Even though I was not there when ABTRS was established, I was present for the 2015 effectiveness of treatment study. I worked closely with the research and development department to properly display the data on the website. The purpose of this research was to determine if our approach to substance abuse treatment was effective and where we could improve.
AT ABTRS, our R&D Department maintains the highest professional and academic standards when gathering, analyzing, and reporting treatment outcomes for our patients. Throughout 2015 the ABTRS R&D Department gathered and analyzed post-treatment outcomes for our 2014 patients and compared them against an off-cited and highly esteemed medical study analyzing treatment efficacy and outcomes in opiate addicts. Substance abuse treatment success rates at ABTRS easily surpass that bar:
- Based on a sample of 128 ABT patients, 30 days after treatment ABTRS patients were 52% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
- 60 days after treatment – a period wherein the techniques and strategies developed during treatment have begun to be put to the real test – ABTRS patients were 138% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants than the opiate addicts.
- In other words, in a similar size sample, the number of ABTRS patients completely abstinent from intoxicants was more than twice the number of opiate addicts abstinent from opiates-alone 60-days post-treatment.
- 90 days after treatment ABTRS patients were 129% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
- At 6 months after treatment – the interval conventionally and professionally considered most important in assessing treatment episode outcomes – ABTRS patients were 100% more likely (i.e. twice as likely) to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
We were so proud to know that of those 4,000 people that opened their minds to our approach to treatment, a majority of them would and are maintaining their sobriety. If our treatment was as effective as the data was reported, then we must continue to improve. We must help our patients in their first year of sobriety find confidence, stability, and a community that would accept them without judgement and support them through thick and thin. ABTRS had work to do if we were going to take patient-focused care to the next level.
A Better Today Recovery Services Expansion & Development
Detox Center Certification
ABTRS has always wanted to offer comprehensive care from A to Z. From the moment they call us, we wanted to provide detox to aftercare. As of 2019, ABTRS has gotten our detox center certified as a Behavioral Health Inpatient Facility – Subacute – and are currently providing comprehensive care for all our patients. Our addictionologist Dr. Carlton, M.D. can now be with our patients from the beginning to the end and that is important to a patient who needs the best care from the moment they decide to put down the bottle or dump their stash of drugs. But the detox certification was just the start.
Independent Living for ABTRS Patient
When I toured the apartment complex for ABTRS new Independent Living Program, I felt empowered to tell the world, I wanted this to change drug and alcohol abuse aftercare from the moment I stepped into the community center. It broke my heart to hear how hard it was for people in recovery to be qualified for an apartment without paying outlandish amounts of money. Because of their criminal backgrounds, or drug history, apartment complexes will refuse to house them. They are forced to find residency in establishments that are surrounded by drug abuse and criminal activity and charge people in recovery an arm and a leg to get back on their feet.
So, I ask, how in the world are you supposed to start a new life free from triggers and drug abuse activities if you can’t find a place to live?
How are you supposed to maintain sobriety if you are constantly asked by the drug dealer sitting outside your place if you wanted to get high?
So ABTRS invested in a small apartment complex for housing and began to develop a community that would focus on maintaining sobriety with you. We didn’t just stop at judgment-free applications, we wanted to offer services that would help develop life skills and give people confidence in their future in recovery, so we offered all these services:
- Living Arrangement: Fully furnished apartments for $165.00 a week, including food, transportation, and moving forward resources with promissory note opportunity.
- Transportation: Provided by staff or bus pass arrangements for medical, meetings, job searching, and MAT medication routine.
- Developing Life Skills: Cooking classes, academic resources, career exploration, and social activities.
- Sober Social Event Calendar: ABTRS Alumni hosts Pizza Karaoke every other Friday, learn to cook with Chef Jesse on Sundays, Youfit Gym Pass, and Alumni events.
- Recreation, Games, & Entertainment: Ping-pong table, billiard table, barbecue patio, TV in every apartment, theater style movie lounge, & outdoor fireplace.
- Career & Education Resources: Aptitude tests, 200 trade programs with Maricopa Community College, resume workshops, and GED training & testing.
Industry changing, patient-focused, a place where second, third and even fifth chances are possible. But then again drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation should be this way.
It should be about the patient’s stability in life.
It should be about developing a community that supports their new lifestyle in recovery.
It should be about saving lives and healing families and with A Better Today Recovery Services, it is.
Employing Those in Recovery: Making Money Without Slinging Dope
This one is close to my heart. I know I will tear up talking about it. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with the people that are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. I get to listen to their stories and watch them grow and become productive members of society. So many times have I watched people who would have been refused employment because of their active addiction history find a job at ABTRS and become what they always wanted to be.
Nurses, therapists, students, scientists, mothers and even business owners because someone believed in them first. I’ve done flashcards off the clock with them, I have reviewed science homework, discussed philosophy topics for school, and developed resumes with them. With ABTRS it is about unselfish support for a better future.
The Non-profit Alumni Program
One of ABTRS goals was to establish an alumni program that felt like family. During active addiction, some people lose their family members along the way due to drug seeking behaviors and relationship neglect. It was important for ABTRS to let every patient know that there was a family out there that they could belong to if they needed one. A sober community family that was free of judgement and led by example.
Thus, ABTRS alumni was born.
A nonprofit organization that had fun, stayed sober, offered support, and provided solutions in moments of crisis. Developing alumni events and building a community that knew what you were going through was the main goal. An alumni program that was developed by alumni and ran by alumni. The birth of this nonprofit is history, the progression of the alumni program is what legends are made of:
- Hiking & Camping Trips at Lake Havasu
- Feeding the Homeless Community Service Events
- Breakfast Buffet’s for Inpatients
- Saturday Bowling Leagues
- Ice Cream Social Fundraisers
- Paintball Alumni vs Staff Events
- Alumni Pizza Karaoke at the Recovery Community
Just to name a few.
True Story One: Unity Over Tragedy the Opioid Crisis
I have to tell you a story.
I have to tell you about a mother’s phone call. This one was not a patient or a loved one of our patients, but that doesn’t matter, what matters was she called us.
She called us asking for printed material to display at her son’s funeral. I know because I handled the call personally. You could hear the sadness in her voice when she explained that her teenage son had overdosed on heroin.
So young and full of promise, the mother had found her son in his room lips blue with a needle next to him. My heart broke for her and hearing the pain in her voice compelled me to act.
She wanted to display several different treatment center brochures on a table at her son’s funeral. She wants to spread treatment awareness because her son never had the opportunity to get sober.
Not only did I send the printed material she asked for, on behalf of ABTRS I sent a beautiful flower arrangement for the funeral with a heartfelt note. Flowers will never replace the loss of a loved one to addiction, but it can help a loved one smile during their grieving and sometimes a smile is all that it takes to remember who was lost, not how they passed. After that moment, ABTRS not only wanted to save lives and heal families, but unite, collaborate with other treatment centers about treatment, overdose, and aftercare.
It wasn’t enough that we are doing something right, we wanted the whole industry to do right by those who need it the most.
Business to Business: Fighting the Opioid Crisis Together
Many things set ABTRS apart from other treatment centers. What sets us apart is becoming less of a focus. It is not that we don’t want to be the best and provide the best because we do. That is just who we are, but what is becoming more important than ourselves and our company is the opioid crisis.
There is no denying that the ongoing opioid crisis in America is a serious matter. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, figures of the opioid epidemic reached epic proportions as more than 47,000 Americans died due to opioid overdoses involving prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl, and/or synthetic opioids in 2017.
Unfortunately, opioids are some of the most addictive substances out there, and it doesn’t help that they are so commonly used in the healthcare industry. Although there are potential solutions to the opioid crisis, including but not limited to legislation and treatment options for those suffering from opioid addiction, there is always more to be done.
ABTRS began to reach out to other treatment facilities about how we could unite in providing a solution. We went to Tucson to learn from their weekend family programs, we talked to state funded treatment centers to find those who didn’t have insurance the treatment they need, we went to Art of Recovery Expos because other treatment center were going to be there talking about the opioid epidemic, we went to Human Resource conventions asking HR Directors to consider treatment over termination for employees, we reached out to teachers and nurses to offer free outpatient services because they deserved the help we had to offer, and of course, we talked to 10,000 beds non-profit organization to provide free treatment for those in need.
We realized we all had a common goal.
It was about saving lives, not about the number of blogs, web pages, phone calls, and insurance companies that we are affiliated with.
It wasn’t about state insurances verses private insurances.
It is about the people that were alone with their disease, being sick and tired of being sick and tired with their addiction. It was about finding struggling addicts a place to get their lives back.
To break the sigma associated with addiction and substance abuse treatment.
For once it was about the people. This leads me to my next true story.
True Story Two: Humility & Unconditional Support
This true story needs to be told. When you hire people in recovery you must look passed what they have done and always look at who they are now and what they are capable of now they are free from their addiction.
Some use ABTRS as a steppingstone to nursing, counselors, accountants, and business owners. Some give back to their community and become involved in sober community careers and drug and alcohol treatment.
Unfortunately, some journey’s in recovery involve relapse and when one of our own relapses, all heart’s ache for them. I have had the pleasure of witnessing staff bringing AA meetings to those who have relapsed, visiting hospitals to show support, support in finding a detox center or treatment again, and write letters on behalf of others for CPS custody battles and criminal record appeals. I have witnessed such wonderful acts of kindness, celebrations of sobriety, and support to friends and family of staff when they need it the most.
I have witnessed rock ceremonies for those who leave and move on to bigger better things and company potluck’s to unite departments that do not normally collaborate. Sometimes it is the little things that matter, but more importantly there is spirit, spirit behind a motto that define’s A Better Today to it’s core.
Saving lives, healing families.
Overall Message: Saving Lives and Healing Families Because it is About the Patients
I’m not going to fool you, there are treatment centers out there that are all about the money. With every business industry there will always be a company out there that is just not as good as they need to be because they are worried about making a quick buck. That is why it is so important to do research on finding the right treatment center. But when you do, when you find that place that suits the needs of the patient and empowers them in their sobriety. It is where true recovery begins, it is where people get second, thirds, fifth chances at a life worth being proud of.
Even though ABTRS may have struggled along the way, the heart and the spirit of this company will forever and always be saving lives and healing families. Right now, as you read this article, someone’s son or daughter is overdosing on opiates. We know because we are currently in an opioid epidemic, but that is not the only thing worth mentioning.
Right here at ABTRS, someone is getting out of detox with high hopes that they will never touch their drug of choice again.
Right here at ABTRS, someone is graduating from inpatient treatment and moving to an independent living condo because they know we will help them find a job and help them maintain their sobriety.
Right here at ABTRS, there is someone reaching out to us for help because they are tired of being sick and tired.
Yes, there is a substance abuse problem in the world today, but at ABTRS there are solutions, guides, and mentors that will welcome those who want to change their life by freeing them from their addiction.
The best part is, I got to witness a slogan turn into a movement, to witness people from all walks of life transform into the person they wanted to be, and to witness a community demonstrate humility and kindness free of judgement or compensation.
Happy 10 year anniversary ABTRS!
Congratulations on saving 4,000 lives and healing 4,000 families!