The Importance of Case Management

The first time I went to treatment as a young practicing attorney, a couple of days into the program, I went to my therapist to ask her what I should do about some work issues back at my firm: I had some orders judges were waiting for, some motions to get out—I just needed a little telephone time to handle these things.  I’ll never forget what she said—“That’s all in God’s hands now, if you lose your law license, so be it.  At least you’ll be sober.”  I thought that was a lousy answer then and, now fourteen years working in the field of addictions, I still think it was a lousy answer!!  That’s why I put so much stock in case management, especially dealing with professionals in treatment.  I believe there’s no reason an addict in treatment should have his world back home fall apart while he is in treatment, especially if things can be handled with a little telephone or computer time.  I like to think that the patients I bring into treatment can have their cake and eat it too:  there’s no reason to believe that letting patients handle some of their business affairs while in treatment (as long as it is triaged and managed by a case manager that can determine what’s important and what can wait) will interfere with or compromise the treatment experience.  I am proud to say that not one of the 300 plus lawyers I have treated has ever been disciplined by their state bar for neglecting their practice while in treatment.  What surprises me is that my philosophy is not shared by most other treatment centers. They think I’m crazy for not allowing my patients to experience their bottoms, when I help them with their real world problems back home.  In turn, I suspect these other programs just don’t want  to put in the extra time to do this important case management. Tim Sweeney

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