Recovery Unscripted Podcast - Episode 3

Featured Guest: Maritt Peterson and Nate Hartmann, Admissions Center, Foundations Recovery Network

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This episode of Recovery Unscripted features an interview with Maritt Peterson and Nate Hartmann, who help connect people with treatment in the Admissions Center of Foundations Recovery Network. In this interview, they take some time to demystify a few frequently asked questions about the treatment admissions process and explain why they love answering the call of those seeking help.

They both have personal experience with addiction that ignited their desire to help people find recovery. And that personal connection is a common thread among many of their coworkers in the admissions center. “A lot of them have made that phone call in the same way that we have for a family member or for themselves,” Maritt explains. “So they understand that that is a very, very scary call to make.”

Their job is to ensure that everyone who calls feels as comfortable as possible because openness and honesty are critical elements that help Maritt and Nate connect each caller with the right treatment option, even if that means referring someone to another company’s program. As Maritt describes it, “Sugarcoating things on the phone with us isn’t good; we’re trying to help. We’re not interested in putting people in the wrong facilities.”

For those who might be on the fence about calling, Maritt and Nate would encourage them to pick up the phone and take a chance. “And when they do, I think what they’ll find is somebody on the other end of the line who is going to go to whatever length they possibly can to help that person,” Nate says. “Picking up that phone, reaching out and asking for help 100 percent of the time is going to give them a sense of well-being that they haven’t felt in a very long time.”

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Podcast Transcript: David Condos with Maritt Peterson and Nate Hartmann

David Condos: Hi guys, welcome to this episode of Recovery Unscripted podcast powered by Foundations Recovery Network. I’m your host David Condos, glad to have you with us today. We’ve got two great guests both from the admissions center of FRN, Maritt Peterson and Nate Hartmann. They’re going to give us an inside look at the admissions process and answer some of the common questions that people will often wonder when seeking treatment. Making this type of call can seem really intimidating. hopefully, we’ll be able to demystify the process today and make it just a little bit easier for someone to reach out and get help for themselves or their loved one because that’s really what this is all about. All right, let’s get started. I’m here with Maritt Peterson and Nate Hartmann. Welcome.

Nate: Thank you.

Maritt: Thanks.

David: All right, cool. You guys work in the admissions center for Foundations Recovery Network, correct? All right, tell us more about your path to where you are now working in the addiction mental health treatment industry.

Nate: Sure. Mine started probably 13 years ago when I met with the therapist myself and the therapist suggested that I go to treatment. I was in a place where I was ready to accept that advice. My parents and I called the treatment center that he recommended that we call and with really a lot of blind faith took the leap and I ended up going into treatment. I’ve been in recovery ever since about six years ago. I ended up working for a company that does admissions and interventions and found that I could be the person on the other end of the phone to except that blind faith that I gave to someone else. I’ve been working in this field since that time.

David: Cool, and Maritt.

Maritt: Yes, my story is a little bit different. I am not in recovery but I have grown up with a family member who has been pretty sick since I was young. I’ve always had this love of this industry. I’ve loved watching the miracle really of recovery. I got into this industry through wanting to be a part of that for the rest of my career. I think that having people who really feel strongly about recovery and want to help others is important on this end. It might be different that I’m not in recovery as well but I do have a big tie to it.

David: When someone is thinking about placing this call it can seem very not only scary but vague about who’s going to pick up on the other end. Tell us a little bit more like who are these people in the admissions center? What can they help with? What are some things they can’t do? How does that work?

Maritt: Everyone that we have in our admission center is highly trained, they know the industry well. A lot of them have made that phone call in the same way that we have for a family member or for themselves. They understand that that is a very scary call to make. It’s not easy for a family member, it’s not easy for an individual. The people that they are talking to are understanding, they are very aware of confidentiality and making sure that the other person feels comfortable.

David: Yes, you guys have handled some of these calls yourself personally right?

Nate: Yes, correct

Maritt: Oh, yes.

David: What are some examples of questions that you might ask someone who calls in?

Nate: Sure. One of the things that we want to find out is really what’s going on. What the situation is and why someone is calling today. Usually, something changes or something has happened that somebody is calling us. We’re really trying to find out as much as we can about their situation, about who they are, about how they’ve gotten to this point. What that does is it allows us to know how we can help best, right.

That’s what we want to do is we are going to ask a lot of questions about their past and some of we’re going to seem very personal and some of our conversations are really very emotional. The reason that we do that is so that we can get a really good understanding of what’s going on so that we can point somebody in the right direction of the resorts that’s going to be the best help for them and it’s going to be most appropriate for them.

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David: The questions that you ask are to help them find the best next step to take?

Nate: Correct, yes and we don’t always need somebody to prepare to call us. We see that as our job in some ways is to know how to walk them down this path and know what the right questions are to ask. There are times when there are medical issues or there are psychiatric issues going on. We need to work with the family to do more research into that to find out specifically and what other doctors they’ve seen, what treatment they’ve had in the past and I mean that’s what we do. We know what those things are and what those questions are to ask once they call.

David: Sure and you touched on some of the information that’s involved. It can be very personal some medical information. That can be another barrier that someone might feel afraid to share that with someone that they don’t know. Could you tell us Maritt a little bit more about how this information that people bring to you is kept confidential?

Maritt: Oh yes. Everything that we talk about on the phone is protected under HIPAA. It’s just like when you go into a doctor’s office they’re not going to go share your medical information with anybody else and that’s the same with us. The only thing that we really have to share is if we have anybody who is actually suicidal, actively homicidal on the phones. Other than that, we’re really wanting them to feel safe and understand that it’s a safe environment for them to tell us the truth. Sugarcoating things on the phone with us isn’t good. We’re actually trying to help, we’re not interested in putting people in the wrong facilities.

David: Then the next step after you have this information would be to help them determine what type of treatment, what facility. How do you use that information to take that next step and find out what would be best for this individual?

Maritt: Once you have everything in front of you, you’re really able to piece the puzzle together of what the correct fit is. What I used to get a lot with families was, “Okay, what’s the closest one to us?” That’s a lot of times honestly not the best fit. What we try to do at that stage is see if they’re looking at utilizing any insurance, see if that’s something that’s important to them. Then from there really narrow down which facility there are thousands, right Nate. Thousands and thousands of treatment centers that are out there and we know of quite a few of them actually.

If you have someone who’s struggling with a very specific disorder maybe an eating disorder or self-harm. They’re not going to be an appropriate fit at some of our facilities so we want to make sure they’re getting the right help. They’ll either go through our process coming into us but I will say quite a few of them were referring out to facilities all across the country. I think we might even have a couple outside of the country at this point that we’re working with as well.

David: Sure. What are some different types some different categories of specialties and different approaches to treatment?

Nate: Sure. They’re about as various as you can imagine. I mean, Maritt mentioned eating disorders. There are facilities that specialize in treating both addiction and mental health. They’re facilities that do just a medically supervised detox and then they’re facilities that are 90 days or longer. There are outpatient facilities where you would typically stay at home and continue living with your family or doing your job and you are going to outpatient three or four times a week. The availability of different options is pretty high.

David: With Foundations Recovery Network facilities, in particular, the specialty is dual diagnosis, integrated treatment. That’s addiction along with mental health disorders right?

Maritt: Exactly.

David: For people who may not be familiar with that how would you describe that as being different than maybe the idea of traditional addiction rehab or 12-Step programs or stuff like that?

Maritt: Well, with Foundations Recovery Network, we do what’s called fully integrated treatment. Meaning that we’re treating the addiction alongside mental health condition. Some people come into us that don’t have the mental health condition as well, but we want to dig for it. There’s always the possibility that it could be there. A lot of times that I would hear a family is, “Well, he doesn’t have anything or she doesn’t have anything.” It doesn’t hurt to see. Having the ability to see psychiatrist, see therapist or masters level or above and have the availability of that type of treatment there, allows for the person to be treated in a more holistic type of approach.

We want to look at the spirituality side of it. We want to look at all the different sides because if you treat just one. What I’ve seen the most in the years that I’ve been doing this is, if you focus on just one part of an individual, the other side can start to lack. Looking at the addiction, looking at the mental health, seeing if they’re feeling each other what could be happening, is really what we try to focus on, right Nate?

Nate: Yes. The question we get a lot is, are you guys a 12-Step program? It’s a challenging question to answer because we are neither a 12-Step program or a non-12-Step program. We utilize the 12 Steps just like we utilize other evidence-based therapies. The 12 Steps have been proven to be effective in treating substance abuse just like cognitive behavioral therapy or motivational interviewing or dialectical behavioral therapy. Have been proven to be effective in treating people with substance abuse and mental health disorder.

When we say integrated treatment, integrated dual diagnosis treatment. What that means is we’re really taking our assessments a step further into what some of the underlying issues are, what some of the emotional issues are, what some maybe the mental health issues are. We are integrating the treatment of those things in with the treatment of the substance abuse. That’s what we mean when we say integrated treatment. I would say that’s the difference between us and a program that is a traditionally 12-Step program.

There’s nothing wrong with 12 Steps. We utilize 12 Steps. We’re able to look at each person that starts with our conversation on the phone here. Create an individualized treatment plan for them using all the tools that we have in our toolbox to make sure that they’re getting the care that they need. To make sure they’re going through the change process that they need to go through to get to long-term recovery.

David: Right and because the mental health part of the situation, if it’s not treated, even if they go to a treatment for substance use, then that could cause relapse.

Nate: Vice versa is true. If somebody gets treatment for just a mental health piece and they don’t treat the substance abuse, the same can happen, where they relapse on the substance abuse side. It goes both ways.

David: Maritt you mentioned earlier about traveling for treatment and that’s a top question that families and people who call in are asking. Could you describe some of the pros and cons of traveling or not traveling as part of the equation when people are deciding where they go?

Maritt: Yes. Again, because we talk to so many different people, there’s always different situations as to why they should or they should not travel. Different scenarios that I’ve seen pretty recently. A professional, someone who owns a business locally. It’s always great to get them out of that area because maybe they’ll be more willing at the end of the day to open up in treatment. You don’t really want to see people that you know in treatment. You want to be able to have that for yourself and be able to open up and not have to be worried about what someone’s thinking of you.

Getting out of the area for that reason can be really great. The other reason is, maybe you have a mom with kids at home. She gets so burned, she starts to see that she’s doing great while she’s in treatment, but she hasn’t work on everything else. She needs the time to work on those other things. It’s very easy for her to want to go home as well. She has kids there. She has all these people that she takes care of traditionally. Those could also be the reasons why she’s using. Taking the time to really dive in and make sure that she’s getting the full amount of treatment. She might not be able to see that, why she needs to do that in those beginning stages of treatment.

Getting her out of the area may make it so that she’s less likely to want go home. Let me think. Another reason that I would say it’s good for people to go, maybe someone who’s a little bit resistant to treatment. They’re going but they’re going because they have to, maybe a court mandated or maybe they don’t want it with their parents are saying they have to. It’s very common for them to up and leave as well. Having that physical distance helps people to stay in the situation for a little bit longer. I will say that majority of the people I’ve worked with through the years of doing this, they’ve said that that’s helped them.

David: Yes and you touched them or helped them to focus on themselves, gets them out of the distractions, whether it’s inherently negative distractions or just caring for your family.

Maritt: Yes.

David: Yes, that’s a good point. When someone calls in, what would you say is the usual timeline? If you could, just walk us through a real, basic timeline from between the calling and arriving at treatment.

Nate: Sure. A typical call will come in and that first conversation could last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. After that happens, there’s a review process that we go through here. We have our clinical team look at the file and review the file. We have our insurance team and financial team look at the file. Then, we’re usually getting back to a family within no more than two hours, typically after that first phone call was made. We’re able to go over options with them at that point. In a lot of scenarios, people are coming to treatment with us. They’re traveling to treatment the same day that they placed their first call.

In the majority of scenarios, people are coming to treatment within three days of placing that first phone call. The reason for that is a couple of things. One, we said earlier, some things usually happened. There’s a reason that somebody is making that phone call. Our callers typically have a high level of urgency. We want to be able to meet that urgency. We want to be able to move as quickly as the caller is ready to move. There are other scenarios where somebody has other things that are going on in their life. They need to take care of some of the other things in their life. We’ll walk through that with them.

We’ll try to help them take care of those things, so that they can make the decision to come into treatment. The general idea is, when somebody is calling us, they’re reaching out for help and we want to empower them to follow through with that. We want to walk that path with them. It does typically happen within three days, but certainly there’s no pressure when somebody calls to make it happen that quickly. We want to find out again what’s going on in your life and how can we meet you there and help you get the help that you need.

David: Yes. That’s a good point. Oftentimes, I’m sure there’s a reason that that call was placed that day. Something happened that was out of the ordinary. That makes sense that you would want to help them get in as quickly as they want to.

Nate: Yes, absolutely.

David: Another question that a lot of people probably wonder about, as they’re getting ready to call, is about the financial side, about the cost of treatment. I know that that’s a very complicated question. There’s no simple answer to that. Could you describe some of the factors that go in to that equation?

Nate: Sure. The cost for treatment is as varied as the types of treatment centers that are out there. When we’re looking at what the cost is, we’re looking at what the needs of the individual are. No individual calls with the same needs in terms of what they actually need to get better. When we’re talking about cost, one of the things that comes up, obviously in a pretty regular basis is insurance coverage. Insurance is a very complicated thing. Knowing about your insurance specifically for substance abuse and mental health is even more complicated. We have a whole team of people here that all they do all day long is communicate with the insurance companies and talk to the insurance companies and advocate for our patients to get the best coverage possible from the insurance companies. When we’re doing that, we’re looking at a number of variables including age, including how long they’ve been struggling, what their situation in life is, what the substance– the specific substance they’re abusing and what history they’ve had with any treatment. Who their insurance provider is and then we’re looking at hey, what type of treatment do they need? Do they need residential treatment? Do they need medical detoxification? Do they need longer term treatments? Do they need outpatient treatment? What is it that they–what they need and people often– it’s usually one of the first questions they ask, “Well, how much does this cost?” Our answer is, “It depends.” Let us ask you some more questions so we can find out what’s going on because there is no one simple answer to that question.” There are lots of variables and our hope is to be able to find out enough about what’s going on so that we can find a treatment solution that is going to work for that individual person or their family and work with their budgets so that they can access the treatment that they need. Sometimes that’s with us at our– at the Foundations Recovery Network facilities more often than not it’s with somebody else.

David: Sure. And yes, that’s the next thing I was going to ask about. After you’re going through this process with someone who’s on the line, you have the information, what happens if you determine that the best fit is not with the foundations facility? What’s the next step there?

Maritt: Next step there is to get them to the right fit. We’re not interested in putting people just in our facilities. We want people to really get better. We understand that these are loved ones, these are friends. What would happen is; we would find out that maybe this isn’t the correct fit for them and then we have a whole entire team dedicated to referring people to the correct fitting facilities. I think I touched on this before. There are thousands of them that we’re aware of. We have them in our system and we go through; okay, what do they need? Are they utilizing insurance? Do they have to stay in a certain location? Maybe it’s court mandated. There’s a lot of factors that come into that decision of where they need to go and we have– I think it’s about 10 people at this point. 10 people here who are just dedicated to getting them in touch with the facilities. It’s not just always a phone number half the time we’re calling with them. We can give them some sort of background to the facilities themselves and say, this is– who we would like to have come to you.

David: Sure and these aren’t random facilities these are people-

Maritt: We’ve researched them.

David: -places where you–Yes where you’ve sent people before you know what they’re about, right?

Maritt: Yes. Exactly. We have relationships with them. We know that people have come out and done quite well. It’s not–we’re not just calling local numbers trying to see where to send someone. We’re making sure that they’re going to the right spot.

David: Sure. All right. Is there anything else that you guys might want to say to someone who is considering making this call either for themselves or their family member. What else would you like to say to them?

Nate: I would tell them to take a chance. To pick up that phone and as difficult as that is, to take a chance. When they do, I think what they’ll find is somebody on the other end of the phone who is going to go to whatever length they can possibly go to to help that person. We know what people are struggling with and we know that people are calling and they often times feel alone, they often times feel confused. They have all sorts of emotions that they’re dealing with. We’re sensitive to all those emotions and we want to walk that path with them to finding the help that they need. The worst that can happen is that they decide that this isn’t something that they need right now. We will accept that too. Picking up that phone and reaching out and asking for help 100% of the time is going to give them a sense of well-being that they haven’t felt in a very long time.

David: Yes. Anything else you want to add about that, Maritt?

Maritt: Yes. Being the one answering the phone for quite a long time, I can say that I’ve never really heard anyone say, “I really regret doing this.” They’ve always said, “This has been something helpful.” Getting more of an education if that’s the smallest part that you’re doing right now, that’s okay. Like Nate’s been saying, picking up the phone and making that call as scary as it might be, again it’s all confidential. We understand half of us are in recovery, the other half of us have been on the other side with family members. You’re calling some people who understand what you’re going through and are really just trying to help.

David: All right. Thank you for your time guys-

Nate: Thanks for having us.

David: This has been the Recovery Unscripted podcast. Today we’ve hear from Maritt Peterson and Nate Hartmann, who both serve in the admissions center of Foundations Recovery Network. FRN offers integrated treatment at residential and outpatient facilities across the country. If you’d like to learn more, please visit foundationsrecoverynetwork.com or if you’d like to talk with someone from the FRN admission center about treatment options for yourself or loved one, please call 855-823-2141. As always, thank you for listening. Please share this podcast, give us a rating on iTunes and stay tuned for more episodes. See you next time.