Addiction Treatment a Long Process, Experts Say of Ford's Short-Term Rehab Plan

Article excerpt

Ford's month of rehab may be too little: experts

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TORONTO - Rob Ford has taken a leave from his job as Toronto mayor to seek help for substance abuse, reportedly entering a 30-day program at an undisclosed treatment facility. But addiction experts say such short-term regimens are a mere first step in what could be a years-long effort to overcome his dependency.

Ford, faced with a damning trifecta of newspaper reports about alleged drug use, making racist and sexist remarks and recent "debauchery" at a Toronto nightclub, conceded in a statement Wednesday that he needs professional help and is "now 100 per cent committed to getting myself right."

Acknowledging a substance abuse problem is a critical first step, said Dr. Mark Ujjainwalla, calling addiction a complex illness that involves complex treatment.

"So the biggest part of treatment is firstly admitting you have the disease and asking for the appropriate help," the Ottawa addiction specialist said Thursday.

It's not known which facility Ford has booked into, although Global News reported the mayor was flown Thursday by private plane to Chicago.

Dennis Long, co-founder and executive director of Breakaway Addictions treatment services in Toronto, said in-patient residential treatment programs are typically 21 days in duration in Canada and 28 days in the United States.

Whatever the length of the program, they usually include a treatment plan customized for the individual and the particular substances at the root of their addictions, whether alcohol, drugs or both.

"You can't have an assembly line, as in 'OK, we've got a drunk here. We put him in this end and out comes a sober person,'" said Long.

"You have to begin to look at the particular needs of that individual and custom-make the treatment to meet those needs, both what he needs in terms of his own psyche and in terms of his long-term goals."

So what might Ford -- or any addict -- be faced with when entering a rehab facility?

"They would live there. They would go to probably two, maybe three, group therapy sessions a day. They may be involved in 12-step meetings. There would be individual counselling and therapy," explained Long, adding that some centres also like to involve family members in the treatment process.

"Oftentimes what we do is consider that the family is a key component of what's going on, and unless there's some work done with the family, then the chance of resolution becomes significantly less."

Ujjainwalla, who has been treating people with substance abuse for about 25 years, said addiction is a physical, emotional and spiritual disease, and all three components need to be dealt with in treatment. …