Can I get the help I think I need?
April 24, 2012 9:09 PM   Subscribe

How can I deal with an alcohol problem with Group Health insurance (US)?

I tried to get help for an alcohol problem last year through my insurance (group health). I was referred to a treatment provider who only offered group AA type therapy. Honestly, I would rather drink than participate in a group. I am extremely introverted, and the thought of having to participate in group therapy makes me want to drink just to get through it. Have any of you found another alternative with group health? Please don't tell me to suck it up and go to group therapy! I am so mortified about my addiction that I can't even discuss it with my partner. It was so difficult to tell my doctor (then get referred to group) that I don't know if I can even ask again.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Here's an answer you're not going to like... aside from group therapy (AA style), I am thinking the other option is in-patient treatment. This is going to require you to tell your partner. Let's be brutally honest about drinking, your partner knows. Lots of people probably know. Hell, I live 3,000 miles away from my mother, and she knows that I have a drinking problem. If you honestly want help, you are going to have to trust the important people in your life.

As for group coverage, I have not a clue. But, I am certain you can get yourself "committed" to a program. I am not saying it is the healthiest route, but I have certainly known people who have done it. The ends might be worth the means.
posted by AlliKat75 at 9:35 PM on April 24, 2012

I shouldn't post, then... because I'm going to encourage you to reconsider the group.

You can try to find out ahead of time whether they require talking. Some groups do not make anyone talk until they are ready. Groups are confidential. And if you are carrying that much shame about your choices, then it will be that much more healing for you to discover that other people won't judge the way you expect them to. Seriously... group therapy is great for reducing the shame of a toxic secret. Please think about it from that angle.

And kudos to you for looking into treatment at all. That's more than lots of people can say.

Alternatively you could try to detox at a publicly funded clinic and see a regular therapist out of pocket. Some have sliding scale fees.
posted by hungry hippo at 9:37 PM on April 24, 2012

I am so mortified about my addiction that I can't even discuss it with my partner.

This is part of the problem. Shame from addiction keeps people from seeking appropriate treatment. Getting clean isn't fun, and will require support from people who care about you. You can't do it alone.
posted by rtha at 9:38 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a couple ideas.

If you are able to, you could go back to the same doctor you spoke with before and let him/her know that the referral was for group therapy only, and that won't work for you. Ask if there's a way to get individual therapy.

Call your insurance company, explain your situation. You may or may not need to give your name/information - hopefully not, but they may require it. Ask about the availability of individual therapy/ treatment for alcohol issues.

Seek out low-cost treatment, like individual therapy where you pay on a sliding scale. It would be best if you checked out your insurance options first, so you could explain to the therapist that although you have insurance, your insurance doesn't cover individual therapy. Then, they will likely be willing to work with you as if you don't have insurance (since really, you don't have insurance that covers individual therapy).

Best of luck! Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, and you've taken that very brave first step.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:39 PM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, I don't think you need to "suck it up" and go to group therapy, but I do think group therapy can be incredibly valuable, and one of the ways that it helps is in leaving behind the shame.

I totally understand if you don't want to commit to a long term treatment group, but I would definitely encourage you to go sit in on an AA group - you can just sit in a corner, you don't have to say anything. Some AA groups are not great, some are fantastic. Don't judge them all based on one experience.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:42 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Group therapy isn't for everyone, and it's not necessary in order to kick an addiction. I say that by way of encouragement, not to knock group therapy. You have options.

The individual counseling suggestion, above, is worth pursuing. If you need to pay out of pocket, please don't let that discourage you. You're worth it. Scratch together the money; borrow; do what you need to make it happen. It will pay for itself in all the money you'll save not funding your addiction.

If you are open to participating in anonymous online support forums, there are a few I can recommend. Let me know via MeMail, and I'll give you my honest impressions of them.

Please keep trying. I understand how terribly discouraging it had to be to screw up the guts to talk to your doc, only to be met with a referral that wasn't a good fit for you. There is a way for you to get better; you've started the process; stay in the game. You can do it.
posted by quivering_fantods at 10:12 PM on April 24, 2012

Oh, I see you've posted anonymously, so I'll put the links here, just in case you're interested. Both organizations are secular, and neither follows any sort of "step" model.

SMART Recovery. Lots of online tools that are practical, cognitive-behavioral in nature.


I know people who have gotten sober using online support alone, and others who've used online tools in conjunction with other, in-person forms of support.
posted by quivering_fantods at 10:34 PM on April 24, 2012

You apparently don't need to go through your provider for a referral to use Behavioral Health Services, and the site says BHS provides both individual and group psychotherapy. Whether the model is exclusively built off AA I can't tell. More info.

I'm pulling for you, Anon.
posted by gingerest at 10:53 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

This wont be as well written as I like, I have to go to work in a few minutes! How much reflection do you do? I went through a really hard time a few years ago and my drinking got very much out of hand. It scared me and I felt so guilty. But knowing that you have a problem and wanting to stop isn't always enough... sometimes the day is just so hard.

But I got really really sick of waking up hungover, and I am massively vain and while I loved drinking a bottle of gin a night (only while drinking it obviously) I never wanted to LOOK like I drank a bottle of gin a night.

I finally got it under control when I fixed the things in my life that were bothering me (alongside dealing with the drinking)... I got a new job, got fit, started reading again, drinking herbal tea, counting how much money I was saving. I made lists of how crappy being like a drunk was making me feel. I took antabuse and read "How to control alcohol the easy way" (which was a great book because it made me feel so much less guilty)

I've never done it, but there is a programme called "rational recovery"... So just start really trying to LOOK for the answers. you are unique, what you need is unique... don't expect someone to give you the answer and then this gets better in a few months, or feel discouraged when this happens.

This is tough, but its part of your journey, and I send you much love.
posted by misspony at 10:56 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

You don't have to talk in AA meetings. You can go and just sit there.
posted by something something at 5:07 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding that you don't have to say anything in public AA meetings. I'm not sure what you mean by "group AA type therapy", do you men group therapy that also encourages people to participate in AA?

Does your group health plan include some limited number of visits to a therapist/counselor/therapist? Do you have an EAP- Employee Assistance Program? Can you afford to pay for one on your own? Here's a place to start looking for one.

If you do go to AA meetings you will discover that there are a whole lot of people who have experienced the same kind of embarrassment you feel.
posted by mareli at 7:23 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

There may even be MeFites near you who would be honored to go with you to something outside of your comfort zone (like an AA meeting) - maybe have a moderator update with an anon email and / or vague location details?
posted by hilaryjade at 12:37 PM on April 25, 2012

anonymous wrote: Honestly, I would rather drink than participate in a group. I am extremely introverted, and the thought of having to participate in group therapy makes me want to drink just to get through it.

S/he has clearly set a boundary for not wanting to pursue group therapy right now. Perhaps it would be most helpful to respect that boundary.

I understand that AA works for some people, some of the time, and that anyone who's been helped by that approach might feel strongly that it could be a good fit for the OP. For those of us who aren't group-oriented (AA or otherwise), these type of well-meaning suggestions can actually be discouraging when we're seeking a way out of addiction. It can give the impression that group support is a must, when in fact, it isn't.
posted by quivering_fantods at 4:54 PM on April 25, 2012

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