Using telePsychiatry to Treat Substance Abuse

Using telePsychiatry to treat substance abuse

JSA Health TelePsychiatry is now SOC Telemed. This information on using telePsychiatry to treat substance abuse originally appeared on the JSA Health website and we’ve republished it here for your convenience:

The Harris County Texas Community Supervision and Corrections Department, formerly known as the Harris County Adult Probation Department, is using telePsychiatry to treat substance abuse offenders. SOC Telemed (SOC) telePsychiatrists provide services to two residential facilities in Humble, Texas, including psychiatric assessment and diagnosis and treatment to those residents with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Dr. Avrim Fishkind, SOC General Manager for Psychiatry, created the telePsychiatry component for these programs to provide the wrap-around psychiatry services that help to ensure that ex-offenders with behavioral health and substance addictions (“dual disorders”) do not return to jail.

“All ex-offenders with dual disorder diagnoses deserve the right to comprehensive treatment in the community. In this way they can live a life of dignity outside of correctional facilities. In the process, local governments save money through unneeded jail recidivism. It’s a win-win for all involved,” explains Dr. Fishkind.

Women Helping Ourselves (WHO)

The first facility is the Women Helping Ourselves (WHO) program, which is a 95-bed residential treatment program designed to provide Criminal Courts of Harris County with a residential program and aftercare support program for women with a substance abuse history. The program helps adult female offenders, 17 years of age and older and juvenile offenders ages 15–16 certified as adults. Clients must have an assessed history of substance abuse and need a structured residential treatment program. Clients have needs in the following areas:

  • Emotional Stability
  • Cognitive Deficiencies
  • Family Conditions
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Educational/Employment Issues

Clients with either felony or misdemeanor offenses are eligible. Misdemeanors must be assessed as high risk/needs and can comprise up to a maximum of 20% of total program participants. Clients with Title 5 and sex offenses are eligible. Clients can be stipulated either as initial condition of supervision or modified condition of supervision.

The short-term program (months 3–6) is designed for high functioning clients that may not have participated in any residential treatment program and/or have failed to attend or participate in outpatient treatment programs. Clients who abuse substances despite the consequences and may have tested positive several times on urinalysis are welcome in the short-term phase of the program. The long-term program (months 6–12) is designed for high-risk chemically-dependent clients in need of longer exposure to a structured treatment environment.

Young Men About Change (YMAC) Program

The second facility is Young Men About Change (YMAC) Program, a 192-bed Intermittent Sanction Facility (ISF) designed to provide Criminal Courts of Harris County with a residential program and aftercare support program for moderate to high risk young adult male offenders in need of a structured residential setting to focus on changing criminal thinking and behavior.

All clients participate in modified therapeutic programming, physical fitness activities, ropes challenge courses, adult education, and employment preparation training. SOC telePsychiatrists provide mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

Target Population:

  • Young adult male offenders, 17-25 year old and/or juvenile offenders 15-16 years old who have been certified as adults.
  • Clients with moderate to high risk who would not usually be considered for community supervision or who would be considered for incarceration as a result of revocation for violations of conditions of Community Supervision.
  • Clients assessed to have no identifiable substance abuse issues up to moderate levels.
  • Clients with either felony or misdemeanor offenses are eligible. Misdemeanors must be assessed as high risk/needs and can comprise up to a maximum of 20% of the total program participants.
  • Sex offenders are not eligible.

Program objectives:

  • Education – GED where needed
  • Opportunity to change negative attitudes and behaviors
  • Assume responsibility for own thoughts and behaviors
  • Develop skills to succeed in a non-structured community setting

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If your organization is looking at using telePsychiatry to treat substance abuse for correctional facilities, residential treatment centers, or in-custody treatment alternative facilities, please contact SOC Telemed to see how we can help.