New Clinical Director at Promises’ West Los Angeles Campus Creating Robust Clinical Team to Enhance Addiction Treatment Program
Jason Levine, Ph.D. has developed a three-pronged approach to addiction treatment that includes a twelve-step foundation, relapse prevention, and group treatment for anxiety and depression.
Los Angeles, CA (Vocus) June 2, 2009 — Nestled in a quiet West Los Angeles neighborhood, the original Promises facility has, for over twenty years, offered a safe and effective environment for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. Jason Levine, Ph.D. recently joined the Promises team, bringing with him more than 19 years of experience working with those impacted by addiction.
As part of Dr. Levine’s plan to develop comprehensive enhancements to the clinical program, he has focused on a three-pronged approach to treatment: continuing the tradition of a twelve-step foundation, expanding the relapse prevention curriculum, and offering specialized treatment for anxiety and depression.
“I’m also completing a three-month process of collecting feedback about the groups, asking open-ended questions about whether they felt safe, whether they felt this was a quality group. If not, why not? They are asked to assess every ancillary provider, the people who come in and offer equine therapy, acupuncture, and relapse prevention. This will allow us to focus on the best offerings for our clients,” Levine explained.
Jason became interested in addiction treatment while working on his Master’s degree in New York City.
“I worked at Regent’s Hospital,” Levine began. “I had no particular desire to do substance abuse treatment work at the time, but I was working with one gentleman, somewhere in his sixties, and he said he was drinking himself to death because his wife had died a year previously, and he just fell apart. My heart went out to him. He told me, ‘I will never do this to myself again.’ And I truly believed him. And I think in the moment he believed it too. I went back to the nursing station, and I told this story to this very gruff nurse, because it had touched me. And she said, ‘And you bought that?’ I was horrified. I thought, ‘She’s terrible. That’s just evil. I’m not going to listen to anything she has to say.’ Time went by and about six months later he was back. I asked myself, ‘What is going on here?’ He said, and I believed, that he was on this other road. So I started to learn more and more about alcoholism. That was the beginning. There was so much to know and so much to offer people that it became my life’s work.”
Levine has developed a unique and eclectic approach to addiction treatment based on his work with a variety of populations, from alcoholic men in homeless shelters to drug addicts with HIV.
He explains, “As the years went on I worked in a therapeutic community and a city hospital, and there were certain things that were across the board helpful, such as relapse prevention. I look at the treatment place and the population I’m working with, and then tailor the interventions to that. Over the years I’ve experimented within each milieu.”
When Levine arrived at Promises he found a strong approach to treatment, but saw an opportunity to strengthen their efforts to prevent relapse, particularly in cases where clients have an underlying psychological issue such as anxiety or depression.
“In the treating of anxiety and depression it’s very important to have a really well thought out, thorough assessment. We do a clinical assessment and a biopsychosocial assessment. The clinical assessment has two purposes. One is to information gather and the other is to form a therapeutic alliance, to begin to develop trust. Every treatment team works with a consulting medical doctor here as well as a consulting psychiatrist,” Levine explains.
Levine has also enhanced the family therapy program and is in the process of adding another family therapist. He believes that families that send loved ones to Promises West Los Angeles tend to be more involved than they are at many other treatment facilities, partly because many of the clientele are younger.
“You have two major units that need to be supported, one is the individual and one is the family unit,” said Levine.
Promises in West Los Angeles is unique in that they offer a 90-day treatment program that includes a 30-day residential treatment phase followed by 15 days of day-patient and 45 days of intensive outpatient services (IOP). While receiving day-patient and IOP services, each client is housed in a Promises Sober Living home. All of these treatment supports are offered for the same cost as many other 30-day, residential-only treatment programs. The sober living houses are located near the residential campus. In addition to working with the core treatment staff, clients attending residential, day-patient, and IOP are offered a wide array of treatment groups by contracted providers that are expert in their field.
“Research has shown that it often takes 90 days for new behaviors to develop, for a new lifestyle in recovery to take hold. Thirty days is a start but for many people more time in treatment is needed. You don’t necessarily need all the structure of residential treatment for 90 days, but it is essential that treatment continues. Our step-down residential program that combines sober living with day treatment and intensive outpatient treatment is usually preferable to going back home,” Levine said.
Levine is also working with Dr. David Sack, the CEO of Promises and a psychiatrist specializing in Addiction Medicine, and Dr. Lerner, an Addiction Psychiatrist with more than 30 years in the field, in creating a unique Professional Health Program that focuses on treatment for physicians and other professionals.
“We are setting up a program where physicians, nurses, attorneys, and other professionals can receive specialized assessment and treatment that is coordinated with their licensing and registering boards. The program’s success lies in combining a clinical team that has extensive experience helping impaired professionals with peer support from recovering professionals who can guide the client through the diversion process.”
Levine is excited about the future of Promises in West Los Angeles and his continued work with substance abuse clients.
“One of the reasons I like working with this population is because both physically and psychologically, such dramatic changes occur in such a short period of time,” Levine said. “A lot of clients come in and quite frankly they haven’t been taking care of themselves. You see someone, within a week, physically blossom into a person again, literally like a human being again. That’s amazing to witness. It’s so rewarding to see how much they can accomplish with your support.”