Aversion TherapyPatient's Perspective

A Patient’s Perspective: Skeptics Beware

By April 9, 2018 September 3rd, 2019 No Comments
Alcohol Treatment Patient

If you’re thinking about coming to Schick Shadel Hospital to treat your addiction and are being met with skepticism from those you’ve told – maybe a healthcare provider, family member, or friend — you’re not alone. When I was considering coming to Schick, I asked my counselor for advice. She practically shuddered and said “no, they practice aversion therapy there.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I continued trying to get sober through other means.

Nothing worked. Not the intensive outpatient program, the Antabuse, the counseling, or AA. I continued binge drinking, watching my life go down the drain. Finally I came to Schick, and my binge-drinking career ended. Remembering my own hesitancy about the program, I was interested to read this interview with Dr. Richard Montgomery, current staff physician at Schick Shadel Hospital, in which he shares his initial skepticism.

“I was skeptical of the program at Schick Shadel. As a psychiatrist in private practice for 14 years, I had never seen an implementation of aversion therapy. Out of curiosity I came to Seattle to see what the program was all about and to consider becoming a part of the clinical staff.

 What I found on that first orientation weekend changed the priorities in my clinical practice. Unlike any other substance dependence treatment program I had ever been involved with, the patients at Schick Shadel were energetic and enthused about what they were doing. Patients who had struggled with alcohol and other substances for decades were hopeful for the first time – and radiated a sense of accomplishment and confidence that I had not seen before.

 I made the decision to make Schick Shadel the centerpiece of my practice and I have been working here at the hospital for the past year. I count this as one of the best decisions I have ever made. The satisfaction I see with the work we do here is almost immediate. Patients have an undeniable benefit from our treatments from the very beginning, and seeing the transformation in their outlook and self-esteem in the course of ten days is unequaled by any other clinical work I have been a part of.

 Often when working with psychiatric patients to make collaborative treatment decisions, there is anxiety and uncertainty about committing to recommended treatments. Concern for side effects, expense, and efficacy weigh in the balance for any informed patient needing a plan to get well. What can tip the balance for a patient in their decision making is my assurance to them, that if I had a child, parent, or partner who needed said therapy, I would wholeheartedly endorse this treatment. This is how I feel about the program at Schick Shadel. If anyone close to me needed help dealing with substance dependence, Schick Shadel is the ONLY treatment facility I would recommend. It’s that effective. The staff is that committed. The outcomes at one year are that good.”

Dr. Montgomery’s powerful description of the patient experience matched my own. Around the fourth or fifth day, my skepticism was gone. I knew this was different. I was different. I felt good, positive. I had hope. I felt deep in my soul that my life as a binge drinker was over. And it was.

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