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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
June’s Web Theme is Men’s Behavioral Health
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Author Brian Prioleau interviewed staff members from The Providence Center in Rhode Island. They recently reassessed and revamped their men’s substance abuse treatment to make it more productive for clients by adding a greater diversity of choices for this month’s theme on Men’s Behavioral Health.

The Providence Center in Rhode Island received a four-year grant from SAMHSA to implement Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC). Holly Fitting, Director of Residential and Intermediate Services, discussed the challenges and opportunities in their program for men, which is called Roads to Recovery. Fitting described implementation of ROSC as well as how it was integrated into all substance abuse services. She said, “There is not one pathway. We give people more choice; they can choose different groups and treatment types. Clients can go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or another type of recovery program such as recovery coaching or faith-based programs.”

Gail Perrault, Program Manager of the men’s program, feels that successful recovery is not one narrow road. She said, “We are trying to widen it into a four-lane highway; clients have a choice on what works for them. They can go to an All Recovery meeting, which does not have a spiritual focus and deals with all forms of compulsive behavior such as eating and gambling in addition to substances. They can also work with recovery coaches, formerly addicted peer counselors who can guide them, much like an AA sponsor.”

The program at The Providence Center was recently separated into men’s and women’s sections. This has helped men to open up and to identify and communicate their feelings. Perrault said, “They can express sadness and cry in front of other men. They are not used to it. Women are more skilled relationally, but men need to be helped. We tell them they need to experience it. And, it turns out men are much more expressive around other men. There is a better depth of work when women are not around.”

Holly Fitting expressed the biggest challenge is when men lose their jobs. She said, “It is really difficult for them. They go from treatment back to the old environment, and it is hard to stay clean.” In cases such as this, The Providence Center endeavors to find recovery housing for clients and encourages them to find better friends, ones with experience in recovery.

There is also family therapy available to all clients. Holly Fitting said, “It is important to get the work done while they are still in the residential setting.” Gail Perrault continued, “We get them to really talk to their families. We reunite fathers and children and work on their basic inter-relational skills.”

The Affordable Care Act is also helping unite physical and mental health care in a way that is beneficial to clients. For example, men get physicals while at The Providence Center. Perrault said, “We have an on-site medical clinic that we refer clients to for their medical care. We also just incorporated a nurse into the program who can give a complete assessment of a client’s medical needs.” Visit to learn more about the Providence Center.

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