Stepping Stones

 Behavioral Health Services

 Competence      Integrity      Compassion

202 Brooks St Suite 300 Missoula, Montana 59801 USA


Common Questions

How can addiction counseling or treatment help me?

Addiction Counselors can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as cravings, peer pressure, relapse and relationship troubles. Many people also find that addiction counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the stresses of daily life that have been affected by alcohol and drug use. Addiction counselors can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from addiction counseling depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Abstinence or low-risk use of alcohol
  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the specific issues or concerns that led you to seek treatment
  • Managing emotional pressures that underlie your use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Do I really need counseling? I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, you may benefit from talking about your chemical use in a safe and confidential environment. In fact, counseling for substance use issues is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking counseling. Counseling provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging thinking and behavior patterns, and overcome the challenges you face.

Why do people go to treatment and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to treatment. Some may be increasing their chemical use because they are going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people may be at a point where they are ready to stop drinking or using drugs, learn more about themselves and be more effective with their goals in life. Others come into treatment through outside coercion such as pressure from family, employer, physician, attorney or because of a court order.

What is treatment like?

There are four basic levels of treatment for substance use problems: Outpatient, Intensive Outpatient, Inpatient, and Hospitalization. You will be placed in the lowest level of care where you are likely to succeed based on the results of your assessment.

  • Assessment : Every person seeking substance use counseling or treatment will be given an initial assessment, also referred to as a chemical dependency evaluation, to determine the level of care that will meet their needs. The assessment process includes diagnostic testing, and gathering very detailed information about your substance use history, medical and mental health history, family history, employment and legal history and other information that will provide the counselor with everything needed to make a recommendation. This process can take 2 or 3 hours.
  • Level 0.5 - Early Intervention : This level is primarily education services designed for individuals who are at risk of developing a substance use disorder. It is aimed at providing prevention information.
  • Level 1 - Outpatient : The vast majority of people benefit greatly from being placed in an outpatient program. This is the lowest level of care and usually consists of weekly individual sessions with the counselor or weekly group sessions with periodic individual sessions.
  • Level II - Intensive Outpatient : This level of treatment consists of day or evening treatment services and usually consists of 9 hours of group therapy and one individual session per week.
  • Level III - Residential/Inpatient : This level of treatment provides addiction treatment and mental health services in a 24-hour live-in setting. Length of stay is individual and is followed by a transfer to a lower level of care.
  • Level IV - Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient : This level of treatment provides care to individuals whose mental and substance-related problems are so severe that they require primary biomedical, psychiatric and nursing care, provided in a 24-hour facility where the full resources of a general acute care hospital or psychiatric hospital are available .
It is important to understand that you will get more results from treatment if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of group or individual counseling is to help you bring what you learn in the therapy session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. Those who benefit the most from treatment are people who are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to alcohol and drug problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

To determine if you have behavioral health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:

  • What are my behavioral health benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Do I need to satisfy an out-of-pocket amount before my insurance will pay?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most i important components between a client and therapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter. The confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records is protected by Federal regulations governing Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records, 42 C.F.R. Part 2, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 11996 (HIPAA), 45 C.F.R. Pts. 160 & 164. Generally, the therapist may not disclose any information identifying a participant unless:

  • The participant consents in writing; OR
  • The disclosure is allowed by a court order; OR
  • The disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for research, audit, or program evaluation; OR
  • The participant commits or threatens to commit a crime either at the program or against any person who works for the program.
Federal law and regulations do not protect any information about suspected child abuse or neglect from being reported under state law to appropriate state or local authorities.

Recipients of this information may redisclose it only in connection with their official duties. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission or in accordance with the legal exceptions described above.