An Interview with Kevin Armington, a Workit Doctor Providing Online Addiction Care in New Jersey

Meet Doctor Kevin Armington, a key member of the Workit Health Team in New Jersey.

Can you tell me about your experience? What made you want to work in the addiction field?

I took a circuitous route to the practice of addiction medicine by way of AIDS activism in the 1980s. After college, I moved to NYC and worked at an organization that provided support to people with AIDS. My job was to help put out a newsletter on experimental treatments for AIDS and its complications. Surprisingly, I found myself becoming really interested in viruses and medicine. Eventually, I realized that I wanted to actually give care to people, not just write about it, so I went to medical school and trained to be a primary care provider. My first job was in a clinic for homeless patients with HIV infection. As you can imagine, addiction was common in this community. Actually, as I learned along the course of my career, addiction is common in EVERY medical practice, if you look for it. By the time I had finished my training, the dawn of triple-drug therapy for HIV infection (known as “highly active antiretroviral treatment”, or HAART to its friends) had arrived. These multidrug cocktails arrested HIV progression as nothing else had in the prior 15 years, but there was a catch: it involved lots of pills and there were lots of side effects.

Furthermore, patients had to be unbelievably adherent to taking every single dose. This might mean taking 10 pills three times a day, on an empty stomach, while drinking several gallons of water daily to avoid getting kidney stones. How well is someone with active addiction going to be able to handle this kind of treatment regimen with something approaching 100% adherence?? Not well, in most cases! So many of my patients first got better, then quickly got worse because they had developed resistance to these early drugs. Now, we get to addiction medicine. In order to treat their HIV or diabetes or high blood pressure or asthma, I had to help them address their addiction issues. In a sense, I became an addiction medicine practitioner so I could be an effective primary care provider. Only later did I realize that treating addiction would become the focus of my career.

Workit strives to be different than the traditional 30k rehabs. What about Workit stands out as different in your eyes?

The first thing that comes to mind is Workit Health makes it EASY to get treated for addiction. When I began treating addiction disorders, there was nothing easy about it. Most of us didn’t get enough training on how to screen patients for addiction disorders or how to talk to them about it. The treatments we had were not good (think Antabuse). A lot of insurance plans wouldn’t pay for inpatient treatment. Just being able to refer patients to needle exchange programs was a huge step forward. Workit Health’s model removes so many obstacles and makes a very effective treatment available to a patient no matter where they live in the state. The patient is in the comfort of their own space, they see an experienced addiction specialist without being screened by 5 people first, in most cases they start treatment that day and they feel better over the next 24 hours. As far as I’m concerned, this should be the gold standard: a model that gets effective medication in patients’ bodies quickly. With addiction, we are usually dealing with narrow windows of time when people are able to outrun their addiction and are open to help. If you don’t engage that patient quickly and give them a reason to stick around, you will lose them.

Another thing that stands out about Workit Health is that support staff is very accessible to patients. Patients can submit a chat that is seen and responded to that day. They have access to lots of IT people who can help troubleshoot technical problems. The emphasis on counseling and education are strengths of our treatment model.

Many of us in recovery have previously had negative experiences with clinicians and the medical field, often because we’ve had fear around disclosing our struggle with addiction. Do you have any tips on how those of us in recovery can begin to trust the clinicians or programs that are providing our care?

Number one, try to overcome any feelings of shame you have about addiction. It is something that happened to you, not something you chose to do. You have had the integrity to face it head-on and you deserve respect for your honesty and efforts. Talk about your struggle with drugs or alcohol and your recovery with the same tone you would use to talk about any other medical problem you experienced. Give the medical provider the benefit of the doubt and assume you will get a positive reception. At some point in the history taking, the medical provider should ask about alcohol and drug use and that is a good time to say, unapologetically, something like “I no longer use (alcohol or drugs) and I have been in recovery for XX time.” If they do not ask about alcohol and drug use, a good time to bring it up would be when they are asking about your past medical history.

Example: Medical Provider: “Do you have any medical problems?”
You: “I have a history of (addiction to xx, alcoholism) but I have been in recovery
for XX time.”

The medical provider should ask some details about your use in the past, treatment, and what you are doing to maintain your recovery. Be forthcoming. If you sense a hesitant or negative response when you disclose your addiction, you need to decide if you can work with this person or if it might be better to find a different medical provider. Not all medical providers have enough training in addiction medicine and some carry prejudices. I think this is getting better, but I definitely still see it. Trust your gut. If your new medical provider does not know much about addiction and recovery but receives your news with an openness, is curious and non-judgmental, it is probably worth continuing to work with them. They should be comfortable asking you questions; do not assume this is a bad thing – it means they are open to learning about addiction and getting to know you better. But if you sense judgment, don’t hesitate to look for another medical provider. If you keep seeing the medical provider and start using again, don’t be afraid to let them know and remind them that addiction is a chronic disease if they seem surprised.

What do you wish you could tell people about addiction, that is most commonly misunderstood?

In my experience, many people see addiction as a character flaw or weakness that could be solved if only the person who has it would make enough effort. The message I have for people who don’t know much about addiction is:

  1. Addiction is much more prevalent than most people realize and plenty of people with addiction continue to function in their lives as if nothing were wrong. So I would say that addiction is everyone’s problem, we are all affected by it whether directly or indirectly, and we all have a stake in getting it out of the shadows and making treatment accessible.
  2. Stopping drug or alcohol use is not simply a matter of will power. Addiction is a disease that has powerful physical and psychological effects on people who have it and these effects need professional intervention, often including medication.
  3. Addiction is a chronic illness, like high blood pressure or diabetes. I have never treated a patient with a chronic medical illness that they are able to control 100% of the time. So, it makes sense that people with addiction may backtrack sometimes and start using again. In fact, this is the norm. When a person starts using again, they need compassion and care, not judgment and shaming.
  4. Even though we have effective treatment, many people with addiction cannot access it for lots of reasons. They may not know that medication is available. Perhaps the nearest medical provider who can prescribe medication is too far away. Their state Medicaid program may not cover it and they can’t afford to pay for it out of pocket. We have work to do as a society to ensure that all patients with addiction are able to access effective treatment.

Self-care is so important when you spend so much time caring for others. What is your favorite thing to do to practice self-care?

So important, so often neglected! My favorite thing is probably playing the piano and I do that most days. As a medical provider, I feel that I have to practice what I preach, so I exercise regularly and meditate most mornings. Favorite indulgent self-care activities: cooking (then eating), and watching TV with my husband!

Each local landscape seems to be tackling the opioid crisis differently. What do you think is unique about New Jersey?

I would say the things that make NJ unique are mostly good.  Needle exchange was embraced here earlier than in other parts of the country.  The state Medicaid program is much more progressive than in many states in terms of covering addiction treatments.  Some of the challenges include the large population of immigrants with no health care coverage and our proximity to NYC where many of the trends in the drug-using community start out.  I would also say that the typical NJ resident has a kind of no-nonsense attitude and expects results quickly, so Workit Health is an ideal fit!

5 Ways to Celebrate The New Year While Sober And in Quarantine

New Year’s Eve is usually spent celebrating the year ahead. This year is going to be different with social distancing orders in place across the world. 

We are here to share 5 ways you can celebrate at home safe and sober. 

  1. Have a Zoom game night: Want to still hang out with friends but stay socially distanced? Get a group of friends together to play virtual games. Do some research about virtual game sites you can all join from your own homes. 
  2. Dress up and cook a nice dinner: If you are like me, NYE is a great excuse to get dressed up, go out for a nice dinner, and celebrate the year ahead. Why not get dressed up and cook a fancy dinner at home? Many restaurants have copycat recipes online. Maybe you can find your favorite dish and try to recreate it at home. 
  3. Reflect on 2020 and write down your 2021 wishes and goals: Let’s hope 2021 is a better year. 
  4. Have a pajama party: Wear fun pj’s and watch your favorite movies. 
  5. Try out different mocktails and appetizers: Maybe you will find your new favorite thing to bring to a party in 2021. 

Here is how some of the Workit Team plan to ring in the new year: 

Dynese Addotta

Dynese Addotta: “New Year’s Eve is my birthday!! I will be spending it with my Love, enjoying each other’s company. Have a nice dinner and pop some Martinelli’s non-alcohol champagne at midnight!

Sam Keeler: “We like to have a dish from different countries for the hour that they turn midnight! IDK of a fun bloggy way to say that though lol but would highly recommend it! New Years around the world”

Katie’s dogs

Katie Nelson: “I’ll be spending NYE at home with the dogs. They are terrified of fireworks, so every NYE I make sure I’m home to comfort them and we ring in the new year together. I wouldn’t choose to spend my evening any other way. During the COVID pandemic, I’ve found the company of my dogs so therapeutic.”

Kali Lux: “I will be celebrating with sparkling apple cider and games like Bananagrams and Codenames. I know some friends who are planning sober Zoom dance parties which sounds very fun for something more high energy.”

Courtney’s family

Courtney Todd: “My family plans to order Chinese and watch movies in our pajamas. Much more laid back than normal and I am actually looking forward to it.” 

 

 

 

 

Wishing everyone a happy and safe new year. Here’s to 2021!

The Ultimate Guide to Handling the Holidays Sober

Navigating the holiday season can be especially stressful for people in recovery.

This year is expected to be even more challenging due to the restrictions and regulations put in place to protect us all from COVID-19.

We have compiled lists of blogs to help you navigate holiday parties, family gatherings,  travel, overcoming COVID anxiety, self-care, and tips and tricks for when you are having a hard time.

Holiday parties and gatherings

Travel

COVID-19

Self-care 

What to do when you’ve hit a rough spot

Outside Resources

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Quitting Drinking

Navigating the process of quitting drinking isn’t an easy one. We understand daily stress alone can bring on cravings like a tidal wave.  

We have compiled lists of blogs to help you navigate quitting drinking while dealing with the holidays, relationship drama, traveling for work, or just the day to day stress.

Blogs about Quitting Drinking:  

Harm Reduction, Moderation, Abstinence, MAT Treatment, and AA Blogs 

Blogs about Maintaining Sobriety During the Holidays 

Blogs about Sobriety and Relationships

Drinking in the Workplace, Travel, and Other Blogs

Outside Resources: 

Premera Blue Cross Health Insurance

The decision to attend rehab isn’t as simple as googling “best rehab center near me.” Individuals are looking to circumvent the potentially catastrophic financial burden that results from picking the wrong facility.

If you have been struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, it’s important to understand the best options available under your preferred insurance carrier.

Premera Blue Cross provides health insurance and other services to more than 2 million people across the U.S. With several coverage plans to choose from, you are likely to discover a plan that fits your needs.

Will Premera Pay for my Rehab?

When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2008, it provided that insurance companies were to grant treatment services to their planholders. With the right Premera plan, you should have ample access to these centers.

Premera has numerous options for rehab coverage as well as general mental health coverage, designed to help individuals overcome addiction and feel healthier long-term. To verify how your policy covers a given facility’s costs, it’s important to call your insurance agent right away.

Don’t postpone rehab any longer, call your agent and get the ball rolling on your rehabilitation today.

How Brutal is Drug and Alcohol Addiction to American Society?

The addiction crisis in America is omnipresent at this point. Since 1990, drug overdose deaths have tripled. Today, 90% of users start before the age of 18.

For things to get better, people have to start asking for help. It’s long been established that addiction should be treated as a chronic illness, especially since it poses such elevated risks to society at-large.

The reason why many struggling individuals don’t seek treatment is the cost, which is why having the right plan is so important.

Premera’s Dedication to Drug Rehab

Depending on your plan, you can get either a portion or full amount of your drug and alcohol rehab paid.

Premera serves customers across the U.S. with easy to access, comprehensive coverage. They can simply log in to their account to get the right information.

Why Getting Rehab Coverage is Important

Premera understands the necessity of detox as a critical first step along the path to recovery. A lot of people think they can easily get past this on their own, but it’s much easier said than done.

People must undergo effective treatments at a credible facility. Medically assisted detox is the only solution to a return to normal.

No single treatment is a cure-all for everyone. Treatment options vary depending on the specifics pertaining to the patient, but behavioral therapies are on the table to help combat drug and alcohol abuse.

The focus of any rehab treatment should be firmly placed on the recovery process. It shouldn’t be a matter of stressing out about payments, and Premera BCBS understands this. Their coverage insurance provides better treatment options and less stress along the way.

Background of Premera BCBS

Premera is a non-profit licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since 1933, they have been serving individuals and businesses with top of the line health insurance packages engineered for benefits and cost-effectiveness.

Entering a rehab facility is one of the biggest decisions a person has to make. It shouldn’t be muddled with unnecessary stress.

Qualified Agents Who Have Helped Millions

Premera has a team of qualified agents who are standing by to answer your questions. They make it easy for people to navigate the website and find information about coverage options.

Their trained experts know all the important information you’ll need when making decisions about addiction treatment and rehab possibilities.

Asking Questions Beyond the Facility

In addition to the rehab itself, ask about your medications and alternative treatment options that are available with your plan.

Things like methadone can be effective in helping addicts transition back into a normal form of life. Individuals overcoming addiction will also need access to resources like additional medical services, family therapy, parenting instructions, and social services.

Learn about what other treatment options are available within the rehab treatment facility itself and how they are offered within your Premera plan.

Learn More About Premera Today

Premera has affordable options for individual plans, Medicare supplement plans, and group benefits. It’s time to realize the coverage options that will work best for you.

To learn more about Premera BCBS or your rehab options in general, contact Workit Health today.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Life in Recovery

Navigating life in recovery can be a difficult task, we want to make sure you not only have a successful recovery but an enjoyable life in recovery.

We have compiled lists of blogs to help you navigate parties, holidays, travel, dating, friendships, self-care, living a healthy lifestyle, tips and tricks for when you are having a hard time and more. 

Blogs about navigating parties, holidays, work, work events, and travel

Parties and holidays:

Travel:

Work and work events:

Mocktail recipe blogs- because being in recovery doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fun drinks!

Blogs about exercise and healthy living

Exercise:

Healthy living:

Blogs about dating, friendships, self-care, what to do when you hit a rough spot and more

Dating and friendships:

Self-care: 

What to do when you’ve hit a rough spot: 

Other:

Outside resources: 

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield for Addiction Recovery Treatment

When it comes to addiction, it’s important to identify the best recovery options for you. Many people think they will overcome the struggle on their own, but this is much easier said than done.

It’s also critical to know what your options are given your current insurance provider. This will determine what rehab facilities you can attend and for how long.

Most addicts must attend a multitude of recovery programs and seek numerous methods. There isn’t a magic bullet solution.

Let’s examine some of the most pertinent information available about Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans and what impact it should have in your addiction journey.

Facts about Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield

The New Jersey-based organization is one of the biggest not-for-profit health insurance companies in America. They feature several accommodating plans that are accepted by many rehab centers in the country, including a PPO option that contracts with multiple medical providers.

With nearly 40 years of experience, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield has developed a reputation of reliability and flexibility for those in need of alcohol or drug treatment. Their top-notch techniques ensure patients receive the necessary attention and care to address the causes and patterns of addiction. The ultimate goal? Preventing patients from relapse.

Customization Options

One of the advantages people love about Horizon is their customizability of plans. They strive to reach as many patients in need as possible.

By engineering programs that improve the alcohol and opiate crisis, they are able to give a higher number of patients hope than ever before.

Coverage of drug and alcohol treatment

Horizon BCBS is synonymous with providing high-quality healthcare and disease management for a variety of individuals throughout all 50 states.

They have a special focus on the overall efficiency of alcohol and drug treatment centers and other local facilities.

Paying rehab costs

Rehab costs vary greatly depending on the state or country as well as the type of detox and treatment program being employed.

Horizon has been quite receptive when it comes to helping plan holders with programs related to alcoholism, inpatient and outpatient treatment, as well as detoxification efforts.

Mental health treatment

They also understand just how intrinsically mental health issues can be tied to alcoholism and drug abuse.

A lot of patients who are admitted to rehab facilities become dually diagnosed with severe mental disorders. Horizon BCBS understands this connection better than most, which is why they try to help out with the payment making process.

Inpatient and outpatient coverage

Horizon’s TotalCare plan options cover the expenses of alcohol and drug rehab treatments if they are within in-network facilities.

This is in contrast to other Horizon offerings, referred to as “fee-for-service” plans. These are typically paid for separately.

Detoxification Coverage

One of the most critical aspects of recovery is that of detoxification. During this phase, the patient will experience tumultuous mental and physical symptoms known as withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, leading to increased heart rates, excessive sweating, and more. In some cases, around the clock care is needed to ensure a patient’s personal safety.

How to know if I’m covered?

Contact a specialist with Horizon to learn more about customizable rehab treatment programs. Ask specific questions about financing and learn how to fit into a plan that provides sufficient levels of inpatient and outpatient care as well as other specialized services you may need.

Learn how Horizon can cover all, or a portion of, outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, detox, and acute inpatient hospitalizations.

The importance of seeking rehabilitation

It’s clear that anyone who suffers from alcohol or drug addiction needs to enroll in a facility to help them turn things around. It’s one of the biggest and most proven effective steps towards full recovery.

When patients can remain in rehab facilities for extended amounts of time, they usually are less likely to succumb to alcoholism in the future.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield prides itself on granting the most flexible plan options around. With Workit Health, we can help coordinate with Horizon and create a treatment program that is both affordable and effective.

Learn how Workit Health can start helping you today.

The Ultimate Guide to Staying Sober During COVID-19

Regardless of how much it’s impacting you now, the news surrounding the coronavirus and the disruptions to day-to-day life it’s causing are stressful.

We have compiled an ultimate guide filled with resources to help you stay sober, keep your mental health strong, stay active, and stay entertained. 

Blogs to Help You Stay Sober During COVID-19:

Blogs to Help You Stay Mentally Healthy During COVID-19:

Blogs to Help You Stay Physically Healthy During COVID-19: 

Blogs to Help You Stay Entertained During COVID-19: 

Other Resources:

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Through Withdrawal

Going through withdrawal from opioids or any other substance you may be using is scary.

We are here to provide you with resources to help you understand what withdrawal symptoms are, what to expect, how to get comfortable, and most of all how to get support when you need it.

Opioid Withdrawal Resources:

Suboxone and other Medication Withdrawal Resources: 

Other Resources: 

If you are in need of immediate medical attention, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.