Nine years ago, my beautiful 24-year-old daughter was drinking to lethal levels almost every night. Despite having been to several excellent treatment programs, she relapsed again and again. In desperation, my husband and I dug deep into our retirement savings to send her to a long-term treatment program specializing in identifying and dealing with the trauma underlying her addictive behaviors. I am deeply grateful that, as a result of the comprehensive treatment she received, my daughter has now been sober for almost eight years and has been able to completely turn her life around.
Frankly, though, finding this program was a matter of luck. A neighbor had happened to mention this program during a picnic many months before. Amazingly, during the 16 panic-filled hours when my daughter was admitted to the E.R. with a potentially-lethal blood alcohol level, I was able to remember the conversation and talk my daughter into attending.
Nine years later, as the number of drug overdose deaths climbs ever higher, finding the best treatment is still a matter of luck. But it doesn’t have to be.
In June 2020, my daughter and I launched the nonprofit Conquer Addiction to provide a free searchable database that helps patients and their families find rehabs with excellent success rates. As the number of treatment centers following standardized research protocols to determine how their patients are doing post-treatment grows, this database will become increasingly useful.
But helping patients find the best treatment is just the beginning of the benefits that the smart use of data will bring to addiction and mental health treatment. Data has the power to transform the behavioral health care field, just like it has changed the way we listen to music, catch a ride from the airport and choose which book to buy.
In fact, academic research has proven that providing clinicians with patient-reported data helps patients get better faster during treatment by identifying those who aren’t progressing well. And as the use of post-treatment outcomes research becomes widespread, we’ll be able to determine which types of treatment are most effective with different patient populations.
In fact, I believe so passionately in the ability of data to improve treatment that I self-funded Vista Research Group, Inc. and worked without pay for the first four years. Today Vista offers easy-to-use, real-time patient monitoring that helps patients get better faster during treatment as well as post-treatment follow-up research that measures and benchmarks success rates for different types of treatment.
What’s really exciting is that we are just at the starting gate of learning how to use data to improve the effectiveness of addiction and mental health treatment. I anticipate that within the next several years, the majority of reputable addiction treatment centers will be reaping the benefits of monitoring their patients during and after treatment, and that researchers will be using the research results to identify the treatment modalities that result in the best long-term outcomes for patients based upon their drug use history and demographic profile. This promise is what drives every member of the Vista team (almost all of whom have been personally touched by addiction or severe mental illness) to go the extra mile for our clients every day.
If you share our passion and want to be a leader in using patient-reported data to improve behavioral health care, let’s join forces. Please call me or any member of our team at (800) 215-3201 or set up a time to chat. Thank you for all the hard work you do helping families and their loved ones!
Joanna Conti, Founder & CEO
Vista Research Group, Inc. and Conquer Addiction, Inc.
February 11, 2021