SUTS Conference 2018: Reaching the “Unreachable” with Co-Occurring Education Groups

Across the nation, 60 million adults aren’t receiving adequate primary care, 33% of adults with serious mental illness aren’t receiving any mental health services, and 90% of people with substance use conditions aren’t receiving any care for their substance use.

Yet individuals with co-occurring SMI and substance use are often among the highest utilizers in their systems of care. At Telecare, these co-occurring conditions are very prevalent: 70% of our clients are also dealing with substance use. The majority of these individuals do not recognize that their substance use is affecting their health and wellness, aren’t currently considering treatment, and aren’t considering a change in their use of substances. 

In August 2018, Telecare’s Vice President of Operations, David Heffron, and Director of Special Projects - Substance Use Treatment Services (SUTS), Scott Madover, presented at the Substance Use Disorder Statewide Conference put on by the California Department of Health Care Services. We are pleased to share their presentation, “Reaching the Unreachable: Engaging People with SUTS in Pre-Contemplation Phase,” and their ingredients for success below.

Download a PDF of the Presentation

Click the image above to download a pdf of our suts presentation

Click the image above to download a pdf of our suts presentation

Reaching the Unreachable: Engaging People with SUTS in Pre-Contemplation Phase

So how do we help people who not yet ready for change? How can improve health and wellness — when a person does not recognize the impact of substance use in their life?

We begin from a place of curiosity, conversation, information, and engagement — for staff and clients — and we cultivate an environment where change might be possible.

As part of Telecare’s Whole Person Care initiative, we developed and launched a curriculum called Co-Occurring Education Groups (COEG). The 16-week curriculum is intended to address the shared challenges providers and systems face: reaching the “unreachable” through respect, engagement, education, and ongoing support.

COEG Basic Framework

Each session in the 16-week curriculum covers a different topic of discussion: from understanding addiction, to recognizing triggers, to reflecting on one's hopes and goals. In some of Telecare’s programs, groups are offered weekly; in others, groups are offered several times a week. Each group is moderated by a trained staff member and takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Due to Telecare’s many types of programs, the curriculum was designed to supplement — not replace — the regular clinical services that a program already delivers. Likewise, the curriculum does not contain service-line specific information, therefore, almost any program can use the materials. The groups are open, so new participants can join a group at any time. This flexible drop-in format gives individuals ownership over their future.

Ingredients for Success

  • Keep on going

  • Teach it all

  • Share the facilitation

  • Stick to the script

  • Be prepared

  • Include everyone

  • Educate and explore

  • Show respect and non-judgment

  • Keep groups open

  • Schedule groups regularly

More Information

Brochures & Information

COEG Resources