Lessons from the Pilot Program

Lessons from the Pilot Program

We believe that a stay at rehab is only the beginning of treatment. Therefore, there needs to be a solid plan in place for families. This will help them hold an individual accountable over a duration of time. Our goal is to not only help the person suffering from addiction, but help the family heal as well. The success of programs for pilots like the Human Motivation Study (HIMS) and Physician Health Program (PHP) outline ideal forms of treatment. 

  • The success of HIMS and PHP prove that long term planning and structure are key components of achieving sobriety. 
  • Clear boundaries allow for positive and negative consequences. 
  • Role models and recovery mentors are very effective towards accountability. 
  • Recovery is anchored in the family. Addiction takes its toll on the entire family, and it is imperative that everyone works together as one unit after treatment. 

Success Elements of HIMS and PHP

There are two very successful programs with proven results for long-term recovery. They are; the Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) for pilots and Physician Health Program (PHP) for physicians. Both programs boast an above an 80% success rate at long-term recovery. Other general programs without a similar foundation have a success rate of less than 20%.

These programs share a few things in common, including long-term care (up to 5 years) and structured planning. To increase the success of rehab, our family recovery program borrows elements from these treatment plans. 

Lesson from the pilot program like PHP and HIMS start with the fact that they WILL be successful. Families can benefit from adopting this positive mindset. 

The successful programs for pilots and doctors are based on Eight Essential Elements.

Positive Rewards and Negative Consequences

The family sets a clear definition of what a successful recovery looks like. Consequently, a reward system is established when expectations are met. If there is a return to using, there are consequences that help facilitate recovery.

Frequent Drug Testing

In the case of HIMS and PHP, pilots and doctors are required to undergo routine drug testing for 5 years. A drug test or breathalyzer can be a great deterrent for returning to use. And in the event of a relapse, it allows the family to respond quickly.

12-Step Programs and Abstinence Standards

APs and family members will to seek the help of 12-step programs and participate both together and separately. The expectation is that abstinence is the only measurable standard of success.

Viable Role Models and Recovery Mentors

In early recovery, it is important for AP’s to have the support of peer groups. This is necessary to put in greater perspective what a successful recovery could look like. Recovery coaches and/or sponsors help to teach the person of concern what they know about recovery.

Modified Lifestyles

As recovery enhancing decisions are supported and encouraged, living situations, careers, and relationships may have to change. The family will support positive transitions. Lessons from the pilot program teach us that we must consider sobriety a part of our new lifestyle. 

Active and Sustained Monitoring 

Third party monitoring of drug tests and compliance with a program allows families to step out of the “policing” role. The AP should develop a trusting relationship with a team that can advocate for them.  Lessons from the pilot program create accountability for the person of concern. 

Active Managing of Relapse 

Early detection of relapse is a critical lesson from the pilot program. Returns to use are viewed as opportunities for individuals and their families to re-evaluate the plan. Consequently, they learn new information, and recommit to following a program.

Continuing Care Approach 

Similar to diabetes or any other chronic illness, addiction is a disease that requires ongoing management. A solid treatment plan considers the trajectory of the next 5 years. It also ensures that care extends beyond rehabilitation, towards sustained recovery. Integrating these eight elements in a recovery program produces sustainable, long-term recovery. Individuals don’t have access to the structured programs of pilots and doctors, but families can step in and offer similar support and structure.

Family Success

Addiction can take its toll on everyone in a family. It’s common to see in-fighting, emotional withdrawal, grief, and secret keeping. Families have reached the point of accepting chaos within their lives. However, the reality is that they are functioning to the best of their ability while dealing with long-term addiction. The family may not be dysfunctional, but they are in crisis. 

The success of our program is dependent on families agreeing to support their loved one on a defined new path. It’s a commitment to stand by them emotionally and physically for three months to even a year. 

The plan is put in place to allow the AP to join the family in a healthy way. It is provided while they undergo treatment and for several intense months after. Hopefully at that time, the family and the AP have shifted into maintaining long-term recovery. Committing to the Dynamic Family Recovery Program has some benefits. Lessons from the pilot program can be applied to help families learn how to support the needs of their loved one, combat the addiction, and re-stabilize their relationships. 


About Adam Banks

Adam Banks is a certified interventionist and the owner of Adam Banks Recovery. After receiving an MBA from the University of Chicago, Adam built a company acquired by United Health Care. His discipline and attention to detail comes from his former career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Today, Adam is dedicated to helping others achieve long-term sobriety. His work has guided executives, pilots, and physicians on paths to recovery. Adam brings families together through a loving and inclusive approach. Adam has authored four books on addiction. His recent work, Navigating Recovery Ground School: 12 Lessons to Help Families Navigate Recovery, educates families on the entire intervention process. He also offers a free video course for families considering an intervention for a loved one.

Adam is available for alcohol and drug intervention services in New York, Long Island, the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally.

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