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Interview with Admissions Coordinator JT Conway

Providing Trusted, Evidence-Based
Treatment for Three Decades and Counting

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Often the first real step toward getting the help necessary to overcome an alcohol or drug addiction is to pick up the phone. It may seem like a small thing, but the minutes spent talking to an admissions coordinator at the other end of the line can set the tone for the first weeks in recovery.

JT Conway is an admissions coordinator with Michael’s House Treatment Centers in Palm Springs, California. He’s had years of experience working with patients as they take those tremulous first steps toward treatment that will change their lives and help them stop drinking and using drugs.

Conway encourages callers not to spend too much time worrying about an admissions call: “It’s just a straightforward, relaxed, confidential chat.”

For you, that first call may be just that: a brief conversation about some possibilities in treatment. You are welcome to take that initial information, ponder it on your own time for a while, and call back when you are ready, or you can take the call a step further and ask some questions so you can better determine what your choices in recovery will look like and what you can expect to experience. Your admissions coordinator can even assist you in connecting with the rehab program with the resources to give you exactly what you need in treatment and recovery, “a facility that best meets the caller’s needs clinically, medically and financially,” says Conway.

Getting the Ball Rolling

When you call your admissions coordinator, it’s all about you and your experience, what you are going through right now and the help that you need to manage whatever you are facing.

Says Conway: “When someone calls in, they are generally a little nervous, so what we try to do is become teammates with them in the admissions process. We realize how hard it is to pick up that 10,000-pound telephone and make a call for help. We also understand that it can be a little awkward to open up to some random person on the other end of the line.

“With that in mind, we make sure to be supportive and really listen to what the caller’s needs are.”

calling admissions

Before you call: Relax. There is no pressure. You can talk about whatever it is that you need in depth or keep the conversation at a surface level. There is no expectation placed upon you. Your comfort level is of utmost importance.


In order to better help you determine the best route in recovery, your admissions coordinator may ask you a little bit about what’s going on with you. Says Conway: “Callers can expect to be asked to give a little background on what’s happening in their lives that brings them to call us. Some people take that question and run with it; 10 minutes later, they’re still chatting, and that’s great! Others might give us a five-word answer, and that’s okay, too. In that case, we’ll help them dig a little deeper and ask about how long they’ve been suffering, and how much and how often they’re using.”

Before you call: Consider what you think are the most important things you are facing right now. If you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, mental health issues, family problems, issues at work, divorce, loss of a loved one, domestic violence or abuse – all of this is important because it impacts how you are feeling and the support you will need in treatment.

Previous Treatment

Your past experience in treatment and attempts at getting clean and sober can have a big impact on the choices you make today.

Says Conway: “We’ll typically ask about any previous treatment. Also, we will inquire about how this is affecting their job, their relationships and their life in general.”For example, if your experience tells you that outpatient addiction treatment doesn’t work for you, this is important information. It may mean that a residential treatment setting will be more effective, and you will know to narrow down your options to include only programs that can offer you the 24-hour support you need.

Additionally, your experience at home and at work can impact your choices in treatment as well. If, for example, you have family members or roommates at home who are actively drinking or using drugs, if you are surrounded by drugs and alcohol at work, or if the stress of certain relationships is contributing to your urges to drink and use drugs, then you may need to remove yourself from those situations and enroll in a program that provides room and board so you can better focus on your commitment to recovery.

Before you call: Consider the details of your life (e.g., where you work or go to school, the people you are close to, the atmosphere in your neighborhood, etc.). Do you think you’ll be able to continue doing what you’re doing and attend treatment as well, or do you want to extricate yourself from your current life and make a complete change?

Co-occurring Disorders

The existence of co-occurring medical problems, vice addictions and/or mental health disorders or symptoms can deeply impact your use of symptoms and similarly affect your choices in treatment.

Says Conway: “Once we understand the problem clearly, we will discuss any medical issues that the caller may have, and we will look into any underlying mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, that could be fueling a substance abuse issue.”

It is important that you choose a drug rehab program that has the ability to provide you with comprehensive care and treatment for every issue that is impacting your ability to get and stay clean and sober. Mental health treatment and medical treatment may need to play a role in your recovery plan.

Before you call: Consider some of the mental health and/or medical issues that you have been experiencing lately, everything from minor depression and serious anxiety to urges to gamble, hallucinations, anger issues, or mood swings. Some may be caused directly by your use of drugs or alcohol, or they may predate serious use of substances, too. These are important issues to note to your admissions coordinator.

dual diagnosis

Location of Treatment

Initially, you may assume that you should choose a drug rehab program that is close to home, but the fact is that the primary concern is connecting you with the comprehensive care that will provide you with every treatment service you need to lay a solid foundation in recovery – and that may not be the rehab facility next door.

Says Conway: “When you think about it, your hometown is often where a lot of your triggers are. Traveling for treatment has been proven to be more effective for long-term sobriety, so what people often miss is asking about quality of care [and] success rates of the treatment models used.

“If you’re shopping for khakis, I’d recommend going to the closest store to your house. When it comes to getting help in a life-or-death situation, I encourage the folks I talk with to go the facility that offers them the best experience given their needs and that offers them the highest likelihood of success.”

Before you call: Consider your willingness to travel. Would you be opposed to venturing out of town or even out of state to get the best possible treatment for your needs?

Budgetary Concerns

Money is a commonly cited obstacle to enrolling in drug rehab among people who are ready to get help but are unsure about the logistics of moving forward. The good news is that recent legislative changes to health care and insurance in the US have translated into increased access to drug and alcohol treatment for many people who previously could not afford services. This means that if you don’t already have health insurance coverage that will assist you in covering the cost of care, there may be options available to you. Additionally, there are often ways to finance any costs that are not covered. An admissions coordinator can answer questions about these issues as well as connect you with people who can help you get the financial support you need.

It’s important to note that addiction is a medical disorder and that medical care is vital. This is not a frivolous expense and should absolutely take budgetary priority when it strikes. Conway encourages callers to consider “what the future will look like if they don’t get this problem resolved.”

budgeting concerns

Before you call: Get a copy of your health insurance policy if you have one. Also, consider the resources you may have available to cover out-of-pocket costs as well. Most patients pay for treatment by utilizing a number of different financial sources. Each situation is different, and an admissions coordinator can help you determine what your best options are.

The Right Addiction Treatment Program for You

With all the information in hand about where you’ve been, where you are, where you’re headed, and the details of how you would prefer to get there, an admissions coordinator can assist you in choosing the specific treatment program that will best help you put substance abuse and addiction in the past.

Says Conway: “We will look to make a match between the caller’s needs and the facility that can best meet those needs. Then it’s on to picking a time and day that works to start on the journey to a new and improved life!”

Before you call: Consider when you will be ready to go to treatment. If you and your admissions coordinator can work out the details, are you ready to start today?

The Journey of Recovery Starts with a Single Phone Call

admissions call

The change from active addiction to active recovery can begin the moment you pick up the phone. Says Conway: “The admissions process begins when a patient makes the initial call, and it can extend well beyond the patient’s departure from treatment. There have been occasions where we’ve been fortunate enough to have folks follow up with us and let us know how they’re doing after treatment and how long they have been sober. That is unquestionably the best part of the job!”

If you are living with a substance abuse or addiction issues, are you ready to make the call? Pick up the phone and contact us at Michael’s House today. Learn more about how we can help you connect with the treatment services that can change your life.