Surprisingly, one of the biggest hindrances for seeking treatment for addiction is transportation. Some addicts have supportive family members that are willing to drive them to and from their rehab or meeting of choice, but not everyone is as fortunate. Some addicts have lost everything in their addiction, including the means to a car. Even getting a bus pass can be hard as just “walking to the bus stop alone can be dotted with temptations. Harsh winter temperatures could dissuade someone from making the trek.”

This is where a new, pilot program developed by the St. Vincent Medical Charity Center in Cleveland comes into play. According to the program, “an Uber arrives outside their door, ready to bring them straight to treatment.” It brings “convenience, speed, dignity, and respect to that journey.” The program is offered free of charge, and preliminary results have been positive. According to the results, offering a free program “could help improve attendance rates for assessment and treatment appointments at the hospital’s IOP program (Intensive Outpatient Treatment.”)

So why does this program seem to be having positive results? One reason is that an Uber car is usually nicer than the average vehicle, more convenient, and definitely less depressing than having to take the bus to an in patient treatment program. Being treated kindly and respectfully like a human being instead of shamefully being driven to rehab by parents, friends, or others can help the addict feel positive about the journey ahead.

The numbers are in from the pilot program and the results are stunning. “Thirty days into the 90 day pilot, the 11 patients enrolled in the pilot have received a total of 156 free Uber rides and have not missed a single IOP or individual counseling session which is “amazing”, according to an outpatient manager at the hospital.

Prior to this program, over 20% of addicts missed their initial appointments, which led to a drop in missing future appointments. Many of these addicts again do not have supportive families or friends who are willing to give them a ride to where they need to be. They also may have lost their cars or licenses due to DUIs. Sometimes just having a car showing up at the house and waiting outside for them can make a world of difference. It can also improve accountability.

The problem facing the hospital is now with funding. Currently, the hospital is handling the funding internally, but “the team is looking to finalize a significant grant and are seeking additional funding sources for its estimated $184,000 price tag for year-one.”

Hopefully, the pilot program can get the necessary funding they continue to need because these initial results are exciting and could spread to other hospitals throughout the country. A program manager states that they would “like to continue the service because for one-patients who stay in treatment longer do better-so long as they can get there. And secondly, free Uber rides align with the hospital’s mission to treat customers and patients with dignity and respect. “ He continues to explain, “It’s going to make a huge difference. As long as I’ve been in the treatment field for over 25 years, I’ve never seen anything as exciting as this.”

Because addiction carries a stigma, many of these patients have not been treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve in seeking recovery. When treated well, the results show that recovering addicts respond better to treatment plans. Hopefully, the grants for the program will continue to come in, and the Cleveland hospital can be a model for a national discussion on finding better transportation for addiction patients in general.

Are you looking for help for an addiction to drugs and alcohol? Are you ashamed of your addiction and aren’t sure where to turn? Don’t wait. Contact Linda Rose today at 949-558-4723 and get started on your roadmap towards recovery at Footprints Behavioral Health.