Ask the Expert: Medical Director Dr. Tim Kelly

What was it about Fairbanks that interested you?
I knew recovery was possible, because I had seen it personally in my own family. I thought it would be great to help others accomplish what I had witnessed.

What are some of the struggles that people go through when coming to treatment for the first time?
They underestimate the problem, don’t see the need for long-term care and support and don’t realize how many life changes are needed to support recovery.

How do you help patients make lifestyle changes to support their recovery?
We help our patients learn coping skills they need to create a create a support network and identify and treat their associated medical and mental health problems. 

How has addiction treatment changed over the years?
There is more awareness that addiction is a chronic disease. Today, we focus on recovery management and do not treat it like an acute disease; because it’s not.

How have the views of addiction changed?
Addiction treatment is starting to look like the management of other chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension because of medication management and long-term support in recovery programs. We didn’t always have the Supportive Living Program, Hope Academy, recovery coaches and an active alumni association. Fairbanks has evolved into a program that is providing long-term support, not short-term treatment.

How do you prepare patients for the next step?
We use a team approach here. Each patient is individually assessed and works with a counselor and physician. Then we present our recommendations with an individualized treatment and recovery plan. 

How important is recovery management?
That’s the most critical part. A vast majority of people can get clean through detox, but the real trick is maintaining recovery. That’s where Fairbanks is different and more aggressive by providing more recovery programs and tools.

What is the best you could give someone trying to accomplish long-term sobriety?
Be open-minded and look at recovery as a blessing. Also be sure to have the “Big W” – willingness. You need to have the willingness to follow the plan.