Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about our digital recovery program for alcohol, marijuana, and stimulants
How do I get started?
What results can I expect?
Affect has built its programs on the latest science in treating addiction. By combining multiple evidence-based treatment approaches into a single program, we help our members stay in treatment and achieve reduction or elimination in drug and alcohol usage at twice the rate of traditional outpatient care. Our research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Our members love us for our experienced and empathetic team, for the ease and accessibility of our all-digital program, and for a rewards system that helps keep them engaged when motivation is low. Over fifty percent of members stay in treatment and achieve full or substantial reduction in usage after just three months.
Will my employer know I am in treatment because of my company insurance? Can I be fired or sent to jail?
Your health insurer is bound by law to keep your personal health information confidential and is prohibited from sharing it with anyone, including your employer, without your consent. This is true even if you are on your employer’s health insurance. If you have health insurance, you should use it to pay for treatment and it will cover your costs according to your plan. We’ll verify your coverage, many people in our program have no out-of-pocket expenses.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. Affect is also bound by this law. Your privacy is completely protected. This also includes reporting your treatment to the police, which is another common fear that keeps people from getting treatment. Treatment programs do not inform law enforcement about people in their programs.
While HIPAA protects your privacy, there are other employment laws that are relevant to getting treatment for substance use disorders. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The ADA provides certain protections for taking medication-assisted-treatment for a chronic condition. It does not offer protections for abuse of prescription medications. People can use FMLA to take time off their job for something like inpatient residential treatment for an extended period of time, and substance abuse treatment is covered in this law. However, if you choose to use ADA and FMLA, you will need to disclose that you are getting treatment but you do not need to disclose past substance abuse.
With this in mind, a treatment program that allows you to stay at your job and with your family, such as a digital program like Affect, is more discreet and private than going to a residential rehab clinic for an extended period of time or taking hours off during the week to go to an outpatient clinic.
While there are laws that protect your employment and your privacy for getting treatment, there are laws that allow employers to have policies like drug-free workplaces and random drug tests that can result in you being fired for abusing substances. If you are arrested and ordered into treatment or detox by a court, it will be on your record and show up in background checks, while getting voluntary treatment will not.
You can seek help for your substance use disorder with confidence and security in your privacy. You have more reasons to be concerned about losing your job while actively using substances and alcohol. Get the help you need so you can keep your job.
What do I need to use the app and participate in the program?
You’ll need a smartphone running iOS v10 or higher or Android v10 or higher. Much of our program occurs over secure video conference, so it’s helpful to have access to a Wifi connection or an unlimited data plan. If you don’t have a smartphone, you may be eligible for government assistance through the Lifeline program to get one. Lifeline also provides assistance with broadband Internet connectivity for your home.
During your intake appointment, you’ll download our smartphone app to engage in video conferencing calls with your counselor and doctor, and care advocates are available to help with setup as well as any ongoing technology questions or concerns. Telehealth for addiction services allows members to meet with their providers to check-in on their symptoms, medication management, and social conditions, and it allows you to connect with peers and be connected to our team any time, day or night.
Before the first video conferencing visit with your counselor, you will be educated on security best practices in order to ensure the highest level of privacy and security possible.
Why does Affect pay rewards? What exactly is contingency management?
Contingency management is a type of behavioral therapy in which individuals are rewarded for evidence of positive behavior change. In our program, we pay cash rewards to members for successfully completing assigned tasks and appointments. We also reward abstinence, with increasing incentives for each consecutive negative drug or alcohol screen you complete. While the exact neurological systems aren’t fully understood, contingency management engages the brain’s reward system, providing a dopamine hit a little like what drugs provide.
Contingency management has been found to be the most successful method of treating stimulant addictions for substances like methamphetamine and cocaine. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has used it to treat 5,600 vets over the last 10 years, and 92% tested negative. In California, 63% of people who took part in a Contingency Management program with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation stopped using meth entirely, and another 19% reduced their use. Contingency management has proven equally effective at helping address alcohol use disorder. When coupled with a robust therapy program and supportive medications, it helps meaningfully reduce usage and habituate new, healthy behaviors.
In contrast, over 60% of people who get standard addiction treatment in residential or outpatient clinics relapse within 30 days. 85% relapse within one year. Even worse, many people are discharged from those programs for relapsing. Affect built its program on science and compassion to stay with its members through relapses and motivate them towards reducing their use and find lasting recovery with rewards.
Who is on my care team?
Your care team includes:
1) Your licensed counselor, who will serve as your guide and your support throughout the program. You’ll meet with your counselor one-on-one each week, as well as in your twice-weekly group therapy sessions.
2) Your medical provider, who can prescribe supportive medications to help with withdrawal, cravings, or co-occurring disorders you may have. Your provider will also perform a general health assessment and make recommendations on general wellness or specialist treatment should you need it.
3) Your care advocate, who is available to help you find resources you may need to stabilize or improve your life, like better housing, employment, financial management, and more.
Your team brings deep experience in helping people just like you. Many of them are also in recovery themselves, so they have struggled with the same challenges and truly understand what you’re facing. You can contact them any time at (323) 522-2218.
What happens at my intake appointment?
Call us at (323) 522-2218 and a care advocate will collect some necessary information and quickly schedule you for a video intake appointment.
You will meet individually with a licensed substance use disorder counselor who will collect a clinical history to see if you are a good fit for our program.
Next, you will meet individually with a physician who will review medical issues that could impact your treatment and will determine any medications that might be appropriate to manage your physical and mental health. You will then join a group of other members at different stages of recovery that meets every week.
What is my time commitment?
Members who participate in all prescribed aspects of the program devote four to five hours a week to their recovery process. This includes attendance at twice weekly group therapy sessions, once weekly individual counseling, once weekly drug screening and/or daily breathalyzer screening, once monthly doctor’s visits, and several daily tasks, performed in our digital app.
What are group sessions like?
Groups generally have about 12 members, who are the same at each meeting. Meetings are held twice a week, last for one hour, and are led by a licensed counselor.
When will my appointments happen?
Groups, individual counseling sessions, and doctor’s appointments are held on weekdays in both the mornings and evenings. You will set up your schedule with the counselor during your intake appointment, and we will work with you to make sure the appointments fit into your current work and life schedule. All appointments are conducted over your smartphone via video conference.
What if I can’t make an appointment?
If you can’t make an appointment, just text or call us at (323) 522-2218 and we will help you get it rescheduled.
Why do you require urine drug screens in your marijuana/meth/cocaine treatment program?
Members hold themselves accountable by participating in weekly urine drug screens, ensuring that illicit substances are no longer being used. Each negative drug screen a member provides earns cash rewards that are immediately redeemable. This positive reinforcement helps keep members on their recovery journey and helps them stay motivated during even the toughest moments.
Why do you require breathalyzers in your alcohol treatment program?
Members hold themselves accountable by participating in daily breathalyzer tests, ensuring that alcohol is no longer being used. Each negative test a member provides earns cash rewards that are immediately redeemable. This positive reinforcement helps keep members on their recovery journey and helps them stay motivated during even the toughest moments.
What happens if I relapse?
Quitting drugs and alcohol is hard, and relapse is common. We understand that, and we never judge you or penalize you if you relapse. Most importantly, we always want to make sure you are safe; binge usage can lead to severe health consequences or overdose, and withdrawal must be managed carefully. After a relapse, your counselor will want to speak with you about contributing factors like triggers that might have prompted the incident, and to establish a new set of goals for quitting and getting back on track.
How does breathalyzer testing work?
Members in our alcohol treatment program receive a breathalyzer device after joining. We use breathalyzers, which measure your blood alcohol level (BAC), to help you develop trust in your ability to stop drinking and to give you a tool for accountability to your own goals. In the first stage of our program, you will have twice daily randomized tests. As you progress in treatment and hit your goals, the frequency of these tests will drop to daily, and then to every few days.
You’ll receive a notification via text prompting you to complete the test, after which you’ll have 60 minutes to take it. Plan to have your breathalyzer with you at all times. It is small and discreet and will easily fit in your pocket or purse. You do not need to be sober to take the test, and you won’t be penalized if you test positive for alcohol. At the completion of each test, the device will send the results directly to the Affect app. We will use this data to immediately reward you, both for taking the test — and if it is negative — for abstaining from drinking.
Why does Affect do breathalyzer testing?
Our program is designed to help you develop new habits by immediately rewarding you when you hit your goals and progress in the program. Research has consistently shown that providing financial incentives for healthy behaviors makes them stick. By using a breathalyzer to monitor your progress, you can:
- Track how you’re doing against your goals
- Hold yourself accountable
- Get rewarded for being sober
- Share information with your care team on your progress
How do rewards for breathalyzer testing work?
Recovery is difficult, and the research shows that rewards for healthy behaviors lead to big changes. You get a reward for just taking the breathalyzer test. You will get an even larger reward for each negative test, and the largest reward when you achieve a sobriety streak. You can see reward amounts directly in the app.
What happens if I test positive? If I’ve been drinking, should I still take the test?
We are here to help you set attainable goals and reach them. For some, that is complete abstinence from drinking. For others, that may mean a reduction in binge drinking or an increase in the number of sober days you have in a week. Regardless, you don’t need to be sober to be in the program. We will help you reach your sobriety goals.
You should always take the test, regardless of whether you’ve been drinking or not. Based on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) results, a member of our Care Team might call to check-in. High BAC levels carry medical risks, and the Care Team will suggest next steps that are the safest for your health.
What happens if I miss a test or am unable to perform it?
If you miss a number of your breathalyzer tests in a given week, a member of our Care Team will call to check-in to see how you’re doing in order to understand what’s working and not working in your recovery. Your recovery is personal. We will work with you to personalize the program so that you can stay motivated to meet your goals.
My breathalyzer isn’t working. What are the troubleshooting steps?
- Make sure your battery is fully charged.
- Check that your device is on. You will see a blue light on the device to signal that it is on.
- Make sure your bluetooth is enabled on your smartphone so that the device can pair.
- If you have installed the BACtrack app on your phone, uninstall the app. Your breathalyzer only works with one app at a time.
- Check your phone bluetooth settings to see if your device is successfully paired.
- Fully dismiss the Affect app and re-open it.
Still having issues? Reach out to your care team at (323) 522-2218 or email them at email@example.com.
I lost my breathalyzer device. What should I do?
Reach out to your care team at (323) 522-2218 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will help you order a new device. Device replacements are $99.
Privacy & Security
Is my participation in your program confidential?
Many people struggling with addiction put off getting treatment because they worry that their family, friends or boss might find out they are enrolled in a treatment program. Don’t worry! When a member is enrolled in a treatment program, their information is kept strictly confidential.
Even though all of our care is delivered online, we must comply with federal laws and regulations that keep members’ information private and secure. A substance use disorder treatment program such as ours cannot give out any information about a member or their health (including enrollment information, how the member is doing, their diagnosis, any test results, their medical records, etc) unless:
The member consents in writing;
The disclosure is mandated by a court order, or;
The disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for research, audit, or practice/program evaluation.
At Affect, we protect the privacy of our members’ health information in accordance with federal and state law. In particular, we protect the privacy and security of your substance use disorder in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 290dd–2 and 42 C.F.R. Part 2, the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records (“Part 2”), in addition to HIPAA (Health Information Portability Act) and applicable state law. If you are interested in learning more about how we protect your health information, see this Notice of Privacy Practices (“Notice”) that outlines our legal duties and privacy practices: https://www.affectherapeutics.com/privacy
Let’s get started getting better. We’re here for you.