Long-term drug treatment, also known as residential treatment, is considered by many treatment specialists and professionals to be the most effective type of addiction rehabilitation there is. There are many reasons for this and many reasons why long-term treatment could be the best option for an individual suffering from addiction.
Long-term treatment centers offer 24-hour care, and enable the addict to pass through all the phases of early sobriety before returning home. Long-term treatment also equip their clients with new skills and useful tools that will help them prevent relapse when treatment is complete. Programs typically last between 3 to 6 months and some programs may last for a year or longer.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that remaining in treatment for the right period of time is critical for an addict or alcoholic in recovery. NIDA cites research that shows that most addicted people need at least 3 months in treatment to stop their drug use, and that longer stays in treatment result in better outcomes. For these reasons, NIDA considers long-term rehabilitation to the best choice for addicts who are seeking to achieve long-term sobriety.
The Components of Residential Treatment
Residential treatment is a type of substance abuse rehabilitation that generally lasts for 3 months or more. The client lives in the rehab center for the duration of their treatment where they have 24-hour a day monitoring and support. Client’s interactions with the outside world are kept to a minimum in order for them to better focus on their recovery and avoid distractions. Individuals who attend a residential treatment center usually stay on-site and rarely leave the rehab’s campus without staff supervision.
The purpose of drug addiction treatment is to provide a safe environment for substance abusers to get off drugs and make the changes necessary to maintain sobriety after treatment. In this process the addict experiences many changes that make up three distinct phases of early recovery. These phases include:
- Acute withdrawal – Substance abusers experience a variety of different symptoms when they stop using a substance their body has become dependent on. These symptoms are both physical and psychological and affect everyone a little differently. For this reason detoxification is the first step in addiction recovery, a process of getting all the drugs or alcohol out of the addicts system so that their body can return to its normal functioning.
- Stabilization – After the symptoms of acute withdrawal have been addressed there is a stabilization phase during which the client becomes re-oriented to life without drugs or alcohol. Their health starts to improve at this time and their mind clears enough to engage in effective treatment.
- Post-acute withdrawal management and relapse prevention – Unfortunately relapse is common for people who have recently kicked a drug or alcohol habit. This is due in large part to the combination of lingering withdrawal symptoms that continue to occur after substance use has been stopped and the cravings for drugs that is strongest in the first 90 days of recovery. In long-term treatment programs clients are able to acquire new life skills and learn ways to cope with life’s stresses in order to prevent relapse. This phase of early recovery actually lasts for a year or more and most residential programs offer supplemental aftercare programs to help clients transition back into everyday life.
Individuals who choose long-term drug treatment are given the opportunity to use the longer duration of stay to maximize their readiness to face life drug-free. They are also able to re-socialize within the group and learn to be responsible for their actions in a therapeutic setting.
One of the key components of most residential treatment programs is behavioral therapy in a group setting. In active addiction many substance abusers develop maladaptive behavioral patterns that could potentially take them back to using when they finish their time in treatment. Behavioral therapies and groups are effective methods to learn to identify these patterns and learn to replace them with new healthier ones.
Are all Long Term Drug Treatment Programs the Same?
Since long-term inpatient rehabilitation is considered the most effective type of drug treatment setting there have been thousands of these programs that have adapted their own specialized approach to addiction treatment. These programs are varied based on the type of treatment model they use to treat their clients, and most can be placed into one of two major categories:
- Traditional addiction treatment model – The traditional model of addiction treatment typically consists of the medical model of substance abuse and dependence, and participation in a 12 step recovery process. The medical model views addiction as a chronic and incurable disease that can be managed with a combination of medication and behavioral therapies. The 12 step program of recovery utilizes community held self-help groups called meetings as a form of continuing support. The 12 steps are outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous and are considered an effective course of action for individuals seeking long-term sobriety.
- Non-traditional or holistic treatment model – Holistic or non-traditional rehab centers have been becoming more popular as a treatment option for the past few decades. Holistic treatments seek to successfully address addiction by looking at the client as a whole entity and not just their specific parts. Holistic and non-traditional centers often see the parts of the individual to be interdependent and take a balanced approach of improving the client’s overall health and well-being which they view as a major factor in the sustainability of long-term abstinence.
If you are interested in attending a long-term drug treatment program you have a lot of options. In most cases finding the best rehab involves finding that one that best fits your individual needs. Not every rehab center is right for every addict, in fact NIDA says that no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Addiction is complex and recovery is long-term so it is imperative to explore your options and find a program that is right for you.