Short term treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction typically lasts between 7 and 30 days. It was originally designed to treat those suffering from an addiction to alcohol but during the cocaine epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s most short-term centers expanded their services to address clients with all types of substance abuse issues. Today short-term drug treatment is an option for addicts and alcoholics who need help getting started in addiction recovery but don’t have the time to commit to a long-term treatment program.
Short-term addiction treatment is not for everyone but in some cases, it can be very effective. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that short-term treatment can work for individuals when there is the right combination of a good aftercare plan and follow-up treatment. NIDA suggests that short-term addiction treatment should be followed by participation in an extended outpatient program and involvement in a self-help group.
What is Short-Term Drug Treatment?
Short-term drug treatment is designed to get an addicted individual off of their substance of choice and stabilize them so that they can return back to their lives. When a person uses drugs or alcohol for a long enough time their body makes changes in the way it works. These changes cause the user to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using or drinking, which make it very hard for them to stop for good. The signs most commonly associated with dependence and/or addiction are as follows:
- Tolerance – Needing to take more drugs or alcohol to experience the same pleasurable effects. For example needing to drink eight beers to feel drunk when it only used to take 4.
- Loss of control – Loss of control when it comes to drug use can include things like using or drinking when you planned not to or using at an inappropriate time where this use causes an immediate problem. It can also include not being able to stop drinking or drugging once you start.
- Cravings – Cravings are both physical and psychological and are varied from substance to substance. Cravings are characterized by an intense desire or obsession to use the substance when you are not intoxicated. Cravings are one of the biggest problems addicts face in early recovery and often lead to relapse.
- Withdrawal symptoms – Withdrawal symptoms are a sign of physical dependence and are experienced when you stop using your substance abruptly. Symptoms are also varied by substance but are all uncomfortable in one way or another and difficult to manage. Acute withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from 5 – 14 days and are the primary concern in the first days at rehab.
The first thing that happens in any drug rehabilitation setting is the client must undergo a process called detoxification. Detoxification involves clearing the body of drugs and alcohol completely so that it can return to its normal functioning. Because withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable recovery can’t begin until detoxification ends. For this reason, NIDA says that detoxification should only be considered the first step of addiction treatment and is not an effective form of substance abuse treatment by itself.
A good short-term treatment program understands this and should include aftercare planning as part of their treatment services. Due to the short duration of treatment often detoxification and the management of withdrawal symptoms takes up a significant amount of a client’s time in a program that lasts 30 days or less.
Understanding Post-Acute Withdrawal and the Benefits of Continued Care
One of the problems addicts and alcoholics who attend a short-term addiction treatment program experience is a false sense of security in their new-found sobriety. Short-term treatment centers are so good at getting their patients through the withdrawal process and getting them healthy enough to return to their regular lives that it can almost work against their chances at long-term abstinence. This is due to what is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome which is something that every addict who plans to attend a short-term program should understand.
Most addicts and alcoholics who attend a rehab center haven’t been off of drugs and alcohol for a very long time. Once they get through the acute phase of withdrawal, and their significant physical and psychological symptoms pass, they are likely to feel better than they have in years. While this is a victory on its own, it can also be misleading. Recovery from addiction is a long-term process. You don’t become dependent on drugs or alcohol overnight, and therefore it takes a time to recover from it.
The Ohio State University Medical Center states that symptoms of post-acute withdrawal start to emerge one to two weeks after the user has stopped taking drugs or alcohol and that almost all recovering addicts and alcoholics will experience them. Since these symptoms are much milder than the acute withdrawal symptoms you might not notice them in a safe environment like a short-term drug treatment center. When you get home if you are not involved in some form of continuing care these symptoms can seem to come out of nowhere and lead to relapse.
Good short-term treatment centers understand post-acute withdrawal and its symptoms and provide education to its clients on ways to manage them. If you are planning to attend a short-term treatment program it is essential that you take their guidance and continue with the follow-up plan they provide you rather than try to jump back into your old life. Remember that drug and alcohol addiction recovery is a long-term process, and your long-term sobriety depends on your ability to learn new skills.
Tips for Finding a Good Short-Term Treatment Program
The following are the tips to help you find the most efficient short-term drug treatment program to address your dependence on alcohol or drugs:
- Find a center that will fit your individual needs.
- Find a center that will provide a comprehensive detoxification process.
- Find a center that will help prepare you for continued care to make sure you will have to best chance to obtain and maintain long-term sobriety.
If you would like more information, or if you are ready to begin treatment, give us a call now.