There are more than 21 million Americans presently abusing drugs and alcohol according to the National Survey on Drug Abuse. The problem here is that only a little over 2.5 million of those people ever seek out drug and alcohol treatment programs. The power of drug addiction to destroy a person’s health, relationships and finances should not be underestimated. The nature of drug addiction is such that addicts face intense cravings for their drug of choice regardless of the consequences. Those consequences may range from serious mental and physical illness to destroyed relationships. While an individual may have a say in whether or not they start abusing drugs and may even be able to exercise some restraint at first, they become dependent over time and their use of the drug becomes compulsive. This occurs because long-term drug use alters the brain and changes the way it functions. Addiction to drugs changes the functions of those parts of the brain responsible for reward, motivation and self-control.
This is the first step in recovery for someone addicted to drugs. Many residential treatment facilities provide detoxification, though some require that the patient undergo detox elsewhere before being admitted for residential treatment. The choice of the detoxification setting is largely dependent on how long the patient has been abusing drugs and whether there are any associated psychological issues and medical conditions. The patient will be under the care of a physician while undergoing detoxification. The long-term abuse of drugs and alcohol can create severe symptoms during withdrawal. The point of this step is to manage those withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification is for managing only the physical symptoms, which means that the patient’s psychological and behavioral problems will not be dealt with at this stage. Along with the treatment of symptoms, this step is necessary for the removal of toxins left in the patient’s body after years of abusing drugs and alcohol. By itself, detoxification will not provide the major changes that the patient will have to undergo to achieve full recovery. After completing the detoxification process, the patient should undergo a formal evaluation before being provided with drug and alcohol treatment. While it is possible to perform detoxification on both an outpatient and inpatient basis, inpatient detoxification comes with the benefit of ensuring that the patient is monitored closely. Close monitoring can help the process to move more quickly.
About Individual Drug and Alcohol Treatment Therapy
When enrolled in residential treatment, the patient will usually be assigned to a counselor who will meet with them for individual therapy on a weekly basis. Most therapists who are certified in drug addiction treatment will have their own individual style of interacting with patients; however, they will usually use some variation of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Other names for CBT include Cognitive Therapy and Rational Behavior Therapy. CBT is the most widely used form of counseling for drug and alcohol treatment. This is because it is solution-oriented and focuses on helping the patient to abstain from drugs. Cognitive behavioral therapists view the addiction to drugs as a learned behavior and believe that the patient is able to unlearn that behavior if they can be made to recognize problems with their thinking. If the patient can be made to change their thinking, they will be able to change their behaviors.
Long-Term Residential Treatment
Long-term residential treatment provides patients with care for extended periods that can be as long as 12 months. The most widely used model for this kind of treatment has a focus on the patient’s re-socialization. The staff and the other patients play active roles in the treatment. Patients are helped to be more accountable and socially responsible with the aim of helping them to become productive citizens.
Short-Term Residential Treatment
With these programs, the treatment is intensive, but relatively short. These programs are modeled on the 12-step type of treatment and were originally intended to treat patients addicted to alcohol. However, short-term residential treatment programs have been used to treat a variety of other abuse problems including the addiction to cocaine. Patients will undergo hospital-based treatment for up to six weeks, followed by an outpatient phase that will include therapy and participation in a self-help group. After completing a stay in an inpatient facility, patients should continue their recovery with the help of outpatient treatment and aftercare programs. These programs help to lower the risk of relapse after the completion of residential treatment.
Inpatient Residential Treatment Compared to Outpatient Treatment
While outpatient treatment costs less than inpatient treatment, it may not be the right choice for everybody. Outpatient treatment is better suited for patients who have a good family and social support system. Outpatient programs are offered at varying levels of intensity with some of the lower intensity programs providing drug education and not much else. Higher intensity programs provide many of the services that are offered in residential treatment depending on the specific needs of each patient.
Most residential drug and alcohol treatment programs last roughly 28 days. While the patient is undergoing treatment, their environment is strictly controlled and they have no access to drugs or alcohol. They will face significant challenges upon reentry into the real world. How will they cope with the stresses and pressures of real life? Aftercare programs exist to meet this need. The drug rehabilitation programs that are most successful include aftercare programs that are tailored to suit the patient’s individual needs. Aftercare plans can include outpatient treatment, a stay at a halfway house or participation in 12-step meetings. According to The Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS) performed in 1999, individuals who remained in treatment for the longest had the best outcomes. Those who left treatment early had an increased likelihood of returning to drugs and were more likely to be suicidal and unemployed. In the years since DATOS, there have been new developments in drug treatment to make programs even more effective. New counseling techniques and new ways of handling detoxification have emerged to make drug and alcohol treatment programs better at helping patients to maintain sobriety.