Explaining Residential Rehab

One of the first decisions that prospective patients and their families must make when choosing a drug addiction treatment program is whether to opt for an outpatient facility that allows patients to sleep at home every night and enjoy a more flexible daily schedule or an inpatient alcohol rehab that provides for comprehensive care around the clock. It’s not an easy decision. It’s an investment of time, money, emotional resources and the life of the addicted person. Fear of failing to choose the correct option may stop families from making any choice at all. But the fact is that there is no single right way to treat addiction across the board. Everyone is different, but for many, the comprehensive and intensive nature of residential treatment is ideal for patients attempting to rebuild their lives after addiction.

According to a study published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, research has long indicated that more intensive treatment is by far the better choice for those patients who have had a long history of severe alcohol addiction issues that they have been unable to break on their own or through other treatment means. If your loved one has continually attempted to stop drinking or has tried 12-Step meetings or an outpatient treatment program without success, then a residential program is recommended.

By the same token, for alcohol use disorders that are an overwhelming problem and destroying the patient’s family life, career and health, immediate submersion into a 24-hour program may be the best option.

A report published the journal Health Services Research states that an estimated 14 million Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder. If your loved one is among that number, contact us at Michael’s House today to learn more about how we can help.

Spectrum of Services


There are some alcohol rehab programs that provide the minimum of treatment and therapeutic services – and then there are luxury alcohol addiction treatment programs that provide uniquely tailored treatment plans for each patient, fewer patients in residence at a time, and the gamut of medical, holistic, alternative, and traditional therapeutic and interventions.

As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out, addiction is complicated and, as such, its treatment should be comprehensive enough to address those complexities. Each patient’s treatment plan should address their individual experience with alcohol as well as:

  • Health problems related or unrelated to alcohol use
  • Family issues
  • Underlying trauma or abuse

Obstructions to recovery can come in many forms and patients routinely find a trigger to relapse in any event that is stressful or difficult to manage, be it emotional, medical, behavioral or social. Inpatient care has the time and should have the resources to ensure that each patient gets every intervention necessary to address their personal issues, including:

  • Pharmacological assistance and monitoring
  • Medical care and monitoring
  • Extensive mental health diagnostic and support services
  • Job skills training

24-Hour Assistance

The defining difference between intensive outpatient care and inpatient treatment is the 24-hour supervision and assistance that is offered by a residential program. This round-the-clock protection against relapse is a primary benefit of inpatient rehab and it’s the reason that many families choose this option over outpatient care. During those difficult days in detox and when the work gets hard in therapy, many patients are tempted to use. Cravings are a part of the disease and almost impossible to overcome alone – the most common reason for relapse. When in residence at an alcohol treatment program, patients have the constant support of counselors and peers and can put the coping skills that they are learning into practice, with the positive guidance and encouragement of those around them rather than winging it on their own.

Effective Care

With so many options in residential treatment, how can you best determine which one will provide effective treatment for your loved one struggling with alcoholism?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a list of principles that all families should expect and require of the treatment program they choose, including:

  • A program that speaks to the fact that addiction is a multi-faceted disease that requires multi-faceted treatment to address the various issues as they affect the brain, body and behavior
  • Recognition of the fact that each patient requires an individual treatment plan created after extensive evaluation and a thorough diagnosis to identify all obstacles to recovery
  • The provision of a wide range of therapeutic and treatment options to ensure that everyone has access to what they need to heal
  • A thorough physical and mental health evaluation that identifies any previously unknown issues including everything from medical issues like HIV and hepatitis C to mental health disorders
  • Help for issues outside of addiction that may negatively impact their ability to stay clean and sober (e.g., learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, mental health disorders, physical or sexual abuse, etc.)
  • Pharmacological treatment if necessary for the treatment of addiction, mental health symptoms or physical ailments
  • Incremental check-ins and evaluations to ensure that patients are making progress and that they are achieving and updating treatment goals as needed under the supervision of therapists
  • Inclusion of the family as appropriate through family therapy, visiting opportunities, parenting classes, couples counseling, and educational workshops and groups for caregivers and other family members
  • The ability to provide long-term care as needed (The NIDA suggests a minimum three-month-long stay if alcoholism is the only issue – longer if there are co-occurring disorders present that require treatment.)
  • The provision of aftercare services and ongoing support in recovery


Do not underestimate the power of the peer group and alcohol rehab facilities. Many individuals with drinking problems have suffered alone, in silence, for many years. These individuals don’t believe that anyone is going through a problem that is quite like theirs. Group counseling and peer-group session are an eye-opening occurrence for the recovering alcoholic. They are helped immensely by the fact that others in the room are going through the same issues they are.As compared to detox-only programs, weekend or evening outpatient care, intensive outpatient programs, and day treatment options, residential alcohol rehab is the most comprehensive and extensive opportunity in recovery for patients at every level of addiction.

The benefits include:

  • Support through the night and all day
  • High number of therapists, medical providers, and treatment specialists per patient
  • Extensive range of therapy options
  • Round-the-clock monitoring to ensure the safety of the patient, ongoing abstinence, the right dosage of any medications, and the treatment of new symptoms or complications that may arise during detox or due to co-occurring medical disorders
  • Emotional and physical space from problems at home that may encourage relapse
  • Physical distance from the temptation to drink (e.g., no contact with alcohol at restaurants, corner stores, grocery stores, or at the homes of friends and family)
  • The unbroken engagement with recovery 24 hours a day in the first few months
  • The ability to practice new principles of recovery as opportunities arise with the support of others
  • Distance and protection from those who might be angry with the addicted person or in some way make them feel less dedicated to their recovery, lower their self-esteem, or shake their focus on wellness and progress


None of the following should be considered obstacles to recovery. To be clear, there is nothing in a patient’s life that will not benefit from him or her learning how to live well and make balanced decisions unmarred by alcohol dependence. However, the following are often cited by patients who recognize that they have a problem with alcohol that requires treatment but feel that residential care is not the right choice:

  • Family considerations. In some cases, patients feel that prolonged time away from dependent children or other family members will harm these people more than their addiction and opt for a program that has a less rigid schedule so they can remain in constant contact with their family members who depend on them for care. It should be pointed out that parenting and caregiving are important but that no one can perform these duties effectively while under the influence of alcohol. The best thing for all dependents is that their loved one get treatment or else alcohol may eventually cause the breakdown of the family unit in a way that is permanent.
  • Work requirements. For those who have managed to hang onto their careers despite heavy drinking, they may imagine that they are keeping their alcohol disorder a secret and that going to an inpatient rehab will reveal their issue to their employer and coworkers. However, few alcoholics are actually keeping their secret from anyone and, in most cases, getting treatment will allow them to keep their job in the long run and improve their reputation in their industry.
  • Financial constraints. In most cases, professional residential treatment will be more expensive than outpatient care, and few patients have the amount of the bill at their disposal after a long bout with addiction. However, investing in a less expensive, less effective program is not the answer. Likewise, staying for a lesser amount of time than is necessary to secure a strong foothold in recovery is also not the answer.
  • Relationship issues. Some patients do not feel strong in their romantic relationship or are so attached that they have developed a level of codependency that won’t allow them to go and get the help they need. Unfortunately, these relationships are often enabling to addiction even if the other person doesn’t drink or is against the addicted person’s use of alcohol. It’s important for both parties to enter their own therapeutic program independently so they can come back together and rebuild.

Length of Treatment

treatment therapy

According to a study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the highest success rates (defined as 12 months or more of abstinence post-treatment) were found in patients who spent six months or more in a residential rehab program. This amount of time was demonstrated to be sufficient to allow patients to work through initial detox as well as long-term physical stabilization and then to put a firm foundation for recovery into place. Through the learning and practice of social skills, intensive therapeutic healing, and a wide range of holistic services while surrounded by positive support and care, patients leave residential treatment with the tools they need to be successful in recovery and avoid relapse for the long-term.

Learn more about our intensive, evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment program here at Michael’s House today when you contact us at the phone number listed above. Our admissions coordinators are standing by to take your call, answer your questions, and reserve your loved one’s spot here with us in Southern California today. Call now.

Speak with an Admissions Coordinator 877-345-8494