This admission can come as a huge relief to worried family members who may have spent weeks, months or even years convincing the person that the addiction isn’t sustainable and must be stopped right away. But with that admission in hand, many families are faced with the question, “Now what?” Where is the best place to get that addicted person needed help?
While there are several different types of facilities that can provide meaningful help for addiction, and some allow the addict to live at home while the treatment occurs, some people may benefit from residential addiction treatment programs.
In a residential program, they’re provided with around-the-clock care in a supportive environment. This may be just the sort of setting some addicts need in order to complete the hard work of addiction recovery.
Length of Care
Residential programs can be differentiated by the length of time they house their clients.
In general, the person’s therapist has a key role to play in determining how long the residential stay should last. It’s important to note, however, that a longer stay might seem more inconvenient, but it can bring back big benefits. According to a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, longer stays in an addiction recovery program were associated with better rates of recovery. It might take time for the lessons learned in recovery to truly stick, and some people may need to stay in their programs for a longer period of time as a result.
In addition, some offerings that seem frivolous may actually have their roots within addiction treatment research.
For example, some residential programs encourage residents to participate in an Eastern form of exercise known as qigong. The therapy is relaxing, and it is a form of exercise, but it’s not used as a way to fill time. The therapy may help those in recovery to control stress and combat cravings. According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, those given access to qigong had a significant reduction in cravings to use drugs, and they had reduced feelings of anxiety and withdrawal. As this example proves, some amenities that seem frivolous may be of immense value in recovery.
While residential programs may provide different lengths of stay and different add-on benefits, the core therapies provided within residential programs may be very similar. Most programs provide:
- One-on-one counseling sessions
- Family therapy sessions
- Medication, if needed, to control cravings
- Support group meetings
Residential programs also tend to outline a large number of rules for residents to follow. These rules may be particularly harsh for people who are new to the program. They may not be able to connect with friends, for example, or they may not be able to talk to people from work or leave the grounds. Later, as the recovery strengthens, these rules may relax allowing the people to go to work or attend short trips with family members. The rules may seem severe, but they are designed to help the person adjust to the treatment program. They are also designed to reduce any covert behaviors that could lead to a relapse.
It’s important for residents to follow these rules to the letter, as breaking the rules could lead to expulsion.
Residential programs outline the care that will be provided, but those plans are considered fluid and they may change multiple times as the therapy moves forward. This flexibility allows the person to receive intensive levels of care when needed, perhaps tapering to less intense care as the healing takes over.
- Histories of overdose
- Mental health problems
- Risky sexual behavior
- Mental illness
People with these symptoms tend to have long histories of addiction, and as a result, it might be more difficult for them to change their behaviors and develop new ways of living. In addition, some of these issues can make living at home difficult. People who have faced multiple arrests, for example, may have fractured home lives as their families resent the constant trauma and intrusion of the police. Similarly, people with mental health issues may have pushed their families so far away as their illnesses have taken over, and this could make their home lives difficult as well. Recovering from addiction is difficult, and people need to have a safe and secure place to do the hard work of recovery.
People who struggle at home, or those who don’t have a place to call home, might benefit most from a residential program. Here, they will be provided with the environment they are missing at home.
Therapy Doesn’t End
As this quote makes clear, recovering from addiction means more than simply making a vow not to use again. Recovering from addiction means developing an entirely new lifestyle and an entirely new way of dealing with common stresses. As a result, it’s unlikely that this will be a process a person can complete in a few weeks or months. It’s likely that the process will take years to complete, and the work might never truly be done.
For this reason, most residential programs don’t graduate their residents and then expect that they will be able to control their addictions alone without help. Most people will need to learn more and do more to keep their addictions under control. Outpatient programs can help to fill the gap. When an inpatient program is complete, the person can taper off care into an outpatient program, receiving help while learning how to live at home once more. This is a vital part of the healing process.
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