It’s well-known that for those with drug or alcohol addictions, it is crucial to find professional help immediately. But what choices exist? Are there some big differences between treatment centers and the programs they use? Yes, there are. What are some things they should know in order to make a wise decision? Let’s take a look at some similarities and differences.
Regarding similarities, nearly all treatment centers have these three goals in common:
- Reducing substance abuse or achieving a substance-free life.
- Maximizing multiple aspects of life functioning.
- Preventing or reducing the frequency and severity of relapse.1
With respect to major differences, treatment programs generally fall into one of two types: residential and outpatient. Let’s take a brief look at each one to understand how they are used to help substance abusers.
Option 1: Residential Centers Allow Patients to Focus on Healing Round-the-Clock
With residential rehab, individuals stay at the facility round-the-clock for an extended period of time (generally no less than 30 days and no more than a full year). These 24/7 inpatient arrangements help patients focus on their recovery by physically removing them from their everyday setting. Patients are typically offered a serene environment that supports reflection, healing and recovery. They are surrounded by caring professionals. Peers who are also on the road to recovery are there for added support.2
“Everything changed when I went home after the residential facility. I had to sign a behavioral contract at my discharge, which included going to 90 meetings in 90 days, getting a sponsor, getting a therapist, not engaging in any kind of intimate or sexual relationship. I took this contract seriously and that’s what I did. I did exactly what they asked me to do and I’m still sober today.” —Melissa T., HeroesInRecovery.com
Option 2: Outpatient Centers Let Patients Return Home at Night for Work, Family
For those who are unable to drop everything and move into a residential setting for an extended period of time, there is outpatient care. Outpatient programs include many of the same types of services offered by residential centers. One of these services is detox. Another service is counseling. Counseling may be in individual or group format. Mental health services may be offered as well.
While both types of treatment centers can treat all kinds of addiction, outpatient programs are ideal for those with a less severe substance use disorder. These programs also cost less. So they may be more practical for those who can’t afford a residential treatment stay. In addition, if patients must remain at home due to work or family demands, outpatient services are the logical choice.
A big difference between programs is that, with outpatient, patients don’t live at the facility. They go home or to a sober living facility at the end of each day.
It should also be noted that the frequency and duration of treatment may vary among outpatient programs. It ranges from several hours of treatment per week all the way down to just one or two brief sessions.3
Behavioral Therapy: Reshaping How Patients Think and React
Within residential and outpatient programs, two primary services are commonly found: Behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy.
Behavioral therapies help patients:
- modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use.
- increase healthy life skills.
- persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication.1
Two of the most commonly used behavioral therapies are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This strategy focuses on helping patients recognize, avoid and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to use drugs.
- Motivational Incentives (or contingency management) – With this strategy, positive reinforcement is used to encourage abstinence from drugs.4
Medications in Treatment
Using medication to treat substance use disorders is often referred to as “medication-assisted treatment” (or MAT). Medication is often used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.
Medications can reduce the cravings and other symptoms associated with withdrawal from a substance by occupying receptors in the brain associated with using that drug, block the rewarding sensation that comes with using a substance, or induce negative feelings when a substance is taken.
MAT is primarily used for the treatment of opioid use disorders. However, it is often used with other substance use disorders as well.2
Evidence-Based Treatment = Best Outcome
Evidence-based services comprise those interventions with highly documented success. Current research supports them. They are what we consider to be today’s “best practices.”
Since addictions are often so complex and have such pervasive consequences, treatment typically requires many components. Some of those components focus directly on drug use. There are many other services as well. Employment training is one of them. These services can provide a focus on restoring patients to productive participation in family and society. They help patients come to experience the rewards of a drug-free life.5
Evidence-based programs also help patients become aware of relapse “triggers.” Triggers can include anyone or anything that might cause a relapse (a return to use of alcohol or other drugs). Patients are taught alternative coping responses to those cues. Practicing these responses helps develop good habits.
Since addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior – physical body and psychological mind – the various therapies must work together to bring about healing to the whole person. “Comprehensive care” is the term often used in referring to a program that treats all impacting issues in the patients served.3
For “Dual Diagnosis” It Takes an Entire Team
A surprisingly large percentage of people with a drug or alcohol addiction also suffer from other mental health issues. This condition involving co-occurring disorders is referred to as a “dual diagnosis.”
Those with a dual diagnosis require highly specialized treatment facilities. Such centers offer “integrated care.” This means that care is provided by a team of both mental health professionals and addiction counselors.6
Continuing Care: Essential to Your Recovery
Upon leaving a program, patients should always be encouraged to return if they need more assistance. Since their lives can be fragile and susceptible to relapse, they need quick access to help in times of crisis.
Periodic check-ins by the treatment center are recommended. These can alleviate potential problems before they become serious.
“One piece of advice that I give people in recovery is to stay connected and help others. I feel that is the biggest asset in my recovery – to constantly strive to make a meaningful difference. It’s a philosophy that keeps you grounded and helps you never forget your own struggle.” —J.T., HeroesInRecovery.com
A good “continuing care” (or aftercare) plan includes steps for when and how to reconnect with needed services. Some patients may find it necessary to return to a treatment center. Treatment strategies may need revising or the patient may just need more time away from the day-to-day stresses of life. Readmission to the treatment center is simpler and easier for those already in the recovery process.7Michael’s House is one of the finest residential drug addiction and mental illness treatment centers in the country. It is located in Palm Springs, California. It incorporates a variety of effective drug rehab services. The goal is to provide a high level of individualized care to every individual patient.
Do you need help for a drug or alcohol addiction? Do you suspect that other mental issues may be involved as well? Whatever your situation, consider calling Michael’s House. Our toll-free line is available at your convenience 24/7.
1 “Specialized Substance Abuse Treatment Programs.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
2 “Treatments for Substance Use Disorders.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 9 August 2016. Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
3 “Traditional Settings and Models.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
4 “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.” DrugFacts, National Institute on Drug Abuse. July 2016.Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
5 “Drug Addiction Treatment in the United States.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. December 2012.Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
6 “Dual Diagnosis.” National Alliance on Mental Illness. 2017.Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
7 “The Continuing Care Model of Substance Use Treatment: What Works, and When Is ‘Enough,’ ‘Enough’?” Psychiatry Journal. 2014. Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
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