This is a question we hear all the time. When there are so many different kinds of treatment out there, like medication-assisted treatment (MAT), family therapy, detox, adventure programs, PHP, IOP, 12-Step programs, outpatient… it’s like learning a whole new language. What do all of these treatments mean, and how can you know which one will work best for you or a loved one?
It can be overwhelming and confusing trying to learn what all of these terms mean, can’t it? You’ve probably heard of most of these at other treatment centers before. Will these programs treat mental health along with addiction? Which of these treatments can ensure you or a loved one can achieve long-term recovery after treatment?
These are all very common questions that we’ve heard before. We’ll answer the most important ones below.
Is Detox Always Necessary?
This is the first step that many think of when beginning addiction treatment. What you may not know is that detox actually isn’t required for all drugs. A detox is most commonly used to rid the body of alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines. Detoxing off of these drugs without professional medical help can be life-threatening, so it’s important to go to an experienced detox or rehabilitation center to detox safely. But, detox is not required for an early stage alcohol addiction, cocaine, meth, and hallucinogenic drugs.
Detoxing is essential in helping to rid the body of drug toxins and to take away the physical dependence of the drug that is being abused. It’s important to note that we’re talking about the physical dependence, which is separate from the mental health issue of addiction.
If you’re a smoker, you know that the physical dependence of nicotine lasts for only 72 hours, then your body no longer craves it. You probably know someone that has quit smoking before, but then picked up the habit again two weeks, two months, or even two years after quitting. This happens because the psychological addiction is much more difficult to break than the physical dependence.
For most drugs, it takes seven to 14 days for the body to completely rid itself of the drug being abused and to break free from physical dependence. While you or a loved one are detoxing, medication can be prescribed to make the withdrawal symptoms less severe and make the initial stages of sobriety easier. During this time, it’s essential to meet with doctors and counselors so that they can evaluate a patient’s mental and physical health.
Some think that after detox, no other treatment is required. The truth is, after detox, the treatment process is really just the start. Now the much more difficult process of removing the psychological dependence and learning new, healthy behaviors begins.
What are the Differences Among Other Levels of Care?
We won’t go into too much detail here. Generally, other levels of care after detox “step down” and are based on many different factors. Some of these factors include the amount of time a patient spends at the facility, whether the patient needs to be in a different environment, and the severity of the addiction. Here are some brief explanations of other levels of care:
Residential: Staying at a facility for 24 hours a day
Partial Hospitalization (PHP): Spending 6-8 hours a day at a facility, but the patient has the option to sleep at home or at an outside sober-living facility.
Intensive Outpatient (IOP): Spending 3-6 hours a day at a facility to receive treatment while the patient spends the rest of their time at home or an outside sober living facility.
Outpatient (OP): The patient receives 2-4 hours of treatment at a facility, and spends the rest of their time at home.
How Does Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) work?
We talked about how medication can be prescribed to patients who are struggling with withdrawal symptoms. This is where MAT can play a role in the recovery process. Although this treatment option is not implemented in all rehab centers, it can be extremely beneficial to you or a loved one trying to get sober, especially if the addiction is related to opioids.
How does MAT work exactly? Medications like methadone, suboxone, or vivitrol can be prescribed to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without receiving the negative effects of the abused drug.
Michael’s House uses Vivitrol, which is a shot that lasts about a month. Once a patient has taken vivitrol, they are unable to get high off of opioids, but they will be able to get high off of other drugs. This is not an uncommon occurrence for those who struggle with addiction, which is why it’s essential to receive therapy while taking medication.
Forms of therapy that are commonly used along with MAT are cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Both of these forms of therapy are evidence-based and effective for many, but they will be explained in further detail below.
MAT has helped patients gain and maintain employment, improve birth outcomes for women who have struggled with substance abuse and are pregnant, and most importantly, shown about a 40% decrease in the risk of overdose! Although MAT is extremely helpful for many, it doesn’t work for everyone.
MAT would not work for someone who is taking anxiety medication, for example. Combining both of these medications can be fatal, which is why receiving treatment at a professional recovery center with licensed medical practitioners is usually the best choice.
12-Step Programs Can Work for the Religious and Non-Religious
Even if you don’t know much about treatment options, we’re sure you’ve heard of 12-Step programs or Alcoholics Anonymous. Programs like these are widely known because it’s one of the most accessible forms of treatment out there. It’s heavily based on faith, so if you’re considering treatment with a spiritual or religious tone to it, this could be the right fit for you or a loved one.
Even if you don’t believe in a higher power, 12-Step programs can serve as a great support system full of other individuals who have gone through similar experiences and are trying to get their lives back on track. 12-Step programs also offer a simple step-by-step guide, which can be easy for most to follow.
Because 12-Step is so popular, support groups can be found across the world in most communities, making it extremely accessible.
Although 12-Step can be helpful for many who are struggling with addiction, it doesn’t work for everyone. Many recovery centers, like Michael’s House, offer other treatment options as well.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
If you or a loved one has struggled with addiction before, it’s not a surprise that mental health plays a major role in one’s addiction. You’re probably familiar with the concept of “numbing the pain” of a mental illness or traumatic event with drugs or alcohol.
These behavioral therapies are a part of dual diagnosis treatment, which aims to treat the underlying mental illness and a patient’s struggle with addiction at the same time.
One of the main goals with treatments like these is for patients to recognize harmful thoughts and unhealthy ways of coping, which is essential for long-term recovery. These therapies can be conducted in a group setting or in the form of individual therapy, whichever is best for you or your loved one.
It’s important to realize that going through these therapies will not be a quick fix. Understanding why previous thoughts and coping mechanisms were unhealthy, along with reconstructing thought patterns, can take years to complete.
Going through these therapies and improving your mental health is similar to physical exercise. It’s like a workout for your brain, if you stop, you’ll likely regress back to your original state.
What Can I Learn From Family Therapy?
Many family members worry that they’re enabling their loved one or being codependent, and not sure how to help them achieve sobriety. These concerns are extremely common, and they can be addressed during family therapy.
Your family will learn tools of communication and work toward reconciliation for past wrong-doings during these therapy sessions. The ultimate goal of family therapy is to not only help the patient struggling with addiction, but help the whole family recover and live better lives. There are several different methods to try, but what ends up working is ultimately up to the family and your therapist.
Keep in mind that every patient and family is different. A method like “tough love” may work for one family, but might not for you. The tough love approach actually works about 50% of the time. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, you will find what works for your family by working together with a therapist.
Family therapy can be one of the major keys to achieving long-term recovery. Treatment is the first big step toward sobriety, but learning how to maintain healthy relationships makes the chance of recovery much stronger. Family members can be one of the most important sources of long-term recovery, which is why this form of therapy can be so beneficial.
The Importance of Physical Health in Adventure Therapy
You’ve probably noticed that, since your loved one starting abuse drugs or alcohol, they haven’t been in the best physical health. Adventure therapy, which includes hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, yoga, Tai Chi, and rock climbing can help your loved one get their physical strength back on track.
This form of therapy can be very beneficial because exercise has been shown to have significant effects on mental health, physical recovery and emotional well-being. These activities could also expose patients to new hobbies they enjoy, and can continue to do so after treatment ends. It’s important for patients to find hobbies that they are passionate about while going through the recovery process.
Along with physical activities, patients can find solace in art therapy, or even enjoy a relaxing massage. Michael’s House has a variety of options for patients to find what works for them. We understand that attending lectures and therapy sessions all day can be intense.
Engaging activities like these can help our patients find the motivation they need in order to remain sober by finding hobbies they enjoy doing that can also help sustain recovery at the same time.
Your loved one can find a hobby they’re deeply passionate about through our adventure program. Being at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains can make adventure therapy even more enjoyable.
How Can I Choose Between Outpatient Rehab vs. Residential Rehab?
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make when entering rehab yourself or for your loved one is deciding on an outpatient program or staying in a rehab facility for 24 hours a day. How can you know which one will deliver the best results for you or a loved one?
The first obvious distinction between these two options is that residential rehab consists of residing in a rehab facility with access to 24-hour medical and emotional support. Residential rehab can last 28 days to six months, depending on the needs of you or your loved one.
Another option is to attend therapy sessions and other forms of treatment at a rehab facility about 10-12 hours a week while residing at home for the rest of the week through an intensive outpatient program. A regular outpatient program can last three months to over a year if a patient only attends treatment for a couple hours a week.
If you or a loved one have a more severe addiction, residential rehab may be the better option since it provides 24-hour support for any of their required needs. However, it’s a downside being away from your job, school, friends, and family while experiencing normal life stressors in an artificial environment. If the addiction is more mild, an outpatient program could be a better fit. But this decision is ultimately best left up to to clinical professionals.
The patient’s environment is another factor to consider when deciding on which form of rehab is best. If you have a spouse, children, and a full-time job, taking a month or so off to reside in a rehab facility may be difficult. However, if you are currently in a toxic environment, getting away to stay in residential rehab could be the best decision.
If you’re worried about taking time off work to get treatment, there are options out there for you. One option you may not be familiar with is family medical leave. The Family Medical Leave Act requires your employer to protect your job during your time off in treatment.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when deciding on which form of rehab is best for you or a loved one. Either way, receiving any form of treatment is a step in the right direction towards sobriety.
Deciding on Next Steps
It’s important to be familiar with the treatment process before getting help for yourself or a loved one. However, an experienced clinical professional will decide what treatment options are best for you or a loved one in order to work toward long-term recovery.
Every person has a different story and their own specific needs to be taken care of. Figuring out which treatment options can deliver the best results is overwhelming, but crucial in achieving sobriety. At Michael’s House, we tailor and individualize a treatment plan unique to each person. If you or a loved one need help with addiction, call us at 760-548-4032 today.