When choosing a place for drug or alcohol rehabilitation, the options may seem endless. There are numerous location, approaches and time periods for treatment. It can be difficult to make treatment for yourself, and ever harder to make those same choices for a loved one. In fact, making such decisions can be downright overwhelming and confusing.
One vital factor to consider when researching rehabilitation centers is the timeframe for treatment. Some programs last 28 to 30 days and are referred to as short-term treatment, while others range from a few months to more than a year and are referred to as long-term treatment.
Thought short-term programs may be beneficial for some addicts, they are not right for everyone. Often 30 days is simply not enough time to truly escape and confront the grips of drugs and alcohol. Many people who have a drug or alcohol addiction need more time to come to terms with their problem and to be equipped with the tools necessary to move forward in their recovery.
In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that, “Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical…Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.”
The following are reasons to choose a long-term treatment facility over a short-term one.
- More time in a treatment center means more time to identify underlying issues. When in treatment, addicts are often asked to examine themselves and confront any underlying issues which contribute to a drug or alcohol addiction. Additionally, they often speak with mental health professionals who can aid in identifying these issues. If the process is somewhat rushed in a short-term program, the underlying issues may not be confronted and therefore can not be resolved.
- Long-term treatment means more time in sobriety before leaving the program. Leaving a rehabilitation center at any point will most likely be intimidating, but leaving after only a short time can be even more frightening and nerve-racking. If someone leaves rehab with only 30 days of sobriety, versus having three months or even a year under their belt, they are less likely to feel confident in their recovery which could lead to relapse. Having more time in sobriety could be beneficial for addicts because it could lead to having more control over their recovery after leaving treatment.
- Long-term treatment leads to better physical health. More often than not, addiction takes a toll on the physical health of an addict. They can feel run down and lethargic, or even have more serious health concerns such as liver damage. When they spend more time in a treatment center equipped with health professionals, they are able to confront and treat any physical ailments in addition to the mental ones. If they leave treatment too soon, it’s entirely possible that the physical aspects of addiction may not be fully addressed or treated.
- Long-term treatment will provide prolonged peer support. Often in any type of rehabilitation, peer support is a helpful resource. In short-term programs, it is easy to leave the program and lose touch with the people who were in your support groups. But in long-term treatment, patients have more time to form relationships and bonds, meaning they are more likely to stay in touch and form a support system after leaving the program. Support is vital in recovery, and some people may only find it through treatment programs.
- There will also be professional support at the patient’s disposal. Most, if not all, programs utilize mental health professionals in their treatment plans. Having a mental health specialist available whenever necessary plays a positive role in treatment. In short-term programs, this is only available for 30 days and then taken away, unless the patient pursues professional help on their own. In long-term programs, there is more time to work through issues with mental health professionals, leading to a better understanding of self and, in turn, a more likely success rate in sobriety.
- Long-term treatment facilities provide structure. When in the early stages of sobriety, structure is important. Having a routine each day leaves less time to think about drugs and alcohol. It also eases the patient back into a semblance of normal life. In active addiction, there is likely no set routine day-to-day, let alone a healthy one. Long-term treatment facilities will reintroduce routine and healthy behaviors. As with anything, the longer this is practiced, the more normal it will become. If in a short-term treatment center, it may be easier to break out of a routine once released. But in a long-term treatment facility, the routine becomes more and more habitual and the patient is more likely to continue routine of some sort after being released from the facility.7. Many long-term centers offer aftercare programs. Often long-term treatment facilities will offer aftercare or continued care programs. These programs are a way of continuing to live a sober lifestyle and have some accountability after leaving the program itself. Many times, the same people who were in treatment together will continue to reconvene at aftercare programs, meaning that the vital peer support is still available. Aftercare programs are a terrific way to continue care while transitioning back into the real world after treatment.
Though long-term treatment is not the right choice for everyone seeking addiction treatment, it is more likely to provide prolonged success for individuals than short-terms programs. If you have questions about what type of program is right for you or a loved one, speak with a professional today.
“Choosing A Long-Term Addiction Recovery Program.” Recovery.org. 5 April 2016. http://www.recovery.org/topics/choosing-a-long-term-addiction-recovery-program/
“Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.” National Institute of Drug Abuse. December 2012. 5 April 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
Written by: Beth Leipholtz