In a given year, over 20 million American adults struggle with a substance use disorder, but only a small percentage of those people will ever seek treatment. Of those that do, the highest success rates—meaning those who have achieved and sustained sobriety—are found among those who have passed through residential treatment programs.
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What is Residential Rehab Treatment?
Sometimes but not always distinguished from an inpatient treatment, residential rehab treatment programs offer recovering addicts a comfortable, safe environment to live while they detox and build a support system. Residential Inpatient treatment programs often take place in an environment that feels more akin to a home than a hospital.
For the duration of a patient’s stay in residential inpatient treatment—which can last for several months—they have access to medical services, individual counseling, and group therapy sessions, all with the goal of helping move the patient towards a state of self-sustainability. The length of their stay is dependent on several factors, but it’s based primarily on their response to treatment.
Benefits of Inpatient Treatment compared to Outpatient Treatment
While both inpatient and outpatient treatment have the same goal—helping a recovering addict achieve sobriety while building a support network—they help people reach that goal in different ways. In many cases, people who are suited for inpatient treatment wouldn’t fare well in outpatient treatment and would run a high risk of relapse.
To avoid relapse, it’s key to know the differences between these popular treatment options.
Inpatient treatment offers comprehensive, 24/7 support for a sustained period of time. Residents live in a treatment facility until they have both completed detoxification and have demonstrated the ability to resist the temptation of relapse. They are denied all avenues to drugs or alcohol and have constant supervision to help them avoid the temptation to seek out substances.
Inpatient programs also make it easy to build new friendships. These friendships develop into a support network that becomes invaluable when it comes to sustaining sobriety.
Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, is much less structured. Patients don’t live in the facility, and only attend several times a week for therapy and group counseling sessions. However, the benefit of this format lies in free time. If a recovering addict can resist the temptation to relapse, outpatient programs provide the leeway to continue fulfilling work and school obligations.
Who Should Seek Inpatient Treatment?
Typically, patients enter an inpatient program when they’ve reached a crossroads with their addiction. Maybe they experienced an overdose, got in trouble with the law, or accepted help after an intervention organized by their friends and family. Regardless of how they come to inpatient treatment, they should expect to be greeted with open arms.
Most candidates for inpatient treatment run a very high risk of relapse. Compared to candidates for outpatient programs, who exhibit a strong will and ability to get clean and remain clean while having access to the “real world,” inpatient treatment programs typically cater to people who have long-term, debilitating addictions. If they had all the free time available to outpatients, they would likely return to drug use and drop out of the program.
Because inpatient care also comes with access to medically assisted withdrawal—which is necessary in cases where withdrawal might be dangerous or unduly difficult—inpatient programs are also ideal for people who need supervision during the withdrawal period.
In summary, inpatient programs are ideal for:
- People with a high risk of relapse
- Those who would benefit from 24/7 supervision in a drug-free environment
- People who might struggle with longstanding withdrawal
What to Expect
While every person’s experience in inpatient treatment differs based on the severity of their addiction, the kind of care they can afford, and the resources they require, the following are some standard guidelines that can help you better understand what to expect from these programs.
In most cases, the minimum duration of an inpatient program is around 28 days. This is considered short-term. However, in many cases, patients stay within the program for 60-90 days.
Longer stays give patients more time to develop a support network through group counseling sessions and therapy. It also gives them more time to work through the problems that sparked the addiction, which gives them a better chance of remaining clean after exiting the program.
Patients can expect a baseline evaluation of their condition, assisted detox, psychological and medical treatments (therapy and group counseling), and to develop a network that helps them maintain sobriety after the program concludes.
Finding the Right Inpatient Program
Every case of addiction is different, and the right inpatient program will meet the patient’s unique criteria. When reviewing programs, there are a few questions you can ask that will help you better understand what the program offers.
- Does the program offer medication?
- What different types of therapy treatments are offered?
- Is the staff qualified to treat both addiction and mental health issues?
- Are programs tailored to each patient?
- What does the day-to-day schedule entail?
The answers they provide will help you determine if the program is right for you or a loved one.
Cost & Insurance Options
Some inpatient programs cost much more than others, but all addiction treatment programs offer different services that will affect the price. The cost will generally fluctuate depending on the length of a patient’s stay and if they require medically assisted detox.
Most private insurance policies offer coverage for drug and alcohol rehab. The same goes for employee insurance, but in these cases, the extent of the coverage is determined by the policyholder, namely your employer.
Because insurance policies can be tricky to navigate, a residential treatment center keeps an insurance specialist on retainer to help potential clients navigate their policy. It’s worth asking for this service if you’re unsure about the extent of your coverage.
Helping a Loved One
It’s difficult watching a loved one struggle with addiction, and while you may feel helpless there are several productive steps you can take.
The first is to find a good time to have a discussion. Let them know, without using accusatory or judgmental language, how their substance abuse concerns you. If that route fails, consider hiring a health professional interventionist. They can help you assemble the perfect intervention group while also preparing each member with unique, powerful statements.
UR Medicine. Inpatient Care. 2019.
McLean Hospital. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Inpatient Program. 2018.
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