Intensive therapy

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Therapy is a key player in nearly all successful treatment modules across the board. The type of therapy you will undergo during treatment is dependent upon many factors, from the presence of mental illness to the severity of your addiction. In 2007, 2.4 million people were treated for substance abuse in the United States, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Those who undergo treatment programs equipped with therapy are more likely to remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol than those who do not.

Your upbringing, home life, and relationships with others can help to determine which method of therapy you are likely to respond best to. For example, patients struggling with phobias that have led them to isolation and addiction may respond very well to exposure therapy, which slowly forces the patient to encounter the things they fear and gradually learn to accept them. Thus, a patient with social anxiety may begin with individual counseling and progress to skills development groups or support groups as a way of connecting with others in a safe environment and letting go of the fear they’ve attached to engaging with other people.

The need for therapy

Intensive therapy is a valuable option in the world of substance abuse treatment. Used for inpatient and outpatient treatment, intensive therapy goes above and beyond the limits of typical therapeutic treatments to include a substantial amount of counseling and therapy directed at remedying the mental precursors of the patient’s substance abuse problem. Often, underlying issues lie at the root of an abuser’s addiction, like traumas dating back to the patient’s childhood. PsychCentral reports higher rates of physical abuse among addicts, with 24 percent of all male alcoholics and 33 percent of all female alcoholics having been exposed in comparison to only 8.4 percent of non-addicts.

Intensive therapy is perfect for the patient who is in need of more than the weekly dose of therapy most programs come with. However, it should be noted that intensive therapy programs are generally designed for patients who do not need to detox.

This means the patient has either already detoxed at home or has completed a detox program elsewhere, from which they can directly enroll in an intensive therapy program. Patients presenting emotional or behavioral issues, crisis situations, or comorbid disorders are most likely in need of intensive treatment.

When you’re preparing for treatment, seriously consider the advice of professionals. The nature of your treatment needs may change after detox if symptoms improve or worsen. Outpatient care is best suited for mild to moderate symptoms of disorder. Those with more serious conditions and those who are deemed ill-equipped to cope with their mental condition without using drugs or alcohol as a crutch are better off being treated as an inpatient.

As an inpatient, you live at the treatment facility full-time and abide by the rules they set. This is often a crucial element in treatment of the patient who lacks the support necessary to abstain from use on his or her own. Your days are generally mapped out for you and full of the many therapeutic techniques mentioned here.

As an outpatient, you can expect the same scope of therapy in a more condensed format. Additionally, you won’t live on the property. For some, this means travel is involved. These patients can continue to participate in their daily lives — taking care of family and maintaining employment — while still getting the full impact of treatment that residential patients do.

In majority, most intensive therapy programs offer daily psychiatric evaluations of the patient’s condition, 12-step program participation, and educational resources on addiction inclusive of group learning sessions. While some patients are hesitant to participate in a 12-step program, Reuters reported on research shows that this method was an effective form of treatment with only 14 percent of drug-abusing patients relapsing within a year’s time.

No one type of therapy is suitable for every condition or personality. A well-rounded intensive therapy program will promote a variety of treatment options that can be used in the planned therapy regimen overseen by a physician. One of the biggest perks of intensive therapy is the ability to tailor a treatment plan around the individual patient. So there’s little to no concern of the chosen method being ineffective or clashing with the needs of the patient.

Specific modules for treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), talk therapy, motivational interviewing, group therapy, contingency management, and more. Community reinforcement tactics continually produce exemplary results in the treatment of substance abuse patients. A study cited in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Treatment Improvement Protocols manual notes that 75 percent of community reinforcement patients completed a treatment program, in contrast to a mere 11 percent in the standard treatment group.

Addiction is often a symptom of the problems in a person’s life. People turn to drugs and alcohol year after year to cope with failing marriages, unemployment, grief from the death of a loved one, and other tough life events. Many people dive into substance abuse as a way of hiding from unpleasant emotions that they can’t explain or tolerate. In many cases, their feelings are caused by a hidden culprit — a mental illness that has gone undiagnosed or untreated. In addicts, Everyday Health cites some of the most commonly present mental health disorders as being:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Unfortunately, most mental health disorders are with you for life. While you may escape certain diagnoses at some point — like depression — more severe illnesses like bipolar disorder or generalized anxiety disorder are not considered curable. However, they can be treated, and quality rehabilitation facilities will ensure that remediation of mental disorders is a high priority right alongside substance abuse treatment. Inpatient intensive therapy is a great option for sufferers of mental illness, because the patient can live in a controlled environment until they feel prepared to cope with and manage the symptoms of their illness in their day-to-day life.

For a lot of patients, care for co-occurring disorders is vital to their success in rehab. In fact, Helpguide notes that around half of all people diagnosed with serious mental health disorders also struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. Per the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 43.7 million American citizens had a mental illness in 2012. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports the presence of mental illness in 37 percent of alcoholics and 53 percent of drug addicts. Drug and alcohol abuse is often an unhealthy way that addicts choose to self-medicate themselves in an effort to numb the symptoms of their mental illness. Many have no idea they have a disorder and assume the symptoms they suffer from are just inescapable parts of life.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that while 8.4 million Americans had at least once mental health disorder in conjunction with a substance abuse problem in the past 12 months — per a 2012 survey — only 46.3 percent of them sought treatment at all. Of the fewer than half who did get help, SAMHSA reports 34 percent received mental health care but not help for their substance use, a meager 4.3 percent sought substance use treatment without mental health care, and only 7.9 percent got help for both. Case in point, you’re not alone.

The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as a persisting disease of the brain that inflicts the user with compelling urges to engage in substance abuse even when said behaviors produce negative consequences. Patients battling one addiction are more likely to develop others as well. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported on one study on 248 alcohol-dependent individuals in treatment and noted that 64 percent fit the criteria for a drug use disorder at some time in their life. Co-occurring disorders often require a treatment plan that is separate from the generalized model of care most patients receive, and intensive therapy allows for that.

Of course, mental illness isn’t the only thing that warrants a need for intensive treatment. There are many people who suffer from emotional and behavioral problems that don’t come with a disorder diagnosis. Those individuals often fare best in a structured treatment program accompanied by medical professionals who provide round-the-clock care. Patients with severe withdrawal symptoms that may drastically inhibit their success in detox and treatment are frequently referred to intensive therapy programs, too.

The primary focus of intensive treatment is regular therapy, with many rehab centers offering daily assessments and counseling from highly skilled psychiatrists and mental health professionals. One of the most effective methods of therapy in treating behavioral dysfunctions and disorders in the substance abuse patient is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. A June 2011 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry touted serious success rates for CBT in substance-abusing patients suffering from depressed symptoms, with 63.9 percent of CBT-treated patients reporting few symptoms after six months, compared to the non-CBT group at 43.8 percent. Other methods of therapy, as well as individual and group therapy, may be effective accompaniments for the CBT patient.

Crisis intervention

Crisis intervention can helpEmotional and behavioral disorders aren’t at the root of every substance abuse problem. In many cases, intensive therapy is rendered for patients who are experiencing a breakdown due to a crisis situation that is taking place in their personal life. Substance abuse rehabilitation is further complicated by intimate issues like a pending divorce, unexpected death in the family, or the presence of other substance abusers in the home. Many addicts may relapse during stressful periods such as these.

For those enduring a painful event in their life, grief counseling can be quite helpful. A Journal of the American Medical Association publication reported an improvement in grief symptoms in 51 percent of patients who were taught specific techniques to cope with their feelings along with an improvement among 28 percent who were counseled. A primary concern among these patients is the risk of suicide and overdose. In a review published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, it is noted that more than half of all suicides are linked to drug and alcohol addiction, and that a minimum of 25 percent of all addicts eventually take their own lives. Gant Daily reports a staggering 113 deaths due to drug-related overdoses every day in the United States. Early interventions like intensive therapy can improve these numbers.


Some patients will need residential care, but many are capable of participating in an outpatient program. Needing more intensive therapy does not mean patients cannot care for themselves; it simply means the patients require more help to overcome obstacles that may be standing in the way of their recovery. For many, a long-term stay in residential treatment is just the added safeguard they need in battling triggers and temptation. It is important to note that patients suffering from severe mental health symptoms should seek inpatient care.

Recovery is far more likely to be lasting when the right steps are taken to reach sobriety in the first place. A credible rehab facility will thoroughly stress the importance of following up your chosen detox experience with continued treatment, because withdrawing from a substance isn’t enough to keep you drug-free. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reports that addicts who continue with treatment within a month of completing detox take 40 percent longer to return to drug or alcohol use, if they do at all.

At The Recovery Village, you’re going to find yourself again, and we think you’re going to love who you are by the time you leave us. Our progressive treatment plans are highly effective and continue to deliver promising results day after day. If you know someone who is struggling with substance abuse, or you’re stuck in the trenches of addiction yourself, call us today. Together, we can turn your life around.

Intensive Therapy
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