Long-Term Inpatient Drug Rehab: What You Need To Know

When it comes to treatment for substance abuse, certain decisions have to be made, sometimes in a short timeframe. A person has to consider what type of treatment facility is best, whether they should look for inpatient or outpatient care and whether treatment should be long or short-term. There are pros and cons to each type of treatment, and some patients may find that long-term inpatient treatment is the best option for their recovery.

What is long-term inpatient rehab?

Long-term inpatient rehab, also known as long-term residential rehab, is a treatment that typically takes place over the course of three to 12 months. During this time, patients reside in a treatment facility and are under 24-hour care. In the beginning stages of this type of treatment, they are likely closely monitored while detoxing, as this can be a dangerous process. Then, while participating in the program, they are given a long-term care plan and may also discuss aftercare plans for when treatment comes to an end. This part of the process is not necessarily monitored by medical professionals, as non-medical staff members and the other residents shape the programming.

Though three to six months is typical of such a program, some facilities may offer longer programs as well. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), such programs can last up to one year.

What to expect in long-term treatment

In most long-term rehab facilities, a patient begins by detoxing, which can take up to 10 days. Then, the patient begins adjusting to a program in the facility, often beginning with minimal freedom and a very rigidly structured daily routine. As time passes and they work on themselves and their recovery, they may be granted more freedom, such as visits from friends and family and communication with those outside the facility. Depending on the length of the treatment, they may even be granted permission to leave the facility to take part in activities such as AA or NA meetings.

While in long-term treatment programs, different treatment models may be used. One popular model is the therapeutic community (TC) model. During this method of treatment, NIDA states, “Addiction is viewed in the context of an individual’s social and psychological deficits, and treatment focuses on developing personal accountability and responsibility as well as socially productive lives. Treatment is highly structured and can be confrontational at times, with activities designed to help residents examine damaging beliefs, self-concepts, and destructive patterns of behavior and adopt new, more harmonious and constructive ways to interact with others.”

The TC model of treatment often offers other services in addition to substance abuse treatment, such as job training. The reason for this is that TCs are focused on entire lifestyle changes to lead a full, productive, substance-free life after treatment.  TCs can be a good treatment choice for anyone battling ongoing substance abuse. In fact, according to NIDA, TCs can be effective for patients with “special needs, including adolescents, women, homeless individuals, people with severe mental disorders, and individuals in the criminal justice system.”

Who should utilize long-term inpatient rehab?

There is no one right answer for this question, as different treatment programs work for different people.

However, long-term inpatient treatment tends to be a good option for those who have struggled with addiction for long periods of time and have not been able to maintain sobriety after completion of other treatment programs. It could be that such people need more time to work through a program and get their footing in sobriety before returning to their pre-treatment life.

Long-term programs may also benefit those suffering from a dual-diagnosis, such as alcoholism and bipolar disorder because such programs provide more time to confront and work through these numerous factors.

Keep in mind that long-term rehab can be daunting for some addicts who are not required to take part in such a program, and this alone may scare them away from trying or completing the process. Additionally, it may be difficult to find space in such a program when a person admits to being ready for help, and by the time space is available, they may no longer desire that help. This is why it is important to thoroughly research and have extended knowledge about long-term treatment facilities, what they offer patients, and when they can offer it.

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DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed 14 September 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addictionPrinciples of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed 14 September 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs

What is a Therapeutic Community’s Approach? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed 14 September 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/therapeutic-communities/what-therapeutic-communitys-approach

Long-Term Inpatient Drug Rehab: What You Need To Know
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