Residential Drug Rehab
A residential treatment program is designed to allow the patient to step away from the daily grind of life and truly focus on the issue at hand. From the moment the person wakes up to the moment the person goes to sleep at night, the addiction therapy is ongoing. The patient lives in the facility, and has access to care on a nearly constant basis.
Some people find this level of care to be incredibly helpful, due to their own preferences and their family lives. Other people must obtain residential care due to explicit advice from their doctors or mental health professionals, but not everyone benefits from this approach. By finding out more about how these programs work, and who they’re designed to help, families can make an informed decision.
Types of Residential Programs
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While an inpatient program for addiction is designed to provide care in a hospital or clinic setting, a residential program is designed to provide a more home-like, welcoming feel.
All of these are examples of residential programs:
The length of time that a person must stay in a residential program can vary dramatically, but according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), most programs require patients to stay enrolled for 90 days. SAMSHA suggests that people who participate in addiction therapies tend to succeed in these programs if they stay enrolled for 90 days or longer, so this is considered the gold standard of treatment by many programs. There are some residential programs that don’t require this long period of admission, however. In these programs, the person might stay at the facility for a few weeks, and then transition to an outpatient program for additional intensive care. Other programs, by contrast, are designed to provide care for a year or longer, allowing the person to truly become comfortable with a sober lifestyle.
Who May Benefit
According to a report written by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, residential treatment programs for addiction are designed to provide help to people who cannot manage their health alone. These people may not have a safe or stable place to live, they may not have friends or family members they can lean upon, or they may not have the recovery skills that would enable them to live alone without developing a significant problem.
People who need treatment for addiction, for example, might benefit from a residential program if they live with others who abuse drugs or alcohol on a regular basis. Being surrounded by temptation might be too difficult for these addicts, and being able to stay away from those influences could be quite helpful as they learn to build up a life that doesn’t include drugs or alcohol.
Specific addictions may be more amenable to residential treatment programs. For example, the Drug and Alcohol Services Information Services reports that 38 percent of people who enter a residential program for alcohol tend to finish the program, but only 29 percent of people addicted to opiates or cocaine usually complete residential programs. It’s unclear why this discrepancy exists, but it could be that these addictions are best treated in inpatient programs, rather than in residential programs. The Treatment Episode Data Set report from 2009 also reports that people with higher levels of education leaned toward completing their residential treatment programs, compared to people with lower levels of education, but again, it’s not clear why this is the case.
People who need treatment for addiction and a mental illness may also benefit from residential programs. These people may enter treatment with a host of health problems, in addition to their addiction issues, and they may even contemplate suicide. In some residential treatment facilities, they have access to around-the-clock care that could prevent them from causing harm to themselves or someone else.
Residential treatment programs can vary significantly, depending on the issue they’re trying to address and the clients they are trying to serve. For example, there are some residential programs that are designed specifically to help adults recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Meanwhile, other residential programs attempt to reach teens or young adults who have mental illness along with substance abuse disorders. Each program may provide different benefits as a result.
In general, most programs attempt to engage the person in recovery, so many programs offer these “engagement interventions,” according to SAMSHA:
- Counseling, emphasizing the client’s ability to change
- Medications, to ease symptoms of withdrawal and minimize effects of mental illness
- Support, through continuous outreach by staff
- Awards, such as tokens or small prizes to support the person’s steps toward recovery
- Peer support, through shared housing and group meetings, to help the person realize that he or she is not alone in the illness
Some residential programs offer additional services, such as gourmet cooking, meditation, animal therapy, crafts or community service. Sometimes, these small perks may seem superfluous, but they can have a big impact on a person’s motivation to stay in the program. A young anorexic woman in recovery who loves horses, for example, may choose to stay in the program because she can’t stand the idea of leaving her animal-therapy component behind. An alcoholic man who cannot stand the food he eats in the facility, day in and day out, may choose to leave rather than complete the program. Sometimes, the little details do matter.
Choosing a Program
Finding the right residential treatment program often means asking a significant number of questions. This facility will be the person’s home for several weeks, if not several months, and it pays to be choosey. Most facilities welcome the questions, too, as they know that people who are engaged in recovery are more likely to stick with the program and deliver good results.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are specific questions that should be asked of addiction recovery programs. When considering a residential treatment program, the most important questions may revolve around customization. The most effective programs use a tailored approach to addiction treatment, adding in components that will help that person at that time, and removing other aspects that may not be so beneficial to that person at that time. It’s important to find out how these programs can be customized to meet the needs of an individual, and it’s important to determine how the plans will change over time. Where an addict might need a significant amount of medication support and counseling at the beginning of the program, for example, by the middle of the treatment period, the person might be able to endure fewer medications and counseling sessions. This sort of customization is vital.
Choosing a program for a teen who has behavioral issues or mental health concerns may be slightly more difficult. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these programs aren’t monitored by the federal government, and the staff is not required to demonstrate their ability to keep a child’s education current.
People considering residential programs for teens may have even more questions to ask, including:
- Are you a licensed and accredited facility? Can I see proof?
- What are the medical credentials of the people who will work with the child?
- Do you perform background checks on your employees?
- Do you provide an academic curriculum?
- What are the credentials of your program director?
- How is my child’s treatment program assessed and customized?
Residential programs often go to great lengths to protect the privacy of the people who are living there, so families may not be able to take a tour before the person enrolls. It might seem irritating, but people in treatment may resent feeling as though they’re on display to gawkers. In the end, the facility may choose to protect the people who are already enrolled over giving the people who want to enroll an inside look. However, many facilities do provide a significant amount of photography and/or stories written by prior patients. This sort of information can be useful in determining what the facility is like to live in on a daily basis.
When choosing a treatment facility, most people are concerned with one topic alone: Does the treatment work? It can be difficult to find statistics that completely answer this question. For example, some people do marvelously well in residential programs, and then fail in outpatient follow-up programs. The reverse is also true. Therefore, it’s difficult to completely parse out what “success” means. There are some published studies that suggest, however, that residential programs at least have the capacity to elicit meaningful change. For example, a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that one year after completing a residential treatment program for heroin, over half of the participants were still abstaining from use. In addition, “substantial improvements” were found in benzodiazepine and psychostimulant use. These seem to indicate that residential programs are helpful for some people.
If you have any questions about residential treatment, contact us today. We can answer your questions and offer you guidance on finding the right treatment program for you or your loved one.