Inpatient Drug Rehab Center
Mirriam Webster defines the word “inpatient” as “a hospital patient who receives lodging and food as well as treatment.” This definition is easy to understand. Someone who receives inpatient care lives in the facility where that care is provided. The facility becomes the person’s temporary home, while he or she deals with the medical issue at hand.
Inpatient rehabilitation programs are designed to help people dealing with addiction or mental illness. The facilities provide around-the-clock care, and they also provide a safe and controlled environment that the patient can use to aid the healing process. Inpatient rehabilitation centers can provide a significant amount of help, but many people seem confused about what the programs can do and who they are designed to help.
Rehab Is Not Detox
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For many people, the line between detoxification programs and inpatient rehabilitation programs is blurry or simply non-existent. For example, one man writes on the message board MedHelp, ” Okay I have just been informed I have to go inpatient by a counselor for rehab. I have already detoxed myself off drugs … I am trying to be open minded about this but find it ridiculous to be inpatient for detox when I’ve done that.” Clearly, this man doesn’t understand the difference between rehabilitation and detoxification.
In a detoxification program, a person addicted to drugs and/or alcohol works to clear the substances from the body. This is a natural process, of course, but some drugs can cause unpleasant side effects during detoxification. The body is adjusting to the absence of the chemicals, and this can be a painful process to endure without help. When a detoxification program is complete, the person has no drugs and/or alcohol in the body, but the person may still struggle with addiction. Just as an alcoholic may be sober between drinks but might still be an alcoholic, an addict may be sober upon completion of detoxification but still be an addict. A rehabilitation program is designed to help an addict learn the life skills needed to maintain that sobriety.
Some inpatient rehabilitation programs also offer detoxification services. Others do not. In fact, some inpatient rehabilitation centers require participants to submit a clean urine screen before they enroll in the program. In either case, it’s important to understand that the two programs are separate, and it’s important for the addict to understand that both programs are equally important.
How Inpatient Programs Work
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, inpatient programs for addiction or mental illness are usually provided in special units of hospitals or medical clinics. In the past, these were the predominant places people went for substance abuse and mental health treatment, but due to changes in insurance and personal preferences of those needing treatment, the programs are not as prevalent today.
Inpatient programs for addiction typically last for 30 to 90 days, although some provide treatment for a shorter or longer period of time. The patient is asked to follow a specific set of rules, often including mandatory attendance at group meetings and counseling sessions, and the patient is often encouraged to provide periodic urine samples so the staff can ensure that no drugs or alcohol have entered the facility system. Some people take withdrawal medications while they live in an inpatient program, but other facilities don’t allow their patients to use any medications at all.
Ideally, in an inpatient program, the person will learn:
- How the addiction or mental illness will impact future health
- How the issue can be managed without resorting to substances
- What triggers exist in the outside world that could lead to a relapse, and how those triggers can be avoided
- How others have managed their own conditions
It’s a significant amount of information, to be sure, but it’s important for the person to pick up all of these lessons and learn to apply them properly in his or her life. By living in an inpatient program, the person is dedicating a significant amount of time and effort to this process, without outside distractions, and this can be very helpful for some people.
According to the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, insurance companies often require a significant amount of paperwork before they’ll cover inpatient treatment for any issue, be it mental or physical.
Sometimes this means that patients must demonstrate that they:
- Cannot function at home at the present time
- Are healthy enough to participate in treatment
- Are willing to work hard and make the most of treatment
- Will have a support system at home when the inpatient program is complete
In general, people who have mental illnesses benefit from inpatient programs. They may need medical supervision that may not be available in residential programs, and they may not have family members who can provide around-the-clock care, so they won’t succeed in outpatient programs. They will receive both of these benefits in an inpatient program.
Also, people who have used outpatient programs in the past, or who have tried inpatient programs without success, tend to need the help of an inpatient program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also reports that teens benefit from inpatient programs, as they often have mental health issues that walk alongside their addiction issues, and they must both be addressed in order for the teen to heal. An inpatient program is designed to provide this form of multi-faceted treatment.
The Drawbacks of Inpatient Programs
According to an article in the journal European Addiction Research, about 60 percent of people don’t complete their inpatient programs for addiction. The lure of their addictions may be too strong, they may feel that they’re ready to go home, or they may simply be tired of the experience and want to return to surroundings they find more comfortable. When people choose to leave their inpatient programs, they sometimes must sign a form that states that they know they’re leaving against the advice of their doctors, but often, there is no real impediment for them to leave. In fact, they can leave at any time they choose.
Family members have an important role to play here. Some families prepare for this event by providing copies of their intervention letters to the addict’s treatment staff. If the addict tries to leave the program, the staff asks the person to read these pleading letters, full of heartbreak over the damage done as a result of the addiction. This can help the addict remember to stay in treatment. Other families choose to praise and support the addict in letters, phone calls and visits, trying to remind the person of the good work being done. Either method can be helpful.
At the end of an inpatient program for addiction, the addict has more work to do. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is considered a chronic condition, so relapse into addiction is not only possible, it might also be likely. The best way that an addict can prevent a relapse, or come out of a relapse that is occurring, is to stay involved in treatment by enrolling in an outpatient addiction program when the inpatient program is complete. Often, this step is part of the addict’s discharge plan from an inpatient facility. Participating in counseling sessions on an outpatient basis and/or attending support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help the person continue to work on managing the disease and learning to live a healthy life. In addition, in an outpatient program the addict can gain access to career counseling, healthcare and other important areas that can improve the addict’s quality of life and keep drug and alcohol use from occurring.