Types of Treatment Programs

Picking the right addiction treatment program is a personal choice. You may opt to stay at a center (called inpatient residential treatment, or rehab), but there are also outpatient treatment centers, day treatment programs and sober living communities, where the person moving into recovery lives for a time with other people who are learning to live sober.

During and after treatment, it’s common to go to community in-person support groups (like AA meetings) on a long-term basis and/or to attend Web-based meetings to help stay on track. Here are more specifics about addiction treatment programs to help you find the one that best fits you:

Residential Treatment

Sometimes the best treatment requires getting away from work, school, family, friends (and yes, the things that trigger using), so you can focus on one thing: getting better. At a residential or inpatient addiction treatment program, the addict has the chance to retreat from daily stressors that may have contributed to his or her developing an addiction in the first place.

The first step in a residential treatment program is to give the addict a safe, secure place with qualified professionals to monitor their care during detox, which is the period when the substance(s) or behavior(s) is removed. A health care team is there to help you with physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms; medication may be used to ease these symptoms. This team also puts together a treatment plan that typically involves counseling, including both group and individual therapy. A psychotherapist’s goal is to help with the addiction as well any mental health issues (especially those that are not well-managed) and to help the addict re-learn or learn coping skills and healthy habits so he or she is ready to start life again, clean.

A stay in a residential treatment center may last for a few days or several weeks or months, depending on the nature and extent of the addiction and any co-occurring issues (meaning other addictions or mental disorders). It’s essential to address all of these to help prevent relapse.

Outpatient Treatment

Maybe you feel that you have good support from your partner, family and friends and you want to attend treatment while living at home. Perhaps it’s not possible for you to take a lengthy absence from work or school. In cases like these, an outpatient treatment center — in which you’re treated at a facility during the day and/or evening, but you don’t stay overnight — might be the right choice for you.  There are outpatient programs that meet, for example, two to three hours for a few evenings each week. These centers offer the same types of treatment as residential programs, but because you don’t reside there, you can more easily continue to go to work or attend school while still fulfilling your treatment plan. If, though, living at home means you may be tempted to resume using, an outpatient treatment center may not be as effective and another option may be necessary.

Day Treatment/Partial Hospitalization

As a kind of outpatient treatment program, if you participate in day treatment for your addiction, you’ll continue living at home and will receive much the same detox, withdrawal and counseling support as you would at a residential treatment center. For about seven to eight hours every day, you’ll work with doctors, therapists and/or psychiatrists; in the evenings, there are often 12-step meetings and life-skill education sessions to attend. Parents of young children and others who have obligations at home may prefer day treatment over a live-in option.

Sober Living Communities

It can be tough to leave the safe haven of a residential treatment program (or even an outpatient treatment program) and immediately return home and resume your life. You might feel like a changed person, but practicing everything you’ve just learned is sometimes more effective in a sober environment – meaning one where you and your fellow residents are removed from addictive substances and behaviors and continue focusing on maintaining sobriety.

To integrate newly developed healthy habits, it’s recommended that some people live in a sober house (once called a halfway house and also known as a recovery house or a therapeutic community) for several months to up to a year. There, you can continue learning healthy living and coping skills and also benefit from therapy sessions and regular 12-step meetings. The structured environment can make it easier to break free from toxic friends and contacts and learn to balance life’s competing demands in an emotionally stable way.

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