Types of Treatment Programs

Treatment for addiction happens in a variety of settings. It may be best for your loved one to stay at a center (called inpatient residential treatment, or rehab). Or, your child, partner, friend or relative may do better at an outpatient treatment center and receive services during the day and/or evening but sleep at home. Sober living communities are also available, where a person in recovery lives for a time with other people who are also learning to live sober.

Your loved one may attend community in-person support groups (like AA meetings) both during and after treatment. It’s typical for people to attend in-person or Web-based meetings over a long period of time (even a lifetime) to help them maintain their recovery. Here are more specifics about all the treatment types available to your loved one:

Residential Treatment

It may be hard to let go, but sometimes a loved one may need to get away from family, friends, work or school and from those things that trigger use.  Residential or inpatient treatment means your loved one will be living somewhere else – it may nearby or across the country – for a period of weeks or even months. Rehab isn’t a vacation, but a retreat from the stresses of life that likely underlie your loved one’s addiction and may have contributed to a problem in the first place.

When someone arrives at rehab, the first step is to provide a safe, secure, supported place for your loved one to detox, which is the time when a substance(s) or damaging behavior(s) is removed or stopped. The detox process is monitored and managed by qualified professionals who provide supportive care. These individuals manage your loved one’s physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, and non-addictive, FDA-approved medications may be used to ease symptoms and cravings. This specialized team also develops and puts in motion a treatment plan that typically involves counseling to address the addiction(s) as well any mental health issues your loved one may have. It’s essential to address all of these to help prevent relapse; this is what’s known as an integrative approach. Therapy will help your loved one to gain needed coping skills and healthy habits, so he/she learns to handle life’s challenges and maintain a healthy recovery.

Rehab may last for several days, weeks or months, depending on the nature and extent of the addiction and any co-occurring issues (meaning the individual also has another mental health issue in addition to addiction). For example, a stay for video gaming addiction may last 10 days, whereas eight weeks or more may be recommended for methamphetamine use.

Outpatient Treatment

If your loved one has healthy support from a partner, spouse, family member or friend and wants to attend treatment while living at home, outpatient treatment can be a great choice, and a more cost-effective one than going to a residential treatment center. This is especially true in cases in which it’s not possible to take an extended break from work or school to attend treatment. With outpatient treatment, your loved one is cared for at a facility during the days and/or evenings, but he/she doesn’t stay overnight. There are outpatient programs that meet for two to three hours a few evenings each week. If continuing to live at home while undergoing treatment means that your loved one may have easy access to old networks that will tempt him/her to keep using, this is, of course, not an option and residential treatment may be necessary.

Day Treatment

Day treatment for addiction is just what its name implies: Your loved one will receive treatment during the day for addiction while continuing to live at home. This is considered “partial hospitalization” outpatient program because patients receive care for seven to eight hours a day, working with doctors, drug treatment counselors, therapists and/or psychiatrists. Patients might even be asked to attend evening 12-step meetings or other educational sessions. Parents of young children and others who have obligations at home may gravitate toward day treatment over a live-in option.

Sober Living Communities

Sober houses (also known as halfway houses, therapeutic communities and recovery houses) are for people who need a sober place to live and to practice living in recovery. While patients typically move into a sober living community after leaving a residential treatment program, sometimes people live in sober houses while attending an outpatient, day treatment or other program. The idea behind sober living houses is that it can be difficult for someone who’s brand-new to recovery to avoid falling into old habits and succumbing to old triggers when they move back home. (We all have a tendency to revert to old patterns when we’re around people from our past, for example.) Relapses are common with addiction, and maintaining recovery takes vigilance and ongoing effort. A sober-living house offers residents a chance to practice coping skills just learned in treatment and can be the perfect setting for someone to find their fit as clean and sober for six months to a year or more after treatment. These homes typically also provide a very structured day-to-day-life, offering therapy sessions and regular 12-step meetings on the premises. In this setting your loved one can learn to incorporate healthy living and coping skills for a balanced, emotionally stable life.

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