Exploring Options: The Different Forms of Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
Due to advancements in knowledge and research, addiction treatment programs continue to evolve, and many modern programs are not neatly classified into traditional categories. However, most begin with a medically-managed detox in a clinical setting, allowing the individual to cleanse their body of substances.
Detox is designed to mitigate the potentially dangerous effects of abrupt cessation of drug or alcohol use, often through the use of medication, monitoring of vital signs and ensuring that the person is safe and relativately comfortable.
But detox does not address the inherent problem that drives a person to use substances – the psychological and behavioral issues associated with addiction do not change Moreover, the formation of coping skills, new thought processes, and behaviors are essential for recovery. For this reason, detox should be closely following a professional evaluation and referral to a drug and alcohol treatment center.
Long-Term Residential Treatment
Long-term residential treatment offers 24-hour care in a non-hospital setting, with a length of stay at least 30 days and up to several months. Residential stays focus on resocializing individuals and use of the program’s community, which includes staff and other residents as active participants in treatment.
Because addiction is best viewed in the context of a person’s psychological and social impairments, treatment focuses on the development of accountability, responsibility, and social productivity.
Treatment consists of activities designed to help individuals identify and examine harmful believes, self-concepts, and negative patterns of behavior, and ultimately, adopt new, more constructive ways to interact with other people.
Many of these programs are customized to the participants and use a multi-faceted approach including therapy, various counseling services, mental health treatment, group support, and holistic activities such as art therapy and yoga.
Critical components of treatment include individual therapies that help the person to identify and manage the factors that drive their addiction, including co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
This education also helps them recognize triggers, identify negative thought patterns, and develop coping mechanisms to avoid relapse.
Research has shown that the interaction between a therapist and client contributes to a higher likelihood of recovery, and is an essential component of effective addiction treatment. Various therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing.
Short-Term Residential Treatment
Short-term resident treatment programs offer intensive treatment that may last for several weeks. It is often (but not always) hospital-based and is closely followed by outpatient therapy and participation in support groups. Due to its brevity, engagement in outpatient care and aftercare programs is essential for the individual to remain sober and continue to progress throughout recovery.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
Outpatient treatment programs vary in the services they offer, cost less, and may be more suitable for people who have jobs and adequate outside social support.
Depending on the intensity of the program, some offer relatively intensive treatment that is comparable to residential programs in many ways.
Group counseling is often a significant component, and some programs can treat patients with other mental health conditions that co-occur with their addiction.
Individualized Drug Counseling
Drug counseling focuses on the reduction or cessation of substance abuse and also addresses other impaired functions such as a lack of employment, family conflicts, or socialization issues. It emphasizes short-term behavioral objectives and helps the individual to develop the coping skills needed to remain free of substance use. These counselors usually encourage the use of support groups and make referrals to other much-needed services such as psychiatric and medical care.
Many treatment programs use group therapy to take advantage of the social reinforcement that peers can provide. Studies have shown that when group therapy is provided in addition to drug counseling or is designed to reflect the ideas of cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive outcomes are often achieved.
The best outcomes are achieved when a person’s family and friends are involved in therapy, provided with education and encouraged to support the individual’s new-found skills and behavior following treatment.
Offering counseling to both the individual and their families helps everyone involved learn how to develop new patterns of support instead of returning to previous negative behaviors, and helps them learn how to identify enabling behaviors.
Moreover, the family has the tools needed to build a healthier way of interacting to prevent the thoughts and circumstances that can trigger a relapse.
While addiction programs vary regarding intensity and services offered, the most effective programs tend to be long-term and involve a customized, comprehensive approach that includes a wealth of therapies, counseling, and social activities.
It is important to note, however, that no program is easy. Recovery requires a firm commitment to recovery and desire to make positive, long-lasting changes.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology